Thursday, June 3, 2010

Etsy Business Advice

If you are a seller on Etsy, check out this blog post for a "self service critique."  The author is on the Sellers Assisting Sellers team, which is a group of people successfully selling on Etsy who offer to be mentors to new or struggling shops.  After doing many, many critiques, she noticed a lot of shops suffered from the same problems.  So she wrote up this post highlighting many of the common shop issues.  Does your shop have one?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Metal Clay Heads

A group of fellow metal clay addicts and I started a new etsy team called metal clay heads.  Its very informal and not limited to artists who work in metal clay.  You can see our very new team blog for more information and for tips, tricks, and tutorials.  Right now you can also vote on the team's challenge, to make a piece incorporating a found object.  I was not able to enter this month, but my fellow metal clay heads did amazing pieces.  it was interesting to hear the processes everyone went through expanding their skills by incorporating something other than clay in their work.  Vote here!

Can You Hear Me Grow by SeavBeach (incorporating a steel bottle cap)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meet the Family

Hubby (Andrew) and I
The Cats:  Inanna, Misty and Fiona

Monday, May 17, 2010

Charms for Charity

As part of the upcoming Metal Clay Conference in July, artists and guilds around the country are creating metal clay charm bracelets to be part of a raffle benefiting the American Cancer Society and the Marrow Foundation.  The picture is one of the actual bracelets, isn't it fabulous?

How can you get involved?  If you are a metal clay artist, make a charm (or two) and send them to Holly Gage.  If you would like to win one of the gorgeous bracelets featuring the work of many fabulous artists, contact me to purchase tickets.  Tickets are $5 each or five for $20.  The drawing will be held at the PMC Conference on July 30, 2010, but you don't have to be there to win.  More details can be found here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thanks so much for everyone who came out to the HandmadeMN show this weekend.  It was fabulous.  If you missed it, here are pictures of my booth,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Busy, Buusy Bee

Buzz Buzz Necklace in Fine Silver (PMC).

I am desperately trying to get everything done in time for my craft show in Uptown (Minneapolis) this weekend.  I am always worried that, I won't have enough product, not the right price points, or that something will generally go wrong.  I even had a nightmare last night about the various things that could go wrong (including a snowstorm in May so no one came, I forgot my tablecloths and risers, and I met the teacher from Glee and my husband got jealous and refused to help me set up my tables).  None of these things are likely to happen, and I know I just need to go with the flow.  Last night I did complicated formulations to arrive at what I think are more fair pricing levels for my pieces, based on the level of design and difficulty involved.  Some pieces went up in price, some down.  I'll be putting my shop in vacation mode soon, in case the one of a kind pieces sell at the craft show.  So if there is anything you have been keeping an eye on, get it now.   

Since I won't be posting any new items before the show, check out the boro (Borosilicate) beads from Harold Williams Cooney on ebay.  I love the colors you get on boro beads and have collected a number of them at shows and stores over the years.  These are blown glass as opposed to lampwork.  According to Kate McKinnon, Cooney is auctioning off beads (you must check these out) to raise money for the Bead and Button show, my favorite event of the year.  On second thought, I might bid on some myself.  So don't check them out, you might outbid me.   

Friday, April 30, 2010

CraftEdu Is Live

Donna Kato's new site for crafting tutorials, CraftEdu is finally live.  She has an insane number of amazing artists who will be offering web-based video tutorials.  I am super excited.  There are only a few metal clay ones up so far, but there are some AMAZING polymer clay offerings.  The site is loading very slowly, so you may need to wait a bit.  I can't wait to try one. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Free Metal Clay Projects

Patrick Kusek (who I featured as one of Whole Lotta Whimsy's Master Muses) has four free projects sheets available from Aftosa.  Check them out here

There are projects for beginners up to advanced metal clay workers.  One of the projects is on water etching, which is something I have wanted to try.  Aftosa also has some interesting stamps I had not seen before.  Not a huge selection of metal clay products, but worth checking out. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Earrings and Photo Editing

Below are some pictures of my new hydrangea earrings with a tiny cubic zirconia in the center.  I am not putting these on etsy yet, I am saving them for the HandmadeMN show on May 8th.  I am experimenting with my photos, working hard to improve my pictures.  Although the difference appear much more subtle on this blog, each photo is a little different.  What do you think?  Which one looks the best?
How about the photos of these sage leaf earrings?  I think they needed more light.  You can see the fabulous blue and purple patina very well. 

Here some of the other new earrings I made last weekend.  Do you have a favorite?

The left pair have rose quartz cabochons and the pair on the right have faceted black spinel cabs, all with handmade ear wires.  The last pair are hand sculpted little flowers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

BronzeClay Bothers

So how was your weekend? I was very productive, creatively, but not very successful. For the most part I work in silver clay and have no problems. Lately I have been trying to make some bronze clay pieces because I love the colored surfaces you can achieve. But my experiments this weekend did not turn out well. Most all of my pieces had bubbles in them. I first thought I over-fired them and my kiln was too hot. So I decreased the temperature. Nope, the next batch still had bubbles. Then I thought perhaps I had not dried the pieces enough before firing. So I dried them overnight and fired them Sunday. Nope, batch number three still had bubbles. So now I am off to the wonderful web to find some answers. Because BronzeClay is still relatively new, there is no “guaranteed” firing schedule out there. See this squidoo lens that gives a number of different firing schedules. After looking at this and Cool Tools photo trouble shooting guide, I think I might have one of two problems. I guess Bronze is more likely to have air bubbles in the clay when you first open it. It seems to need more conditioning than silver clay. This might be true for my pieces because the thinnest pieces were the ones that made it without bubbles. But according to Cool Tools, I may still have my kiln too hot. But if that is the case, I would expect the thinner smaller pieces to have more bubbles than the larger pieces. But it is easy to try it and figure it out. I only dropped the temperature 25 degrees. I hate wasting all this clay, but now I am sort of determined to make it work out of pure stubbornness. I’ll show you the finished “successful” pieces soon (hopefully).  In the meantime, you can admire the work of BronzeClay master, Celie Fago

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Featured Artist - Willow and Me

I am planning to feature a new artist each week to show you some of the other wonderful people selling on Etsy and/or working in metal clay. Today’s artist, Lisa from Maine, is both. She sells lovely silver and copper metal clay jewelry on Etsy. If you like my pieces, you are going to love her shop Willow and Me, we have a similar style and both have a love of leaves. And how can you not adore her cat Willow, who the shop is named after?

Are you a beader? I adore this clasp and could see it with some lovely amethyst or labradorite beads and silver spacers.

Perfect for spring, I also love her pussy willow collection. I fondly remember going for walks as a kid and picking pussy willows to bring home. Don’t you just want to rub the felt on these guys?

Lisa is also trying to raise awareness through her blog about a rare disease called Wegeners Granulomatosis. It is an uncommon disease causing bloody noses, chronic sinus infections, perforated steptum, and respiratory problems, such as chest pain, tightness and breathing problems. You can read more about Lisa’s struggle with the disease on her blog. Also, through the month of April, ten percent of all sales in Lisa’s Etsy shop will be donated to the Vasculitis Foundation. So let’s go shopping!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Master Muses Tutorials - Patrik Kusek

Have you checked out this week's Master Muses tutorial from Whole Lotta Whimsy?  This week Patrik Kusek made a lovely pair of earrings using copper clay, silver clay, and torch fired enamels.  I like the way he let some of the copper plain and non-enameled.  What do you think?

Last weekend I made a TON of stuff, getting ready for the HandmadeMN show on May 8 (check out the link on the right hand side of the blog).  I made a bunch of simple earrings using some of my newest texture sheets from Whole Lotta Whimsy.  These two are my new favorites.  I left them in simple shapes and plan to solder them to wires with some bezel set cabochons.  I will try to post pictures of the finished pieces this weekend.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Welcome new followers!

Welcome to my new blog follwers from the HandmadeMN giveaway.  Today's post is short because I worked until 11:00 last night at my regular job.  I am insanely tired.   So please enjoy this copper oak leaf necklace, one of my personal favorites.   

Monday, April 19, 2010

Giveaway! Win a copper chickadee necklace

I am doing a giveaway through my handmadeMN team.  Just visit the HandmadeMN blog to enter to win this fabulous necklace. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm a Little Teapot!

Check out my new listing for an adorable little teapot necklace.  A great present for mom or grandma for Mother's Day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Doctor Who is back

Another geekery post in the first week of the blog? Crazy, but I can’t help it. You see my favorite TV show returns this weekend to BBC America, Dr. Who. Sadly, there will be a new doctor this season and I am heartbroken because I LOVED David Tennant. But I have heard good things about the new doctor, Matt Smith, so I will give him a chance. He certainly is not as cute as David, but that’s okay. I am excited that they are going to do an episode with the stone angels from the Blink episode in 2007. So what geekery shows do you love??

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Will You Be There? American Craft Council Show - This Weekend

This weekend the American Craft Council is hosting a craft show Friday through Sunday. The Council is a national, nonprofit educational organization whose goal is to promote contemporary American crafts. Fellow HanmadeMN member Cheri Meyer, from the store From Out of the Cracks, will be there demonstrating her fabulous freeform peyote beaded jewelry. I have tried bead weaving and the peyote stitch, and believe me, it takes a lot of skill and patience. The Handmade MN team will also be hosting other demonstrations throughout the day. The Council recently relocated from New York to the Twin Cities, yeah!! Tickets are $10.00 dollars for the day, or $5.00 after 5:00 on Friday only. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Master Muses Tutorials

If you follow my Facebook fan page, you will have seen me post about the Master Muses Tutorials on Whole Lotta Whimsy's blog.  Each week a different artist is featured who provides a mini tutorial based on a set theme.  After awhile, a longer more detailed tutoria will be available for purchase.  So far there was a series of unique clasps, then steampunk inspired pieces, and now the theme is torch-fired enamels.  Vicki Hallmark's tutorial was posted today and is a gorgeous little ring.  I haven't tried enamels yet, but this makes me want to go out and buy them.  I LOVE Vicki's work.  If you check out her blog, you will notice she does a lot of brids, branches, and leaf themes like my own work!   


You will soon learn from this blog, that I am somewhat of totally a geek.  So I was super excited to read today that the great Joss Wheadon, will be directing the new Avengers movie.  The Avengers are Marvel Hero comics including Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk.  Joss is famous for his shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse.  I love his sense of humor.  Geek fun!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Please allow me to introduce myself...

I guess I was meant to be a metal clay addict, given that my name is Jessica Clay.  

I have been working with metal clay for around five years and selling my jewelry for the past year. I am primarily self-taught but have taken classes with many wonderful artists who have influenced my work, including Barbara McGuire, Marla Frakenberg, and Christi Friesen. I am a member of the PMC Gild and have a level one PMC certification.  I am also a member of HandmadeMN, a group of Minnesota artists who sell their work on

So what is metal clay?  Metal clay comes in a variety of forms, silver, gold, bronze, and copper, and some people are in the process of developing a steel and white bronze clay.  The clay is made up of tiny particulates of metal mized with an organic binder.  The clay has a consistency of modeling clay.  The clay is sculpted and then fired with a torch or a kiln, which is preferable for full sintering.  There are to major manufacturers of metal clays, Precious Metal Clay (PMC, made by Mitsubishi) and Art Clay (made by Art Clay World).  Once fired, silver clay is .999 or fine silver, even more pure than sterling silver. 
I love to work with metal clay because it is an accessible and affordable way to make lasting fine jewelry. It is so much fun to open my kiln and see my creations all shiny and glimmering.

Most of my work is inspired by nature. I drive my husband nuts when we go for walks, because I am always scouring the ground for leaves and twigs to use as casting pieces or textures for my jewelry. I like to keep my designs simple and elegant.

I hope to use this blog to give you a glimpse into my work, let you know about specials in my shop, showcase other artists, and teach you more about metal clay and jewelry making.

Thanks for joining me and welcome to my blog!