Category Archives: fashion

Lost Wax Casting Results

In an earlier post I showcased some of my work in my intro to silversmithing class. Well, it’s time for an update!

I took a second class at the studio called lost wax casting.

The way it works is, you get hunks of hard wax and use little files and gouging tools to shape the object that you want. You can make really awesome 3D pieces with this, and any type of jewellery (rings, earrings, necklaces, etc.).

You carve the wax exactly how you want it, because every single detail including mistakes! is going to be cast in silver later.

Once you’re happy with your piece, you attach it to a “button” of extra wax on the bottom of a flask. It sticks up in the air and looks like a lollipop! This is then sealed in a cylinder called a flask, and filled with a plaster substance. The wax melts out in a kiln leaving a perfect impression, a mold behind.

Next you melt your silver down in a crucible with your torch, then pour it into the mold you created over a special vacuum. After it cools a little you get to do the really cool *pshhhhh!* quench in the water!

Then you have to finish your piece. It’s usually ugly and covered in black tarnish, casting skin, and sometimes firescale if something went funny in the casting process. I had all of the above on my pieces.

I cut the pieces off the button, then filed and polished all the crappy bits away. For the two skull pendants I made for me and my brother; I used a oxidizing acid in the recessed areas to darken the silver permanently for effect.

Check it out!:

I carved each of those skulls individually, and boy! was it hard! It’s very difficult to work in 3D like that for me. There is no adding, only subtracting. If you slip up or go too deep, that’s it, your piece is garbage. I think with practice it would become easier to do, but I found it very challenging this first time around!

I also made this ring:

I did a super-high polish and if you look close enough you can see my hands and the camera reflected in the silver!

So those three pieces conclude my foray into the world of silversmithing for the moment. I’ve signed myself up for a clay silkscreening class that starts in April that I’m totally stoked about. I will probably go back and take the next level of silversmithing at a later date because right now I’m just tired of inhaling silverdust all the time! hehehe

…So, did any of you take my advice and find something fun and creative to do during the dull doldrums of winter??

*blushes*

Wow, thanks for all the nice (and enthusiastic!) comments about my jewellery, guys! I knew they were kinda nice, but not that nice, you really made my day!

Unfortunately I won’t be selling them on Etsy any time soon, those were my projects in a 6-week class at a studio here in Toronto. Three of the rings I made for my friends and family, and the other three I made for myself and wear them quite regularly 😉

I would have to spend years in metalsmithing classes and set myself up with an expensive studio (or rent one) and materials suppliers in order to continue making jewellery. There is quite a lot of time and effort involved in making something like those and I really just took the course to keep myself occupied during the winter.

(of course the more you do it the easier and faster it gets, but I would need a lot more teaching to be able to work on my own!)

I definitely have a much greater appreciation for those artisans who do sell their things on Etsy after seeing how much work it takes to make a simple silver band.

I am flattered that many of you would like to purchase some of my creations, but since I can’t really continue making them in quantity, I thought I’d offer you some links to Etsy sellers who use the same techniques and materials I learned to use.

Lavender Cottage
Rachael Sudlow Jewelry
Sheena Jewellery

You can easily find more great jewellery and artists on Etsy for yourself! Just pick the type of item you want and narrow it down to metal or metalwork to find more stuff like mine.

What I’d really like to point out though, is that any one of you are capable of making something as unique and beautiful as the pieces I made. I just signed up for a course; I had never done this sort of thing before! I am artistically inclined, but I can honestly say that everyone in my class made some stunning quality pieces, and you can too!

I found this class through Craigslist of all places. I encourage you to check your own city listings, community centres and local studios to find a creative activity that makes your heart hum. If you’re in the GTA, the Toronto Craft Alert blog is an excellent resource.

Now then, I’m going to go and admire the new ring I just finished casting today 😀

*Don’t forget to enter the draw for my give-away of 3 FUZE prize packs!

Silversmithing

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on here before, but I’ve been taking some silversmithing classes at a local jewellery studio.

Right now I’m learning lost wax casting, which is where you carve your item out of wax, create a mold from it, then pour molten silver into the mold–casting your piece. I’m carving a pair of skull pendants; one for me and one for my brother. I have also made a cute little ring.

Speaking of which, my last class I made a ton of rings as well. It was more of a true silversmithing construction class. I learned how to saw, cut, hammer, anneal, torch and bathe my silver in chemicals. I learned how to do a bezel setting with a cabochon stone (very hard!) and do all kinds of cool stuff.

I thought I’d share some photos with you of my designs. A few were for me, but three of the rings were for the women who have had the most impact in my life: my mother and my friends T and MR.

This is a black star diopside in a bezel setting. Can you see the starburst?

I pressed the vein design onto brass then cut out the leaf shape, soldering it to a spiral silver ring

My simple beaten band. My mom got a fatter version. This one only took me 30 minutes to make at the end of the course!


MR’s band. Beaten, then oxidezed to a black patina


The “Tree Ring” made to look like tree bark for T

I really enjoy learning how to do unique and creative things like this. How many people do you know that silversmith???

Toronto is great because there are so many opportunities to learn how to do stuff like this. In the coming year I hope to take more classes on things like pottery and ceramics, glass art and blowing and possibly some fabric arts. I guess I’ll have to keep you posted!
…What is your favourite artzy phartzy hobby?

*Don’t forget to enter the draw for my give-away of 3 FUZE prize packs!

Etsy Confessions

*sigh*
Guys, I have something to confess.
I think I’m addicted to Etsy.
I just bought 2 more things today, and I fear that I will be buying more shortly… It seems I just can’t stop myself!
Today I purchased two custom-made monogrammed purse hooks for myself, and for my mom as a stocking-stuffer. They’re functional and practical, does that make it ok?

Monogrammed purse hook by MyLittleCuddleBugs

Now I just need to resist the allure of some of the jewellery I’ve been looking at…

I think it’s time for some self-flagellation in the form of kung fu. I’m off to sparring practice now. Wish me luck!

Good News + Bad News

The good news is that my gold satin shirt came in and it looks great! I actually ordered the right size!

The bad news is that I am sunburned ALL over. Literally.

I didn’t realize nipples could get sunburned. What a silly oversight!

I guess I ought to lay off the tanning beds for a while. So much for getting a base tan for Cuba >.< *whimpers in pain*

Product Review: Lancome Oscillation Mascara

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that through working with BzzAgent I was sent a tube of the new Lancome Oscillation mascara to try out before it hits stores. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I think I’ve got an honest opinion of it.

Time to share!

So, what is the Lancome Oscillation mascara? Well, it’s Lancome’s newest innovation: a mascara with a “superior” formula that is applied with a gently vibrating wand. I know. Sounds crazy.

There is a motor in the wand and it sort of hums gently as you apply it. The idea is that the vibration helps the mascara coat each individual lash 360 degrees around, giving you fuller, longer & defined lashes without having to apply with that pesky zig-zag motion that makeup artists (and makeup junkies) use.

When I first heard about this mascara, I thought it sounded pretty nifty. They were toting it as the next great advancement in mascara, as well as a premium product. I understandably had high expectations.

Now I want to preface this by saying I have used other Lancome products and have been happy with them, except for mascaras. I find that the Lancome formulas in general tend to flake a lot at the slightest touch. They are also difficult to remove at the end of the day. This all applies to the Oscillation brand as well. But if you’re a die-hard Lancome mascara fan anyway, then don’t worry about that.

PROS
  • The packaging is beautiful and super-sleek. I was excited to open up my tube!
  • The tube is not as fat as my other favourite mascara, which makes it easier to stash in my purse
  • Lancome generally produces high-quality products
  • When applied correctly, it did perform as any mascara: darkening and bulking up my lashes slightly
  • It also seemed to define the individual lashes
  • After reading the instructions and taking a few practice runs, it became easy to apply it with the vibration on
  • The vibration is not so strong that you feel like it will get out of control
  • The final look is somewhat different from what my other mascaras will achieve. Sort of a light mascara look–not too bulky or voluminous

CONS

  • The price is a major downside for me. MSRP is $40, and as you’ll see in my following comments, I just cannot justify that cost for a simple mascara, especially when you have to replace it every 3 months anyway. (A good point was made by Henna at CanadianBeauty.com that if you’re already paying out the nose for a Lancome mascara, then what is $8 more? I can get on board with that, but I still don’t think that I would pay that much for ANY mascara, period. All the other posters seem to agree with me!)
  • The formula sucks. As mentioned before, I don’t really like the Lancome mascara formulas, and I don’t think they made any major changes to this one
  • At first, the mascara was difficult to apply. I poked my eye the first time. Not pretty.
  • The brush is very small–I didn’t feel that it was large enough or had enough bristles to adequately reach all of my lashes, I had to keep going over and over to achieve the look I wanted
  • The formula is clumpy and sticky–The vibrating wand is supposed to help avoid this, but I find it actually makes it worse. I had spider-leg eye lashes! The horror!
  • The formula is also difficult to build up. I need more volume in my lashes, but one or two coats just didn’t cut it. But when I tried to apply more, my lashes stuck together and clumped. ugggh.
  • The wand did not manage to coat “even the smallest lashes” as promised. I still had to go in manually and poke around to get them coated

Overall Impressions:

Overall, I don’t think this mascara is any better than what I am currently using. Especially considering the price. The vibrating wand is an interesting feature, but I don’t feel that it lived up to its claims of producing better-looking lashes. It is definitely not worth the $40 bones to get this bad boy.

Maybe in the next few iterations of this product, Lancome will improve the formula and technology. I think that if they can do that and combine it with a more reasonable price (say, $20 range?) that it could possibly be a smash hit. It certainly is novel!

People will still buy this, some will love it and some will hate it. I don’t mind it, but when compared to my run-of-the-mill $5 mascara, its really not that much better. Please do your research and think about it before you buy this puppy!

Holiday Fashion – Ginger Style

So I mentioned the holiday party I’m hosting with my roommate. I looked through my closet and realized that I have very little that would be appropriate for a soiree of that nature, since I’ve decided I won’t wear a black top.

“But Ginger!” You say. “You look fantastic in black! It is by far your best colour!”

I agree with you on that one, but sometimes I need to think outside of the Little Black Box and expand my wardrobe horizons.

So the only Canadian plus-size retailer that also sells online was doing free shipping, so I took a peek and decided on this:

I figure gold is always a safe holiday choice, it matches my hair and I can wear it to my office Christmas party as well. I’d say I just killed 2 birds with one stone! I plan to pair it with black pants and the black flower fascinator I bought on Etsy.

It’s a little more expensive ($49.99) than I would have hoped, but my choices were limited and I did talk myself out of purchasing anything else. Plus, I can return it if it turns out to be a really bad choice.

I hope it’s not, though. I really want to look awesome in it 😉