Thoughts of Design Inspiration

torch enameling evadesigns maine


Three Stages of Copper

torch enameling evadesigns maine

Heating the copper with a torch using a trivet.

When I make enameled copper jewelry for some reason I always count three stages. (Well, there are really many more to the whole process.) You have a copper sheet that you cut your shapes from – file, shape, hammer, drill, sand, polish. I say you are now at stage one. Then you get all your enamels ready, your frit (I call frit any type of pieces of glass you  may add to your enamel pieces), you set up your torch and workspace (sifters to sift various amounts of enamel onto your pieces, holding agent, trivets, surfaces, tools.)

copper shapes ready for enameling to make jewelry evadesigns

Copper shapes formed and hammered.

Then if you are making large pieces (like my shells) you will be using the trivet method, not the “dangle it in the fire and dip” method. The first thing  is to counter enamel, after that’s done I think I’m at stage two.  (Counter enamel just means it’s the back side of the piece.)You get tons of firescale on the other side of the piece after counter enameling, you need to sand it off and clean the copper again. Often you actually get such wonderful looking colors that you don’t want to enamel the front side… There is such a thing as making art, even “paintings” with firing large pieces of copper. There are artists that make patterns and scenes with the fire alone.

copper jewelry evadesigns torch firing

Firescale cleaned off – aren’t the colors exciting!

So, anyway, to stage three. My stage three is the actual final enameling of the piece. It will be just the front if you are using the trivet method. Multiple layers, possibly using different colors. If you are doing your dipping method you are working on both sides together.  I do prefer the dipping, I use it whenever I can because by pointing the fire in different ways you get more variations of color just by heating the object more or less. Enamel colors have variations depending how much heat you apply to them. I find that the most interesting effects often happen with the dangly method and really playing with fire. Yes, it truly is playing with fire!

finished torch enameled copper pieces for jewelry evadesigns

Finished torch enameled pieces.

Hemp jewelry by evadesigns

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Hemp Jewelry Experiments – Bright and Fun

green hemp and seed bead necklace evadesignsmaineI did experiment with hemp before, but just this week I got new inspiration. First I wanted to incorporate some of my enameled copper pieces into a necklace somehow other than them being the sole item. Second since this it the “year of color” I happened to have hemp yarn in bright  green and light blue – how perfect since green is one of the big colors right now? I wanted to make it statement green (and blue), nothing lame. So I decided to incorporate bright green and blue seed beads into my hemp yarn and voila, with lots of crochet loops later it’s a necklace!

My other idea was to use some knotting and make a pendant. I used one of my round enameled copper pieces and one enameled iron bead in dark purple and blue tones. The hemp yarn is a light pink/salmon color, I went through my stashes of beads to find some individual beads that would fit the color scheme. My selection is a bit limited when it comes to the need for large hole in the bead, but I think it’s beginning to work pretty well. (still work on progress). So, now the hemp bug has really gotten a hold of me – I want to find more hemp colors, hoping to find some really bright ones for the next colorful creation!hemp and enameled copper pendant necklace evadesigns

Glass beads

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Bead Shows – Inspiration from Seeing and Touching

beads in a bead show trayFor an artist or a crafter just the gathering of materials can be a satisfying and inspirational experience. You go to a bead show to get beads, yes! But it is also a way to get ideas, see new gemstones, touch them and see combinations of stones together. You can suddenly get an idea, or see a stone that just calls you “make something with me”.

So, what is a bead show? It’s a collection of vendors selling beads, gemstones, materials for beaders, jewelry makers and other crafters. You can find them all over the country, I attended one last weekend in Massachusetts. This one is held at a hotel and every vendor has their own room. You wonder back and forth in the hallway and get dizzy by the quantity of rooms and beads! You will find gemstone beads and your standard glass and crystals. But, you can also find unusual ones, people making their own beads out of sawdust or some other unusual material. Some offer kits for hobbyists, who are not yet ready to design their own, or who just prefer to follow instructions.  Somehow I personally skipped this step, I went straight into my own experiments, for me replicating somebody else’s design is boring. But, there’s a way for everybody that fits.

gemstone beads - lapis, ruby at a bead show

All those gemstone beads – ovals, rounds, lentils, nuggets!

You can also learn a lot if you decide to ask questions. The bead vendors know a lot about the beads and gems that they sell and you can end up having a very inspirational conversation. You can talk to the other shoppers and also admire the jewelry they are wearing. (They often made the piece themselves and are very proud and willing to talk about it!) Once I met a person who makes bead jewelry to fundraise for pets and I still follow their journey online.

So, go bead seeking – you might find something new or come home with a renewed inspiration!

beads and gemstones at a bead show

So many rooms and so many beads! Priscilla Beads – sawdust and handrolled paper beads.

gemstone beads in a bead show

Searching for the ultimate gem

Kambaba jasper, sodalite jewelry by Evadesignsmaine

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Fall Inspirations – Jaspers, Larvikite, Sodalite

Pantone fall 2013 colorsMany of us follow the color trend projections such as Pantone fashion color report to decide what colors to include in our designs. I have noticed before that many times you don’t even need to read any reports, the information just sort of “comes” to you. I find it fascinating how many times you find that your instinct was right. It might be that all the media and your environment, what you see and experience is actually “telling” you the color trends. Not sure, but I have always found color to be the most interesting part of design.

Earlier this summer I was suddenly inspired by colors I generally rarely use: greens, browns, grey and other earthier tones, as well as cobalt blue. I love blue, but that particular “medium”  blue was never one of my favorites.  (Well, Pantone named it Mykonos blue). I was quickly buying gemstones in these tones and really fascinated by them. I got jasper, sodalite, bronzite, larvikite, etc. in these tones. I was particularly inspired by Kambaba jasper which is this nice earthy, but cool green with orbicular shapes in black and darker green.

Kambaba jasper necklace by EväDesigns Maine

Kambaba jasper necklace by EväDesigns

Isn’t it interesting though that rocks like this jasper are formed from Cyanobacteria (form of algae)? They are actually composed of fossilized algae! Cyanobacteria were likely responsible for the creation of earth’s oxygen atmosphere. They were the dominant life form on Earth for over 2 billion years. Quite fascinating, don’t you think?

So far I have made a necklace and a pair of earrings using this interesting variety of jasper. I’m actually quite fond of the color! It is interesting how some shape, form or color combination can suddenly become so interesting to oneself. I definitely never thought I would like anything dark green again… it might be that the powerful qualities associated with jaspers are  getting a hold. It is told that this jasper will mystically soothe the nerves and your state of mind, and bring a sense of security as well as protection.  Jasper is highly-prized for powerful protective energy. Native Americans especially believed that it would protect against unseen dangers in the night. Jasper is said to calm a troubled mind and give courage, creativity and strength under pressure.

I am definitely feeling the pull. It looks like many of my designs will include natural gemstones this fall. You go with what inspires you!

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Rope – Hemp and Macrame Inspirations

Worming, parceling, serving

Worming, parceling, serving

So, yes, there is the movie “Rope” by Alfred Hitchcock with James Stewart…but I’m not talking about that. I recently visited the Coast Guard ship Eagle while it was in New Hampshire (ship is 65 feet or more, so don’t call it a “boat” like I did!). She was built as a training vessel for the German Navy as SNF Horst Wessel and was awarded to the United States as reparations following WWII. Today it serves as a training vessel for cadets and officer candidates.

While on board of the Eagle I took notice of the usage of rope, it is used everywhere –  there are knots, rugs, pulleys, steps, mops! You have all heard of macrame, but did you know that rope is used to protect line using the methods of worming, parceling, and serving?  These terms sure sound interesting – I had no idea what they meant. I saw this little demonstration on the ship of how to use these methods with rope and got really interested. Yes, tar is used. And this whole approach is really practical. Here are the concepts:

The eagle flag staff

I believe this is the staff at the stern. It sure looks like a lot of tar was used on the rope.

Worming consists of following the lay of the line between the strands with tarred small stuff.  This keeps moisture from penetrating to the interior of the line and at the same time fills out the round of line, giving a smooth surface for the parceling and serving.

Parceling consists of wrapping the line spirally with long strips of canvas, following the lay of the line overlapping like the shingles on a roof, to shed moisture.

Serving consists of wrapping small stuff snugly over the parceling, each turn being hove as taut as possible so that the procedure makes a stiff protecting cover for the line.

With my jewelry work I have tried knotting hemp before, but now I really got interested in it. I found out that you can get it in all different colors and there are really so many techniques that can be used.  The standard macrame with combining beads is the one I started with (see picture).

Macrame tassel pendant

My attempt – it has macrame with small cat’s eye beads with a large aventurine and wood bead.

I ended up with a pretty nice little combination of beads and macrame that you can make into a tassel necklace.  This is definitely worth exploring, the options are limitless with how you can combine different materials. You can also learn other ways of knotting and end up with something like the blue one below that probably took at least 500 knots and many hours to make. Anyway, I now have the hemp in four colors in addition to the natural one and I can keep experimenting!


Yes, it’s a hemp-mote…a remote made out of hemp…


A macrame anklet – I like the colors and the knotting technique is really interesting.

micro macrame pendant

Micro macrame pendant with lots of knots!

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

You could try climbing up these rope steps on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle – while sailing!

Wood bits


Wood Coins and Drill Holes

wood pieces and parts used for my jewelry

Different shapes of wood from the hardware store

When I visit the local hardware store I generally linger around the plumbing department. I can spend a lot of time looking at the small pieces of copper parts and I do use them a lot in my jewelry to enamel with. This time I ended by the drawers in hardware, full of little bits, parts and pieces. I kept perusing the different drawers and ended up in the wood piece drawer. Didn’t know there were so many interesting small wooden parts that were used in construction!
I got interested and instantly started getting ideas – what if you painted these shapes and crafted them into a jewelry piece such as a necklace? I ended up finding more small pieces near lumber, little plugs that were already shaped nicely flat and round.


Wooden hardware store bits painted

The next day I went looking for paint. First I was thinking of using  wood stain and even tried some food coloring I happened to have in the cabinet. The results were pretty good.  I even tried making my own organic color, but the kale I blended in the machine didn’t really produce enough color. (!) I did read  that there are some berries and plants that you can use successfully. The colors you get out of the natural ingredients are not as bright, I wanted to get some brighter color. I did some research on the internet and found out that regular craft paints should work just fine. I found  a whole isle at the craft store, they had surprisingly many options of quality and brands.

I picked out some turquoise shades in pearl and satin, I figured the change in reflective material in the paint might give a nice contrast between the pieces.  Add some type of finish to make the paint more durable and I was ready to begin. I did some hole drilling and painted my pieces, then treated them with some spray finish. Pretty nice beads!


Round wood pieces drilled and painted – ready to be beads for jewelry!

The color and finish options on these paints are quite remarkable. I can keep experimenting for a long time! Let’s see what I will come up with when it comes to finished pieces! And always look around, you never know what you will find in your local store.