Personally Charmed Custom Photo Jewelry

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PC News and Jewelry Blog

Be Charmed by our Blog...a word from Heather of Charmed, by Heather, owner of Personally Charmed. 

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Shop Small, Shop Local, Shop American!

Posted by Charmed by Heather on November 21, 2011 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (3)

The holiday shopping season is upon us! And I have to admit, I love that part as much as I love the smell of clean pine, fresh pumpkin pie, apple cider, and Mamma’s homemade dressing. I love the lights, the decorations, the stockings hanging from the mantle, the Christmas music and nativity scenes, but I also love to shop and I really love to shop for the people I hold dear. There is just something about ferreting out that perfect gift, landing the perfect find, meeting the challenge, watching those eyes light up when they pull off the bows and unbox that special treasure.


 Christmas Tree Pendant by CityRusticJewelry on Etsy

Over the years, I’ve learned to temper my spending and my shopping.  Because as much as I love it, it can get out of control.  Plastic toy after plastic toy, piling up and useless! Needless home decor for a house that already has it all.  Hitting the sales, trying to get as much for as little as possible.   At one point, it took our family 8 hours to open gifts and another 12 to unpack and find room for them in our home!   We set limits, $100 for a child, but that’s10 toys.  Really?  How long is the attention span of a 2 year old?  Is it really long enough to open ten gifts from one aunt?  Not to mention the other 2 and grandparents, great aunts, etc? 


 Wine Cork Star by CorkyCrafts on Esty

Finally realizing that all of this “Made in China, Hecho in Mexico” stuff means sending my hard, and in this economy, I mean HARD, earned dollars across the border and over seas. It meant filling my home with useless items that are forgotten after a month or two.  It means guilt for all of the excess when I know my own countrymen, many of them friends and family, are in need, while I wallow in excess. Useless, worthless, excess! 

Stack and Count Bowl Set by ApplenAmos on Etsy (I bought this set, LOVE IT!)

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love my large lovely house with TVs in 3 rooms so I can find at least one quiet place to sneak off to occasionally.  I love my blue ray player and my Payless shoes (although I do own considerably less pairs of shoes than most of my friends ;).  But I’ve turned a new leaf in the shopping and accumulation department. NO MORE JUNK!


 

I’ve learned to shop at home! And by that I mean, I’ve learned to shop local, small, and American. I’ve completed about 65% of my shopping so far and I’ve done 60% of that in local businesses or on Etsy.com.  I know I can’t go 100% but  I’ve made a pledge,if only to myself, that my money (or at least, 85% of it) will stay at home this year.  I’m spending the same amount, I’m buying a little less, but I’m supporting my local economy and American craftsman at the same time.  My child, nephews and nieces do not need 10 cheap plastic toys each.  They can’t even focus long enough to open that many gifts.  So they are getting American made, handmade goods this year and the money I spend is going to American craftsman, not Chinese sweatshops.

Personalized Tumber by ThePoshDiva on Etsy

 

I hope that you will all take a look at your own shopping habits this season and take some time to browse Etsy, the largest market for American handmade goods, browse your local shops, and consider the impact your spending has on your local economy before you lay down your hard earned dollars.  Sometimes it’s better to buy less for more. 

 

Next Saturday, November 26th is Small Business Saturday.  Many of your local businesses and several Etsy shops will be promoting for the event, having sales, offering discounts.  Check out SBS here: http://smallbusinesssaturday.com/ ;

                           Paper Flower Ring by ValVAlVoom on Etsy


So what if it’s sponsored by American Express, at least they are helping to bring all the little guys together.  I’ve seen signs and posts all over my small town promoting it, and it feels good!

Copper Heart Necklace by Charmed, by Heather on Etsy...hey, that's me!

 

On top of that, visit your local shops, shop Etsy, and buy quality made, American made this year, rather than spending a fortune at Wal-Mart!  Sometimes, less is more! So this year, I CHALLENGE YOU!...BUY LOCAL, BUY HANDMADE, BUY AMERCIAN!   At least try to set a goal to do part of your shopping at home this year!  Don’t send your hard earned dollars overseas; support American craftsmen and local businesses instead.

  Pottery Necklace by NaturesAdornment on Etsy

Personally Charmed will be presenting it's wears on Nov. 26th in Heather's home town, Munday, Tx, at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150376342922611&set=a.103242842610.103662.539487610&type=1&theater" target="_blank">Fundays in Munday.  Can't wait to bring my handmade goods home for the holidays!

The Craft Guild of Dallas, A Hidden Gem

Posted by Charmed by Heather on September 12, 2011 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Earlier this year, I discovered the Craft Guild of Dallas, and I consider it one of DFW's hidden little gems. Today, I'm going to tell you what it is and why. The sterling silver cuff bracelet in the picture is the first thing I ever made there.

The Guild is basically an organization in Dallas that promotes the arts and crafts through classes, workshops, shows, and an organized group of studios and labs.

As mentioned in the About section of this website, I started making photo pendants with glass tiles but worked relentlessly to improve my product and offer more options to my clients.  In an effort to bring to you a higher end product, I started the search for a supplier of sterling silver pendant trays.  I found a couple of manufacturers who offered to make a sterling version of the trays I usually buy from them; however, the minimum purchase numbers and the idea that anybody in my industry could order the same design and make the same products, left me wanting more.

So I searched around my community for a silversmith to create my own designs.  Again, I smashed my already rusty kneecaps into a dead end.  I knew at this point that if I wanted something done right, I'd just have to....well, you've heard that old saying.  I turned to the internet and began my search for metal fabrication classes. That's when I discovered the Craft Guild of Dallas.

The Craft Guild of Dallas was established in 1948 as a way to bring the arts back to Dallas after WWII. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is: (Learnmore about the History of the Craft Guild here.)

*To maintain and promote continuity of the traditional and historic skills & techniques associated with each craft.

*To set up shops for silver, ceramics and other crafts requiring laboratories and obtain good teachers to staff   them                           . 

*To sponsor and promote competitive shows.

The Guild offers classes in a number of art forms from metalsmithing, ceramics, and paper making, to painting, beading, and stained glass.  It also offers valuable workshops for those who can't commit to a longer class and for those who want to learn a little something extra.  They have opportunities to fit every lifestyle and most importantly, they have labs and studios staffed with qualified instructors and mentors in a variety of different arts.

I took my first fabrication classes at the Guild under the tutelage of Ed Barker and  I have to give it 5 out of 5 Stars!   Ed was patient, kind, knowledgeable, creative, and inspiring.  If you are interested in learning the art of metal smithing, I can't recommend Ed enough.  He is a wonderful teacher and a generally likeable person.

The new facilities behind the old Bed, Bath,and Beyond and TGIFs on Beltline in Addison are state of the art and very comfortable.  I take classes at the Guild off and on, when I need to learn a new skill, or when I have the extra time.  I also have my eye on a few of the upcoming workshops.  Sign up for one, who knows, when we'll end up at the torch next to each other? What a hidden gem! Take a class or come to a show; the next show is Nov. 3-6th and the next semester starts Nov. 7th.   Workshops are throughout the year!

If you are in the DFW area and wanting to learn a new hobby or are needing studio room, I hope you’ll consider the Guild.  If you'd like to support local arts you can donate here: http://www.craftguildofdallas.com/index.php ;.

Learn about classes and workshops here:

http://www.craftguildofdallas.com/classesWorkshops.php

Check out Ed and the other instructors here:

http://www.craftguildofdallas.com/instructorlist.php

The Guild also offers summer camps for the younger artist among us. TheCraft Guild of Dallas is located at

5100 Belt Line Rd., Suite 400 Dallas, TX  75254      


This is basically Addison, just off Beltline and Montfort behind TGIF's, near the Tollway and Beltline. They have classes, workshops, and shows throughout the year. 

I made this in Ed’s class;

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150327489901241&set=a.10150327480271241.387432.228407141240&type=1&theater

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150327484401241&set=a.10150327480271241.387432.228407141240&type=1&theater


 





What is Reticulation?

Posted by Charmed by Heather on June 1, 2011 at 10:43 PM Comments comments (1)


Reticulation is a metal texturing method used exclusively by skilled studio jewelers.  The result of this technique on sterling silver and gold mimics the crumpling ridges and deep valleys of the Earth’s surface providing a striking play of light and shadow when worn as jewelry.  Reticulated gold and silver jewelry pieces are wearable art and they should be considered investment pieces.


Reticulation was first used in the late 1800s by Russian court jewelers, including Faberge, who created textured liquor flasks and cigarette cases amongst other items.  Faberge’s studio closed during the Bolshevik Revolution but his Finnish craftsmen carried the art with them to Scandinavia.  It was Finnish metalsmith, Heikki Seppa, who pioneered the technique of reticulation in the United States.

Silver is the metal most commonly used in reticulation but gold works as well.  Personally Charmed designs use sterling silver (.925) in the reticulation process but the Finnish smiths mostly used an alloy of 82% silver and 18% copper because silver with a higher copper content tends to create a more dramatic pattern. Reticulation silver can be purchased from sources like Rio Grande in an 80/20 alloy and comes already reticulated.  This pre-reticulated silver cannot be stamped sterling as it is not 92.5% silver.

 

How is it done in the PC studio?

The first step is a process called depletion gilding.  A sheet of sterling silver metal is heated with a torch to an annealing temperature of 1100 degrees and held there for several minutes.  It is then pickled,washed, and scrubbed with a brass brush and lubricant.  I use Dawn dish washing detergent but Faberge used stale beer.  (I haven’t tried that yet, as I tend not to have any leftover beer.) 

 

This process is repeated several times, up to eight times on larger pieces and at least two times on smaller pieces.  The purpose for the depletion gilding is to reduce the copper from the surface of the silver bringing a layer of oxidized fine silver to the top.  During the reticulating process, the oxidized layer on top will melt at a higher temperature than the layer of metal inside. It is the inside layer of metal that actually causes the ridges and bends that we see on a finished reticulated piece.

 

After the silver has gone through the depleting process, the soldering block is preheated and the metal is ready to reticulate.  I use a large cooler flame to bring the silver up to the correct temperature. Just after it begins to turn red, the silver on top will begin to flow and as the torch is moved away from the flow, the cooling will force the copper layer beneath to bend and wave; this is reticulation.  A deft hand and good eye is required at this stage or the metal will melt and it is very easy to burn a hole into it.  During this stage small items can also be fused to the design providing even more texture and focal points like in this example created by Kwant of KwantEssentials on Etsy.

                                                                                    

After the silver is reticulated, it must be quenched,pickled, and cleaned again before forming. Reticulated silver can sometimes be brittle and should be formed very carefully.  Once the piece is formed, I usually put it in a liver of sulphur bath to add a nice patina, then I polish it by hand to highlight the dips and ridges.

One of the benefits of owning a reticulated piece of jewelry is that one can guarantee it is handcrafted and one of a kind.  It is not possible to mass-produce reticulated pieces as the process requires skill and control and cannot be done by a machine.  Each piece of metal reticulates differently, so no two pieces are ever the same.  The buyer can also be sure that they are purchasing something from a skilled craftsman who spent a lot of time and concentration working on the individual piece. A reticulated silver piece is truly a work of art and an investment piece.


This ring is the same design as the first ring pictured but notice how different the reticulation is; this is what I mean when I say that no two pieces will be the same.  Both rings were created by Heather Brownlee of Personally Charmed/Charmed, by Heather in the same studio using the same equipment:


It is important for all silversmiths to study the art of reticulation wether they plan to create and sell pieces with this finish or not.  By understanding the process of reticulation, a silversmith begins to understand the way metal moves and works.  An aritist who can control this process can easily handle other tasks such as soldering and fusing.  Personally, I love the look; I think it screams mordern, organic, artisanmade and those are trends that are flying off the shelves lately! 

Visit http://www.charmedbyheather.etsy.com to order a custom reticulated ring like the one above or pay Kwant a visit for other reticulated styles.

 


How to Clean Silver Jewelry Safely

Posted by Charmed by Heather on April 22, 2011 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7% copper; that is why it is often referred to as .925.  The .925 silver is the common standard for silver jewelry.  Copper is added to silver to make the metal stronger.

 

Fine silver has recently become a jewelry trend with the arrival of PMC or precious metal clays.  PMC is an organic clay mixture that has been mixed with recycled silver molecules that are usually captured from chemicals used in manufacturing and photo processing.  After it is mixed with the clay, artists can sculpt and form it into any shape they desire.  Then they use a torch or kiln to fire off the clay and fuse the silver molecules into the shape of the melded clay piece.  They polish it up and the remaining result is a bright shiny piece of nearly pure silver, .999 or 99.9% pure, to be exact.  Pure silver is very soft and can be easily scratched, although it will not tarnish or at least not nearly as quickly as sterling will.  Over time, sterling silver jewelry will tarnish because of the copper.


Some people are fond of the antiqued look and it looks great on certain pieces, bringing out highlights and details.  Others will want to keep their jewelry bright and shiny. While polishing silver is probably not much of a mystery, silver with certain stones and definitely silver that encases your precious family photographs might present a problem so I’m going to share my polishing secrets with you.


THE BIG SECRET:

The simplest way to clean your photo jewelry (or any jewelry for that matter) is to polish it regularly with a soft cloth or a silver polishing cloth.  I highly recommend this method for jewelry with stones such as turquoise, coral, lapis, or any other porous stones.


To clean your regular sterling pieces without stones or photos try this all natural method with ingredients right out of your own kitchen.


 You will need:

*salt

*water

*aluminum foil

*a little bowl or jar

*a soft cloth, I use a piece of cut up t-shirt


Put enough hot water in the jar to cover the piece ofjewelry you are cleaning.  Add a couple of tablespoons of salt to the jar and stir until it dissolves.  Add a few strips of aluminum foil to themixture and drop the jewelry into the water. Let this sit for about 5-10 minutes, then rinse the jewelry and polish it with your cloth.  This chemical mixture creates an electrolytic cell: the silver and the aluminum serve as the cathode and anode, and the salt ferries electrons back and forth removing the tarnish. Repeat the process until all of the tarnish has been removed.  Make sure that your jewelry is completely drybefore storing it.


Although our photo jewelry is water-proof, I do not recommend this method for cleaning photo jewelry because I’m just not sure how the resin will react to the salt and if there is any gap at all in the seam between the resin and silver you could get a little moisture seeping into the piece if you soak it for several minutes.


Do not use tooth paste or baking soda to clean your silver. Silver is a soft metal and the abrasives in either of those will scratch and dull your pieces.


Areas that are high in pollution, near a water source, or heated by gas (which can cause condensation), cause your jewelry to tarnish more quickly.  To protect your jewelry,wipe it clean after each use and store it in an air tight bag or plastic container.  Do not keep your jewelry in your bathroom where it can be exposed to moisture on a daily basis.  If using hairspray, lotions, or perfumes, apply before putting on your jewelry.


 

 

It's About Time...or...PC's State of the Union

Posted by Charmed by Heather on February 2, 2011 at 9:28 PM Comments comments (0)

Call it what you want but it's about time I posted a new blog entry!  So many things have come together in 2010 that I'm about to jump out of my pants thinking about 2011. 


This year we have:


*introduced at least a dozen new products that are handmade by artisans all over the world

*discontinued our line of glass tiles

*dramatically improved the quality of our new product lines

*opened a second Etsy shop for excess supplies, clearance items, and overstock

*broke sales records

*moved into a larger studio

*changed production hours to full time

*created packaging that marks our brand

*added a maker's mark to our jewelry

*picked up numerous wholesale clients

*started a Facebook fanpage as well as Twitter page

*engaged in serious marketing and advertising campaigns through numerous sources

*revamped the PC website

*added the ability to accept coupons in our Etsy shops


...and have worked our tails off to fufill orders and meet your deadlines!


In 2011, we hope to keep this website more up to date with regular blog posts and gallery updates, finally bring the Charmed Noir product line to life, bring you a series of sterling silver photo jewelry, as well as several one of a kind hand forged and stamped pieces in both sterling and copper, add numerous new designs to our inventory, attend more local shows, and keep moving forward with product improvement, research and development, and we hope to begin making our own pendant trays and bezels in house so that you can be sure that what you get here is truely one of a kind, unique, and top of the line where quality is concerned!




Introducing Customized Photo Rings

Posted by Charmed by Heather on January 10, 2010 at 4:27 PM Comments comments (0)

The Sydney Stone is the first in our line of custom photo rings. A picture of your loved one is attached to an 18/13mm vintage glasscabochon.



 

Your photograph is sealed under the glass with anon-toxic waterproof resin and attached firmly to the ring setting witha metal bonding adhesive. While this ring is waterproof, it's stillprobably a good idea to remove it while swimming, showering, or whilewashing dishes--A precaution you should take with all of your finejewelry.


 

These are adjustable brass rings with soldered 18/13mmFlat back oval rhinestone settings. They have been plated in sterlingsilver. The brushed metal ring base measures about 8mm wide. The baseis soldered at the point where the ring adjusts so that the adjustmentarea will be hidden.


 


Photo Tips

*Becausethe stone magnifies, close ups are not recommended. A full body orpartial body shot with a simple background will work best.

*The picture is tiny so fine details will not be noticeable.


 

How to Order:

Place your order, then email your photo to [email protected] or send it via Etsy's convo feature.

Let us know in your email, or in the notes to seller when you order if youprefer your photo to be black and white, color, or sepia toned. We willcrop and edit your photo for you to fit the style of your stone.

We are officially here!

Posted by Charmed by Heather on December 28, 2009 at 10:05 PM Comments comments (1)

I began the construction of this website yesterday and today I officially purchased the domain name!  Just realized there's no spell check on this thing...God help us all...oh well, guess I'll just have to proofread.


Although this website is new, you've seen us around for awhile or at least part of us.  We've been selling our custom photo pendants via word of mouth and online in our Etsy shop, Charmed by Heather.  From time to time, we've also featured one of a kind hand made jewelry designed by Heather Brownlee, owner of Personally Charmed.


After a very successful year, we've decided to launch a complete online presence and expand the Charmed brand.  Our new home will be known as Personally Charmed.  The custom photo jewelry line will still be branded, Charmed by Heather. 


As the new year gets underway, you can expect exciting developments in our new product lines and in the development of the business as a whole. 


What to look for this Spring:

  • New products in the Charmed by Heather line, such as Victorian and Edwardian inspired photo rings and necklaces
  • Charmed Noir-a brand new line featuring a unique set of steampunk mourning jewelry inspired by the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau eras and incorporating actual antique pieces 
  • this new blog and website with our new domain name, Personallycharmed.com
  • an increased presence in boutiques and at local events
  • an ongoing blog to keep you abreast of the latest happenings at Personally Charmed
  • and many more surprises

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