Friday, February 25, 2011

Beneath the Surface - Year of Jewelry Project - Week 8

For the Year of Jewelry Project 2011 - Week 8, I've made a pendant out of my favorite stone, Opal in Ironstone from the Koroit Mining District in Queensland, Australia. Titled "Beneath the Surface" because it's a little like people; sometimes you have to look beneath the surface to really see and appreciate its true beauty.

I've mentioned before how much I've fallen in love with stones in the past 3 years and how they move and inspire me. It seems every jewelry artist has their favorite stone; the one they are known for. One of my favorite artists uses Fordite so often that every time I see jewelry in Fordite, I think of her. Another friend uses Cuprite Chrysocolla (Sonora Sunrise) quite often. As for me, I have fallen in love with Koroit opals and have purchased several at gem shows. This is my 4th pendant using this type of stone. I love how the opal portions shine through the dark, rusty red of the iron, just beneath the surface. I love how each stone is so very different from the next one and how the colors in each stone shine differently depending on the angle of light. I ooh and aah every time I hold one of these stones as I shine light on it and discover its many shimmering bits of opal flashing through.

This particular stone is stunning with its greens and teal blues capturing your eye instantly. I've set in in a fine silver bezel and backed it with sterling silver, adding a little sterling ball as an accent. To give the pendant even more interest and movement, I've added an accent stone of teal colored chrysocolla. The little chrysocolla really brings out the teals and greens of the Koroit opal.

I have another 7 Koroit opals in my collection, so look forward to seeing a few more finished pieces this year. Eventually, I'll save one for myself!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Black Swan - Year of Jewelry Project - Week 7

The theme for the Year of Jewelry Project 2011 this week is 'Something to Talk About'. I recently saw the movie "Black Swan". Everyone I know who has seen the movie wants to have a lengthy, lively discussion about it. Most of our discussions center around the human struggle to overcome the black/dark/evil that can surface in any of us. The topic strikes many different chords in people: nature vs. nurture, religion, mental illness etc... I enjoyed the movie and the resulting conversations with friends about its meaning. I wanted to create a piece that represents the good & dark sides of the human spirit, with the good rising above the dark.
The stones in this pendant are a white Rainbow Moonstone and a Psilomelene (Black Hematite). I did a lot of sketches for this piece before deciding on a final version. Even the final version changed a bit as I went about creating it. The black hematite stone has some pretty rings of metallic color at the wider end. The rings looks like a ripple effect in water. I chose to put that part at the top of this section of the piece to signify the goodness struggling and rising out of the darkness, up towards the white/good stone. I've surrounded the black stone with a feathered edge, then added a second back plate so the feather edges wouldn't rub against the wearer or snag clothing. I've extensively sanded all the edges to a very smooth finish and oxidized the piece to accentuate the design.
The white rainbow moonstone glows when the light hits it and I think it beautifully represents the our good side. I've added petals (or wings) to signify human goodness rising above the darkness.
Technically, this pendant was a bit more complicated than most of the jewelry I create. Each section involved several extra soldering steps and required careful planning so that none of the early solder seams came undone in that later steps. I'm quite pleased with the results.
The weekly YOJ theme, planning and execution processes have all been fun for me this week. I'm so glad I decided to join the Year of Jewelry Project this year. I'm challenging myself as an artist in ways I probably would not have done without the commitment of the YOJ project.
Here are a few more photos. I find it challenging to photograph dark stones - every bit of light reflects off of them. Thank goodness my jewelry skills are better than my photography skills!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Heart is Filled with Love!

This week, the Year of Jewelry Project 2011 theme was "Amore". My submission turned out to be the piece on the left. I've titled it "A Heart Full of Love".

This isn't what I had intended though. A few weeks ago I started to prepare a pendant for this theme, using a beautiful little heart shaped black obsidian stone from my collection. I created the silver setting. But then while placing the stone in the setting, I cracked off the bottom tip of the stone. This left me with what I thought would be a useless, empty bezel setting. Scrap metal. Ugh!

It pains me to waste silver and a perfectly good bezel setting. I just knew I had to find a use for it. I thought about experimenting with resin and filling the bezel with red or pink resin, but I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day specific jewelry. And I know resin takes a little getting used to; the first pieces people make in resin usually don't turn out well. I can only handle one disaster per setting.

Thinking, empty heart... What can I fill it with? Love! Shiny little balls of melted sterling, each one representing people I love. People who fill up my heart! You can see there are a few little gaps, room for more little balls in the future because there is always room in my heart to love one more person.

I'm wishing all of you a day filled with a heart full of love!

fyi, Here's a photo of the original piece with the chipped obsidian stone: