A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).
I was meditating on my bin of recycled glass beads (I do this) from Happy Mango, and thought, "What about a square beadcap on a disc bead?" It was an intriguing question, so I made some. I tested out sizes with cardboard and then cut them from copper with my snips and etched them. This is the upshot. This pair is made with some large disc beads--they're about 18mm across and about 8mm thick. I LOVE this color. It's like the Caribbean, or a high glacial lake.
They feel vaguely Asian to me, although that was not my intention (this happens frequently.) I think I was a Samurai in a former life. Which explains a lot.
I made the pair above with some medium-sized recycled glass buttons, also from Happy Mango. I'm not usually a fan of blue, but I love this color in the glass. So icy. Like me. I decided to be bold and combine it with some purple--the other beads are Czech glass.
I made four sets of these rectangular caps. Another pair will go with some sea green buttons (same color as the first pair) and I think the other set will go with a couple pendants using large buttons.
I've been thinking about this design for a few weeks now. I'm loving the idea of folded, "3D" shapes, especially for earrings, where the back of the earring is often visible--I like the idea that it would be beautiful from the back, too (they look virtually identical from the back). I sketched out these shapes and cut them from raw sheet using my snips, jewelry saw and disc cutter:
Then I etched them, antiqued them, and when I folded them into their final shape, I added hanging loops and closed them at the top with tube rivets. I spent all day trying to decide on the colors for these earrings!
Here is the back of these earrings--as you can see, they look just like the front:
All the beads are Czech glass, in mossy green and "alexandrite." I've been enjoying looking for inspiration lately in Moorish architecture, and in particular the tile work in traditional Iranian buildings (oh the colors! you must check out this page), and was excited when these turned out looking exotically Middle-Eastern. Jewels for Scheherazade! Or Jeannie in her bottle.
This second pair is more of an onion dome shape, and I created the central holes with my disc cutter. I again etched and antiqued them, and then added the hanging loops when I folded it up and riveted it closed at the top.
The little roundels on the earwires are Czech glass in a wonderful Grand Marnier color; the rounds inside the windows are red agate; and the drops at the bottom are garnet.
I like how they are softly pillowed. The sheet is 26 gauge, and etched aggressively, so these are quite light. Like the first pair, they are virtually identical from the back. As with the earrings in my last post, I used digital patterns from Aesthetic Addiction on Etsy, applied with Press n Peel blue sheets using a household clothes iron, and then etched with ferric chloride.
I was recently thrilled to have discovered the right tweaks to get my Press n Peel sheets to work for transferring printed images to metal. I've been an etching fiend ever since! I found some fabulous digital damask collage sheets at Aesthetic Addiction on Etsy and got started creating some things with an exotic feel. The raw pieces above are based on a tube bail I had made, but miniaturized, flipped upside down, and modified for earrings. Here's the result:
This pattern made me think of a gypsy caravan for some reason, so I had to make it colorful! I started with amber and iolite, and added some peridot. Juicy!
Another set of these had a more distinctly floral pattern, with flowers that made me think of sunflowers. I couldn't get a saffron color out of my head for them, so chose some deep golden coin pearls as the central color, and fished around in my stash for what seemed like hours trying to find the right companion color. I wired on two sets of beads in other colors, only to cut them off in dissatisfaction. I tried going a little out of my comfort zone, and I was surprised how much I liked cool iceberg blue amazonite with the coin pearls. It was really vivid, and made me think of a French country house all done up in sunny yellow and robin's egg blue:
It also put me in mind of many of Van Gogh's paintings, especially "Haystacks in Provence."
I was really thrilled with the color in the copper in this pair--after I etched it, I had to anneal it to make it workable, and then pickle it. That took it back to shiny pink. Before I formed the tube shape, I antiqued it in liver of sulfur to bring out the pattern, and then heated it with a hot clothes iron to bring up the cherry/orange colors. It has a really warm glow now.
This last pair sports beadcaps I've been thinking of for a long time. I had sketched them eons ago but didn't know how to fit them together--and then I discovered tube rivets! So the other day I decided to give it a try. I had some textured copper strips lying around for other uses and so I just did them up really fast. They look kind of medieval to me!
I used them with a pair of Alisha White's hollow lampwork globes in taupey-mauve, some Czech glass in olive and lime green pearls. I have some more of these hollow beads and will probably do a similar design with the rest of them--I love how lightweight they are, and yet they have such presence!
I have one more set of etched copper tabs like the ones at the top of the post (the ones at bottom left), and the pattern seems to be telling me "Purple and Red!" so keep your eyes peeled for those!
I was working on this about a month ago, after some unexpected success using Press 'n' Peel blue sheets to transfer images to metal for etching (higher temp on the iron--"wool" setting--did the trick). Sharing my project got interrupted by a spot of surgery that became more extensive than my doctor or I had planned, so I've been recuperating at home, two important but apparently unnecessary organs lighter (and with some sexy Frankenstein-style handiwork) and grasping like never before the jaw-dropping inanity of contemporary television programming. I have to say that all the me-time (every day is Me-Day!) and sleeping has been a wonderful luxury, and I've been perfectly giddy having a valid excuse not to bathe (I hate getting wet, so daily showering is a real martyrdom for me) or do anything productive. I'm like a baby again, feeling all proud about farting (I also briefly contemplated hiring a skywriter to let everyone know "I pooped!" it was so exciting), getting out of a chair by myself, and walking to the bathroom on my own steam.
The vaguely bird-shaped focal here is made of two etched copper shapes fastened together with copper eyelet rivets, so it's double sided (both sides are pictured above). The floral patterns on each side are slightly different. They were antiqued with traditional verdigris patina from Sculpt Nouveau. The fabulous deep red raku lampwork egg is by Kelley Wenzel, the light turquoise lampwork spacers are from Meital, and the little filigree verdigris bead cap is from Shannon LeVart. The dark red and teal accent beads are from Happy Mango Beads. The half-dome copper end pieces (my DIY bead tips) and copper chain were made by me. Cording is Irish waxed linen in turquoise.
This will eventually be for sale in my Etsy shop but I'm not able to get to the post office yet to ship (too far to walk and I'm not ready for the manual transmission in my car yet), so for now my shop is empty. I would like to make a small series of these pieces with different shapes and colors. Eventually.
I've been looking forward to using this trapezoid cylinder by Duane Collins. It took me awhile to come up with a design. I ended up sticking to largely the same materials and color palette as with the raku button necklace. The plummy glaze on this cylinder and the button seems so perfect with peacock pearls and garnets. Here I added some hand-dyed silk strings by Color Kissed Singles in "hickory"--I LOVE the variegated colors, it really does remind me of hickory sticks, with a little bit of charcoal color here and there as if they were snatched out of the fire just in time. I fashioned a kind of yoke for it, and created a bail to hang from that from copper sheet.
The raku is really iridescent--the orange flash you see in the pictures was only visible as I was photographing it with my bright white fluorescent bulbs at an angle. In plain daylight this is a really subtle effect, and it has more of a glassy, plum glow. I added little copper accents here and there to the silk.
I was also eager to use this white porcelain focal bead I got at a local shop.
The pattern in the glaze somehow reminds me of something Asian, so I stuck with that theme. I added a fabulous, carved stone bead from Nepal, hand-carved by men and women at the Swayambhunath Temple, near Kathmandu courtesy of Happy Mango Beads. (I LOVE this bead, I must have more...) Little drilled beach stone by Stone Studios Too.
This one came about almost by accident. I had cut out and textured a bunch of these copper flowers in a fit of floral obsession several months ago. These were lying on the table next to some textured copper washers I had wired some garnets onto for another project that didn't work out, and I thought, "Well, there it is." I made a focal section out of the three flowers, and attached them to the garnet rings.
I used a fifty-cent piece from Hong Kong, an old British halfpenny, an old half crown coin, a Danish 10 ore coin, and a little heart-shaped metal stamp to texture the flowers. I love these flat oval garnets, they're perfect for this kind of application. This is choker length.
This one came about solely because of a stubborn determination to use this chubby little ceramic focal. I had gotten it years ago at a bead show and had squirreled it away with the rest of my stash. The top-drilled holes were a challenge. I didn't want to just string it on some leather or something, I wanted to create a special frame for it. I was turning it over and over in my mind in my car as I sat at the park on my lunch hour one day, and sketched this out.
I created the curved pieces of copper when I got home. As I was trying to wrap them together I realized they really needed to be soldered together to keep them from moving. Sigh. My soldering results had been really mixed. So I gave it a try. It worked! It wasn't pretty, but I was going to cover the solder with a wrap anyway. The little dangling sea green donut is a recycled glass bead from Happy Mango Beads; the two little turquoise discs hanging from the clasp are lampwork spacers by Meital. The silk string is "fern green mist" hand-dyed and hand-sewn from Jamn Glass.
Lastly, this is a custom piece for my European friend (see my last post), designed around some fluorite we found at AAA Gems. The shape and color of the stones made me think immediately of leaves, and we both agreed copper would really bring out the greens the best. This was the second set of leaves I did (I didn't like the first set). They feature British coin textures and tube rivets at the ends. They are double sided (I tube-riveted two textured leaves together for each element--copper tube rivets, or eyelet rivets, from B'Sue Boutiques. Super easy to use!). My friend suggested combining the fluorite with green turquoise and I think it was a brilliant idea!
I just love how this turned out. Sometimes you get lucky with some really nice colors on your copper after the liver of sulfur bath. I find I get the most colorful results when I use a weak, very hot solution, just dipping quickly in and out, between the hot solution and cold water, dipping, dipping, dipping until I like the color. Then neutralize and get it in the tumbler before it gets any darker.
I'm currently working on a project for my European friend using sterling silver sheet for the first time (oy! I have to pretend it's worthless or I choke.) I think it's going to be very cool.
In case you were wondering, I am still here, and still making jewelry! Very very slowly. I have a new overseas customer I am collaborating with to produce some fun pieces, and we have many great projects lined up. For now, while I still juggle a full-time "day job" with my jewelry, this is the only custom work I am going to do--for my new European friend and patron! The materials my customer has chosen are so enticing to work with, I find myself much more drawn to working on her commissions than adding things to the shop. We seem to be very "simpatico" on many levels, so this is very satisfying work to do. My shop inventory has been dwindling while I work on these commissions...But I will try to add pieces here and there in the coming months.
This is a recent piece we did, based around etched lampwork from Radiant Mind on Etsy.
I wanted to keep with the color scheme in the lampwork--turquoise, amber and black--so I added Tibetan butterscotch amber (acquired in a trade with Lori Anderson--thank you Lori! the remainder will be for a matching bracelet. These were PERFECT for this piece), green turquoise heishi, matte amber and black seed beads, black leather and waxed linen, and a carved donut of golden horn I've had FOREVER. Silver seemed to be the way to go, so I added an Orca totem from Happy Mango Beads, and assorted sterling silver and pewter accents.
The first pieces I did for her were variations on older work I had done. This is based on a piece I had done a few years ago with aqua agate and silver. Here I used copper, obviously, and added one of my copper hearts:
This was also a variation on an earlier piece, just slightly reconfigured:
We did coordinating bracelets for these, and for one other piece:
I did some other pieces that were largely copies of older work, so I won't share those here. But I think from here forward everything we do will be new, original pieces. Our aesthetics are very similar, and she gives me great latitude with our designs, so it's very enjoyable! We have some fabulous fluorite and ametrine stones to work with, as well as lampwork glass from Naos Glass, an assortment of feathers and hearts (my customer is partial to hearts) by Kristi Bowman, and a couple of resin and coin pendants by Lorinda3LJewelry on Etsy. I am itching to get busy!
This is the first piece I have ever done with raku pottery. This is a button by Duane Collins. I couldn't believe the depth and iridescence of the finish when I got it, it's phenomenal. It's like layers and layers of glass, plus pearlescence. It also reminds me of a shimmery, deep-pile velvet. I love the deep colors in this one--plum, merlot wine, a little violet, even a flash of intense, earthy red. I had my hoard of pearls from Fire Mountain Gems, and the "copper peacock" stick pearls were like nature's version of this raku, so I had to put them together. I added a splash of garnets, and of course antiqued copper. I love how moody and luxe this is at the same time. I have two more raku focals and I can't wait to use them! One is a more subtle, jammy color, and the other has a more urban feel with a copper/red fire.
A real pleasure to design around! This is available in my Etsy shop.