Eilisain aka Lisette in Gaelic

Welcome to my blog, where I document my process in making jewelry, muse on the influence of art and the joy of making beautiful objects.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

gifts with thought and made with love

I've always had an appreciation and love for hand crafted goods and being in art school has definitely increased my desire to make more gifts not just jewelry.

So this season and in the future I am making more handmade gifts, and I know the people in my life will enjoy them even more. I made potpurri scents for friends, cloves and oranges. And for my family, mini-terrariums, of which I got the idea from Design*Sponge (they have an awesome DYI section).

I would estimate that it cost me less than $15 to make 6 terrariums and 12 clove oranges.

oh and here is a cute picture of my cat Squints napping in one of my bags. She is rarely NOT cute. Pin It

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pricing jewelry

I've been selling my jewelry; strictly to friends (friends of friends) and family for the past 6 years and despite that time, I still have not gotten comfortable or better at pricing my jewelry.

Now that I'm in school and learning much more in the studio and how other jeweler's price their work, especially emerging artists, I want to get it right and consistently!

I just found this great post from Valerie Heck's blog - Jewelry Pricing Equations. Pin It

Sunday, December 13, 2009

senior shows

I've just discovered another fun and wonderful way to connect and learn from other artists.

Senior shows! As you may infer, graduating seniors (both BFA and MFA) exhibit their work at a local gallery, bar, restaurant. They represent themselves, print postcards and gain an understanding of showing their work. This past month I've been to several; metals, painting, sculpture and fiber.

It's gratifying to celebrate others artwork; to congratulate and share with them the wonder of art. This past weekend I went to a painting/sculpture show (combining shows saves money and energy). And it was so much fun, many of my fellow metalsmith students came as well as other department students. There was great music, even painting for yourself and food!

Here are some pictures.

1. Jon Graham painting

2. Myself, Laura Wood and Kat Cole Pin It

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

quote of the day

"you know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams"

dr. seuss
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preparing for the next sale!

ECU's School of Art and Design just had our Holiday sale and most of the grad students made bank! So I'm on a mission to crank up my own productivity, I sold several pieces but not enough to leave a big cushion in my bank account. Not only that, I really need and want to push myself in creating my brand, style and look.

So I got started last night preparing my first hydraulic press dye for my shattered heart pendants and other jewelry.

Here are several shots from my bench and sketch book. Pin It

Sunday, December 6, 2009


a little lichen on my porch, where little worms like to crawl. Pin It

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

jeweler's around the world

I have to post it because it's just that cool.

watch this video that interviews jewelers in a shared studio. Pin It

other design outlets

I can't believe my first semester in art school is coming to a close! Time to wrap up unfinished projects...so here is one end to a project.

At the beginning of November, my Design I class painted dyes on silk scarves. I really enjoyed it, being able to make my own design and to have something wearable to design, other than our usual wall art.

above are my 2 final scarves. I def like the mushroom design better. Along with shots of my scraves are steamer and wrapping the scarves in newsprint. You must be very careful not to get water on the scarves as you don't want it to remove the dyes which are very light.

This semester has been so much fun! Pin It

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lugh, God of arts and crafts and Brigid Goddess of Smiths

I was about to write'not to get all preachy but...' and then I thought. Yes, that is exactly how I want to get but of course bring it back to metals and jewelry.

Last night I went to my first Iron Pour at ECU. I had heard of the infamous iron pour since the beginning of the semester, and seen students wear the tshirts and I was anxious in attending and watching the magic happen.

So this past Saturday was the pour and I got ready by making my own 'scratch mold'. I had no clue what it was but I found out and made one. I'll have to take pictures of it (as I still have to clean it up). A scratch mold is when you create an indention, negative relief of what you want to come out as a positive relief. The design process forces you to think in a different perspective. I really enjoy all the new design process' and techniques at school because there are so many ways to make something, I know, it sounds like a new revelation but life nowadays is like that, in that routine makes you forget all the possibilities!

Anywho, it as a totally awesome experience. When the sculpture faculty and students poured the iron it looked like molten fire. All of the students marveled at this which got me thinking about Lugh and Brigid, Celtic gods of the arts and smiths. They are my patron deities. Brigid has been with me for a long time; much of the time I didn't know she was. And to be a part of a community of craft is truly an honor and a celebration of the gods.

I really wanted to pour iron but I was also happy to stand to the side and watch first. Next semester I plan on pouring. And when you pour you need a minimal of 4 people and others watching and spotting you.
Here's just part of the magic! Pin It

Saturday, October 24, 2009

in flight

I'm almost done with my second attempt at champ-levee. I really like it and the beautiful gray, blue's and mauve leaded enamels...they are quite pretty.

Of course this piece did not come without it's lessons. I mistakenly, or more naively, thought I could get away with 20 gauge in the first layer of silver. I didn't have 18 gauge so I used thinner metal. In champleve, for one not to have the counter enamel the back you need a thick underlayer to hold the expansion of the enamel.

So I decided to play on the front design and do that free form on the back to provide the cushion. thus the enamel no longer cracks! Still...no excuse for using thin silver.
Below are the beginnings sketches. I finally got it right.

And above are sketches in continuation of the feather, spiraling toward a concentration of spirit.

The theory behind the bird/feather series is the transformation of animal to formless spirit. Many ancient cultures believed the bird to carry ones spirit to the heaven's or an incarnation of spirit. Pin It

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

craft in america

I'd heard about this PBS special, Craft in America, but forgot to search it online and watch.
Well my brother told me he'd seen an episode and thought of me so then, as if fate heard, I also got an email from crafthaus about the special.

So I've been watching it whenever I get the chance.

It really is a wonderful expose on the craft world and re-emergence. My only hang up or criticism of it is that it neglects the underground or alternative craft that is has also emerged. I'll write more on this when I have the chance but for now, definitely check this out. Pin It

Friday, October 9, 2009

another go at it

Since I royally f*ed up my first attempt at champlevee, I'm trying it again. Using the lessons I learned. I'm excited tho, I think it's going to be very lovely.
Last night when I was in the studio, I was talking to another student and we both agreed that it's always nerve wracking to begin a project that you can be so excited about because, we know as artists, the final product can end up very different from what we intended...or at least that is how it is for beginning metalsmiths.
but I have learned to go with it, to allow the piece to teach me just as much as I'm willing it and forming it to my will.
It's amazing the transformating that the final piece and myself go through. Pin It

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

tree necklace

tree necklace
Originally uploaded by lisettef14

I'm kinda in love with this necklace. number 1, it didn't cause me great stress making it, no. 2 it's pretty cool and no. 3 I love touching it!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009


I sat in on my first metals critique. It was intense but also very informative. I've been shadowing the enamels II class at ECU; following along and working on a champ-levee pendant.
I had all sorts of issues with mine. First it took me forever to get the top completely soldered on the silver and then I used the wrong enamel....and it just trickled down from there.
I'm disappointed in the piece (aka my work). I'm trying to move on, but it's hard when you invest so much time and energy in to it.

Anywaysssss, I really enjoyed the critique and listening to what the other students picked up on and what the professor looks at. File marks, transition of color in enamel and also the reason and story behind the piece.

I didn't really have a story behind mine, which is fine for some pieces. But I've decided I'm going to make another go at champ-levee and also put a story behind it. I went to the library and picked up some books on Celtic archeology and Scythian goldwork. I'm enamored with the pieces of old; their work is incredible and for having the most basic of tools.

I'm brewing up a piece that has an animal motif, being a totemic/talismanic piece. I'd most like to use chasing/repousse for it but since I don't know those skills yet, I'm thinking of utilizing etching.

The panels above is a necklace I'm working on. It was initially supposed to be enameled but the way the acid ate at the silver and gave it a more worn look, i'm going to leave it and oxidize it then burnish to really play up the raised metal.

Below is Squints, my beloved kitty. She loves to hole up in her carrier and meow most of the mornings.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

patience is a virtue

And one field that requires it the most is metals and jewelry. Especially when enameling. First you must wash the enamels (if transparent) and prepare your metal, then fire, fire again, etc.
the past 2 weeks I've been working on the pendant above. I hope to have it completed by next week, which I should, in time for my cousins wedding.
It's the first time I did the saw and solder technique, from which I wrote in the previous posts.
nonetheless my hands are feeling the action of stoning the enamel. I've learned from working with enamels to be patient and be completely thorough in the process. Because if you aren't you can see all the errors!
And here are some more sketches from my drawing class.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

mentors and supporters

since I'm not really taking any metals courses...drifting on my own; it's been somewhat difficult to know if I'm on the right path or could use a different method with my pieces.
I've found great support and a good friend in Molly Strader. She's an MFA candidate in ECU's metals program.
She's incredibly meticulous and detailed with her work - traits I greatly admire and aim to possess.
Check out her website and work. I love the orbits brooch and theme around constellations and the solar system.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

why yes, this is yet another piece I'm working on. I write that with sarcasm because whenever I begin a new piece, something comes up to stall me. No ferric nitrate, no screws, the incorrect silver wire, I could go on and on. I know that these pieces (the ones that need the aforementioned supplies) will get done but it frustrates the hell out of me! argh!!!!
So, to pass the time or 'in the meantime' I do what I can. I began working on a piece to try champ-levee, utilizing the 'saw and solder' technique. I read about it in Linda Darty's Enameling book.
It's funny but I am almost more pleased with the copper and silver than the silver sweat soldered to silver.
I really love the contrast and have never combined silver and copper this way. So I'm NOT going to enamel it, and instead oxidize the copper to really play up the pretty silver.
And the more I look at it, the more I find it even more appealing for the fall.

The inspiration for my almost completely different pattern! I got this picture from my beloved older issues of Domino. Sadness :-(

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Yes, I'm taking fundamentals of art school. on one hand it can be tedious and somewhat boring on the other hand, I look at it as another outlet of jewelry and metal practice. I've certainly taken these courses in high school however they're not from a credited university, or whatever you want to call it.
So here is one of my first 'gesture drawings'. I think it's pretty decent. I do enjoy working with charcoal and this class, drawing 101 is so much more enjoyable than my other...design. And above you see the easel we use to prop up our newsprint. Whenever I begin to think how 'tedious' it is....I recall 2 months ago, sitting at my old job, answering the phone or doing data entry and well, this is 100% better!
So on to jewelry and metals; since I don't have a job most of my free time is spent in the studio.
I finally finished filing my raised bowl and pierced it! It really was a chore piercing out the feather designs, but so pretty!Yes I know, the bowl isn't perfectly centered - I'll get it right the next time! This will be a lovely piece to place on my corner stand.
oh and here is a photo of my new bench set-up. Since I'll be at the school's studio most of the time, I'm bringing in my own bench, and with a cushioned, adjustable seat. I'm beginning to feel my 30's in my lower back...no fun!

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Monday, September 7, 2009

submerged in the deep art world

that's how it's been since I got here. buying art supplies, setting up my new bench, doing fun art projects, meeting all the other art students.
I LOVE it! granted I'm not taking any metal classes yet but that doesn't mean I'm not working in the studio.
this is going to be a short entry. I don't have any fun photos of my bench or any current projects.
For now, check out this lovely music blog I found via another blog.
I'll post more next week on current projects.
till then, toodles! Pin It

Monday, August 24, 2009

shiny new coral necklace!

So here is the necklace I redid from my previous post. Now, I am happy with my necklace, it's fun and subtle. I added a Panamanian 'reprosa' bead. Reprosa is short hand for Reproducciones y Originales, S.A.
My Mom has given me some reproductions of Pre-Columbian jewelry and I always love mixing it in the necklaces I make. They are very unique and completely recognizable. Most of the jewelry they create is indicative of the their surroundings, frogs, flowers, birds and much more. The Panama Post has a great article on their factory and process.

I'll have to visit their factory next time I visit Panama....which may be for awhile (since I'm in school and accruing debt). I LOVE visiting my family their, nothing like your native country to awaken patriotism. Don't get me wrong, I love the U.S. for all it's wonderful conveniences but when I travel to Panama, I'm brought back to my roots. Fried plantains, mango juice and the beautiful beaches.

The last time I was there I bought a lovely burnt coral necklace - I get so many compliments on it and so next time I'm there, I plan on investigating where I can get more! Pin It

Friday, August 21, 2009

coral necklace.1

coral necklace.1
Originally uploaded by lisettef14

Slightly more pleased with this coral necklace...but something is missing. Often times I find myself teetering between the line of too much and the 'something is missing'. It's a fragile one, that I feel confounds many designers, in the beginning.
I'm leaning more towards leaving it as is, all I need to do is create a pretty clasp.
Please, ECU classes, come soon so I can have access to a studio!

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coral necklace2

coral necklace2
Originally uploaded by lisettef14

When I pulled out my wooden beads and put it next to the coral - I was truly pleased with the color scheme.
Then when I had the inclination to put a 3 strand coral bead between them, well I thought it'd be perfect! argh! not so. when I held it up to my neck - I knew the error of my first thought. The wood and large barrel coral beads are too much on the sides. I'll have to change it around.

I worked on this most of the morning and evening...only to have to backtrack. But hey, this is playing and it's all about trial and error.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

settling into my new home

It happened, I made the move to Greenville, NC to study at ECU's School of Art and design. Where many great jeweler's are studying and graduated (Amanda Outcalt, Mara Friedland, Marlene True and several others I can't even name).

I've been here for 6 days and am itching to start classes - not only to get into the groove of being a student but also to meet people! I only know 2 people here and I'm definitely beginning to miss my friends. However the solitude is just what I need but at the same time I've found myself wanting to indulge in a little vacation before all the work begins!

Needless to say, last night I sat down at my bench, after organizing all my equipment and things, and began to work on a coral necklace, using the beads my Mom gave me. In addition I drafted some initial sketches of ideas floating in my head. What I'm most looking forward to doing, now that I'll be a part time student is getting the wisdom and insight from professors and my fellow students on focusing and harnessing my design aesthetic. Sometimes I feel like I'm all over the place in terms of what I'm working on that I get lost!

So I've decided to draft a document, a personal statement, on my goals, ideas and essence behind my work. At least I'll have it down on paper.

For now, check out Emi Savacool's work, I just discovered her last night on Daily Art Muse, she creates incredible jewelry pieces inspired and in the likeness of insects, beautiful beetles and bees. She does a great job of documenting her work on her blog, check it out.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

best for last

I've been MIA from my usual jewelry routine these past 2 weeks.

Dinner with old friends and drinks and many, many goodbyes have kept me from sketching or actual benchwork. Plus I know I'll have plenty of time in school.

My actually going back to school and leaving the DC are hit me like a ton of bricks on Saturday, my last day at the shop. My life is going to change dramatically, not to sound dramatic.

One thing I know, I am really looking forward to being in an artist's environment. Anywho, I've made slow progress working on my current projects. On Sunday at the torpedo factory I began a silver chain for the lotus enameled pendant. I've decided that's what I'm calling it. I enjoy making my own chains primarily because I design the structure.
And during the packing of this week, I'll continue to sketch and draft ideas for the eye and another project, involving absolutely beautiful coral beads my Mom bought at the worlds longest flea market - for a steal!!!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Style, Businesswoman crush

I'll admit it I have total woman crushes; female role models.
Especially creative, feminist and brilliant genius women that own themselves - they inspire me. Lately I've been reading more and more about Diane von Furstenberg and how she's recreated herself many times, rising up from the ashes of failure.

A recent article in the New York Times profiles von Furstenberg. She talks about why she markets herself in one category, women's wear; not children's clothing or men's. She also justifies primarily hiring women for her company. She's the kind of wise woman I want to be one day. Pin It

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hairpin(Kanzashi) Fuchsia

Hairpin(Kanzashi) Fuchsia
Originally uploaded by Koubou-SETSU

Setsuko Sanagawa creates magnificent jewelry and art pieces such as this hairpin, it has an art nouveau essence. I'm enthralled. Her creativity challenges me. She is from Toronto, Canada and I'm very curious to know the origin of her name, very unique.

I find that often, music, to me, is the vocal expression of certain jewelry. I've been listening, relentlessly to a Feist song, 'Honey, Honey'. This hairpin would be a perfect manifestation of the Feist song. The song seems to swirl and move like water, just as this hairpin does.

This evening I began developing a necklace, for which I call The Eye. Greeks use a similar symbol as, the Third Eye to ward off evil. I had a sketch from a previous notebook and just happened to pull it out. I'd like to repoussee and combine 2 metals; silver and brass with a bloodstone.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going away

Saying goodbye is so hard to do. 2 more weeks before I pack up and leave for North Carolina. I'm very, very excited but I know that within these last 2 weeks I must tie loose ends, give big hugs, share a last drink and say goodbye to the DC metro area.
I know, it's not the last time I'll be here however, it's an end to the life I've led. Working in the city, commuting to Old Town to work at the shop or the Torpedo Factory. Life isn't going to be the same. I'm used to this tho, growing up as an Army brat, I always knew that I'd have to say goodbye. It was hard but at the same time it got me used to adjusting and meeting new people. And since I moved back here in 2002, I crave that newness and different environment.
So, today I studio sat again for Jenae, and I worked on another ring but also studied the process of 2 current projects.
Below is the first sketch I did of the necklace I've begun. The pendants will be enameled but I'm debating on acid etching them to utilize the champ levee technique OR I could pierce out a tree and solder it on...however the silver is already 18 gauge so there is no need add more silver.
I've decided to wait until I get to school...I sorta don't have a choice since I have no access to enamels or a kiln.

This is the photo that inspired me. It's a cave in Puerto Rico. the clutch was part of the triangular inspiration.
....getting distracted and watching True Blood. Not going to have HBO when I'm in college. Pin It

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

at the bench

This past Sunday I studio sat at the Torpedo Factory for Jenae Michelle whom makes very cool and stylish handbags. While I'm 'sitting', I work on my own jewelry! I began a 2 shank silver ring with an agate ring.

The cab and bezel setting.

Range of Emotion, handbags by Jenae Michelle. I've been lusting for one of her bags!

Dawn Benedetto is the other artist sharing studio 262, Dawn is the creator of Poppi Jewelry . I'm really going to miss the wonderful creative enviroment on that I've been blessed to be a part of. I first began part time making the rings and earrings for Dawn and from there she connected me with other jewelers; since then my experience continued.

Tonight was my last enameling class and it was sad - Abby Goldblatt has been another wonderful blessing. Ramune brought cupcakes and I brought a four pack of white wine for Abby, Rae and I to drink.

I began working on the chain for my painting inspired pendant. I am worried though that I made them to thick and thus too much for the entire necklace. I need to let the idea marinate.

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