Mar 222012

I have the great pleasure of introducing you all to Sally Sutherland – Metalsmith and Lampwork Artist. I am  a true fan, owning several of her lampwork pieces.

Tell us a bit about yourself……(where you are from, was art part of your upbringing)

I was raised in on the Norfolk coast (Norfolk in the UK) I grew up in a 16th century thatched cottage that had originally been two workmans cottages, it was my mothers house, her pride and joy.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood, no cares or worries, my Dad was a self employed builder and carpenter and my Mum was a potter amongst other things, she is great with a sewing machine and has made beautiful quilts for me and my kids Both my parents were very creative in very different ways, one of my most treasured possessions is a wooden stool that my Dad made, he made lots one Christmas when they couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for all of the children of their friends and family.  To me that is a constant reminder that the best gifts are the ones that you make, that have care and consideration in them and that stand the test of time.

I suppose art/craft has been a fairly consistent part of my life from quite and early age, in terms of direction mine was not encouraged to be a particularly artistic one, at the time I was making those kinds of decisions my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 11 months later. In hindsight it was easier to go along with what was expected and I had no real idea of what I wanted out of life.

After we lost Dad I went abroad as a Nanny, I worked for a family in Spain and then moved to Belgium.

On a visit home I was met at the airport by my brother and his friend ( the man I am now married to ( I am not entirely sure he knew what he was letting himself in for, I was a bit wild))

Where are you located now?

Now I live on the west coast of Scotland, not far from Glasgow, I love where we live, although its modern housing it really is in a brilliant location, twenty minutes in either direction you are in the city centre or the middle of nowhere, the scenery in either is incredible.

The only thing I miss is being near the beach, we do go to Norfolk every summer and spend a couple of weeks messing about on the beach, taking the kids gillying (an old fashioned method of catching crab using string and bacon) It never fails to restore a sense of balance and peace in me.

Describe your studio/creative space….

My husband and I rebuilt my workshop last year, previously I had been working in a damp and holey garden shed, now I have a lovely double glazed space that serves for both my jewellery making and my lampworking, its much warmer and dryer which really is essential in Scotland in the winter.

What do you love most about your space?

I love the fact that its mine, my work has paid for it.

I love the light, the old shed was pretty dark and gloomy with only one small window this space has four large windows that I could actually open if I wanted to  🙂

(I own this cutie!)

What would you change if you could?

There isn’t much I would change at the moment, however I know the rate at which I accumulate new tools and I dare say that at some point space will be an issue, but I am sure with some careful planning we can arrange it in a more effective way.

Also longer days would be a blessing.

What are your favorite materials/techniques?

At the moment I am very into foldforming, I finally bit the bullet last week and made my first pieces, I am waiting for the book to arrive so that I can really get stuck into it.

With my lampworking I always feel like I am at the tip of the iceburg in terms of technique, there are so many that I have not even tried yet.

How have you learned your craft?

I started taking an evening class in silversmithing when I was made redundant; however I also fell pregnant with my daughter around the same time and the smell in the workshop made me feel very ill, mostly I have taught my self from books, forums and the internet.

With the lampworking I was incredibly fortunate to be given some lessons by the amazing Amanda Magregor of Moogin, I had admired her beads and she invited me to come and ‘have a go’ needless to say four hours later (they passed in a flash) I was hooked and quickly bought a basic set up. Since the I have spent a lot of time experimenting to find out what works for me.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?

Don’t forget the power of the internet, most things can be found with a carefully worded google search. Forums are an  incredible source of information but ALWAYS give credit for where you have learnt something and ALWAYS make it your own. Never be scared to try something for the first time, if it goes wrong then you have already learnt something.

Who are some of your favourite artists/crafters?

Oh that’s tricky, there are so many talented people out there, I honestly couldn’t say that I have a particular favourite, there are so many that I have not even discovered yet. For me if there is an element of humour in something I usually fall in love with it.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?

It depends what you are surprised by 😀
If you couldn’t do what you are doing now — what would you do?

I can’t even consider that question, its too awful to contemplate, I cannot sit with idle hands, its unbearable, crafting is a compulsion, if it’s not jewellery or lampwork then I am making journals or felting, I really could not consider not having crafting in my life.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Laugh – A lot it really is the best medicine.

You can see more of Sally’s work here:



MJSA Vision Awards

 Contests/Calls  Comments Off on MJSA Vision Awards
Sep 202011

Deadline for 2012 Vision Awards Contest Set; New Distinction Categories Added

The deadline for entries to the 2012 MJSA Vision Awards competition has been set: Dec. 15, 2011. The annual competition, which celebrates outstanding talent in the field of jewelry design, will this year feature two new Distinction categories—Platinum Distinction, sponsored by Platinum Guild International, and Palladium Distinction, sponsored by Palladium Alliance International. The other categories will include:

Call for entry will be announced soon – get  more information

Get planning and GOOD LUCK!

 Posted by at 11:00 am
May 252011

I was browsing images of the new studio coming along in Margaux Lange’s new house and was completely jealous (and inspired) by her layout. She has a distinct area for many tasks – soldering here, fabricating there, sorting and cutting space…even a ‘resin station’!

Many artists have studio space that allows them at least a couple of different areas where they separate types of work, but some of us more or less do it all on one table, we just push things out of the way.

Well, we want to know what YOU have – answer the poll below and leave more information in the comments if you want – we’d all love to hear about your studio!

May 032011

We all love to create. We all love to SHARE our creations with others. And why not? We work had and we’re proud of our work! Right?

After spending hours creating and more hours taking photos, nothing is worse than uploading them only to find out they are out of focus, or dark, or there is too much glare. It can be very discouraging!

After receiving many many questions about what camera I use and the set-up etc. I decided to condense into 5 areas that *I* think are the most important


Jewelry Artists Network Photography Tips

Those little dials help!

Seriously, this is number one. Its the main deal here folks. Get to know your camera. Read the manual or just experiment, but KNOW what the dials and buttons are for. Understand what they do and use that to your advantage.

General tips –

  • set the ISO at 100 or less
  • turn off the flash
  • use macro setting
  • adjust the exposure

And yes, the type of camera matters. I know many people get great photos with relatively inexpensive cameras, so you don’t have to spend a fortune for a camera like the Rebel. After going through many cameras, I finally have one that I love and it didn’t break the bank. I use a Panasonic Lumix. Its a point and shoot but itsa great camera with some really nice features for jewelry, like the macro-zoom. I thought macro was great, but macro-zoom takes it to a whole other level!


It does’t have to be expensive. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be store bought!

But it really can make a huge difference in your results.

Jewelry is a difficult shot because of the light reflection – it bounces off the metal and stones creating glare and out of focus shots. For crisp clear images – use a lightbox.

When I started I made a lightbox from a semi-transparent plastic tub. (ok, when I FIRST-FIRST began, I used a plastic gallon milk jug top cut off and the bottom cut out) Any semi-transparent container will diffuse the light. You can be more creative and use some sort of cloth over a makeshift frame or tissue paper (just be careful with your lights!! they can get hot!)

I now use this lightbox – it was inexpensive and I like that it folds flat. Space is an issue for me, so this works well. (the price has gone up but its still worth it!)


This deserves its own heading because I can’t over stress the importance of lighting. You need to understand your lighting. Whether you  use natural light streaming in from a window (or if you take your party outside) or artificial light – halogen, daylights, whatever. .. . the DIRECTION of your light, any GLARE, etc will impact your photos.

I like to use lighting coming from all angles to reduce shadows.

If you don’t have enough light sources, use mirrors. Set them outside of the shot, opposite a light and they will bounce light back in the opposite direction!


Many people don’t realize what a colossal effect different backgrounds have on images. Again, it has to do with how the light plays off it.  I find that matte backgrounds work best. I don’t have a preference for light OR dark backgrounds but I can tell you that alter my camera settings differently if I am shooting on black rather than white. (refer back to #1!)


It pays to do all you can to reduce movement of the camera.

Jewelry Artists Network Photography Tips

Use the timer! Your finger pushing down the button to trip the shutter WILL move the camera, and even the slightest movement will have an effect on your images.

Don’t hold your camera – use a tripod or set your camera on a box or stack of books. Anything to reduce movement.

And finally #6 (I know I said 5, but I can’t hold back here!)

My best tip is to use a notebook. TAKE NOTES. Any time you alter your set-up, document it. Then compare the images against the set up. See what works best for you.

If taking notes is too cumbersome – take a photo. That’s right! Take a photo! Each time you change something, back up and get a picture of the set-up. When you load your photos on the computer there will be a photo set-up image prior to the new pictures. Delete the ones that don’t work – save photos of the set-up that does. It will make duplicating awesome photos very easy!


So those are the 5 (ok, 6) things that I often talk to people about. Next time I’ll share some of my favorite backgrounds, the use of props, setting up for illusions (floating jewelry anyone?) and more. I won’t tell you which way to go, as I think different situations warrant different set ups. I’ll just show you how to go about it. Then you decide what suits your purposes. 🙂

What are your best photography tips?

Jan 072011

Now that we’ve begun wrapping up all the festivities of the winter and we’ve rung in the New Year (YAY! 2011) ……

Its time for many of us to begin thinking about resolutions. Many people hate that word. Don’t like it? Then how about thinking about   goals, new skills, or new challenges ?

I shared here and here about some of my plans/goals for me and my business and also a couple of challenges I’ll take part in this year.

Sharing your goals and plans with others is a great idea. Very often it does at least two things:

1. It solidifies them in your mind.

Its no longer just a figment of a thought or some fuzzy idea that you may or may not commit yourself to in the near future. It causes you to think in terms of goals that are actually attainable.

2. It creates accountability.

Its unlikely that I’ll contact you in 3 months and ask you how you’re doing on those goals (unless you want me to do so, in which case, use the contact tab above) and I’m certainly not going to ream you out for not getting ‘xyz’ done in a certain amount of time. But just knowing that I could might give you a push to follow through. Seriously though, if you share your goals with some friends they just might come along side you and check in – and you could do the same for them too.

Some tips for goals or resolutions


Make them reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Baby steps might be small, but they ARE steps.And if you conquer them you will be more likely to


Don’t write a goal that uses words like ‘better’ or ‘some’ – examples:

I will lose some weight = BAD

I will lose 10 pounds 🙂

I will get better at setting stones = BAD

I will bezel set stones that have crisp clean bezels with no puckers or solder blobs or showing solder seams. 🙂

Set goals that you can measure – make sure there are actual objective points that you can measure (A pound vs ‘some’ — bezel setting specifics rather than ‘get better’)


Once you come up with a goal – break it down into steps

For instance

Lets look at the goal “I will lose 10 pounds”

The steps might be something like :

  • lose 1 pound a week
  • drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • exercise 3 times a week
  • create meal plan with daily calories of ‘abc’

Then you can simply follow the steps –  check your progress – AND  modify the steps as needed.

Now its your turn – share your goals with us – or a tip about goal setting  – just leave a comment below.

HAPPY 2011!

 Posted by at 3:49 pm

To oxidize or not (poll)

 Techniques  Comments Off on To oxidize or not (poll)
Jan 052011

We want to help you gain information through the use of polls and surveys.

We have many burning questions and while some may at first seem a mere curiosity, the answers to the polls, while not scientific, may offer food for thought.

You may decide that strong numbers indicate a position that should be adopted OR it may inspire you to go against the grain……..that is up to you. The idea is simply to put some information out there.

We’d love to hear your ideas for polls, so please feel free to use the “Contact Us!” tab (look up and left for the tab) and let us know what questions or situations you’d like to see posed here !

Here is the first poll which was prompted as I was browsing around the net yesterday:

 Posted by at 12:12 pm  Tagged with: