Friday, December 18, 2009

what I am comfortable with.......

Ahhh, now this is how it's suppose to work.  I just can't seem to get the bronze clay to do what the silver clay does for me.  This mezuzuah case was fun to make and didn't fall apart at all after I fired it!  I just wish the silver was less expensive and so I could make more outrageous designs and not worry about wether they would sell or not.  I would also like to reach more people, but asking them to spent $185 is a lot these days, even if it is a totally unique handmade piece and is solid silver.

During winter break I am going to make more inventory ( I am almost out of star necklaces and only have 2 mezuzot left).  I think that I will concentrate on designs that I have already made and sold as I anticipate being creatively charged after I take my PMC certification course at the end of January in Maryland.  I have about 3 50G packages of PMC left.  I'd like to wait to buy more after I get certified and get a better discount.  Actually I'd like the clay fairy to drop about 10 packages to me for free?  I believe, I really do:).

Monday, December 14, 2009

done with bronze clay

Well,  I've attempted bronze clay yet again and yet again my pieces did not stay together.  I spent a lot of time constructing the mezuzzah but the slabs do not stay together when they are fired.  I think that the size and shape of the mezuzah makes it a poor choice for bronze clay and the way it behaves when fired in the carbon. 

The tiny tower, which is supported by 4 walls instead of 3 actually held up fine, but I am not really interested in making towers out of bronze so I am yet again going to abandon the whole bronze clay thing. I did hear that Hadar Jacobson has a copper clay available which can be fired without the carbon pot, which may be a better solution for my pieces.  Still I am waiting to hear more, because so far I've only seen smaller accent pieces made out of this material, not larger pieces like I want to make.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

bronze clay....yet again

I am making another attempt at bronze clay this weekend. This time I made simpler structures and concentrated on keeping the connections clean and secure. They are in the kiln now. I will post the results tomorrow...keep your fingers crossed, this could work.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

artist annual

Artists and galleries produce portfolios of their works in the form of books or artist annuals.  In my quest to validate myself as an artist I decided to create an annual of my own.  It's a mini booklet of the work that I produced this year mostly in pictures with a few comments.  I naturally chose to make the book the book and I plan to give it to my friends and customers who have supported me in this year as I make this journey.  The book cover featured a "Rockin" jewish star charm and the back cover the same charm, but the backside! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

marketplace boutique

I will be at the Saul Spielberg Early Childhood Center Marketplace Boutique this Thursday November 19th at United Hebrew.  The boutique takes place in the evening from 5:30-9:00pm.  I will have my Jewish star necklaces, some towers as well as some inexpensive whimsical earrings. I only have 2 mezuzahs left, I've made another but I'm not sure I will have time to finish it before the show.  As always, all my jewelry and artwork is solid fine silver and make by hand by me! There should be a lot of great vendors at the show so you might want to stop by and see if you can find a unique gift for a friend, or yourself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

my new favorites

I've been wearing these earrings almost everyday. Well, not these exact earrings but some similar ones. I decided to make some less expensive earrings so that people could buy them as gifts. I made a couple different flowers and some hoops and stars, all about $35 a pair. I found myself really loving them. They look great with everything!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I made the team


Yesterday I got great news. Last month I reopened my Etsy shop. If you are not familiar with Etsy, you should definitely check it out. It is a wonderful resource to find one of a kind handmade items for sale. So since my reopening I have spent a lot more time and effort on making my shop look nice, photographing my work and making interesting pieces which I hope people will find unique and exciting. Anyway, through my research I found this group of PMC artists who sell on Etsy. They are talented artists, many of whom are published in books and magazines and who have won national awards. I submitted my shop to them and yesterday I found out the good news. I am honored to be part of the Etsy Metal Clay Team.
So far I have been bombarded with emails of congratulations from other team members as well as a lot of info on promoting my shop. If you haven't checked out my shop in a while you should!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

recycled centerpiece

Just wanted to post this photo of the origami centerpieces that I made for Abby's Bat Mitzvah.  Here they are in their reincarnation! At Megan's Bat Mitzvah party at Third Degree Glass in St. Louis.  They look even better in this beautiful setting.  My thanks to Linda King for helping set up all the centerpieces and to Stacy Carman for the beautiful photograph.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

silver and glass ring

Here is the sterling silver ring I created at metalsmithing class I took at craft alliance.  I cut a ring band out of 18 gauge sheet silver.  I cut out a little curvy design to make the shape a little more interesting.  Then I formed the ring shape around a mandrel and soldered it together.  I got this super cool tiny glass cabochon from Kara, a lampwork and silver artist in my class.  I made a silver bezel setting, soldered it on to the ring and then set the blue stone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

fusing fine silver

My fingers are killing me.  I've spent the last 3 hour in my basement studio fusing fine silver rings together on bracelets and earrings.  I love being able to use the torch without the fuss of solder.  The fine silver just melts and fuses together.  I am getting pretty good to this, but my fingers still hurt from opening and closing rings and trying to get them to fit together just right.  Plus I did a lot of cleaning up my PMC fresh from the kiln with a brass brush.  It's not exactly easy on the hands.  Oh well, I gave up on manicures years ago.

Here is a glimpse of a link bracelet and some really sweet periwinkle earrings. I am also experimenting with Jewish star earrings.....not sure about them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

making things for rachel's things

OK, I've been really busy in the studio the last few weeks, making PMC pieces.  I really love the metal smithing class, but I have to say that it's not really as fulfilling for me as creating with metal clay.  There is so much more fuss, and planning involved.  And to tell you the truth, I am not really turned on by all the hammering.  As far as the torch goes, soldering is a lot of fun, but the nasty pickle is, well...nasty. 

Back in my basement studio I am busy creating things is less time with more detail and weight then I can in class.  I am planning to be in a home show next month here in St. Louis to benefit The Reform Jewish Academy.  Someone from the school heard about my mezuzahs and invited me to participate in the show with other local St. Louis artists.  I am excited about getting back to my business after spending so much time on the Bat Mitzvah. The show also has forced me to get an inventory of items made, and also to get serious about my Esty shop, "rachelsthings" , which I have revamped and I am in the process of reopening. Here is just a sample of what I have been working on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

falling flower earrings

I finished the silver earrings.  After soldering the silver wire to each flower, I threaded them through holes I drilled, and  balled up the tip of the wire with the torch. Of course I screwed it up and had to redo a couple of torch firings.  Plus I almost lost one of the tiny flowers on the studio floor when it flew out of my hands when I was polishing it.  Thank goodness we retrieved it by sweeping up the floor!

I decided to mount the earrings so that you see the balled up wires, but you could reverse the ear wires and wear them so the balls don't show.  I made the ear wires too.  Just a 2" length of 20 gauge sterling balled up with the torch on one end and then formed into a shepherd's hook earring.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

metalsmith earrings

Last week I soldered! I had to solder silver wire on to the backs of the tiny flowers I cut out.  I will thread the wire through small holes I drilled in the flowers to attach the flowers together.  The whole soldering process was pretty easy.  But I have to admit I am not a fan of all the mess and toxic fumes and chemicals.  Plus, this kind of metalworking requires a real studio with proper and expensive equipment and ventilation.  So I think I will continue to taking classes at Craft Alliance and learn more techniques but I will stick to metal clay at my home studio.

more mystery tour

Part of our party tour was dinner and cooking demo at the Viking Cooking School. We provided these aprons personalized at Embroid me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

magical mystery tour

I'm posting 2 final posts on ideas from Abby's Bat Mitzvah!

So for Abby's party, we hosted 20 girls in a hummer limo on a "magical mystery tour". Yea, I know, not exactly eco-friendly! Anyway, here are some cool gifts for the girls. Blue heather hoodies, from Alternative Apparel, printed with our logo at Embroid me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

metalsmithing class

I am taking a metal fabrication class at Craft Alliance in St. Louis. This is old school, not the metal clay I have been working with. I think that going back to basics will be a good learning experience for me and can only help me more with my metal clay pieces.

I haven't worked metal like this since Mr. Marshall's class at Ladue High School, but it's all coming back to me. I am really good at fine sawing, to me it's just like drawing real slow. I decided to dive right in and work with silver, you put the same amount of effort as you would with copper or brass, you might as well end up with something that doesn't make your skin turn green.

My teacher, Cindy Howenstein is really great. What I like about the class is that there are no specific projects to make. The students can explore the medium and make whatever they want, and she demos different procedures as they come up. We are making bezels, learning to solder, and learning polishing techniques. There are also advanced students in the class who are working independently, and you can learn from them just by observing.

So far I have cut out these tiny silver hydrangeas which I am going to either solder together or join them some other way so there is movement. They are going to be earrings. I'll post my progress.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

blurb book

OK, here is the coolest thing ever. All those pictures that I used for the photo collages, I spent lots of time scanning old family photos. But, not just for the posters. I used the pictures for this very special pictures book I made for Abigail. I presented it to her right before her Bat Mitzvah. The book has chapters on youth, family hobbies, friends and more. At the end there are autograph pages which her friends signed at her kid's party! I built the book using Blurb software. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed making the book. I worked on it for about 8 months before I published it, but that is because I wanted to get it just right. The quality of the book is just beautiful. It's a great keepsake for any occasion.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

photo montage

You can't show a video montage of your Bar or Bat Mitzvah kid on Shabbat, so instead I decided to make some photo collages and displayed them on easels outside the sanctuary. I made these though Snapfish. The only complaint that I had about the process is that you cannot choose exactly which pictures went where in each collage. They just scramble randomly and you just have to settle on a layout that you think looks best. Still the price was right, about 15 dollars a poster! It cost more to have the posters mounted on foam core after I received them in the mail, but I think they looked great!

Bat Mitzvah booklet

In many temples and synagogues, they have handouts available for congregants and guests. We decided to personalize these handouts and actually made them ourselves on our home computer and printer! It really wasn't that hard, it just took a bit of time. I designed the booklets in Microsoft Publisher. Inside I wrote a welcome letter, information on the Bat Mitzvah girl, the temple, service, and the special honors given to family and guests. On the front and back cover I put pictures of Abigail that were taken by our professional photographer, Lisa Mandel. I printed the cover on heavier stock (recycled). It took a lot of ink, but printing the booklets myself cost about 1/4 of what it would at a print shop.
Instead of staples, I punched two holes on the spine and tied them with blue and green raffia ribbon.


We are trying to make this Bat Mitzvah as "green" and eco-friendly as possible so no leather yamakahs! There are a lot of options out there, but Abby thought these crochet straw ones were pretty cool. I got them from Kippot World . Their website is pretty easy to navigate, but the color card that they have on line isn't great. Because straw is hand dyed, matching exact colors is pretty much out of the question. I called them directly and asked for samples and they were not the best at customer relations, but we decided to take a leap of faith and just go for it. Abby wanted blue and green and the resulting kippah was just perfect!
We ordered the upgraded personalization on the inside, which looks really great. And everyone must have liked them because I thought I over ordered, but there was not one left after the services!

the tables

Abby's Bat Mitzvah went off without a hitch labor day weekend. So for the next few posts I'm going to show you exactly what I did to decorate and accessorize the event, and how I did it. Please feel free to comment and ask questions.

The centerpieces looked great and the impact of 18 tables decorated was great. It took about an hour to set it up. Then we added the personalized biodegradable plastic cups and napkins. The paper plates were also personalized but they were placed at the buffet line. All the personalized paper goods were purchased from Printglobe online. They were pretty easy to work with, the quality was fine. My only complaint is that they charged an extra surcharge after the fact, which I was warned about. But still remember there is a surcharge, so the price you are quoted may not be the final price.

I would like to post more pictures of the room but one cannot take pictures during the Bat Mitzvah as it is on Shabbat. But trust me, it looked good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

out of towner bags

These are the reusable totes that we filled with goodies and are giving to those guests who will be visiting from out of town. We collected information on St. Louis attractions, some sweets, nuts, and energy bars, water, and St. Louis rootbeer. My daughter Abby designed the Bat Mitzvah recycle logo and we had it printed on the bags! The bags are finished and ready to be delivered to the hotels Friday. We used this logo again other places; I'll post those pictures soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

pashmina tallit

Can you believe this beautiful tallit. It was made by my friend Sara Shapiro who has spent the last three years in India. Sara is a talented and gifted artist. She also a fellow allumnie of Boston University were she was studied weaving. Sara found these beautiful Indian pashminas that are also embrodried and beaded. She added squares and a collar piece in silk and then added the tzitit from threads she got in Israel. I am so honored to own this beautiful tallit, not only because it is so gorgeous, but also because it is made by someone I really admire. And yes. I'm gonna wear it at the Bat Mitzvah- it looks great with my dress!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bimah Floral Pieces

This is how the large floral pieces which will flank the bimah turned out. They are made of rolled up magazine pages which are held together by hot glue. I also added some origami lillies to make them look more like floral arrangements. The bases are large decoupaged glass vases. The finished products measure about 3 feet tall by 2 1/2 feet high. I made two arrangements, which are slightly different from each other and they will be placed on either side of the bimah at the synagogue.

Friday, August 7, 2009

personalized programs

I finished printing the synagogue programs, which include information on Abigail, the Bat Mitzvah service and the who is getting special honors during the service. We printed all the copies ourselves on our home computer printer. They featured two full color photos of Abby which were professional taken by our photographer Lisa Mandel. To finish it off we tied each program with blue and green raffia ribbon. And, of course, everything was printed on recycled paper!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

can you believe this is going to turn into something?

It is......check out the blog again to see how it turns out.

making vases

These are the vases that we are using for the 2 large centerpieces with will be placed in the synagogue for Abby's Bat Mitzvah. Here Abby is decoupaging the glass vases with the same paper we used for in envelope liner in the invitations. Actually we used the scrapes! no waste here!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

future designer

Check out these fabulous fashions designed and executed by daughter Tamara. She took a Fashion Design Camp at St. Louis' COCA. Here she is on the runway and then posing in her green tee and cropped jacket. Both were remake redesigned. The green top from an ordinary tee shirt and the jacket from a man's button down shirt.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

back to building

Last week I felt caught up enough on the Bat Mitzvah preparations to work on metal clay again. I buildt 3 mezzuzahs and 4 stars, adding to the mezzuzah and 2 stars I have already fired. Now comes the part I actually like the least. When the silver clay comes out of the kiln it has this sort of sparkly while film on it. You have the brush it with the brass brush to remove the film. It takes time and elbow grease and one of the main reasons I do not bother with manicures. It destroys my fingers and turns my nails black. Then comes the hammering and hardening followed by the oxidation in liver of sulfur, which smells like it sounds and also does a job on the hands. I 'll be working on these pieces for the next couple of days...hopefully the finish product will be worth the struggle.

Monday, June 29, 2009

another invitation

Today I worked on the invitations for Abby's girlfriend party. We designed a logo for the party, it's a Magical Mystery Tour. I can't tell you exactly what that means, cause it's top secret, but it will be a lot of fun. As for the invitations, I designed them in Microsoft Publisher and just printed them out on colored card stock on my home printer. Then I trimmed the cards down to 5 X 7 inches and added a 3 dimensional daisy to found at Michaels. It looked pretty funky and cool, especially in a pink envelope lined in paper from Mojo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

it's time to make more flowers.....

I did the math and I'm gonna be over 30 lilies short. So I'm back to folding, adding wire stems and wrapping with tape. I have about 9 more "bouquets" to assemble once these are done. Then I can add the leaves.
Oh, I decided I'm going to design and print up all the Synagogue programs myself. I think I may be crazy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

origami centerpieces

This week Abby and I have begun to assemble the centerpieces for the Bat Mitzvah luncheon. Abby is opening up the petals of the 300 origami lilies we finished previously. I am attaching the flowers to the long wire stems with wire and floral tape. Stay tune for the next steps.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

shower invites

I'm making these shower invitations for my friend Erin who is getting married in August. Liz is throwing a Beauty shower for her and I volunteered to make the invitations. Erin has a very modern point of view so I didn't want to make anything very typical wedding shower. I went to Art Mart and picked up paper stocks and envelopes in pink and brown and this really cool Lace Card stock from Ki Memories.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

making invitations

Today Abby and I have been busy assembling the Bat Mitzvah invitations. After we put the invites in the petal envelope with the response card and envelope, we had to attach a length of ribbon and secure it with tape and finally a "wax" seal. We used glue gun friendly sealing wax, instead of the traditional sort, because it was easier and will travel through the mail better. I order the wax from
Abby did the great job sealing most of the invites, till we ran out of ribbon with just a dozen more to go!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


It's time for me to address all of Abigail's Bat Mitzvah invitations. I am cheating and using a felt tip calligraphy pen instead of a fountain pen and ink. I have to admit the real ink would look better, but the process would take me twice as long, and we still have to assemble all the invites. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Visit the Nishma Marketplace this weekend

I will be selling my handcrafted solid silver pieces at the Nishma Passover Journey this weekend. If you are planning to attend please came by my table at the vendor's market place and check out the mezuzot, star of David necklaces and tower necklaces. I also just made some earring featuring solid silver medallions and gemstones. The earring are only $35! Please come by and take a look and say Hi!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Budding fashion designers

I am in awe of my kids. They have been designing clothes and drawing fashion figures. Abby who is twelve, has a very methodical approach, and make everything just so. Tamara, who is 10, likes to combine different images form the latest catalogs from Saks and Niemans and make her own designs. Aren't they crazy good? I think so! Can you tell who drew what?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

thank yous are almost done...

Abby, Tamara and I completed 100 hand decorated thank you notes. All that are left to do is the add a decorative sealing wax stamp to these few cards. I am leaving these for Abigail to do this week. Most every card is different! It was a fun project to do.
Now we are waiting for the printed invitations to arrive so we can start assembling them and then I am going to calligraphy all the names and addresses!Good thing we have six months to go!

working, working......

I've been busy this last week working on more PMC pieces for the Nishmah show at the end of March. I have sold some mezzuzahs and stars and I am really excited about the response I have been getting on the work. Have I decided to invents some money into PMC silver and make some more pieces. I built two little house towers, for long necklaces. I also made three additional stars and one more checkerboard mezuzah. Hopefully these will all fire successfully in the kiln tomorrow and I can finish working on them before the show. This picture shows the work before it is fired. It will shrink 10% or so in the kiln.
If I make any money at the show I will probably take some time and try to tackle the bronze clay again. Even though the mezuzahs did not fire well, people seem to love the look of them. I think with a little more patience and some different techniques I may be successful yet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

wavey mezuzah

I love the way this one turned out. I textured the slab of clay and then let in dry on the dowel I made from a rolled up magazine with saran wrap wrapped around it. I just estimated the thickness because the PMC will shrink when fired. It really came out great!