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Apr. 16th, 2014


Upcycled Journal

When I first started selling online, I opted not to get a separate printer for doing shipping labels. I also elected not to purchase self adhesive labels for two reasons. The first is that ink jet ink runs when it gets wet, and so even with the self stick labels, I would still have had to lay tape over top to prevent moisture (like say a rainy day when the mail carrier had my package out for delivery) Self-stick is simply overkill when you are also taping.

The second reason is the full on waste of the backing paper on which self stick printable label blanks come mounted. So, I consciously decided that I would use plain printer paper. But this still left me with the problem of paper waste whenver I need to print only a single label or an odd number of labels. In each case, the label only takes up half of the 8.5 x 11 paper. And after folding the sheet and tearing off the remainder each time, I began to grow a pile of half page sized paper waste.

I wanted to use that paper, and as I'm a creative sort just keeping a pile of scratch paper on hand wasn't very satisfying. Recently I remembered that I used to keep a hand written journal and that I often, when short on cash, but long on excess paper left over from college, would use a hole punch, some random ribbon, or even rubber bands to cobble together makeshift journals to carry with me.

And then I remembered the stash of leather scraps hanging out amidst my sewing things.

It came to me, that I could recycle the leather, originally from another project, and make a simple journal with hand-torn pages, Chicago screws so the fill paper can be replaced with more hand torn pages as needed. and a simple d ring style buckle closure.

RecycledLeatherJournalNo1 (4)
RecycledLeatherJournalNo1 (3)
RecycledLeatherJournalNo1 (1)
RecycledLeatherJournalNo1 (2)

When the journal was completed, I liked it but felt it lacked flair. It also lacked a pen holder, something I think is essential in a portably sized journal. Plus, I am a wire smith, and these days most of what I make just naturally involves the use of wire. In this case a length of stainless steel wire serves as both a curvy embellishment AND a pen holder.

Mar. 26th, 2014


When things don't come easily, the results are sometimes surprisingly good.

I have to admit, sometimes I really struggle with a design concept.  This usually happens most when I have a customer who has an image in mind but I have trouble interpreting their description of what they want into an image my own mind can wrap itself around.   Most times it is an issue with the client not having or using the same words I associate with specific design elements.

In the case of this particular commission, photo below, The main issue was her definition of elegant had less to do with the lines of a piece and more to do with color.   We went back and forth several times, as I offered her different options for the construction and design of a collar with an open work infinity symbol in the front of the collar.  We approached a final design, but she kept saying she wanted it to be more elegant than what I was suggesting.  And it wasn't until she mentioned a previous piece she'd ordered as being more elegant that it clicked for me.  To her, elegance meant that there needed to be touches of gold along with the sterling.  With that clarified, all I had to do was to manifest a real piece of jewelry that matched the vision.

With this particular commission, my original inspiration for the front focal didn't work at all well once I'd put together the disparate elements.  So I had to go back and come up with a new way to combine sterling and gold filled wires to make a focal whose lines coordinated with the rest of the design elements.  I'm pretty chuffed at the results, especially because I now have a new technique added to my repertoire.


Mar. 1st, 2014


Ah my muse she is back, and I feel more like myself...

Brain filled with tons of new ideas?     


Tons of new orders in my custom queue?


Time enough to fulfill custom orders AND make the new ideas?


But, I did get to enjoy coming up with a simple way to make a convertable/interchangeable mini-necklace wardrobe for one of my regular customers.   Pictures should tell the tale well enough.

InterchangeableCommission (1)
InterchangeableCommission (4)
InterchangeableCommission (3)
InterchangeableCommission (2)

Feb. 19th, 2014


The Moral I should have learned in my 20's: or how I came to quit my day job.

    One of the nice people who follow my jewelry picture postings just asked me,"What made you decide to go into business for myself?" (paraphrased) And suddenly the below response poured out of me.  So, I'm posting it here cliché ridden though it is, because it feels like Truth, my truth.  Maybe it should be true for more of us in this world. Re-reading this before posting makes me incredibly sad for my younger self

    Ever since I can remember, I hated the idea that I had to work to someone else's rules and time schedule.  And I'm talking as far back as grade school here.  I never minded the actual work (unless it was math).  Learning was fun. Reading was fun. Writing things was fun. Making diagrams, and posters, and other things for school was fun.  But, not if I had to do it at THIS time, and in precisely THAT way.   When adults would tell me I was going to have to "toe the line," "put in the sweat," and "Just stick with the program." I balked at every turn. This included set bed times, and set waking times, and set days of the week for one activity but not another.  When summers came, and those scheduling restrictions went away, I was in heaven.  The adults, all of them, parents, teachers, ministers, grandparents, counselors...well you get it... all said, "You have to grow up". "You are living in fantasy land." "Life doesn't work that way." "We are just trying to save you from pain and misery." And they said, "Oh look! You are so creative, how wonderful!  Now stop dilly dallying and get to work. Art won't pay the rent."

    Eventually, I internalized those messages and stuck my nose to the grindstone, hating every second of it even the ones where I was doing things at which I excelled and from which I derived satisfaction. I still really struggled with alarms, schedules, meetings, etc.   But, though I knew I was creative, and spent most of my non-career hours doing creative things and loving them.  I'd swallowed whole the concept that one cannot make a living doing art. I swallowed it and made it my Truth for decades.  I believed that art should be a recreational activity. Making things was mere playing and playing is only something we can do when we aren't being responsible citizens.   

    Then in 2006 I found a new hobby making wearable art from wire.  By 2008 I was pretty much making jewelry every moment that I wasn't working for Uncle Sam.  Then some friends persuaded me to try opening an ETSY shop.  I didn't sell much at all in the beginning.  lost money hand-over-fist the first three years, but my skills and design abilities grew at around the same pace as the demand for my pieces.  Things really started moving after I had the thought that some of the traditional wire-work bracelets I'd been researching would make lovely public wear collars.  So I made one, gifted it to a friend, and posted pictures on Flickr.   It made a splash, so I made a couple more, trying different things.  And they sold, more quickly than any of my other jewelry.

   In 2011 I looked at the volume of sales, looked at how little sleep I was getting and how if my best friend hadn't moved across the country to help me with housework, and the administrivia of running a household that something was going to have to give.  The jewelry business income wasn't enough to live on yet, and giving up the $72,000.00 a year salary from my professional career was terrifying.  In 2012 business was better but still too scary to think of living only on that.  So, I promised myself one more year of doing both.  Then something happened at work in January of 2013 (about two months after my decision to wait another year) that had me throwing up my hands and saying. "I'm done with this." And I was.  I turned in my notice that day.  Came home to my best friend and told her I'd quit and that we were going to have to tighten the purse strings for a while, possibly for years.

   Now it is 2014, and as scary as making the jump was, and still is at times.  I've finally got the life I needed and dreamed of.  I sleep when I'm sleepy.  I work when I'm inspired, I stop and read a book when I feel like it.  And I keep no set hours.  I don't use alarm clocks.  My schedule is based in terms of days, or weeks.  I do answer to my customers, but even that I do on my own terms.

   Whew, probably a longer tale than you anticipated.  Longer even than I intended, but there you have it.  I was born to be self-employed in a creative endeavor but it took 48 years to get here. Nearly 5 decades to discover is it isn't irresponsible to pursue your passion, even if that passion isn't going to make you rich, or even merely well-to-do.   It isn't irresponsible to opt for the scary and risky road, no matter what the naysayers say.  It is likely more irresponsible to suppress the dream and slog along doing something you don't love because societal bias says having a job you love isn't as important as having job security.

Feb. 8th, 2014


When the muses take a vacation....

We've probably all heard of Writer's block, it is a cliche after all.   But I don't hear much bandied about in the Artisan crafters circles about metalsmith's block, or sewer's block, or desinger's block.  I suspect that's because other sorts of creatives just don't talk much about the times when their drive to create new things seems to evaporate.  I imagine some artists just call it boredom and turn to a different medium, or they pick up a new and different hobby that doesn't involve creativity.

I first started making wire sculpted jewelry sometime in 2006.  From then until about this past December I have been steadily creating on a near daily basis. And while I'm still making a number of pieces of jewelry each week, I'm not making new designs.  I'm simply doing production work on made to order designs, or fulfilling custom requests based on my earlier work.  The images that usually pepper my waking and even my dreaming thoughts that have me yearning to try so many new ideas that I've not experienced more than a few hours or a couple of days where I wasn't chock full of the urge to have my hands full of wire.

So, I'm sitting here now feeling a bit bereft.  I still love making jewelry.  And its very good that I've sufficient orders to keep me busy doing that.  But I feel like a piece of my artistic soul has gone walkabout, and I'm just a little worried it might not come back.  That niggling worry has me doing things to procrastinate heading towards my studio when I've caught up on orders.  Because I feel 'wrong' sitting there gazing at my tools, sorting through materials, or flipping through my resource library seeking but not finding that inner spark which begins every session where I make or try to capture (with my atrocious drawing skills) the ideas running by at warp speed.

So, I want to know folks.  What do you do when your muses are on a long vacation?

Dec. 14th, 2013


Roc k Quartz Pents Earrings

Self Explanatory, no doubt, but:

2mm Satin Rattail. 8 strand round kumihimo braid, Plated Silver end caps, affixed with both glue and a mechanical method. Clasped with a stainless steel captive segment ring. (Re-purposed Body Piercing Component) from which is suspended a Swarovski Crystal Element Pendant with Silver Plated Bail.

Oct. 26th, 2013


Going Back to The Drawing Board with This One.

Re-purposing vintage silverware into jewelry items has been a popular hand craft for a few decades now.  And I have dabbled in that arena making rings out of sugar and baby spoon handles.  I've found that full sized flatware handles are too long for rings, but too short for bracelets and I'm not overly fond of the way some artisans link a couple of pieces together to form necklaces.   This is not to say that linking multiple pieces together is bad, just that doing so doesn't fit my aesthetic.

So when a friend, out of the blue, sent me several pieces of solid sterling silver flatware in trade for me making a custom pendant out of the largest serving fork, I was thrilled.  The flatware is heavy ornate and just beautiful.   And the serving fork handle is just long enough to make a cuff style bracelet.  Or so I thought.

The problem is in two aspects for this piece.  The first issue is that while I can get this piece onto my wrist, the lovely leaf motif I salvaged from the narrow end digs uncomfortably into my wrist when putting the cuff on.   This is an issue I'd be content to deal with on its own, though it makes the piece unsaleable, save for the next problem.

I had to leave the very end of the wide part curved up somewhat to make the opening just barely wide enough for wedging the cuff onto my wrist.  But once the cuff is on it sits oddly and falls too far down my wrist.   So, I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and figure out how to do this differently so it will sit the way I want it to and go on without digging into the skin.

I do love the look of it in the pictures I took.  So I'm not giving up on it.  Just have to let some ideas percolate a bit.

SterlingStieffFloralBraceletFirstAttempt (6)
SterlingStieffFloralBraceletFirstAttempt (3)
SterlingStieffFloralBraceletFirstAttempt (1)
SterlingStieffFloralBraceletFirstAttempt (2)

Oct. 19th, 2013


Rubies & Sapphires D'Or

Rubies & Sapphires D'Or
Originally uploaded by LadyMockingbird
This beautiful hand woven locking slave collar/choker features a vintage Victorian era gold filled padlock.

The padlock is tiny, and the only one I've found after years of searching, in this teeny tiny size. It has its key and shows some of the natural wear and tear from decades of use.

I felt that this special lock, needed an equally special, nay, a spectacular collar to do it justice. So, I gathered up some gemstones I've been holding onto for just the right piece, pulled out 14kt gold filled wire, and some 14kt gold filled findings to craft this absolutely unique showpiece.

Oct. 2nd, 2013


One Thousand ETSY Sales Celebration Give-a-way Drawing

Hullo everyone,
    As I mentioned on Facebook a while back, I was nearing a new big milestone on my ETSY shop http://www.Mockingbirdlanewire.etsy.com .  That milestone happened while I wasn't looking on the last day of September 2013.  To celebrate, and to offer up my appreciation of both my customers and my internet friends who spent time sharing links to my shop's jewelry items, I want to send one lucky winner the hand crafted cocktail ring I designed and created shown in the photos below.

   There is only this one ring, and I'll not be making another like it.  So there is only one size available.  It is a 9.5 in US sizing.

Drawing Closes on 25 October at Midnight Eastern Time.

Here are the rules to join the drawing:

Send an E-mail with the Subject Line:  Sapphire Ring Celebration Drawing
To:  Ldy_Mockingbird@Yahoo.com
Include in the Message Text

First and Last Name
Mailing Address
AND: if you are outside of the Continental US a Paypal E-mail address so I can send an invoice for the shipping costs.  US residents do not need to include this information.

If you share the link to this drawing with your Facebook Friends & Family, even if you don't win the ring, I'll send a special discount coupon code that will be good through the Holiday shipping season on any purchase in my shop.  Simply paste a link to the posting where you shared the drawing to receive the coupon code.

I will not be keeping or storing anyone's regular or e-mail addresses for advertising or any other purposes. All e-mail addresses will be deleted after the drawing closes and the ring is awarded.  I, personally, detest spam so I refuse to use mass mailing electronic or otherwise as a marketing strategy.

If you would like to follow my weekly (and sometimes less frequent than weekly)  posts with pictures of new work I'm doing you can do so at my Facebook Business Page: https://www.facebook.com/MockingbirdLaneCreations

If you are a Fetlife User, you've probably already found me there.  But if not.  I'm Lady Mockingbird.

StarSapphireWhiteTopazRing (1)StarSapphireWhiteTopazRing (2)
StarSapphireWhiteTopazRing (3)One Thousand ETSY Sales Celebrationg Giveaway of Star Sapphire & White Topaz Ring

Sep. 26th, 2013


Tiny Titanium Spirals (3)

TinyTitaniumSpirals (3)
Originally uploaded by LadyMockingbird
I don't like tossing away useable wire. Sometimes even smallish scraps left over from a commissioned piece can become useable, wearable art.

That is the case with these little spiral doodles I did up using a short length of titanium wire left over after a hand made woven piece I did not long ago.

I think they shined up beautifully. I resisted giving them a heat patina even though I really wanted to turn them indigo blue with fire from my butane torch. But I really couldn't afford to take the additional time, since I had stopped in the middle of a custom order just to make them.

Sometimes, well often actually, my best fresh ideas happen while I am actively making something else. And I have to break away to get the fresh ideas at least started, so they don't escape into the mist of obscured memory.

When ideas escape like that they are often doomed to wander the grey mists forever, never to see the light of my workbench or feel the touch of my fingers.

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