How to make your jewelry *SHINE*

A few tutorials on polishing jewelry at home

Hello, I hope this finds you healthy and safe. I was trying to think of something that people could do at home that might be useful, informative and hopefully a bit fun/interesting. I often polish things when I am watching a movie or listening to music or podcasts. I really like to have something to occupy my hands and polishing jewelry is easy and useful.

Sometimes jewelry can start to look a bit tarnished, dull or faded. Usually all it needs is a little polish to bring back the shine. Jewelry that has developed a patina can be even nicer then shiny as long as you like the way it looks. Brass can be beautiful and earthy or silver can look antiqued and rustic. If however you want your pieces to sparkle here are a few tips. I have two options, one that uses my polishing kit that I give out with jewelry. The other uses alternate materials you probably have at home such as a green scrubby, dish sponge with scrub side and a toothbrush.

Make sure whatever jewelry you are cleaning is made of solid metal (not plated). Most of my pieces are either solid brass or sterling silver except my gold hoop styles (which are 14k gold-fill or rose gold-fill). If the gold hoops are looking a bit dull you can use the soft yellow cloth in my polishing kit to shine them up. If you don’t have one a very gentle scrub with toothbrush and dish soap should help.

How you store your jewelry when you are not wearing can help too. Air will darken silver, brass and copper so if you can close in a box, baggie or container they will stay bright longer.

I made a couple of video tutorials (my first!) one with my polishing kit and one with a green scrubby but hopefully you will get useful info from all of them. This first video link uses the green scrubby:

These next two videos show how to use my polishing kits:

How to use your polishing kit #1
polishing kit demo #2

Thanks for visiting and hope this was helpful. Grateful for all of you that have supported my biz, followed along and enjoy my work. Wishing good health & all the best.

Where You Can Find My Work – Finger Lakes Shops

Handwork – Ithaca, NY

Handwork, Ithaca’s Artist Cooperative is a unique spot to find useful local art – art that is a statement piece on its own but has a functional side. For example, we feature local artists who create cutting boards, hats, mugs, tool caddies, earrings, leather belts, etc! The list goes on.

As the name suggests, the artists in the cooperative own and staff the shop. It can be challenging to have enough time to own and run a shop, as well as create enough work to fill the shop. So by splitting our time, all the artists can have time to make new art and support each other by minding the shop. It also gives us an opportunity to meet people in the community that are familiar with our work but maybe we haven’t gotten the chance to meet yet in person.

The cooperative (initially called Cooperative Craft Store) was founded in 1976 by 12 local artists banding together and now features more than 40.

Stop by sometime and meet the artists!

Sundrees – Trumansburg, NY

A locally owned shop featuring a fun curated mix of pieces including a variety of locally made ones. The shop frequently rotates their collection of goods – handmade journals & handbags, local pottery, fun kitchen tools, luxurious soaps & lotions, and cute dresses – as well as their whimsical window displays.

If you’re making the trip to Trumansburg visit Taughannock Falls State Park to check out the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Maybe treat yourself to some ice cream from Cayuga Lake Creamery or lunch at Creekside Cafe. If you’re going to dinner at Atlas Bowl or Hazelnut Kitchen stop at Garrett’s Brewing for a beer first! Sundrees is right next door!

I also have a handful of pieces at Little Button Craft in Rochester, NY as well.

New Studio – Tour

Laurel O’Brien Jewelry

Last October I made a big leap and rented a real studio! A set of offices outside of my home! For many years I have been working out of a room in my apartment, before that an unheated porch and before that a table in my Dad’s garage. Each space had its perks and I am always grateful to have somewhere to work but none of them had what I needed.

Last fall I realized I had to find a new space again and jumped at the chance to rent a space downtown in Ithaca. The space wasn’t pretty but was affordable, functional and full of potential. I signed the lease, bought paint, put up shelves and got to work. I probably put more time and energy then needed into fixing it up but I was (& still am!) so excited about it! I spend a ton of time working and am grateful to be in a creative and fun space.

Welcome to My New Studio!

The best part has been the chance to spread out and have real designated work areas! As I make each piece of jewelry it goes through a series of processes.

Every step is so much easier and works better in its own space. I have an area for cutting, sawing, grinding, sanding and soldering. I even have a place for shipping! I also have a great little area to make tea and sit.

Tool Room

This is the messy room! I’m taking raw materials and starting the process of making it a finished product. The metal comes in sheets or wire and I need to cut the metal. Everything needs to be sawn, ground, and sanded so it can take the shape of the jewelry.

Hammering Hall

This is where the jewelry gets the form, texture, and defined shape. I spend a lot of time hammering. The hallway has natural light, which I love, and the hammering is my favorite part of the process so I wanted to use the space that way. I also use the light for photographing the finished pieces. I frequently incorporate gemstones into my work and I want to make sure you can see how the stones play with the light.

Utility Room

It’s not an attractive space but it’s very productive! The last step in my process happens here: polishing and oxidizing. So everything looks beautiful and sharp.

Shipping Lounge

It’s a multipurpose room where I have a counter dedicated to shipping supplies for my Etsy shop and a comfy sofa for working on the Etsy listings and other computer work. At the counter I have little cubbies for business cards, envelopes and polishing kits. There’s cabinets with the boxes and packaging. And I string up a wire for all my ribbon choices!
The sofa makes it feel like you are lounging in your house or a nice coffee shop with throw pillows, blankets, and twinkly lights. Who says you can’t enjoy the space you work in?

Coffee Shop

I spend a good amount of my time at my studio and it was important to me to have a location to take it easy, rest my feet, and refuel. So I have outfitted my sitting area with a French Press, delicious coffee and tea, mugs made from my local artist friends (Julie Crosby & Hannah Graeper) and many snacks! I’m a sucker for chocolate so if you have any favorites, let me know!

I am loving having space to grow and all the potential new projects that can happen now! I am considering teaching a couple of classes and am hoping to have a pop up sale sometime this spring.

Studio updates

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Lots of great things have been happening in 2018 including visiting the Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, AZ this past winter. I found some beautiful stones including the natural labradorite featured in the new pieces above. I also fell in love with all the cacti!

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I was excited to invited to be a part of the ongoing  sweet Bough Wedding collective !   This is great finger lakes region resource if you are getting married or know someone who is!

In the meantime I  am continuing to keep busy with making jewelry, attending  shows and being a part of Handwork Cooperative and Sundrees.
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Late Summer and fall shows are scheduled and I am working on creating some new styles and projects. Hope you have a had a great 2018 so far and thanks for following!

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Studio Tools and Summer Projects

As summer shows wind down I wanted to say Thanks! Thanks for following along and gratitude to everyone who came out to shows and shops. It was nice to see so many people in person!

I also wanted to share some unseen aspects of handmade jewelry. Each piece is made with hands and tools. Here are a few of my favorite tools… my hammers (I love the most!) Each hammer creates different textures and can change and form metal. My classic jewelers saw cuts out shapes and creates silhouettes inside those shapes as well if I choose. I also use many more pliers and mandrels then shown. I hope to do a virtual studio tour next….

Flower Shop Pop-Up!

The Ithaca The Flower Shop is tucked away in the the Fall Creek neighborhood of downtown Ithaca. As much as I love the studio I was pretty excited to be offered a pop-up shop by Stacey, the shops owner! Tuesday was sunny outside (a bit of a miracle for Ithaca in february!)  but inside was the real treat. The Ithaca Flower Shop has an amazing collection of plants, flowers, artisan ceramics and other little surprises.

Spending Valentines Day in this flower shop was a fun experience! The shop smelled of flowers and an exquisite stream of beautiful arrangements, stems and plants flowed through. Thanks to everyone who came out and visited me! For those of you in the area who missed it, my jewelry wont be there but I highly suggest a visit if you need a mini vacation from winter….             http://www.ithacaflowershop.com

Thankful

November is coming to a close, leaves and snow have fallen and the studio is strewn with projects in process. It is always a challenge to take a day off for Thanksgiving. As much as there is to do I know how important it is to take time to reflect on how much there is to be grateful for, spend time with family and eat good food!  I feel so very grateful for the enthusiasm, support and encouragement I receive from my customers and my community, so thankyou for being a part of it!  I have to pinch myself that I have so many wonderful people in my life and supporting my work. Wishing you happy and grateful hearts and belly’s this Thanksgiving.

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