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Last summer, Sue and I were on a family trip to northwest Michigan.  We were touring around the area looking for art galleries and other interesting places, when we stumbled on an antique store in Empire that had a basket full of these odd aluminum thingies.  Immediately, I was taken back to summers of my childhood, where we would find these things along the Lake Michigan beach.  Back in the early and mid twentieth century, fishermen on the Great Lakes used these floats as part of their nasty gill net operations.  I think at some point gill nets were outlawed, but native americans were exempt from this and continued using them for a while.

After that initial childhood memory faded, I immediately saw the potential for these to make some really cool jewelry.  The fact that these were at least 50 years old and had some really interesting nicks and grooves made them all the more appealing.  Once we got back to the studio, I began cutting the first one up into various shapes - and assembled them into earrings for the retail shops and for gifts.  With a quick filing of the edges and some attention from a wire brush, the individual pieces had a bit of shine but still had all the diverse pockmarks and scratches.
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Here is a sample design I came up with.  I have also made pairs that are larger curved triangles that used one of the ends and thinner, curved pieces of a slice of the float.  I have a lot of other ideas for future projects.

While these floats were used in barbaric gill net fishing operations on Lake Michigan, I am comfortable with the fact that these earrings can still probably be considered "vegan" - since the floats can no longer be used to catch fish.

If you are interested in a pair like this - just let me know.  You can also see more earrings from the "gill net float" series at our galleries.

 
 
We have been extra busy in the Julian Creek Artworks studio over the last few weeks.  Still lots of time to get delivery on some of our favorites as well as new designs.  All are either sterling silver or have sterling silver earring wires. Please take a look below.

Until Christmas, we are offering FREE shipping - just let us know which ones you want!
 
 
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The projects on our little lake house near Anderson continue. An ad on Facebook for an online solar energy installation marketplace caught our attention - get multiple quotes for solar panel installation easily from pre-qualified installers.  Easy enough.  Key in some basic info - address, electric usage, etc. - and the quotes started to flow in.  

Our little house seemed like an ideal candidate for solar.  It is small and our electric usage is pretty low.  The house sits over water - so shading is not an issue most of the day.  We have two roof portions that face south - on the main house and on a boat dock roof.  

Most of the quotes came in about the same. We selected a company based near Charlotte - Renewable Energy Design Group - after meeting with a salesperson, speaking to one of the owners and reading reviews.  Because the upstate is known for ice storms and frequent power outages, we decided to add to the mix a battery backup and solar hot water system.

In considering the actual installation, we pondered what to do with the existing roof.  It was estimated to be 10 or so years old.  We got estimates and really struggled with what roof type to get.  A regular shingle roof is the cheapest option - but the solar panel installation would then require lots of holes drilled into the roof deck - lots of potential leaks.  We eventually decided to go with a standing seam metal roof - which allows the panels to be attached by clips to the seams.

The roof got installed a couple weeks ago - and the solar install was just finished (almost) today.  Can't power it up yet due to necessary inspections - but it looks pretty cool!

So what does this have to do with earrings?  As the roofers were packing up, we asked them to leave any extra metal scraps - and leave scraps they did!  Similarly, the solar guys probably used what seemed like several miles of wire - and we snagged some of the leftover pieces as they cleaned up.  We always seem to have house projects done - and trying to find some parts or pieces left over that we can re-purpose into artwork. 

As a quick test, we created a couple pairs of earrings.  The green metal roof is a lot thicker gauge than we typically work with - but once trimmed and filed down - looks pretty cool.  The braided wire from the solar install has different thicknesses - so possible to use as a wrap or as a hanging piece.  See a couple of examples below.  If you are interested in these (or ones very similar) - just let us know - they will be for sale tomorrow at the Anderson County Holiday Market.



 
 
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In our last post, I described how we were working on converting a nasty old Swiffer Wet Jet mop into the start of various jewelry pieces.

Well, the Holiday Season is upon us, and the elves at Julian Creek Artworks have been busy in the art studio.  

The first task was to cut off a piece of the salvaged Swiffer mop handle - check.  Inside the studio, this was put in the vise and then some slices were cut off.  I toyed briefly with stopping there and just making some rings - for large handed people.  

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But soon enough, I had the cut rings opened up, sides smoothed down and cut into pieces for earrings.  

We had purchased a roll of copper looking strapping "tape" to use to secure some gates to keep our dog Sundae on a deck.  Turns out it really isn't copper, but it did the trick with the gate.  Lots left over, so we have been using pieces of the strapping in our earring designs.  I cut a couple of thin strips to use with the Swiffer pieces.  Last step was to assemble - and a couple of examples are below.  If you are interested in purchasing, just let us know.

 
 
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When we moved in to our little house on the Lake in the Upstate of South Carolina, the previous owner had left several surprises - almost all unwelcome.

One collection was some oddball chemicals, herbicides, cleaning supplies and some unknown liquids.  One particularly grimy item was a Swiffer Wet Jet.  After a failed attempt to rid ourselves of some semi-usable items on Craigslist, Sue suggested that the Swiffer pole might in fact be aluminum.

Sure enough, the magnet test failed - and we suddenly had 3 feet of prime aluminum stock for future jewelry projects.

It did take quite a bit of effort to saw off the upper plastic handle and disengage the aluminum pole from the base - but I think it will be worth it.  Once I had the pole freed from rest of the unit, I began to see the potential...and $$$ signs (well maybe only a couple).

So what will we make out of this treasure?  Stay tuned and check back soon!

 
 
So we recently bought a new refrigerator, and decided not to go with an ice maker - since water wouldn't be filtered and they take up too much room in the freezer.  The old relic fridge had one that we never used and when prepping the space for the new one, we discovered several feet of waterline made from copper tubing coiled up.  Immediately, we began thinking of how we could repurpose this into our art.
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Cutting off a piece, I wrangled the copper into the vise and got the jeweler's saw out.  This copper tubing is pretty soft, so the cutting was relatively easy.  I cut off a couple of pieces, then took those and cut a line across the top of each.  This allowed me to flatten them out with a couple pliers, then a bit more with the hammer. Ended up with 4 pretty odd shapes.  These then needed some filing and grinding on the edges.  One side of each piece was fairly shiny already and the other side had a nice dark patina - so I decided to leave the backsides alone.  On the front, I used a cutter wheel to make small indentations and nicks, then used a wire brush to polish up.  Drilled a hole in the top of each, then dropped them into the tumbler for more smoothing.

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With the copper pieces out of the tumbler, next step was to create the dangles.  I found a scrap piece of silver wire and cut a couple of pieces.  These were curved slightly and the bottom ends hammered to serve as a stop for the beads, which were then strung on the wires. The tops were also hammered wide enough to be able to drill a hole.  With 22 gauge silver wire, this is more than a bit challenging.  Finally, created some earring wires, tumbled them and assembled everything.  And the final result is below.  These were placed for sale at Kress Emporium in Asheville.  If you would like a similar pair, just let us know.