Monday
Apr202009

No fear of commitment



Although several people have said "oh, I should have you do our rings," It's been a while since such comments have actually come to fruition. Well, a couple I know actually committed (no pun intended) to having me make their rings. 

They wanted them to be coordinating, but not exactly the same. I pointed out that doing so would cost more because of the need to create two different designs, and suggested a design with a pattern that made the rings look different depending on how they were placed on the finger. They liked this idea, and off I went. 

I designed a pattern that would rotate around (and be cut out of) the surface of the ring, which gave the design uniqueness due to the "negative space" and also would cause the rings to look coordinating yet different when worn, based on what part of the pattern was visible on the top of the finger. And if they get tired of looking at a particular part of the pattern, all they have to do is give the ring a twist. The pattern doesn't say anything; it's a series of shapes that play off each other, much like my Geoglyphic bracelet.

Sunday
Mar222009

What's your biggest mistake or worst workbench disaster?

For some reason disasters are more interesting to read about then successes. It's like the news — when things go right, there seems to be no desire to talk about them. Ah well.

I've had my share of things go wrong at the bench (and elsewhere) while working on a piece. I've melted things, dropped a bezel down the drain, and burned or cut myself countless times over the past twenty years.

One day that does stand out is the day I was working on a bracelet link and I attempted to pick it up with tweezers immediately after a soldering operation. I lost my grip on it and the hot piece landed on the wood floor, burning it and in danger of starting a fire. I quickly bent down to pick it up... and slammed the top of my head into the bench pin (a piece of wood that is attached to the front of the bench, for sawing and forming). Ouch. I saw stars and nearly forgot about the piece of silver burning its way through the floor. 

I picked up the piece and managed to get it (smoldering with melted polyurethane, nasty) to a safe place before staggering to the bathroom to survey the damage to my head: apparently I had dragged the top of my scalp (my head is shaved so this was easy to see) across the front of the bench pin, leaving a 3-inch long bloody scrape. It didn't cut all the way through so I didn't need stitches, fortunately, but it was quite ugly and for about a week I had to put up with being stared at and asked "oh my god, what happened?"

Read about these other jewelry artists' mishaps:

Angela Baduel-Crispin
Tonya Davidson
Lorrene Davis
Tamra Gentry
Lora Hart
Elaine Luther
Chris Parry 

 

Monday
Mar092009

Silent all these years

My work for the last twenty years, although certainly not "silent" has for the most part been missing a voice I've always wanted to add. I've sought to incorporate color into my designs by using various gem beads and the occasional cabochon-cut stone, which I have no trouble setting. 

But I've always loved and wanted to use faceted colored stones. I just never learned how to set them properly. I generally do not like prongs — I strongly prefer bezels, and bezels are tricky and difficult. I attempted them from time to time but never with much success. Oddly, even with the ubiquitous Internet and all of the free information out there, I couldn't find a "how-to" anywhere, and the books I've found don't really discuss the bezel-setting of faceted stones. 

Over the years I collected more and more of stones, because (as I've mentioned before) I just love my sparklies. Unfortunately I didn't feel confident enough to actually do anything with them, so they have sat in various drawers for years, and I would pull them out and look at them, wistfully.

Now at the Lillstreet Art Center, where I also teach every now and then, the head of the metals department offered a class on bezel setting, including faceted stones. I wanted to ask for her help prior to the class ever making it onto the schedule, but was always too busy (and I'm sure she was also). 

Anyhow, I took the class. It was fantastic. Apparently I had the right ideas all these years but lacked the tips and tricks of execution that mean the difference between success and failure. Armed with this newly acquired skill, the gemstone floodgates have officially been opened. 

Starting with this: my Helios pendant of fine silver with a 30+ carat citrine. The whole piece measures about 2 inches wide, 2.5 inches tall and about 3/4 of an inch deep. It is not light or delicate by any means. I wanted it to be big and glorious — if the comments of all who've seen it are any reflection, I have achieved that. More to come!

 

Friday
Feb202009

Rituals

It's time for the monthly blog "carnival," where fellow jewelry artists write about their take on a particular topic.

This month is "Rituals: Do you have a particular process that helps you to tap into your creativity, complete projects on time or any other ritualistic habits?"

The first thing I thought of was people standing around a circle in robes, chanting. Seriously though, I suppose just sitting at my workbench and beginning to create something is a ritual unto itself, and the workbench is my altar. In place of candles I have torches. Instead of a knife or athame, I have my saw and hammers and files. Instead of a goblet of wine, oh... wait... no substitution there, heh.

It's interesting to read that many of the artists participating in this monthly posting have written that they like to clean up their work spaces first. I only do that occasionally. If something is in my way, I move it to the side to make room for the task at hand, but otherwise my workbench has all sorts of partially-finished pieces, components and supplies strewn about. The only consistent organization I do is that I tend to put tools back in their homes so that I can reach for them when needed without having to dig for them.

As far as a ritual for creativity, I think I wrote about that in a previous blog entry—Usually I already have an idea for what I want to create, but if I don't already, I go for a walk (weather permitting) and look at things for inspiration: either in nature (trees, flowers, animals) or in my urban surroundings (architecture, machinery). That usually provides enough of a spark to get things moving.

Read what these other artists have to say about their creative/work rituals:

Angela Baduel-Crispin
Tonya Davidson
Lorrene Davis
Tamra Gentry
Elaine Luther 
Kirsten Skiles 

Friday
Jan162009

My favorite publication(s) 

Everyone who has any specific profession, skill, hobby or interest probably also has a favorite book, journal or magazine (or more often than ever now, web site or blog).

I have two favorites. It's hard to pick just one. Over the years, both have produced wonderful articles and interviews with inspiring stories, history and photographs. 

The one I knew first, and have been buying and perusing since 1990, is Ornament magazine. 

The interesting thing about Ornament is that in addition to contemporary jewelry there is also historical information, and also articles about other aspects of personal adornment, such as hats or clothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other favorite is Metalsmith magazine. 

Produced by the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), I've always been pleased that they consider all metalsmithing, including silver (not just gold) and even precious metal clay work. I've found great supply and tool resources, as well as information about techniques. It's also inspiring and at times humbling to see what others are doing.

See what these other jewelry artists have to say about their favorite jewelry related publications or books:

Tonya Davidson
Tamra Gentry
Lora Hart
Elaine Luther
Kirsten Skiles 

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