Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Special Order Earrings

I was recently contacted by someone who saw my jewelry in a local gallery that carries my work and asked if I might consider doing a special order.
We met to discuss what was wanted, and my new client was hoping that I could make earrings similar to ones that I had previously made, using baroque pearls that she had received years ago.
The pearls have great sentimental value and the earrings were going to be a gift for a family member.
Seeing the pearls and appreciating the emotional significance of this project, I suggested using sterling silver.
We agreed on the choice of sterling and I was given the pearls to come up with my version of what I thought was wanted.
I needed to make sterling hoops/rings of very particular sizes and began scanning my studio for the right form for wrapping the wire into shape. 
In the past, I've used knitting needles, tomato paste cans and Sharpies to get a particular size.
For this project, I turned to my dapping punches and wrapped 14 gauge sterling wire to make coils that were then saw cut into individual rings.

The rings were soldered and then hammered, hammered and hammered.
And then I hammered some more.
I did consider using my planishing hammer to remove the texture marks, but chose not to do that.
I decided I liked the textural marks that capture and reflect the light at different angles.
At the base of each pearl is a small, sterling bead cap that I cut from a sheet of sterling textured with lace in my rolling mill.
The earrings were delivered last week.
When making the rings for this pair of earrings, it only made sense to make more for.....whatever.
I now have a little collection of various sized sterling rings for other projects like.....
my new favorite earrings.
These earrings have lots of movement with the outer and inner rings rotating independently of each other.
I think they're both simple and elegant, and I also think I have to keep this pair for myself.
But....similar earrings and others made from my collection of new sterling rings will debut at the upcoming 'Meet the Designers' show at Woodmere Art Museum on Saturday, April 11.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Early Spring in My Garden

If I had to choose a preferred time of year, I think it would have to be early Spring.
I love seeing a haze of green on the trees as leaves begin to develop.
I love the smell of the year's first, fresh cut lawn.
And I love to see my garden come back to life, especially with my camera in hand.
Creeping Phlox in front yard planter.
Surprise of a beautiful backyard tulip, not planted by me.
Lovely daffodils with gossamer petals.
Front yard crabapple.
Yes, crabapple again.....it's kind of irresistible with blushes of pink as the flowers emerge.
A while ago, I read an article on photography in which the expert stated that you couldn't be taken seriously if you were taking pictures of flowers.
Meh.....who cares?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden Textures

My recent successful texturing of sheet metal with garlic skin has made me look at lots of things from a new perspective.
I find that I am often wondering, "Hmmmmm....I wonder what would happen if I put that through the rolling mill?"
I'm especially thinking that as I clean up my garden beds.
When texturing with organic material, the item has to be completely dried.
If there is still the slightest bit of moisture in the leaf, petal, whatever...., you will end up with a smushed mess and no impression.
Trust me.....I know.
Old fern fronds were my first rolling mill candidate.
Sections of the fronds were sandwiched between pieces of brass.
I positioned the rollers close enough that it required both hands to turn the crank.
In spite of the amount of pressure, I was only able to get a very faint impression.
Even though it's lovely, I had hoped for and expected something a bit more dramatic.
I'm happier with the results that I got with parts of my miscanthus.
I first layered segments of the leaves between brass....
and love the impression that they left.
Then I sandwiched a seed head between two pieces of brass.....
and love this impression even more.
There are lots of  rolling mill possibilities in my garden beds.
Spring cleaning is probably going to take a long time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Playing With My Food

You might need to work in metals to appreciate why I'm excited about these two pieces of brass.
For me, developing unique textures with my metals is central to developing unique pieces of jewelry.
That's why I do a lot of etching; I like knowing that I'm working with a piece of metal that no one else has.
I'm always interested in finding promising, new textures.
Once a week, I work in the metals studio at Main Line Art Center to take advantage of certain tools that I don't have in my home studio.
It's also nice to be working alongside a group of creative and talented jewelry designers.
A lot of work gets done, and there is also a lot of sharing of thoughts regarding jewelry design and techniques, politics, economics, relationships, art, music, etc....one of the reasons why we are known as the Hammer and Yammer Group.
Someone in the group had recently read about using garlic skins for creating texture on metal.
I always have garlic in my pantry.
I sandwiched some of the garlic skins between pieces of brass and then fed it through my rolling mill.
I love the delicate, ghostly impression that was created.
More experimenting is definitely called for.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fold Formed Discs

Part of last night's workbench work....
fold formed discs.
Starting with a 6" x 6" piece of 20 gauge copper, I did a series of annealing/folding/hammering/opening steps until I had a level of texture that I found interesting.
After one final annealing, I cut out 7/8" diameter discs, now ready for drilling, possibly doming, and becoming something else.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Good (?) Deed Done Not So Well

All right....I'm a little off point today, but.... 
Seeing today's images of President Obama hugging and consoling a tearful, young boy at the White House Easter Egg Roll brought back memories of my own upsetting Easter Egg event years ago when my twin sons were almost 5 years old.  Both are blind and at that time were students at Overbrook School for the Blind.  Shortly before Easter, one of the popular, local radio stations contacted Overbrook, asking that parents be informed that the station would be organizing an Easter Egg Hunt at the Philadelphia Zoo, and that it was specifically for blind children.  We were told that plastic eggs would be 'hidden' in the designated lawn area.  Along with treats, there would be some kind of sound emitting device inside each egg so that the kids could use their hearing to locate the little prizes.  I thought this sounded wonderful, and was very moved that the station chose to host an event for a group of kids who were often excluded from so many of the typical events that sighted kids could enjoy.

The day of the Egg Hunt was beautiful, so we headed out to the Zoo for what we expected would be a fun and heartwarming event.  Oh, if only reality could be as wonderful as hopeful expectations.  Arriving at the Zoo, we heard the event before we found it.  The station had its promotional van parked on the lawn and loud music was blasting out of huge speakers.  That was the first suggestion that things were not going to go well.  The level of noise made it difficult for my mobile son to use his hearing as a navigational guide, and it just scared the bejesus out of my other son who is in a wheelchair.  I thought, "All right....Egg Hunt and we're out of here."
It became painfully clear that there must have been a radio station meeting where someone said, "Hey, let's do something nice for blind kids!" and then put no thoughtful consideration into the planning of the event.  Looking around I realized that there was no physically designated area for this Egg Hunt and knew this was going to be a problem in what was essentially a very open, public space.  The eggs were scattered, and it immediately became a free-for-all.....for other kids who happened to be walking by, not for the blind kids.  Some of the blind kids were knocked down by interloper kids who were running like sighted kids will run when they sense that free candy can be had.  Also.....those loud, blasting speakers?  Yeah....they kind of made it IMPOSSIBLE to hear the puny sound emitting devices.  
Way to go, radio station.

I had quickly scooped up my one son and was thankful that my other son's wheelchair was an effective safety barrier.  We exited the event as one of the Overbrook mothers was yelling, actually...screaming at the radio station people.  I recognized that this was a lesson that I needed to help my son understand....that life was going to be filled with many, many moments of disappointments.   Some would be minor, like this Egg Hunt, but others would almost certainly be profound and at least momentarily, crushing.  We choose to always move forward, learning what we can from the disappointments, but an occasional hug of encouragement from the Commander-in-Chief would sure be nice.