Friday
Nov212008

What are you grateful for, in regards to jewelry?

It's very close to our Thanksgiving holiday, and the question came up in our "blog carnival" group: what are you grateful for (in regards to jewelry)?

I am grateful that I found my favorite artistic medium early in life, as I started out drawing and painting, long before I first learned to work with metals.

I am grateful that I continue to receive inspiration for new designs, and that the pieces I create are beautiful (or at least very interesting) not just to me, but also to the people around me, and to the clients who buy them.

I am grateful that I now have the resources to acquire the materials, tools and supplies I need, so that unlike in the past I am not limited in what I can create because of a lack of tools or raw materials.

Last but far from least, I am grateful that I have working eyes and hands, without which I would not be able to create my pieces.

Read about what my fellow jewelry artists in the USA, France and the UK are grateful for:

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

Friday
Oct312008

What’s a skill you’d like to learn and why? 

I would love to learn how to weld. I have wanted to for over a decade but haven't done much about it except I occasionally remember that I want to learn. Blacksmithing would also be cool.

Skills like welding, I look at in a way as a kind of social insurance. Having real-life skills that would come in handy in the event of an apocalyptic or catastrophic event, such as cooking, building, sewing, and welding/blacksmithing — these are important things. If society as we know it fell apart, there are a great number of people who would be absolutely useless to humanity: investment bankers, for example. The people who would be of value would be those with actually useful abilities, so I think everybody should have at least one. Oh yeah, and whoever has the most guns and such — they'd unfortunately become rather important as well. But I digress.

I don't only think about world wars, disasters and such when it comes to welding. I really like the idea of being able to work with metal on a much larger scale than jewelry. I would love the freedom to create large sculptures and even furniture. I've also been wanting for many years to make a series of very three-dimensional lanterns with skeletal metal frames which I first envisioned in 1996. They'd really only be possible with welding.

So one of these days I will figure out a place to go and learn this skill, or perhaps there's someone who could teach me. I prefer one-on-one private learning, but would do a class if I knew of one. 

See what these other jewelry artists have to say on the subject of skills they'd like to learn, or an already learned favorite technique:

Tonya Davidson
Lorrene Davis
Elaine Luther 

Friday
Sep192008

The path to jewelry

How did I get into making jewelry? To answer this question we must obviously go back in time, since I've been doing it for a while.

About a million years ago when I was in high school, I did a lot of drawing and painting. I actually really liked painting. But then two people told me my work looked like that of an apparently well-known artist I'd never heard of, whose paintings I had never seen. In a huff to be expected of an offended teenager, I destroyed all of my paintings and said I would never paint again.

A short time after the painting debacle, I took my first metalsmithing class. It was in this class I realized I really enjoyed working in three dimensions, and this was also when I determined that I must have been a dragon (or at least a magpie) in a former life because I just love. shiny. sparkly. things. Working even with metals was extraordinarily gratifying. As for why...I'm not much of a pyromaniac, nor was I afraid of the torch... it really was the beauty of the finished piece and the reaction to those who saw it — that's what hooked me.

Now almost two decades later, I'm still doing it. The first ten years I only produced a handful of pieces (money was a severely limiting factor back then and I had no tools and even less adequate workspace). Since 2000, I have been ramping up and doing more each year. And I don't plan on stopping.

See what these other jewelry artists had to say about how they got started:

Angela Baduel-Crispin
Tonya Davidson
Lorrene Davis
Elaine Luther
Lora Hart

Friday
Aug222008

The mad scientist's laboratory

I think every jeweler/metalsmith's work area contains common elements, but the way we have things organized (or in my case, disorganized) is as varied as our personalities.

Here's a tour of the busiest part of my workshop, which is rather compact:

1. Flex-shaft motor tool (for grinding, polishing, etc.)
2. Propane/oxygen torch
3. Bin for hammers, mandrels and other larger tools
4. Letter/number punches, burs, sheet metal, sandpapers, waxes...
5. Bench pin and saw
6. Soldering area
7. Misc. parts and pieces of metal, works in progress
8. Pickle pot (heated container of mild acid solution for cleaning metal)
9. Electric kiln
10. Dapping block and punches for forming domed/rounded surfaces
11. Misc. chemicals and solutions
12. Burnishing and tumbling media
13. Tumbler (oops, I left the drum on the bathroom sink)
14. Drawers full of stuff that would otherwise get lost
15. Safety glasses - VERY important!

Curious what other jeweler's work areas look like? Have a look at these:

Angela Baduel-Crispin
Lorrene Davis
Tamra Gentry
Lora Hart
Kirsten Skiles
Elaine Luther 

Wednesday
Jul302008

My bronze age

My first bronze piece: The God of Past Loves

Significant to me, professionally due to working with a new material/technique, but also on a very
personal level.