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!