Wedding Season – Matching Jewelry for California Almond Orchard Engagement Photo Shoot

Happy March! Wedding season is upon us, and this year I get to make the jewelry Almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

for my own wedding! I’ve already designed the necklace I will wear, and next items on my list are the jewelry for my sister (maid of honor) and her daughters (flower girls.)

Last weekend we took a drive out into the California valley, and had a mini engagement shoot in an almond orchard. We were a little late in the blooming season – most of the blossoms are at their peak around mid February, but we were able to find one area that still had some pretty white petals.

Of course, I made myself a bracelet and earrings set to match my dress! The bracelet is multi-strand and features beautiful vintage glass, olive and plum freshwater pearls, and large link brass chain, all finishing with an ivory satin tie-up ribbon. I made some petite vintage glass drop earrings to go with it.

The bracelet and earring set..

Engagement Photo Shoot Jewelry - Victoria Camp Designs

A close-up with the bracelet, and a different image where you can see it in action!

Engagement Photo Shoot Jewelry - Victoria Camp Designs

 

I absolutely had to take a photograph of my beautiful engagement ring (an Edwardian antique) over one of the almond blossoms in the orchard!

Antique engagement ring over almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

Most of the blooms here had already fallen, giving way to the little green leaves, but you can see there were still a few hanging on. The ground was filled with flower petals.. they were dropping right before our eyes!

Image

There were LOTS of honeybees buzzing about. I’m daydreaming about almond blossom honey..Mmm.

Honey bee in almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

This is my favorite time of year – spring is well underway in California!

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Victoria Camp Designs 2013 Holiday Sale!

It’s that time of year.. my holiday sale has begun!

flyersmall

This will be my only sale for the remainder of the year/winter, so if you had your eye on something, now is the time to get a deal!

The coupon codes work on both of my main shops:

Http://www.victoriacamp.com

Http://victoriacampdesigns.etsy.com

Please note that I will not be taking any Rush Orders this season, and will only offer Express shipping on domestic orders of Ready-To-Ship items. I appreciate your understanding!

A Glimpse into my Product Packaging Process..

One of the perks about shopping handmade is that there is a real person behind the item you’re purchasing. There is thought, love, care, and attention within each carefully crafted item, not to mention a unique product that you wouldn’t find at a mass retailer.

For many of us that sell handmade goods, the fun doesn’t stop as soon as we’ve finished creating the item – there’s still the joy that arrives when the item is purchased and sent to a new home somewhere across the country – or globe!

 

constellation packaging example

 

As an independent designer and “one woman show,” as its often referred to, I tend to get a little excited packaging my jewelry. I want my customers to be delighted, and think of each package as a gift (even if the customer is buying it for themselves!) My packaging has somewhat morphed from when I first began selling online, and I expect that it will continue to evolve as time goes on.

 

As the real person behind this business, I wanted to share with you a glimpse into my packaging routine.

 

packaginginprogress01

My very first step is to set aside each item that is ready to ship. I keep my inventory well organized, so it’s quick and easy to find the items that need to be mailed. If I am sending out custom orders,  I also move them to the ‘completion table’ here when they are finished.

packaginginprogress

The next step is really a multiple step process. I put out the “care instruction” cards for each applicable item, and affix a little decoration to the box when available, (in this case, I attach a map cut-out for the map jewelry, and a constellation map cut-out for the constellation jewelry.) Once those materials are prepped, I package up the jewelry and put it into a bubble mailer with the recipient’s name on it; this helps keep everything organized so that the customer does not receive the wrong item! Each box includes a business card with a quick note written on the back, and a satin ribbon tied around it.

floormanager

This is my Floor Manager, Butters. (Get it? Har har..) His responsibilities include chasing after runaway beads (don’t worry, he’s not interested in eating them,) greeting the mailman, and making sure I remember to take scheduled breaks and pay him some attention. He gets paid in belly rubs and squeaky toys.

finishedpackages

Once all of the boxes are tucked safely inside their respective bubble mailer (these ones are biodegradable!,) I print out all of the shipping labels and attach them to the packages. It’s somewhat of a matching game, especially when I have a large shipment. When the labels are printed, each customer receives an email notification that their package has shipped.

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes view of what’s involved after you place your order.

 

Fine Silver Rose Earrings

Happy 2012! I’ve been using my new kiln for the past month, and wanted to share one of my new (sort of!) designs. “New,” referring to the medium more-so than the design. If you’ve visited my website or Etsy storefront, you’re probably familiar with my clay roses. I’ve recently returned to working with precious metal clay, and decided what better to use to start off with than the roses?

For those that aren’t familiar with precious metal clay, let me give you a brief explanation: precious metal clay is composed of microscopic particles of precious metal, held together with an organic binder. Although the working properties of this clay are slightly different than other clays (for example, it dries out much faster) it can be cut/shaped/molded/carved in a similar fashion. The clay is then dried, fired (heated/cured,) then burnished (hardened,) polished and buffed. The organic binder is burned off in the firing process, leaving just the metal behind! Pretty neat, huh?

Precious metal clay is available in fine silver, copper, bronze, gold (22k) and most recently sterling silver.  I’m using fine silver right now, since I’m already familiar with it, and will be using the copper next! (Note: Fine silver is higher quality and does contain more silver than sterling silver: .999 instead of .925.)

I thought I’d share a few photos from the process involved in making my fine silver rose earrings. It takes a long time to complete each rose (and earring) but the finished result is beautiful and well worth the effort.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose earrings

(A finished pair of fine silver rose earrings.)

First and foremost, I shape the clay. I make the fine silver roses by hand, petal by petal – the same process used in my polymer clay roses. (No molds are ever used for my roses – each one is unique!) I sand and smooth the clay, then let them dry.. sometimes overnight, sometimes in the kiln.

Next, I fire the roses in my kiln. The temperature I use ranges from 1200-1500F degrees, depending on the design. (Yes, that is HOT!)

Victoria Camp Designs - kiln

Once the roses are fired and have cooled down, I take them out of the kiln. They appear “white.” This is a crystallized layer that must be burnished to remove. You can use a tumbler or a burnishing tool.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose1

I use a hand burnishing tool for these, since I need to get in between all of the little creases and crevices of the petals. You can see on the top right petal, burnishing also makes it shiny! (It helps harden the metal, too.) The rose must be burnished on all sides, top to bottom, around every edge.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose2

Once burnished, the rose looks shiny. As you can see, the final product is in fact a solid metal piece. This one is fine silver, which contains more silver (.999) than sterling silver (.925.)

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose3

“Shiny” silver is nice, but I want a little more depth in this rose design. My next step is to oxidize the silver. Both fine silver and sterling silver will naturally oxidize over time (this happens with exposure to air, water, etc.) but I use a chemical solution to speed up the process. Here you can see that the roses have oxidized, and look dark gray/black. I actually like how these look oxidized, but will keep going..

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose4

After oxidizing, I polish the outer edges and petals of the roses (as well as the earring posts) to return certain areas to a pretty shine. I use a polishing pad and polish each rose by hand. You can see that I have left some of the oxidization on the inner portion of the petals, to create some texture and depth.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose5

A close-up of the rose.. doesn’t that look pretty? I definitely prefer the oxidized details over the previously completely shiny rose.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver rose6

Here’s a photo of the roses in various stages.. Starting from the left, the two light gray roses are fine silver clay that has been sculpted and dried. They are ready to go in the kiln, but haven’t been fired yet. The shiny silver rose to the right of them has been fired and also burnished. The two small roses to the right of that have been fired, burnished, oxidized, and polished. The earring I am holding has also gone through the complete process as well, from creating to firing to finishing.

Victoria Camp Designs - fine silver roses

 

The item listing for the petite fine silver rose earrings can be found here:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/91118038/petite-fine-silver-rose-earrings-on

$20 Map Cuff Bracelet Sale

I’ve been thinking about the holidays. I’m guessing that after reading that sentence, you either:

A. Wondered why it took me so long to bring it up, since you started your shopping in July..

B. Aren’t ready to admit that it’s already October and will begin your shopping on December 22nd, all the while questioning my sanity..

or, C. Might be somewhere in between. You know it’s coming, but you’re not quite ready to prepare because you don’t find it as thrilling as the A group!

I think I fall into the A group. I’m a planner. I plan things, and I plan EARLY. This drives some of my close friends and family pretty crazy, inevitably, but it’s who I am and I surely would not be happy any other way!

Thinking about the holidays leads me to think about my business, a LOT. More than usual, which is already pretty much every waking second of the day. So, I thought to myself, rather than do some crazy entire shop sale free-for-all in December to cater to all of the procrastinators (and quite possibly make myself crazy in the process) I decided I’d put certain sections on sale, one at a time.. throughout October and November. I’ll save something else, something special, for December. There’s some ideas I have in the works to express my gratitude for my customers and support I have received thus far, but that will come later.

The first sale I’m holding will feature the map cuff bracelets. I really love these! They’re the first map jewelry item I designed, and have been one of my best selling items in the long run. I’ve been wearing my own map cuff for years! The sale runs now through tomorrow (Saturday) evening. You can purchase any in-stock map cuff for just $20! These would be great as gifts for best friends and favorite family members. Here’s some of my personal picks:

Victoria Camp Designs - Fenway Park Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - Fenway Park Map Cuff Bracelet

Growing up on the east coast, I will forever remain a Red Sox fan!

Victoria Camp Designs - New York Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - New York Map Cuff Bracelet

This one was made with a really great vintage New York map. So fun!

Victoria Camp Designs - Oakland Map Cuff Bracelet

Victoria Camp Designs - Oakland Map Cuff Bracelet

Clearly, this post wouldn’t be complete without representing my current city!

There’s over three dozen different map cuff bracelets currently in stock. Check them out for yourself here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/vsc83?section_id=5585826