HandMade Market and Blog Feature!

I’ve been a busy little elf, turning my studio in to a satellite branch of Santa’s workshop (I know, we have just made it through Halloween, but I have been on “Christmas Mode” since September!!). My first Christmas show is NEXT week (Nov 13, 14, & 15) at the HandMade Market in Jordan, ON (near Niagara).

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In preparation for that, I was featured in a blog post over at Lynn’s Lids, a fellow vendor at the HandMade Market (I am really looking forward to meeting her in person as we have become “computer friends” but have yet to ever meet in person!). Head on over here to read the post and learn a bit more about me and Studio Luma.

Meanwhile, if you are in the neighbourhood of Jordan, ON, or thinking that a relaxing weekend away in Ontario’s “wine country” would be good, come and check out the HandMade Market. The line-up of vendors is amazing and the weekend is sure to be wonderful!

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The Studio

After many months of working in the satellite studio in Panama and then many months without a studio, I am so excited to finally have my Peterborough studio up and running again!

Besides a fresh coat of paint and a couple of small tweaks, the studio is pretty much the exact same as it was before we left for Central America. And how I LOVE my little studio – it is my own private sanctuary – to sing along to “bad” music to my heart’s content, to listen to trashy or thought-provoking audio books, and to let it get as messy as I want!!

Where the melted glass happens:

Torch-stationSQWhere the soldering and jewellery-making happens:work-counterSQ One of the changes I made was adding this slat wall… I am currently enamoured with slat wall (so much so that we will be covering a wall in our mudroom with it!!) and love that I can have most of my tools out where I can see them, grab them, and have a clearly defined spot where they belong (which I hope will help kick my habit of making HUGE messes!). slat-wallSQ And finally, my sewing nook…! This has little piece of heaven has been in my mind for years and it finally came together! It is in the house and in the closet of Señor Luma’s office. He has kindly given me a corner of his empire, to allow me a place to sew (for Luma – all of those silk ribbons get sewn by me! – and for Lumita to learn how to sew as she is very interested).

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And it was about time that this studio got back up and running! There are just a couple more weeks until I participate in the 31st annual Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour! If you are in the area on September 26 and 27, be sure to come and visit me as well as the other artists! It is such a wonderful tour – and you get to see inside the artists’ creative spaces (MY favourite thing!!).

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Metalwork in Quito

I recently had a lovely little vacation from my “regular life vacation” here in Panama. At the end of January, I headed down to Quito, Ecuador to spend a week with a good friend (she is living in Quito for 3 months while she conducts her PhD research on transportation in Quito). We had not seen each other for almost 7 years and we had a blast!

We spent most of our time wandering around the streets of Quito. While participating in a walking tour of the old city of Quito, we popped in to the workshop of Germán Campos Alarcón, a metalsmith, specializing in forging (hammering and such). Naturally, I was drawn to his work and was thrilled to discover that he offered workshops! I scheduled a 3-hour workshop with him during a time that my friend had a meeting regarding her PhD research.

On the day and time of my scheduled workshop, I headed off (with dictionary in hand – well, the Spanish dictionary app on my phone!) to meet up with Germán in his studio in La Ronda (a lovely, historical pedestrian area of the old town of Quito). My Spanish is relatively decent (I can talk the ear off anyone – as long as they don’t mind LOTS of grammatical mistakes!), but my knowledge of metalsmithing vocab is less than nil. But that has never stopped me!

In the 3 hour workshop, we worked on a pendant and a ring, both made out of brass. It took a bit of time to get a flow going, but once I started to get a feel as to how to move the dapping tools and how to have a light touch (despite that you are hammering the heck out of metal!!), it all started to make sense and come together!

I loved the time with I spent with Germán. First off, I was thrilled to see that his work surface was as creatively cluttered as mine and I felt right at home digging through the mountains of tools, looking for the specific one I needed! 😉 Many of the tools he uses for the shaping are created by him, as he needs them: nails forged and hammered to make the shapes he needs – nothing too fancy.

I really loved learning some new techniques and am excited to play around in my studio – who knows, perhaps some future Luma jewellery will be inspired by Germán and his fabulous work!

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Recycled Silver!

 

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I am sper excited to announce that all silver used in my jewellery is now 100% recycled silver!

Since before I began Luma, I have always known that sourcing my materials ethically was a hugely important part what I want my business to be, do, and represent (12+ years as an environmental educator means that nature and I are rather connected and I care rather deeply about this planet!). 🙂

I recently opened an account with United Precious Metals in Alden, New York which I learned about through a recommendation by Ethical Metalsmiths. For me, “greenwashing” is far too prevalent in our world now and so I pored through all of the information on United Precious Metals’ website to make sure that they are the real deal, and not just on the “eco trend train”. Not that I am some authority on this, but after reading through it all AND talking with them on the phone, I feel satisfied that I am supporting a good business!

I will be purchasing all of my plate metal (flat metal) and wire from UPM (from which I make earring hooks, eye pins, jump rings, rings). Currently, the bulk chain that I purchase as well as already-made beads are not from certified recycled sources so I will continue to search for suppliers who can help me meet that need.

When I worked as the Nature Interpreter at Pukaskwa National Park in Northern Ontario, I lived in the town of Marathon, ON. The town’s motto was “Built on paper, laced with gold” because it addition to being home to a large (but now defunct) pulp and paper mill, there was a very large gold mine, the Hemlo Gold Mine. While I lived there, I heard all kinds of stories – from people who worked there to fellow park employees who went on tours there, about the HUGELY terrible impacts that gold mines have on not only the planet, but the people who work there. Because of this experience and how close to home it hit for me, I knew that finding a supplier of recycled and ethically produced silver was really important for me to feel good about what I make.

And really, what good is it to wear happy, shiny, colourful jewellery if it is weighed down with land deforestation, pollution, and injured and sick workers?

Head on over to the website to see what kind of ethically happy and sustainable treasures are currently available!

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Setting Up a Lampwork Studio

setting-up-a-lamwprk-studioThank goodness for experiences – they make things so much easier! Back in Canada, I agonized over setting up a lampwork studio – it had to be perfect, pretty, and safe. All sounds reasonable, yes? And I built a GREAT studio, all from scratch (and I chronicled it all on a blog, which is now lost in cyberspace somewhere otherwise I’d send you there to take a look!!). I am still seriously proud of that accomplishment: assembling the actual building, drywalling, tiling the floor, building the workbench, etc… I had never done anything like that and I had a great group of friends to help and coach me along.

Fast forward now 2 years later: we have moved to Panama. Once I knew that I wanted to have my lampworking studio up and running, I didn’t even bat an eyelash at setting up a studio – I did it once (safely and successfully!) and I knew that I could certainly do it again! AND, I could correct some of the mistakes I made the first time around!

When we were house hunting, we found a lovely little house in the middle of a coffee farm in the mountains overlooking the valley of Boquete. And the BEST part: it  had the space for me to put a studio! My studio in Canada measured 8ftx10ft and this one is a bit smaller at about 8ftx8ft.

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When we first moved in, the studio ended up being the catch-all place for EVERYTHING! (it still sort of is…!)

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In Canada, I had a whole crew of handy friends who are happy to lend me a hand and some tools. Here, it took me a while to find someone who would help me get my work table built, but thankfully I did. With some 2×4’s, some screws and glue, and a table saw, I was able to transform a pile of lumber in to a work surface!

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Complete with a storage shelf below, the new table is 6 linear feet of work surface bliss!

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All packed up in Canada, the kiln was the most intimidating thing to bring down here. I transported my entire studio as “checked baggage” on 2 separate flights down. The kiln box measured 2ftx2ft and very likely weighed the exact weight limit for checked baggage for Copa Airlines (I had to pay an “oversize baggage fee” for this piece, but that was the only extra cost I had to pay to get my studio down here!).

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The kiln survived the voyage (goodness knows checked baggage on most airlines is subjected to some unbelievable abuse!) and is happily installed in its new spot.

In my Canadian studio, I invested in a high end greenhouse fan and it worked great (though it was noisy!). Because I couldn’t put a great big whole in the wall here, I rigged up a very affordable fan (to blow contaminated air cause when you melt glass, all kinds of toxins are released) out the existing window. After testing this ventilation set up with a simple smoke test (I burned a small piece of cardboard while the fan was running), I am amazed at how effective it is!

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Ventilation in, sheet metal covering the wood surface on the work table, and some more storage for hand tools (in the “silversmithing corner of the studio!).

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My biggest fear has been hooking up the oxygen and propane tanks (in Canada I used an oxygen concentrator instead of tanked oxygen and had a professional gas fitter connect the propane in the studio). After a field trip to the welding shop (the closest one is over 40 minutes away!) and a quick tutorial as to what to do/expect when hooking up the oxygen regulator, I felt much more confident tackling this job.

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Glass storage – I packed the glass for travel in the 12-in PVC pipes which was very secure. I then wedged the pipes in to some milk crates that I had lying around here so I can keep it close.

Lessons Learned From Setting Up a Lampwork Studio (the first time around):

  • Make sure that the make-up air comes from BEHIND you… In the studio in Canada, I had the make-up air coming from my left side, rather than behind me. This made the flame very jumpy and hard to work with,
  • Be close to water… Señor Luma is always less-than-impressed when I take over the kitchen sink to clean beads at. This new studio has an outdoor sink just outside.
  • Forget pretty… In my last studio, I was so concerned with having a beautiful and inspiring space and I spent so much time and energy making it look like some Pinterest image… Considering how messy I am in my studio (SERIOUSLY messy!), I have decided to focus on function cause it never is clean and looks “pretty” for longer than 10 minutes!
  • Set up your next studio in a TROPICAL country… In Canada, it gets really cold and really hot… This makes for a challenge when torching (the studio is either freezing cold or sweltering hot because the make-up air is bringing outside air in). Setting up a studio in Boquete (Land of Eternal Spring – temps are always between 17-25C!!) was a BREEZE!
  • When you think you have enough storage, add more… ALWAYS add more…!
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If I had the wall space, I would probably grab a second of these shelves – it has SERIOUSLY glorious organizeability (yeah, that’s a real word!) 😉

So, after a 6 month break from melting glass and creating in a studio, now is finally the time that I get back at it! Consider this a “soft opening” of the studio, as I spend the next few weeks working my way around and it making little tweaks to make it “perfect”!

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