Must Have Summer Crop Tops 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crop Tops are everywhere and in between. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the stylish unique tops these artisans have to offer on Etsy. I sifted through to find unique handmade wears for the summer months. So many of these are a refreshing modern twist on an old favorite. I see so many crop tops at the stores, the thing I love about Etsy is you can find clothing that is unique and support a local or global artisan.
 Image above belongs to
The perfect tee crop top original art and each one is hand printed. 
Image above belongs to  rustycuts
I just love this she collaborated with another artist on Etsy. Taking a tee shirt crop to another level.
Image above belongs to ilkapilka
Love this for a daytime or nightime look with a high waisted jean.
 Image above belongs to LostCulture
Love a classic crochet halter her work is on point, she even lines the halter with padded support. I love the look of a high collar. This would be perfect for those who attend hot summer festivals but don't want to wear a bikini top.
 Image above belongs to ErinElsie
Love this tie dye crop top, a nice casual wearable twist on tie dye print.

Image belongs to YeahBunny
I had to throw a sunflower print, since the whole 1990's crop top and patterns are trending this summer.  This store has some really cute prints available in tee shirts and shorts as well.

Image above belongs to Dollydripp
You can't include a crop top without gingham, well what is summer without a little gingham? Love this entire shop, she offers pinup style clothing made to order. I love the back shown above on this top. Perfect for a summer evening out on the town.

Image above belongs to charlotteandmoon
I love the effortless chic look of this crop top. White is a classic summer color, feminine and delicate design. The whole shop has a beautiful airy feel.
Image above belongs to WhatsOliviaWearing
Plaid will always be fashionable, and what better way to wear it in the summer months than in a crop top. Did I mention this artisan recycles all the material. This particular shirt was made from a mans plaid button down. Reduce reuse recycle.
 Image above belongs to DOODproject
Another awesome top with original artwork. This is great for the gal that loves her crop tops, but wants a rad twist on the muscle tee.
Image belongs to bombesurprise
A funky printed top from a designer who loves bright vivid patterns. All of the clothes in her shop look very well tailored. Loving the pattern and whole style of the shot above.
 Image above belongs to texturable
Love this sheer tee shirt style top. Its casual but sexy at the same time, and a touch of girly with a soft wash of pink. This entire shop offers very wearable chic designs.
 Image above belongs to SHOPAT851
Love the basics and red is my favorite color, they offer this top in a variety of colors. Easy and everyday. They also have a ton of awesome vintage clothing listed.
 Image above belongs to murmuration
You can never go wrong with black, for work, day or night. Love the detail on the front, I have noticed a trend in geometric lines on clothing and intimates. The subtle detail is sexy and wearable.

This concludes my must have handcrafted summer crop tops. I hope you enjoyed which one is your favorite?
* All prices listed are what I found on there site, due to handmade nature and materials they could go up at any point. This is just a reference price found at the time of this post.

I had permission from all image sources to post these photos :)

Getting Started Metalsmithing: Tool Guide

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

So you are interested in metalsmithing? You want to put the pedal to the metal and fire blaze your way through life. Congrats me dos, ha! Metalsmithing is not a hobby for me it's my lifes passion and occupation. This post will be for the individual looking to really invest there time and money into tools and a studio set up.  I will be providing the basics, a detailed list of everything I found helpful to have a full start. As time goes on you can build on your collection, I did not start with every tool I own I slowly accumulated and saved for my entire collection as is.I did however invest in the major tools right away, I would suggest taking classes at a local art league or school to learn the proper skills before investing your money to make sure this is something you want to pursue and avoid money down the drain. . These tools are the big kahunas, they will provide you with start to finish ability for soldering and finishing. I will go into detail about smaller detail tools that are essential as well to finish the job.  Tool needs will vary from person to person depending on what skills you are looking to apply at the bench. You can pick and choose which of these will benefit the projects you are looking to tackle. You may not need all of these but for me they all are my must haves.

Also for safety please have all power machines and torches set up by an experienced jeweler and or plumber to ensure you are properly using and maintaining equipment.

Space is number one, if you are limited in space you will have to make due with what you have. We all start somewhere, so whether you have an additional bedroom, garage or live in a studio apartment make sure you have a dedicated area you can keep clean and stocked.

I have a traditional jewelers bench, it was the very first thing I purchased. I purchased it from Otto Frei  (all companies mentioned are click-able links for exact products) I purchased this before I even took up metalsmithing.  I knew when I was assembling vintage jewelery that I eventually wanted to get into metalsmithing. A jewelers bench is made to accommodate tools, height, and comfort of working 12 hour days.

You can certainly shop around at various suppliers for benches. I would like to upgrade mine in the future but the one linked above works perfect for my space and needs. I would avoid particle board material make sure you are buying real wood if you are investing the money.

If you are lucky enough to know someone willing to build you a bench I would say the most important features is a catch tray, a slot for a bench pin and drawers for storage.

Other suppliers you can find jewelers benches:
Rio Grande
Otto Frei
FDJ Tools

Fire Baby
A torch is probably the most apprehensive purchase one will make. The thought of having gas in or near your workspace can be daunting. But in order to pursue this passion it calls for some heat in kitchen. I would look into your homeowners insurance or check with your landlord to see if you can have such gas set up in your home or workspace.
I like acetylene and air set up it burns a bit dirtier as they say (I don't notice a difference), I also learned with this set up. It is a one tank system and only requires a B tank for refills. I would recommend to save money looking on Craigslist for an empty tank or buying one from a local welding place. It will cost you less and you will never see that 169.00 brand new tank again. When you refill a B tank for around 35-45$ you will get an old crusty used filled tank in return so if you decide to buy a new one don't get attached.
Torch Tips: I would recommend a 00,0, and 1 tip (the 00 comes with the kit linked above)  Having a variety of tips will allow you to accommodate small projects and fine flames to larger cuffs and bushy flames.

Other set ups include Propane and Oxygen and Acetylene and Oxygen. Propane will burn much cleaner and give you a finer more controlled flame. Propane as you know is more readily available for refilling.
Rio Grande Torches

Flex Shaft
A flex shaft is one of my most used tools, I started out with a dremel years ago before metalsmithing. It was bulky, cheap and not as versatile as a Foredom. I invested in a Foredom SR Motor Kit. This is one of those tools that I use daily and probably 75% of my studio time. It has a forward and reverse switch and with a Foredom you can interchange the hand piece for a hammer set if you want to add a hammer set to your repertoire. Make sure to lubricate and maintain your shaft and sheath. A great video is linked here.

Make sure your flex shaft is secured to your work space by either a homemade piping or you can purchase on here. Make sure to get a flex shaft stand that can be mounted by screws to your work bench. A C clamp will eventually fall resulting in a broken flex shaft.

 Polishing Machine
I love polishing it is the most time consuming and possibly frustrating parts of metalsmithing. It is the point of I am almost done but not quite, I cant wait to see the finished product part of production. Nonetheless I cannot live without my polishing machine. Sure you can use you use your flex shaft for polishing and I do this quite often for smaller hard to reach areas and pieces. But if you plan to do production work or larger pieces this really cuts your time in half.
I purchased the Durabill Polishing Kit. It comes with everything you would need to start polishing, the motor, vent, compound, and wheels. Polishing machines are great for deburring castings as well as removing the addtional backplate on a bezel. Be sure to replace your filters every 6 months to ensure that your vent is doing the best job at filtering. I have a video on my favorite polishing compounds can be found here.

A saw is another tool that is small yet essential. This also gives you the ability to do a lot of projects with out any of the tools above. I started with an economy saw frame and upgraded this year to a GreenLion Studio saw frame. These are released in small batches they are hand crafted and in additional to looking sleek it is the most comfortable smooth operating saw. They are often sold out but you can go on an email list for them if they are. Worth the wait. I did a review on my youtube channel which can be found here.

I am a big believer in investing in tools the right tools. I would rather have a few great files than a large collection of sub par ones. Reason being is they wear out faster and don't cut with precision. I think a flat bastard file is essential to every collection as well as a half round, and I personally use my triangle file the most often. I have a general link for all files at Rio Grande you will want to choose files that are right for your project. Here is a FAQ regarding saws. Needle files are essential as well for clean up on smaller spaces and pieces. Great for detailed work. Some argue getting cheap files and replacing yearly or what not, but you know where I stand invest and maintain and they will last.

Again this will vary for your needs but I find if I had to choose one hammer I would pick my Fretz chasing hammer a great one to start with. You can shape, give a dimpled hammered band surface, and flatten with one hammer. I started with an economy chasing hammer and after about a year of everyday use it broke.
 For shaping and forming without marring the metal especially great for rings is a rawhide hammer.  I highly recommend Fretz Hammers they are built to last and have a beautiful smooth ergonomic feel.

This is totally a non essential for a beginner but if your looking to do production or cut down on your polishing time a tumbler is a great tool. I purchased a Durabull kit from Rio. If I knew what I know now I wouldn't repurchase this one. It constantly leaks if its not sealed super super tight and most people complain that the belt breaks. Plus it cant handle a lot of weight in it. I hear very good things on the lortone tumbler which I do not own so I cant give my personal thoughts on. But there are tons of reviews on Amazon. Different media will give different finishes on the metal, I use stainless steel shot.

Soldering Tool Essentials:
Pickle Pot - to hold the pickle solution
Pickle - Acid Solution to o clean post soldered metal (fire scale)
Copper Tongs - to remove metal from pickle you will ruin your pickle and metal if you put your stainless steel tweezers use copper tongs!
 Tweezers - for holding your pieces together and setting up pre solder
Third Hand - Really comes in handy with soldering set up for rings and various components
Charcoal Soldering Block - Great for retaining heat while heating up pieces. Get the hard block not soft lasts much longer. 
Flux -  flowing agent for soldering metals
Sheet Solder - You can get this in wire, paste, and chips depending on your preference. And in various flowing temps.
Pick - For placing solder and assistance with placement of components.
There are many other tools and surfaces you can purchase for soldering. Again I would consider these the essentials.
Tri Pod - to heat pieces from top and bottom of surface.

Other Essentials:
Ring Mandrel - To form shape, and size rings.
Vise - I like to use especially for ring setting

See my YouTube Video on this blog post~ MeShe

Weekly Update 7/2/2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer is officially here, this is my favorite time of year. I love the relaxed ease of getting dressed into flowing tops, shorts and flip flops.  There is a carefree feeling that comes with the summer time. I love being by the water and starting my days with beach walks and rock digging. The past few weeks have been productive on the bench as well as personally. Happy July everyone I hope you are planning something fun for the 4th!

 It was a dear friends 30th birthday a few weeks ago, what better way to celebrate than going on a booze cruise around the city. It was the perfect night, warm, no humidity, just a slight breeze, water was clear and not choppy. The skyline was incredible, lots of dancing, cheers, dollar store party favors, and throwing a message in a bottle overboard. Maybe It will come back to me one day :)

 It doesn't matter how many times you see the Statue of Liberty or any significant landmark.  It always looks beautiful on a serene night with people you love.

This image was perfection, freedom tower, sailboat, and sunset.

As we circled around the sun had set on Manhattan. Enough said.
Just a few designs that were shipped out all made to order all available on my website From left to right: Amazonite, Amethyst, Norwegian Moonstone, Labradorite, Man in The Moonstone.

Man in the moonstone earrings shipped out, all of my post earrings come on my circle business cards. These I can remake in a lighter grey or peach. I don't have them listed but they are available upon request.
 I recently did a blog post of all the new gems I purchased within the last month.  If you would like to check that out click here.
 Beautiful new strawberry quartz, I only have two sizes left you can check this link for availability. 
 A beautiful rose cut emerald set in a gallery design on a thick half round band.  This is fit for a queen. 
 I have this oval druzy on sale for 45.00 free shipping within the US if your interested email

 I am apart of a very amazing group of talented women who are all jewelers. My sweet friend Tynessa sent me a beautiful peach necklace. Isnt is the sweetest thing!! I love it.

Me setting up to shoot pictures for my website. I really cherish each and every one of you that take the time to comment, like, and purchase from me. This is my dream and you all allow me to express, create, and live it.

Tynessa also sent me some awesome temporary tattoos so I just had to....
Pre setting stage for some made to order pieces, the purple chalcedony collections, and a labradorites.
 I shared all the finished purple chalcedony pieces on my Facebook and Instagram but this ring is my favorite of the collection.
 Another one of a kind piece headed out to the UK. Rainbow Obsidian.
 These are my most popular post earrings, vintage fire opal glass. I acquired a whole vintage lot at a vintage warehouse. They are set in sterling with a sterling post.
New addition coral post earrings, simple sweet and the perfect salmon coral.

 Went rock collecting for a good friend who uses beach rocks for some of her designs. Her work speaks for itself she puts so much heart and soul into her collections. You can find her Facebook page here.

More blue labradorite because I cant resist when It comes to stones.  All four are available for customs.

Starting my day good morning rocky beach.

 And a little fruit parfait. I love berries on the beach.

 I created this custom piece for a lovely customer of mine in Texas. She is a warrior spirit and was immediately drawn to the purple labradorite stone. This design just came very natural from start to finish. It felt like it was hers from the moment I started sawing the metal. Every piece is made with love but this especially is a spirit piece.  It has so much positive energy radiating from the neckline.

 I paired it with a thick sterling chain and purple amethyst on the bail.

 Look at my Little Pirate, Wally is winking at you ;)

 I got a whole strand of quartz points in. I will be making more vintage point necklaces soon!!

 Tigers eye ring, and Norwegian Moonstone
each metal order receives a card with a special code on it :)
 This is a super luxurious ring just launched. Beautiful blue labradorite with a beaded band bezel.

New projects for the week freshly soldered and pickled. Now ready for some clean up time.

All the pieces above, cleaned up, soldered, set and polished. All pieces are available on my website.

Kayaking just around the river bend.

 I am ending my weekly update with my after work kayaking adventure. I hope you all are having a great week! Stay tuned for more updates shortly. If you have any questions please dont hesitate to contact me anytime!
MeShe xx