Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to Old-School!

This month at the ole’ Blog Carnival** we’re talking about “Back to School”.  Somewhere we look a wrong turn in the hallway because…we never left school in the first place. It’s all learning all the time at 2Roses’. It’s part and parcel of this modern life where constant and rapid change is the norm. We suspect that all of you live in this world too – except those of you who don’t.

“Old School” in many cases simply means a “tradition” of sorts. In our fast paced world, this can be taken to mean last week’s traditions as opposed to what’s happening NOW. Much grinding of the gears happens in that space, where old-world tradition (more than two weeks ago) intersects with 21st century sensibilities. Take our own particular brand of madness, handmade jewelry, for example. “Handmade!?”, folks respond blankly when presented with this fact along with the object. Scrolling text then appears across their forehead….”What does that mean? ….People make stuff by hand?....Why?....Holy shit, how much?”

But wait, it gets better. We are not alone in our handmade-keeping-traditions-alive romantic economically delusional pursuits. There are people engaged in making armor, and flint knapped arrowheads and, we are quite certain if you look around long enough, buggy whips. Now, we totally get armor and flint knapped arrowheads. These are going to be big sellers when the apocalypse comes. But buggy whips!? Seriously!!!??

Which brings us to the point of going back to old-school. Just how old an old-school are we talking about. After all, traditions can go back…as far back as…uhmm, like the first Christmas or something. Anyway, the question is what happens when your old-school traditions collide with my old-school traditions. Well, first off… you’re wrong. I think we can all agree on that.  

Or maybe there is some sort of old-school tradition that the oldest tradition wins. For example, here is how it works in real life: A friend makes handmade jewelry. BAM! Right off the bat, she has about 10,000 years of old-school tradition in the bank. Trump that!

In walks a customer who wants a ring. Not just any ring. This ring: "I want my ring to be made of ethically mined and fair traded traditional diamond solitaire, recycled and sustainable gold and while it's being made, I don't want any chemical or environmental toxins to be used or come in contact with the process AND since I am not really a "consumer" I would like to pay you with the organic fruits and vegetables I grow on my solar powered farm."

Whoa – serious contender – barter is old-old school going back to before Dynotopia and when Benjamin Franklin invented money. The request backed our friend up for a moment and you could see scrolling text appear across her forehead.….”What does that mean? ….People trade vegetables for diamonds & gold?....Why?....Holy shit, that’s a lot of vegetables?”

The customer ended up getting a tattoo instead, and that’s how you get learned in old-school.

** Blog Carnival is a monthly feature of Etsy Metal Team in which members share opinions and perspectives on a common topic which are different from ours …and therefore wrong.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Teenage Dog Enema Nurse


This month’s Blog Carnival** is about “pets”, those wonderful, cuddly, friends of the family that provide companionship and joy. No doubt my fellow artisans will be extolling amazing tales of how a favorite pet saved their life at one time, cooks dinner (and does the dishes), helps the kids with trigonometry homework and still manages to provide endless inspiration for boundless creative endeavors. All good stuff.

Growing up we had pets too, particularly dogs. I would watch the exploits of Lassie on TV, but my dogs just never quite measured up. They would mostly just bark at anyone who came near the house, and shit everywhere. I was intimately familiar with this last part because it was my job to clean up after the dogs. My parents believed in the sanctity of work. The dogs believed in the sanctity of shitting – everywhere. These two parallel concepts were to merge in the most horrible manner later in my life, when at age 15 I got an after school job with the local veterinarian.

“Bob the Vet” was an affable man, who liked his job as much as he liked his bourbon. The two went together pretty well judging by the amount Bob drank on the job. But at 15 you’re not too judgmental of such things, and besides Bob was a generous and sharing man.

Bob apparently recognized a deep untapped pool of veterinary greatness underneath my teenage veneer of acne and brylcreme, and immediately undertook to bestow upon me his vast knowledge of the medical arts. I was so adept a student that after only a few hours of training I received my first promotion. I was made the new Dog De-Worming Supervisor and put in charge of the entire division. As luck would have it, Bob had an amazingly steady demand for this service, and even though the entire de-worming division consisted of me, I smelled opportunity.

For those of you who are not schooled in the medical arts, de-worming a dog is mainly accomplished by administering an enema to said dog. Now, the first thing you have to know about the process is that it is a disgusting and messy affair. The second thing you gotta know is that the dogs don’t like it much. It is a procedure that is greatly facilitated by bourbon for the person administering the enema and the dog.

The art of the dog enema is all in knowing how to restrain the dog throughout the experience. The technique is nothing less than veterinary kung-fu that is handed down from master to apprentice -and I was getting good at it. I quickly mastered Chihuahuas and Pomeranians. Beagles and Cocker Spaniels were no match for me, nor Lab Retrievers. I was easily working through everything breed Bob threw at me, until…the Rotweiler.

Confronting a really big dog as you contemplate the best way to shove a hose up its ass is a sobering experience. At 121lbs the dog weighed only slightly less than I did. What he lacked in weight he more than made up for in bad attitude. We stood motionless for a few moments eyeing each other. The rotweiler growling, looking at me, the hose in my hand, my throat. Me looking at the rotweiler and estimating the distance between me the dog and the door.

They tell you in the military that in times of high stress your training kicks in and you act instinctively without thinking. And that is exactly what happened next. In hindsight thinking about it would have been a better move. Instead I made my best enema ninja move, restrained the rotwieler and inserted the hose in one deft motion. This clearly caught the dog by surprise and he just stood there for a few moments trying to figure out what just happened.

I thought things were going pretty well until the rotweiler decided he’d had enough of being violated with a garden hose and broke free, jumping out of the tub and knocking me to the floor in the process. Lying there on my back I watched an upside-down rotweiler looking ever so much like a water balloon let loose. Only slightly less amusing was the sudden realization that this massive snarling animal propelled by a high pressure stream of fluid, worms and shit was charging at me.

That’s when I discovered I could fly – and scream very loudly.  Sitting atop a stainless steel cabinet my incessant screams eventually aroused Bob’s curiosity 
enough for him to come see what the noise was about. Bob was pretty nonplussed about the incident. The dog had been successfully de-wormed (billable) and as the supervisor of the department Bob reminded me that it was my responsibility to clean up. And that is why to this day I remain a steadfast cat person.

**Blog Carnival is the brainchild of EtsyMetal Team whereby a random selection of international artists share wildly inappropriate and embarrassing personal information for your curiosity and gratification.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We sense something odd

Describe your 5 senses. Which are your favorites and least favorites?

This month’s Blog Carnival** topic is the five senses. You know, sense of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. This got us thinking about which or our senses most drive our work. On reflection, to our surprise, the “big 5” didn’t even make the list. 
Sense of wonder
Sense of humor
Sense of Responsibility
Sense of place
Sense of Security
Sense of Community
Sense of equilibrium
Sense of Purpose
Sense of Outrage
Sense of entitlement
Sense of shame
Sense of Motion
Sense of Horror
Common Sense

A sense of perpetual wonder – at the world we live in – is what makes us anxious to jump out of bed in the morning. Each day is an adventure that brings both good and bad, all of which pulls, pushes and transforms the work that gets filtered through our experience and perceptions of the of the world around us.
These experiences inevitably stimulate other senses which bubble to the surface of our work in many strange ways. Sometimes they manifest themselves as conscious statements, as when our sense of humor


or sense of outrage is triggered.


 Other times, we find ideas creeping into the work because of our sense of community or sense of place.

 We have a sense of responsibility to the people around us, coupled with a strong sense of purpose in what we are doing. This has in no small part contributed to a sense of equilibrium and a sense of security in ourselves, each other, and our work. 

 ** Blog Carnival is the random zeitgeist of  EtsyMetal, a loose cabal of international creative conspirators dedicated to overthrowing the global lack of imagination.

Monday, May 7, 2012


This month’s Blog Carnival** topic will undoubtedly be a treasure trove of hidden gems for the metalsmiths in the audience. The subject is “tools you have made yourself”, and the objects made with those tools. We are squealing with glee right now. FYI for our non-metalsmith readers, most metalsmiths, especially us, are unrepentant tool junkies. Very rarely will you encounter a metalsmith who admits to having enough tools.  When visiting each other’s studios metalsmiths will always want to look over the tools, and specially the little things each of us does to modify a tool for a special purpose. Almost all of us make tricked out tools for ourselves.

We make tools for the sheer joy and fun of it and suspect that making jewelry is simply an excuse to engage in tool making. In fact, we are writing this blog post as fast as we can because what we really want to do is visit all the other Blog Carnival artists to see what tool tricks we will discover. 

The first item is a jump ring cutter. Everyone has to cut jump rings sooner or later. We actually have many types of jump ring cutters and will grab the one best suited for the volume and size of rings we need. This one is for medium sizes and small quantities.  The second item is a nylon dapping block. We made this to form domes in metal that had texture or other processes applied to it. The nylon is relatively gentle and will not “iron out” the texture or pattern on the metal like a metal dapping block will. We have made a lot of these blocks in various sizes, usually to suit a specific project as needed.  We also make nylon or wood dapping punches to go with the blocks.

This chain mail necklace was made using the jump ring cutter and nylon dapping block.

This is a micro deburring tool that is made from old exacto blades. It is one of the most useful little tools on our bench and we use it all the time.

These are nylon and delrin mandrel for making quick work of trueing up or shaping cones of varying sizes and shapes. These are made on a lathe from rod stock and we have dozens of them in different sizes and shapes.

These earrings were made using the deburring tool and a cone mandrel.

A friend of ours, Trish McAleer, literally wrote the book on metal corrugation. In the early days there was no corrugation equipment other than expensive Italian rolling mills. Everyone used these cheap little tube wringers, which are still likely the most used tool for the job.  The problems were getting sufficient pressure on the metal and then turning the little handle when you did. We modified ours with a screw to exert mechanical force on the rollers and a handle that provided considerably more leverage for turning. This will do a respectable job on 24 gauge metal. 

PostJohnCarpenter Apocalyptic Earrings made with the metal corrugator

We have lots and lots of these wooden forming mandrels in a wide range of sizes. We make them on a band saw or lathe, often to fit a specific project.

A couple of bracelets that were made using the wood mandrels.

This is a carving bur made from a 45° heart bur that had become dull. These can be reshaped by grinding the top off the bur leaving only a portion of the lower section below the girdle.

This is a micro-clamp for working on small or delicate parts. It is an extremely versatile tool and we use it all the time for holding small parts while sawing or doing other operations.  One of the nice things about this jig is that is very easily modified to do a lot of different jobs. We have made lots of extra parts and configurations for the base plate over the years.

This carved and pierced bone pendant was made using the carving bur and micro clamp.

Technically this isn’t for metalworking, but we’re throwing it in just for fun. This is our flint-knapping tool kit. It consists of a deer antler heavy hammer, a copper small hammer, a copper compression tool, a leather hand protector and safety glasses.

A pretty crude knapped knife. We need to do a lot more practicing, but by the time the next ice age rolls around we should be in a position to clean up.

We could go on and on with tools, but we need to get over to the other Blog Carnival sites to see what cool things we can learn from those folks. 

** Blog Carnival is a collaborative blog experiment by the artists of EtsyMetal, an International collective or metal artists. Each month, various members write on the same subject, giving readers a perspective on how artists in different areas of the world approach themes common to our lives.

Monday, April 2, 2012

OK, Your Kid Probably Could Make Something Better Than This

The Blog Carnival* topic this month is “nobody’s perfect”. We are frequently told this applies to us.

Someone once said “art is making the difficult look easy. Maybe, but not the way we usually do it. Truth is, you never get to see the artist’s prototypes, almost made its, and dead ends. Most artists have lots and lots of this stuff and we’re no different. Art is really the discipline to work through lots of trial and error to arrive at satisfying solution. What you see is often the result of dozens attempts to make real what the artist see’s in their mind.  Over time the artist gets more skilled, and is capable of making more sophisticated and complex art. This usually translates to making more sophisticated and complex mistakes too.  It’s a vicious circle, this art stuff

In our case, we’re always experimenting with different materials and techniques so we leave a pretty wide swath of drek in our wake. Eventually we figure some of this stuff out. But today you’re in for a special treat. We’re going to pull back the studio curtain and let you rummage around in our big box of crap. Welcome to what keeps us up at night.

We liked to play with matches when we were kids. As adults we have ever more varied and sophisticated devices for playing with fire. Applying same to plastic can result in some really neat effects. Unfortunately this isn’t one of them.

Quiting while  you’re ahead is a maxim that has applications in the arts. This was supposed to be a simple piercing project with a new alloy we were working with, but noo-o-o-o-o-o,  we decided to see what would happen if we enameled it too.  A thinking person would have simply used a piece of scrap for the test. No problem, it’s a piece of scrap now.

This bracelet actually came out looking pretty close to what we saw in our minds.  As it turns out however, gravity works differently in our minds than the real world. We either need to establish a lopsided bracelet trend or figure out a solution for gravity. Art really is making the difficult look simple!

We really thought we had it on this one. This bracelet is a highly experimental combination of materials, and changes color as it moves. If only we could have left it at that. But we just had to layer on a few more effects because, who knows, we took too much acid at Woodstock. We’re warming up to “simple”.

So we decided black and white is simple. Except the black & white neoprene cord has a mind of its own.  What it has in mind is not what we have in mind. So our next step is to introduce Mr. Neoprene to Mr. Fire and see if that changes anybody’s mind.

We got fired up on SteamPunk and this piece for a while and er…well…we sorta ran out of steam. There are always one or two pieces that just hang around the studio nagging you, mocking you, reminding you that you have no discipline. We hate this piece, its an asshole.

We’ve had this thing for Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea since we were kids. This periodically manifests itself from time to time as one piece or another some of which are actually quite cool. Then there are brain farts like this that are pretty much DOA.

This is the BFF of the asshole steampunk piece. We actually like how this is coming out, it is just taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r-r-r-r-r. Part of the problem is that it is an incredibly tedious piece to work on. It will be killer if it ever gets completed and we won’t be making another. 

We have a boat-load of these little black shells with white dots, and are just aching to do something with them. The process for us is to play around with different components and let ideas percolate. This is one of at least two dozen directions we are going with these little buggers. Sometimes the solution comes fast, other times not so much.  Oh well, back to the drawing board.  

* Blog Carnival is the group musings of EtsyMetal, an International conspiracy of people dedicated to taking glitter, macaroni and glue to a higher plane.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hey! This doesn’t smell like Sterling Silver.

Hey! This doesn’t smell like Sterling Silver.

This month’s EtsyMetal Blog Carnival* topic is: “What are the pros and cons of selling your jewelry online?”

There really is no downside to selling work on-line. You not only make money, but you get to learn lots about the world and the people in it. Not unlike working the counter at 7-11.

Caveat: the following is all true and really happened.

So tell us more about this “making money” part, you ask. You like to make things, and in particular, you like to make money. Well, whip out the ol’ iPhone and take a picture of your unique creation and post it online in one of the thousands upon thousands of web sites that specialize in selling your exact kind of stuff. It doesn’t matter which one because all of them are the “world’s largest, leading, and most successful” on-line store.  There will be some upfront costs, fees, commissions and other related expenses but pay no mind to any of this. You’ll soon be on the receiving end of a river of gold flowing your way.

Overnight International celebrity is often a consequence of posting your creations for sale online. Be ready for it. You will be contacted frequently by adoring employees from other online retail sites, who just LOVE your work. Of course, celebrity that you are, you will be granted an exclusive inside invitation to post your work on the world’s largest leading and most successful online store because their millions of customers just can’t find enough of whatever it is you make. There will be some upfront costs, fees, commissions and other related expenses….river of gold…etc.

So now you are well on your way to fame and fortune through online sales. Opportunities will be rolling in from around the globe and you will gain insights into the interesting customs and habits of people in different parts of the world. You will be amazed at what you learn from cultures as distant as Zimbabwe and Kansas. The convenience of the Internet is that it brings all of this right into your living room, up close and personal.

One of things we have learned is how impulsive shoppers in Nigeria are. They just never have time to plan gifts for those special occasions, and are always rushed to make a purchase – cost is no object. Fortunately many Nigerians have friends or relatives who own shipping companies. Frequently these trusted friends happen to be in the neighborhood tomorrow and can conveniently pick up the goods. We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with such a supportive Nigerian community, and have made tens of thousands of dollars with such last minute transactions, as soon as the checks arrive.

In another example of International goodwill, we were recently contacted by a Chinese company that manufactures jewelry. They had many wonderful examples of items they had made for wholesale in the U.S. In a display of good faith, they even showed us an example of one of our own items that they had made and were offering at a fraction of our cost. It was a bit on the shoddy side, but you couldn’t argue with the price - and if we purchased a significant quantity the price would come down even more. They were considerate enough to even use our original photo to promote the item. From their catalog it was clear that other artists we know were also using this company to manufacture items for them.  Who knew! These kinds of “hands across the water” opportunities abound when you sell online.

Online retailing also presents an endless encounter of amazing individuals. In a recent example, one individual in particular was able to assay metal through the power of smell.
This incredible X-men like super power was discovered through an online transaction in which the Hero purchased a sterling silver ring.  By smell alone, it was conclusively proven that the ring could not possibly be sterling silver. No testing or independent verification needed. The seller was promptly brought to online justice. This is indeed one of the best things about online selling. Buyers are able to shine an immediate light on the nefarious practices of sellers at will through public negative feedback without fear of explanation or rebuttal. Although in this particular case any rebuttal in the face of such powerful evidence would be unjustified. We’re quite certain that a movie deal is in the offing for all parties, or at least a job at Fort Knox for the Super Hero. That’s just the way we roll in online sales.

So heat up the glue gun and get click’n with that iPhone. All of this and much, much more can be yours when you sell your stuff online. Welcome to the land of milk and cookies at the end of the river of gold.

* Blog Carnival is an ongoing collaborative project by the artists of EtsyMetal, an international group of metalsmiths who all have shops on Etsy. Each month a subject is selected and random members of the group weigh in on it, giving readers a variety of perspectives and a peek inside the creative mind.