Sunday, August 26, 2012

Adventures in Sterling Silver

Since Spring of 2012 I've been taking metalsmithing classes, which has opened up a whole new world of expression for me. My first efforts have been rather modest - pieces in copper and brass and simple skills such as soldering, sawing, and more sawing. I don't have most of the equipment in my home studio; I use my school's studio for torch and other work, so it takes a little time to fabricate pieces for my shop. Here's a gallery of my pieces so far.

Antique chandelier crystal wire-wrapped to a handmade oxidized and brushed sterling silver component and handmade earwires.

Pyrite coin pill beads on handmade hammered ball head pin sterling silver earwires with a satin finish that contrasts the shiny beads. 

I purchased this lemon yellow Art Deco stylized heart-shaped glass cabochon and couldn't wait to make a bezel setting for it. Here's the result, on a novelty sterling chain.

I cut these leaf shapes from sterling silver sheet, filed the edges, punched with the smallest dapper and oxidized them. Then I brushed the raised bumps with fine sandpaper to clean them off and polished the edges for some contrast. I also made a pair in shiny copper and sterling, which I will post when I've finished them.


These copper earrings were made in the same manner as the sterling earrings, and a sterling silver jump ring was soldered around the hole. I also made the earwires. I have never been much of a fan of copper, as it turns dark so quickly, but I lacquer the surface to keep it from tarnishing. 

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This organic pendant was made from sterling silver sheet, silver balls and a labradorite cabochon. 

Back view with texture and scratches added for interest. 

I love circles, and have been experimenting with wire of different gauges that I cut into jump rings, then soldered, hammered and textured. I completed a 36-inch sterling silver chain necklace using 14 gauge wire, that involved plenty of torch time, hammering and filing. I wore it for the first time this summer and while I still see places to file smooth, want to preserve a sense of primitive roughness.

Each ring is roughly an inch wide, but I varied the sizes here and there and hammered some into ovals for variation.

 The earrings began as wire, and was soldered, hammered and filed for a matte finish. I even made my own earwires for these, of heavier 19 gauge wire - comfortable and sturdy. These are quite long - 4.5 inches from top to bottom. I made another pair for myself and have been most gratified to receive compliments on them the first time I wore them. I don't have a long neck and am not tall, so you'd think that these would be too large for me, but they're very flattering.

Here's another pair: shaped hammered wire with freshwater pearls in mauve and peach. The texture of the shaped wire is matte, which I find more interesting than shiny silver.

I made this bracelet for a male friend for his birthday - 12 gauge sterling wire annealed and wrestled into an oval, then rubbed with a polishing pad for a matte look on the outside, shiny on the inside. The chain is a somewhat manly vintage brass novelty chain, oxidized and brushed, and closes with a lobster clasp. It could also work for a woman, and next time I think I'll make the oval a bit smaller.

 I made these lightweight rings, hammered, textured and oxidized them, and added dyed freshwater pearls.
This necklace has one of my round shaped rings at the center, holding together the various chains and drops. I used a textured sterling chain that I bought last year for myself, but I couldn't decide what to use it for and had a little too much of it, so I sacrificed it for this piece. 
I wire-wrapped (a ton of sterling silver wire!) some clear chandelier crystals and rutilated clear-quartz briolettes for some nice contrast to the oxidized silver. I like the industrial feel of this necklace and the texture...oh, the texture!

Matching earrings, for the matchy-matchy who walk among us. :)
I revised a bracelet that expired, using green rutilated quartz and a pillow cut green chalcedony bead, plus another textured ring and handmade hook and eye clasp, and oxidized and brushed all of the hardware.

This bracelet is a little late for the season - it's really more of a summer piece, or feels that way to me because of the turquoise, but I'd forgotten about the brilliant striped agate beads that I purchased at the Bead Show in 2010 and never used. I had some more rings left and added two textured ones for variety. The beads shown are some fun turquoise nuggets, striped agate ad one last labradorite beauty from a certain stash.

The first pieces I made...these copper earrings with a verdigris patina over stamped circles (natch)

Brass rings bracelet and clasp, which I may have gold plated to keep the shine.

                     First sterling piece - fine silver chain and hammered silver rings and clasp.
                                                                      I wear this daily. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

American Made

I have entered my shop into Martha Stewart's AMERICAN MADE contest.

Check out my shop nominee page HERE.

May the best designer/maker win!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Closing Artfire Shop

Friends, after almost a few years at Artfire, I will be closing that shop on August 31st, but you can find me at Etsy and hopefully, I will have my own independent online shop before too long.

Listings will remain at Artfire through August 31, so if you have a preference for buying on Artfire rather than at Etsy, please do so while you can.

There are changes coming as I have been honing my skills by taking metalsmithing classes. I've wanted to make my own components and fabricate pieces from scratch, and now I'm doing it! It's been great fun and is very exciting, so check back here again in a few weeks, or "like" me on Facebook for timely updates.

Have a lovely August and I'll see you soon. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012


35% OFF Coupon Code Sale - must enter code JULYSALE to receive your discount, at the ETSY store. New pieces coming for Fall - store clearout!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today would have been your 96th birthday, Dad - what an incredible thought. You left us about 2.5 years ago, and are dearly missed every day.

I love how romantic this portrait photo is - it might even be your first professional head shot, taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s, when you began your career singing in the Trenton, New Jersey area.

Here are some pictures of you during your engagement with the Trenton Opera Association:

You as Benoit, the landlord, in LA BOHEME, in 1941. The beard can't hide how young you are for this role! 

This picture made it into the local papers. There you are (nice makeup!) with Nino Martini as Rodolfo and Lois Monroe as Mimi.

That MUST be Musetta in the huge bonnet. You are in the front row next to the conductor, Michael Kuttner, center, dressed for the party, no doubt!

You had a great press agent...probably your brother Albert, who had an ad agency. Handy!

And here you are, in Cadwalader Park, perhaps, with an unknown lady and Maestro Kuttner.
It was all ahead of you, Dad, and you look as if you can't wait to get on with it...your wonderful achievements and adventures. It was an amazing life, and here's to you, on your day.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Moonglow Mania

I'm finally getting around to using the gorgeous lucite moonglow beads I purchased a few months ago, intending to create a line of fun summer jewelry. I was a little delayed as I started taking a class in metalsmithing, after threatening to do so for years. I'm having a great time practicing new techniques at home and thrilled at the idea of creating pieces from scratch. I have a wonderful teacher and plan to take other classes offered so I can realize some of the ideas that have been kicking around for some time.

Back to the moonglow - here are two necklaces and a handful of earrings that I made quite recently. I shaped and hammered the earwires myself - pretty basic, but I think the shape works well with the strong lucite beads.

I will be taking a much-needed break for a few days, so if you stop by the shops, you will see that we are on vacation until next weekend, but we'll be back to business on Saturday, July (already?) 7.

A Happy Fourth of July to you all - have fun and be safe. The firecrackers have been going off nightly in my neck of the woods, so I hope the local kids are being careful and get through the holiday with no loss of digits!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Useless Post

I have nothing to say on this gorgeous Saturday, so I am posting a photo of some blooming peonies that I bought yesterday. Having these colorful beauties on hand as I work makes it almost fun! Have a great weekend, everyone. :)