Thursday, May 5, 2016

Inspiration, Metal and a little Fold Forming Picture Tutorial

by Staci Louise Smith

It is spring in the studio and lots of things are going on.  I am prepping for new shows this spring......which is always fun for me.  I also have work in the Spring show at Bethlehem House Gallery- a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Bethlehem, who has featured my work on and off for the last couple years.

While at the opening of the Spring show,   I fell in love with the work of Dominick Naccarato.  
You can view his work for sale on the galleries website

His work is industrial.  It looks worn and old....and of course, that spoke to me.  I mean, :swoon:....its dreamy to girl who loves to destroy metal!  I grew up in a home who a mom and brother who love to go antiquing.  so, old things, in art, its bringing together a couple loves of mine

I do hope you will take a minute to follow the links and check out the gallery site and his personal website as well.  His work is amazing.

Anyhow, there was that, which of course, made me long to play with metal again right away.  I am always inspired fresh and new after a trip to the gallery.

I have always loved the process of disintegration.  It fascinates me, the way nature breaks down organic and inorganic matter over time.  Rust, fungus, all these sort of things always grab my attention and draw me in.  I love how the sea changes things as well, takes rough bright things and washes the color away and smooths them.  Worn, old things were once new things, full of life.  And as they decompose, they lose one life, yet take on another.  This process is just amazing, and watching the beauty of this process is endlessly inspiring to me.  

That is why, I love taking white polymer clay, and turning it into something that looks like you pulls it out of nature.  Or taking bright copper sheet, and making it look as if it had been out in the elements for decades.


Then I ended up at a Clover Market with my mom for the day.  I am doing that show in May and June, and wanted to check out the lay of the land, the crowd, and all that good stuff.  
The show is full of antique vendors, mixed in with artisans.  It is such a cool show!  I love that you can buy rusty old stuff next to handmade items!

I picked up some rusty old keys to use for something some day!  For now they are laying on my work table.

I did not take any pictures at Clover Market, but here is their facebook banner, and it is good picture of some of the unique items you can find there.

My mom loves old tin ceiling tiles, and there was a vendor there who had a booth full!

The vendor was Olde Good Things

And here is a picture of the tiles from his website

The textures of the metal tiles had me newly inspired as I browsed through them.  Each so different.  I loved the washed out old paint added to them.............everything about them was amazing.

In checking out the vibe of the market, I thought, I need to have more metal.  I have gotten away from all that copper in my work because of time constraints the last couple years.  I have been so focused on polymer it hasn't left a lot of play time.

So I got to work.  I decided to have fun and cut out lots of copper shapes to make fun, fold formed, patina earrings for Clover Market and the gallery.  And man, let me tell you, I am so happy I did.  I really missed playing around with fire, metal and chemicals!

I loved texturing them, and definitely felt the influence of those wall tiles coming through as I hammered in little raised spots and such.

Here are the components before I started making them into jewelry.

And here are just some of the earrings I made.

I had so much fun!  I really missed working with the metal and patina.  Though I also forgot how labor intensive it is.  Thank goodness I love what I do!

Do you also find that what you see and places you go inspire you go in a different direction, or revisit an old one?  Tell me about it.............

And, as promised, a little picture tutorial on fold forming.  If you want more information, there are lots of great online classes you can take!  But, if you have already played a bit with metal and a torch, this may be all you need to try it out!

Cut some shapes in copper sheet, I used 26g since they are going to be for earrings.  This keeps it light, but you can use any gauge.  File the edges smooth.

Line them up on a solder block, and use your torch to heat them until they glow red, and then quench right away

Once they are quenched, dry them off a little bit.  The process of heating and then quickly cooling them,  anneals them and now they are softer and easier to manipulate

Fold it over at a place where you want a fold line

Use a chasing hammer to flatten at the seam

Torch them again to soften them.  It is important to do this between each step to keep the metal malleable.  Otherwise it could break.


Now you can open it up.  If you need to, you can slip a razor blade in the fold to open it enough to grab.  Place it on your steel block and hammer again.  You can add other hammered designs, or use hole punches to make divets and such.  Use a hole punch or drill to make your holes as well.

Here is a close up of some finished pieces with patina and all on them!

I hope you will try it out, because let me tell you, fold forming is FUN!!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

forgive me..and a giveaway

Carol Dekle-Foss

Recently, I discovered just how fragile and delicate life really is. I was reminded that we need to take care of one another, and show kindness, love and forgiveness. 
 I know death is hard thing to think about, but what if you knew that you were going to die tomorrow. What would you do today? What would you be doing during those very last breaths? 
Some events in life can be painful and crush our hearts. That's why it's so important to live in the NOW and LOVE, while we still have the chance. Maire did a wonderful post recently on breathing that is very helpful to bringing us back to the present moment. 

I haven't been able to create or blog over the past few months unfortunately, because of a painful event. I am slowly making my way back to creating. So for this post, I have decided to offer a giveaway!

I am offering one lucky winner a leather bracelet, earring set and a sandblasted stone keychain! 

Bracelet and earrings are made with roll-printed sterling silver sheet, and earwires are handmade from 21g sterling silver wire.

Would you like to win all three pieces? Simply leave a comment and share whatever you like. What are your plans this summer? What have you been working on creatively? For an extra chance to win let's be friends on Instagram! Here is my Instagram page. Just mention that you followed me in the comment and it will count as two entries. Also, feel free to leave your comment on our Facebook page, if that's easier for you. I will announce the winner May 18th.

We are all given just one life to live and enjoy, to the best of our ability. So when our time is up, we can be grateful we had the gift of life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Remember Me - Mourning Jewelry by Karen McGovern

It's such a shame our friendship had to end.

Once again we are hit in the gut with loss. Prince? Really? PRINCE????

2016 can kiss my a**.

This one hurt me more than I ever expected. Prince Rogers Nelson was a huge influence for me during that wonderful, horrifying time of my life called ADOLESCENCE. When I was trying to figure out who and what I wanted to be in life. His music defined at least a decade of my life and I am torn up with the loss of this vital, amazing, spectacularly talented individual. I'm gutted.

On the heels of LMAJ's David Bowie blog hop where we all created designs inspired by Bowie, recent events have me thinking about a traditional form of jewelry design that many of you may not be familiar with--mourning jewelry.

For hundreds of years, people wore jewelry specifically created to commemorate a loved ones death. Bits of hair and bone worked into intricately elaborate jewelry designs treasured for generations. Rings, brooches, lockets and more created in memory of a family member's death. This was especially popular pre-photography, when these incredible designs were literally the only way to remember someone and honor their passing. I find this jewelry deeply moving and incredibly fascinating. Mourning jewelry has been around since at least the 16th century, but is mostly associated with the Victorian era, when mass production made it more affordable. Members of the royal family would wear mourning jewelry for decades. 

Designs were over the top elaborate, like George and Martha Washington's amazing brooch featuring hair from both, rubies, gold and more. Faceted quartz crystal was used to cap bezels containing amazingly detailed scenes created with the deceased hair and sometimes bone. There was often an inscription on the back of pendants and brooches, and on the inside of ring bands. Stunning, deeply personal works of wearable art.

While the trend in mourning jewelry has basically passed, many artists still create some form of this today, myself included. Perhaps one of the most intimate and reverent work I have created to date was a pendant I made for a family that had lost their son while mountain climbing. I created a vessel pendant to their specifications for this man's mother to keep a bit of her son's ashes. I was humbled by the request.

Below are examples of historic mourning jewelry--all are just beautiful.

In closing--I first heard "When Doves Cry" on a beach in Traverse City, Michigan. I remember the exact moment. I don't know what it was that blew my mind more, the lyrics, the voice, or the incredible guitar. I was 17. From that moment on I was a obsessive fan. I bought every record, and played them endlessly. I was also an aerobics instructor. I played Prince in my classes constantly. Every time. It didn't matter how racy or risky or strange the song was I worked it into some sort of a fitness routine. I remember teaching a class that was absolutely packed--stomping to "Baby I'm a Star". We fogged the windows in the gym, and people came in off the street and see what the Hell was going on. I remember the one and only Prince concert I got to attend. I nervously wore a red leather mini-skirt. I'm not exactly a red leather mini-skirt kind of girl, but at that time, I wanted to be anything that I thought Prince would want me to be. I was in the third row center stage, staring with worshipful wonder at this tiny elf of a man destroying a guitar. I will never forget it. I will never forget the music, I will never forget the impact it had on me when I was a young girl trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Prince said I could be anything.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wonderfully Weird by Karen McGovern

First, I would like to thank everyone for joining us on the David Bowie Blog Hop last week. That was so fun, and it was amazing to see all the beautiful and wacky Bowie-inspired designs created. That blog hop was especially fun for me because I love to think outside the conventional jewelry box, and what better inspiration than Bowie???

That leads into today's post--working with the weird and unusual. I have always been drawn to unconventional materials and gemstones, and lately I have been working with some fabulous materials like natural surface gemstone cabochons, Fordite, and oddly shaped materials like fossils. Weird shapes, cuts and surfaces can be a challenge to set, and can also lead to some really fun and new ways to think about setting gemstones. Here are three ways I set odd shapes and materials.


Pin it - I am a big fan of cold connections. If you have a weird material like a funky fossil or shell, consider cold connections if traditional bezel sets won't work. Can you drill it? Can you sand or grind the back flat? If so, use a micro screw or rivet to set the material on a flat base. I often rivet or micro screw fossil coral and soft material like turquoise and river stones. I prong set the Rio Grande Rustic on a flat sterling base, then also pinned it in place when I set the faux succulent. You just need to know your material and what it can take drill-wise. Yes, I have cracked and broken material in my early days of drilling. I'm still not great at drilling stones, but I'm learning....That is another post for another day and Staci Louise has posted great info on drilling....look  her up.

Partial bezel or combo prong/bezel - Totally odd shape but flat back? Consider a partial bezel mixed with prongs. Use bezel wire where you can, fill the rest with prongs (I usually don't go thinner than 14 gauge wire for prongs) to grab the stone. I do this A LOT. Especially with teeth, bone and fossils. In the slideshow you will see a ring I made from an antelope tooth (you heard me...). I used bezel wire and prongs because the tooth had a smooth side (bezel wire) and a not smooth side (prongs). This type setting also works with material that is thick or taller than conventional bezel wire. You can set using bezel wire for a  "frame", but also use prongs to secure the material in place where it exceeds the height of the bezel wire. I did this with the garnet in schist pendant in the slideshow.

Grab it like Alien - This is also one of my favorite ways to set odd shapes. Build a "wheel" with prongs like spokes and grab the stone. I did this with the malachite and fairy stone pendants you see in the slideshow.

Bottom line, don't shy away from material you may like because you don't think you can set it. There is always a way!!!

Now, I will share with you my favorite weird gemstone dealer--Angela Fowler. She and her husband gather and cut the COOLEST STONES ON THE PLANET. I have to carefully monitor the time I spend on her Facebook page, I have little self control when it comes to her stuff. Three words--Rio Grande Rustics. OMG. Soooooo amazing. I'm addicted to her stones, man. Tell her I sent you and thank me later.

Show us how you set weird material! We'd love to see what you are working with. 

Now, go make something AMAZING!
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