Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Businesses begun…

I belong to a talented group of metalsmiths who, like me, sell their jewelry creations on Etsy. This month we’ve decided to share our stories of businesses we have started. My career as an entrepreneur began at a very young age - I started off with babysitting and pet-sitting for my extended family, and when I turned ten I began working at my parent’s dry cleaners.  All that babysitting inspired me to learn more about how the human brain develops. I studied to be a clinical social worker and eventually specialized in play therapy for children. I enjoyed that a lot, but once my own children were born I decided to be a little more creative with generating income and started a faux painting business with two friends. I figured that by having my own business, I could work the hours I wanted to: I could be away during the hours that my kids were in school and be home when they were home. We grew the business over the next few years and it became quite successful. Too successful, actually! We became so busy that I was doing just the opposite of my original plan – working too many hours and missing seeing my kids. So I decided my painting days were over, and sold the business to my partners - planning to be a full-time mom while my son was still at home for his last year of high school and for my daughter’s last couple of years of being at home. But I can never sit still for long, and so I began dabbling in new creative outlets. I soon grew fascinated with jewelry making and a few months later, Form and Funktion was born. It’s been an incredible journey over the last four years and I’ve learned so much about running a business as I continue honing my skills as a metalsmith. Most of all, what stands out as I look back are the amazing and diverse people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with because of the work I do. Those connections make my job rewarding and energizing on a day to day basis. It’s been a great path and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. 

Read further to hear about my fellow team-mates adventures in business:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Best Marriage Proposal Ever!

So yesterday a sweet couple walked into the Sebastopol Gallery and bought a ring that I made. As they started to walk out, they got as far as the doorway when the guy dropped to his knee and asked the girl to marry him. It was a very sweet scene that made everyone there get teary eyed. It made me so glad to be making wedding rings because I doubt anyone ever proposed to someone using a piece of pottery - no matter how cool it was! It also made me think of this video that I saw on You Tube a while ago. It is a wonderful proposal of marriage between two people who seem meant to be together. It made me happy and I thought you would enjoy seeing it too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nailed it!

I love this! How often does this sort of conversation take place in your house? I know it does in mine, and sometimes it's me who wants to point out the nail. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Empty Room

The cat stands in the doorway looking in. She blinks as she takes in the quiet and tidy room with the sunlight pouring through the window. 

Once, this was a room that was perpetually in disarray. Scattered across the floor, it had layers and layers of recently worn or once-tried-on and discarded clothes. The window sills were littered with plates with partially-eaten food and mostly-empty soda bottles. There were old homework assignments strewn around and novels with their bookmarks askew and lying on the floor. Everywhere there were make-up containers, unmatched shoes and socks, and backpacks with contents seemingly flying out of them. Open sketch pads and pencils were all about and there were stark and striking portraits in graphite peeking through the debris.  Brushes and hair-straighteners still “on” were sitting on the floor near the mirror. A computer, phone, and several textbooks were among the rumpled sheets, pillows, blankets and comforter heaped on the bed. And artifacts from a childhood still dotted the shelves.

Now the room is silent. The floor is swept and bare and the bed is made and tidy. The closet and bookshelves are mostly empty and recently dusted. All is clean and neat. The girl who once lived here now lives 2200 miles away at a college in the Midwest.

The cat and I, we miss the mess. Especially, we both miss the girl who made it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making a Ring Band

I'm kind of the queen of rings. Okay, so it's not official, but I consider myself experienced at this. I make lots of ring bands. Most days I can be found in my studio working on several rings at a time. I love seeing a sheet of metal turn into several renditions of finger jewelry. I thought you might like to see the process. This is the beginning...measure and cut a strip of sterling silver. Watch your fingers.
Then it's time to texture it. Lots of my rings start with a hammered finish. Tap tap tap to get it uniform and nice. If the silver strip starts to bend in one direction, I hammer on the leaning side until it comes back to center. I want a straight nice piece to form into a ring. Sorry, I can't hear your questions right now, I'm wearing ear plugs.
I have recently switched to this disc sander to square the edges. I used to use a file, but the edges were often not truly square and were much harder to line up nicely for soldering. Soldering goes best with a tight fit, so now I use the disc sander and get super square nice edges. Yay! Next I use calipers to get a very accurate measurement for the length, mark it, cut it and I use the disc sander on the other end of the ring blank for a perfect fit.
My new ring bender - I love this tool! It helps me bend the ring into a nice circle so that I have a perfect, tight seam for making a good solder join. I keep inserting the blank into the machine a few millimeters at a time and it comes out nicely rounded. I used to use my half-round pliers and my fingers for this, but this tool makes perfect circles much quicker. Yay for having the right tool for the job.

Time for some fire! I use a line of wire solder almost as long as my seam. I add a bit of flux to make it flow and then heat the whole ring evenly until the solder fills the seam. I get the solder to flow down into the lower seam and then flip it over and heat again until solder flows into the other half of the seam. My little torch uses oxygen and propane and I have no trouble heating a large ring enough to melt solder. I use medium solder that flows at 1360 degrees. It's so cool to see the solder flowing - it's art in itself. Next, quench it in water to cool and then it goes into the pickle to take off the oxidation and the copper that has come to the surface of the silver.
Next I use my handy dandy tool that my sweet brother-in-law made for me - just so that I could polish the insides of rings without burning my fingers! I tighten the ring into the clamp and use 3 grits of sand paper, a texture wheel, and then 4 grits of abrasive drums to make the inside smooth, shiny and pretty. Thank you, Bob, from me and my fingers!
Then it's back onto the ring mandrel for making it perfectly round and exactly the right size. This is a good place to take out any stress or aggravations from the day! :)
Into the tumbler it goes for a couple of hours. This is filled with a mixture of shapes of steel shot that tumbles and rubs against the ring to as it turns. This hardens and shines the ring and makes it sparkly and beautiful.
Almost done - just a bit of final polishing on the polishing wheel and then it's ready for it's new home on someone's finger.
That was fun! Thanks for coming by to see how I spend lots of my time in the studio. Doesn't it make you want to play with fire, too?

And, if you've enjoyed seeing this, you can take a tour of the blogs of some of my very talented friends on the Aspiring Metalsmiths team and see what skills they are teaching us today. I know we'll learn lots!

Shannon of Gifted Designs -
Pennee- All Wired Up Jewelry Designs -
Jessica @ Abella Blue -

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Handmade Holiday

Here’s my personal wish list for my own handmade holiday. This is my super indulgent – “I want these things bad” list. All are from Etsy artists who do wonderful work and whose artistry I have enjoyed for a long time. This is my holiday must-have list, so if you happen to see my family and they don’t seem to know, would you please tell them for me?

First off, I’m always trying to stay organized, so what better way to start the year than with a pretty calendar?

Being a jeweler, I don’t usually ask for jewelry, but how could I resist this pretty leather necklace?
And, of course, I’ll need a pretty place to keep it.

I’ve always got a sketchbook/notebook near me, and this one is just made for me, don’t you think?

Okay, who wouldn’t want to get this print from their own sweetheart? Hint, hint, Tom!

I’m always cold and these mittens look so pretty and functional. I love the fingerless variety of gloves and I could use some new ones for this year. These fit the bill nicely.

Pretty cutting boards are a bit of a weakness for me. I love the look of these with the natural edges and the thick board. Such pretty wood!

 Okay, family, this has been on my list for the last couple of years. I’d say it’s time. I would really LOVE to have this. Oh, I’ll need the iPhone in it too, that would be just perfect!
Antique keys with wallets – what a wonderful combo!

And, last but definitely not least,  this print just gets me – I love this image and I love picturing myself sitting here on a warm summer day just chilling. My grandparents had those chairs. I’m sitting there with them. We’re drinking lemonade. Ah, that’s my happy place…

I hope all of your holiday wishes come true and that, most of all, you are surrounded by people you love, doing things you enjoy and having a wonderful, memorable time. Happy Holidays!

Now let’s see what those fun team-mates of mine have in store – I bet there will be some great ideas that we’ll all want to add to our own lists!

 Mary Anne Karren -
Jessica @ Abella Blue -
Elizabeth Brown –
Lilian Genebra -
Pennee- All Wired Up Jewelry Designs -
Claire English -
Gayle -
Nancy -
Autumn Bradley -
Amy Estelle -

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Holiday Shipping Dates

Have you started your holiday shopping lists? It’s getting to be the time to start thinking about what to get and when to get it. In case your list includes some Form and Funktion originals, here are my shipping dates for getting gifts out in time for setting them under the tree.
For MADE TO ORDER items (including all rings made to your size), please order by:
Continental US: December 13
Everywhere else: November 26
For IN STOCK items, please order by:
Continental US: December 17
Everywhere else: November 28
I’ll be posting some new designs in time for the holidays so be sure to check my Etsy shop to see them. Or, if you'd rather let them pick out their own treats - no problem!  I now have gift certificates in the shop as well.