Electroforming at Craft Alliance - Week 2

Craft Alliance is located at 6640 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130; 314-725-1177
Photo credit here
About a half hour before this week’s class began, I went into a mini-panic. I’d raced home to have at least 30 minutes to spend with Ruby, had absolutely no idea which “porous” item to bring in to get electroformed, and was trying desperately to ignore the rumbling in my hungry belly (sorry, baby). I resigned myself to using whatever I could find in our front yard until I saw it: the adorable fake bouquet of calla lilies I bought years ago as part of a display in my office. Would this work? It definitely met my standards of quirky and pretty, but I wasn’t sure it was something that could be properly copperized. I threw it in my backpack, grabbed some cheddar goldfish, and made it to class with about 30 seconds to spare. (Just in case, I picked up a pine cone in the Craft Alliance parking lot.)

The class began with a look at last week’s projects. They looked amazing! We got a brief math lesson on how many amps we needed to course through the rectifier based on how much space our items took up in the bath. The instructor then placed each one carefully in the electrolyte bath, hooked up the necessary wires and anodes, and turned on the machine. My baby bottle and stork decided to float rather than immerse themselves in the bath, but Jen assured me that once the process started, they would start to fall into the bath.

Insects were a popular theme.
Electrolyte bath. Yes, that is a regular cooler. Whatever works, right?
This week, our task was to use something porous, which is a bit more difficult to work with. My creative classmates brought in everything from bones to pasta to dried flowers. I was delighted that my miniature calla lilies were perfect for electroforming, and one classmate had a brilliant idea: why not make a hairpin out of it? I plucked one of the million bobby pins hidden in my hair, attached it to the bouquet, and got to work. We first coated every nook and cranny of our piece with a protective sealant. Once that dried, we put on 2 coats of the copper paint. As you can see, my calla lilies looked pretty frickin’ cool:

How did it turn out after being electroformed? Stay tuned. . .I’ve got one recap left, and I’ll be live tweeting during the final class.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about my rumbling belly, the goldfish didn't cut it. I made a pit stop at White Castle on the way home. I got a veggie burger, so cut me some slack. (It was strange, but decent.) Baby #2 won't get any more White Castle again for several years. Right? We'll go with that. I mean, Pizza Hut is so much healthier anyway.

St. Louis friends, do you want to take a jewelry-making or some other incredibly crafty course? Check out the Craft Alliance web site and stay in the loop by following them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

P.S. Thanks, ALIVE Influencer Network and Craft Alliance for helping me realize my jewelry-designer dreams!

Electroforming at Craft Alliance - Week 1

This next series of blog posts will be a trilogy, as I’ve signed up to take a 3-week crash course in Electroforming at Craft Alliance. Electroforming can be described as a process that lets you create metal jewelry elements out of an organic object or keepsake. Cool, right? (I had originally planned to take a class on Wood and Found Objects Jewelry that was cancelled at the last minute. All of the metals classes sounded fun, so finding a replacement wasn't tough.) I had no clue what to expect, but brought a bunch of random trinkets to my first class to see what could be electroformed.
I've got baby on the brain for obvious reasons, but this stuff is so adorable! Now, which pieces would make fun jewelry?
The class was small – only about 5 ladies of various ages and experience in jewelry-making. The teacher, Jen Bradford, immediately put everybody at ease with her disarming, quirky personality. She has years of experience in all types of jewelry-making (her earthy, handmade pieces are amazing). Although she described electroforming as “finicky,” she said it’s her favorite medium. If it’s not obvious from the name (which is wasn’t to me – preggo brain, perhaps), electroforming involves electricity. A device called a rectifier converts alternating electric currents. You suspend an object that’s been painted with metal into a “bath” of copper solution. The wires from the rectifier run electric currents through the bath and several hours later, you’ve got a custom piece of metal jewelry. (If this still sounds confusing, I feel you. Simple version? I painted an object with copperizing paint, let it dry, and then had it suspended into the bath. When I come back next week, we’ll retrieve the items from the bath and see how they look all Metallica’d out.)
The white radio-looking box is the rectifier. The cooler will house our  jewelry materials while the rectifier does its thing.
I chose the stork and the baby bottle toys for my first crack at this. I super-glued little rings on top so the toys can be hung from a necklace or earring.
Our pieces are going to look something like these, hopefully,
For the first week, Jen instructed us to use plastic items like toys to electroform. She had some army men and bugs available, but l looked thorugh my trusty trinket bag and decided upon a plastic baby bottle and stork that I found at the Green Shag Market. Assuming it comes out looking halfway decent, both will make very unique and fitting pendants for a necklace. I originally wanted to keep some of the plastic un-copperized, but Jen cautioned that you need an uninterrupted current of electricity for the process to work, so you can’t have a piece that’s un-touched in the middle and then metalicized at the end. Jen also let us know that even if you do everything “right,” electric currents are not always predictable; it’s a true process of trial and error. I’m hopeful that Baby #2 really wants Mommy to rock the baby-themed jewelry, so I can’t wait to see my pieces next week! My goal is to end the class with at least one wearable pendant.
Here's our instructor in the studio.
Lots of machinery in here. A crafty gal could get into lots of trouble here. LOL
Next week, we will be using more “porous” materials, such as dried leaves or flowers. I haven’t decided what I’m bringing in, but a previous student did a piece of lace that looked awesome. Any suggestions for me?

Are you interested in learning about jewelry-making or artistic projects with other mediums like fiber or wood? Visit craftalliance.org to learn more. They have classes that are one afternoon, 3-weeks, or 6-weeks to fit most people’s schedules. You can also follow Craft Alliance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If the suspense of how my jewelry turns out is too much for you, I will be live-tweeting during next week’s class (Thursday evening) J.  

P.S. - Thank you, Craft Alliance and ALIVE Influencer Network for making my crafty dreams come true!

Sparkles + Bump

Ruby loves to try on my stuff. Especially the crazy, chunky, waaay-too-big-for-her shoes that have garnered astonished looks from people who can't believe I'm (gasp) wearing high heels while pregnant! The other day, she strutted her stuff in my platform wedges, heart-shaped sunglasses, and silver sparkly cross-body purse. (Trust me - she was rocking those platforms.) My heart swelled with pride. Not just because she is quickly becoming a mini-fashionista in her own way. Because, even though she likes to wear my clothes, she is not afraid to be her own person. She always wants to live life to its fullest and isn't afraid to take risks. Ruby, at the tender age of 2, inspires me.

So, as my pregnancy progresses and my baby bump gets bigger (7 months and counting), I am committed to continuing to live my life to the fullest, too. And that includes sticking with my signature style. Leggings have become my go-to wardrobe staple for 2 reasons: 1. They are comfortable. 2. Leggings fit nicely under my bump. 3. Leggings hug my legs, unlike my "skinny" maternity jeans. That may just be a problem for someone with bird legs like myself, but leggings nonetheless are something every pregnant woman should embrace.

What makes leggings even cooler? Sparkles. Lots and lots of sparkles. Add a rock tee, a kimono, and choker, and me and my bump are ready to roll! 

Kimono: Savers Thrift Store; Tank: Target; Leggings: Thrifted (bebe); Shoes: Just Fab; Choker: Rue 21
My favorite little photobomber crashed the shoot - and added a mega-dose of cute!
"I want picture, Mommy!"
Say "cheese!" The leather jacket was (or technically still is) my mom's from the 70s. Someday, I hope one of my lil' gals will wear it.