October 15 – A day of awareness

Many of you may know that my second daughter, Kelsi, lived only a few days. She was born 16 weeks premature. Yes, 4 months early. She was so small. I have never seen a smaller living human. She weighed only 13 oz and measured a mere 8 1/2″ long. My little girl fought hard, but in the end, we had to let her go. There isn’t a day that goes by that she isn’t in my thoughts at some point.

Today is October 15th and it is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness day. I am so glad that I live in the time I do. Had my baby been born 100 years ago, it would have been a very taboo subject. And it would have been a common occurrence. By having my baby now, I am met with others that can also empathize with all that I have been through. I am able to help them as they walk the path of grief that I walked just prior to them. The subject is still slightly taboo to talk about. There are a lot of people that dismiss the death of a baby, especially when it comes to miscarriage. I am so fortunate that Kelsi was born alive. It throws me into a different group of women where my grief is acceptable and I don’t have to fight the fight of grieving a baby that has been lost. My heart breaks for my many friends that delivered a still baby and watching their grief somehow not be as acceptable. Any loss is horrible at any stage. The lost dreams. The lost memories that will never happen. The lost love and experiences. All of it is a loss. All of it is heartbreaking.

Tonight at 7:00 in every time zone there will be a wave of light that passes over the nation, if not the world, as mothers and loved ones light a candle for our sweet babies that were taken from us too soon.

My dear sweet Kelsi, I will always wonder who you would have been. I will always miss you. And most of all, I look forward to the day we reunite.

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Tool Time Tuesday – Revisiting the Swage Block

About 2 1/2 years ago I created my swage block with the help of my  very talented Father-in-Law. They were created to help with forming spiculums and other round forms, such as my Lily pendant and cone earrings.

If you would like to purchase one of the blocks, I am offering a 10% discount right now on all orders over $45. Just enter the coupon code: tools2014

The blocks can be found here: http://kcjewelbox.com/Large-Hand-Made-Cherry-Swage-Block-LCH-CherrySwageBlock.htm

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Melissa Muir Jewelry

There are many other things that you can do with the swage blocks as well. Over time, I will show you some other uses for the block. For today’s Tool Time Tuesday, I will show you a little thing that we have been doing in my studio for a while now. One of my customers had also sent me an email telling me that this one other use for the swage block.

Have you ever had a difficult time holding a design stamp just right so that you get a good impression on your metal? I know I have. My daughter, Riley, has done a lot of stamping work in the studio and has found this little tidbit helpful. Use one of the grooves to hold and stabilize the stamp. This way your hand is free from being struck with the hammer and it will solidly hold your stamp straight up and down. Check out the video for the demonstration.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1jeYRGV3EI&feature=youtu.be

And for the video:

FINALLY UPDATED!

It has taken me WEEKS and WEEKS to upload all of the images back onto my blog. Back in April I found out that my previous blog would no longer be hosted and I would lose all of my content unless I moved it to somewhere new. I figured out how to move the content, however all the images were still linked to the old one. And the big kicker was that I wasn’t able to download the images from a server. My blog is 7 1/2 years old. I have 374 blog posts with over 1,000 images and videos on it. I was able to find a program to go through my site and download all the images (THANK GOODNESS!!!!!!) But it changed the names of the files in some cases or put them into folders and it has just been a nightmare. I have had to go through each post (19 pages of 20 posts per page) and reload all of the images. It is as good as beating your head against a wall.

I didn’t bother fixing any of the messed up formatting, that could just take years. At least all of the information and photos are back now. I thought about skipping it and just deleting everything, but there was just too much information out there that I know people can still use. So many of my Tool Time Tuesday posts are still being searched and read. I started getting comments form people telling me how they used to find my blog so helpful and asking what happened. Like I said, it isn’t as pretty as it could be, but I am not going to spend any more time on it. I am finally ready to be back to creating. I haven’t felt like that in ages.

It was very interesting to read through my blog and watch my progression. Some of it was very inspiring to me. I remember being so new at this and soooo excited. I had lost a lot of that excitement. I have been in such a dark place. A place where I no longer desire to make art. A place where I am afraid to make it…. feelings of inadequacy, failure and just darkness.

In the past few weeks I had two very good friends from Ohio come and visit me. That got me started. Then last week I spent the week in Phoenix teaching two 2-day workshops and that really got me going. Next week I am teaching a 3 day hydraulic press forming workshop. In three weeks I have another friend coming in from Texas and I just cannot wait. I am excited again. And especially now that my blog is finally caught up, I can move forward. I have a lot of new videos in the works as well as tutorials. I have new tools that I want to review and share with you. You will never believe the progress I have made on my book. My goal right now is to type out 1 to 2 projects per day (almost 1/2 way through them now.) Next weekend my daughter is going to help me walk through the projects and get them photographed. I AM FINALLY BACK!!!!! I missed me. I missed being creative. Creativity comes naturally to me, but not easily. I really have to work at it. But once I find that sweet spot, things fall together. Now it is just a matter of finding that sweet spot in all of my projects. :)

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Tool Time Tuesday – Jumping Jumprings

I have had more than one person come to me with this problem; When using a jump ring making system they would have the holder and guide collapse while cutting the rings or the rings would jump out the sides after they were sawn through. This would cause the last little bit of the coil to get mangled or just not even cut through. I have have this issue with a couple of my jump ring making systems. It doesn’t happen very often on my Koil Kutter from PotterUSA. But I do have it quite a bit on some of the others.

I found that if I would tape my coils together, I would have a lot less damaged rings and I would be able to cut through the entire coil. So I made a short video (I promise, it is less than 5 minutes long,) showing just how I do it. Perhaps you will find it helpful too.

Tool Time Tuesday – Using and Comparing Corrugating mills

I know it has been a long time since I have made any videos or posts here on my blog. There are many reasons for that. As you can see, my blog has moved. My previous host shut down their services and I lost all of my images. I have been working for weeks on getting them all loaded again. But there were more than 1,000 of them, so it is taking a long time. Doing this has been encouraging and discouraging all at the same time. It is so frustrating to have to locate the images, reload them, and enter all their information. But my blog is so full of so much good material and information that I don’t want it to just go away. So I am working on it.

Another reason is that I have just had a very difficult time emotionally and it has taken its toll on my metal work, to the point that even my husband was starting to think that I should just sell everything and be done with metals and jewelry. I have to admit, there would be a lot of relief that would come with that. But I really don’t want to. So I have had to work through all of that. Luckily, I really am starting to get back to things again. I am excited to make jewelry again. I am working hard on my book again. I am working on my blog again. I am making videos again. And it feels GOOD! So please plan on seeing more from me soon.

Speaking of videos. Here is a video that was requested. A friend had bought a micro fold break and didn’t know how to use it and asked if I could help her. I figured it might help a lot of people, so I decided to show you quickly about the Bonny Doon Micro fold break and compare that with my Durston Corrugating mill. Plan on seeing some fun things with great textures from me soon. :)

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal

My partner in the blog party is the talented glass artist Sheila Davis. Just look at the magic she worked with the pieces I gave her. Visit her blog here: http://www.stonedesignsbysheila.blogspot.com

Be sure to check out the other Blog Party Participants as well. There are HUNDREDS of them.
http://www.prettythingsblog.com/

My project is far more simple. I had grand plans for having a canvas painted to mount it on and everything, however that just didn’t come together at all. I am happy with the pieces I have created however. Sheila sent me some beautiful glass beads as well as a few natural stone beads. I don’t recall what they were and I haven’t been able to find the post that said what they were. UGH.

One of the things Sheila sent me was a lamp work toggle that was beautiful. I wanted to have a way to feature it, so I thought I would make it part of the focal. However, as I was attaching the chain, I dropped the toggle bar and it broke. SO SAD. But I still used the hoop in a way that I really like.

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Here is a close up of the earrings. I wanted to have them be a little different and not just symmetrical.

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And a close up of the pendant portion of the necklace.

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Blog Moving and new video

Hey everyone. Dang, it has been a few weeks again. I honestly think I blink and 3 weeks have disappeared. We had a fantastic spring break. We took our girls back up to Washington to visit some friends and see some new sights. It was wonderful to be back. I seriously need to figure out a way to get my husband to retire up there. I miss it sooooooo much. I also had the fantastic opportunity to meet a few other metalsmiths and was even able to stay with Melissa Cable and her family. Her studio is just about as amazing as my own and it was so inspiring just to be in her space even though we didn’t get the opportunity to work in there together.

Just as I returned home I was informed that my blog host will be canceling their service. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I have hundreds of posts on here and all of it will be removed. So I am frantically trying to figure out a new service that will work well. So be watching for the new blog home coming soon.

Last week I finally got into the studio to work for a little bit with my new extra large disc cutters from Pepetools. I have wanted them for YEARS and finally have 3 sets. They have been really nice to have. I did a quick video showing how I care for them and even show the process I use to create a fun little pendant.

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Tool Time Tuesday – Hoop Earring Tutorial

Did you miss me? I know, it has been a couple of weeks. Why did it take so long? Well, quite honestly, I am in a funk. One of those really really really bad ones. It is almost worse than Writers Block for Authors. It is one of those funks of “I can’t create anything, it must mean I stink and should just sell everything off.” I was pretty close to doing it too.

What stopped me?

You guys did.

Without knowing what I was going through, I received emails and messages telling me how much people appreciate what I have been doing and how much I have helped them. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me. I am still not completely out of my funk. I am still having a very difficult time coming up with designs that work, or any designs for that matter. HA! Dang, I hate it when I get into these funks. What do you do when you get into funks like these?

So guess what I did these past couple of days? I came up with a tutorial for an earring design. Pepetools demonstrated their tools at Basel World in Switzerland last week and my videos were played quite a bit of the time. I heard there were requests for another video on making jewelry with the Superior Ring Bending Tool. I have already done one that shows how to make a Spoon Ring and another that shows how I use it to make a Cuff Bracelet. Well, today, you get to see the one for making a fun little pair of hoop earrings.

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Aren’t they fun? I love wearing them. Now, you do not have to have the superior ring bending tool to make these, but if you happen to have one, or have it on your list of “I want that tool” list, then this is just one more design you can use that tool for.

Here is the video now: youtu.be/dEKnTPD8A8Y

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Bead Soup Blog Party – Meet My Partner

I have a few things that have been going on. First and foremost, I am finally official. I have my business license in hand with my new official name – Melissa Muir – Metalsmith. YAY. Let the real business begin. My goal this year is to finally make a profit. Even just a little one.

Next…..

I am participating once again (3rd time) in Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Blog Party. This one is HUGE, I believe over 500 people participating.

My partner is Sheila Davis who does amazing things with glass. She has some beautiful lampwork beads, clasps, headpins, etc. Just check out her blog: http://www.stonedesignsbysheila.blogspot.com

This is the beautiful soup she sent me. The focal and toggle are both made from glass. I am going to have to figure out a way to feature that toggle, for sure. The funny thing about our soups, we both used similar pallets, though hers featured more blue/green and mine had more purple. I love it, because that is actually the mood I am in anyway.

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The soup I sent to her had some fun little things. For the challenge, we are only required to use a focal and clasp. The rest are optional and we can add to it however we want.

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I will be back shortly with a few videos and some pieces I have been working on.

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.

Tool Time Tuesday – Disc Cutters in the Hydraulic Press

I have had a number of emails over the past couple of years asking about disc cutters. One of my very first Tool Time Tuesday posts was a comparison of disc cutters. Recently someone asked me if I had a different opinion of the “cheapie” disc cutters now since I had a hydraulic press.

I do not like the cheapie cutters when I have to use a hammer to punch out my disc. They tend to rattle the metal before making a cut and then I am left with metal that has been marked and dinged up and pretty much useless. Now that I have the hydraulic presses, yes, I suppose these cutters work. They still are nowhere near as good as a good quality cutter, but I no longer have to worry about the dings due to the metal moving on me. with a press, there is constant pressure pushing the cutter through. With my lower quality cutters, there is still a bit of a bur from the punch not having a perfect fit in the hole.

In this video I show you the difference between a good and not so high quality cutter. I also discuss a little about how I store and maintain my cutters. I also show you how to use a disc cutter, both with a hammer and the hydraulic press.

Video link: http://youtu.be/ggDl4hvY3vU

All content and images on this blog are the property of Melissa Muir and use of them in any context is strictly prohibited unless written permission is first obtained. Please feel free to repin any of the pictures of pieces done by Melissa Muir only.