Friday, December 31, 2010

Miniatures at Port City Pottery

Milky, one of our newest additions to the family, is very curious. She was more than happy to sniff the teapot so that I could show scale of my most recent miniatures.

Port City Pottery in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington, NC is hosting a show on miniatures. All 20 artists are invited to participate. These pieces are some of my contribution to the show.

I hope that you will be by in January to check out the show!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Port City Pottery Hosts a "Miniature" show

This January one of my local galleries is doing a show on miniatures. I wanted to do something other than jewelry, so I went with teacups and a goblet. I'm planning on doing some flatware and a teapot too, but I've been slowly recovering from the hustle of the holidays.

Come by the Cotton Exchange to Port City Pottery to see what 20 artists have done for their miniatures! I can't wait.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Secret Santa--Guess Who?

I have been in love with Shannon Conrad's (aka rubygirl) handcast "Lego" rings for some time! It just so happened that she was my EtsyMetal Secret Santa. I love the flush set stone in the corner. I have had such a wonderful Christmas and this Secret Santa definitely made me smile.

I didn't post earlier because I was such a dork and tried to shove this on my middle finger. (not the finger it was sized for either) I couldn't take pictures because my finger was all red and swollen. I drank lots of water and got my hands cold before I attempted to take it off again two days later. Good thing that I can laugh at how silly I can be....sigh.

I think I have the same level of impulse control as my 4 year old.

Friday, December 10, 2010

EM Secret Santa 2010

Dear Etsy Metal Secret Santa 2010,

I've been naughty and your Christmas present is shipping late. Instead of a bunch of whiny excuses, I'll post a photo here so that you might see your ring. I'm also terrible with keeping presents secret..... I'm so thrilled to give presents that I want to immediately tell what's inside.

I hope that you have a wonderful and joyful holiday.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Stone Setting Story

Many of you know that my husband Hans has been learning lapidary, which is the art of cutting stones. He has been cutting cabochons--the smooth rounded stones--for about a year and has been faceting stones for about 6 months. He is very anxious for me to set his stones. I have put it off as long as possible. I have not really set many fancy cut gemstones, so I admit that I am a bit intimated. This weekend I decided to tackle them. I have a show coming up this weekend and I figured that I needed lots of bling!

This "morganite" cubic zirconia is cut from a pattern designed by Jeff Graham called "White Asterism". It weighs 12 carats. The pattern boasts 72.6 in light return with a mere 73 facets in 6-fold mirror-image symmetry. (I looked that up on the pattern page.)

Here's what I did:
I used 3 shanks of 16 gauge wire about 3 inches long and then notched them in the middle with a file. I bent them in half and arranged them so that they were equidistant from each other and soldered the center together. Then I gently bent the arms from my 6 sided wire snowflake shape over my "rings" and soldered them to 2 large jumprings--one at a time. (this made a little cage--can't wait to explore that idea too!) All solder was done with hard solder. I trimmed off the centerpiece where they were soldered at the bottom and filed it. Next I cut the top prongs to the correct height. I rounded the prong tips and notched them with a little hand tool made specifically for that purpose.

So far I'm really pleased and feel that I'm finding a definitive style by using these bigger, flashier stones. So my darling Hans, I just ordered you some more rough gemstone. :D

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My First Brooch

My First Brooch
Originally uploaded by sarawestermark
Kind of sounds silly, but I was really intimidated to do a brooch. I think its because in order to have a sturdy back you can't use sterling wire to make the "pin" stick part. I have many sketches for brooch/pendant combination pieces, so I'm excited that I've crossed over the threshold. Now everything my be brooches!

Thanks to Andy Cooperman for some tricks for pin backs that he shared with me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My First Publication

I was so giddy last week when I saw a yellow bubble mailer from Lark Books. I had a hunch that it would be this book!!!! I opened it up and looked inside to see my first piece of jewelry in print. Being included in this book has quite literally changed my life.

In the Spring of 2009, I received an email from Lark Books inviting me to participate in this project. I was confused. At that time I had only been metalsmithing for a little over 2 years--having received my first torch as a present from my sweet husband, Hans for Christmas 2006. My maiden name was Graham and I was immediately terrified that they had mixed me up with a well-known (and famous) metalsmith--Sarah Graham. I consulted with a few friends and then I mustered up the courage to call Lark Books. I explained that they made a mistake and that I probably wasn't the person that they wanted, plus I was entirely self-taught. The Lark representative, Amanda Caresto, laughed good-naturedly and assured me that Marthe Le Van did not make a mistake and wanted me to be involved in this project.

Many of you know that I'm a classically trained opera singer with a master's in voice performance. I had struggled with my life's twists and turns and had really felt like a failure because I chose not to pursue a career and to be a Mom. I had frequent nightmares of being a failure. While I love being a mom, my artistic and ambitious impulses fought to get out. I turned to metalsmithing as a hobby to soothe my pent up frustration. I read every book I could get my hands on and every weekend, I would challenge myself to learn a new technique. I believed that if I had done a technique 100 times, then I owned that skill.

After the birth of my second child in 2006, I adopted my 10 year old niece. I went from one child to three quite literally overnight. I had to make more money, so began to sell my jewelry at church festivals and local craft fairs. It was impossible for me to teach more students because my voice would wear out, but I could make jewelry all night long while everyone slept. I had always wanted to make jewelry, but never knew about "art" jewelry. Now I can't imagine not making jewelry!!!

I want to thank Marthe Le Van and Linda Kopp for believing in me and for allowing me to be in this book. This validation happened at such a key moment in my life and has transformed me as an artist. I also thank my husband and my niece for all their help that allowed me time to work. I want to thank Karen Schoon who has always believed in me and who has been like a second mother to me. I am grateful for my Mom and Dad who have always been there for me. I only wish that my Dad had lived long enough to see me be an artist. And I thank all the people who have purchased my work. I feel so blessed and I am full of joy.

Now I hope that you all will want to purchase your very own copy of The Jewelry Design Challenge!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inspiration comes in packages....

RAD 148 Inspiration packages
Originally uploaded by sarawestermark

Today I received a very special surprise from Experimetal (aka Victoria Takahashi). Inside the box were these little packages. Just as I was getting ready to rip them all open, I spied a note with the "rules".
"If you open a package you have to use it, OR use it for inspiration and make a piece within 24 hours.

NO PEEKING! (Fondling counts as peeking)"

So, I decided that I could handle one little challenge before my trip to Seattle tomorrow, so I selected one in the middle of the bag and opened it up. I found this gorgeous rock with the natural hole already in it. I loved the shape and wanted to play with it as a ring.

I've decided to call them my "inspiration packages".

It was an idea that Kathryn Riechert began when she sent a package to Victoria. Its very fun and playful. I feel like a kid again--caught up in my play.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Today's Ring Inspiration

My mother in law is one of the most amazing violin teachers I've ever met. She teaches kids in a "Suzuki" method. When kids ask how often they should practice, Dr. Suzuki's answer is that you only have to practice on the days you eat. In this tradition they also do a song 10,000 times before that song is mastered.

As a musician myself, I apply a daily discipline to my metalsmithing. I often challenge myself to try something new. Trying it once is not enough, getting it right once is not enough, so I relentlessly pursue it until it becomes a part of me. I think that there is some magic with number 10,000.

Yep, 10,000 of anyone thing is a lot of doing. This ring reminds me that I have to work at my art "only the days you eat".

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Craft Corps" by Vickie Howell

I am addicted to people's life stories and especially their successes. I normally do most of my reading via audio books when I'm traveling, but I've come across a book that has made me want to sit down and study it! "Craft Corps" by Vickie Howell published by Lark Books is a colorful and engaging book about the lives of hundreds of crafters. The tag line says it all, "Documenting the Crafting Revolution" with "celebrity interviews, profiles of everyday crafters, and tales of making a creative life." I am fascinated with the grassroots community and their overabundant dose of Do-It-Yourself combined with ingenuity. I love that this book instantly captures my attention and makes me want to read more. I think that you will love it too!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RAD Exhibit at SNAG!!!

EtsyMetal Ring a Day SNAG Exhibit Announcement

Colleen Baran's 1/365 Ring a Day

EtsyMetal is pleased to announce that the Ring a Day Project has been accepted as an exhibit for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) upcoming Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. The EtsyMetal team has partnered with the PUNCH Gallery for this exhibit. RAD, a Ring a Day for 365 days” curated by Colleen Baran, Shannon Conrad and Sara Westermark will run from Thursday, May 5 to Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Represented work will range from ephemeral and conceptual art rings to functional jewelry. The exhibit will feature 365 rings, representing a ring a day and encompassing the full span of the year. The layout will also include photographic documentation of select temporary and conceptual art rings. Rings will be chosen by the EtsyMetal curators and will illustrate the highlights and accomplishments of many hundreds of international members, selected from over 10,000 rings.

The Ring a Day project (or RAD) is an open challenge to metalsmiths and other artists across the globe to make one ring a day, out of any material, for the entire year of 2010. The genesis of the Ring a Day project is based on an exercise taught by Ellen Wieske at Haystack. The Flickr project, which was initially proposed by Nina Dinoff, was intended as an EtsyMetal team challenge to set a daily routine of exploration and an experiment to see what could develop over the course of a year.

On a daily basis, the rings are created, photographed, and posted to the Ring a Day Flickr photo group by each participant. The majority of the artists represented here have discovered this project through social media networks such as Flickr, EtsyMetal, Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and of course word of mouth. This project reflects a population of metalsmiths and jewelry makers who are facile with current online technology.

Shannon's Conrad's 200/365 Ring a Day

Visit the public RAD group and join the project-

For more info-

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Work!

My fingers are still aching from setting all the teeny tiny bezels, but it is work that I welcome. I am so grateful today that I can work, that I have many ideas that i want to explore, that I have ambition to move forward with excitement in the future. I am currently exploring a more "fine" jewelry style that I find intensely rewarding.

Yesterday I did something that I rarely do--I took a long nap. I let my mind wander around and draw and plan in peace and leisure. I felt in touch with my higher power and was serene.

These earrings are part of a new line which I call Byzantium. It combines influences from the ancient Roman and Byzantium styles with modern lines. Yes, the labradorite are really that lovely too!

hand fabricated out of sterling silver, 18k gold, champagne diamonds, labradorite, and blue topaz. Now I'm off to my bench to go and create some more!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Big Crafty!

Maggie J's "falling leaf earrings"

This weekend I'm traveling to Asheville to participate in The Big Crafty at Pack Square. I'll be outside, so if you are in the area please look for me! It was such a fun show last year--I'm really looking forward to it again.

Lark Books has a really cool blog and included my etsy store front in their blog post about the event. I have many new things to show you and I'm thrilled to feature my "lily pad & reed" series.

I'm organizing my life at the moment and if I get a second wind, I might make something special for the show! I'll travel to the western side of the state and stay with my friend Maggie, who will also do the show. (Maggie will be set up inside and upstairs in the Asheville Art Museum.)

I love to travel to see my friend and to have a show. Its work, but its so much fun that it doesn't feel like work! I hope that if you live nearby, you will come and see us! (me and maggie, that is!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

maker's mark

maker's mark
Originally uploaded by sarawestermark
I recently ordered some new stamps specifically to mark the inside shank of rings. The stamp shanks are bent and the face of the stamp is slightly curved so that it will be able to stamp the inside of a ring. They work really well on flat sheet, but I have yet to try them on a curved surface. (the first stamp is missing the first and last letters because of the curved shape) Vincent at Spark's Stamps in Long Island, NY hand tooled these stamps and shipped them to me very fast. I received the stamps one week after I placed the order! Here the website: I am wanting the earring post stamper! DROOL!

My circle stamp is made by Buckeye Engraving. Rachael Sudlow, a fellow Metalsmith, was kind enough to help me design this with the "s" of my first name encircling my last name. I am also pleased with this stamp--but it is only suited for flat surfaces. Buckeye had my stamp to me in a bit over a week from the time I first placed the order.

Both places do high quality hand-tooled stamps at a very reasonable price. These stamps range in price from $80-$105.

Metalsmith Suite itunes App from Brynmorgen Press

While I was at SNAG this year in Houston, I got to talk with Tim McCreight about new technologies  to aid metalsmiths.  I was really excited to see how forward thinking he was and how readily he embraced technology.  He mentioned that he was working on an iphone app relevant to metalsmiths.  While poking around on facebook this morning, I saw the announcement of this new app, entitled Metalsmith Suite.  It is only $3.99 for the first 50 who sign up.  The program has nine calculation programs and three additional information resources.  I linked each calculation and information resource with the Brynmorgen information sheet that includes screen shots of the program. 

 The nine calculation programs are:

cost of shot, cost of sheet, cost of wire, casting needs, drawing length, tubing blanks, metal conversion, gold alloying, equivalent numbers 

The three additional resources:

metal properties, gem properties and instructions.

I have downloaded the app, but I have yet to install it to my iphone.  I have lost the cord to sync it with my computer.  (I suspect my husband has hidden it from me--not true, but since he is the true techie in the household, he does hide stuff so I don't lose it.  He will have to fix it! :D)  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Next Show in Richmond, Virginia

New Pendants....
Originally uploaded by sarawestermark
It was lovely to have a show last weekend in Charleston, SC for the Piccolo-Spoletto Festival. I love the old downtown and the fabulous new (but kinda scary at night) bridge. The show organizers were so good to the vendors and supplied us with lots of water and gatorade. On Sunday, they even organized a gourmet brunch for all the vendors and volunteers. With all the talented artists showing their work, I was fortunate enough to get "Honorable Mention."

This week I've been working on some new pieces to take with me to my show in Richmond, VA on June 12th and 13th. The show is called "Art Awards" and will be held at the Richmond, VA Raceway.

I'm thrilled that my oldest daughter loves to travel with me. She is getting the hang of selling and its fun to see her engage the customers. She is charming and knows my work. I remember how much I loved to travel with my father to help him with his antique shows. It was a chance to see the world and to meet new people.

If you live nearby, please come out and say "hello"!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

HELP! Missing bracelet

May 4th UPS reported that they left a package at the front door of my former address.  I was in the middle of moving to our new house and neglected to contact the publisher to correct the address.  I guess I thought that the address change was all we needed--but that only works for USPS and not UPS.  (It is my fault for not updating my address, but I was so overwhelmed with the whole moving process).

Roman Ruins was a piece that I made for a publication to be released this coming October. I am offering a $200 reward for anyone who returns it to me--no questions asked. just reply to this blog post. The photo is a sketch of piece.  This is my first piece to be published and I'm very sentimental about it.

My neighbors have not seen it and the new owners have not seen it either. When it was delivered, the new owners were not living there yet. I would be overjoyed to find this piece.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Show

I'm off to Louisville in a few moments to visit my Mother and to set up at an art show at Norton Commons.  I've packed up all my kids and show supplies and I'm ready to go.  I am excited to see my family and to have a chance to visit a new market.  If you live near Louisville, Kentucky, please come by the show and say "hello"!  

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day in Louisville

Mother's Day is fast approaching! You probably already have something planned for your mother. I do too! I signed up to do a show in Louisville, Kentucky where my mother lives and will get to visit her. If you live nearby and want to come by and say hello--here's a link with more details. I'm thrilled to visit her and will take all the kids to see her too. I'll drive through the night 12 hours to get to her and then rest up before having to set up on Friday Evening.

So if you are a mother and want to treat yourself, or don't mind a late Mother's day gift for your own mother--I'm offering a 10% off Sale with the code MOTHER at my etsy store only. In the note to seller, type MOTHER and I'll send you a refund of 10% off your order.

I hope that you have a wonderful day with family! I will!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Birthday Sale!

Today's my Birthday and I feel like celebrating!!! I'm offering a 20% off sale in my shop off anything over $20. Use "BIRTHDAY" for the sale code in the note to seller. (I'll send you a refund via paypal or you can wait for a revised invoice) I can't think of a better way to celebrate it except with you!!!

visit my shop:
Sara's Etsy shop Link


Monday, March 22, 2010

Piercing with "Knew" Saw

RAD 81
Originally uploaded by sarawestermark
I had so much fun piercing with my new saw. It is so easy to handle and makes piercing a dream. I didn't even mind sawing some tubing! This is my Ring a Day for today the 81st day of the New Year. I drilled a hole and then inserted my saw blade with my Knew Concept say and made all my cracks. I really love it when you have a tool and it makes something tedious into something fun and meditative.

SNAG Tool Review Continued--Micro Forming Tools

I was enchanted by the tools offered by N. C. Black Co in the vendor room at the Society of North American Goldsmith's conference.  N. C. Black Co. specializes in micro forming tools for shell forming, raising, and spiculums by offering a full range of hammers, mallets, stakes and forming blocks for metalsmiths.  

These tools are available only at ALLCRAFT TOOL Co. and are 100% made in the United States.  I couldn't find a website address for Allcraft, but I do have a phone number to call for the tools, (212) 279-7077.  People were constantly at the booth trying out various hammers.  I don't remember a time when they had an empty booth!

They also had handouts available to show how each hammer was used to create these different micro forms.  I decided in the interest of time that I would visit them after I get home since they are located in North Carolina.  I am planning to travel to the Sawtooth School to get a lesson on these beautiful tools.