Kira Joya’s Blog

New Skills

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography by Alissia on May 4, 2009
Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

I was really, really looking forward to this day. I felt like a kid…so excited about the new adventure I was going on. I woke up a little late this morning, but still made it to the Valley Forge Convention Center with plenty of time. Little did I know how much I was going to need the map they handed me at the Bead Fest Wire registration desk. It was quite a trek from the desk to the classroom, but I’m not afraid of a little walking….so I forged ahead. At last…the classroom! Yay!!

I walked in and gathered my supplies. I had ordered them from the teacher ahead of time. Before today I had really only done a tiny bit of wire wrapping…so I needed A LOT of supplies. (My favorite tool of the day was the wire winder, it made coiling the wire so simple and the results were perfect.) I set up my work station and awaited the beginning of the class…not for long. We jumped right into our project for the day. Our teacher for today’s class was Debra Danyi. She is a really mellow, sweet kindergarten teacher and WOW does she know her stuff! I was really impressed with her knowledge as well as her teaching skills.

I feel like I learned a lot in this one class. I’m extremely happy with the Scrollwork Bangle that I made. It turned out beautifully and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Of course, it’s always a little easier with good direction. After this class, I’m really confident that I could make this bracelet again pretty easily and also that I can use the skills I learned to make more intricate designs of my own. That is the whole reason I took the class. I want to expand my jewelry making horizons. I get a little bored with using the same techniques over and over again. Thank you Debra…I would do it again in a heart beat!

Also…a little bit off the subject of the rest of this post…check out my website, I added 3 new pieces of jewelry. The photography thing is a work in progress for me. I am playing around with some new backgrounds to see which ones I like best. I think I am liking the darker backgrounds right now. I took so many pictures of just these three items to try to get it right….and I know I will change them again because they aren’t quite right. I just wanted to get the items put up on my site. I would gladly hear any opinions on how to improve my photos. I would also like to hear which photos you think stand out more…light background or dark.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Desert Glow

Desert Glow

Caribbean Cool

Caribbean Cool

Product Photography

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 21, 2009

When I started my website and business, I don’t think I really knew how multi-faceted I was going to have to be. I read books and researched things online, but you never really know until you just jump in. I know that I had no idea how time consuming it was going to be to photograph and describe all of my products. I have a pretty small inventory at this point and, even so, I have spent countless hours agonizing over the quality of the pictures and trying to get the wording just so.

Yesterday, I spent a good two hours, if not more, trying to get pictures for two recently finished necklaces. (I showed photos of components in previous posts.) Of course, lighting was the biggest issue. I have tried the light box and don’t really like it, I don’t know why. I think I find it too cumbersome. It’s not as easy to get in there and get the shot I need. For jewelry shots, if you want your whole piece to be in focus, you really have to be directly overhead. Anyway, I have a room in my house with tons of windows. I usually take my pictures in there. I definitely use the tripod. I have tried before to get away without using it and my pictures suffered.

This is what I do:

1) I take a ton of pictures…I think I took 150 photos of two necklaces yesterday.

2) I use varying shutter speeds to see which one brings the best light. For each product and each background I take at least 20 shots, varying the lighting slightly each time. It’s amazing how one shot can be fine and on the very next setting it will be either too light or too dark. I also make sure that I still take photos well into a range that I might think will be too dark or too light. That little screen on your camera is not a really accurate way to tell what the shot will look like on the computer. I find, with jewelry anyway, that the brighter the shot, the better the piece looks. Usually it’s the shot that I think is going to be way too bright that I end up using.

3) I use software to adjust things a bit and crop photos. You can use Photoshop, Gimp (which is free), or any other image editor you choose.

4) I research things if I am having a hard time. I found this page on Thimble Arts and Crafts Blog to be helpful. She gives links to some product photography tutorials and tips. I was also happy to discover that Darren, the man who is running the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge has a website called Digital Photography School. It seems to be a wealth of information. I haven’t explored it fully yet, but I plan to.

It can be really frustrating to take 150 photos and not have a single one that you feel is usable. To that, I have to say…practice makes perfect…well, maybe not quite. I actually really enjoy the process. I’m learning more about my camera and photography in general, which I have always liked. I am by no means an authority on the subject, I am just sharing what has worked for me so far. I am really just learning. I could go over and over my photos and still feel I need to take more shots, because something’s not right…there comes a point where I just let go and say OK, good enough!

These are the best of the photos I took yesterday (click on them to enlarge them.) Any constructive comments or suggestions are entirely welcome!

www.condron.us

Try and Try Again

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Kira, SAHM, WAHM by Alissia on April 18, 2009

Earlier today I spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to find a theme that I liked for this blog. If the same person were to have checked this page 20 times today, they probably wouldn’t have seen the same format more than once. My vast numbers of followers must have been really confused. I found myself not liking any of the WordPress pre-made templates. There was something wrong with each of them. If you choose a custom header, then you can’t choose custom colors or lettering and some of them have just a title, no subtitle….ARGH!! It sucks to be such a perfectionist sometimes. I guess I will just have to learn some coding so I can do it myself. I settled on this theme, because I could use one of my photos as a header. However, I could not change the brown lettering and that bugs me!! Oh well, I think I will deal with it until I am a little more comfortable with the whole blogging realm….then I will do the whole custom thing.

Pieces of my latest creation

Pieces of my latest creation

I feel like I spend more time on the computer talking about making jewelry and finding out how to market it than I do actually making it. Here are the pieces of a necklace I intended to start on tonight. Now, I find myself writing on my blog instead. The beads are multicolored tourmaline and the squares and cubes are Hill Tribe silver. I think it’s going to be awesome when it’s done. The thing is, it was already done once. I hadn’t finished it totally…it still needed to have the clasp put on and the beads were not secured in place. One little 4-year-old hand swooped in and a little voice said, “Mommy, what’s this?” I heard lots of little tiny pings as each bead hit the floor. Nooooooo! Oh well, gotta start over. Look at this face, it’s hard to be mad at this face…well, sometimes not so hard. You know what I mean. Tomorrow I will make this necklace and I will post a photo of the finished piece.

Kira

Kira

One more thing to share before I go…I’m so excited!!! I signed up for the wire wrapping class that I talked about in a previous post. Here’s a link to the piece we are going to make in the Beadfest Wire class. The class itself was very reasonably priced…however, all of the equipment to make the piece seems to add up rather quickly. I just chalk it up to the betterment of my skills. If I am to grow as an artist, I need to learn new techniques. I will post photos of my bangle after the class…I hope it looks at least somewhat like the one in the picture. I’m so ready…I wish it was tomorrow. Sadly, I have to wait two weeks, but I have plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime.

So long, farewell, alvedersain, good night! (and yes, I like show tunes!)

www.condron.us

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10 Most Beautiful Semi-Precious Stones

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Semi-precious stones, WAHM by Alissia on April 10, 2009

Alright, the title is a little bit deceiving.  This is actually a list of ten of my favorite semi-precious stones.  There are so many beautiful ones that I had a hard time choosing ten.  I wanted to pick  some stones that I actually had on hand so that I could take pictures and make things a little bit more interesting.  There are some things you need to see to appreciate.

Larimar

Larimar

1. The first one is Larimar. Isn’t it beautiful? I love it!! It truly is one of my favorites. I saw it for the first time when I was on my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. I saw it in all the shops and needed to find out what it was, so I asked. Unfortunately, Larimar is not widely available, it is only mined in the Dominican Republic. When I returned home I did a little bit of research to see if I could find some beads and I couldn’t at that time. I will try again…I think whatever piece of jewelry I would make from Larimar would be amazing!

Quartz

Quartz

2. Quartz. Why Quartz? It’s so simple…it’s readily available. Something about it is very intriguing…maybe it’s because quartz has so many uses (Quartz crystals are used for healing…it is used in clocks, TVs, radios and beyond.) Look at the photo, you can almost see yourself in it. It’s gorgeous and, from a jewelry makers perspective, it’s very versatile.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

3. Oooh! Tourmaline. I love tourmaline too! I guess I love them all. Tourmaline has a wide array of colors, I think that’s why I like it so much. My favorite are the Watermelon Tourmaline slices. They do resemble little stone pieces of watermelon…pink on the inside and a rim of green on the outside. There is a lot of pink and green in the regular tourmaline pictured here too. One of my favorite color combos!

Sunstone

Sunstone

4. Sunstone. I really enjoy stones that sparkle. Sunstone has this beautiful warm orange color and it shimmers in the light. It’s difficult to catch that shimmer on camera if you are an amateur photographer like I am…but, trust me, it’s there.

Kyanite

Kyanite

5. Kyanite. Here it is again, the sparkle…this time in blue. There are a few different shades of blue contained within this stone. It’s translucent with an almost pearly shimmer in places. As well as being really beautiful, this stone is also know to have healing properties…some healers use it for chakra balancing. It’s gorgeous and celestial and I will use it in my jewelry pieces time and time again.

Amethyst

Amethyst

6. Amethyst. What girl doesn’t love amethyst? When I shop for materials for a work in progress, I repeatedly find myself in the amethyst section. It’s purple and luminous and delightful!

Apatite

Apatite

7.Apatite. Just look at this color! Doesn’t it make you want to dive in the ocean? I’m calling the color ocean teal and I think that describes it perfectly!

Citrine

Citrine

8. Citrine. For me, Citrine represents sunshine…it’s that crisp, crystal clear yellow. This is another stone that I use quite often and wear quite often. It seems to brighten my day when I put it on. In fact, I have it on right now!

Fluorite

Fluorite

9. Fluorite. The color variety in fluorite is amazing….from pale green to light blue to deep purple. This really is another of my favorite stones to work with. It seems like, no matter what piece I am working on, it turns out beautifully.

Turquoise

Turquoise

10. Turquoise. It whisks you away to the southwest. Once again, the color is fantastic! I myself prefer the natural turquoise colors, but you can also get some really pretty dyed turquoise. A lot of the artists who work with turquoise also do some really breathtaking silver work, which appeals to me. That’s something that I strive for.

Well, there you have it…10 of the most beautiful semi-precious stones….according to me. I could keep going and going. It is amazing to me that these stones all occur in nature in all of these different colors and textures. I really enjoy putting them together in wearable artwork and learning about the stones as I go. I access my creative side and my scientific side at the same time as I build my business. I should be pretty well-rounded, shouldn’t I?

www.condron.us