You might remember those bronze Uncial hoops that I did last week, experimenting with a traditional verdigris patina. Well here is the finished product! Sanded back to mostly bare metal, then sealed.


I really love them. I love the way that the green patina settled into the crevices of the wire wrapping and how it looks with the darker liver of sulfur patina underneath. They look exactly like really old, weathered bronze. Like maybe something buried with a fabulous queen out of antiquity, unearthed centuries later. Only, without the whole dubious, grave robbing, undead, cursed, stigma thing that comes with unearthing fabulous things out of tombs. No ticked off mummies here, no sirree bob! I call that a win, don’t you?


They’re up on Etsy now, just waiting to go to a new home. I believe I mentioned, mummy not included, right? Just so’s we’re clear.

On Saturday, I played around with a few more blanks and inks and experimented with layering them under some Gilder’s Paste, and micaceous iron oxide. And I got some interesting results.


I haven’t done anything like these center-punched, layered discs before. I know folks do it all the time but it’s fairly new to me, so I had not looked up any tutorials on cold connection or how to put it all together. You can see where I attached them, thinking to hang them from the center loops. It really didn’t pan out – they didn’t hang right at all. I had to punch the tops to get them to hang correctly for earrings.


The center loop method will work nicely for a button closure though – this one is destined to be half of a bracelet clasp.



The most interesting technique I found in my explorations this weekend was using Prismacolor pencils on copper. I really love the work of Deb Karash and there are some tutorials on the web that give you some insight into the process. I can’t wait to give that some serious attention. But before that happens, I need to get a respirator. My studio is NOT that well ventilated. Probably I should’ve done that first, but… well. Sometimes I run with scissors, too. This stuff makes for stinky, toxic fumes that can make you really sick. A proper respirator mask and a dedicated toaster oven (so I am not using our food oven for this stuff) are on my “BUY IT NOW” shopping list. I won’t be heating up any more inks and waxes till I do.

Looking forward to a really busy few weeks ahead. The Cap is heading down to LA for work soon, with a brief detour for the Great-Alpaca-Shearing taking place on my Aunt’s ranch next week. Really hoping he doesn’t get his ass kicked by an irate llama. I’ll keep you posted on that one. Hilarity may ensue. Hoping my Aunt remembers to charge her camera.

Stay tuned!

I just bought myself the Vintaj edition BigShot from Sizzix – it’s a poor man’s rolling mill that you can use to emboss metal or cardstock or whatever. This version was specially made to use on metal and they make all kinds of these “folders” that have a design in them. You pop your metal in the folder, roll it through the machine, et viola, you have textured metal. They’re pretty cool. Now the folks at Vintaj say you’re only supposed to use their special, pre-cut, “Arte Metal” blanks in the machine, but I’ve been using it on my own sheet metal just fine. You do have to anneal and pickle anything 24 gauge or over and I’ve only used it on copper and brass so far.

Now one of the beauties of adding texture is, of course, getting to add even more depth and dimension with color. So while I’ve been playing with textured metal, I’ve also been playing around with patinas. I thought I’d show off a little bit of what I’ve been doing.

First off – traditional patinas. I bought a verdigris (green) ‘traditional’ patina from Shannon German (Miss Fickle Media on Etsy), along with her excellent “Color Drenched Metal” tutorial. So far I’ve tried it on copper and on bronze. It worked great on both metals.


These are textured, domed copper discs. I did all that before applying the patina solution over the raw, bright copper, and it worked great. I had to do two applications of the solution and wound up curing the metal inside a Ziploc bag after the second application, but I think that they bloomed really beautifully. I didn’t take off much of the patina on these, I really loved how they looked as they were.

Next up was some bronze hammered Uncial hoops.


I also had to do two applications of patina solution on the bronze and used a Ziplock bag after the 2nd application. It took about 24 hours for them to bloom. I had given them a liver of sulfur bath before doing the verdigris application so that they’d be a little less shiny under there. I really liked the dual patina affect. Being able to tone down the patina a little bit is nice. I think there’s a Sculpt Nouveau product that actually does that but I haven’t tried it. My plan is to take these back down mostly to the bare metal before I seal them, so the patina is more subtle.

Next up, Vintaj patina inks. These are special inks that are formulated to adhere to metal. The bonus on these is you don’t have to wait for them to bloom. You paint them on, let them dry, heat set them and then use a sanding block to take off some of the patina on the high points of whatever you’ve been working on.


These inks are all about the instant gratification.


The pieces in the two pictures above began with raw copper. The first picture is of a pair of my Gaia copper dangle earrings (also from the Uncial collection) with a hammered texture. These were raw copper. The Vintaj ink is very bright. I feel like it looks like actual paint, not a true patina. Which is fine, but not exactly what I was hoping for on these. I’ll be using the traditional patinas for the Uncial collection from now on.

The second picture is of some precut copper discs in 24ga that I got from Thunderbird. I textured the metal on my Sizzix, and then I went over the metal with my torch for a little bit of fire patina. After quenching those, I used the Vintaj inks from the “Weathered Copper” set (Moss, Jade and Verdigris). Painted, heat set, then sanded. Easy peasey! The colors were, as I said, a little bright, so I went over the discs again, this time with some Distress Ink from Ranger. I heat set that layer and then wiped most of it off with a paper towel. It didn’t change things too much, just gave a tiny bit of depth to the texture and gave a very subtle change to the overall color. Once that was all set, I domed the copper. The patina inks did not crack or flake during the doming process. Lastly, I sealed the whole thing with Permalac, and it was ready to go. From texture to final lacquer, these were good to go in the same evening.

These almost have a faux enamel look to them. Paired with the texture from an embossing folder, and with this particular style of earring, I feel like that look worked very well. I was quite pleased with the results and I’ll definitely be using the Vintaj patina inks for more stuff like this in the future. I’ve got a few more sets coming, in fact.

Lastly, I messed about with some alcohol inks.


I used Ranger Anirondack ink in “Lettuce” on some domed, textured, raw copper, and I sealed it with Permalac once it dried. I like the translucent color and coverage well enough, but it’s not the most fantastic thing I’ve ever seen. I still need to try it over a coat of acrylic paint, so I’m not done experimenting there. But I think that alcohol ink and metal are probably not going to be something I combine when there are other options I like better.

So. What have I learned?

Traditional verdigris patina – if you want something to look like actual aged metal, I think the traditional patinas are the best of these three options.
Pro: looks like natural, aged metal because it basically is – you’ve just accelerated a natural process. You wind up with GORGEOUS color.
Cons: Slightly toxic. Wear gloves when working with this solution and you do need to wear a mask when you are sanding the dry patina down to metal, as the dust is toxic. Do it outside. You also have to form, texture and work your metal completely before you apply, as the patina will flake off if you try bending things around after it has been colored. You have to wait about 24 hours for it to bloom, so patience is key. Also, because of the flaking issue, you need to seal this patina with something like Permalac.

Vintaj Patina Inks – various colors – will not give you a natural patina look, but can mimic enamel beautifully and you can get some fabulous painted affects if that is what you are going for.
Pros: Not very toxic. You probably still want to wear gloves, but this stuff isn’t going to give you a chemical burn and you can use it inside without a mask or getting all woozy from fumes. The folks at Vintaj say you don’t have to seal it OR heat set it, though they recommend it. I feel like you get better results if you do. Nearly instant gratification and rich, bright color! While you want to do your texturing before you paint this on your metal (I would not want to run it through my machine for fear of ruining the folder), it is still pretty forgiving and strong once it has set. You can do a little last minute forming afterwards, such as doming a flat piece if you decide you would like that better. The colors are totally blendable and the basic sets give you a really wide array of color options once you start mixing. Using their special glaze to give you a wash gives you even more awesome color power. These are not horribly expensive. I feel like you can really upscale the look of your base metal designs with these inks, without very much cost increase on the retail end. A little bit of the patina ink goes a long way, which gives you more bang for your buck.
Potential cons: the colors look (in my opinion) very obviously paint-like. Nobody is going to believe this is aged metal. From what I can tell, you can only buy these inks in pre-packaged sets of 3. Being able to replace individual colors as you use them up would be nice.

Alcohol Inks – various colors – The alcohol inks can be applied to metal directly or over a coat of acrylic craft paint.
Pros: The translucent factor is pretty nice and they are blendable if you have the blending solution – that can give you some lovely effects.
Cons: Stains like whoah. This is a dye, folks. Don’t wear a white cashmere sweater robe and get distracted and start playing with red alcohol ink. Ask me how I know. Must be sealed or it will come off.

There are other things on the market like Gilders Paste (which I have only used a little, but so far I do like), Swellegant products (I have not used these at all) and Sculpt Nouveau. Shannon at Miss Fickle Media distributes the Sculpt Nouveau patinas, repackaged under her own label. That’s where my traditional verdigris patina comes from.

I’ll be playing around with color and texture a lot more in my studio over the coming weeks, both over metal and polymer clay. So look for more posts about all that. This has been a really fun experiment and will be ongoing!


This weekend we are offering free shipping on all your purchases in our Etsy shop. Because we really wish we were at Faire! But since we can’t be and that means you can’t find us there, we thought we’d make it a little easier to get your Honey&Ollie fix on. Just enter the code OLLIEFREE during checkout!

And remember, if you spend $75 or more in our store during the month of April, you get a free pair of Tribal Spiral Hoop earrings in either copper or bronze!

Well, poo.

Well here’s the bad news: we will not be out at the San Jose Fantasy Faire after all this weekend. It’s a really long story, but it sums up to a few key points. Those being:

1. The fire marshal in San Jose requires manufacturer’s certification that our tent canvas is fire resistant. The San Jose Fire Marshal will not let you set up for this event without it. He is like a one-man party of “No.” all in the name of public safety and welfare. Which, you know, is ok. I’m all for public safety. I’d rather deal with the party of “no” than go up in flames.

2. None of our local canvas retailers actually sell a fire resistant, natural canvas that isn’t covered in a thick plastic-like coating (thus rendering it totally unsuitable for Ren Faires).

3. The only place I could find who actually carries a suitable, natural, fire treated canvas WITHOUT a plastic-like coating was located somewhere on the other side of the Rockies. In a galaxy far far away. In a Flat Central State. Which Is Not The Same State As Me. Not In Driving Distance, Not No Way. Not No How.

4. This company only ships UPS, and express shipping was $150+ and I am on a budget.

6. We still have to cut, trim, dag, stitch and hem the tent canvas, then install grommets, plus I haven’t sanded or painted the stall frame or put in eye hooks yet because we’ve had snow on the deck.

7. Our canvas won’t be here till next week anyway. Did I mention, I could only afford ground shipping?

8. We’re screwed. See “Party of No.”

So… yeah. We’re taking a pass on this one. I’m disappointed.

Live and learn, and order early, folks.

Things are going full tilt around here in preparation for the San Jose Fantasy Faire which is next weekend – April 12 and 13th – in Guadalupe Park. Like a Ren Faire but with more fantasy and all the fandom! It’s also very family friendly. If you are local to the Bay Area you should definitely come and check it out! Stop and say howdy!
Lots and lots of my fairy tale pendants like the one below will be available at this show. We had a small sampling at the Celtic Faire but I’ve got quite a few more done up now. Really loving the resin and so glad I switched up from glass!


Speaking of new… I was super excited to get these new chandelier earrings – the Helios design – up in my Etsy shop at last.


The blue pair was the mixed metal offering for the last round of Earring Club and they were very definitely the clear winners. I keep designs exclusive to the club during the round they came from, but after that round is over, they are fair game.

I have to confess, I really like these in the green, too. It’s a hard choice. It’s hard to sell them. I want to keep them for me! They were a wonderful pop of color over the cold, grey, winter and a reminder that the sun would return. Both pairs are up and available for sale now. You can find them here, green and blue.

Sign ups are still open for the Spring Earring Club. I’ve got our gemstones ordered for the first round – it’s gemstones and sterling this time – I won’t spoil it but I will give you a little hint. We still have snow on the ground (as you can see) and I’ve been a little bit chilly as a result. I’m super grateful to my good friend, our faithful wood stove. I had originally thought to do something springy but I’d rather pay homage to the element that kept us warm and alive over the long winter; especially since in a few more weeks we will probably clean out the stove one final time and let it go cold till next Autumn.

Fire… the inspiration for the April earrings is Fire.

This whole 3 month Spring round is going to be simply spectacular. You can sign up here. And remember, if you spend $75 or more in my shop, through the month of April, you will get a FREE pair of my hammered tribal hoop earrings in either bronze or copper. So that would mean that you’d essentially be getting four pairs of earrings this round, not three. Making the club even more of a bargain. Don’t miss out!

I’m grateful to all the people who take a minute to share their passion for art, for jewelry making, metal, glass, clay via the blog world and I’m really, really excited about some of the bits I’ve dug up this week!

Cinnamon Jewellry: UK based metalsmith. She talks about everything from construction of bezels and bails to how to use a rolling mill or torch fire enamel metal. I’m working my way through many past posts and learning so much! Definitely added this one to the blog roll.

The Blue Bottle Tree: the polymer clay art of Ginger Davis Allman. Holy tutorials, Batman! If you work with polymer clay at all, this is a blog you want to be reading. She has several very good, affordable tutorials on unusual techniques (faux Roman glass, anyone?) as well as a lot of free information. Want to know what to use to seal polymer clay? She’s tested all your options out and written a comprehensive post about it. Want to know what inks work best on baked clay? She’s tried it, photo-documented it, and shared it. When it comes to polymer clay, Ginger is my new, bestest, favorite, imaginary, internet friend.

Fluxplay: Another really interesting metalsmithing blog out of the UK. Much of it is fairly advanced – there’s a fabulous box locket tutorial, for example. Sadly, that project is beyond my capabilities right now – but there’s some great basic stuff too. Do you want some real “eco” pickle? She’s figured out how to do it. Want to know how to keep your little pallions of solder from leaping around off your fluxed metal? She’s worked out a fix for that.

Joanne Tinley Jewelry: I guess we’re having a bit of a British Invasion over here – she’s another UK based metalsmith. This blog is a lot of fun and it comes with some fabulous tutorials for folks with varying skill levels. I’ve got some of her components in my stash and she makes great stuff. She’s inspired me to try my hand at stacked bangles and taught me a new trick with soldered earwires! She has two blogs.

The old one is here.

and the new one is here.

Shannon LaVart – Miss Fickle Media. This lady does fantastic things with color and metal. I really love her detailed tutorials and own most of them. Her tutorial on patina is one of the best things I’ve bought all year. She introduced me to paste solder. I love paste solder so much. It doesn’t jump around.

I’ve learned so much from the Internet community of jewelry makers. What did we do without Internet back in the dark ages? Was there ever a time before the Internet? I know there was, but I’ll be darned if I know how we survived the Information Dark Ages. Well, actually, wait. Never mind. I know the answer to that question. Public libraries! They were open every day but Sunday back then and they had adequate funding, well organized card catalogs and plenty of staffing. Librarians were our Google. Instead of a keyboard, we walked to a wall and found a card that had a magic number on it and the magic number took us to a magic book that had the answer to our problems. Usually. Unless some cheeky jerk had checked it out the day before. It was like a magical scavenger hunt but with an element of surprise and potential frustration at the end!

And we did it in the snow. Both ways. Barefoot. Uphill.

Plus, back in the Internet Dark Ages, I was in my 20’s and had a better short term memory so could retain information longer and access it without that vexing “it’s-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue” thing happening. My dad swears that that is a normal experience for people in their 40’s. He says, “don’t worry.” Also he says, “just wait till you’re 70.” I’ve detected just the merest soupcon of Schadenfreude going on when he says it, too. That small hint of glee makes me nervous.

But I digress.

They closed my branch of the county library so now when I want to know something about a technique or if I have a sticky problem in my studio usually the first place I go is to Google. Invariably, something will pop up that helps me out of whatever bind I am in. Someone, somewhere, will have run into the same problem and usually they will have blogged about it. Sometimes, more than one someone and then I get to compare solutions and find one that works for my particular studio set up and resources. Yay multiple sources!

I could not afford this kind of information if I were to try to take all these classes in school. It’s folks like this who make it possible for me to keep learning and buy premium cat food and the occasional catnip mice for the kids.

A little note about buying cat food and catnip mice… it’s good to give back. I try to put a little folding green back in the pockets of the folks who are super helpful to me in my learning process. Most of these folks have Etsy shops. They make supplies, they make jewelry, and they have written great tutorials that you can download for a nominal fee. They do this in addition to the fantastic blog posts they are basically giving away. So if you check out their blog and you like what you see, if they’ve helped you out, then be a mensch. Stop by their Etsy shop when you’ve got a little cash to blow! Buy a tutorial when you can. Help them feed the cat and keep the lights on.

That’s my little rule of thumb, anyway.

A huge thank you from me, to the people who share. More link love next week!


So the Calendar was all, like, “OMG! Spring Equinox!”

And the daffodils were all, like, “YAY!”


And then Mother Nature was all, like, “APRIL FOOLS!”


Oh but there is something about spring sunshine on the snow, isn’t there? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like the neighbor’s tree, currently full of cherry blossoms, set against all that white… or the way the pine trees and distant mountains become almost ghostly. The world takes on a whole different aspect and I am not sure I’ll ever get totally used to it.


It delights me.

I think the daffodils might be toast, though.

We’ve had awesome weather this week up on the mountain. Rain, then beautiful blue skies, then freezing rain, then snow, then more blue skies… the daffodils don’t know whether to bloom or keep their wee flowers to themselves. I’m sort of hoping they will keep their little yellow heads down for another week or so, because we’ve got at least 3 more days of snow in the forecast. My studio is nice and toasty and there is plenty of tea so I don’t really mind what the weather outside is doing. Let it rain! Lord knows we need it.


I think I’m starting to get the hang of this bead making thing and I am getting better at the process of getting color into the clay – at least, in a way that I like.


So far, ink is the medium that’s worked best for me. I’ve tried Ranger Distress ink and Ranger Adirondack alcohol ink, as well as some other random inks that I happened to have lying about. The alcohol inks are, by far, the best. I’ve tried using them to tint both gesso and liquid sculpey. I wasn’t crazy about the tinted gesso OR the tinted liquid sculpey, frankly. The results with the tinted sculpey are a little bit too watercolor-like and that’s not what I wanted at all. I wanted deep, rich color and I wanted something that would be thin enough for brushwork. The liquid sculpey is super thick and gloppy. Gesso applies better, but if you’re using white gesso, that dulls the color too much. I haven’t yet tried tinting clear gel medium but it’s on the list. So far, though, the best results have resulted from applying alcohol ink directly to the baked pieces. It helps if you don’t mind tinting your fingers multiple shades of whatever colors you’re playing with and have tons of paper towels at hand. These inks dry fast – you can get something called “blending alcohol” to work with them and I do recommend it.


Once I got the colors washed on the way I liked, I covered each piece with a coat of liquid Sculpey and baked them (suspended on a cobbled together, tin foil bead rack). The liquid Sculpey turns clear and gives you a matte finish. It also means that the ink is set under there, and I’m hoping this will keep my colors from fading too much. Once that was done, I washed thin layers of mica infused, acrylic glaze over the clay. I wanted a little sparkle, but I mostly wanted to bring those textures into more relief and I figured the mica would do that by subtly highlighting the raised portions even more. After the glaze dried, I sealed the whole mess with Permalac.


The Ranger alcohol ink colors are very vibrant and they make building up multiple washes of color very easy. I’ve heard them referred to as “dull” and I’m not sure why. I feel like they’re beautifully rich and the earth tones are fabulous.

Dull? Please. Love the rich hue that multiple applications will give you. You can also layer colors over other colors. The colors will mix a little bit with each new application of ink, so make sure you use harmonious shades!


Really happy with how these came out. I’m gonna caveat this by saying that I’m completely winging it. A few web pages and tutorial type bits, but mostly I’m figuring it out as I go.


Which is kind of like how I do everything. What would we do without Google?

I’ve recently discovered that in addition to metal clays, I can also do low fire clays and glazes in my Paragon SC2 kiln. Pottery and ceramics are where I started, so the idea of being able to create clay art beads is very exciting. Apparently one can do raku firings in a small kiln and they do make bead racks sized for my little Paragon.

Beads are a lot lighter to shlep around to shows than teapots! Easier to store, too. Obviously I’m gonna need a bigger studio.

“We” (and we all know who that really means) may need to build a shed.


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