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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Steampunk Makering and Jewelry Design- How to do it like the Pros and Why "Naked" is (almost) always better. -Part 2

This is Part 2 of  Steampunk Makering and Jewelry Design-How to do it like the Pros and Why "Naked" is (almost) always better

I left off last week with E6000 and a whole lot more information to pass along to you. So here goes.....
Ice Resin

Cups and sticks

I love Susan Lenart Kazmer's Ice Resin product. I have nothing but good things to say about it. It's the mixing supplies that I am going to talk about. First off, you don't get enough in the package. If you are like me, you will use 3 cups with each batch, so both the cups and the Popsicle sticks get used up pretty quickly and long before the product is gone. So what to do? I let my fingers do the walking on Amazon and found not only the 2 ounce medical cups at $2.26 for 100 count, but also larger cups which, for many of us, looking to make larger batches, is a dream come true. I also found Wooden Popsicle sticks in a 50 count for $1.02. I stocked up on all of these and now buy the largest size Ice Resin I can get, without the kit. Not really doing resin naked, but still feels pretty freeing.  *Hint: Small 3 oz squeeze bottles with a fine tip also make for great Ice Resin delivery systems. 

Vanity Fair Premium Dinner Plates
Vanity Fair Premium Dinner Plates. I have talked about these before and I can't say enough about them. Resin pops right off. Ink stays on here instead of on you. Beads won't roll off. These plates just make my life easier all the way around. When I am working on a design, I will put all the components on the plate and then if I run into artists block, I can set it aside to work on later when inspiration hits. Get some of these. You can find them on sale at Walgreens or Target for $3.99 for a 32 pack. *Hint: Sams Club has 100 packs for even more savings.

Tools and More Tools
Having the right tools for the job-Up to this point, I have been telling you how to save money by buying "Naked", or items in their most base, stripped down, form.  Now I am going to tell you what to do with all that money you saved. Whether it's the ball peen hammer, the tin snip scissors that cut metal, the ring or bracelet bending tool, or a plethora of different size and shape pliers....You have to have the tools for the job or you are working way harder than you need to. From hole punches, to bead reamers, to nylon jawed pliers... Figure out what you need and then buy the best tools you can afford. Cheap tools will not last. They will break, hurt your hands, rust and generally disappoint.
Don't be afraid to fabricate your own tool holders. See the wood block below with the dapping set? That's home-made and it works just dandy keeping my dapping balls right where I can get to them.  Everyone should be able to get to their balls in a hurry. At least that's what Great-Gramma Steamington used to always tell us kids when she was sitting on the porch drinking home-made moonshine in Kentucky....Wait? What was I talking about?
Heat gun, soldering wand and Dremel

Fire block, torch, soldering wand and gun

Dapping Set in wood base

Copper stampings organized by size
Resin cameos organized by color and size
Silver gears organized by shape

Silver chains by type and length
Resin flowers organized by color

The last thing I am going to talk about is organization. You can't make it if you can't find it. You should be organized within an inch of your life? Why?

Have you ever placed an order for supplies, just to find out that you already had 24 of whatever you just ordered, hidden in the bottom drawer on the left behind the _________? I have. Enough times that I went, "That's it. I am getting organized!"

I spent a good two weeks organizing, by size, material, color, supplier....anything that was a catagory that made sense to me. Maybe you have a whole Bsueboutiques cabinet or a hand made clay beads drawer. Whatever works for you, so you know what you have and what you don't-Do it.

Segmented bead trays are my main stays in organizing and once again, I headed over to Orchard Supply and Harbor  Freight, to get em Naked. I pay half for the trays at the manly-man stores that my fictional friend "Burl" likes to  frequent vs. Beverlies Craft.

WHEW! I am exhausted. That was a great deal of info, so I had to split it into two blog posts. I hope I did not overwhelm with too many hints going in too many different directions. Even if you only take one thing away from this post and implement it into your makering and design work, I hope it will save you some money, make you better organized or give you better tools to make magic with your art without breaking your back or your bank account.

Much Love and Happy Makering.....
Dr Brassy


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Steampunk Makering and Jewelry Design- How to do it like the Pros and Why "Naked" is (almost) always better. -Part 1

I have done what every one of you is doing. I went to the craft stores, I bought the specially packaged, (even in pink to appeal to the feminine eye) way over-priced, "Doo-Dad", because I thought that's what I had to do. It took me a long time to figure out that the best way to maker, craft or design jewelry, was to do it...NAKED.

No not like this
Like this!

Let me explain.....Whether it was in a magazine, or a supply newsletter email, or at a bead show; whatever the new fangled crafter/maker tool or supply was, I had to have it. I would head out in my Airship to Michaels, Joann Crafts or Beverlies to purchase the next great thing to make my work easier, better, faster or cooler. I did this for a long time.......

Then something happened. One day while in Orchard Supply with my husband, I was looking at the gardening gloves. The pink, flowered, "Any Disney Princess would die-for" gardening gloves. Price tag? $24.99. Now, that seemed a little much, but continuing in my shopitude, I fell upon the big secret. Right next to the soil, just one isle over, I find the same exact gloves in olive green, sans flowers, packaged not for Beauty, but for a Beast named "Burl" who I am sure spends his weekends chopping wood for his cabin. The price of the basic or "Naked" gloves?  $3.99 a pair. The same materials, the same size even (Large), the same everything....except color, pretty packaging and most importantly.....Price.

That was it for me. Never would I blindly shell out money for anything for my business until I looked into what it really was underneath all the pink ribbons and glitter. More times than I care to admit, I bought the cute little package of 10 brass bolts for a 1,000% markup, over the testosterone drenched "Pack O' 100 Bolts" (cough and grab your crotch) from the hardware store, simply because it was being marketed to Crafters...Artists.....ME! I began looking for the "Naked" versions of everything.

So I evolved as an Artist and a Shopper. In the process, I did the research on repackaging, bulk buying and the psychology behind the "Cutifying" of everyday products into Boutiquey looking pretty blister packs that command way bigger bucks than the stripped down, "Naked" version. This is where the "Naked" part comes in.

Vintaj Metal Relief Block
First on my list is the "Vintaj" Metal Relief Block for Buffing. Oh and it's cute alright. It even has different colored sides and the word "Vintaj" stamped on the front. It has to be a completely unique, one-of-a-kind crafter's tool, right? Nope. It's nothing more than one of these, below,  repackaged and with a way bigger sticker price on it.

Beauty supply nail buffers and 3M sanding sponges

Here is the naked version. Buffing blocks are available from any Sally (or other) Beauty Supply and rougher scrubbing pads you can get from any hardware store, for a fraction of the price of the Vintaj block. These are invaluable for sanding sharp brass stamping edges, giving texture to resin and aging your stampings after you alcohol ink them.

 *Hint: 3M makes some great sanding sponge pads.
 Another Product is the Tim Holz Adirondac Alcohol Ink Blending Solution. The name is so cute, in and of it's self, that you have to want this. Picture the Adirondac (someone lost a "K") Mountains in New York with the birds and the trees and the....wait. What does that have to do with Crafting? But you see how they get you? It's pretty sounding and you aren't buying a supply. You are going on vacation!!!

Now it may well have something else in it. Something that makes it a little yellower and a little thicker than good old fashioned rubbing alcohol, but you know what? It works the same for me for 1/10th the price based on volume.  So my money is on the 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and I use it to clean up my alcohol ink brushes as well, so it serves a dual purpose.  It doesn't have a cute name and it doesn't bring up visions of glacial waterfalls, but that $8.00 back in my purse will buy a case of bottled spring water, so there.                                              

Adirondac Solution
Rubbing Alcohol
Next on my list is the Vintaj Glaze and I hate to bag on any one company but they've really got the repackaging cuteness down to a science. Whether it's taking the same brass components that we all know and love, that we buy from respected suppliers like Bsueboutiques and trying to copy her rich Chocolate Ox Patina with a cheap brownish patina and then sell it for 7 times markup-Or coming up with brand new products that we didn't know we needed but now we "have to have"- they've got a huge chunk of the Non-Naked market. Vintaj Glaze is a bit rubbery for my tastes and if you have a customer who likes to pick at things, they will pick this coating right off your work. But we know that sending out raw brass, or inked pieces without sealing is a big no-no, so what to do?

Krylon isn't sexy, or cute, but it works and it's far easier on your wallet and is the "Naked" version of the Vintaj Glaze. You get 2 oz of Glaze vs 11 oz of Matte Finish Spray, so even at the same price, you get far more for your money with the Krylon. As long as you don't mind waiting for the salesperson to unlock the spray paint cabinet, you can unlock some pretty good savings. *Hint: Buy both Matte and Gloss Krylon.
Vintaj Glaze


 Ok, I am done bagging on Vintaj.  But moving on I am going to hit on two of the Holy Grails of the Jewelry Maker world. That's right, E6000 and later on, Ice Resin supplies. First E6000. They finally came out with an E6000 Jewelry and Bead with tips. In the process you get way less E6000 than you did before (1oz vs 2oz) but the price certainly doesn't reflect the absence of half the product because they give you not 1, but 2 glue tips. How generous of them!!
E6000 Jewelry and Bead with tips

E6000 and home made glue syringes

Glue in a syringe is something I have been doing for years. I make my own and it works better than anything else I have tried, plus it's far less money than buying the Precision Tips Package. I take my regular E6000 and I buy the largest size commercially available. You bet I use one of those 40 or 50% coupons every time, so I am getting my E6000 for $3.00 a tube. Then I go to a site such as Androsa and purchase a pack of 3cc or larger syringes plus a pack of the largest gauge needle tips (I recommend 18 Gauge). When the package arrives, I now have 100 complete glue syringes that are reusable, resealable and that help keep the glue where you want it. As long as you aren't the subject of an investigation where someone going through your garbage and finding empty syringes will land you in jail, you really should be gluing Naked.  *Hint: I cut off the tip and only leave 10mm. Put the glue syringe in a Ziploc bag to reuse for more than one day.

Much Love and Happy Makering.....Part 2 will be next week.
Dr Brassy