Found on Pinterest – Artists Synchroblog

Found on Pinterest – Artists Synchroblog

For June, the Artists Synchroblog task was to find inspiration via Pinterest.  Pinterest is a hugely popular online bulletin board, that lets you “pin” links and images for later reference. I used to use it quite a lot, but scaled back after concerns about copyright infringements surfaced last year.

Those concerns aside, it is a very useful tool for collecting ideas and inspirations. With a studio renovation underway, I’ve been bookmarking links like crazy for working effectively in small spaces.

One of the things I need to be able to do is photograph my work.

After investing in a good DSLR last year, I discovered one very annoying downside: it didn’t work with the light tent I’ve been using for the last seven years. My DIY setup of a food umbrella and a white pillow case worked perfectly well when I was using a portable digital camera.  Most of the photos for my tutorials were shot using that setup. Unfortunately though, with the DSLR, I needed to position the camera further from the subject, and the awkward angles resulted in ugly photos. One of the links I found last year was a portable light tent by Modahaus. Much of the Modahaus system is actually intended for use with iPhone type cameras.  The Tabletop Studio TS216 is slightly larger than a legal size file folder, which makes it portable and easy to store when not in use. What really attracted me to it were the background sweeps. I’ve used all kinds of things for backgrounds, from matte board to scrapbooking paper, and most recently plastic cutting boards.  All have some degree of texturing, which is fine, if all I’m doing is taking Etsy shots. Jury photos need to be on a dark background, de rigueur, and magazine photos work best on white.

Most of the other light tents I’d seen used fabric sweeps, which tend to be wrinkly. The Modahaus sweeps are made of plastic, and come in black, grey, white, translucent white, red and blue.

The TS216 turns out to be a bit small for my needs. I find that I have to add risers to the diffuser to make space for my props.

Modahaus Tabletop Studio setup
My tweaked setup of the Modahaus Tabletop Studio

 

So far, I’ve been quite pleased with the results I’ve gotten, but there is the inevitable learning curve of figuring out how to position the lights on the jewellery to avoid excess glare or shadows. I like the little bit of reflection I get with the black sweep and as long as I take care to minimize dust, there is less photo editing needed than my old setup.

I’m constantly experimenting with different tricks, and while taking these shots, I added a small light bounce card to reflect a bit of the light to the underside of the rings. It made a huge impact.

The effect of adding a small light bounce card to increase the reflection on the bottom of the rings was astonishing.
Adding a small light bounce card to increase the reflection on the bottom of the rings made a big difference in the final photo.

I’ll continue tweaking the setup over the coming months, but on the whole this was a very worthwhile investment, found via Pinterest!

The Artists Synchroblog is a group of bloggers who post every other month on the same topic, sharing our experience or perspective. On alternate months we undertake a Pinterest Project where we each take inspiration from a Pinterest picture, create something (art, a meal, a DIY project, etc) and then post about it.  You can read more about the Artists Synchroblog here.

Please visit the other synchrobloggers this month and see how Pinterest inspired them:

http://amyestellemetalworks.blogspot.com

http://www.islandgirlsinsights.blogspot.ca/

www.elenorbuffington.blogspot.com

http://doxallodesigns.blogspot.com

http://lesliervillarreal.blogspot.com

http://www.journeyinjewelry.com/blog/My-Journey-in-Jewelry

http://simpledesignjewelry.blogspot.com

http://designsbylynnea.blogspot.com/

http://marikach.blogspot.com/

www.createrecklessly.com

http://design.kcjewelbox.com

www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.blogspot.com

http://shaktipajdesigns.com/blog/

http://silversmithblog.com/

http://stonezjewelry.com/blog/

YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3

YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 (2010); Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline; Constructed, cold-joined; L 3.7 cm x W 0.5 cm (W 1.45" x L 0.2")Knotted Earrings 3 (2010)
Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline
Constructed, cold-joined
L 3.7 cm x W 0.5 cm (W 1.45″ x L 0.2″)

Continuing on from last week, since I made several of the Monkey’s Fist knots, I made another pair of earrings!

I’ve been doing some experimenting with photography lately, putting my pieces on a white background instead of the medium gray.  I’m looking for ways to make the images “pop” more – in my recent work I’ve been using a lot of stones that have the same value as the background, and it makes the jewellery look dull.  “Value” in colour terms refers to how light or dark it is.  (To see check the value of your stone, stare at the photo with squinted eyes – if the stone disappears it has the same value as the background.)  In order for a photo to have visual interest, it has to be either lighter or darker than the background, otherwise the eyes see what’s there, but the brain registers “ho hum”.

It’s a bit more work to deal with a white background – inevitably, and even though I have a white balance setting on my camera – the raw photo comes out slightly grey.  Photoshop can adjust the balance it easily, but then I usually still have to do some extra clean up.  It’s a bit tricky to lighten the background enough to get rid of “noise” but not so much that the jewellery bleaches out.

YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 (2010); Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline; Constructed, cold-joined; L 3.7 cm x W 0.5 cm (W 1.45" x L 0.2")From a print perspective, (putting on my editor hat for a moment), getting photos with white background is a godsend for layout.  I can plunk them down anywhere on a page and build text around them.  Or I can crop and put several images close together – something that isn’t possible when the jewellery is shot on a grey or staged background.   There are no distractions – you look at the jewellery and nothing else.

While they work for print and web, white backgrounds do *not* work well for jury photos.  I had the opportunity to sit in on a jury for a show recently (something I highly recommend BTW, it’s very educational), and I noticed that the photos with white backgrounds were always very jarring.  Backgrounds with a value of medium to dark (but not black) and *absolutely no props* worked best for jury photos.  Prop shots work well for Etsy, but are distracting in jury.

More photos:

YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 (2010); Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline; Constructed, cold-joined; L 3.7 cm x W 0.5 cm (W 1.45" x L 0.2") YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 YOJ10-15 Knotted Earrings 3 (2010); Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline; Constructed, cold-joined; L 3.7 cm x W 0.5 cm (W 1.45" x L 0.2")

YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2

YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 (2010); Sterling silver; Constructed, cold-joined; L 2.5 cm x W 0.7 cm (L 0.98" x W 0.275")Knotted Earrings 2 (2010)
Sterling silver, iolite
Constructed, cold-joined
L 2.5 cm x W 0.7 cm (L 0.98″ x W 0.275″)

My life is all about choices:  if I choose to focus on one area of my life, another area gets sacrificed.  For the past few weeks, I’ve had to focus on some group endeavours, and so my work on YOJ projects ground to a halt.  I’m working towards finding balance, but haven’t found it just yet.

For this week’s project, my focus was on making bridal jewellery.  My thoughts were on “something blue” and “tying knots”.

The Monkey’s Fist is a classic macramé knot, usually used as a weight or ornament on the end of a rope.  Tying them in rope is relatively easy.  When I learned it as a child, it was just a matter of sticking a marble between two fingers, and wrapping the rope around the marble and fingers, then around the marble through fingers and then through the loops created by the fingers.  Then the loops were pulled tight.

YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 (2010); Sterling silver; Constructed, cold-joined; L 2.5 cm x W 0.7 cm (L 0.98" x W 0.275")In wire, the stiffness of the metal, and its tendency to kink makes tying challenging.  There is also the issue of trying to get the proportions right:  thinner gauge wire is more flexible to tie, but the knot becomes very small and fiddly.  I found it impossible to tie wire around a bead without it slipping all over the place.  Pulling the loops tight at the end was also a non-starter, so I had to make the initial wraps as close to round as possible – challenging since without a bead in the centre, the tendency is to wrap ovals.  I ended up creating an invent-a-tool to help.

It took a bit of practice to get consistent results (doesn’t everything?), but I did end up with a satisfying “knot”. To get the “blue” part of the earrings, I decided on adding some pale 2 mm iolites. I would love to try these in a larger gauge of wire, but I think that would really only be possible with fine silver.  Sterling just gets too stiff too fast.

More photos:

YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 (2010); Sterling silver; Constructed, cold-joined; L 2.5 cm x W 0.7 cm (L 0.98" x W 0.275") YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 YOJ10-14 Knotted Earrings 2 (2010); Sterling silver; Constructed, cold-joined; L 2.5 cm x W 0.7 cm (L 0.98" x W 0.275")

YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings

YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009) YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009); Constructed, cold joined; Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmalineKnotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009)
Constructed, cold joined
Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline

Recently members of the Starving Artists Etsy Team did a critique of my Etsy shop.  One of the comments that came up a couple of times was that my descriptions tend to be a bit on the sparse side.  I generally give information about the piece, what it’s made of, basic sizing, etc., but only rarely is there a “story”.

My reply to one of the ladies who asked me about this was “Well, sometimes the design is the result of nothing more than “I had this idea and decided to play around with it.” ”

The truth is that I just have no talent for writing bullshit.  What I write has to feel authentic, otherwise it doesn’t work for me.  Hmmm…. maybe I need to look into a creative writing course…

Anyways… I was playing around with some scraps of wire left over from working on my Clip-on Earrings tutorial.  I tied the wire up in a small knot – not quite as tight as I would have liked, but it worked.  I have a “thing” about dangles, so I added these little tourmalines.  I love the vibrant pink – they’re just juicy!  The result is a cute pair of earrings that works for everyday wear.

The SATeam critique did confirm one thing: my photography is pretty good. It never stops surprising me how much time it takes to get the photography done. Nowadays, I’m not only doing photos for my regular record keeping; I’m also doing set up for Etsy. “Product” photography is different from jury photography – attention must be paid to angles, and multiple positions. A lot of people on Etsy photograph on elaborate backgrounds. I have yet to find one that works for me, so I’m still working with the “jurying grey”.

Photographing studs is difficult at the best of times, but these earrings were particularly challenging. There was just no good way of laying them nicely to get a straight-on shot. Finally, I decided to cut a upright display card out of an old layout board and poke holes in it. Voilà! It worked!

Other views:

YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009) YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009); Constructed, cold joined; Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009) YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009); Constructed, cold joined; Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009) YOJ09-40 Knotted Tourmaline Earrings (2009); Constructed, cold joined; Sterling silver, fine silver, tourmaline