Metal Prong Challenge and BLOG HOP!! (Updated)

I realized yesterday that it’s been six whole months since I left my last “real” job, after more than 25 years in administration and small business management. I had a lot of reasons for leaving that particular job, and even more reasons for leaving the traditional workforce altogether. But leaving behind a huge chunk of your life and diving into something new has the potential to be overwhelming. And lonely.

Early on, I fell into a couple of online groups of jewelry artists and fellow creatives from all over the world. I have to say that I was welcomed – wholeheartedly – in a way I rarely have been in the “real” world, and it has been my great pleasure and privilege to get to know some of these folks better. One of those groups is the new Artisan Whimsy community, which grew out of a Facebook group called Creative Bead Chat started by Melinda Orr (and a bunch of her friends). The AW group is only a month old, but it already has almost 800 members eager to learn and share all they know about various jewelry disciplines. (If jewelry is your thing and you aren’t part of that community yet, don’t wait! Check it out here!) My days have settled into a happy rhythm of online time sharing techniques, ideas, and troubleshooting tips with other jewelers, followed by time in the studio, evening with Nick, and late night visits with new friends around the world. I have learned more in the last six months about this craft, the community, and what it means to be a creative person in the new digital age and I am deeply grateful for the new friendships and connections that are part of my journey as a result.

I’m happy to be part of the Artisan Whimsy Metal Blog team, which is responsible for producing a metal-related blog post once a week – and can I just say that the Metal Team ROCKS! (We have blog posts scheduled into 2013. These folks are PASSIONATE. And talented.) Early on, the team decided to do a metal challenge and invite the whole AW community to play along – I think a lot of folks are intimidated by metal work, but Staci Smith wrote up an amazing (free) tutorial to go along with the challenge, and I was so tickled to see the number of folks who screwed up their courage and jumped in to give it a try. Some of them have never tried metal work before, so it was a big deal!! I’ve been fortunate enough to have a little preview of some of the pieces, and all I can say is: “Yum. Eye candy.”

Of course, the fact that there were prizes involved didn’t hurt, either.

As I’m writing this post, it is after 3:00 in the morning on the big reveal day, and my entry is still in the tumber upstairs. I seriously considered pulling an all-nighter but… well, NOT IN COLLEGE ANYMORE. (And also OVER FIFTY!) So instead, I’m posting this “in progress” shot so I can set a good “I participated come heck or high water” example for my fellow metal team enthusiasts, and will have to update later in the day when I get the piece completely finished and better photos taken. In the meantime, here’s a not-very-good photo of the piece partially tumbled – the stone is just set in so you can see it, but that will be the last thing done.

Prong Challenge by Francesca Watson Designs

So while you’re waiting for my piece to finish tumbling, for me to catch a little shut-eye, and for me to take some good photos, check out the amazing work done by these terrific artists for this challenge. And check back later – I promise I’ll have better photos up soon. And check out the challenge page, where folks who don’t have blogs (or who didn’t sign up for the blog hop) have posted links to their prong items. Some amazing stuff there!

The Beading Yogini,

Caroline Dewison, Blue Berri Beads,

Pam Farren,

Mary Harding, Mary Harding Jewelry,

Dawn Horner, Northern Adornments,

Gina Hockett, Freestyle Elements,

Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy,

Lisa Laffend,

Laura Medeiros.

Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things,

Melissa Muir, Melissa Muir Jewelry,

Melinda Orr, Melinda Orr Designs,

Julie Panusis,

Mary Ellen Parker,

Staci Louise Smith, Staci Louise Originals,

Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame,

Jo Tinley, Daisy Chain Designs Jewellery,

Francesca Watson, Francesca Watson Designs,

Jean Wells,

Linda Younkman, Lindy’s Designs,

Well, it’s been one of those days. Coughing, headachy, feeling on the very of something yucky. Sucked down a couple of Airbornes, drinking lots of water, but I’m getting hoarser by the minute. Grateful for a worship team that cuts me loads of slack – looks like I won’t be making it again tonight.
Aaaannnd: Nick’s car died while he was out running errands at lunch. Thankfully, it turns out only to be his battery and nothing more serious, so we’re grateful to have only spent a couple of hundred dollars instead of a couple thousand. Still, it ate up some time and energy we weren’t planning on expending in that direction today.
Aaaaannnd: I got my challenge piece finished, but chipped the stone in the process. Sigh. Now I have to decide whether to keep it or sell it with full disclosure at a reduced price. In the meantime, here are some photos:
Francesca Watson Designs
Francesca Watson Designs
Francesca Watson Designs
I love the chestnut brown of the patina on the copper – all done with heat, tumbling, and some sealer. So bummed I chipped the stone – it’s hidden under one of the prongs, but still. (Keep it? Sell it? What do you think?)
So it’s been that kind of day. Glad to be done. Time to curl up on the sofa with hubby and a blanket and nothing more to do tonight – except draw the winners for this challenge, of course!! Have a great evening!!
19 replies
  1. Marlene Cupo
    Marlene Cupo says:

    Congrats on all! For the wonderful piece you are creating, for the time you have put in (saw how late you were online last night!), for a fantastic blog hop, and all the work you have done with AW(wonderful that your team is so active!). Great job, great lady!

  2. Erin Prais-Hintz
    Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    I really like seeing the in progress pics as much as the finished pieces Miss Francesca. I would have loved to participate but me and flames have nowhere to rendezvous. But I am always attracted to metal working in some way. I think I need to find a way to incorporate more of that into my life and my studio. I have enjoyed seeing all the beautiful ways that people used this technique. And I most appreciate hearing all the foibles they faced along the way. I will come back to see your reveal! See you on AW! Enjoy the day. Erin

  3. Jo Tinley
    Jo Tinley says:

    That is so beautiful Francesca! I loved seeing the in progress photos. I’d probably sell it with full disclosure as the chip doesn’t distract from the beauty of the piece. The contrast between the colours is lovely.
    I had lots of fun with this challenge – thank you so much for setting it! It helped me to complete a stone setting that I’d started ages ago!

  4. lisa
    lisa says:

    Francesca, this is just beautiful! I love the setting! Sell or keep? I’ve never sold anything, and would have a hard time letting go of something so pretty 🙂
    Thank you for the challenge, too! It was a blast, and it’s been so fun seeing the different ways it’s been done.

  5. Dawn Horner
    Dawn Horner says:

    Wow!!! That is a stunning job! What a great shape and adornment wires you picked. I love the tube bail! Nice work 🙂 (PS I couldn’t see a chip at all….but that’s always a good excuse for me to keep something, ha ha!)

  6. Heidi
    Heidi says:

    Oh, WOW! What a fantastic piece, Francesca!!! I LOVE IT! The shape and inlaid texture strips — divine. So sorry it chipped. I’m sure it would sell regardless, but I’d be tempted to keep it myself as a “loss” — haha! Thank you for all the tireless work you do for our team. We couldn’t ask for more. (And as I am battling the yucks myself, I totally sympathize!) Take care and get well soon!

  7. Gina Hockett
    Gina Hockett says:

    Lovely piece, Francesca. If you didn’t want to keep it, then sell it, as I know many would buy it, even if the stone were chipped. I love how you did the inlay and the prongs, it is just a gorgeous piece. Thank you for the challenge, I know I learned a lot, and enjoyed seeing everyone’s creativity.


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