Saturday, April 11, 2015

Back from Bead Fest...Back to Work

Bead Fest is in town this weekend, and with a very specific shopping list in hand, I made my visit yesterday.
Deciding beforehand what my purchase needs to be helps to keep me from being unnecessarily distracted and helps to keep my bank account intact.
The operative word in that statement is 'helps'.
In my earlier years of jewelry making, it was a struggle to contain myself when surrounded by over 100 vendors, each with a tempting variety of supplies that I was convinced I needed at my workbench.
I'm older and wiserer now.
My plan is to continually evolve, and as I define my 'design voice', I have a better understanding of what I might want to become
and of what I don't want to be.
I'm more discriminating than I was a number of years ago and prefer to do business with a small selection of vendors who I like and trust.
Loyalty matters.
I also know which vendors to avoid.
Honesty matters.
 Unfortunately, not all vendors are completely honest about their products.
First stop was Jewelry Tools.
I handed them my shopping list...
liver of sulfur, solder cutting pliers, bead reamer, diamond tweezers, wooden forming blocks, brass brush....
and in a few minutes an order was placed that will be shipped on Monday.
Next stop, and one of my favorites, Metalliferous.
They always come to Bead Fest with lots of wonderfully curious items that don't show up on their web site.
I regularly order some of my metal supplies from Metalliferous, and the items arrive clean and shiny, ready to be transformed.
But what caught my attention was something that I've never seen in their online store.
In their bins of patterned and embossed strips of brass and copper was a bundle of extremely grungy brass strips.
When presented with a choice between clean and shiny or dirty and grungy,
I will almost always go for the dirty and grungy. 
A patina suggests that there's some history and maybe some kind of interesting story.
I thought that a bit of selective cleaning would reveal beautiful details.
Some work with a medium grit sanding block confirmed my suspicions.
What to make.....
With my jeweler's saw, I cut a few sections from the pattern.
All edges were filed smooth
and holes were drilled for connections.
Sterling wire wrapped crystals dangle from the bottom
and mini tornado wraps of annealed steel make the connection to sterling silver ear wires.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ceramic Bead Inspires Necklace

A small collection of large ceramic beads has been sitting on my workbench for years.
Occasionally, I would pull the beads out, look at them and think,
and then put them away.
Maybe it was the recent bombardment of Easter egg images that motivated me to revisit these beads yesterday,
but I decided that the time to do something had finally arrived.
I chose to make one of the ceramic beads the featured pendant in a new necklace.
Heavy gauge wire was used to make wrapped connections at both the top and bottom.
To help the bead sit nicely, I made brass bead caps that were textured with one of my old chisels.
Before getting to work on fabricating the chain, I perused my supplies, selecting a variety of components that would complement the featured pendant.
Small ceramic beads with a similar glaze help to connect the appearance of the chain to the pendant.
I liked the bright contrast that yellow jasper beads offered.
Tiny flecks of blue/green within the jasper help to make a good visual connection to the pendant.
Hand forged  and chisel textured copper rings also offer contrast with their negative space.
Creamy white, faceted honey jade beads were added because I appreciated the difference in both shape and surface texture.
A handmade clasp ties in with the wire used for the wire wrapped connections
and large copper links allow for some variation in the wearing length of the necklace.
These different materials that have been living separate lives at my workbench
come together nicely as one coordinated piece.
This necklace will hopefully be in one of the local galleries before week's end.