Unpacking, arranging, rearranging…..

I moved out of Studio 314 two weeks ago, down to the 1st floor of the Hot Shops in Studio 109.  Because we had the kids here last weekend, I didn’t get a chance to go in and work on unpacking for a week, but I popped in for a couple of hours yesterday.

Got both of my benches set up, and I know I’ll do some additional rearranging of them once I start actually working.  My retail area is pretty set – I still want to get more on the walls, but it’s getting there.

Looking in from the hallway, the mess is diminishing….

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I turned a grid on it’s side in front of my “cold” bench because it’s going to have to help keep Rex in when I finally bring him in.  He loves to wander and visit people, but I just can’t have him doing that on the 1st floor.  Too easy for him to get out the front door or wander into the glass blowing shop!

Still working thru in my mind if I want to rearrange my maille set up retail areas or not. I’m not in love with it, might change out the lighter table coverings for something darker.  I wanted to give my daughter her own little area for her bags, and the baker’s rack seems to work well for them.  And the Christmas ornament/pendants block the front window….may make some changes there as well.

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Image may contain: indoor And while I like my door sign, I think I need another way to display it. I like showing off the “slinkyness” of the maille, but I thin it would look better if it were framed or mounted.

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Because of icy conditions today, I chose to stay home, but I’ll head back in tomorrow – hope to make more progress!

Inlay Work

I’ve started several chainmaille inlays, but have yet to finish one.  Think I might be close to finalizing my first one however!

What’s an inlay?  Basically, painting a picture of some sort with rings.  The one I’m currently working on is pretty simple, just the number of my new studio, but they can be very complex.

Rebeca of Blue Buddha Boutique created this amazing piece a few years back.  Full story is here…but some eye candy to start your appreciation of inlay work:


That’s 27,000 rings worth of goodness!

Here’s one that’s a little simpler, but still cute and detailed.  (Artist unknown).

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When I started plans to move to a new studio this month, I noticed that there wasn’t a clear sign that showed the studio number outside my new studio.  I liked the unique “sign” we made for Pi studio (#314), and wanted to do something that would be unique to my art.


So I’ve been working on a new sign that I can hang outside my studio.  When it started out, my husband thought I was making a green and silver bracelet.

For inlay work, a lot of people use graph paper or a computer program to lay out their rings.  I hate counting rings, however, so I just freehanded it.  Went fairly well – I had to rework the “9” once, but otherwise not difficult.

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This was after I reworked the top of the 9.  The first attempt was too pointy and looked more like a 4.

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So the number section is complete – I’m going to add a few silver rows along the top and bottom to frame it, and have some ideas on the rest of the piece.

Hoping to have this done and hanging in my studio by next weekend!

Show me your workbench!

Periodically I get asked what my work space looks like.  Well, it’s a mess!  I do sort of know where everything is, or at least where it should be.  Too many times, it’s right in front of my face, on the bench somewhere.

I’ve actually got two work benches.  One is for “hot” – soldering, pickle, but also do most of my forging, sawing, drilling, and polishing on this bench.

The other bench is my “cold” bench – I do most of my maille work here, as well as sketching and designing.

With both of them, I “built in” rulers across the bottom, marking off inch and 1/2 inch increments.  Saves me a lot of time searching for a ruler.  Although I do know exactly where those are!

I probably have too much junk on my benches – bowls full of tumbled stones, dishes with scraps of metal and in-progress projects.  I really don’t think it distracts me too much though. Sometimes having that “thing” sitting in front of me will make me pick it up and re-think how to use it.

If you see anything that you want to ask about, whether it’s a tool or piece of work, let me know in the comments!

Saturday routine

I’m so glad we didn’t end up with the 6″ of snow that was forecast earlier this week today!  Saturdays are my day in the studio, and I was pretty bummed about missing that time.

Instead of 6″ of early March snow, we ended up with nothing.  Well, nothing but cold.  Perfect day for hanging out in the studio and creating.

I finished a brass Euro 4:1 necklace that I’d started last week, and made a Phaedra pendant from a tutorial I’d purchased this morning.  The Phaedra pendant is really cool – I love the way it came together – and I’ll be making more of them!  Mine is sterling with a clear crystal, but here’s the general idea.

After I finished the pendant, I poked through some old silver components I’d made a while back, and used them to make a new bracelet. While the bracelet was in the tumbler, I took photos for my Etsy shop so that I could post a few items (check out the Shop page!).

Spring Forward tonite….looking forward to warmer weather and no threats of snow!

Shop is open!

I’m excited to announce that my online shop is now open!  Click on the Shop tab, and you’ll see links to the pieces I have currently listed in my Etsy shop.  Easy peasy, click on a photo, and you’ll be taken to Etsy to purchase!

I’ll be adding more items soon, both one-of-a-kind and unique chainmaille works of art.  If you are looking for a custom piece, please send me a convo or email and we can work together to design something just for you.

What a weekend!

I’ve been in the Hot Shops Art Center for almost three years now. Every December and May, the Art Center hosts an Open House.  This spring, the center’s managers decided to push our open house back one week so it didn’t have competition with another big event in Omaha (Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders meeting).

I was a little worried about the date, but I didn’t need to be!  I ended up having the most successful Open House yet…great traffic, lots of sales, and a number of custom orders – some of which are really going to push my creative and technical skills.

So, THANK YOU if you were able to make the Open House.  If you didn’t, make plans to visit Omaha and the Hot Shops the first weekend of December (or sooner!).  We’ll do it all over again. 🙂

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

Personal Touch

For years, I’ve put tags on my sterling silver necklaces and bracelets.  The tags are tiny, and actually serve a functional purpose – the wearer can use them to help hold the end of the piece that needs to go in the clasp, making it easier to put on a bracelet or necklace.

They also add a bit of weight to a bracelet on the clasp end, which keeps the clasp inside the wrist when the bracelet is being worn.

Each tag is stamped with “CMY”, symbolizing C-My Designs and “signing” my work.


Sterling Silver Dragon Steps weave bracelet

While I’ve been doing this for a long time with sterling, and added copper tags a couple of years ago, I didn’t have any tags in aluminum, which is one of my best sellers.  I finally found some time aluminum tags, and I was excited to add my “signature” to my anodized aluminum bracelets!

The stamping process is fun!


Aluminum tags

I try to do a bunch of tags at one time so I have them made up when I create a piece that’s going to be tagged.  When I’m stamping, I do it assembly line style.  First, I line up the tags, pull out my stamps, and grab a small hammer.  In the photo above, I’ve stamped the C on all the tags.


These tags are done!  They aren’t all exactly the same, but that’s the beauty of handmade. 🙂

Now my aluminum bracelets have the same personal touch as my sterling silver bracelets.  I love the way they look, and that they are now “signed” too.

Scraps to Treasure

Just a short post today – I worked on a custom request last week, and while I can’t show that project yet, I took a quick video to show how I take little cuttings of silver and turn them into something usable.

Those little scraps?  They are the ends of some silver rings that I had to clip off so the rings would have flat(ter) ends.  I didn’t want them to go to waste, and I’ve been making fun things with silver balls, so I used the torch to heat them to melting point, and they all run together and become one.



I know, it’s not a real word.  But it fits.

I had this vision when I was walking earlier this week. I’d seen some stone cairns in a stream at the park I like to walk at, and I thought they would make awesome pendants.  I didn’t get a picture of those actual cairns, but you get the idea. These are at Jenny Lake, near Jackson, WY.


So I thought, rather than make stones or blobs, I’d try making silver discs, and “flute” them a little.  I cut out 7 discs, annealed them, and drilled holes in the centers.  Here’s a pic of how I get them lined up so I can drill them without drilling my fingers.  The tape holds them in place on the wood block, and there’s a little divot in each disc to drill. I didn’t want them exactly centered, to get the offset and random look.


(Well, technically, I’ve already drilled the holes here.)

Next, I went to town with a pliers. They ended up looking more like petals than stones, but I liked the effect.  After getting a nice little ball on the end of some 18g wire, I threaded all of the discs on it.  My original intent was to have them able to move around, but it really didn’t work out well. So I decided to solder the disc/petals to the wire.

Pretty much disaster. The wire wasn’t flush to the holes I’d drilled, and I couldn’t get the solder to stick. After working with it and getting two discs to stick, but the next one I soldered cause all of the previous ones to unstick, rinse and repeat about 12 times, I decided to try a larger gauge of wire.  16g to the rescue!

Better – I still had some difficulty in keeping previous disc/petals soldered when I heated up subsequent ones (even though I followed the rule of starting out with hard solder and working my way back to medium, and then easy) – but while I had to re-solder a few disc/petals, eventually I was down to the last one.

IMG_2045Here’s where I left it when I locked up the studio tonite.  The top disc/petal still isn’t on there solidly, but I just had to walk away. I REALLY like the concept however, and I’m excited to go back and finish it up.  Going to be a pendant, and I think I’ll work on the concept a bit more and see where I can go with it.

Spring & Summer Shows!


This spring and summer are shaping up to be a busy one for art shows….

spring 2016 open houseApril 23-24 is the Hot Shops (where my studio is located) semi-annual Open House.  The Spring Open House is 2 weeks earlier this year to avoid conflict with the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting.  Lots of free parking.  Be sure to come up to Pi Studio on the 3rd floor and say hi!

grand cities art festNext up, June 10-11 is the Grand Cities Art Fest in Grand Forks, ND.  I look forward to this show every year, and it’s become a family tradition!  My husband, son, and parents will all be there to help out.  This is a FUN outdoor festival that always has great music, food, and of course, great art!

artfestmidwestArtFest Midwest “The Other Art Show” in Des Moines, IA is held the weekend of June 25-26, and I’m excited to announce I’ll be back this year.  Inside the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, this show offers lots of local and regional artists, and is the same weekend as the downtown Des Moines art fair.  Free shuttle buses go between the two locations, and you can park for free at the fairgrounds!