Category Archives: Color

More Fall

That’s what I’m wishing for – More Fall. Actually, I would take any Fall at all since we are having 100 degree plus days here in central Texas. I’m sure Fall is coming, but I’m a bit premature with my daily wish.

Nevertheless, it is Fall in the studio. Some of you have previously seen the leaves I’ve posted elsewhere. These are for a class that I’m preparing.

chain necklace

These copper leaves were torch painted with a little butane torch. Their friend, the dragonfly, is from a wire tutorial I just finished for my etsy shop. It was requested by the people who wanted the leaf workshop.

Here’s a little different type leaf. I turned these red by annealing them with the torch and then throwing them in Crisco cooking oil. I also tried some in sesame oil and the red is about the same.

red leaf

Here’s a comparison of the cooking oil vs. the sesame oil. The sesame dipped leaf is on the left. The difference in color is slight.

red leaf comparison

Finally, this set of leaves was also torch painted and I made a brass chain. I like the difference in color. Torch painting always provides surprises.

leaf brass

The only time consuming part of this project is cutting out each leaf. It makes my hands unhappy!

Let’s just hope my leaves are a harbinger of Fall (the real one with the cooler temperatures). I’m ready for clothes with leaves and shoes with toes!


This part of the summer when the boutiques I serve are closing out summer merchandise prior to bringing in Fall clothing, I have time to experiment with new ideas for upcoming jewelry designs.

I have to get into a different mindset for experimenting and remind myself that there’s no pressure for anything to “turn out”. I don’t have to produce anything; I just need to play.

Play this year has come mainly in the form of torch enameling. It started when I taught the Torch Enamel II workshop a few weeks ago. I had a super set of participants and we had such fun. Teaching always propels me forward as I challenge myself to make difficult processes easy for students. I worked on champleve and sgraffito and have carried some of that into the experiments I’m doing now. Below are a couple of things that seem to be working well.

sawn earrings   torch ear 

I’ve also explored “holiness” in several forms and found it to be fun when incorporated with the torch enameling. I just kept singing “Holy, Holy, Holy . . . “ and things kept hatching. Hmmm . . . I wonder what would happened if I sang a different song . . . ? Any suggestions???


  enamel and earringsear1

Today, I’m experimenting with different shapes and sawing. I’m conscious of the fact that it’s not production – it’s inquiry and learning. We’ll see what turns out. Wish me luck!

Fishing for Ideas

If you’ve ever worked with preschoolers, I’ll bet you’ve enjoyed magnet fishing. You put a paper clip on the ends of paper fish and a magnet on the end of a homemade, kid-sized fishing pole and then “attract” fish. My grandson likes to put his fish in a bucket and use it as a fishing pond. We’ve been playing this for over a year and it doesn’t seem to get old.

G fishin

Many times, I end up “fishin” too, but it’s usually not in a bucket. It’s usually in my head when I’m fishing for ideas. I may be looking for something new and different to add to a design or for some way to solve a problem. This week it was the latter.

I’ve been stuck on making birds lately and have explored how to do it with embossing and torch enameling.

torch bird

After making a couple of these, I realized that the two don’t mix real well. For embossing, we need a light gauge metal and for torch enamel a heavier metal. When I use the gauge I need for embossing and then enamel the piece, it curves a bit toward the back. Yesterday, while fishing for ideas, I tried riveting another piece of metal to the embossed one and then enameling. It was NOT a good idea. Much of the heat was lost between the layers and I completed a very rough and ugly bird. No, you cannot see it because it’s in the trash. So, I guess I’m going to need to get my idea fishing pole out and try again.

I did, however, have one bird that turned out well. He/she is a sample piece that combines elements from several of the classes I teach, soldering, riveting, wire wrapping, forging, etc. Although you can’t tell from the photo, I used tube rivets to help the bird stand about 1/4 inch away from the back plate. The bird is mixed metal including copper sheet, 1/10 silver wire and brass wire for the nest. Today’s issue is how to make it smaller.


I asked my spouse if he thought I needed eggs in the bird’s nest, but he didn’t think so. We decided that bird was just too young to mate. After all it did just hatch at Dreamcatcher Designs.

Here’s hoping you catch whatever you are fishing for.

Coloring and the Lines


enamel necklace

Do you color within the lines? My first reaction to this question would be “absolutely not;” yet on second thought . . . the idea of coloring within the lines might be situational.  When someone poses this query, they usually don’t actually want to know about color, but rather about whether you follow the rules or parameters set for a task. While most highly creative individuals intentionally stray from the rules others try to impose on their art form, they may follow the rules in other instances. For example, this might be to pay the bills on time, get the car registration sticker to avoid a ticket, etc. Rules and parameters can be important.

This is the case with some jewelry techniques. For example, on Sunday I did some etching on copper which requires mixing an acid solution. I read the directions three times before ever opening the bottle of acid. The rules were important to keep me from burning myself. I’ve also found some of the suggested “rules” for torch enameling are quite helpful for this technique.

If I use counter enamel on the back of a metal piece, it has less of a tendency to curve under when I apply several enamel coats on the top. Also, I’ve found that it’s helpful to use the suggested liquid that helps hold the enamel powder on the surface of the metal. Go ahead. Ask me how many tiny bits of colored enamel threads rolled off my pieces and fell on the floor of the work room before I discovered this agent.

A past post showed a few examples of torch enameled pieces of jewelry, but I wanted to share some of the newer work. The necklace at the top shows a variety of techniques with which I’ve experimented. Below are a few of the earrings sets I’ve made.



The Gingerbread family below was tricky to make and I’m not sure why Gingerbread Pop has more sugar on him than the others . . . ?

gingerbread family

It’s rather obvious that I didn’t color between the lines on these pieces but rather I often just let the enamel stay where it landed. I’ll follow the rules/lines on something else that I’m doing, but not in my art form. How about you?

Fun with Fiber

From time to time I have attempted to add fiber to my designs, but haven’t had much luck. I’m not sure whether I just don’t like the look of fiber or I don’t like the look of fiber the way I use it. My bet is on the latter! Yet, seeing the fiber adorned designs of other jewelry makers participating in Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup, mentioned a few posts ago, I decided to try again.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Britex Fabrics (  in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. My daughter and I had allotted ourselves 45 minutes before we needed to hop a trolley and move on. It wasn’t enough time! There are multiple floors to this shop but I went straight up to the third floor filled with notions. I was pretty overwhelmed by the ribbons, trims, cords and buttons and had to keep talking to myself about remaining focused on what I needed. The pieces below utilize a couple of the ribbons I purchased.

The pendant for the blue piece below is polymer clay and made by Nora Pero of Austin, TX. I intended to use the ribbon around the back of the piece, but used too many beads and then realized it wouldn’t show. I’m pleased with the colors.


The bright piece below is whimsical and initiated with the torch enameled owl. I like the amber in it and appreciate the lightness it brings both in color and weight. I also used some faceted carnelian which hangs from the handmade chain. I thought the ribbon was a good match.


The challenge for me with fiber seems to now be how to do something besides a side bow. The additional challenge is to find one of the boutiques I serve or an independent customer who will like the look of fiber.

Spring Colors ???

I set out to create some “springier” colored pieces, but I can’t quite seem to get there since it is so cold outside here in Central Texas right now. It looks like I ended up with more cross over colors and that’s probably OK. The first two photos show the apricot moonstone strands and cab  ( I wish you could see the sparkle in the tiny beads that tells me I’m going to need more of them!The problem for me in purchasing beads is I often buy too many of those I can’t determine how to use and too few of those that work really well. I doubt I’ll ever get that quite right.

apricot     aprictor close

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I’ve been playing with wire trees just a bit more and wanted to create a scene in the piece below. (Yes, my family and friends are probably saying I’ve created a “scene” before, but I’m not talking about that kind!) I created a small wire bird for it, but the winged creature was too big proportionally for the tree. Oh well, it was a nice thought – cute bird.

tree scene 

Finally, the double strand piece below made with turquoise, lapis and amethyst sports a new finding, shown on the right side of the photo. I’m trying to develop some new types of multi strand links and separators. I made this piece to see if one of them which takes a necklace from two strands to one would work. Thus far, I’m happy with it, but the truth is in continued wearing. It did great on its initial wear around the house last night. You can see that this piece makes its way around the neck with a chain. (I wouldn’t want to make a piece without some kind of metal on it!)

turq and lapis multiSo when will the bright Spring colors show up in the designs here at Dreamcatcher? I may just have to wait for inspiration from the redbud tree in the front yard since it’s usually one of the first harbingers of Spring. I don’t think it will be much longer and I’m sure those readers in the North are wishing even more than I that the season would make a happy change. Until then, we’ll just be pleased to see the sun and know that more warm weather will soon follow.

Color It Tangerine

If you follow the color trend predictions, you already know that Pantone, the industry color trendsetter, lists Tangerine Tango as the color of the year. I found it splashed all over the front page of the Life & Style section of the Austin, TX newspaper yesterday. If you are looking for a soothing, quiet color, this is NOT it. It is a bold and bright reddish orange that is definitely eye catching when presented dominantly in a design.

I looked at my cluttered bead table and realized that I have a few things I could call tangerine if I removed the word orange from my current vocabulary. Doesn’t Tangerine Tango sound much more expensive than orange? While in Hawaii last week, I obtained a piece of calcite that I think borders on the topic color.

calcite Calcite is a primary mineral in cave formations and produces those stalactites and stalagmites we learned about in school. It’s usually white or colorless but can be light yellow, orange, blue, pink, red, brown, green, black or gray.

Another Tangerine Tango piece was laying in the demolition box. This is where I keep the things that didn’t work out. I put them there when I’m too lazy to take them apart and then I can grab a bead here and there when I need it.

orangeAlthough the blue beads in this piece are not natural, you can see that turquoise would be a good complimentary color with this orange.

I’m hoping that Tangerine Tango won’t take over summer garments and accessories the way pink did several years ago. I remember everything that year was pink and by the next year it was totally gone. Yet, perhaps a little tango with this tangerine might be a good dance to try in a few designs. It really is pretty nice.

Forming with Folds

Those of us who love to learn new things sometimes move to new avenues for this too soon. Either the initial fun wears off, something new calls our name, or time for the learning simply runs out. Often for me, I move on to something new before completely exploring the myriad of possibilities for creative development in the existing arena. This may have been the case with fold forming, a technique  developed by Charles Lewton-Brain. “Mr. Fold Form's” book, Foldforming, contains a wealth of information on how to construct various shapes from metal; yet, it doesn’t show as many completed pieces of jewelry as I would like to see.

Frequent and long time readers may recall that fold forming was the new technique I chose to develop last December and January during the winter lull between completion of the Fall products and the development of the Spring designs. Unfortunately, I may have moved too quickly from fold forming last year and back into rapid production for my customers. Also, I “closed” on the technique partly because I couldn’t figure out new things to do with it. I chose not to face the somewhat discouraging struggle that forces one into creative generation. I currently have renewed interest in fold forming due to a couple of happenings. Two of my lucky friends took a recent workshop with Kim St. Jean at the Texas Beadfest and their discussion of the class helped add to my refinement of the technique. Also, I gave a demonstration on the technique at a recent gathering of wire workers. Therefore, I had to practice.

The trick for me with fold forming has been trying to make something besides a leaf that would comfortably work as a piece of jewelry. First, I practiced some different ways to hammer on a few leaves and learned how to better ruffle the edges. Then I created a couple of copper cuff bracelets. I like using a long diagonal fold to start the bracelet design and following this with appropriate texture. I quickly learned that it’s important to begin with a longer and wider piece of metal than the size of the anticipated product. I folded the metal first and then cut the final bracelet shape. When I annealed the metal bracelets with a torch during the fold forming process, beautiful colors appeared on the pieces.

brace cuff

I’ve also been experimenting with a star shape shown in Newton-Brain’s book. First I made several pairs of earrings and then I created a larger star and used it as a pendant on a strand of coral. I gave the pendant a liver of suphur bath, tumbled it and then used the torch on it again. It adopted a very rich color.

star                   star2

coral Now the struggle is to try to develop some ideas of my own for fold formed shapes. Hopefully, I’ll have the time this year to stick with fold forming until I’ve either developed some new ideas or convinced myself that I CAN’T come up with anything new. Wish me luck.

Spring is in the Cold Air

Yesterday was one of the coldest days we’ve had this season in South Texas. Although I am seldom chilled while hammering, torching and working with my tools, yesterday was an exception. I was trying to imagine warm Spring breezes blowing across the bluebonnets and women in cotton dresses and floppy hats out enjoying the day. Alas, it was a very big stretch to say the least.

If you are a designer or type of merchant who makes changes in merchandise with the seasons, you may be experiencing my difficulty. At the height of a given season or perhaps even before that season begins, we need to switch gears and plan for the next one. So here goes. I’m layered in warm clothes from head to toe and I have the Spring palette of colors laid out to work with. It just doesn’t seem right, but it IS necessary.

Luckily, the owner of Dovetails of Wimberley gave me the Casual Corners catalogue displaying the Spring line. I’m using it to help plan jewelry to go with the garments. Take a look at the beautiful mixture of colors shown in the catalogue.

pink pallet        blue pallet  

     brown pallet           orange pallet

Inspired by these photos, I began to play with the fiber I had on hand. This included yarns, ribbons and cording.

blue fiber        orange fiber    pallette fiber

This gave me a better understanding of what colors coordinated and might work best in beads.

I’ve begun now to work with the beads matching these colors that I got from Magpie Gemstones ( I can show you the one new bracelet below and the lapis necklace that just went into my etsy shop (

bracelet    lapis1

I used a new style armature for the bracelet and think it will be nice for those customers who have enjoyed the wave bracelets. This one is not as wide and displays more gemstones and pearls.

The lapis necklace is a piece that finally hatched. I made the pendant at least two months ago and then it sat and sat on the work table waiting for further inspiration. The blues from the Casual Corner catalogue finally led me to finish this piece. Just a few charoite beads help set off the color of the lapis and make it look more like Spring.

Today, the sun is out even though it is still cold outside. I guess I’ll have to continue to imagine the warmth of the Spring breezes. I think I’ll go put on a floppy hat to get in the right frame of mind.

I Think That I Shall Never See . . .

. . . an earring lovely as a tree. I must certainly apologize to Joyce Kilmer whose original work compared a poem to a tree. Didn’t many of us have to learn to recite those verses in school?

The last few days I’ve been working with tree shapes. It may be the anticipation of the changes soon to occur with the leaves on the trees or simply an inclination to get away from things that are circles. For whatever reason, I’ve been working with the shape of some trees, triangles. This is always a bit of a problem since triangular shapes in jewelry mean you must deal with three sharp corners, but I decided not to let that deter me.

The first trees are a bit large, yet interesting looking. These earrings are copper triangles sweat soldered together to imitate firs. The liver of sulphur patina seemed appropriate on these.  I also made a smaller, upside down pair.    fir large




    small tria





The next pair is made of copper that spent several days turning blue. The household concoction worked well and I didn’t want to spoil the color; therefore, I chose not to solder them. That would have removed the blue patina. I made them into pretty good swingers by using the copper rings.

small blue








The last pair of earrings initiated with a picture of a pair that a friend gave me. I intended to use silver circles as part of the embellishment, but the bottle caps sitting on the work bench begged to be used. The star in the cold connection adds a little western flair to this pair. Yes, I do realize that this tree shape is upside down, but it seemed like the way to go.


Maybe the next tree shapes should be rounded at the top – I’ll have to give that some thought.

In the last line of her tree poem, Kilmer wrote:

Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.

I could certainly say the same about these silly earrings.