My Sketchbook

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Let's Talk About Food!

This Month's EtsyMetal blog carnival topic is Food. So, what is a Blog Carnival? It is EtsyMetal members who write an article on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. This month's EtsyMetal blog carnival topic is: "Lets Talk About Food!" 
"The weather is cooling, Fall cooking season is 'round the corner. Tell us about some of your eating habits, philosophies, favorite foods and share a seasonal recipe!"

Preparing stuffed Achojchas with different mixtures of vegetables, grains and cheeses.

Achojchas ready to be put in the fire oven. These are filled with my interpretation of  pico de gallo salsa.

Achojchas filled with quinoa, vegetables and cheese.

Ready for the oven.

Always tasty. Never boring.

Zucchinis with olive oil, cheese and something else I had at the moment but can't remember what (looks like tomatoes?)

Tomatoes stuffed with rice and tuna.

Zucchinis topped with olive oil and cheese.

My vegetable garden

A crop from last summer.

Apple crop (I had to pick these before the parrots did).


Fig preserve.

Zucchini and peppers
I've had a serious vegetable garden for the past three years, so vegetables have been a large part of my diet lately. I eat a lot of salads, stir-fries and frittatas in the summer,  and a lot of spicy one pot dishes in the winter. Since I live in the country, a few miles from the nearest market, I try to minimize trips to town for groceries. This means I should probably be more organized and structured and plan ahead when it comes to cooking, but I have a hard time with that, so I need to be resourceful and improvise for a tasty meal, which makes it so interesting and a lot more fun.

If you read this far, you're probably wondering what these "achojchas" are. So did I until just recently. My sister in law visited Bolivia last summer and brought me these really interesting looking seeds. We had no idea what they tasted like and how they grew. Well, at the end of summer the 2 plants had practically overtaken my vegetable garden, and I had achojchas to feed a nation. I hate to see things go to waste, so I came up with a lot of recipes and excuses to invite people for lunch :)

I owe you some recipes. Maybe next week, or when I have some extra time in my hands.

Thanks for reading!

For other metalsmith's food stories and recipes, be sure to click on the links below:

Inbar Bareket -
kate jones -
nova of sweden -
Beth Cyr -
Nodeform -
Rebecca Bogan -
Panicmama Jewelry -
Evelyn Markasky

Jenny Baughman (Gecko J):

Monday, September 5, 2011

Buying Handmade Jewelry

This month's theme for EtsyMetal Blog Carnival is: "A Few Tips On Buying Handmade Jewelry
Share a few of your personal tips when it comes to the purchase of handmade art jewelry.

First of all, let's think about why we buy handmade in general. A handmade item, whatever it is, is a product of love, inspiration, value and joy for the maker. There is a special connection between the maker and the item and later the wearer of the piece. However, this is not true for all handmade things. There is a difference between a handmade item that was created by a worker in bad conditions and for a lousy salary. These items are just like mass produced, the only difference is that they were made with human hands. Sometimes even children's hands. We need to be aware of the difference. Buying directly from the artisan ensures this is not the case. Nowadays with e-commerce, and especially with Etsy, we can buy directly from the craftsperson even when they are on the other side of the planet. 

Some things to consider when buying handmade jewelry (or any handmade item for that matter) are design, uniqueness, and craftsmanship. Nowadays there is a trend in jewelry were the design on a piece is more valuable than the cost of the materials itself. This is because people are looking for uniqueness and personality and a handmade spirit that only creative hands can make. Time, lots of time go into this creative process. This usually begins with an inspiration from the artist, choosing materials for the piece, as well as a suitable technique, designing, and working for many hours, many times through experimentation, failure, trial and error to complete their vision. Sometimes this piece ends up being a one of a kind, and sometimes they become part of our "production" pieces, which means we will be making more (on a limited or small scale edition, after all, it's only our two hands).  This means that the time it took to design and experiment will be divided among the various pieces we will be selling of the design in the future. This is why one of a kinds usually cost more. And very often the piece ends up in the scrap metal container. Some jewelry makers will decide to use more expensive materials and less time designing. These are usually more traditional pieces, where the design is not as unique and original. So, when we buy jewelry we are paying (or should be, in my opinion) for a combination of these, depending on the piece:
  • art/design (how much thought was put into the idea/piece?)
  • materials (how expensive are the materials used?)
  • time (how much time did it take to make the piece?)
  • knowledge/expertise (what is the level of difficulty on the techniques used?)
  • craftsmanship (How well is it made?)
  • overhead (we have to pay for/replace/buy new tools, etc. -and we need LOTS)
I've heard many sellers complaining about what Etsy calls handmade. They feel that their craft is being unfairly compared to assembled jewelry rather than handmade from sheet metal and wire (some metal smiths even go as far as making their own sheets and wires, or cutting their own stones). I think it is just different, and while some buyers might not be aware of the difference, or not care about it, I think most do. There is a niche market for everyone out there, we just have to find it or let it find us.  

So when you see a piece of art jewelry made of found objects or recycled material, with simple techniques, don't think "Oh, I can do that" or "Oh, my kid could do that!", because you, or your kid DID'NT do that. The artist made it because he/she has the art background, the creative idea, the experience, the tools and the urge to make it. And that is why it is special.

There is this story where a guy takes his car to the mechanic, and the mechanic fixes the problem with a blow of a hammer. The car owner watches the whole thing. The mechanic hands over the keys to the car owner and says "that's it, you owe me 100 dollars". The car owner, in amazement says "you're going to charge me 100 dollars for a blow of a hammer?", the mechanic says: "no, it's 1 dollar for that, 99 dolars for knowing how and where to place the blow."

To read what other EtsyMetal members have to say about this topic, click on the following links:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blog Carnival "Roots"

Today's Etsymetal blog carnival is about our creative roots.
"Etc" first band
Santi Navarro, Peter Del Giudice and Matias Del Giudice
(they were so young)

"Arbol, Manos, Tierra" by Florencia Del Giudice
"Caminito" Detail by Veronica Del Giudice
I have to admit I  almost did not participate this time because I wasn't really immersed in a family of artists growing up. My father was a high school teacher, and my mother a housewife who couldn't draw a stick figure. I did, however have two aunts Marite Podesta, and Ines Podesta, who were painters, and I was fascinated by their talent. Especially Ines', whose main chosen subject was my favorite: horses. So I realized I was, and still am very much surrounded by artists in my family. Although my father was not an artist, he was an art appreciator. Now retired he has started exploring his artistic streak with pastels. My youngest sister Catalina Hannon is a wonderful actress, singer, bilingual Spanish/English Voice over Talent. She has recorded commercials, narrated documentaries, animations and various videos. She can basically imitate any English accent, as well as a neutral Spanish accent for a worldwide Spanish-speaking audience. My oldest sister Frances Hannon is also a teacher, but has been drawing and painting on and off. She recently won a mention in an art competition. My daughter Florencia is a very creative artist, she is a wonderful illustrator and painter. She started very early. And my two sons are fabulous musicians. Peter has a punk band called Licuado de Panchos, and Matias is the rhythm guitar on 42 Decibel, an AC/DC inspired band.  And there is also other musicians nephews: Santi Navarro, and Fermin Aguirre. My Brother's little girls are actresses and video producers (they have filmed homemade films and act in our local theater). My husband is a woodworker whose work has been featured in magazines and books and has been called an artist by several of his customers, and I would have to agree with them.  My sister in law Veronica Del Giudice is an accomplished and well known watercolorist here in Argentina. Virginia, my other sister in law is a photographer. She specializes in still life, interior design and food. Her husband Victor Wolf is a fashion photographer.
This box was a gift from my husband
"Jewelry box" by Lucas Del Giudice
Zebra wood, beech, cedar, oak

My U.S.A. side of the family:
My uncle Philip Hannon is a retired graphic designer, and a wonderful painter. So is my cousin David Holmes, who makes these hyper-realistic paintings of common urban scenes using acrylic paint. "I am fascinated by the urban landscape and how people exist within it. There's a lot of drama and tension involved in even the most common daily experiences." And my cousin Constance Baldwin who is also a wonderful illustrator. I also have to add my cousin Gregg Hannon to the list. We visited his family in the States a very, very long time ago. He had an electric guitar, and he introduced my siblings and I to Led Zeppelin. Fond memories!

Broadway Hustle, 2005
by David Holmes
Acrylic on wood
80" x 32"

And of course, I don't need to mention this because it is obvious, but I LOVE all these people! They have been an inspiration and support. 


To read about other EtsyMetal member's roots, check out their blog posts:

1. Beth Cyr -
2. Erin Austin -
3. Nodeform -
4. Elizabeth Scott -
5. Inbar Bareket -
6. Cynthia Del Giudice -
7. 2Roses -
8. Evelyn Markasky -
9. Twigs and Heather -
11. Danielle Miller-Gilliam -

Friday, July 22, 2011

Works in Progress

I have been working and experimenting with my mini-rose design in sterling silver sheet. I have already designed a pair of earrings with a couple which will be available in my shop soon (Stay tuned!). I'm very excited with the result!

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Artist Work that has Influenced My Own

One of the many artists that has influenced my work is Franz Kline.

Franz Kline was an American painter from my favorite Art Movement: Abstract Expressionism. Abstract Expressionism was born in New York in the 40's and 50'. It was the first art movement accepted world wide which later influenced other movements, which up until then was exclusively a role played by Paris.

Painting Number 2, 1954,

I love Kline's use of black and white, with thick brushstrokes and texture. He used a lot of diagonal lines which make his paintings very dynamic, intense, yet soft and sensitive. They imply expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the unconscious, and the mind.

Franz Kline

Franz Kline at his studio
"You paint the way you have to in order to give.
That's life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing,
but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving."
Franz Kline 

To find out what artists are influencing these other Etsymetal members, click on the following links to their blogs:

1. Theresa -
2. Kate Jones -
3. Fluxplay Jewellery (Maria Whetman) -
4. 2Roses -
5. Elizabeth Scott -
6.Andrea Ring-
7. Nodeform -
8. Beth Cyr
9. Inbar Bareket
10. Cynthia Del Giudice:
11. Evelyn Markasky:
12. AdobeSol -
13. Quercus Silver

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ganoskin Exhibition: "Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder"

These tree pieces made it into the exhibit, along with some other wonderful work. It is worth browsing through.
Fused Plastic, Sterling Silver (on page 18)
Fused Plastic, Sterling Silver, Cultured Pearls (p. 18)

Copper, Sterling Silver, Newsprint, Stainless steel pin Fold formed, constructed (p. 38)

   The online exhibition titled "Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder"
   is now open to the public, The exhibition showcases 247 images
   chosen from entries from over 55 artists representing North America,
   South America, Europe, Australia, Central America, Africa and


   Online Exhibition: "Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder"

   "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder" showcases 247 images chosen
   from entries from over 55 artists representing North America, South
   America, Europe, Australia, Central America, Africa and Eurasia. 

   The drive to adorn the human body is surely as old as human kind.
   From pre-historic times this drive has led humans to use the
   materials at hand, combined with the technologies and tools
   available, to create objects to adorn the human body. The oldest
   jewelry found to date goes back to at least 75,000 years ago in

   Early jewelry was made of bones, shells, sticks, and whatever other
   materials the people could find and shape. Over time the ability to
   mine and shape metal developed, and jewelry was made from bronze,
   silver, gold, platinum and other metals. Gold has long been thought
   of as a "precious" metal, and today it is joined by silver and
   platinum as the three main materials modern jewelry is made from. 

   While much jewelry today is made from these three main metals, a
   large body of jewelry world-wide is still made from a much wider
   range of materials. This exhibition, "Beauty is in the Eye of the
   Beholder", focuses on jewelry made primarily of materials other than
   gold, platinum and silver. 

   Jewelers today are still using found objects such as shell and bone;
   they are using "green" materials - upcycled and recycled objects and
   materials; they are using cutting edge plastics and newly developed
   technology; and they are using older metals such as copper, brass
   and bronze. 

   Some of the more unusual materials include vinyl LP's, velvet, VCR
   components, rattlesnake vertebrae, corian, canvas, paper, crab
  claws, magnets, synthetic rubber electrical insulation tubing, and
   aluminum grounding wire. 

   More traditional materials used include copper, bronze, brass,
   glass, various types of wood, gemstones, pearls and seeds. 

   Techniques range from traditional metalsmithing, through a range of
   beading techniques, textile techniques, photography techniques and
   cutting edge industrial fabrication. 

   Participants range from professional jewelers with international
   reputations to students just learning their craft. 

   Hosted on the Ganoksin website, the world's largest internet site
   devoted to jewelry- related topics, the exhibition is a snapshot of
   what jewelers around the world are exploring, and an inspiration to
   all. The exhibition was conceived Beth Wicker, an artist from South
   Carolina, in the USA, and curated by Beth and Hanuman Aspler, founder
   of the Ganoksin Project. 

   Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

   For more information about the Exhibition please contact: Beth Wicker or Dr. E. Aspler (Hanuman) 

Dr. E. Aspler (Hanuman)
Owner and founder

The Ganoksin Project
S i n c e 1 9 9 6
Jewelry Manufacturing Methods and Techniques
T h e   O r c h i d   L i s t
Open Electronic Forum for Jewelry Manufacturing Methods and Procedures
Orchid FAQ:
Orchid Archives:
Orchid Galleries:
Invite a Friend:
Tips From The Jeweler's Bench - Article Archive
The Jeweler's Selected Bibliography List
Buy Orchid Jewelry:

Here are some fabulous pieces that caught my eye: "Devils Yoke" by Rebecca Barton from the USA , "Fabric Mechanics" by Su Trindle from the UK,  "Infrastructure" by Sara West from USA"Kotor" by Karin Roy Anderson from Sweden"Necklace" by Katharina Moch from Germany"Kotor2" by Karin Roy Anderson from Sweden"Revolution Necklace" Sarah Kelly from the UK"Tchaikovsky Ring" by Ian Henderson from the USA, and  Maria Zolorzano Maldonado with "Des Oeufs" from Mexico and currently living in Buenos Aires.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Creativity, Inspiration, Motivation

There is no specific thing that inspires me, but too many things to list. I think the key here is that I have to be in a certain place in my mind and soul to let these things inspire me. In other words, inspiration comes mostly within me, and not so much from outside sources.

As to how my design process works, sometimes inspiration and ideas come all of a sudden (many times in the middle of the night), and sometimes they come by chance while I'm experimenting with certain materials or techniques.

The hard part is to stay motivated. Motivation is hard to control. Recognition is certainly a boost to my motivation. It might be from running a successful business, from feedback from friends and colleagues, or from getting a piece accepted into a book, gallery, museum, or a special event.

I get frustrated when things don't go as I plan or ideas stop coming. I sometimes get a little panicky thinking I won't get good ideas to keep going. I try to stop and do something else I enjoy doing and enjoy life in general. Visiting museums, looking at art, reading books, enjoying the outdoors helps.

Doing other creative activities also helps. I like to explore and experiment, and be surprised. I like to paint and once in a while do small horse sculptures with soft steel wire. I also love gardening and improvised cooking.

This piece in particular came from experimenting with fold forming. I had bought a book on this technique, and tested many folds and shapes shown in the there. After I was done with the exercises I started to experiment and find my own thing. I usually take a material or technique and think "well, but what if...""what if I do this instead of this", "what would happen if I added this step/fold/shape, etc". And then when I end up with a cool shape I have to design around it to make it wearable (or somewhat wearable). More questions are asked "would this make a good ring?" "how do I present it?", etc.  

Fold Formed Double Blossom Ring by Cynthia Del Giudice
Sterling silver - Fold formed, constructed

This other piece below was made by experimenting with recycled plastic bags. I had read how fusing bags was done, and I tried it, cut it, made a couple of things (I think I made a sturdy re-usable grocery bag), and then again I started with my own questions: "what if...?" "what if I use more heat?" "what if I use less heat?" "what if I...?" Once I was happy with the pieces I was making, I had to think and design how to use them. I have made many pieces of jewelry with this technique, here is a necklace I made for a show, and was latter exhibited at Luke & Eloy Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Fused Plastic Necklace by Cynthia Del Giudice
Plastic, sterling silver - Fused recycled plastic bags, Constructed

I made this ring with the same fused plastic pieces. It was recently published in a book of rings edited by Nicolas Estrada, and written in four languages. I can't wait to receive my own copy!

Fused Plastic Ring by Cynthia Del Giudice
Plastic, Sterling Silver - Fused plastic bags, constructed, riveted

Monday, June 6, 2011

Etsy Metal Studio Tour

"EtsyMetal Blog Carnival"
Topic: "Etsy Metal Studio Tour"
Show us where you work!
Describe what you love about your work space and/or any changes you would like to make in the future. 

I have a home studio. I live in the country, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I love where I live, and I love what I do. My studio is a wonderful place to work in. I think the best part is its location. I am surrounded by inspiring things outside. Anything from landscape, sky, plants, and animals. I often brings little treasures I find outside. Anything from a feather, to a seed-pod, to a dry branch. 

My workbench is a long countertop my husband bought from an old general store in town which was being remodeled.  It is beautiful solid wood with moldings. It is the perfect height for sawing, but too high for just about everything else. I usually end up doing most of my work standing, so I am planning on buying a tall chair right now, or I might add an extra table, standard height, to the side. 

I have a bookcase filled with all sorts of books and magazines. Art, design, and jewelry technique books are what I have within easy reach for reference and inspiration. There is a desk with my computer and printer on the opposite wall of the workbench. There is also an Ikea modular piece of furniture where I keep all my boxes, tissue paper and envelopes for shipping and an amplifier with speakers for the computer. 

I have a beautiful little shelf on top of my workbench that our friend Tom made while he was visiting us from the States. It's very convenient because I can put smaller things like jars and small containers so they are visible and within easy reach. He also made me a really nice bench pin and a wooden block to organize my pliers. My father in law made me a wooden organizer for my files which I keep inside my rolling toolbox. All these things are super important for me because I tend to be very unorganized. I can't imagine my workspace being more chaotic than it is, but I know it can!

So, besides the table or tall chair, I would love to own a rolling mill. Better overall lighting and a good heating system wouldn't hurt either. Of course, now I remember, because it's starting to get cold! (winter is coming here in the Southern Hemisphere).

For other EtsyMetal Studio Tour posts, please follow the links below:

1. Rebecca Bogan -
2. Shirlee Grund -
3. Beth Cyr
4. Elizabeth Scott
5. Cynthia Del Giudice
6. Michele Grady
7. Erin Austin -
8. Nodeform -
9. Evelyn Markasky --
10. Kathryn Cole -
11. 2Roses -
12. Lauren Anabela Beaudoin/Creative Dexterity - 

Friday, January 28, 2011


Ring A Week (RAW) is a challenge introduced by my friend and fellow metalsmith Thomasin Durgin. She   is challenging other metalsmiths and jewelry makers to design and execute at least one ring a week for the entire year 2011. Photos are taken of the rings as they are completed and uploaded to a RAW Flickr group.

Here are my first 3 pieces, but hopefully there will be 49 more!

1. RAW52 3, 2. RAW52 3, 3. RAW52 3, 4. RAW2 of 52, 5. RAW2 of 52, 6. RAW2 of 52, 7. RAW (ring a week) number 1, 8. RAW (ring a week) number 1, 9. 100_0727


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