Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Champagne Celebration

In the spirit of New Year's celebrations, I listed my Champagne Collection on Etsy this morning. Made with gold filled wire with gold filled, vermeil, and brass beads in addition to citrine, several varieties and colors of freshwater pearls, and Swarovski crystal, this collection has been quite popular.
It all started when a high school senior approached me a couple of years ago to put together a necklace for her prom dress. The color was a greenish/goldish/creamish color that proved difficult to match at the mall. Fortuately, I love a design challenge, and came up with a collection of beads that blends well with all sorts of colors.
If you wear cream and khaki in the winter (doesn't most everyone?) and are looking for a way to add some sparkle, this is it.
Necklace is 48 inches (1.3 meters) and can be wound twice or three times for variety ($125).
Cuff is about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide, and can be flexed to fit your wrist ($89).
Earrings hang 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from your ear, and are on French wires, but could be put on ball/posts ($24). Sold separately, the set would be $238, but I'll give a special *blog pricing* at $225 (plus shipping of $5.00 in US - other places to be determined).
Happy New Year!
Pastel (and jewelry) Guy
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade and custom jewelry
P.S. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (see sidebar!).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunlight and Sycamores

As I went outside to retrieve the trash cans this afternoon, I stepped out into a beautiful late afternoon replete with long shadows and a brilliant blue sky. So I dropped the vacuum canister, ran inside, grabbed my camera, and came out for some low-angled light pictures to save for future reference. This one was my favorite. We have two acres, much of which is covered with trees that connect to about 50 more acres of trees behind us that will never (OK, probably never) be developed. Anyway, the sycamore trees with their whitish bark make cool designs against the blueblue sky of winter.

Water Lilies WIP (part I)

After my last posting, where I showed 4 pictures I was considering for my next painting, I chose one that had richer colors (thanks to photo editing software!) and a more panoramic view of the pond, although not as wide as the original. I kept asking myself, "What is the story I'm trying to tell with this picture?" The answer I came up with was that the painting would be about the pond of lilies, not just the lilies. That cut out the close-ups (those can be other paintings!). Because of the size planned for this piece (24 x 36 inches - about 67 x 100cm), there will be room on the panel for details in the indiviual plants. The trick will be to then not have the details be too busy. I might even write myself a big post-it that says, "SIMPLIFY!" and post it on my easel.

In the black-and-white sketch pictured above, I wanted to work out the composition, but more importantly the values. Since the original photo had many many shades of green, combined with reflections in muddy water, it was hard to tell what had a light value and which were darker. You can see by my notes in the margin that I notated where the lightest and darkest spots were.

I'll be posting as this work progresses. It's the largest pastel I've done, and since I'm on break, I have more time to be on the computer....Keep in touch!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Decisions, Decisions


It's time to start pastels up again, so I came back to the computer to find a suitable picture from all the photos I took over the summer. This year, I'm trying to be extra careful about not using pictures taken by someone else, since technically those are copyrighted. There are many competitions out there where I would be disqualified for using pictures taken by someone else.


I'm trying to decide what my overall goal should be for next year. I've come up with several options:

1. Juried Art Shows
2. Juried Competitions
3. Local Galleries
4. Printed Material, like a 2010 calendar with a theme, such as 'waterways' since I like painting water.
5. Workshops in pastel

I suppose a sixth option would be to do all 5 of the above. I worked on the first three in 2008, and had great progress. In addition, I would really like to do pastel workshops all over the country, say at different art schools, like Arrowmont, La Conner Art Workshops , or the Scottsdale Art School. As a teacher and a painter, it's a great mix.

Any suggestions?

Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale


OK, I'm not normally this indecisive, but I can't decide which cropping to use for my next painting. Any suggestions?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dreams Do Come True

On my Christmas List this year, I put the new Blackberry Storm at the top of my list. However, my adoring, perfect, wonderful, and loving wife did a lot of research, and found that the new Samsung Omnia would be a better option.
And so it was the last present I opened.
As a result, I have spent the entire day fussing with it - going to the dealer to get it turned on and to have my Contacts switched over, learning how to put my email account into it, and figuring out how to justify its purchase by making it (and myself) even more technologically literate by joining Twitter. Now I just need to figure out how to update to this here rag from my *new* phone.
But Christmas was good for everyone in this house. My son is enjoying his Wii, my daughter has a new sewing machine and a guitar to play around with, and my wife is figuring out which spinning bike she will use the most here at home (she's already a gym rat at Gold's!).
More posts later (with pictures!). I think we may be painting the bedroom and replacing the carpet with hardwood this next week, so the postings may not be art related - WARNING!
Until next time,
Pastel Guy
http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastel paintings

Friday, December 26, 2008

Never Say Never

OK, I lied.

A while ago (I tried to find the post, but didn't want to spend an eternity - sorry!), I swore up and down that I would never join Twitter.

I just did.

I'm hoping that it's just one more way to find people who may be potential buyers for my artwork. Hopefully, it will also be another way for people to learn the human side of an artist whose work they admire.

We'll see.

Anyway, you can start to follow me on Twitter by clicking on the link to the right on this blog. I can't promise to be super faithful about updating it, but I should be able to let you know when I have added new blog postings, or am about to do something creatively awesome...

Until tomorrow,
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Etsy Frontpage!

Today was a first for me - I made the Front Page of Etsy! It doesn't happen very often...

In receiving this award, I'd like to thank Jolijoli for putting the Treasury together (I still don't know how to do it myself!), and for my Etsy teammates of the Big Sky Montana Team for supporting me, and for letting me know I was famous for a couple of minutes. All of you are awesome.

Happy holidays!

Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

New Earring Design

Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Windows Collection

Every now and again, a new design comes out of my studio that I really like. And this is one of them. It's not new; I actually came up with it last year, as an earring version of my cuff bracelets. So there are some black ones, some green ones, and some yellow ones out there somewhere. I would like to think they are making someone feel fabulous today, but in reality, they are probably at the bottom of someone's jewelry box, or maybe their purse. Who knows what really happens to the Christmas gifts you send out to the family members you don't know very well?

These actually take a bunch of time. First the rectangular 'window' is measured off, bent, and then soldered shut. Then the soldered corner is rounded off to match the other three corners. Once the shape is symmetrical, I then solder on the ring at the top. I used to do all the soldering at once, but more often than not, the ring ended up off center once the soldered corner was rounded off.

The next step is to weave beads inside the frame. The mix has to be just right in order to fit inside the borders, so there is a lot of trial and error. I also try to use a mix of beads that will look attractive both when the light is coming through them (clear beads), or when the light is on them from the front (semiprecious stones and crystals). The trick to making random motifs work is to use a variety of shapes and textures, hence the metal, the squares of tiger's eye, and the heishe glass.

If you'd like a pair, just email me, or keep an eye on Etsy, as they'll be listed soon ($30).

Pastel Guy
http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastel paintings
http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - handmade jewelry for sale

Friday, December 12, 2008


Pattee Canyon Aspens (20 x 16 pastel on panel)

The other day I opened the mailbox to find an envelope with the return address of my gallery in St. Louis. It had a little bump in the envelope, so I figured it was a Christmas card. Much to my surprise, out fell a check for the sale of this painting! (Yep, the monthly statement was included in a Christmas card. With a tassel.)

Slowly but surely, I'm paying off the debt I incurred while painting this last summer and preparing for my big show in August. What a relief. My wife and I are the type who do not use our credit cards unless necessary, so this debt is stressing me out!

Fortunately (so those of you that are here for my 2D art), I'm feeling the urge to paint again building inside of me. The jewelry thing has about run its course. I have a feeling it will end at about noon on Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately, there are several custom orders awaiting my attention this weekend. I have to work on a charm bracelet for a friend's wife, a bunch of stained glass angel ornaments for my bosses, a couple of earring and bracelet orders from my 'mini jewelry shows' this last week, and a final stock-up for my last mini show this next week. Oh, and there's one more special project that has to be completed, but that's hush-hush. If it turns out, though, it'll be a beaut worth blogging about!

Anyway. This Pattee Canyon painting was painted this last summer out in the field beside my grandparents' home in Missoula, MT. At the time, I was very dissatisfied with it, probably because it didn't turn out anything like I had intended. But now that I look at it again, I think it's pretty good. It's hard to do a painting of basically one color and basically one object (like green trees). There are no wildflowers to add a touch of color, not even any mountains, or a path, or clouds. I ended up having to rely on the shadows to give it that breadth of color that prevents it from being too mundane. Actually, I so did not like this one that I almost washed it off so that I wouldn't have to bring it all the way home on the airplane. But I needed it for my shows, so I kept it as backup.

Little did I know that my 'backup' would sell before any of my 'masterpieces'. What do I know?

Until next time,
http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - handmade jewelry for sale

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Choosing Colors

It was born in 1971. It's now 37 years old.

I'm talking about our house.

We've lived here about seven of those years, and haven't really done too much to it. Sure, I painted the outdoor trim, repainted the kitchen and cut archways into the kitchen walls, but any major improvement has been put off. We did the usual thing and bought absolutely as much house as we could at that time. Fortunately, our salaries have increased over the years to a point where we're not eeking out our last week of groceries until the next payday.

But the time has come (as walruses say...).

Today we had a contractor/plumber in to put in a manmade marble surround in the kids's bathroom and to change the tub into a shower, so they can quit using ours. Their tub has been unusable for a couple of years now. But after tomorrow, it will be up and running (and better than ours!).

Then we chose some wooden interior fiberglass Marvin windows to put all around the house. Unfortunately with the economic downturn, our Home Equity Loan came back at about half of what we expected, so we can only do part of the house. I guess that means less to pay off in the future, right?

Through all this myriad of decisions, my wife and I have been on the same page. Window styles, tub surround colors and hardware, deck supplies, etc. But when we were in Lowe's the other day to find paint colors for our bedroom and for the living/dining area, we were polar opposites. She wanted dark red for the bedroom, and I was ready to go with a pale yellow (her fave color). For the living room, I wanted a rich khaki color, but she claimed that it was too dark, and so she picked an off-white. ACK! Fortunately, Lowe's sells those little tester cans, so we bought several (it'll be beautiful...). I'll let you know what happens.

Until next time,
Pastel Guy

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Summary...

As the month draws to a close, there are several items on my mind:

1. NaBloPoMo - I'm not sure whether it's the curse of the devil, or heaven sent. I've enjoyed blogging, and having to do it every day for thirty days has definitely worked toward making it a habit. However, it has taken a toll with my wife, who complains of the amount of time spent on the computer...

2. Pastels - My creative juices are beginning to flow, and soon you will see new products. I joined WetCanvas! yesterday (a place for artists to congregate on the Net), and I think it will be a great learning/sharing/teaching opportunity.

3. Jewelry - Yesterday, we went to a local Craft Fair to shop around. I had done that show in the past, but it's three days over a holiday weekend, and I just don't want to give up the family time anymore. I suppose if it were my sole income, I'd be there schlepping jewelry like a madman.

4. Etsy - Well, I've had an Etsy store for about 2.5 months now, and have sold three items. I realize that it's a great place for indie artists to showcase their work, but when the jewelry category is the largest, it's just REALLY hard to compete. I think I need to sell something more original in there. Perhaps notecards of my pastel paintings. I don't want to do prints of my works, but notecards would be OK, I think.

5. Christmas - Bring it on! I don't have anything on my list this year, except for a new website and a Blackberry Storm (as discussed here). I think the website is do-able, but the Storm's monthly access fee is completely out of my price range.

6. My Family - Still the best thing since sliced bread, and what I'm most thankful for this year.

7. Yahoo! Groups - Yep. I joined 2 of them this month. One with people from Montana who have stores on Etsy And the second is for pastel painters. I have corresponded with some wonderful people in both groups, and secondarily, have also put my name out there into the art world just a little tiny bit.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pastel Musings

Summer Ripples (16 x 20 pastel on panel)

I thought I'd dig into my archives for today's post. In looking back through my postings, it's been awhile since I've posted a pastel.
The board for this painting was green.

And I mean a warm green similar to the middle value of the trees on the right. That made the sky pretty difficult, since I didn't want any of the color showing through. I might as well have started with white. I had to work with the panel flat, so that when I colored in the sky, all the extra dust stayed on the surface. I could then take an old paintbrush and gently work it into the crevasses. After that, I used my finger to build up the pigment so that the green was completely hidden.

Next came the golden hill and the faraway trees, which I wanted to keep especially cool. The color of the foliage in this picture is different from the forests around the Midwest in that the overall color temperature is cooler. I had to keep that in the forefront of my mind since my tendency is to use the warm greens that are found in Illinois.

For the beach, I found out just how many uses Great American's Violet Grey has. It's great for sky as well as rocks.

The grasses along the side went in easily. I was please that I chose a warmer color for the tassels. Then the reflections went in, and finally the moving water with the reflected sky.

The water was the part I was the most nervous about. I had just finished Summer Idyll and Chinook, where the water worked out great. But those were still waters, and the little ripples in this one made me unsure. But I looked at them as colors and shapes and recreated them rather than trying to represent ripples. It was really quite easy. After laying down the darker Neptune and Bismark (and maybe some Navy), I was able to scumble Denim over the surface, and viola! ripples.

But I've decided that I love painting water. There are so many variables - the lighting, the distance of the reflected items from the edge of the water, the cloud cover, the wind, etc. It's a great challenge. I think that growing up on lakefront property helps a lot, too. I have a firm memory base of what water looks like in various states, and I believe this basic understanding helps a lot in my landscape painting.

Keep noticing the details!
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - landscapes in pastel
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Friday, November 28, 2008


Earlier this fall, I rambled on about green, but now it's time to talk about my favorite color, red.

I took this picture of my yellow-leaved pineapple sage right before the frost got it earlier this month. Our house is a reddish colored brick, with black shutters and white trim, so I use red flowers to accent the beds out front.

We have a big yard. Our property is just over 2 acres, with a lot of it still in woods, but the front is probably about as wide as three subdivision lots. There's a half-circle drive where I have a big grassy area in the front, but off to the sides are some big beds under huge oak trees. Instead of trying to mow around them all, I underplanted them with viburnum, hydrangea, azaleas, fern, hosta, and even some redbud trees, which are our state tree, and are naturally found in the understory. For accent colors, I plant bright red impatiens along the edge. There is also a planting of bight red Freedom hedge roses (the most amazing red color ever!), and a cherry red crepe myrtle.

When I find a picture of the whole yard, I'll post it. It's taken about 7 years, but it's finally looking grown in.

And there y'have more randomness about me. I think this is the first posting about gardening, which is odd, actually. Because I'm totally obsessed. I'm one of those who knows all the plants by their scientific names, and when my wife asks what something is called, I can't remember the common name.

Until next time,


http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastel paintings

http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - handmade jewelry for sale

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This morning started with my son climbing into bed with us at 6 am.

That in and of itself is not a bad thing. He's a cuddle bug and doesn't tend to sleep sideways like the other one does...

The killer is that it's Thanksgiving. A holiday.

And for some funny reason, now that I'm a dad, I can't seem to go back to sleep once I'm awakened past the hour of, say, 5:30 am. I used to be a sleeping champ.

Now I'm just like my grandma.

The problem is that I just lie there and my brain kicks into creativity mode without waiting for the warmup. Today I had one side of my brain working on the composition for a pastel picture I want to do as a Christmas gift. The other side was working on how I could work in a tile mosaic floor somewhere in our house, and somewhere in the middle, I had possible scenes for a large scale stained glass window for the wall behind our bar downstairs. Then every once in a while, the practical side would jump in and try to think of ways to market all these great ideas so I could make all this my full-time job.

I finally just got up. Sigh. Maybe some tryptophan and alcohol will slow the old brain down a little later on...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm thankful to have started this blog, and for everyone who comments so faithfully, like Brandy, EM, and Kay.

Pastel Guy

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Peek in My Sketchbook

Janice, a fellow jewelry blogger, gave me a great idea for today's blog: a glimpse at my sketchbook. Actually, my jewelry ideas are kept on scraps of paper (the white one, below, is the back of one of my son's papers from school), while my pastels sketches are in a proper sketchbook. ...(don't ask) They then get clipped on a post in my garage ("studio"). See pic, above.

This page shows a couple of earring ideas plus a couple of pendant ideas. I've come close to making the ones on the top left, but kinda forgot about the others. Hmmm.

These two yellow pages show a few more earring ideas which were sketched on scrap paper and tacked up on my Idea Post. You can see that the last one here on the bottom has some notes next to it. I actually made these and made notes to myself for the next time I work with this motif. In fact, this idea led me to make my fuschia earrings which sell very well, and that I have for sale on Etsy (see link, above).

So, thanks, Janice, for your inspiration today. If nothing else, it made me revisit these ideas, and gave me some renewed inspiration for this weekend!

Happy arting!
Pastel (and jewelry) Guy
http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastels
http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - handmade jewelry

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Random Photo Day

Flathead Lake, Montana, USA

This picture was taken on our trip out west this last summer (sorry the horizon is not level. I guess that's what happens when your driving and photographing at the same time!). Now that it is wintery outside, I think I may make this the wallpaper on my computer.

The is the decent off the terminal moraine at the north end of the Mission Valley into the town of Polson, where I went to school. Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. This photo just shows the bay at the southern end. Those are the Mission Mountains in the distance. My folks had a house on the lake up the west shore near Big Arm. It would take my sister and me 45 minutes to ride the bus to school - and we were one of the last ones to get on in the morning, and the first to get off in the afternoon.

One of my fellow Etsy montanateam members mentioned how fierce the winters were in the 1970s. If that is true, then the winters when we used to ice skate across the frozen Big Arm Bay to the islands were unusual by today's standards. Sound travels so much better over ice that the coyotes on Wild Horse Island would sound as if they were in your back yard, and when the ice melted and cracked the creepy eeeerrrroinnnng would wake you up at night.

The blue dot below shows about where our house was. You can see the couple of islands we would visit to the north and east.

So that's probably more than you wanted to know, but there y'have it.

Until tomorrow!
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Monday, November 24, 2008

So Many Options...

Earlier last week, I had another mini craft fair. This is when I take my jewelry to one of the local schools and set it up in the teachers' lounge for a couple of days. It's all on the honors system - I leave it there unattendend, and faculty and staff shops, leaving their checks and cash in a manilla envelope. They even have the option of signing an IOU sheet. So far that arrangement has worked just fine. Turns out I sold 18 pairs of earrings last week. Eighteeen pairs of mostly brown earrings. That means that I have to come up with 18 new designs to replenish my display board for the next mini craft fair.

Just when I think there's no way I'll be able to accomplish that, I pull out my styrofoam plates of beads and stare. Pretty soon the creative juices start flowing, and I can start cranking them out. The picture above is just one of my plates of dark brown. I also have light brown/amber, a couple different greens, a couple blues, black, turquoise, red, pink, pearls, etc.

See, I used to put each bead type in a little compartmentalized box. Then I started buying strands by the bagful, and so that took way to much organization for the right side of my brain to handle. So I decided that I should just arrange them as if they were a palette, and put all the similarly colored beads together, hence the styrofoam plates which were sturdier than paper. What I really need are stackable trays.

This organizational system is actually how I came up with my random designed jewlery, where there's no pattern, just a random assortment of beads strung together, either as a bracelet, a necklace or as a cuff. When you have all these great colors and shapes staring you in the face, it's hard to decide which ones to use. Why not use them all? With a symmetrical design, there would be no way to fit them all in without making it look stupid, and basically random anyway.

The fun comes when you take a handful from one plate and mix it with a handful from another plate. It's mixing colors just like paint! I've ended up with some great combinations: champagne and pearls, dark brown and turquoise, and pastels, just to name a few (the bummer is then separating them back out again once the piece is finished!).

So, I'm off to make some earrings...

Until tomorrow,
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guesting Day

Today, I'm guest blogging on another blog, The Big Sky Montana Etsy Team, of which I am a proud member!

This posting is a story that shows how tragedy can result in beauty. While ranching and grizzly bears don't mix, a member of our Etsy team is able to make the cutest little lambs you've ever seen, despite the fact that the bears ate all her real ones. This is her story.

Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fabulous! by Pastel Guy

It's coming. I can sense it. I see the signs.... everywhere.

As Resolution Day approaches, there are lists, tips, blogs, and books about how you should be. Which raises the question, "Am I not worthy?"

At the library this afternoon, I found a book, "Freakin' Fabulous" by Clinton Kelly. I'd never heard of the guy before, but I guess that's what happens when one lives under a rock and doesn't watch TV.

Anyway. Apparently, he's the guru on how to be fabulous. So, sucka that I am, I checked it out, and during our family reading time this afternoon, I was able to thumb through it. Really, it's just a list of manners, and grammar, and artistic common sense.

Y'know, stuff parents teach their kids...

...But I guess they don't.

As I was reading through the chapter on how to speak with fabulosity, I noted that it was my seventh grade grammar curriculum reduced to 10 pages. Who vs. whom, further vs. farther, the subjunctive tense, etc. I learned all that at home ('course having two english teachers - ahem, teachers of English - as parents didn't hurt).

Reading through his list (book) of pet peeves started me thinking about my list. What would I write about if I were (see?! I just used the subjunctive correctly!) to be paid millions of bucks to summarize the habits of people that annoy me the most.

Here's the short list using Clinton Kelly's categories:

1. DRESS: Men who wear black socks with their black shoes and khaki pants, and women who wear jewelry that's too small.
2. SPEAK: People who finish their sentences with 'at'.
3. BEHAVE: Intolerance of others even when they consider themselves 'Christians'.
4. EAT: People who don't hold their silverware properly.
5. ENTERTAIN: arriving early.
6. DECORATE: pictures that are too small hanging too high on the wall.

I haven't read all of his book, so I don't know if I'm duplicating any of his or not. I am far from being fabulous myself; this list is just the six sure-fire ways to botch any chance you might have had at being fabulous in my world.

As I look out over my students in the few minutes between classes, I listen to them ask their neighbor where their pencil is at, and call the kid across the room a fag. And I sigh.

Should I scrap my lesson on DNA replication in favor of Today's Tip on Civility? Obviously they're not getting it at home. So is it now my job?

Perhaps my New Year's Resolution will end up something like this: I will strive to spread fabulousness - one student at a time.

Until tomorrow,
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - handmade jewelry for sale

Friday, November 21, 2008

Up and Down

Today was a day of ups and downs...

My first period class was enjoyable. Then, during 7th hour, I think my blood pressure spiked. Went to see Bolt (the new Disney movie) with my son after school (good movie, great time with him), came home to pest control people not doing what they were supposed to and the dog eating my supper. Ten came a nice full tumbler of whiskey. So now I think I'll go to bed while it's on the upswing, even though it's only 8:22 at night.

Here's to NaBloPoMo!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Custom Stained Glass

Summer Rain (stained glass panel about 36" x 24")

Yesterday I ranted, so I thought today I would take it easy. Earlier this month, I promised you another stained glass window. Here y'go.

This one is actually the second one I made using this pattern. The first pattern was made for a woman who wanted a window for her bathroom that had a Frank Lloyd Wright style to it. I had been doing stained glass for a couple of months, and this was my first real commission on anything. She wanted it in blues, with a modern feel. There had to be light, but privacy, too. The privacy issue eliminated Wright's signature use of design around the outside to allow for full light and visibility in the middle of the window. I wanted it to look sort of like falling rain.

Anyhow. I liked the design so much that I made one for myself. Of course it's been sitting in my garage against the wall for the last few years, coming out only to make its annual trip to my school for the art teacher to use as a demonstration.

The most fun part of making a window is picking out the glass. Some of the glass in this window is handmade, and quite pricey. The main panels with the slight strawberry swirl in them is a glass from the Youghiogheny Glass Company. Rather than the usual high polish that's on most glass, this one looks like it's made out of wax.

Then there's the ridged one that's a great olive color. It's hard to see it in the picture, but its ridges are so sharp that it reflects the light, and adds great texture to the composition.

The gold one is cool, too. Its ripples are so pronounced that it was hard to put into the lead because the ripples are actually taller than the lead, so you have to grind it at an angle to reduce the ripples enough to fit in the lead channel. It also has an iridescent finish.

But when you have exciting glass pieces like that, you have to offset them with some boring, "normal" glass, such as the green and amber squares in the repeating checkerboard motif.

It's sort of like wearing a fantastic necklace on a patterned top. Don't do it! Put it on a solid color, and let your jewelry stand out.

Make sure you stand out today!
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - custom and handmade jewelry for sale

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shame on You!

Remember the good ol' days when you could convince your PE teacher to play Prison Ball in class? The you went out to recess and played tag until you thought your lungs would pop?

No more.

The other day my kids came home from school with the news that they are no longer allowed to play dodge ball, wall ball, or any variation. Tag is also taboo.

I'm sorry, what did you say? No tag?

Mmm hmm. That's right. No more fun. Apparently, during the game, kids are singled out and that's a bad thing. I talked with some of my colleagues here at the junior high, and they said that they were taught in teacher school that we shouldn't let the kids play "shame games." (I think I would have remembered this lesson. I guess I'm either too old, not certified in elementary, or was sleeping especially well that day)

According to the pundits, a shame game is any game that singles out a particular kid, thus creating the potential of lowering their self esteem. OK. So I'm trying to think of an athletic activity where that wouldn't happen. Baseball? No, nothing more esteem-deflating than striking out. Basketball? No, my esteem never made it past being the last one chosen. Track? No. Golf? Tennis? Badmitton? No, no, no.

What is going on? Can someone please fill me in? I've been in education for 10 years now, and it makes no sense.

I'm gonna stop before my veins pop.

Pastel Guy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indiana Savannah (12 x 18 pastel on paper)

This is my first official pastel.

It's now hanging above my desk nicely matted and framed, waiting for the day when I'm famous and it will be worth a fortune. (I know that usually happens after the artist is dead, but oh well, the grandkids'll appreciate it!)

Here's the story of how I became involved with pastels.

In the spring of 2007, I was reading one of my jewelry magazines, and they had an article about summer camps for grownups. You know, places where you could go and spend a week in some idyllic location and do artsy stuff (and not have daily responsibilities - key seller for me!). One of the schools featured was Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. None of the jewelry classes offered seemed particularly appealing, but the artist offering a pastel workshop had amazing paintings whose artisitic style was similar to mine, so I thought I should give it a try.

The problem was that I was now signed up for a class geared toward intermediate and advanced students, and I had never completed a real pastel painting. So I bought some pastels and some paper, rummaged around through my art file for a subject, and came up with this one.

Not bad, I thought. I ready to go!

Never have I spent a week on such an emotional rollercoaster before! The people were great, the food was amazing, Susan Ogilvie, the instuctor was incredible, but I left every day completely defeated. Nothing turned out. My 5:00 cocktails became bigger every day, and nicotine my new best friend. Notice how you haven't seen any of the paintings I did while at the workshop.

I like to blame it on the scenery there. I mean, the forests of the Smoky Mountains have some really dark shadows, and the streams had rushing water and boulders (aren't rocks an artist's worst nightmare?). Besides, I had a very limited palette, and the supply store had crap for pastels, and ... and...

In actuality, I think I had finally hit the learning curve.

Upon return, I took out my notes and reread them. I opened my sketchbook and studied them, remembering the milllions of little tidbits I had learned. Then I washed off the panels that were too terrible to keep, resurfaced them, and started over. And always, I had Indiana Savannah propped up on the window sill to remind me of what I had done...what I could do.

A year later, I'd been accepted to a couple juried events, and had won an award.

And now my first painting hangs over my desk, reminding me that today is another day, and somebody new needs to see my work.

As we say in America, "Keep truckin'!"


Monday, November 17, 2008

I Need You!


Considering how much traffic has viewed my Jewelry Tutorial I and Jewelry Tutorial II, (a huge heap of thanks goes to Rena Klingenberg and her Jewelry Business Blog for featuring my tutorial a while ago), I think it's about time to make another. But I'd like to hear some opinion from my readers. I also think I may start making some really detailed ones and sell them on Etsy as downloadable files. There is a woman in Thailand who does that for $5 each, and seems to sell them pretty well.

So, here's a list of media in which I would feel comfortable making a tutorial:
  1. silversmithing in general
  2. soldering
  3. turning your jewelry designs into reality
  4. beaded work, perhaps making a successful random design
  5. stained glass projects (maybe my Christmas tree earrings?)
  6. pastel paintings
  7. cuff bracelets
  8. painting composition (decide what of a landscape scene to include)
  9. bezel setting stones
  10. insert your idea: ________________.

Please take a moment to comment so I can make plans!


Pastel Guy

www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

www.matthewweld.com - pastels

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Christmas List

I need a makeover.

OK. Scratch that. My website needs a makeover. (Although some may argue for the former!).

My family has been asking for my Christmas list. But I can't think of anything (except the new Blackberry Storm, but I don't want to have to pay $250/month just for access!) I really want. Maybe I'm at that age where I don't really want much anymore. I already have a great family and a job and a house.

But what I do want is a decent website for my pastels.

In reading art books, magazines, and blogs, my website is embarassingly amateur. I found this place that was cheap, and they hooked me by saying they had these templates that made it easy to make your own, professional-looking website. HA! I just remember several chat sessions with the techies, phone calls, and late nights filled with cursing.

That was 10 months ago, as part of my 2008 New Year's Resolution.

Now, I see that there are several sites that are designed especially for artists. From having had a website for almost a year now, I have come up with a wish list - the requirements of a perfect host, if you will:

  1. They will still accept my domain name. I don't want my domain name to have to be tacked onto the beginning of the hosting site, as in my Etsy store, www.studio206.etsy.com. People should be able to type in www.matthewweld.com, and go directly there.
  2. It should have a cart, so I don't have to go to PayPal, make a button, copy it, and then paste it onto my page FOR EVERY PAINTING! However, I need to be able to disable this feature if my work is at my gallery and only available through them.
  3. Easily adjustable/customizable templates, like blogger.com. I like this site, and I would use it exclusively, but there's nowhere to show all my work.
  4. When visitors click on a thumbnail, it will take them to a page with an enlarged version. I shouldn't have to set that up. It should do it automatically. I can't do that with my current site, so I haven't taken the time to figure out a page address and all for each enlarged picture.
  5. A place for reader comments, like a blog. There should be some way for the vistors to interact with my site and my work.
  6. Simple Flash capabilites, like the Flickr Gadget on this blog that shows a slideshow of my jewelry and recent work. I don't want it to be so complicated that it takes forever to load. I've been to some websites that I X out of before it has finished loading, because I'm impetuous like that. And I have cable internet.

Six wishes isn't so much, is it?

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. If you have visited another artist's website that you think is amazing, leave their link in the comments section.

Thanks in advance,


www.matthewweld.com - pastels

www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blueberries for Breakfast

Canadian Blueberries (pastel on panel 8 x 10)

OK, so I dug up another painting from last summer.

This one is a little more abstract than my usuals. But the subject made such an impression on me in real life that I had to paint it. We were on Russell Lake in the middle of Quetico Provicial Wilderness. The boys I was counselor for were out in the canoes suntanning (burning?!), and I was wandering around just a little bored.

It was our Layover day, which meant we were staying at the same campground for two nights in a row.

On the shore was this little blueberry plant perfectly surrounded by granite boulders. In the foreground was an amazing array of mosses and lichens the likes of which I've only ever seen in the Canadian Wilderness. I made a quick sketch, and then a couple months later, turned it into a painting, based on my memories of the colors.

It ended up being a study of shapes. Many people have trouble with rocks, but if you just keep working on their shapes, and remember how they reflect the light and have substance and shadow, eventually they will emerge as a symphony of shapes which look like rocks.

The upper right hand corner I wanted to leave especially abstract, so the focus of the work would be within the confines of the granite rocks.

Also notice how it takes warm colors to accentuate the cool ones of the lichen in the bottom left. Likewise, it took cool blue accents to fill out the shadows under the rocks (which were colored with the Unison Darks set).

Oh, and nothing beats fresh blueberry pancakes for breakfast in the bush.

Until tomorrow,
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store
This painting is available for sale at Gallerie M in St. Louis, MO

Friday, November 14, 2008


Winter is certainly on its way. Rain, wind, more rain, clouds, and, oh! Did I mention rain?

I decided to dig out this painting as an illustration of how it is around here. Well, minus the snow.

This pastel, Chinook on the Haute Bois (pastel on panel, 18 x 24), was done last winter here in my studio. I found the picture online by a guy who photographs all the rivers he visits to fish. There are some amazing pictures there, and he was nice enough to give me permission to paint a couple of them.

This particular painting received the most comments at the art show in September. The mirror-like quality of the water does make it look realistic enough to want to stare at it for awhile. This was one of those instances where it all worked from the beginning, and I didn't have to fuss with anything. I used just three colors in the water, and blended them carefully with my finger.

If I remember correctly, I used the Great American colors Bismark with two values of Denim. I wish I had taken a picture of this painting as it was completed, because I did the sky first (as always), followed by the stream. I remember thinking how odd it looked to have this perfectly reflective stream surrounded by blank board.

This is one of those paintings where I elected to not have any of the board show through, so I had to be very careful to cover all areas - to make sure the pastel made it into all the crevices of the pumiced board.

To me, this painting reflects what I love so much about nature - its tranquility. One of the best comments I have received about my work as a whole was during my summer show. It had been open for about an hour when a woman came through and said, "Your work is so peaceful!" With the stress of putting a show together, I hadn't realized it, but yes, that's exactly what my art does for me. It provides tranquility in an otherwise very busy life.

This painting is currently on display, and available for sale, through Gallerie M in St. Louis.

Until tomorrow,
Pastel Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seventeen is my Magic Number...Today.

17 pairs of earrings are now gone.

PRO: I made money today!

CON: I have to make 17 more pairs this weekend to fill the holes in my display. And for some reason, people like the ones that take a while to make. Perhaps it's because they are the truly unique ones...?

Today we had parent/teacher conferences at school, and so I decided - on the spur of the moment - to take in what jewelry inventory I had. Teachers should have more time to browse the display during conferences, especially tomorrow morning once most of the conferences are over, and many teachers will have time to socialize (key word there was MANY. For some reason, I am always running around like a banshee trying to finish everything on my to-do list) and ...ahem...shop.

My main display board for earrings is great in that it holds 90 pairs (I think - it's a lot). It's a great board (if I do say so myself!) that I made for my first craft fair several years ago. Perhaps one day I'll share the design with you all. The only problem is that it holds 90 pairs.

But, the income is great, as all my funds are going toward my credit card balance that I somehow racked up quite nicely with my little tangent into pastels this last year. Hopefully when I go back to them after the holidays it won't be so expensive. I'll be looking to do craft fairs in the spring, and probably some pastel workshops in the summer.

Sorry this post is so rambly. I've been at school going full throttle since 7:30 this morning. I'll do better this weekend, I promise!

www.matthewweld.com - pastels
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Found Myself!

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through my blogroll looking for procrastination material (you know you do it, too!), I found myself.

OK, so it was only the link to my blog on Rena Klingenberg's blog, but hey! I'll take it. Seems she liked myJewelry making Tutorial I and Tutorial II where I photographed a silversmithed pair of earrings from conception to completion. I don't know if anyone liked it, because no one has left a message...hint...

I'm off to go prepare for a jewelry show tomorrow at work. You'd think that after 5 years of showing my wares to the same group, they would be tired of it, but they keep asking for it back again!

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter is Coming!

OK, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

And this year, I'm happy about winter and all that comes with it: snow, Christmas, Thanksgiving, jewelry sales, fires in the fireplace with roasted marshmallows...

See, last year, I was rather bah-humbuggish about the whole thing. Perhaps it was because I was still in the middle of graduate school, whereas this year I'll be done on December 12th. Who knows?

These earrings were a spur-of-the-moment design. One of those where you're in the middle of something else (in this case, making little crystal Christmas tree earrings), and you drop everything to delve into a new project. They have faceted milky glass squares at the bottom, three sizes of sparkling Swarovski crystal snowflakes, Swarovski bicones in an icy blue, and handmade hammered sterling silver rings to add visual weight but not physical weight.

The hardest part was photographing them. Trying to capture the clarity and the sparkle is difficult! If you look at my Etsy store you will see all my other attempts. This particular photo was done with a black acrylic base with a really low F-value (I think that's what you call it). I had to reduce it all the way down to a minus 2.

I'm hoping to get out into the studio this afternoon, since I have the day off from teaching (Veterans' Day here in the US), so I should have some new stuff to show you for the next couple of days.

Have a most creative day!

Until tomorrow,


http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastels

http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - jewelry store

Monday, November 10, 2008

Landscaping / Teaching...Which Am I?

On October 17, I worked outside at school. What I thought would be a simple day of improving the curb appeal of our school turned into a much bigger ordeal, involving phone calls to the building and grounds supervisor and to the assistant superintendent. Of course, I was oblivious to all of this as I dug, tugged, planted, and weeded without a care.

Construction is set to start on our building this next week. A couple of years ago, the community passed a referendum allowing us to build a much needed new middle school. With the building of this school, the district made a pledge to the community that the two middle school facilities would be equal and equivalent. Therefore, since the new building would have a stage and fancy new ‘cafetorium’, then our 'old' school needed one as well. So construction starts soon, involving tearing off the east wall of the gym.

The landscaping around the building was installed back in 1999 when the school was built (told you it was old!), and hasn’t been maintained much since. Oh sure, there have been some bushes pruned (don't get me started on ignorant shearing...er...pruning!), and mulch laid down each spring, but for the most part, it’s been forgotten and neglected. There were holes where plants have died and have never been replaced, leaving big holes in the plantings around the foundation. There were dandelions that looked as though we were growing them as crops - some sort of outdoor science experiment.

Toward the end of September, the building principal from one of the elementary schools came by unannounced to see what parts of the existing landscaping (in the construction zone) could be removed and replanted at his school, as a sort of fast, cheap (i.e. FREE) way of sprucing up his grounds for an upcoming outdoor dedication ceremony. Needless to say, that did not sit well with the assistant principal, who already feels as though the junior high is the black sheep of the district.

She then approached me so see if I had any ideas. My plan was to move everything in the construction zone into the gaps of the existing landscaping. That would mean digging up the big daylily clumps, dividing them, and replanting them around the front. "Go for it!" she said. "I'll get you a substitute, and you can have the day to do some much needed yard work around here, since we can't get Duane to do it!"

So, I had just settled in for the job – put my iPod in my ear so I could finish Angels and Demons which had been started but never finishedon the long trek to Destin this summer – when the guy in charge of the district’s grounds (i.e. mowing) shows up and asks what I’m doing.

How much do I say? Do I admit I'm a teacher from this building doing HIS work? Do I call him all the names I'd overheard being flung in his direction? Do I outright lie?

But I restrained myself. I told the truth...just not all of it. I explained that I was just moving some plants around before construction commenced, and he thought it was great – one less thing for him to have to do. However, once he reported that fact back to his boss, a phone call was made to the building principal. Then somehow the assistant superintendent in charge of facilities became involved. As I look back, I'm glad the union didn't become involved.

Fortunately, I was able to finish my work, the landscaping was much improved, and thoughts that maybe now the powers-that-be will take our requests a little more seriously dared to float around my head (silly, silly thoughts!).

Once I finished dividing and transplanting all the daisies, daylilies, and Echinacea, it all had to be watered. When the custodian went to find the hose and the faucet key, it turns out the hose had been taken to another building (didn't I mention the black sheep thing earlier?). So the head of building and grounds was called, the situation explained, and he promised to have them watered over the weekend.

Monday comes, and the plants still are wilted. During the day, I happen to see the head of B&G in the office, and I ask him personally if he would make sure they are watered. Amid big grins and much head bobbing, he assured me they would be. Naturally, it rained about a quarter of an inch that night, so he probably figured he didn’t have to water.

Now the transplanted plants are dried up little bumps in the ground. I guess his laziness just cost the district a few hundred dollars in plant replacements. But I also guess that they won’t be replaced, and we’ll be left with holes again. Sigh.

Pastel Guy
http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastels
http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - jewelry store

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Today on Etsy!

" Ladies and Gentlemen! (I'm typing in my deep announcer voice) Today on Etsy, you'll find the pride of...of...of his Mom on the Jewelry Showcase of Etsy!"

(back to regular voice) I know it sounds grand, but it's really not. I paid to be there.

It wasn't much, and if I just happen to sell something, I'll recoup my money, but I still feel ... desperate. I mean I'm paying for exposure. I know it (advertising, that is) is a multimillion dollar business, and we see hundreds of ads everyday, but I still feel...compromised. Everyone else is always blogging about how they "made the Front Page on Etsy today!" I think I'd better get over it! Ah well. The bright side is that it's already generated traffic through my little store.

But, hey! I wielded by computer's little snipper tool quite effectively, I think. I have Vista on my computer, so I had to go search in the Help library to figure it out (daunting task in and of itself!), but it's all quite easy. The hardest part was getting the blue circle around my bracelet to look somewhat like it was drawn by someone older than 2. I couldn't decide - highlighter or pen, fine or thick point, red, blue, or black ink... Thank goodness for erasers! I kid you not, the vague representation of a circle you see at the top of the page is the result of 6 tries - SIX!

I just hope I never have to go through rehabilitation or physical therapy. My head might explode first.

Until tomorrow,


http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastels

http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - jewelry

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Status Check!

Whew! It's been awfully busy around here!

State Certification exams in the morning, jewelry making in the afternoon, family time at night...when'm'I supposed to blog?

The photo here is my studio table this afternoon. If you look closely, you can see some of the earrings I have posted on my blog or on Etsy. I have a show coming up at one of the local elementary schools soon, so I'm trying to get a bunch of earrings together, since those are what sell the best. There are little crystal Christmas trees and hammered silver loops.

What I really need is for some store to come and buy the whole lot all at once. (And while I'm dreaming, let's just say they want me to create a Spring Line for them. Oh, and they're interested in my pastels as well - apparently they would make beautiful prints to sell nationwide through higher end furniture and accessory markets).

Tomorrow, I have a spot in the Jewelry Showcase on Etsy. I'll see if I can wield my snipping tool well enough to share it with everyone. Let's hope for lots of early Christmas shoppers! I've been busy trying to refine my photography, and make it more in line of what's on Etsy, so hopefully my wares will be included in more treasuries, and will be more enticing to those who're shopping.

I hope you're feeling productive and happy!


www.matthewweld.com - pastels


Friday, November 7, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again!

Yep, I did it again! I said, "YES!" to another project.

Like I needed more responsibilities. Seriously.

But this is a good one! A while ago, I joined a Yahoo! group of Montanans who have stores on Etsy. Since I am not currently living in the state of Montana, I was flattered to be invited. Apparently, they accept 'tumbleweeds' like me who leave the state, but whose roots are still in Montana.

And they have a blog.

And I like blogging.

And I said yes when they asked for some help.

Occasionally, I will be adding posts highlighting the Montana artists who also sell their wares online. We also plan to highlight other artists whom we think are outstanding. It should be a great place to learn about all sorts of people and all sorts of art. Unlike my blog, where it's just me and my art.

So, come visit us, pour a coffee, and stay awhile.

Pastel (and whatever) Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastels
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry store

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Is For You, Australia!

Happy Spring to the bottom half of the world!

Even though all the leaves are gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, and red around here (and the weather a balmy 74 F today), there is a part of the world where it's the opposite. It just seems weird. Christmas in the middle of the summer? What about all the snowflakes and everything that go along with Christmas? Do you have chili peppers and suns?

But, I digress. I hauled this window outside this weekend to photograph it. This is my first real project with stained glass. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the pattern, although I did alter the colors quite a bit. (The actual size is about 24 x 30 inches)

In a later blog, I'll show you a window where I designed the whole deal. But this bouquet was quite an undertaking. It was made on our kitchen table. Now I have a whole, dedicated space to make things, but this was BS (no, silly, it means Before Studio).

Here's how it went down. It was right about the time my son was born. Our neighbor at the time owned a stained glass shop in town, and offered classes. One spring, I finally relented and took one. Very cool! I made the mandatory class project, but then had to go and do this as my very next project. 'Twas ever thus. I don't ever wade into a project or a new medium. I dive off the high dive!

So, with a small house, and no extra space, our kitchen (no dining room then!) turned into studio, with sheets of glass lying around, a grinder on the counter, and foil tape draped over the chairs.

But my wife was all very supportive (still is! - kisses, hon!) about it all. Not long after, I built myself a big 4 x 8 foot table in the basement. I still am using it today. It definitely was not part of the deal when we sold the house. That was coming with us!

So now I'm taking over part of the garage (glass and jewelry), and part of the playroom (pastels). I guess we're all hoping for the fame and accompanying fortune to set in....

Until tomorrow,
Pastel Guy

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Roots are Showing!

If you've been a regular reader of my other blog, then you probably are aware that I have roots. Deep ones.

Once you feel you truly belong somewhere, once you achieve that sense of place, there's nothing that can cover those roots.

I'm from Montana. I consider myself a Montanan, even though I haven't been registered as a permanent resident for, oh, about 25 years. But the clean air and big skies run through my veins, and every summer when I return to visit family, it's like going home.
Since I don't live there anymore, I make Montana an inspiration for my art. In looking at the photo above, which has not been altered in any way, can you begin to see how the beauty is everywhere? I think that's what impresses me so about the Big Sky State. No matter where you turn, there's nature at its finest.
When I first started pastels, my wife mentioned that the skies in my paintings were the wrong color of blue. "No they're not!" I replied, whisking my painting back downstairs amid muttered mutterings. "What does she know? Has she ever really looked at the sky?"
It wasn't until our next trip out west that a random comment on the shores of Flathead Lake solved the mystery. "You know, the skies out here in Montana are so blue! I can see why it's called the Big Sky State!" That's it! That's why she thought my skies were the wrong color. Midwestern skies are wimpy by comparison. Pale. Sickly.
Not only the colors, but the shapes, too. If you look closely, nothing in nature is straight. I think that's why I incorporate so many curves into my jewelry. The lake's shoreline curves. So does the river. The clouds certainly aren't straight, and even the tallest Engelmann Spruce tree has some sort of crick in it.
I don't think I could ever paint anything but landscapes. I struggle with the symmetry and perfection of still lifes, and portraits? Forget it. When you grown up in the most beautiful landscape there is, how can you not paint it?
Maybe that's why there were more art galleries than grocery stores in the little town where I grew up.
And now I have kids. And while they visit Montana every summer, their roots will be different. Midwestern. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jewelry Tutorial Part II

In the last Jewelry Tutorial, the materials, cutting, bending ("forming"), and hammering ("planishing") were covered in detail. This time, we'll finish those bad boys and get them posted (by the way, they're already sold - they sold within 24 hours of being posted on Etsy, and are on their way to New Jersey!).

Here you can see how I use my acetylene torch to gently warm the metal from the earring side, since the jump rings are made from 18 gauge silver wire, and heat up much faster. Goodness knows I've melted many a jumpring trying to solder them on! Once the flux has finish bubbling, and had become the gooey mass that I use to hold the two silver pieces together, I use my titanium pick to pick up a piece of medium wire solder, which I then lay at the joint. If you do it right, the solder should melt right into place within about a second of you putting it down.

Once the soldering is finished, the earrings look like a terrible mess - all black and raggedy. So, they then go in the pickle pot - a cheap crock pot filled with pickling solution, which is actually an acid, I believe. If the solution is hot enough, then the fire scale and tarnishing comes right off. I took this picture as soon as I dropped them in, and they are already back to their silver color. Using copper tongs, I take them out and rinse them well in the sink. Next step is polishing.

However, before I started polishing, I notice that there's an unsightly corner sticking out where the ring is soldered to the body of the earring. Using my handpiece and a white rubber wheel, I take off the offending silver in no time. I find this to be faster and more efficient than a file, even though I think you're supposed to use a file. My years as a dental technician (where I was wedded to the darn handpiece!) made me prefer it over the more traditional tools.

OK, my handpiece is my tool of choice unless I'm polishing. Once I started silversmithing more frequently, I investing in this polishing lathe which I LOVE! It make polishing a snap, and was worth every penny. I use the black/fine final polishing compound so that I don't take off the hammering marks. It makes my fingers black, and it sprays up onto my face and head, but that's OK.

Once the polishing is completed, the earrings are looking like a finished product! All that's left now is a bath in ammonia, which dissolves the polishing compound. I swirl them around in there, fish 'em out with an old toothbrush, and give them a scrub. They're now sparkly clean!

The last step before they are wearable is to attach the earwire. Remember to open them sideways, keeping the shape of the circle intact. Otherwise, the loop will be (or could be) messed up when you close them. I use premade earwires, simply because it's easier. If I'm taking this much time to make a pair of earrings which I then sell for a wing and a prayer, then this is the corner I'm choosing to cut.

And there you have it. A unique pair of earrings that actually made that meeting worthwhile!

I hope you have enjoyed this little look into my studio, and into the steps that go into making the jewelry for sale in Studio 206. Please let me know of any comments, questions, or requests for future installments.

Remember, most of my work is one-of-a-kind, and so I love to do custom pieces. Contact me if you're having a wedding or big occasion soon!


Pastel (and whatever) Guy
http://www.matthewweld.com/ - pastels
http://www.studio206.etsy.com/ - jewelry for sale

Monday, November 3, 2008

OK, OK, I Confess!

Today is my adoption day. Well, the anniversary of my adoption day.

I'll be expecting a call from my mom this evening, since she says today is more like my birthday, since this is the day I was new to her and Dad.

There's a lot of pride in being adopted. A lot of that philosophy comes from how the whole situation was treated in my family. My sister and I have always known we were adopted. It was a badge of honor, and I wore (wear) it with pride.

I can't imagine being one of those teens whose parents sit them down on their eighteenth birthday and start the conversation with, "Son, there's something we need to tell you.." Talk about feeling lied to!

As I look back, it probably wouldn't have been too hard to figure out. While I could have passed for their natural son physically, when it came to the rest, there's quite a difference. For example, my mom is wicked smart. Me? Average. My dad likes history and infrastructure, airplanes, and boats. Me? Gardening, art, reading, and the outdoors.

With my sister, though, there's no doubt we had different parents. I'm six feet tall and 175. She's 5'2",and probably about the same weight as me. I have (ahem. had) blond hair, she has dark brown ringlets. My eyes are blue, hers are deep brown. I was in Honors classes and tutored her in the evenings. Never the less, we shared a close bond growing up. And despite our different paths now, we're still brother and sister when we get together.

The most FAQ, however, is Do I ever want to meet my biological parents? That's a tough one. I would say 98% no and 2% yes. No, because I have the perfect family right now, and I don't need another one. Our low level of dysfunction (every family's got it - admit it!) suits me just fine - I certainly don't want to inherit someone else's! Besides, that's just one more birthday card to send and one more Christmas gift to mail.

Yet 2% of me wants to know about them. At my adoption, my parents were given
an itty bitty paragraph that describes them. But sometimes I want more. Like medical records. Like who does my daughter resemble? (No one on my wife's side, really, and not like either of us, really. She's probably some spitting image of a long lost auntie...) Like personality traits (although I must say it's awfully convenient to blame all our kids' quirks on my side!).

But I love my family. That's my adoptive family. They're the only family I have, and I wouldn't trade 'em.

Until tomorrow!
Pastel Guy


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jewelry Tutorial Part I

I am asked all the time how I come up with the designs for my jewelry. Then there are tons of questions on how it's actually made. Therefore, today and Tuesday will be dedicated to showing you how I do it.

It all starts with a concept drawing. This particular idea came from doodles I made during a meeting at work (sorry Doug!)

These are all the tools and materials I anticipate using for this project. I've never made these before, so as I'm photographing, you'll see that not all are used, and the end product ends up looking slightly different than the original design. The square is used to measure the wire (14 guage sterling). Starting from the bottom left, there's the ring former pliers (one side is curved, the other flat to help curve wire evenly), chain nose pliers to make the bends, wire cutters, parallel pliers, forming hammer and steel block, the coil of wire, and needle nose pliers and another set of junker wire cutters that I don't mind cutting larger gauge wire with since they are already messed up.

Next, I measure the wire into 3-inch (7.2 cm) lengths, and cut them with the junker wire cutters. 14 gauge wire is right there on the border of being too thick for nice wire cutters - you don't want the blades to get nicked (like the ones on these cutters!).

Then, I start bending the wire, using the drawing as a pattern. I bend the top with my chain nose pliers, and the main curve at the bottom around a Sharpie marker. I have found that all curves should be bent around something to make sure they are smooth. I've used nails, drill bits, pieces of wooden dowel, welding rods, and whatever else is lying around my garage.

Once the shape is set, and they both match each other to the best of my ability, then it's time to hammer out the curves. I make sure to hammer the mirror images, so that the indentations from the hammer will be seen on the correct side. Just like with calligraphy, the widest part of the curve will be flattened to make it wider. This hammer has two heads. I use the flatter, metal forming head to do the initial shaping. Starting on the outside of the curve, I hammer, working toward the bottom of the curve, making sure to bring the follow through of the stroke in the direction of what will be the widest part. Once the shape has been established, then I use the rounded side of the hammer to create the texture that gives the final product a sort of sparkle, similar to faceted gemstones. Be sure to hold the shape with your other hand, because curves have a tendency to widen as they are hammered. And as metal is formed, it will harden. All this means that you can't rebend a curve once you've finished hammering.

The next step is soldering. This photo shows the earrings with the jump rings lying on my soldering pad. If you look closely, there is a blob of flux at the junction. Using my titanium soldering probe and acetylene torch, I will slowly warm the metal from the earring side, since that is the thickest metal, and will absorb the heat the slowest. Once the flux melts, it will act as a sort of glue, holding the two pieces together.

In the next blog (day after tomorrow), I will show you the soldering photos along with the polishing pictures and the final product. Once you make it through the soldering, the rest is just standard procedure - in other words, nothing will go wrong (although I have bent stuff during polishing with the lathe...!)

Until tomorrow,
Pastel (and whatever) Guy
www.matthewweld.com - pastel paintings
www.studio206.etsy.com - jewelry like this for sale