Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get Your Kicks

I hit the jackpot recently when I found these pins and charms.

I love using relics like these in pieces of my jewelry because there is some kind of uniquely personal story attached to each pin or charm. I don't yet know how I will carry on the storylines of these recent finds, but I just finished a necklace that was partly inspired by a small pin found at a thrift store.

I was cutting up segments of an old measuring stick, and the 66 inch mark made me think of Route 66. The hopeful promise of a new and better life that the old highway offered to desperate people in the 1930's is something that resonates with me. I searched through my collection of commemorative pins and found the AAA Service Patrol- perfect! This service pin is a miniature version of the badge that I wore when I was a 6th grade crossing guard at my grammar school. That now strikes me as a very bad idea- putting a kid in charge of other kid's safety as they crossed the street on their way to school.

Anyway........I sanded the cut edge of the measuring stick and gave it a gentle cleaning with a damp cloth. A piece of copper with 6 tabs was cut and riveted to a brass base. The tabs were bent over the '66' segment to fasten it in place after I stamped 'GET YOUR KICKS' on the brass base. The pin back was removed from the AAA pin and a hole was drilled for fastening as a dangle.

The brass base that I used has a beautiful etched pattern on the back. The chain is recycled from old necklaces and incorporates wire wrapped amazonite, sterling spacers and hand forged copper rings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Shows

The holiday shows are underway. My inventory is distributed, and now I can focus on the special request orders that have been placed. This is my first year in the Woodmere Art Museum Holiday Gift Gallery.

Woodmere is a wonderful art museum located in Chestnut Hill. One of the gallery spaces has been transformed into a gift shop featuring handcrafted items with a focus on local artisans. Visiting Woodmere any time of the year is always a great way to spend part of your day. A bonus is the fact that Morris Arboretum is practically next door- a great way to spend the rest of your day.

The Main Line Art Center show opened last night with the Member's Preview. When I arrived to set up my items on Monday, I realized that the allotted space was smaller than I had anticipated. Gasp- it's an unexpected thrill to have to completely rethink your display in approximately 5 minutes.

Not what I had originally envisioned, but I fit everything into the display.
It was so inspiring to see everyone's work, and I feel fortunate to be included in this group of fellow artisnas.

Other locations where I have items:

Sweet Mable in Narberth, PA and Place Vendome in Summit, NJ

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rolling On

I've been using the rolling mill lately. I rolled some leaves with sheets of annealed copper and then hand cut the shapes with metal shears.

The leaf at the top in the above image is how the leaves looked immediately after being cut- dark from the annealing and rough around the edges. I first used a metal file on all edges and finished with a sanding block to ensure that all surfaces were smooth to the touch.

I then riveted the leaves onto a brass base that was saw cut due to a thicker gauge that I used. The two layers were riveted together and attached to a long sterling chain with a sterling jump ring. The leaves were a hit a recent show. I used pieces of the same lace to mill with a variety of metals.
From left to right: copper, bronze, brass, silver nickel

This is the lace that I used for the milling. I found this at a thrift store and it was only 12" long. I like that fact that once I use up those 12", there will be no more metal with this particular texture which keeps my pieces of jewelry unique.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I spent part of last evening etching.

I used a metal guillotine to cut pieces of silver nickel and copper and etched text onto the pieces using ferric chloride. When the etching was complete, the ferric chloride was neutralized with baking soda and the metal was scrubbed with a brass brush. I used an acetylene torch to heat the metal hoping that I would get an interesting, oxidized finish and was so pleased when I saw beautiful flashes of color form on the silver nickel. This metal will be cut and used for pendants, pins and earrings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Recent Necklaces

I've been keeping busy making cuff links, money clips, earrings, bracelets, pins and earrings and necklaces. Inventory is being distributed later this week to some of the shops that carry my work. A large piece of jasper with sterling wire wrapped pearl and crystal dangles was used in the pendant of this necklace. The sterling chain is interrupted with wire wrapped crystal and pearls. Small wire wrapped pearls dangle form the chain. I had intended for this necklace to go to one of the shops, but it sold before it could leave my house.
This necklace incorporates a lovely sterling charm that was found at a thrift store. The charm hangs on sterling wire that is wrapped with faceted amazonite rondelles and sterling spacers. The sterling chain is highlighted with wire wrapped amazonite briolettes and freshwater pearls.
This necklace will fly out of the house tomorrow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day

Local parades warm my heart.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chandelier Necklace

This is the dining room that I saw the day our house went on to the market back in 2003. We had been searching for a house for 2 1/2 years, a long process because of the specific requirements that had to be met to suit our family. In spite of some shortcomings, I recognized that this house could work and an offer was made within hours of my visit. One of the things that I never liked about this room was the ceiling-mounted light fixture which is barely visible in this photo. It lacked character and cast an unappealing pattern of light. Of course, this fixture stayed in our dining room for almost 5 years- one just learns to live with certain things.

When I search for jewelry-making materials in thrift shops, I sometimes find other interesting items. Such was the case a few years ago when I saw something tucked under a table at the local church 'White Elephant' shop. I was thrilled to find a wonderful wrought iron and brass chandelier with all the necessary components and very reasonably priced at $30.00. The sweet ladies who run the shop could not believe that I would consider installing this old 'monstrosity' in my home.

I think it looks wonderful!

The pattern of light that shines through the intricately scrolled brass globes is lovely.

In order to transition from the old fixture to my new-old chandelier, I called the local, friendly electrician who has done other work in our house. To establish a proper height for the chandelier, some of the links had to be removed from the chain. When the work was completed, the electrician had kindly put all of the garbage in a box and set it outside with the rest of my trash. I saw the links set out as garbage and realized they needed to be salvaged, thinking that they could be cleaned up and eventually be used in a project.

It took a few years, but I finally cleaned one of the links with fine sandpaper, revealing a beautiful pattern. The link became the pendant for a new necklace. Because of the rustic look of the link, I used annealed steel for my wire wrapping.

A Sacred Heart medal, also a thrift store find, hangs from the bottom of the link.

Segments of chain are wire wrapped with pearls, citrine, amethyst, serpentine and crystal.

The clasp is made with a disc that I cut from an etched platter and a connector also made with the annealed steel.
Want to know how to make a clasp like this?
I'll show how in my upcoming wire wrapping class at the Community Arts Center!

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Honor of Election Eve

I will be so happy when the mid-term elections are over. The constant bombardment of ads, telephone calls and commercials, most of them negative, has left me election fatigued and disheartened by the level of acrimony. I teach my son that when talking with someone who has a different opinion regarding important issues, always remember that they are equally passionate about their viewpoint. Take time to respectfully consider another perspective.

I made this bangle to capture my attitude about the recent discourse.

My favorite thing that I have recently heard in this season of political frenzy:

"I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler."

Saturday, October 30, 2010


The sun was shining earlier today, so I was very optimistic about my chances of getting some good photos taken. I have an ongoing struggle with getting the whole lighting thing to work for me. Usually when I do get a good photo, it's as if something magical happened in spite of my methodical approach and bracketing of my settings.
This picture has survived, but probably only because it was not as bad as most of the others.

This necklace was made with small, faceted beads of iolite along with pearls, crystals and sterling chain, rings and wire. The sterling piece used as a pendant is actually an old clasp that had broken. It was so lovely that I filed off the broken portion and hand wrapped a sterling wire connection to make it useful once again.

This is another one of my long necklaces that can be worn as a single length or doubled up.

And here is my professional photography staging area. The necklace is oh so carefully arranged on my plastic cutting board which is sitting atop the small metal table that makes it's home next to our front door. I set up in my driveway since I thought this was the place where the lighting appeared to be ideal. Maybe it would have been ideal if I knew what I was doing.
The glasses? Yes, I'm at that point in life where I need them on.....no- I need them off...oh, I need them back on....no, no I don't. How annoying!
After my less than stellar photographic results, I drove over to The Camera Shop where I bought my camera and begged for help. Helpful Guy Behind the Counter showed me some features that I didn't even know I had (yes, I read the manual) and may help me get better results.
Who knew?!
Next sunny day I am so ready to get some halfway decent pictures.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I started my morning with the goal of photographing new jewelry pieces, but was frustrated with cloudy skies and poor lighting.

This is the only image that I found to be acceptable- a necklace of black coral sticks, yellow turquoise, faceted carnelian with bronze and brass spacers. I made this necklace last night with materials that I have had in my studio for several years. It's easy to fall in love with and favor the new gemstones that were recently purchased, so I forced myself to use some of my older stock. Other photography efforts were awful and fell victim to the delete button. With my morning plans somewhat derailed, I chose to visit Chanticleer before it closes for the season.

Chanticleer, French for rooster, is an absolute gem of a garden around a 20 minute drive from my home. I don't think I will ever tire of visiting Chanticleer.

If you are interested invisiting Chanticleer, hurry! The garden closes for the season on October 31 and will not open again until
March 31, 2011.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the Workbench Part II

Back in September, I was in the midst of several projects and had this piece of etched copper that I had cut out to use as the back of a pin.

I frequently start out on a project with a particular goal in mind and end up going in a different direction as I did with this lovely copper oval. My globe-trotting friend recently gave me some leftover coins from this year's total eclipse trip. She also gave me some beautiful cabochons that had been laying about in her studio for far too long. I think that the stone is a type of jasper, and some of the cabochons had a wonderful pattern that, to me, suggested a landscape. The most beautiful in the group was perfectly sized to my piece of copper- new project.

I made a fine silver bezel, and after a couple of frustrating failures, soldered it to the etched side of my piece of copper.

I saw cut a slightly larger piece of brass and patterned the edge with a chisel. This will become a 'frame' for the bezel set cabochon.

The back side of the textured 'frame' has a delicate floral pattern which I oxidized in order to highlight the details.
The plan is to rivet the two layers together, but I'm still debating whether this should become a pendant or a pin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holiday 2010

Oh happy day! I found out that I was juried into the Main Line Art Center Holiday Show and received my postcards today. Oh my....I'm one of twenty jewelry designers in the show!
The show will run from December 1 through December 12. If you're in the area, it is always a great show!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Candy Store Comes to Town

I let myself loose in the candy store, otherwise known as the International Gem & Jewelry Show, which was in town this past weekend. I like to get my precious and semi-precious stones from some of the vendors who travel from India to take part in this show.

I came home with such a gorgeous bounty of beads- amethyst, aquamarine, blue topaz, carnelian, citrine, garnet, iolite and more.

I spent last night restringing all of the beads, putting them on thin fishing line with a loop on one end. I am a visual person and work best when I can actually see my inventory. I tried in the past to keep my beads in small containers but ended up spending too much time hunting for different items. I now keep most beads in full view, hanging in my work area. Restringing new beads is tedious, but worth the effort.
With the exception of a couple of large pieces of jasper, all of the beads that I bought are faceted. A premium price is paid for the faceting due to the work involved, and I pay that premium because of the way the facets capture and reflect light.

These earrings were made with soldered sterling rings that were reshaped and/or textured. I used my rolling mill to shape the oval rings. Three passes, with increased pressure each time, got the desired shape. Aquamarine and quartz crystal beads were wrapped with sterling wire.
Small garnet beads wrapped with sterling wire were used in this pair. The texturing on both pairs of earrings was done with steel stamps.

I have a small collection of steel stamps that I sometimes use when I want to add a pattern or texture to a piece. Old screwdrivers and chisels that I find at thrift stores are also great for adding texture.

And, completely unrelated...........the week got off to a beautiful start.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Workshop Part II

I ran another one day riveting workshop at the Wallingford Community Art Center this past weekend and had such a fun afternoon!
I filled my traveling bags with tools, pre-cut metal, beads, wire, chain.....all the items necessary to unleash creativity.

Each student got a small vial with their rivets, sterling earwires, clasps and jump rings.

It's so interesting to see how a group of students takes the same information and the same available collection of materials to come up with wonderfully individual pieces that express their personalities. This pair of earrings were made of oxidized copper and patinated brass and have a beautiful organic quality.

Another student made a pair of earrings using some of the same oxidized copper paired up with brass washers. Absolutely beautiful!
The other five students made equally beautiful earrings and pendants which I did take pictures of- all blurry! Sorry. I will do better with my photography next time when you all hopefully return for my wire wrapping workshop!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Outdoor Festival

I was in a recent outdoor fine arts & crafts festival sponsored by our local community arts center. Doing any show that leaves you at the mercy of Mother Nature requires a certain amount of planning and preparation in addition to the creation and presentation of inventory. I thought I was in pretty good shape until two days before the event. That's when the cavalcade of calamities began.
It all began with me pulling out my tent structure from the garage on Thursday. I thought I was so on top of everything- setting the tent up in my yard to make sure that I was completly prepared. All was in good order until I went to put the tent away and a critical compenent broke. Yikes! It was 8:00pm two days before the festival! Stupid tent!!!
I fratically began calling anyone I knew who might have a tent that I could borrow. Not surprisingly, it was not a long list of people but by Friday morning I was able to find a solution. My fabulous jewelry teacher from Main Line Art Center, Dawn told me to come on over and pick up her tent. Whew....crisis resolved!!
So....I arranged to pick up the tent with enough time to get back home to meet my son's bus for afternoon drop-off. Being on a somewhat busy street, I did the safe thing and put my flashers on while getting the tent and various accessories. All loaded up and completely relieved, I got in my car, and my 5 day old battery is dead. Oh no.......this definitely did not work with my tightly scheduled plan. Dawn was also on a tight schedule and had to leave for work, so I started to walk in the 92 degree heat to the nearest service station. The young man there said he'd love to help me, but he had no jumper cables. Really?!! Wouldn't that be like a house painter having no paint brushes? I suspect that if I were 20 years younger, jumper cables would have appeared, but, oh well.....I continued walking.
Several blocks later and another service station where the man said he was the only one working and couldn't leave. Arghhhh! It was at this point that I began to get a bit frantic about the time. Several more blocks and another service station where I found my hero of the day. This kind, kind man drove me back to my car, jumped the battery and tested the alternator. I thanked him profusely and gave him a big tip.
I got home 10 minutes before my son's bus.

Thank goodness I had this tent for the 2 day festival. Saturday was hot and windy. Sunday was cool and rainy. Not ideal conditions when you're hoping for a successful weekend.

I did work some new items into my display like the small printer's drawer found at the local thrift shop. The compartments are perfect for holding pieces of card mounted jewelry.

My refurbished, old window made it's debut.

I found it amusing that one item getting plenty of attention was the hand-held mirror that I keep available for functional reasons. People kept asking how much it cost and were disappointed when told it was not for sale. One woman picked up the mirror and said, "This ought to be in movies!" I chose to not respond to that curious comment.
Next hot/cool/rainy/windy festival, I just might sell that
could-be-famous mirror!