Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Best Friend

I have found my new best soldering friend, and I am smitten!

This whole soldering thing has had me stymied for some time. Will the solder flow? Will my piece jump out of alignment as the flux bubbles? Will I totally melt my bezel wire?!

Enter Firescoff.

I have been using this spray-on flux and am finally getting more consistent (and more positive) results with my bezel soldering. This product is available at Rio Grande, and will now be one of my soldering station regulars.

With all of my bezel-making practice sessions, I have now accumulated a collection of bezel set stones that are begging to be put to use.

I have slowly been working my way through the bag of cabochons that I purchased last year, building my soldering confidence so that I can move onto more interesting, more challenging projects.

This cabochon is ready to become part the featured pendant in a necklace. The bezel was soldered onto a piece of etched nickel which was then riveted onto a piece of copper that is etched on one side and hammer-textured on the other.

Last night's efforts also included more etching.

I am itching to cut these up!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Follow-Up to Authentic Voice

So the opening/awards ceremony for the Member's Show at Wallingford Community Art Center was on Sunday. I ended up not attending because.....oh let's just leave it at life gets a bit too complicated sometimes.

What a pleasant surprise (with the emphasis on surprise) to find out that in the professional Jewelry/Metals category,

'My Open Heart' won 2nd Place

and 'Six' won 3rd Place

Go figure!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I spent part of this past Saturday taking an encaustic workshop with the talented Michelle Marcuse, and was able to kind of complete this abstract landscape.

Painting with molten wax......totally cool!

Even better....taking the class with a dear friend.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Authentic Voice

As my one son was developing his writing skills, I would always encourage him to use an authentic voice- one that speaks of genuine experience and emotion. There were times that I would read an assignment, telling him that it didn't sound like his voice and that he could (should) do better. When I read the primary essay that he had written for his college applications, I was so impressed by the wonderfully moving story that he told of losing his vision. He has definitely found his voice, and I have no doubt that his essay was a primary reason why he as accepted by so many colleges/universities.
The idea of maintaining an authentic voice is something I value and try to keep present in my design work, both jewelry and landscape.

I was working on a project this weekend and I was really pleased with how it was starting. The Members Show at the Wallingford Art Center begins this week, and I wanted to drop off a new piece. I made two leaves, similar to ones that I've made before... but better. This time I used a heavy gauge brass base and attached my milled copper leaves with balled copper wire that I used as rivets (using my nifty riveting hammer). I like the texture that the copper balls add to the central vein of the leaves. So far things are looking good.

The back of each brass base was stamped with a message. I then sanded the surface to highlight the stamping. I had annealed the brass, turning the surface a dark brown/black, and the sanding removed some of that oxidized surface. Still looking good.

I had this image in my head of using the leaves in a necklace, and pulled out a bezeled cabochon that I had made earlier this year. Holes were drilled to link everything together and I started wire wrapping my connections with prehnite gemstones and sterling chain. Pausing to assess where I was headed, all I could say was, "Bleh!" Things were not looking so good at this point.

I began to feel like I was forcing together pieces that did not want to be together. The balance that I strive for was missing; it did not feel like my 'authentic voice'. This project was a sinking boat that needed to be abandoned before I wasted any more sterling wire. A few years ago I was buying sterling at $14.00 an ounce and it is now hovering at around $40.00 an ounce- CAN'T AFFORD WASTE!!! I still entered the Members Show, but with other pieces. I entered 'My Open Heart' which I am especially fond of. It does not have the variety of techniques that I appreciated in my abandoned project, but I think that it does have a lovely balance of color and texture.

I also entered my 'Six' pin which I like for it's whimsy and humor.
It feels like my voice.

Aaaaaccckkkkk!! The crazy spacing of my posting is still a problem! I obviously need a 12 year old here to show me what I'm doing wrong!

Friday, May 6, 2011


I stopped by Sweet Mabel Folk Art this week to drop off a collection of earrings and chatted with Tracy, the wonderfully effervescent owner. As always, I asked what was new in the shop since Tracy works hard at keeping an ever-changing inventory, drawing customers back again and again.
As I admired new work, Tracy asked what was new from my workbench. I happened to be giving a new bracelet a 'test drive', wearing it for a couple of days to make sure that the proportions were comfortable and that the clasp would not come undone. Tracy liked the design, wanting some bracelets for the shop. She also asked where the inspiration came from. As is typical, I said, "I don't just sort of evolved."

That's the way it is with me whether I'm making jewelry, doing a landscape design or making dinner. I start out with some materials, a glimmer of an idea and get to work, finding that I am sometimes surprised with the end result. Oh pity my poor son who will swoon over a particular batch of tomato sauce and ask for it again the next night;'s a one time thing, each and every time.

I had made a batch of bezels months ago as I worked on my soldering skills, thinking that I would use them for future necklaces. They sat in one of my materials containers as I waited for the right inspiration.

I still had pieces of lace rolled metal from my thrift store find that has been on my workbench since November, also waiting for the right inspiration.

I make a lot of earrings and necklaces primarily because those are the items that most people seem to be interested in purchasing. Last week I decided I had to use up some of my bezels, but I was feeling necklace-fatigued. That's how the bracelet idea came to be.
I pulled out some of the lace milled silver nickel, some copper sheet that I had hand-corrugated and a couple of vintage books.

I cut out a partial image of a fish from an old biology textbook and the 'fish' entry from my favorite 1930's dictionary, setting them in the bezel with 2 part epoxy resin. Segments of the textured metals were cut, filed, sanded and drilled. 14 gauge jump rings connect all the segments and I made a clasp using 11 gauge recycled copper wire ( photo).

I didn't know where I was going when I started, but I like where I ended.

And, is comfortable; has not fallen off.