Monday, September 24, 2012

The Alchemist's Vessel -- Handmade Artist Shop

Alixandra Browning is the artist who designs and creates her art under the trade name -- The Alchemists Vessel.  She is a self taught artists with an eclectic taste in her designs.  She has a great love of nature and the outdoors where she gets many of her design ideas.

She and her work can be found on many venues including Facebook, Blogspot and Pinterest.

I find her work to be very interesting and her designs extremely unique.  She took a money clip, reformed its shape and added a bezel set onyx cabochon to make a necklace pendant.
She also took inspiration from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and made a necklace from chain to fashion this tribute to the Riders of Rohan. The chain is fashioned in a full Persian weave with a bone horse's head as the clasp.  This is my favorite piece in her shop. 

The last design I am going to feature is called "Dragon's Tears."  Again she has taken wire and hand made the rings for the chain.  Absolutely beautiful.

Please visit the Alchemist's Vessel (oh how I love the name of the shop) and look at some of the other great items Alix Browning features.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Custom Wedding Set

A friend of mine's mother had a wedding set that was painful to wear, as the outside bands were held together with soldered on bars on the outside of the shank.  These two bars cut into her fingers and made wearing the ring set very uncomfortable.  In addition, the "gold" plating was wearing off the base metal.  So, taking the stones out of her old ring, they were reset into Sterling silver castings to make a new wedding set.  The stones are 7 mm and 2 mm cubic zirconia in a round brilliant faceted cut.  Setting the large stone was fairly simple; setting the 10 small stones was very trying.  However, after a couple hours, I finally finished setting all the stones:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Handmade Artist Shop -- A Bead Thing

Pam and her daughter are "A Bead Thing."  She began active beading to create her unique style following her myocardial infarction in 2009.  Later her daughter asked her to make her some pieces to wear to a Halloween Party.  This was the beginning of a terrific beading cooperative between the two of them.
Here is a fantastic Celtic style ring that sets off its color and design perfectly.  This pair of earrings is modelled after a pair of "flip-flops."  
As a final offering for your viewing pleasure, this bracelet is made with red Swarovski crystals.  Absolutely the most beautiful piece that she has in her shop:

Everything that A Bead Thing offers at Handmade Artists Shops is a one of a kind unique item.  They make their jewelry in their shop in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Take a little time to visit her shop, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Technology Changing the Face of Handmade

As I have aged I have had the privilege to see many advances in technology. Astronautics from the orbit of Sputnik, the landing on the moon to space stations and shuttles and recently the Mar's rover. At the same time, slide rules giving way to calculators to personal computers. Data input changes, punch cards to interactive. Even the computer word processing software that I am writing this “blog” with. Many, many, many changes (advances) in easing the work load of the human to produce products.
My field is the production of gemstones and jewelry. On several different venues, I have watched debate about “What is Handmade?” Technology has changed the face of jewelry design and production. Less than 100 years ago, diamonds were cut by cleaving them with mallet and chisel, now computer driven faceting machines are available. This technology produces faceted gemstones that have the best optical characteristics. Laser welding machines are used instead of cold connections or soldering. CAD/CAM software associated with CNC milling machines allow the computer generation of many different methods for jewelry manufacture.
Sewing / quilting has progressed from needles and thimbles giving way to sewing machines, some of which are now available with computer control. Likewise, the manufacture of cloth has changed from the spinning wheel to highly computerized looms.

This is the rub. At what point in the use of technology do we consider that the product is no longer handmade, but machine made. If an artist uses a drawing program on a computer to produce an image, is this not handmade? Or must the artist use a graphite pencil to render the same image? Again, in my field, I could (if I had the money) use a CAD/CAM program to design my jewelry, then a milling machine to produce it, or I could use hand graving, planishing, casting, etc. For that matter, if a photo artist uses a computer editing program is it still “handmade?” In my youth, I learned to compose and take photos on black and white film, develop it myself in a darkroom, then use a print maker to expose the photo paper and then develop it. Now I take the picture with a digital camera, then use a computer program to crop, enhance, and perform many tasks to my picture.
I offer this as a possible way to differentiate handmade from machine made. If a human being, using technology, designs and produces an original one of a kind product, Then it is “handmade.” If that design using technology is used to produce multiple copies of the same product, then it is machine made. Technology can produce high quality pieces, it can also be used to mass produce cheap garbage.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Handmade Artists Forum

The Handmade Artists Forum (HAF) began several years ago.  It was started by Andrew and Kimberly Kitchen and features discussions and posts regarding a wide range of artistic genres.  I have been participating in the forum for about three years and have received great advice from the members about my art.  If you follow the above link, it will take you to the general entrance to the Forum, Blog and Shops.

The original forum expanded a couple years ago with the addition of the Handmade Artists Shops.  Currently with just under 400 artists displaying their work, HAS is dedicated to the idea of "handmade."  No commercial selling or reselling is permitted in the shops.  With the only cost to the artist of a $5 per month fee, HAS is the most cost effective way to display and sell on the internet.  Handmade Artists is the home for Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry LLC.

The forum features several contests every year, and several ways to advertise and promote each other.  This is one of them, this is a blog ring entry.  I will go to my fellow participating members blogs and comment on their presentation of a shop or some part of HAF/HAS. 

There is also a blog section of the HAF, where original blogs are presented.  These are composed by the member artists and published.  Several of us are regular contributors to the blog.  The subject of a blog presentation is totally up to the individual writing the blog.

An additional feature is the weekly Chat where members can exchange ideas and thoughts with the other members.  A unique item is that in this "Chat" both the owners and our web person (Josey who lives in England) actively participate in the discussions. 

I feel honored to be a member and vendor in Handmade Artists.