Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A New Shop & Commissions!

It's been awhile since I've updated here, but it's because I've been so busy with my new(ish) online shop!

Malfait Luciu Jewelry's Storenvy Shop is open for business and stocked full with lots of goodies; go have a look!

Between working on building up inventory for my shop, I've been working on a number of commissions. I'm always so honored when people come to me for a special one of a kind, handmade piece of jewelry! I'll post about some of the ones I've completed in later posts, but for today I'll focus on the one I'm currently working on.

It's for a dear friend so it's a special piece to me, and I want it to be just perfect for her. She gave me a few elements she wanted for the design, and then set me loose! I love working this way - a little input from a client on the look they're going for, perhaps the colors they're interested in, the overall 'feel' or 'theme' of the piece, and then leaving the rest to me. So far for all my commissioned pieces, this method has worked really well!

This current piece is exciting because it's a little different from most requests - she wants an anklet with a chain that goes down to a toe ring! We've all seen these for wrists and fingers, which are very cool, but this one is more like a barefoot sandal, and I love the idea!

She asked for bronze wire (my most favorite color to work with - score!) - and when I asked about bead colors, she told me she wanted fiery colors - and I immediately knew exactly what beads to use - Swarovski's Fire Opals!

These babies are brilliant- part rich red and part flaming orange with a bit of sunny yellow thrown in. She loved them when I showed her a photo, and that was that! She decided on rounds instead of bicones. My brain was already working out ideas for the design, and I decided that at the spot where the chain meets the anklet, there just had to be a matching rivoli crystal.

Go figure, Fire Opal rivolis have been discontinued. But! heartsdesires1 on eBay saved the day, and at a decent price, too! She has tons of crystals at good prices, I'll be going back to her for more, I'm sure!

I am so impatient with the mail when I'm waiting for new sparklies, but it seemed like these beads arrived in no time! I couldn't wait to start sketching ideas. I knew I wanted to make a flexible chain, which meant coming up with a design for the links. I wanted each link to include one round faceted bead. I had 12, so I used 10, saving one to decorate the clasp and one to decorate the toe ring. Here's just one page of sketches- I did about three though before deciding on something classic and pretty :D

I don't know if it happens to anyone else, but I have an annoying habit of re-sketching the same design over and over again! But, I have a rule when it comes to sketches- sketch everything that comes to mind; put every idea down on paper, no matter how bad you think it might look- follow every whim! There are no bad ideas when sketching for ideas. Some of my most favorite pieces have evolved from some rather ugly and unremarkable sketches in my sketchbook. (Another tip - sketch every day! I make a point to fill a page of my little book with sketches every day. Then, when I find I want to make something but don't know what, I just look through my sketchbook and find an idea to develop and turn into something good :D )

Okay back to the anklet. After deciding on a design for the links came the relatively boring part - making ten of them - and making ten of them that are identical. It's not difficult, but it can be tedious.

Each link had to be hammered for strength in the connecting loops and aesthetics in the larger loops - my poor husband and cats had to tolerate my noisy hammering for quite a few minutes. I always feel bad and make sure to apologize after I finish hammering something. :P I decided to link each link together in an alternating orientation for a little visual interest.

Next came the rivoli. I fiddled with this for quite awhile. Because it naturally has no holes, it needs to be securely 'captured' in some way. Also, because of the way it will fit into the entire piece, it needed three points where chains could be attached. I tried  one way:

Thinking I'd capture the crystal between the two round elements - didn't quite work how I'd pictured it. I pondered on this conundrum quite a bit! I didn't want to bezel it in the traditional sense; I've never really liked that look.

Eventually I settled on a sort of netted frame with 'wings' (I have no idea how to explain this) - and it's secure, which was my main concern. I attached it to the middle of the chain links to see how it looks:

The loop coming out the bottom of the rivoli are for the chain that leads to the toe ring. I'll use bronze rolo chain for that. I may incorporate some little bronze fluted beads or little bronze spacers...

But I'm not sure quite yet. The next step is creating a clasp for the anklet. That'll be tomorrow's work :) For now, I'll leave you with my mom's kitty Vinnie, who is always my little 'helper' (read: loveable nuisance) when I work on beadwork, wirework, embroidery, or crochet at my mom's house. Usually I can distract him and keep him busy with my tape measure, but he's a smart boy and figures out real quick that the really fun toys are the ones I'M playing with :D

'Til next time!