Thursday, June 22, 2006
Believe it or not this was a piece of beach glass. Actually I formed the clay over the beach glass. Then cut it in half and took the glass out and put the two halves back together and fired it. I have had a lot of interesting comments on it. People don't think it is silver at first. Some have thought it was shell or a huge pearl! I like that it is not immediately recognizable.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I didn't have any desire to make a ring but was taking a class in traditional metal fabrication and it was one of the projects. My friend said she thought it would be good to learn the skills necessary to make a ring and I thought she was probably right. This is the ring that I ended up making. (click image to see the design) I am very happy with it. I shaped wire into a vine and hammered it into a flat strip of sterling silver. Then hammered the leaf shapes using metal stamps and added the dots as ornament. Then I shaped the silver into a circle that fit my thumb and soldered it closed. After that I oxidized it so that the design would be black. It is a fairly beefy ring, thick and wide but the design is more feminine due to the floral symbols. I had a lot of help from my teacher and it would take a lot more practice in technique for me to feel comfortable making a ring like this on my own.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This is my "showiest" piece. It attracts lots of attention when I wear it. I love it. The gemstone is a Peruvian Opal. Be sure to click the image to see it close up so that you can see the tropical paradise landscape in the stone. Wish I was there right now! I also used copper in the bail at the top where the chain goes through. This is the first piece that I made matching earrings for and here they are. They include the Peruvian Opals and while I find them beautiful, they are not as exquisite as the one in the pendant. I bought these from a different source. These stones appear to be getting scarce. At least, I am having a hard time finding them. Although these look to be simpler in design than the pendant, they were actually quite a bit more difficult. For one thing it was hard to make 2 pieces alike enough to be earrings. Then when they were fired, the rate of shrinkage was different even though they were fired together. That is part of the inconsistency of the medium which is just something to know and work with. So the setting for the stone on one of the earrings had to be enlarged significantly by grinding which was difficult and tedious. I even ended up grinding the stone down a bit to fit. I recently took an additional class where I learned how to set stones using traditional metal fabrication which is more exact. I will post the product from that class when I am finished.
Monday, June 19, 2006
This piece was fun and exciting to create. (click on image to enlarge) First I created a square pillow shape. Then I textured strips and wove them together over the pillow. The rivets on the side are purely ornamental but look like they are holding the strips in place. My husband really liked this one and I might make him cufflinks using the weaving technique.
In most of the other pieces, I used texture to create the design. In this piece I textured the background then I drew in the design free-hand. (click on image for a better view of the texture and design) I used symbols that, to me, represent the elements of fire and air. It was fun to use my "drawing" skills in jewelry making which is more of a 3 dimensional art form. I plan to do more of this kind of work. Lots of ideas are cooking...
Saturday, June 17, 2006
This is my second set of earrings. They are made by extruding the clay to make a long spaghetti like rope and then tying the knots. These are my new favorite earrings because they are so simple yet fashionable. I get so many compliments on them. People are really surprised to hear that they are handmade.
One of my teacher's other students offered to teach a class in Byzantine chain making and I decided that chains are another area that I should learn about. This is the bracelet that I made in the class. I like the look of it and wear it almost daily. It is made of over 100 little silver rings that are individually connected. It took me about 3 hours to finish. The instructor said that she can do one in less that an hour and can watch TV while doing it. I'm not sure that I'm willing to make a lot of this kind of chain unless I can get to her level of skill and do it while watching TV.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Even though PMC is fine silver, it helps to know how to work with other metals. So my teacher offered an additional class in soldering base metals like copper, brass and bronze. This is the piece that I made using copper and bronze. I textured the background (click image to see the texture) by rolling the copper through a rolling mill with regular window screen mesh. Then I soldered all the pieces together with a small butane torch that can also be used in cooking for glazing. I really enjoy working with the torch and plan to do more soldering and incorporating different metals into my work.
My teacher named this the shadow box project when she was teaching it to me. (click image to enlarge) The gemstone is a carnelian that I put in after the piece was fired. The black between the 2 larger oval shapes is oxidized silver which basically means that I purposely tarnished it to achieve the black color, hence the shadow. This piece comes across a bit more formal and upscale than the other pieces so I wear it when I'm more dressed up.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I wrote that I hadn't made many earrings but I have made 2 sets and this is one of them. (click on image to enlarge) One of the things I like about these is the hinge at the middle. It makes them have nice fluid movement. I also like the textures which I feel lend an industrial quality.
This is the next piece that I made. It is a dome shaped pendant with a moonstone as the "moon" in the trees. (click image for a closeup) I'm happy with the way this turned out. Note the bail, which is at the top of the pendant where the cable runs through, is like a branch. It was a good lesson in how to make a domed shape. I haven't made many earrings but I'm thinking of making some to go with this that will feature moonstones more prominently.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
These are the next two pieces that I made. (click on image to enlarge) They are very simple and small. I'm not completely happy with them. I think they need some reworking. I would like them better if they were half again as big. I have them displayed on a brick so you can get a sense of the size. One thing that I learned with these pieces is that the clay shrinks about 30% during firing. So when I was making them, I had a hard time visualizing how much smaller they would be. When I photographed them I realized that they looked good together and am considering putting them on the same chain somehow. Another idea I'm having is to add more metal, either more silver or another metal such as copper in a different composition. I'll be sure to post it if I make any changes.
"What is PMC?" you ask. It stands for precious metal clay. It is fine silver powder with an organic binder that forms a clay. After building the clay into pendants, earrings and other pieces, it is then kiln fired at which point the organic binder is burned out and you are left with fine silver. I started taking classes in November of 2005 and this was the first piece I made. (click on the image to see a close up) It is kind of like a quilt with various blocks of texture and shapes and includes a cubic zirconia which can be fired along with the PMC. It was so much fun to make and I became immediately hooked on this artform!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
For my 40th birthday, my husband took me to Thailand to celebrate. One of the charming things I learned about Thai culture is that upon greeting a friend or an acquaintance in Thailand, the Thai people do not ask "how are you?" Instead the traditional question they ask is "do you have rice?" I find that and so many aspects of Thai culture charming. So much so that I wanted to name my jewelry business "do you have rice?" but my husband said "people will think you are in the food business." I reluctantly agreed. But decided to keep it for my blog name. So I plan to have pictures of my jewelry here and maybe my thought process. I will also post other creative ventures like the stitching that I have done, since I am always into anything that inspires creativity. I'm hoping that this blog motivates me to keep producing since it is my objective to have a real jewelry business and quit my day job some day. And I'll probably include some other random thoughts as well. So I hope you enjoy it and feel free to post comments! Oh yeah, the picture is from the grounds at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chaing Mai, Thailand which is exquisite.