Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Signs of Spirituality

My search for religious medals remains a constant. 
The older, the better in my opinion.
A rich patina of age never fails to capture my attention as with most of these recent finds.
But sometimes.....that 'patina' is more grime and dirt than anything else.
These two crosses were black with grime when I bought them for 25 cents each. 
A soapy brush revealed how lovely they are as well as the fact that the one on the left is made out of sterling silver.
These two crosses now sit on my workbench as I consider how to best honor them in new pieces of jewelry.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fold Forming Workshop

As someone who has taught workshops on riveting and wire wrapping techniques, I appreciate how a day dedicated to a particular topic can significantly improve one's level of skill.
I decided that I wanted to improve my fold forming abilities and signed up for a workshop with the talented Wendy Edsall-Kerwin, offered through the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.
Along with seven other students, I spent last Saturday in the well equipped metals studio at Harrisburg Area Community College absorbing as much as I could.
Using a T-fold, I made a copper cuff.
We also had a chance to work with brass....definitely a bit more challenging than the copper.
I've mentioned before that fold forming involves lots of annealing- heating the metal to a dull red glow. 
Copper becomes very malleable when annealed.
Brass?....not as much.
I use wedge folds for my brass cuff.
Texture was added with the different hammers I was using and with the vertical face of the vice that I used to hold the brass in place while smashing it into shape.
When I began the brass cuff, I was envisioning a certain effect that I never did find.
Sometimes it's better to follow where the metal wants to take you.
I also did some line folds, again using copper.
Once the folds were completed, I annealed the metal and shaped it using a hoop mandrel.
I love the look of the folds and the textures left from the hammering and want to be able to turn this into jewelry.
I always need to consider how I can market my skills, and making earrings is often a good answer.
I used my jewelers saw to cut the folded copper piece in half and then filed and sanded the cuts.
I'm now considering options for attaching earwires, thinking that a cold connection might be the way to go.
In the meantime, there is a Christmas tree on my porch that needs to come indoors and get decorated.
Earwires will have to wait.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Taking a Stand

This was a busy week. 
I took part in the holiday shows at two local art centers.  As is typical, each art center asks that the participating artists sign up for shifts to work during the show, an effective way to provide the necessary "staffing" to make the show run as smoothly as possible. 
It's also a way for the customers to meet and talk with the different artists.
I had nice conversations with a variety of people, answering questions and explaining how I make some of my pieces.
I was talking with one woman when she noticed my bullet casing necklaces.
"Are those bullets?", she asked.
When I told her that yes, they were spent bullet casings that I had etched, she said, "That's not nice...not nice!" and walked away.
I didn't think much of it.  I never assume that anyone will like my work, and am always happy when someone does. 
I really like these necklaces. 
They let me make a statement about transforming an object with one intended use into something completely different.
For me, this speaks to the complexity of sensitive and emotionally charged issues like gun control.
Shortly after the woman walked away, one of the other artists who had been working at check-out told me that my necklaces had upset someone.
After leaving my display, the woman complained that someone (yes, that would be me) had actually used bullets to make jewelry.  She had planned to buy some items, but changed her mind because of my necklaces.
She would not support the holiday sale because of my bullet necklaces.
Wow...I was kind of stunned that someone was boycotting the show because of me. 
I absolutely respect taking a stand, and some of my work had obviously hit a nerve in this woman.
I respect that she felt strongly about an issue and voiced her upset.
I wish she had explained it to me.
It may have been an interesting conversation if I could have explained my motivation for making those necklaces.
One of the reasons that I enjoy making jewelry is that I work with beautiful materials to make beautiful pieces of adornment.
But....sometimes it's not just about beauty.
Sometimes I feel a need to say something with more substance that might be meaningful only for me, but hopefully meaningful for others as well.
That's one of the reasons that I use recycled materials which helps me to take a stand, however small, against wasteful consumption.
Sometimes I like to have nerdy fun.... with the back of this pin that I made out of the letter 'R' that I had saw cut from an old license plate. 
Sometimes, I'll hand stamp a quote, like this one from Steven Wright, because I have something on my mind that I need to express.
Sometimes, a thrift store find, like this vintage Red Cross pin, sparks an idea related to socio-economic issues.
Like my bullet necklaces, these are some of the pieces of my jewelry that satisfy my need to occasionally take a stand.
I know not everyone will like what I'm saying through my work, and that's fine...
.....and I really like my bullet necklaces.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When I Step Away From My Workbench

I love making jewelry, but I also need to do other things, like have fun with my camera.....

....and paint.
A work in progress. 
This is the result of the first session of around 2 hours.