Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Intermediate Stone Setting

A few weeks ago, I took a two-day workshop given by Wayne Werner through MASSC on intermediate stone setting. We looked at flush, pave, and prong setting diamond cut stones. These are things I "know" how to do, but am not practiced at, and don't own all the tools for, so I thought it would be good for me to practice with a master. Mr. Werner was funny and great to learn from. The photo above was him demonstrating pave setting using a large, green, diamond shaped, glass paperweight and setting it into a tub of vanilla ice cream using a spoon graver to raise beads of "metal" over the edge. That was on the 2nd day of the workshop. The first day was spent entirely on flush setting. After the demo, it was the attendees' turn to try it out. I actually got the stone to "pop" into the setting I made on the first try, so Wayne gave me a sticker for my optivisor. It says, "Rock Star" on it. He didn't see the part where the stone fell out after I thought I had it burnished in place.
I did manage to get my three CZ's flush set into my a bit of copper and one pave set into a bit of silver. The pave one is a mess, but it's in there. I need a lot more practice with a graver. obviously. I didn't have time to attempt the prong setting at the workshop, but I will work on it. I now have a wish list which includes a huge assortment of setting burrs and stones. We did make two burnishers - steel and brass - I love making my own tools! Mr. Werner also gave a presentation of his body of work and of Foredom tools - I have a wonderful Foredom Flex Shaft, but there are so many great accessories for it and some other fantastic toys I cannot afford nor have space for, but covet greatly. The hardest part of the workshop was writing the article for the MASSC newsletter, which I volunteered to do. I hope I got everything right in it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Favorite Finds

For me? Pour moi?
I should be shopping for Christmas gifts, but I keep finding fantastic things that I want to fill my home and closet with. Here are just a few of them.
There's something wonderful about drinking tea from a tea bowl and this one has a gorgeous glaze. I could look at it all day.
I love this jacket. The satin ties and the rough cotton are perfect together.
I may need to invent a reason to need a blue capelet.
This photographer's work has a dreamy quality that I love.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Finale

Silver and Brass Filigree!
We wrap up our Project Runway jewelry challenge with "mini collections". Five pieces representing a cohesive collection including a necklace, earrings, ring, bracelet, and another item to chose to make. My collection is inspired by the Getty inspiration piece from a couple of weeks ago. I love how the yellow, raw brass filigree looks against a background of sterling silver, so I went back to my local vintage findings shop and rummaged through their bins for interesting little bits of brass. My five piece collection includes five different selections of brass in five different shapes and sizes.
The necklace is a hollow form curved rectangle with a square filigree and a hidden tube bale on the reverse. I wanted the square piece to be featured dimensionally and it's size to be enhanced. The width on the sides of the brass gives it that enhancement and the convex curve of the front makes in dimensional.
The earrings are made from two parts of a large medallion of brass filigree that a cut apart and soldered to tear shaped silver. They are 1 1/8 inch long and an inch wide.

The ring is a simple 1/4 inch wide band with a single spray of leaf filigree as it's feature. It is suitable for a man or a woman to wear. I considered making a more complicated cocktail ring, but I am happy with the way it turned out.
The bracelet is the piece that I grappled with the most. I thought about affixing these two shapes of brass filigree to a cuff style bracelet. The 'X' shapes are perfectly suited to the diamond shaped filigrees. I decided on the cut out shapes as a link bracelet as I thought It would go better with the rest of the collection. Each of the seven pieces has a slight curve for comfort and dimension.
My final piece is a pair of cufflinks with some small scrolled filigree on circles. I am trying to include more men's and unisex pieces in my line, so this was a great opportunity to put cufflinks in!
Check out my and the other participants final interview and a look at all of our weekly designs here and please take a look at the other fantastic mini-collections!
And it's a wrap! Here's the EtsyMetal post!

Friday, November 20, 2009

EtsyMetal Jewelry Challenge: Pop Challenge

Before the final challenge - a five piece, cohesive collection for the Project Runway Jewelry Challenge - is due (next Friday), we were given a pop challenge to make something using a 1" by 3" piece of sheet metal and three feet of wire - any gauge or size, copper or silver. I used 24 gauge sterling silver sheet and 18 gauge square wire. This is a two sided pendant. I cut the sheet metal into two pieces and curved them in a forming block. I added the square wire in a geometric spiral on one piece, and a bee's path to a flower on the other. The two curved pieces are joined to make a pillow shape and more square wire and sheet are used for the pi bale. I have a 1"x 1/4" piece of sheet and 2 feet of wire left over. If I had had another hour, I could have used the wire for two more geometric spiral earrings.

More Pop Challenges:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: The Getty!

This week on Project Runway, the designers had their last challenge. They were given the Getty Museum as inspiration. They took a 30 minute tour, and had 30 minutes to choose an inspiration piece and sketch. I'm lucky enough to live nearby the Getty and I could spend all day there and not see everything. It took me longer than 30 minutes to look through their online collection photos and choose something to work on. I found a group of silver bowls of an unknown artist from the Parthian (modern Iran) made in the 1st or 2nd century AD. I selected the Bowl with Leaf Calyx Medallion as my inspiration for this challenge.
My interpretation of the bowl consists of a sterling silver disk, dapped into a tiny bowl and given a brass filigree medallion of leaves similar to the gold inlayed calyx medallion on my inspiration piece. The tiny bowl becomes a necklace with a tube bale and chain. I gave it a matte finish to reflect the aged silver of the Getty's ancient bowl.

More Getty inspired work:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Companion Piece

Tall Palm Earrings
These Tall Palm Earrings are the companion to last week's Palm Lined Street Necklace. There wasn't much time for me to devote to this week's project as I am busy with what seems like a zillion other projects, but I think they're cute. These palms are much taller than those in the necklace - they do get super tall, while keeping their skinny trunks - Amazing trees, I think. They don't provide much (if any) shade from the hot sun, but the bushy tips of the trees dot the sky wherever I look.
More Companion Pieces:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Pick a Place!

Welcome to Southern California!
Most palm trees are not native to the area, but they thrive here here and the tree lines streets of Beverly Hills and Hollywood have become iconic symbols of L.A. and Southern California. I am an Orange County native and grew up seeing Palm lined streets everywhere - including the street I grew up on and where my parents still live. On the green belt of the side walk, planted every few yards is a Palm. They don't provide much shade, but I still like them. They have tiny orange 'coconuts' that come down a couple times a year and in the Fall, sometimes the palm fronds turn brown and hang low. As kids we used to swing on the fronds like a Tarzan vine - into the street and back to the sidewalk. Here's a photo I managed to take from the sun roof of my car down the street from my house today.
So the Palm Trees of Southern California serve as my inspiration for my Project Runway Jewelry Challenge. The necklace features a row of palms decorating a slightly curved strip of sterling silver. A 'road' of copper is riveted to the silver along the bottom edge.
Visit some other jewelry places:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Sparkle, Shimmer & Shine!

Last week's project runway was fun. The designers were to create a glitzy stage costume inspired by Bob Mackie's designs. An over the top garment that would stop the show. The EtsyMetal Jewelry Challenge was streamlined to simply create something with sparkle. I wondered what Mr. Mackie had done with jewelry so I did a search and didn't find much - some Christmas pins was all I found, but Bob Mackie did design a line of furniture, and I've always thought that hardware on furniture is quite jewelry like. There was one piece that I found especially show stopping. Just look at the inlay of wood surrounding the simple hardware on this chest. Very Cher and feathers, right?
I will admit that I left this until the last moment, so my entry may not have pushed the envelope outside my comfort zone, as those projects tend to take time. The feathery earrings do have shine. Using the feather motif, I've attached six pieces of hand cut patterned brass feather or leaf shapes to strips of sterling silver as if they were sequins, pinned with a bit of fine silver. They move freely on their pins and catch the light nicely. I am letting them dangle from ear wires so they can swing with the wearer's movement.
Other Sparkly, Shimmery & Shiny things:
See them all on the EtsyMetal Blog!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PRoject Runway Jewelry Challenge: Weddings

Last week, project runway designers had to re-work a wedding dress for a recently divorced client into a non-wedding garment. Well, our leader re-worked the challenge and gave us the directive to design something for a bride.
I have been intending to make a set of wedding rings for some time now and bought these rough, uncut diamonds a long time ago. I love them and have finally put one into a ring that could be an engagement or wedding ring (or both!). I used sterling silver because with the price of gold soaring to new heights and the current economy, I think many couples might chose silver for their rings. It's a simple wide beveled band with the diamond bezel set. The diamond I used is yellow and is cube shaped. I paired the bride's ring with a more masculine ring for our bridegroom. It is a nice, chunky and heavy, beveled band in sterling silver with a small square of 14 kt. gold. The gold square mirrors the shape of the diamond setting in the bride's ring.
Here's a story about my own engagement ring I like to tell. My then future in-laws had set aside three diamonds; one for each of their children to give or have as their engagement ring. A lovely thing for them to do. All we had to do was to select and buy a setting for it. (No there wasn't a ring present at the actual proposal). So, they knew this guy who was a jeweler for a fine jewelry store and he wanted to give us a deal without the jewelry store taking their cut. So, he met us in the gas station across the street from the store and the three of us sat in the back seat looking at samples of settings and having my finger sized. I selected a very simple white gold four prong setting, and then the jeweler sat back and threw his arms around us and said, "Marriage is forever!" in a heavy Italian accent. The whole scene was like something out of a silly movie and my husband and I have often giggled about it. This was the last time I purchased jewelry out of a car, but as I don't have a storefront, I occasionally meet people in various parking lots to exchange a jewelry order for payment, so it isn't the last parking lot jewelry transaction I've been involved it.
And now for our our other submissions:
and the EtsyMetal Blog (thanks Victoria!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

PRoject Runway Jewelry Challenge: Blue

Last week, Project Runway designers were to design something incorporating the color blue for the I.N.C. clothing brand at Macy's. Many moons ago, I worked for Macy's Department store and have always loved I.N.C. They have a simple, classic style, and a sleek silhouette. I don't know if my Blue Ring fits in with their line as it might be a little fussy for them, but I love it. I used a beautiful, marquee shaped, light blue, vintage glass cabochon with some lovely swirls. It is set into sterling silver (silver and blue go so well together!), which I've embellished with a wavy line of silver made with my fun tube wringer. I set it horizontally to make it more modern and gave it a plain rectangle silver band. For fun and a touch of whimsy, I stamped "blue" on the inside of the band. The result is this blue ring, which is now available in my etsy shop!

Check out the other Project Runway Jewelry Challenge Participants!
And here's the EM blog for a summary! Thanks, Victoria!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Little Soldiers

This is what I have been up to lately. These rings are off to Uncommon Goods where they will hopefully all find homes. There's something satisfying about seeing them all lined up like little soldiers. Today, I'll start on a batch of necklaces. I'm in good shape for the deadlines, so I'm happy. Off to the studio!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Hollywood!

Millie Gray boards a bus bound for Hollywood in 1940. She has no beau in the army training camp to stay loyal to and only her mother to disapprove of her pursuit of her dream of a career as an actress. She arrives with her single suitcase and no one to meet her. After finding an apartment to share with several other girls, she is lost in a sea of young, beautiful actresses hoping for any role in any movie. She can sing and dance and lands several auditions, but has trouble staying off of the casting couch. She finally gets cast as an extra in a war propaganda movie. Excited in her new found career, she shows up on the set and gets into costume. Her military uniform includes a drab olive green skirt, blouse and a tie. The only flash of color on her costume is a chevron brooch with a lipstick red stone. She doesn't get shot close enough to the camera for the brooch to show up on screen, however. On the last day on set, she kisses her fellow extras goodbye, and slips the pin into her handbag to save as a memento of her film career and boards the bus going back home to help her mother with her victory garden. Her grand-daughter, Millie, a successful actress, always wears the pin on her movie auditions in Hollywood, 60 years later.

Last week on Project Runway, the designers were to chose from a list of move genres to design a costume for a movie star. I chose "period piece" and selected WWII war for my piece. The trend for jewelry during war time drifted toward patriotic pieces and some fashion mirrored the military uniform in style. My piece is reflective of that influence. A lipstick red, vintage glass deco cabochon is set into a sterling silver bar brooch with chevrons at either side. The back of the brooch is covered with patriotic stars.
Here are the other participants in this EtsyMetal Project Runway Jewelry Challenge:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Newspapers

The Project Runway designers had to design a garment using newspaper this week. Using newspaper and other kinds of paper in jewelry is not so unusual. Holly Ann Mitchell has made it her signature style, and Carol Windsor does amazing things with paper. I love how newspaper looks in paper mache. and have been inspired by it before.

For this project, I was inspired by Christopher's dress. It had a hard shell paper mache bodice, which I love. I wanted to make a piece of jewelry using that hard shell. I built an armature for a bangle bracelet using copper wire and paper mached over that using wheat paste glue. The shape of the armature turned out really well, with a ruffle at one edge and a wider lip at the other. I wanted it to have the look of a ruffled sleeve.
I had experimented with water color paints on the paper and really like the effect of the color paints, which allow the newsprint to show through, but in the end I decided on black, leaving the inside newsprint peaking out, especially at the ruffled edge. I used the Financial Times, (which my anglophile husband subscribes to) because it has a pink color to the newsprint. I really like the matte look of the wheat pasted paper mache and water color, but I needed to seal it as the black was coming off and it would be unwearable otherwise. I used Mod Podge Matte Finish, which still has a little shine, and I am very happy with the result. The layer of glue makes the paper have the look and feel of leather.

Here are the other wonderful EMJC participants:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Picked from a Hat!

Fly Barrette
Last week on Project Runway, the designers had their models for clients. The models gave the designers an idea of their style and their preferences for a garment. At EtsyMetal, we were a little short of runway models, and so Victoria, our leader for the PR challenges, put different jewelry types, materials, and styles into a hat and blindly drew our pretend clients' preferences. Here is my mission:

Type of Jewelry: Tiara / Hair Ornament
Material: Glass
Style: Industrial / Steampunk

We would be allowed to have one category re-drawn if we wanted. I decided to stay with what I got, although I went back and forth about the style for a couple of days. The industrial/steampunk style is outside my comfort zone, and I'm not sure I accomplished it as my piece does not have any machinery, clock parts, keys or machine looking bits on it. But I've seen many pieces of jewelry with brass findings classified as steampunk, so I went in that direction. I paid a visit to a local store called Gilding the Lily, which has loads of tiny treasures to chose from, and picked up a few little things. I have glass cabochons - one of my absolute favorite materials to work with - and for the sake of steampunk, I focused on black. The floral cabochons I have seemed too soft and feminine to work with this theme and when I noticed the faceted one sort of looked like a bug eye, I got excited as I had picked up the vintage brass flies the day before. They just had to go together. This is the first time I've made a barrette and making the mechanism to snap in and out of hair was a good lesson in construction for me. I see more barrettes in my jewelry making future. Here are some more photos of this fun piece.
Other Project Runway Jewelry challenge participants and their "clients":
Metalriot: Ring - Wood - Organic/Natural
Catherine Chandler: Ring - Fabric/Thread - Upcycled/Green
Kathryn Reichert: Necklace - Leather/Fur(faux) - Tribal/Ethnic
rubygirl: Bracelet - Steel - Organic/Natural
Beth Cyr: Ring - Aluminum - Victorian/Byzantine
Delias Thompson: Ring - Plastic - Upcycle/Green
Experimetal: Bracelet - Wood - Steampunk
Sara Westermark: Bracelet - Bone - Victorian/Byzantine
Check out the EtsyMetal blog for everyone's photos and for next week's challenge: Newspapers

Friday, September 11, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Surf's Up!

Project Runway was fun this week! The designers were asked to create a garment suitable for surfer girls, and then also asked to to create an avante garde look to go along with their more casual fashion. This week for the Project Runway Jewelry Challenge, inspiration was easy and I have several pages of sketches that may turn into more jewelry!

I made three pieces to go along with this theme. The first is my more avante garde look. I didn't have time to make it more avante garde, but I imagine about 30 more of the sterling silver wave curls on that chocker to make it so. It's fabricated from 18 gauge sterling silver. The outside of the wave is hammered and distressed to look like the surface of the water. It is oxidized black for depth. The inside of the curl is smooth and shiny, like the glassy surface of a tube wave. The bail mirrors the curl of the piece and it is on a sterling silver choker cable. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

This next piece is a more casual look. My family and I make a habit of heading to the beach at least once a week during the summer months. When I am not relaxing on my chair chatting with friends, I am in the water, where the waves lap the shore searching for shells. This is a shell shard I picked up this summer. The perfect spiral looks like the waves at the beach and so I've set into sterling silver and carved the bezel out to look like a set of waves crashing all around the shell. The back of the pendant is stamped with a flock of seagulls in "V" formation, and my mark. The bail is a spiral, and it hangs from a lovely deep blue silk cord with a handmade hook clasp.

Finally, I've made a surfboard for our surfer girl - or her boyfriend! This unisex pendant is fabricated from sterling silver with a center line of copper. The leather cord it hangs from makes it another great casual piece. Look for all three to appear shortly in my shop!

Other Participants in The Project Runway Jewelry Challenge:
Please check out the EtsyMetal Blog for photos and information!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blog Carnival: First Piece of Metalsmithed Jewelry

The very first piece of finished metalsmithed jewelry I made may have been this piece. It is certainly from my first class. My mother has another piece I made which may have been slightly earlier, and I was unable to photograph it, so I'll talk about this ring.
What did it mean to you?
This ring would have been one of the first times I worked in sterling silver and I remember being terrified of making a mistake. I had purchased a very small piece of sterling silver sheet and making a mistake meant driving an hour to only local store I knew of that sold jewelry supply.
What materials?
This ring is made with 20 gauge sterling silver sheet, a purchased prong setting, and a blue faceted stone (I don't know what stone). The assignment was to make a band ring.
Were you in class/home?
I took my first metals class as an undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. I was a Theatre Arts major and looking to take an art class as an elective. I saw "Beginning Jewelry Design" in the coarse catalog and didn't hesitate. I didn't even read the description, and when I showed up for class, I remember being slightly surprised that I would be working with metal. My instructor was Sue Dorman who talked about materials as if she were in a dream. I loved it.
What would you do different now to it?
Oh, so many things! If I was making this ring again, it probably wouldn't resemble this ring, but if I had to re-make it to do so, I'd use much thicker metal to fabricate. I would clean up those saw marks. I've never had much patience for sanding, but it doesn't look like I did any at all here. It looks like I had some trouble with the sizing as there are lots of hammer marks on the back, like I needed to stretch the ring. So most of the things I would do have to do with clean up and finishing, but the design isn't very interesting. I think now that when you're learning a new technique, that simple is better - first, learn how to do it, then design around the technique.
What did you learn making it?
I would have learned band ring construction - how to spring a ring and solder. I had learned piercing on practice sheets of copper and brass, but that was new as well. Here's a picture of my first piercing and sweat soldering exercise - not a finished piece of jewelry, but fun to look at.
Here is a list of other wonderful jewelers who are participating in this blog carnival!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Project Runway Jewelry Challenge: Maternity

Week 2 of the Project Runway Jewelry Challenge was tricky! I mean from the standpoint of jewelry, the needs of pregnant women are mostly the same as those who are not. We all want great jewelry! When I designed my piece, I thought I was going to do something totally different. I thought about jewelry that someone who just found out they were pregnant would want to receive as a gift - including birth stones, or jewelry representing family - but I already have a line of Mother's Bracelets, so I didn't want to repeat that. I found myself sketching circles and ovals and and thinking about the very feminine Georgia O'Keffe paintings. This design is really more representative of femininity, fertility and pregnancy than I had originally planned.
The oval back plate is, of coarse the belly, and the U wire that becomes the necklace bale is very fallopian looking. I added four fine silver dots as well, which can be customized to represent the number of people in one's family. The feeling I really was going for is the heaviness of pregnancy and the support needed. That "fallopian" line is lifting and supporting. I am pleased with how it turned out and although it may represent pregnancy, it can be worn without any reference to fertility at all as just plain adornment.
Here are some of the other submissions - they are amazing!
Here's the EM blog Post summarizing everyone's work - Thank you Victoria!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Summer Vacation

Since School is back in session for the kids, I thought I'd write an essay about my Vacation. I did lots of relaxing and loafing, but I also went back to school. I took a class at a local community college. The class was called "stone setting", but it was more lapidary than setting. I've never cut and polished cabochons before, so it was fun to play with the studio's tools and meeting people who are interested in metal arts! Above are some of the unset stones that I finished. I did not attempt to use the slab cutter, but had some slabs to play with, so I cut them into shape and then ground them down. I have no idea what the stones are and no way to identify them, but I think they turned out quite nicely. The flat lap grinder and polisher is a great tool - which is now on my very long wish list! I didn't finish polishing all my stones, either:

I did manage some metalwork as well. Using some of the stones I cut - and a couple I didn't. Here's a cab cut by me made into a cloudy pendant. The stone was white, swirly and reminded me of a cloud. My son's sixth grade science class studied cloud formations in May, so I learned about clouds, too:
These earrings were also inspired by the stones, which wanted to be leaf shaped:
I just love this ring. I didn't cut the turquoise, but I did finally get a chance to play with my tube wringer:
And finally, my first attempt at tension setting. It's rough, I know and the green CZ is in there a little wonky and off kilter, but I'm pleased that I was able to get it in there. The hardest part is cutting the grooves with the hart burr - one side went perfectly and the other was very crooked and the grooves are not of even depth. I need a lot more practice with the flex shaft.
And that's what I did for my summer vacation!