30 September 2008

Woven Set

Just showing a set. The earrings are based on some doodling in a sketchbook, the pin followed, and I made a pendant last week. I don't know why I love the earring shape so much, but I do. I also really enjoy this weaving pattern; very mesmerizing.

Charm Swap - "Autumn"

This photo is an overview of the 15 charms I made for a charm swap through the Yahoo group, Wire Wrap Jewelry. Clearly, my charms are not primarily wire-wrapped! I signed up for the swap at about the time I got my two new books, Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, and Foldforming, so I felt distinctly inspired by those two. The swap theme was "Autumn" and I envisioned forms based on milkweed pods and "sewn" closed with wire, with fluffy seeds, represented by more wire, erupting from them. A few of the first charms I made follow this vision. Then I noticed that some of the pieces began to resemble footballs -- Autumn again! I couldn't bring myself to make the same thing twice, so every charm is unique and represented a chance for me to explore and play with new techniques. Of all the pieces, I am quite taken with the two that have short lengths of silver wire penetrating the copper, balled at each end. I love the look and the fact that the little wires move back and forth. Expect to see more explorations of this technique when I have more time to play in the winter! I have already filled a few pages of my sketchbook with design ideas.

27 September 2008

Fall Colors on the Prairie

Last weekend I took Morgan for a walk at Carleton College's Cowling Arboretum, and the prairie was so magnificent that I had to go back to take pictures. Yesterday was, in all probability, the last day of Indian Summer here in Minnesota, with a high in the mid-80's, and was gorgeous! Morgan ran for about 15 minutes before being overcome with the heat, so she walked nicely on leash for the rest of the outing.

The "Arb," as it is known on campus, stretches along the Cannon River and ranges from floodplain forest to oak savannah to tall-grass prairie. This last area is what interested me the most on this trip. When I was at Carleton 23 years ago the prairie consisted only of a hillside that began to be restored in the 1970's. Work on this area continued, and restoration of nearby areas that were originally oak savannah began in the 80's. I didn't pay much attention to further restoration efforts, so I was amazed and delighted to see that prairie restoration has exploded. When I was there in the mid-80's, Carleton owned a lot of land that was still used for crop production, but apparently not only has the land been taken out of production, but it has been aggressively restored with prairie plants. The scope of restoration, given the small hillside they started with, is breathtaking! And at this time of year, a visual delight! The photos don't really do justice to the riot of color and texture on the landscape. Remember, 20 years ago these were cornfields.

Here are a few macro shots I took of some of the prairie plants. I used to know my plants fairly well, but I have no idea what the last one it! I've never seen it before. Looks like I'll have to ask the Arb Director....

25 September 2008

A Nod to Iza

LinkThis fibula pin was done as a study of Iza Malczyk's work. I love her style and wanted to do make a piece that incorporated some of the techniques she uses. The woven bead cap (second from the right), in particular, is her innovation. I followed the tutorial published in Step-by-Step Wire (Summer 2007), except that I used 28 gauge Argentium silver instead of 30 gauge fine silver for the weaving. Every other aspect of the work consists of common techniques, but I tried to emulate the way she combines shape and texture. Overall, I like how it turned out, except that I feel it is unbalanced; I wish the large loop on the right were smaller. I think this was also the first time I oxidized my silver. As you can see, Argentium may be tarnish resistant, but is certainly not tarnish-proof, and so can certainly be oxidized. The beads in the pin are (from left to right): faceted glass, amethyst, sugilite, and amethyst. I worked on this over the course of about a month in the spring, but only just thought about posting a photo here.

24 September 2008

Tornado Hoops with Turquoise

These are my version of a pair of earrings I admired on JewelryLessons.com. The artist's version is full of color and utterly delicious; I love them. I don't have many small gemstone rounds or rondelles right now, however, so I used some of the smallest turquoise chips that I have. The silver was oxidized then buffed. This is also the first time I have made closed hoops. I have no idea why it has taken me so long!

A New Tool

The great thing about working construction for 13 years was that I got to buy (and use!) power tools. I sure miss that aspect of the work. There is nothing like looking at all the options at the world's best tool store, bringing your choice home, and plugging it in for the first time. After years of use, these tools become as familiar as an old flannel shirt. Now I hardly see them anymore. Sigh. Making jewelry, at least so far, hasn't involved much in the way of tools. Sure, I've spent a fair amount of money on pliers and cutters with comfortable handles, but it just isn't the same. But I'm expanding my techniques, and for that I bought a hammer. A really, really nice hammer! My "hammer-arm" misses the work and is ready! This is a thing of beauty. The handle is silky-smooth and the head has the most fascinating curves. I will be wielding this hammer to whack the hell out of sheets of copper and silver! Be forewarned that I have another new book and intend to play!

18 September 2008

Obtuse Systems

I have been trying to pay my Illinois Sales Tax for almost a week, but their obtuse filing system is testing me! Their webfile system does not allow the user (me) to add locations, which should be dead easy to do! Instead, I have to call an office (multiple times since the line was busy; apparently they haven't figured out call waiting) and request that the location be added. The woman said it may take 24 hours to show up online. That was three days ago! What is the problem? No other state I have dealt with has such a convoluted sales tax system. Plus, I have to file every month, even though so far, I have only had two shows in IL all year. I hope they get with the program and put me on an annual filing status for next year (assuming they even allow that!).

OK. I am done venting now.

15 September 2008

Viking Knit Order

I took some pics of this piece before mailing it off to its proud new owner. This chain is woven with 66 feet of 24 gauge 14kt. gold-fill wire, all single-knit stitch. I usually make my own hooks, but the client specifically requested the lobster claw. This took a long time to weave, but I very much like the impressive "presence" that the finished piece has.

14 September 2008

Tick Check

After a little outpatient surgery on Friday I found these guys all over me. They are for the EKG leads, and I found three of them on my chest once I was home and alert enough to care. They are really soft and quite imperceptible. So much so that after spending a few hours on the couch watching TV, and then napping for a few more hours (laying on my side), I discovered yet another of these attached to my left side. Really couldn't feel it at all! Just like ticks....

12 September 2008

Project Three-Shelf Earrings

I didn't care much for the Shelf Pendant in Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, but I could see earrings quite clearly, so that is what I did. I love how these turned out! I did a strange thing when applying a heat patina to the copper: I applied the butane torch flame horizontally to the copper sheet (as opposed to perpendicular) and then I quenched the metal in the nearest source of water, my cat's water dish. I suspect the organic material in the water caused the interesting green flashes of color. I don't really know if that is true, but I do know that the coloring on this pair of earrings is more interesting than for Project Two! I could actually read about applying a heat patina, but so far just playing with it is kind of fun!

The silver is Argentium, so no fire scale or need for flux when balling the ends of the wire. The twisted wires at the top are scraps from other projects which I pulled out of the refining bin.

Working through the projects in this book is distracting me from getting ready for my Oct-Nov show schedule! Must pace myself.....but it is so fun to explore new techniques!!!

11 September 2008

Project Two-Folded Earrings

I actually began the Jewelry Challenge with this project, and not the Spinner Pendant. The copper sheet could have been heat-treated to make nice colors a bit more, but I am still learning! Anyone who is a fan of Battlestar Galactica might recognize something familiar about the front flaps....leave me a comment if you know what it is! The pearls (3/earring) were put together on headpins months ago for a design that didn't work out; they've been sitting on my desk ever since, waiting for their moment. I think the space I left inside the fold is a bit too small, but on the other hand, they ARE extremely cute. In fact, I am wearing them right now! I made the earwires a bit more "creatively" than I usually do, and I quite like them.

I have decided that they look like tiny purses with treasure tucked inside.

Project One-Spinner Necklace

A few days ago I said I had some new work to post, and here it is. Last week I got the new book by Mary Hettmansperger, Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet, which is all about using wire, sheet metal, and cold connections. While the work in the book has a very different "feel" from the work I do now, I find it compelling. My work tends to be very orderly, controlled, and symmetrical; I want to push myself to create with a little less order, and to explore new avenues. It just so happens that right after getting the book I stumbled upon Deryn Mentock's blog, and the jewelry challenge she is involved in to work through the projects in Mary's book. Great!! I am thrilled to participate, so here is my first project.

I have actually used five different metals for this project. The gold-color discs are brass. The large square has been textured with a ball pein hammer, while the front round has been domed with a dapping block. The silver-color triangle is galvanized steel flashing (I have lots of that from my days in construction!); I will be buying silver sheet later this week. The steel has been textured with an awl. The spacers between the large discs are copper coils, the Bali beads are sterling silver, and finally, the silver coils and the main wire are Argentium silver.

This was fun! You'll notice, however, that I still felt compelled toward bilateral symmetry....

Look What I Found!!

I was rummaging around my cluttered basement last night and found this guy! I made this years and years ago, way before I ever made any jewelry! You see, it all started with just playing around with iron wire. I forgot about this lizard, but now he will sit on top of my computer.

10 September 2008

Some Eye Candy

I keep thinking about posting, but life get so amazingly busy, that it drops off the end of the "to do" list. I have some new work to post, but no photos yet, so in the mean time, enjoy the Eye Candy!! Honestly, the gemstones look like real candy!!