Discover the ‘Petit Paris’ Etsy team’s selection of beautiful fall items. I am delighted to be in it!
Discover the ‘Petit Paris’ Etsy team’s selection of beautiful fall items. I am delighted to be in it!
Before you know it, Christmas will be around the corner. As time flies at quite a scary pace, I am already planning the winter fairs I hope to be a part of this year.
Last year were my first experiences and I had to build and buy a lot of material quickly. I was happy with my stand, but there was certainly room for improvement. For a start, I am trying to see if I need to buy new stuff. Hopefully not: these things cost a fortune even when you go for DIY.
Here are the displays I already own (on the right, the little symbols I use in the sketches viewed from up high):
My display colours are: white, light wood and copper. I stick to natural or aged material as I feel it matches my jewellery quite well.
As always when I am in the research phase, I am sketching!
I have to take both horizontality and verticality into account. Display the items on several vertical levels looks good, but they also have to be harmoniously spread on the table.
Later, I will put out the table and make real life tests. I don’t pay attention to scale when I draw, so there can be a large gap between the sketch and the real thing. What matters is that doodling gives me ideas.
Last year, I had a hard time finding a table cloth large enough to cover the whole table, feet included as they are seriously ugly (it’s a camping table). In the end, I bought a white bed sheet but it was too large so I had to partly fold it. Plus it was see-through so I had to put a smaller, thicker cloth beneath it… Anyway, it wasn’t great.
This year, I want to find something that fits, even if I need to sew it myself. I’m also thinking about a darker table runner (maybe light brown of natural linen to match the wood). It would split the display space into three parts, which could be interesting.
And maybe a sign or a light box with my brand’s name on it?
My goal is to make something that looks as good in reality as it does in my mind. In the meantime, I also need to make a lot of new jewellery pieces to fill this table!
To be continued!
Some holiday snapshots!
And even though it doesn’t look like it these days, I am actually also working on new jewellery.
Since I am less active here during the summer, now is the time to check out my team’s summer selection! The team Etsy Petit Paris is full of talented people who make awesome things by hand.
We actually never call it “Bastille Day” in France, just 14th of July. We celebrate both the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14th, 1789, and the Fête de la Fédération on July 14th, 1790. The more you know!
Recently, I have started making cufflinks. I had wanted for a while now to try making jewellery for men. I did not expect to stumble upon the very type of obstacle I hate most, which made me question my design choices a lot more than usual.
This notion, as sexist and moronic as it is, is everywhere. Real men don’t wear accessories, they are not interested in fashion, and if they do there must be something wrong with them. I will not rant too long on this matter because there is so much to say and I don’t feel qualified enough for it. But there is something furiously unhealthy in our society.
When you look up “jewellery for men” on the internet, you get very simple things made with leather, metal, chain. The designs have lots of angles and straight lines, dark colours, wide seams or links, rough looks.
It would seem the 21st century man is supposed to be a suit-clad caveman with everything about him very large and very sturdy (there was so much potential for a joke about size and/or hardness here, be thankful I’m a classy person).
So here I come, all about round shapes and lively colours, ready to conquer the manly market. I would love to make things in leather but it’s not something one can improvise; I have too much to learn before starting and now is not the time. Metal is coming, but slowly. This was not looking very promising…
After a time of reflexion, the first easy-to-make accessories I decided to try were cufflinks. I liked this idea because I could keep using the materials I enjoy: metal and gemstones.
But cufflinks are either old school or a joke: as far as I know, nowadays, people only buy it for occasions such as weddings or to make a silly gift. I guess it says a lot about how masculinity in fashion has changed over time. Accessories for men, I find, are very limited, just like styles of clothes. Professional wear? Nothing much there except suits. Formal event? Suits again, or maybe a tuxedo if it is really formal.
For women, on any day and any occasion, tons of options are available! Who said that men don’t like diversity in their clothing and women do? Why is it considered effeminate for a man to like jewellery? And why would something ‘effeminate’ on a man be such a bad thing anyway?
We are all influenced by the buttloads of images and sounds we receive daily, that spread all the dumbest clichés. I look at what I make and keep wondering: ‘Is it too girly?’. And then I get pissed off at myself for falling into that trap again.
I have yet to find the delicate balance needed to try to make things that get out of those stupid constraints while also trying to sell them. It is not easy to reconcile your deepest convictions with… well, marketing.
In the end, I still finished my cufflinks. I made them in my own style and I’m happy with them. I am not one to be discouraged by ideas I despise, however prevalent they may be.
Does this look girly to you? I don’t know anymore. I have decided to stop caring.
To celebrate my hundredth blog post, I will give you a quick tour of my favourite blogs. Warning: my selection is quite eclectic and there is nothing there about jewellery making… I don’t read any DIY or creation-oriented blogs. When I browse the internet, I am rather looking for other subjects for a change.
Bouletcorp — Boulet is a French comic artist who’s been blogging for more than ten years, with great humour and drawing style.
Scandinavia and the world — Denmark, Norway and Sweden walk into a blog…
Letters of note — A collection of all sorts of historical, touching, funny, sometimes crazy letters.
The Oatmeal — Matthew Inman is some sort of comic artist alien with a very weird humour.
Crocodiles Project — A webcomic telling stories of everyday sexism and harassment.
Sarah’s scribbles — Delightfully funny webcomic by Sarah Andersen.
What the fuck France (Youtube channel) — Paul Taylor is English but lives in France. Many French things escape his understanding for three reasons.
After a long time spent researching, wondering, and hesitating, I have finally tried working with metal clay.
From what I had found on the internet, the best known metal clay is silver clay. As I love silver jewellery but have no skill whatsoever in metal working, this is a great alternative.
The concept is simple: around the 1990s, some smart Japanese people came up with a way of recycling the precious metals dust created in the making of electronic components. Adding water and a specific binder to the dust, they obtained a paste very much like polymer clay or play-doh… only it’s still metal.
You can then model an object, leave it to dry then fire it at very high temperature. The binder burns and the water evaporates, leaving only the pure, now solid, metal. That is to say, making stuff in copper, bronze or silver is now possible for anyone!
Sometimes I really like living in this century.
On the downside, silver metal clay is outrageously expensive. 25 g of clay cost almost 60 €, plus there is an important investment to make into the material.
If that wasn’t enough, all precious metals are strictly controlled in France. I couldn’t sell silver jewellery without going through a long and painful administrative process that I am not even sure would succeed.
And lastly, silver clay, once fired, is very pure: it’s 999 silver. That way, there is no need for a special oven: a blowtorch or a gas cooker are enough, unlike copper or bronze. It makes silver clay easier to fire, but this is utterly absurd in terms of professional jewellery making. Silver is a soft metal. What you buy in a jewellery shop is usually 925 silver, which means 925 ‰ silver mixed with 75 ‰ copper to make it more resistant. Selling jewellery that might easily break is not my idea of being professional.
Hence my hesitation: I needed to be sure I would enjoy the possibilities enough to justify overcoming all these obstacles. I found out later that there was many other metals available in clay form, which solved the selling problem. So I decided to start there!
At my initiative, three of my friends and I signed up for a beginners workshop with Météor Clay, a French small business I can’t recommend enough. Farida, the business owner, came to my flat with all the required material and introduced us to metal clay: either copper, steel, or several types of bronze. She is a sweet lady whose business is crazily upstanding. Their general goal is to offer good material for a very reasonable price, and they stand by it even if it means their profit is lessened.
I won’t tell all the details of the workshop as it would take too long (it lasted from 10 a.m. till at least 6 p.m.), but I’ll highlight the best parts. The quality of my pictures is not the best, unfortunately, as we were inside during a cloudy sunday.
I tried my hand at copper as I am hopelessly in love with this metal.
Météor’s clays come in powder: the binder is already mixed in, all you have to do is add water. That way, you can preserve it indefinitely. Once you’ve made the wet clay, you can keep it in the refrigerator, but it won’t last more than a few weeks.
In many ways, this is similar to cooking. You make a dough, give it a shape, then bake it!
Just as, I assume, polymer clay, it is easy to stamp textures and shapes on it, and cut, roll, or model it. As long as the firing temperature is the same, you can also mix metals. Clays can be mixed or ‘glued’ to one another. For example, you could make a flat copper surface and put white bronze parts on it. Or you can try something close to mokume gane. Or you could make 925 silver (doesn’t solve the selling problem, though).
The possibilities are huge, to say the least.
Once you are done playing with the dough, you leave it to dry.
Once dry, the clay has hardened but is still fragile and will break if you are not gentle. This is when you can sand, engrave, and make holes to set them on a finding later. Once fired, you won’t be able to alter it much aside from polishing it or, on the contrary, patinate it. Therefore, your piece has to be as finished as possible.
Météor also created their own high-temperature oven and sell it for 100 €. It’s basic but you actually don’t need anything more sophisticated. Apart from theirs, this type of oven starts with the Prometheus, for more than 500 €. It is not specifically designed for firing metal clays, so it takes longer and uses more energy than necessary. I might buy one eventually if I end up dabbling with enamels, glass and the likes, but that budget is unreasonable for me right now.
Apart from silver, the metal clay pieces must be fired in active carbon. You put them in a stainless steel container, covered in carbon, into the oven and plug it. You leave it for the relevant time depending on the metal.
I am amazed at how simple it is. Of course, you need to be very careful and wear protections when using it: you are firing metal up to 900° C. You can see by the bright orange colour how hot it is.
Once the time is up, you can leave the pieces to cool inside the oven. But it’s best to take them out of the oven after only a few minutes: you will later obtain a shinier finish that way.
The stainless steel is bright red when out of the oven… There should definitely be gloves on this picture (it’s not my hand).
As soon as they are fired, the pieces make a beautiful metal sound when you put them down, even if they still look like dry clay! Very satisfying.
After some polishing, it shines! All that is left to do is set them on hooks and clasps. That, I am familiar with.
At the end of the workshop, we each left with our creations and several tubes of metal powder. I bought an oven and can’t wait to try again!
After my neck, my hand is going on strike with a bloody tendonitis. I should give my computer mouse a hearty, highly sarcastic thanks for that. It doesn’t stop me from making stuff, but it slows me down.
Damn, I’m getting old.
Although in the meantime, I’m doing some interesting reading!