Friday
Feb192010

Technical Difficulty

It's time once again for the blog carnival. This month's Topic: What is the most difficult piece you've ever made, from a technical perspective?  Describe why it was so challenging.


The most difficult piece I've undertaken, or at least the first that comes to mind, are the original links for my Geoglyphic bracelet design.

 

Here's why:
First, I wanted the links to be interchangeable so that each bracelet would be unique. Also, I wanted the links to alternate between those with only straight lines, and those with curves. So they needed to have the ability to link in any order and create an alternating pattern and be all the same size.

I designed eight links, do there would be an option for buyers with larger wrists, but most of the bracelets have used only seven, and not always the same seven, further making each unique.

That was just the design difficulty (complexity).

To create each link, I had to cut precise lengths of 10-gauge sterling square wire to form rhe angular links, and bend lengths of longer square wire, then cut those for the curved parts. For the hinges, I had to drill holes through a length of the wire, then cut the individual segments (24 in all).

After I had all the pieces cut out (more than 60) and precisely fitted together (seams had to be perfect) I set about soldering each one together, a lengthy process.

Square wire has slightly rounded corners, so I had to do quite a bit of filing and sanding to get each piece finished and looking like one piece of metal. Many hours of work and aching, cramped and sometimes  
accidentally stabbed/cut fingers.

After all the links were done, I had silicone molds made of each so I could do cast reproductions and make the bracelets available as a limited edition series.

All in all, a very lengthy and laborious process. 

See what these other artists have to say about their most difficult-to-make pieces:

 

Tonya Davidson
Angela Baduel-Crispin
Lora Hart
Tamra Gentry
Elaine Luther Vickie Hallmark
Andes Cruz
Lorrene Baum-Davis

Saturday
Jan232010

January Blog Carnival: "What’s the Most-Treasured Piece of Jewelry That You Own (not your own work)?"

With one exception, I don't wear metal jewelry that I didn't create myself, because when you tell people you make jewelry, the first thing they do is look at whatever you have on and ask if you made it.

The one piece of jewelry that I wear that is not of my own creation is a bracelet bearing the mantra "om mani padme hum" in 11th-century Nepalese Ranjana script:

It is a well-known mantra, generally translated as "hail the jewel in the lotus," however its six syllables each have a combined meaning that is not so literal, but more about enlightment. You can read more about it here.

What do my fellow blog carnival participants have to say about their favorite pieces?

Lorrene Baum-Davis

Andes Cruz

Tonya Davidson

Tamra Gentry

Vickie Hallmark

Lora Hart

Elaine Luther

 

Friday
Dec182009

"Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you?"

"Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you? (i.e. cold enamel for resin)"

This is our monthly topic for several jewelry artists who participate in what we call our blog "carnival." 

I can't think of anything directly related to "misuse" of a term, so much as I get annoyed by misinterpretation of a term. Examples:

When I say "fabrication" to non-metalsmiths, they first think of "fabricate" as in "lie" or "fake," rather than something hewn from metal using hammers, saws, bending/forming and such. Whereas "forge" would conjure a more accurate image of the process.

The second annoyance is the still-common misperception of what metal clay is — it starts out as something more than clay: it's clay with metal in it. But it ends up solid metal. To the metalsmithing snobs out there who think that casting is "real metal work" but think working in metal clay isn't, consider this: there are (basically) three whole processes involved in casting, in order to get the end result of a metal object, and two of those processes involve no interaction with actual metal. Metal clay, however, is (basically) only two processes: forming and firing. The metal is there the whole time — you can even feel its heft in the piece as you work. There is no substitution of materials involved (as in casting, with the exchanging of wax for a void, and then filling that void with metal). So the misperception that metal objects created using metal clay are somehow less than metal or inferior, yeah — that irks me. 

If you really want to be a metalworking purist, then you need to do all of your work with manual hand tools and hammers, an anvil, and flame only — no rolling mills, no draw plates, no casting, no flex shaft motor tools, etc. But I'm not interested in puritanical views of metalwork. What I'd like to see is beautiful metal objects and jewelry created without anyone judging anyone else on how they got from concept to finished metal piece. What should matter is the creation.

Oh and here's another annoyance: people who string together only pre-made beads and parts, and call themselves "jewelry designers." That's not design. That's assembly.

See how my fellow jewelry artists responded to this topic (links will be added as I receive them from participants):

Andes Cruz

Angela Baduel-Crispin

Tamra Gentry

Lora Hart

Lorrene Baum-Davis

Elaine Luther

Tonya Davidson

Sunday
Dec062009

Sometimes a photo just can't do justice 

Some of my designs are so three-dimensional that they are hard to capture with just one camera angle in a photo. I just finished this ring last night — it's part of a "his and hers" set. I've added a photo of them together in the one-of-a-kinds gallery, but decided to also shoot a little video of the "hers" ring:

 

Friday
Nov202009

"How are the continued higher prices of precious metals affecting your work?"

 

 

As I write this, gold is $1,145 per troy ounce. (Silver is $18.45 an ounce.) This is because the value of the US dollar has been in the toilet for too long.

It is depressing. Although I love silver, there are certain designs and stones that just call for gold, and it's so ridiculously expensive (it has been for quite some time actually, but now it's just excessively so) that I can't afford to buy/work with it. I remember back when I started metalsmithing and it was $300-ish per ounce. Most of my customers say they prefer silver to gold or platinum, so the price of gold hasn't affected me terribly in terms of sales, but it has hindered me in terms of creative potential.

I like to be able to create with more metals than silver, and so I've had to explore using base metals such as bronze and copper as an alternative. Thankfully, a couple of recent innovations have helped make this interesting rather than feeling like a step down in quality. I'm finding that people are receptive to the use of copper and bronze in jewelry, particularly when it looks aged.

I've also been using less metal overall, incorporating more non-metal elements into my designs — such as gemstone beads, and I've considered using palladium (currently $369/oz.), a white metal in the platinum family that doesn't tarnish like silver.

How are other jewelry artists dealing with the high price of precious metals? 

See their blogs for their perspectives (to be updated on Nov. 20 as I get links from all participants):

 

Angela Baduel-Crispin

Andes Cruz

Tonya Davidson

Tamra Gentry

Vickie Hallmark

Elaine Luther