Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Heart Macro...

It's been a while since I've been in the groove of my regular blogging.
One thing I'd really like to get back into is I Heart Macro Sundays via Studio Waterstone.
This is a quick shot from today as I was working in my studio and had my little 2 year old down there painting on the new painting easel that he and his sister got for a Christmas present from me.
I wanted them to be able to come down with me and spend some time creating and not worrying so much about keeping things ultra clean (my way of not having to clean up the house after them - studio is fine - house - not so much... I don't like to clean the house - I like it clean, but would rather be spending my time in the studio or in the garden hanging out with these guys).
I love to just watch how they figure things out.
What goes through their head...
Oh, Wait...
I know exactly what is about to happen...
Riley is such a boy!
He got a huge kick out of chasing me around with this water bottle (even played along when I grabbed it and sprayed him - oh the squealy screams and laughter that came out of that kid!).
I can't wait until it is not the middle of winter and we can run outside a lot more.

Check out the other posts over on this weeks I Heart Macro:
studio waterstone

Saturday Night Specials Time (an Etsy Team Event)

It's Saturday Night Specials Time for the SNS team on
My coupon code is SNS20 to get you 20% off your retail purchase in my Marsha Neal Studio Etsy shop.
Sales for participants on this team run from 5pm EST Sat (1/28/12) to 6am EST Sun (1/29/12).

Here are a couple of SNS treasury collections that included one of the items from my shop.

Thanks for stopping by!
Make sure to click around a bit on the post for tonights specials
There are some great deals on some awesome things!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ceramic Clay Shards Update

One of my favorite parts about my job as a bead maker is photographing my work.
It can be frustrating trying to find the perfect daylight, but when else do I get to have all these little treasures in one place - waiting for their chance to be in front of the camera?
 I just like to look at them all...
Get to know each one of them a little bit better...
Spend time sorting them from their "out of the kiln, hole cleaned, paired up and ready to be photographed" tray to their "for sale on Etsy tray".
Each one photographed against a neutral background and a second time to show the size...
I love how this blue of my Dusty Denim glaze puddles and then breaks tan on the ridges of my porcelain clay shards...
And in my previous posts of late, here is a set of shards from the same firing, same glaze, that have been etched (removal of clear glossy glass finish). 
I love these rich buttery muted tones...
I've done a ton of research on etching beads, but there is just something in my brain that I need to test out before I can do my big Etsy shop update (with etched beads).
The photo above is a standard home test that potters can use to see if their glazes leach any materials (acid test). This is especially important for any glaze that is to come into contact with food or drink.
Now I know my pendants are not going to be used as scoop to get the hummus from the bowl at your next party... 
But still. I need to know if and how it reacts with long exposure (a couple days) to something so acidic with the shiny glass outer coating removed...
If it does leach - well, then I've got a bunch of work to use for "other art projects".
Although shards used to make earrings like this would be totally fine...
Speaking of which...
I'm going to have my first ever magazine article published in the April 2012 edition of Step By Step Wire Jewelry on how to make my Porcelain Shard Trapeze Earrings as you see them below...
I'm pretty excited. Nervous excited...

So with all these thoughts of clay shards going on today, I decided to roll out some clay balls...
And from those balls - more shards...
Just enough to squeeze in at the end of a very long day of working on the computer...
I love having just a bit of time like that to get into the clay groove.
I want to do it more often - so many ideas brewing!

With this bit of insight into what I've got in stock for shards,
Directions coming out soon for how to make the Trapeze Earrings (of which I could also make them up for you if you don't have the time to try it yourself),
And my wanting to make more means I need to move some of those that are sitting in my Etsy shop, taking up valuable space - there needs to be a sale.
Want in on the details?
The coupon code is going to be announced to my Newsletter subscribers later today (Jan. 27, 2012).
If there are any shards left after the Shard sale, I may post a code to use either here on my blog or on my Facebook Fan page - but I'm hoping that they will be gobbled up fast.

Hope you're finding inspiration somewhere!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Etch All Dip n Etch Info

Here are some pics I quick snapped for those of you interested in the contents of the etching solution that I mentioned in my previous post on Etching Ceramic Beads

Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc

As noted in my previous post, when working with this material - always wear gloves and long clothes to protect your skin. 
Safety goggles will help protect your eyes from any splashing. 
Good ventilation is necessary as well.
This is a chemical. 
There are risks for using it improperly (as does just about anything in life when it comes down to it). 
Be Smart. Be Safe!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fiddling Around In The Social Media Realm...

Just fiddling around trying to figure stuff out.
Do you ever do that?
Marsha Neal Studio Recent Clay Work
I'm cleaning up my Flickr account a bit reorganizing photo sets and wondering how I can use the images on there with my blog here...
Like the photo mosaic above (created through flickr, then big huge labs, then flickr again) - wondering since I added by html code, if you click on it will you go to my flickr page or just an enlarged version of the image?
(Answer: takes you to my flickr photo stream - good to know!)

And what is the best way to get things like this up on Pinterest...
Because right now I would have to "publish" this blog post to get the photo URL
(unless I can grab that from Flickr too nope didn't work...).
then get the image URL and go over to the Pinterest Goodies Page and add the Pin It button to my blog.
(Update: it is easiest to hit the Pin It that I have installed on my personal internet browser window and share it on the board, but self promotion is not looked upon with smiling eyes. Having that Pin It red & white button is the nice way for you to ask someone else to pin it for you...)
Just trying to figure out what the fastest way to do this is...

If I save the image direct from Big Huge Labs to my computer as a jpg file, I can then upload it here:
Marsha Neal Studio Recent Clay Works Mosaic
So then after saving this blog post, I can go over to Pinterest and add the URL, website, description and then copy and paste the html code to get this:
Pin It

And all of this is stemming from a few questions...
One being: How can I help out the jewelry designers that are using my pieces in their creations...

I want to have a place for you to link up your Etsy shop listings or website listings or blog posts here on my blog to help people see your beautiful work (and maybe even buy it...)

Maybe I need to create a dedicated page with an Inlinkz gadget.
Or a monthly post...

All this is going to take a bit of figuring out.
But I'm sure it will be well worth it showing off how "pulled together" it all seems...
Do you ever get like this - just fiddling around trying to figure it all out.
If you've got any ideas or links to helpful sites, I would love it if you could post it in the comments below.

How To Etch Ceramic Pendants and Beads...

I've been trying to figure out how to make the most out of what I've got.
How do you make something new out of what is already in existence?
What I've got is a lot of porcelain pendants.
And these pieces above have all now been etched.

What is etching? I wondered the same thing...
Years ago I was talking to my friend Nikki (Thornburg Bead Studio) about how she got that awesome satin matte finish on some of her glass beads - the ones that I was completely drawn to more than any other bead.
We were both selling our work at a bead show, and I think the conversation was something along the lines of me asking novice questions like:
"What kind of glass is that? The one that has a satin matte etched finish?" 
Then she politely giggled as always and explained that it was an extra step she took after creating the beads to remove the glossy glass finish. 
She used a liquid glass etch (Etch All) to get that finish on some of her beads.
Update: Check out the bottle on this post.

I thought that since my pieces were glazed - and glaze contains silica (glass) - I should be able to etch my glazed pieces...
So I ordered the Dip 'n etch etching solution, etched pieces, but was a bit occupied traveling selling my work at bead shows at the time to really spend a lot of time in the studio experimenting, so I put it up on the shelf.
(still can't find that original bottle - it's in a box in the studio somewhere!)
Marsha Neal Studio Newly Etched Butterfly and Bat Pendants.
This time I was really ready to experiment and play with it (no show pressure this time).
I followed the directions on the bottle and soon figured out that my glazes would take a lot longer than a few minutes to get the look I wanted (this took lots of testing and keeping track of time - 15 minutes give or take depending on the actual glaze).
Marsha Neal Studio reenactment of rinsing etched pendants.
After the 15 minutes was up, I carefully emptied the etching solution back into the original bottle, then rinsed each piece at the sink. My pieces have a lot of texture so I used a green scrubby, the industrial kind, to clean each piece individually. 
Also, please note that I was wearing gloves during the entire process around the etching solution.
Always follow safety guidelines on bottle!
I remembered that I should be taking a photo after these were rinsed, and ran the water just to show the step...
Marsha Neal Studio Etched Pendants Tray 1
 After they were dried and inspected they were placed into trays so I could easily photograph them and get them ready for listing up in my Etsy shop (hoping to photograph them Tuesday & Wednesday) and do a shop update on Thursday.
Marsha Neal Studio Etched Pendants Tray 2
MNS Detail of cutout flowers & medium etched pendants.
Pin It
They all have this buttery rich satin matte finish to them.
The colors are so muted yet intense...
MNS detail of etched bats and butterfly pendants.
Pin It
Every time I hold one in my hand I can't help but want to squeal and covet it a bit more...
Marsha Neal Studio double sided Etched Nest Beads.
Marsha Neal Studio side view of etched nest bead.
Just wait...
You've got to get some of these to see how beautiful they are!
Marsha Neal Studio detail of etched shards and earring pairs.
Pin It
And of course - I had to etch some of these Halloween pieces.
It is like the missing link to what the finish needed on these not so scary spooky pendants.
Marsha Neal Studio Etched Halloween Pendants.
Pin It
So what do you think?
Do you like them?
Do you want to use them or just hold onto them?

If you want to receive notice about my Etsy shop update & receive a newsletter only coupon code, sign up to receive my email newsletter
My MarshaNealStudio Facebook Fans get 10% off retail in my Etsy shop at any time with their special coupon code: FaceBookFan10 (but you've got to be a fan to use it).

Wish me luck with getting things pulled together after over a week off
(we needed some extra family fun time together - too much crazy going on in the last year).

There is so much to catch up with - I'm going in every direction.
To Do lists that last for days - but soon it will all get done...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Inlinkz Gadget and Link Manager Trying Stuff

I've been using InLinkz for quite a while here on my blog, Beads of Clay Blog, Delaware Etsy Street Team Blog and for the Art Walk Etsy Team blog.
I use it so that other people can link up their blog, Etsy shop, etc to a specific blog post so we can help promote each other's work.

Right now I'm looking into some of the other things that InLinkz has to offer.
Like how can you host a contest where people can vote on links & pick a winner?
And their Link Manager - seems pretty cool for making collections (reminds me slightly of Pinterest)...

So I don't have a lot of time this week, but wanted to quick give something a try:
I went out and found a code for the Link Manager (it's in Beta testing now)
And I created a collection based on a couple of my porcelain pendant sets I've got in my Etsy shop:

If you think you might be interested in InLinkz, would you please see about checking them out through my links to help get me referrals (helps get my subscription extended).
Here is their cute logo that has my referral code too:

Tell me what you think!
I know this has SO much potential!
Now only to get my brain around it...