Monday, October 4, 2010

EtsyMetal & Me...

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are given a topic or question and then requested to blog about it simultaneously. This month's topic is:
Happy Anniversary EtsyMetal!
EtsyMetal & Me...

For my blog readers that don't know what/who EtsyMetal is...
EtsyMetal is an international team of metalsmiths working together to promote their art. The team was formed to provide a venue of communication, business development and support for metalsmiths who sell their handmade goods on Etsy. This team offers members opportunities to grow their businesses by providing them with an informational forum, a team website, cooperative marketing, and by offering a member-to-member mentoring group.
When/Why did you join?
I juried into this group in June of 2008...about 6 months after I began selling on Etsy. Etsy administration encourages artists/sellers to join a team to network, share skills, and promote their shops together. I choose to apply to the EtsyMetal team because I was impressed by the quality of artists in the group, their blog and their team activities.

Is it what you expected?
Yes, and so much more! I have found this group an invaluable source of information, support and friendship. I have learned an incredible amount about selling online, marketing online, studio tips, etc. I have been inspired to "play" in the studio more than I have in years....which has made my job fun again!

What does it mean to you to be a part of the team?
I am honored and proud to be a part of this spectacular group of artists. I have not only found it supportive in my business and art but also have made amazing friends. Working in the studio can be very solitary...having a "virtual" colleague just a click away makes all the difference!

EtsyMetal is turning four years old! The organization will celebrate this anniversary the entire month of October by giving away four $50 gift certificates redeemable at any EtsyMetal member’s shop. In addition to the give away, several EtsyMetal members will be celebrating by having individual sales! (Details of my sale coming soon.) To enter the drawing, one must sign up for the EtsyMetal more info on the EtsyMetal blog.

Please read the "EtsyMetal & Me" stories of other EtsyMetal members. Follow the links to their blogs throughout the day:
Catherine Chandler
Victoria Takahashi
Inbar Bareket
caitlyn davey
Nina Gibson

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recent press

Here's a quick post about some print press I have received this year...
my Bubble Ring in skirt! magazine - February 2010

my Vine Leaf Rings in Watch & Jewelry Review - June 2010

National Jeweler - July 2010

Lapidary Journal/Jewelry Artist - September 2010

Thanks for reading! I have some exciting projects I be blogging about soon...stay tuned!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to School...uhhhhh, no thanks.

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are given a topic or question and then requested to blog about it simultaneously. This month's topic is:
Back To School
Where did you go to school? Are you still a student? What kind of student were/are you? If you had the opportunity to go back to school, would you? Where and what would you study?

Where did you go to school? I began my studies at Moore College of Art and Design. I thought I would be concentrating my studies in sculpture, but ended up falling in love with jewelry making. So I transferred to Tyler School of Art, Temple University for their renowned jewelry/metals department.

Are you still a student? Hell no! Although, I am constantly learning---sometimes a technique or refining a skill, many times something about running a business. But, no, I have not been a student in a formal school for a long time. And I can NOT imagine myself in a university setting at this point in my life.

What kind of student were you? I'd like to think that I was an ambitious student. I spent all my free time in the studio, trying to gain the most of my education.

If you had the opportunity to go back to school, would you? Where and what would you study? If I had the ability to time travel, I may whisper in the ear of the younger me. I would urge myself to continue my education beyond my BFA. Not to gain a MFA, but to gain more useful technical skills. I would have urged myself to take some additional business and accounting classes and to go to the Revere Academy or the New Approach School for Jewelers. I would LOVE to take a class (or two or three) at one of these schools today---but it doesn't easily fit into my life (as a mother of young children and an entrepreneur).

The Nitty-Gritty: The truth is I have mixed emotions about my alma mater. I value the education I received---it was top notch. I learned countless techniques, was introduced to basic art business practices (which many art schools woefully overlook) and had an all around great time. However, I perceive that my former instructors look upon me and what I do with ambivalence. My feelings of being slighted may simply be in my mind---my own insecurity manifesting itself. I do have real reasons for my mixed emotions and they have deep roots---I hate to hold a grudge but I can't shake this one. 'Nuff said.

Another sad fact about my alma mater is that the school I attended no longer exists. Tyler used to be it's own quaint little campus on the outskirts of Philadelphia, an estate donated by Stella Elkins Tyler. There had been talk about moving the school to the north Philadelphia main campus site of Temple University since I was there 17 years ago. They finally completed the move two years ago. I have not been to the new campus but have seen photos. It looks like a shiny new gem---but in my mind's eye, Tyler will always be that old lovely campus.

Please read the "Back to School" stories of other Etsymetal members. Follow the links to their blogs:
victoria takahashi - experimetal
caitlyn davey- discomedusa
Thomasin Durgin - metalriot
stacey - wildflowerdesigns
Ann Hartley
Konstanze - Nodeform
Beth Cyr
Jenny Baughman
Kathryn Cole

Friday, September 3, 2010

Some recent special orders

An apology is in order....I have been preoccupied with some big projects that have been time and energy consuming so my blogging has suffered terrible neglect.

So where do I begin? How do I get back into the blogging groove?

I guess I'll start with a quick post about some special orders I made this summer...
This was a 950 Palladium and 18k yellow gold engagement ring with antique diamond passed down by the customer's grandmother.

This was a custom ring I made for a customer who was entering a 2nd marriage. The 12 stones are birthstones of the husband, wife and 10 children...2 families uniting into one.

This was a custom pair of cufflinks I made using the customer's gorgeous Tahitian pearls.

A customer had purchased my Abacus Bracelet #5 and discovered it was just a tad too long for her. I removed a link and turned it into a pendant.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more frequent posts and to hear about those big projects that have been keeping me busy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Palladium is HOT!

Last week I made a palladium wedding band and decided to take a few photos while I was soldering so I could share the process with you....
Palladium solder beads are placed in the joints.

Beginning to heat up the joints...

Metal is up to correct temperature and solder flows! Approximately 2300° F

That is HOT metal!

Palladium requires very high temperatures and the metal glows brilliant orange. As a result you must wear rated No. 5 or darker welding lenses for eye protection. (Making jewelry is not as glamorous as wearing it!)

All polished and pretty! Fin.

♥♥♥Congratulations to Jocelyn and Curtis!♥♥♥

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

putting a Label on it...

I was reading the Scoutie Girl blog today and became interested in Tara's We Scout Wednesday post: "Labels: What's Yours?"

Tara said
"the language we choose to label ourselves affects the way others perceive us, the choices we make, and even the direction we choose to pursue with our passion."

I think many of us struggle with labeling ourselves and/or our businesses. The fact that, as a society, we have to put a label on everything is sometimes annoying. But it is necessary for us to keep track of all facets of our world and labeling or compartmentalizing helps our minds stay organized.

So.....What is my label? Who am I? How do I want my customers and peers to perceive me?
  • Am I a bench jeweler?
  • Am I a designer?
  • Am I an artist?
  • Am I an entrepreneur?
I am all of these things and more....
I hope others see this and label me accordingly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

In search of Motivation

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are asked a question and then requested to blog about it simultaneously. This month's question is:
What motivates you to create?

In a down market when things are not selling well?
When you are tired?
When life makes you busy?

Normally my answer would be: I am motivated by looming deadlines. Give me 6 months to do a project and I will procrastinate until the last month...then I will crank it out. However, this blog carnival question could not have come at a more poignant time for me.
Because, currently, I don't have the answer.

To be brutally honest, I have had little to no motivation lately. It's not that I don't have ideas or inspirations....I probably have too many ideas. I even have looming deadlines...not as many as I'd like, but I have some. But the general desire to work in my studio has been seriously lacking lately. There are many reasons I can attribute to my "funk."
  1. Working alone is hard. I have always worked better when there is someone else in my studio. I have been w/out employees for two years now and the solitude is taking hold. Loneliness is bad for motivation.
  2. Not selling / not having a lot of deadlines is bad for the ego. I constantly am asking myself, why am I not selling while designer X is? Why am I not more successful? Self doubt is bad for motivation.
  3. Making designs that are 12 years old is tiresome. I design new work every year. But sometimes it seems that the old designs are the best sellers and I am bored. Boredom is bad for motivation.
  4. Wearing too many hats can cause a headache. There are many jobs involved in running a business.....designer, bench jeweler, marketer, sales person, bookkeeper, etc. I enjoy all these jobs (well, not the bookkeeping part) but I find the balancing act difficult. When I feel overwhelmed I tend to shut down. Lack of balance leads to lack of motivation.
  5. Distractions abound! There are so many things that are competing for our attention. In my case, my beloved MacBook is my major distraction. Twitter, facebook, blogs, metal and business forums, etc. Most of my computer distractions are indeed business related...but it all goes back to that balance issue. Being too "plugged-in" is bad for studio motivation.
I could continue to list reasons why I am having a hard time getting into the studio, but enough with the excuses. What I need are solutions.

So, now that I have confessed my recent lack of motivation, hopefully it will shame me to get back into the groove. I am going to try to do the following:
  1. Set a timer while on the computer. I will try to limit my online distractions.
  2. Clean my clutter. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my bench and office is a mess. Perhaps if I cleaned up a bit and rearranged the furniture, the studio will feel fresh. Maybe the studio won't seem like a lonely place, but the creative space that it should be.
  3. Create a job schedule. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the hats I have wear, I will try to break all the duties down to certain days of the week or month.
  4. Lose the "grass is greener" attitude. This one will be very hard. Being envious of the success of others and having self doubt is a part of many artists' sensibilities. Perhaps I need to focus more on me and less on them or simply find inspiration in the success of others.
Okay, wish me luck. I will keep you updated. Here I go....into the studio.....

Please read the Motivation tricks of other Etsymetal members. Follow the links to their blogs:
Ann Hartley / hartleystudio
Beth Cyr
Brooke Medllin
Maria Whetman / fluxplay
Nina Gibson
Stacey Hansen
Victoria Takahashi / Experimetal

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Massimo Vignelli

While in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I was *invited to attended a Massimo Vignelli lecture presented at SCAD Atlanta. Initially, I did not think I was familiar with Massimo Vignelli's designs...until I started to recognize much of his work during the presentation. He has designed everything from corporate identity, package design and product design to furniture, showroom design and subway signage. The scope of accomplishment in his five decade career is vast and truly inspiring.Vignelli is "a Modernist Design Legacy" whose work focuses on simplicity through the use of basic geometric forms, simple fonts and is highly architectural in character. Less is more.

I subscribe to a very similar design philosophy/aesthetic and I can only hope that my work is viewed as "visually powerful, elegant and timeless." Below are a few quotes from Vignelli that I jotted down during the lecture. They really struck a cord with me:
-Sift, sift, sift...until you get to the essence.

-Decoration should not be added, it should be integrated.

-Play with light---and the reflection or absorption of light, texture vs. shine.

*Thanks to Lisa and Jane for inviting me!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Respect your Elders aka Happy Earth Day!

Last year I wrote a more insightful Earth Day post. This year's is short and sweet...
Photo courtesy of DeyaAviva via Flickr.
  • Earth is approximately 4.55 billion years old.
  • Modern man has walked on Earth for approximately 200,000 years.
  • You should always respect your elders.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Design Process

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are asked a question and then requested to blog about it simultaneously. This month's question is: The Creative Process: How do you plan and organize for design?

I use simple geometric forms as the building blocks for most of my designs, which are inspired by architecture, machines, toys and nature. When I get a new idea or see a shape that excites me, I try to get a quick sketch down on paper. Many of my designs are modular and as I begin to work with that idea or shape, I move things around and create multiple variations. As a result, sometimes the design evolves or completely changes, many times it grows into a whole collection of jewelry (eg: bracelets, earrings and necklaces). I do this both on paper and with the metal parts I make....
I really like designing by playing with "pieces parts" and as a result of that, my bench is always completely cluttered. I have many "parts" all over the place...ready for me to arrange and re-arrange and re-arrange...until someday it becomes a finished design. This is both good and bad. I like being reminded of my many ideas and their "parts" but is also distracting and just a down-right messy. I have been meaning to do a serious clean up for months but I am very good at procrastination! And don't forget what Albert Einstein said:
If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, Of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Please visit the other blogs participating in today's blog carnival to read about their design process:
Victoria Takahashi/Experimetal

Thomasin Durgin/metalriot
Su Trindle/QuercusSilver
Inbar Bareket
Stacey Hansen
Nina Gibson
Corliss & John Rose/2Roses
Maria Whetman
Beth Cyr

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blog Carnival - Ring a Day

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are asked a question and then requested to blog about it. This month's question is: What is your favorite ring from the Ring-a-Day Project thus far?

If I had to choose one of my own rings, it would be my "Growth" ring from day #25. I had been experimenting with the folded leaf-like band since my "Orange Blossom" ring on day #13 and I really think the resolution of "Growth" is a perfect continuation of that experimentation. I will definitely be making more of these slightly whimsical, nature-inspired rings in the coming months.
"Growth" sterling silver. scored and bent, forged, fabricated.

The Ring-a-Day Project has given me the motivation to veer off my daily path and the freedom to explore concepts and designs that don't need to fit in with my production line. I have been yearning for this freedom for a long time and I am so glad I decided to join this project!

There are too many fabulous rings to choose favorites, but here are a few that I really love from others participating in this project. And don't forget you can always browse the entire group pool (over 3,ooo photos so far!) on flickr: Ring-a-Day.

Bad Girl Button Ring 9/365 by Thomasin Durgin/metalriot

"cot" (in) , "cot" (on) by Victoria Takahashi/experimental

Please visit the other blogs participating in today's blog carnival to read about their favorites:
Alisa Miller
Beth Cyr
Caitlyn Davey/discomedusa
Catherine Chandler
Colleen Baran
Chris Parry
kerin rose
Maureen "Cosmo's Moon" BZ
Nina Dinoff
Sara Westermark
stacey hansen
Su Trindle
Thomasin Durgin
Victoria Takahashi

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Have snow, will marry...

I love when my customers share their love stories.
While snowshoeing in the Adirondacks, he proposed.
Naturally, she accepted.
How romantic!
Blackened sterling silver, 14k white gold, .25 ct chocolate diamond

Sunday, January 24, 2010

9 more rings...

Ring-a-Day truly is an exercise in creative thinking. No matter where you are or what you are doing, create something...anything that can be viewed as a ring. Here are my last 9:

Please click here to visit the entire Ring-a-Day group pool on flickr.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week Two of the Ring-a-Day Challenge

Week two (Jan 8-14) and still going strong!
Last Friday I made a ring that was inspired by the Orbit Ring (RAD #6) I had made the week before. The new version is hinged, making it kinetic and wearable in several variations. Here is a video showing 3 of the 6 ways it can be worn:
Orbit Ring #2 - in motion

I don't get much (if any) studio time on the weekends, so I have been saving my "ready made" or "days-without-a-studio" ring ideas for those days. This past week's weekend theme was "Tool as Ring." Later in the week, I made a ring using a plastic orange juice lid that I had been holding onto for months---way before this challenge started. As soon as I saw it in the grocery store, I knew I wanted to make something with it. The RAD Project gave me the perfect excuse to just do it! (Just one of the reasons why I love this project!) I loved the way the band turned out on the orange ring, so I made another ring using the same technique---and I plan on doing more with this in the coming weeks and possibly adding it to my regular line.
1. Orange Blossom 2. "Chiseled" 3. Caliper Ring 2 -Tool as Ring
4. Caliper Ring -Tool as Ring 5. C-clamp - Tool as Ring 6. Leaf

Please click here to visit the entire Ring-a-Day group pool on flickr. There are so many brilliant rings there!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rose Cut Diamonds : Pre-Valentine Sale

I am having a
♥♥♥ Pre-Valentine's Day Sale ♥♥♥
All rose cut diamond designs are on sale!
Each stone is one-of-a-kind, so don't miss this great opportunity to buy something truly unique for your special someone!
Click here see the available designs and pricing. A few more will be added, so check back!
"Chiseled" rose cut collection by Danielle Miller Jewelry
Yes, these are REAL diamonds. They are natural in color and conflict free.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Week One of the Ring-a-Day Challenge

I am having such fun with the Ring-a-Day project! The ideas are flowing for "days-without-a-studio rings", art jewelry rings, kinetic rings and traditional rings. I had to start a new sketch book dedicated to this project so I could keep track of the buzzing in my head. Originally, I said I was only going to participate for the month of January---but now I am hoping to do it for the whole year. It will be very hard, especially when the busy wholesale season starts. But I am hoping this will be the breathe of fresh air that I have been yearning for years. We'll just have to wait and see how the year unfolds.

Here are my first seven Ring-a-Day rings:
#1. New Year's Ring #2. Tired #3. Green Blade
#4. Chiseled Moonstone #5. Wing or Talon? #6. Orbit
#7. Sick Day

QUESTIONS FOR MY READERS: Would you like to see these rings blogged weekly or bi-weekly? Do you like this mosaic format or would you prefer to see them individually? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks, Danielle

Monday, January 4, 2010

My most treasured object(s)

Once a month, members of the EtsyMetal team are asked a question and then requested to blog about it. This month's question is: What is your favorite object?

My Etsymetal blogging mates and I agree---Surprisingly, this is a VERY hard question to answer! Many of us thought "if there were a fire and I could grab one thing, what would it be?"

With the exception of the people in my home---So much, even many of the objects I hold very dear, are not really important and many are replaceable.

At first thought, my laptop comes to mind---If there were a fire and my family was safe, I might grab my MacBook. My entire business is run on it, recent family photos, daily connection to the entire world, etc. But I feel cheap and dirty claiming that my laptop is my most cherished possession...

Once I thought about it a bit longer, I remembered all the photos that are NOT in digital format. I have boxes of photos from high school to present time. For years, I carried a camera everywhere I went. My memories are in those boxes of photographs and I cherish them. But if I had to grab just ONE thing, I think it would be the photo album my parents put together for me a few years ago. It was a thoughtful gift containing my family tree and photos dating from from my great grandparents to my first born son. Here are a few of my favorites...
My grandparents (on the left) on a date circa 1930's. I absolutely love this photograph. My Pap looks so dashing and my grandma is gorgeous!

Me (left) and my dear friend, Kirsten (right) entering the school for our first day of kindergarden. (I hope she doesn't kill me for posting this photo! She had recently given herself a all good 5 year olds!)

To read about my fellow EtsyMetal members' most treasured object, please visit the following blogs sometime today:
Victoria Takahashi
Stacey Hansen
Rebekah Timlin Meddles
Sara Westermark
Beth Cyr
Ashley Akers

Friday, January 1, 2010

RINGing in the New Year

I have decided to participate in a challenge that my friend Nina Dinoff proposed: "A Ring-a-Day" from January 1 - 31. There are no real rules---simply to create one ring every day for one month. It is an exercise in discipline and creative exploration. A ring can be a found object or a labor intensive piece of can take 3 minutes or 8 hours to create. See info on the Etsymetal blog for detials.

I might be a little crazy, seeing that January is a hectic month for me---I am always frantically replenishing my pillaged sample set, designing and making new work and pulling my hair out while getting ready for my major wholesale trade show in February. But alas, I have joined the party and am hoping for some fun, inspiration and stimulation.

Here is my first ring of the challenge. "New Year's Ring" 1/1/10.
Sterling silver and champagne cork.