A Peek Inside My Jewelry Studio | Studio Tour

It is not often that I give a peek inside my jewelry studio.  I sometimes share the occasional *studio shot* on my Instagram, but mostly progress shots and inspiration live there.

My studio is my sacred space.  It is where I experiment and make my ideas 3 demential. Where I work long days prepping for a show and sometimes it is where I go to sit when feeling *uninspired*.  I love to collect and store things.  My studio has also become a space where I mount my findings from my daily walks and travels.  And where I catalogue artifacts for later use or observation…

My workbench

I do not own a tradition jewelers work bench.  My studio is set up in my garage and the garage has a built in workbench reaching either end.  Its sturdy and gives me a somewhat flat surface to work on.  Being that my garage does not get much light, I painted almost every surface white – to brighten it up bit!  Underneath my work bench, I have some cabinets and drawers from Ikea.  They are great! I use them to store my tools and keep them within arms reach when I’m working.

A peek inside my jewelry studio bless the theory

 

a peek inside my jewelry studio jewelry bench

 

All the *interesting* things!

I must confess; I am a hoarder of things – but only of *interesting* things.  Give me the weird, the oddly textured and the old – especially the old – and I will store it in my studio.  Twigs from my walks, dead bees and butterflies from my backyard and old tools from retired goldsmiths’.  I also looooooove drawers and cabinets!  I found the antique watch makers cabinet (in photo below) at  Magnolia and Willow in Long Beach.  It’s one of my favorite cabinets currently in my studio.  Mostly because it has the original watch bits in tiny glass tubes stored in the drawers.  My other cool cabinets (not pictured) include a vintage locker that I acquired from a past studio mate.  And my recent acquisition, a vintage metal law document cabinet.

Inspiration wall a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers Work Bench a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

studio vignette a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers tools Ring Shank Gauge and Sheet and Wire Gauge a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

My soldering station

I remember my first jewelry studio very well.  And it was very basic; a few hammers and pliers, a jewelers saw and flex shaft.  And a few other tools.  I also remember having no fire!  I was so intimidated with the idea of bringing a gas tank and torch into my studio at that time.

Now, I’ve had an equipped soldering station for many yeas now.  I don’t see how I lived without one back then!  We all start somewhere, right?

Currently, I’m using Acetylene / Air with the Smith torch.  Even now, my studio remains pretty simple.  My soldering has the necessities.  There are various soldering blocks, tweezers and tongs and props.  I have the same striker and soldering pick from my college years.  And I keep two quenching bowls, of different sizes, near by.

Jewelers Torch and Soldering Station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers soldering station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

soldering station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Wall Textures in a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Textures in Old Drywall a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

My Inspiration Board and Library

This part of my jewelry studio inspires me daily.  I keep my cork-board here for my studio tool wish list, drawings, exhibition postcards and quotes.  Below the cork-board is where I store all of my jewelry books and jewelry magazines like Metalsmith.   And true to form, I have a few vignettes of interesting randomness displayed on top of my book case.  There’s also a few bust forms here.  I sometimes use them for displaying necklaces and such.

Jewelers Inspiration and Vision Board a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Studio vignette a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Inspiration Board a peek inside my jewelry studio

This was just a surface peek into my jewelry studio.  There are so many nooks and crannies that one cannot share in a single post.  I hope to write future post like this soon!

 

Thanks for reading and I hope this inspires you!

cv

 

 

 

Mending the Cracks

Cracks and mending have an impact on me metaphorically and artistically.  They speak to the human experience in a poetic way.  Cracks inspire me and remind me of our stories.  Cracks encourage me to seek the beauty in physical and emotional evolution.  And to see them as reminders of impermanence instead of dreaded flaws.

Mending reminds me of genteelness.   It can, at times, feel as painful as the cracks themselves, but there is a beauty within the process.  Repairing a fractured bone.  Condoling a broken heart.  The rebuilding of a life disrupted by unforeseen circumstances – some mending must be done with the same delicacy and compassion as with a cherished heirloom.

Mending requires that we take notice of the need for repair.  To recognize that need, we are beckoned, first, to acknowledge the cracks.

 

 

Top: Sterling silver Mended earrings with 14 karat gold mending stitch.  Bottom: Sterling silver small cracked dangles with 14 karat gold fill ear-wire.  *small dangles available soon.

New Work (In Progress) | Crack the Sky a Lightning Series

I’ve been really inspired lately.  After months spent questioning what was next and spending an almost unhealthy amount of time in my head; one morning I went into the garage and refreshed my corner studio.  It took me some time to remember that I would need to create an environment that aided to my creative experiments – if not encourage them.  Once I completed my studio refresh, I immediately felt good – I sat down, smiled and felt safe –  I made a little cocoon of exploration for myself.

Later, I began rummaging through old experiments and came across a brass domed object that I had made a few months back. On it, I cut out a crack with very fine tail lines.  I loved this piece; one of my favorite “riffs” that I had yet to figured out its’ place.  But it inspired me nonetheless.  After staring at if or a while, my thought went back to a couple of photos I had taken of lightning strikes on concrete.  I began visualizing those strikes translated onto metal.  Allowing my mind and hands to playing; slowly, my thoughts began to take form.  I felt tingles inside my body (when I feel tingles they are usual a sign that I am on the right track), I was getting excited!

Lightning Series Crack the Sky Signet Ring from Bless the Theory

Lightning Series Crack the Sky Signet Ring from Bless the Theory

Lightning Series Crack the Sky Signet Ring from Bless the Theory

Lightning Series Necklace from Bless the Theory

 

The excitement of curiosity is fueling me  – and I feel must continue to explore and act on this idea before it fleets.  I am still building this series, but if you have any inquires please contact me directly!

Thanks so much for reading,

cv

On The Bench | Signet Anniversary Rings

 

I had the pleasure of creating a pair of custom signet rings for an Orange County couple in honor of their 25 year anniversary! The husband [Jerry] came fully equipped to our first meeting with ideas, Pinterest photos and drawings, of what they had in mind.  I love when potential clients have a clear vision of what they want!  One cool thing about this project is, Jerry found me by searching “signet rings” on Google!  Lately, I really haven’t done much Instagramming nor blogging!  I think that’s pretty neat that my little website pops up in search engines!

Back to the rings.  Both are hand fabricated!  No cast parts!  I say this with enthusiasm because, hand fabricating jewelry and (other objects) is my favorite way to work!  It is a slower and challenging process, yes, but, I enjoy being involved from start to finish.  I want my hands to touch every part of the jewelry I am making! The engraving on these signet rings are, however, outsourced; that is one metalsmithing skill I have yet to dive into!

I’m not going to write much more on this project, as I am exhausted from my getting up at the crack of dawn, for the last 5 days, to feed and play with our new 2 month old puppy! So, I will let the photos talk for me!  Enjoy…and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in commissioning a custom piece of jewelry for yourself or maybe as a gift for someone? I am currently taking request for custom orders, click here to get started!

Char

Re-ignition

This past week was filled with lots of family time as my father was visiting from Maui for the first time in about 10 years (we had not seen each other in about two).  That meant the progress of the studio came to a complete stop.  And I’m thankful it did.

That time away from the garage and spent with my family really got me thinking about my happiness, my future and what that really means and looks like to ME!  And as I do encourage myself to spend little time inside my head thinking about the near and far future, I cannot help but notice a tiny little fire rumbling within me when I do.  A fire that I thought to be extinguished a long time ago…

But do I dare to add fuel?

Home Studio: The Final Coat…

There are times you must know when “done is done”; and today I’m telling myself that I am DONE painting part of the garage which is to be my home studio! 4 coats of white paint should be enough!…Right?  Yes, Yes, it is! At least for now, anyway!

With every push and pull of that paint roller, I noticed myself thinking: “oh…I should paint that too” or ” ah!..it’s just not white enough”! I could be here for weeks if I allowed it!

It is time that I move on to something else.  I’m thinking that “something else” is painting the cement floor!  Luckily, the previous owners of this lovely home of ours, have left 2 gallons of cement paint in (what I think to be) a pale periwinkle blue! I have yet the need to spend any money on paint and I am quite grateful for that! Could this be an omen?

 

 

 

Home Studio (in process)

In my last post I talked about my decision to move my studio out of  the old brick + mortar space that I rented and into my home garage. You can read more about that here

After getting some encouraging and reassuring responses from that post from friends and family, I figured it’d be a good idea to document the process.  And I’m excited to do this for a few reasons:

one:  I love to document and share what I’m doing; any excuse to take photos and write about an experience, I’ll do it!

two: Documenting my studio transformation will hold me accountable and remind me how far I’ve come; which I tend to forget sometimes and that can lead to me being hard on myself.

three:  Hopefully, doing this will encourage my boyfriend to go through his boxes and boxes and boxes of childhood things. ( I don’t do well with excess)

I actually started the demolition process of my jewelry studio a few weeks ago! I began by ripping out all the “janky” and “make-shift” shelving that the previous owner installed, vacuuming up all the termite poop! Eh…It was so much! Then started painting a small section of the back wall.


Today, my goal was to move some boxes out of the garage  (to give me space) and do a second coat of white paint on the small section that I started a few weeks ago.  With the boxes moved out I actually felt no anxiety (which I typically felt when I walked into our garage in the past), so that was wonderful!

With a boost of anxiety-free energy and a full cup of coffee, I went on ahead and painted more than just that “little section”.   I didn’t tape anything off.  Didn’t even cover the floor. I just started slapping white paint on the wall!  For someone whom appreciates details I have NO patience for painting. I’m unsure why.  By the way; the past owners left a giant bucket of white paint in the garage; so you bet that is what I’m using for this project!

Talk about saving money!

 

home studio remodel bless the theory 2

1 // before photo of the back wall and the small section that I started a few weeks ago

2 // a close up of the first couple of coats

3 // washing what seemed like 40 years of grime and dirt off the work bench

4 // a full shot of the first couple of coats.

Goal Complete!!

Even at this point I’m trilled with the results. This is going to make for some great Instagram photos! I still have much more to organize, clean and paint but at the moment, I’m feeling pretty good about the way the studio is moving along. I can already picture my bench pin right in front of that vintage stool!

The best way for me to stay focused (without feeling too overwhelmed) is to keep the big picture in mind and celebrating my little triumphs! Even if that’s just slapping around paint!

’till next time, thanks for reading

Charmaine

 

 

 

Bittersweet

If you ask most artists or makers what their ideal creative space would look like, they’d  probably say something like:

“… it would have lots of natural light, polished cement floors, large windows that over look the city, exposed brick walls and lots of room to spread out; right next to cool bars and restaurants”!

Well, I was fortunate enough to have such a space!

bless the theory studio lounge area

I shared it with two other studio mates for about a year.  Over time, various opportunities and priorities lead my mates to journey out of the studio.  And not long after, I found myself hit with a pleasant opportunity; my boyfriend and I finally found a beautiful 1920’s Spanish style house to call our own!

There was one dilemma; our beautiful old new home is literally on the opposite end of town!

At the time, I wasn’t quite ready to give up my space, so I commuted 18 minutes everyday to work in the studio.  But after a few months, it actually became daunting.  Now I know you’re thinking “its only 18 minutes”.   But, when I got the itch to get up and make, that 18 minute drive diminished that feeling.  Not to forget the time it takes to shower and dress good enough to be seen, pack lunch (which I usual forget to do) and pay for parking.  It didn’t take too long for my downtown dream jewelry studio to loose its luster.  So, on August 30th 2015, I moved Bless The Theory out of the cool brick and mortar building and relocated all my tools and contemporary wears across town to my garage.

Now, lets not cry over the departed studio, instead lets take a minute to look back on its glory!…

bless the theory studio under construction

The photo above was shot weeks before I even signed the lease! I remember begging the owners to leave it “as is” so that I could finish the rest. I was SO egger to have a industrial space, I didn’t want them to touch a thing! It did not take me long to get settled in. I love decorating, so I did quite a bit of re-arranging, especially after my former studio mates left and I had the space all to myself.

bless the theory studio work area

 

bless the theory studio work tools

It was unbelievable the amount of light that came into the studio! That lead to somewhat perfect product shooting days. (I say somewhat because, when do we ever have a “perfect” shooting day?)  The light just seemed to last forever…or at least until he sun dropped.  My electricity bill was always under $12!  There was also so much great texture.  I would find myself gazing at the walls on any given day!  Those cement and expose brick walls made their way to my Instgram often! (See for yourself here)

And the views! Oh the views! On a clear day I could see ALL the way to DTLA.  I could see Signal Hill and San Pedro! And most of all I could see beautiful Downtown Long Beach! The best view of DTLB was on a rainy day…

bless the theory jewelry stuido view down town long beach

I’ll be honest; It was hard to say goodbye to such a fantastic jewelry studio.  My second jewelry studio, in fact!  I must say that I made some decent progress with Bless The Theory in that space! And I finally had a chance to host a fun Holiday Party/Sale with my former studio mates (that turned out way better that we could’ve wished for)! Which was something I’d been wanting to do for a while!

Yes, it was a great atelier… and I will miss it dearly!  But, I know deep in my core that I will find another creative cave to call my own when the time is right.  I know exactly what I need and what type of environment I want to create in.  And I know that I want to be in it for a long while.  So for now, I shale make the best of my humble, one window, garage and allow it to teach me patience and resourcefulness.

 

I do not look at this as a loss or a step a back (maybe a little of a step back).  Instead, I’m CHOOSING to see it as: letting go of past opportunities in order to receive new and greater possibilities!  And I CAN and WILL wait for that perfect space to come to me!

 

Thanks for reading

Char