Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Serene Necklace!

This Veriscite stone is from the Candelaria Mine in Nevada. It was cut by Out of Our Mines Lapidary and Beadworks. I love all of their stones, but their Candelaria Veriscite stones are my favorite. The soft green color is so calming and serene. This trapezoid shape stone is beautifully cut and polished and was so easy to set. I created a modern, minimalist setting for this stone so the beauty of the stone could speak for itself. I gave the silver a soft, brushed satin finish. After I finished it, the first thing my hubby said was "Wow, what a beautiful stone! The setting is nice too, but what I really notice is the stone." That's exactly the reaction I wanted to hear!

It's available in my etsy shop here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Science of Jewelry

Physics, Chemistry and Math. These aren't subjects one usually associates with jewelry, but they are very real, everyday matters when designing and fabricating a piece of jewelry. Science is not my forte by any means, but I've been fortunate to have always lived with men who love science and math. My dad was a chemical engineer, my late husband was a math & computer science major and my husband is a civil engineer. I've learned a lot from them and I'm always tickled with the everyday applications of these subjects in my jewelry designs.

A friend of mine was in my workshop the other day and asked me about some white powdery residue on a tray that holds my pickle crock pot. Clearly, I don't clean my studio often enough, but her question led to a discussion about chemicals used in jewelry fabrication. How, when sterling silver is heated, copper rises to the surface. Pickle solution (I use phDown), is an acid needed to remove the oxidation. Next to my pickle, I have a water & baking soda solution to neutralize the acid and copper tongs to avoid any contamination of the pickle. There are many other chemicals used in jewelry making; flux, anti-flux, polishing compounds... and the person working with these chemicals needs to fully understand the uses and risks of each.

Physics and spatial relationships also come into play when creating a jewelry piece. I love to have a little movement in my jewelry, but sometimes that movement creates a challenge to make sure the piece functions well even while the wearer is moving. I hate jewelry that twists and ends up being being backwards or upside down while wearing it. If the wearer always has to fiddle with the piece, then it isn't a functional design. When I first started putting multiple stones together in my jewelry, I wanted them to interact with some playful movement in addition to the colorful interaction of the stones. I joined the two pieces together with one simple (jump) ring. After test-driving the first piece for a short while at home, I noticed that it was twisting as I moved. My civil-engineer husband quickly suggested that I use 2 or 3 jump rings to give the connection a broader base, which in turn helps keep the piece from twisting. Ah-ha! There was a light bulb moment for me in his simple, everyday physics application! I had seen this trick in other jewelry work, but I hadn't realized its practical function until my husband suggested it.

I also need to have balance in my jewelry designs. Some people can live with asymmetry, I personally can't. If a piece has more weight on one side, it won't hang straight on the wearer. Adding silver balls or other decorative elements to a piece requires careful consideration of how each element adds weight to the piece and where the connections or bail will need to be placed to maintain the overall balance of the jewelry. In a pendant, the weight of a chain can make or break not only how the piece looks, but also how well it functions and drapes.

Math comes into play all the time in my jewelry fabrication as well. I use a formula based on the depth of the wire to calculate the length of wire I need to size ring shank accurately. I use geometry to find the center of a circle or to measure equal sections of a shape. Then there's the accounting needed to manage the business end of my jewelry. That's where my business administration degree comes in handy.

Science and creativity are both essential ingredients to design and fabricate unique, functional jewelry!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beauty Everywhere I Look - an etsy treasury

My "A New Day" pendant is featured today in this lovely treasury titled "Beauty is Everywhere I Look", created by Mocahete. This treasury is so colorful, featuring items of orange, blue, rust and grey. Take a look here and discover some wonderful artists!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pay It Forward - Celtic Cross

Early in the year on my facebook page, I had a "Pay It Forward" sign-up. The first 5 people that signed up receive a handmade gift from me sometime during the year. The only requirement is that each of those 5 people need to give something to 5 of their friends, and so on...
Today I made this necklace for one of the participants. It's a cross based on a Celtic theme. Originally, I had drawn a more elaborate Celtic cross with several very tiny open spaces, but that design proved to be too difficult for my meager sawing skills. So, I pared the design down to something a little easier for me. It's made of sterling silver, which I cut and hammered, and attached to a sterling silver chain. It's simple, a little rustic and quite pretty. I hope she likes it!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day! My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 8

Happy Mother's Day! This will be my last post in the "My Mother's Jewelry Box" series. I'll be a little sorry to see the series end. I've had such a wonderful week perusing through my few, but treasured keepsakes!

To the left is a 4 generation picture of my grandmother (left), me holding my daughter, and my mother (right). The event was my daughter's first birthday celebration at my mom's winter home in FL. This is the only time all 4 generations were together. My mom passed away before my daughter's next birthday.

The pendant shown in the top photo is one from my grandmother's jewelry box. It's a Bent Larsen Design (Denmark) piece. My parents purchased it while on a trip to Denmark in the 70's and gave it to Grandma as a gift. I've been doing a little research on Bent Larsen Designs and it appears his mid-century, Danish modernist jewelry was quite popular. Seeing photos of his other pieces has given me a few inspiration ideas of my own. More to come on that later. I really can't tell what kind of metal this piece is made of. Looking at his other pieces on-line indicate it could be tin, pewter or steel. It's a very heavy piece and has never tarnished. I love how the thick bezel is textured on the top.

This last photo is ring that I made last weekend as a Mother's Day gift for my daughter. She's not a mother yet, but I've always given her a little gift on Mother's Day as my "thank-you" to her for being such a wonderful daughter. It's made of sterling silver. I hand cut the two hearts using my new "Knew Concepts" saw, soldered them together and then soldered them to the ring shank. It fits her perfectly - she loves it.

To all the love-filled women (mother's or not) who have brightened the lives of children in some small way, thus spreading a little motherly love around the world, I sincerely wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 7

Today I'll show you two photos. The first is a photo of my Mom, showing her lovely hands. As I've said in my earlier posts, she had long slender fingers and loved to wear rings to show them off. This picture gives you a glimpse of those lovely hands.

The second photo is a sixpence that my Dad presented to me on my wedding day. The traditional poem "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe." is said to bring good luck to a marriage. In English tradition, the sixpence is placed in the bride's shoe to be worn during the wedding ceremony. The morning of my wedding, my dad taped this sixpence into the lining of my shoe. I thought I had misplaced it and actually feared I had inadvertently donated it, along with the shoes, many years ago. Imagine my delight to discover it this week - it was taped to the inside wall of my mother's little "pearl" jewelry box! I know this was the sixpence my father gave me because the one he presented to me was issued in my birth year (imprinted on the reverse side).

Tomorrow, in my final post in honor of Mother's Day, I'll show you a necklace of my grandmother's and a treasured 4 generation photo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 6

Today's installment of "My Mother's Jewelry Box" includes a tie clasp of my Dad's. Just as I keep my Mom's jewelry in my own box, my Mom kept a little bit of my Dad's in her box. Dad passed away several years before Mom did. This photograph of them was taken about a month before Dad passed away. The tie clasp he's wearing in the photo is the same tie clasp in her box. I can't think of my Mom without thinking of Dad, too. He was quiet, kind and gentle. One of his colleagues described him to me this way "He was truly a gentle-man in every sense of the word."
But that plaid suit? Ugh!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 5

Here is another of my Mom's pieces of jewelry. It wasn't always a pendant, though. When Mom passed away, this cluster setting was attached to a ring shank. Mom loved big cocktail rings. As I've told you in previous posts, her long, slender fingers wore them well. About 15 years after she died, I realized that I had never worn this ring and probably never would as I frankly didn't like it. It's too much ring and bling for my hands. So, I gave it to my brother and sister-in-law and suggested they have the stones removed to have two new pieces created for their daughters. That way, the stones would have a useful life and the girls would have something of their grandmother's. My sister-in-law accepted the ring and I never gave it a second thought.

The following Christmas, much to my surprise and delight, my sister-in-law gave me this pendant as a gift. She had a jeweler cut the ring shank off, close up the back of the setting and attach a bail. Needless to say, I was thrilled! I think it makes a stunning necklace and I have worn it often. It is by far my favorite jewelry piece of my Mother's. My sister-in-law is the most thoughtful woman I know; I am so fortunate to have her in my life. I think of her & quietly thank her every time I wear this piece.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 4

Today's segment of "My Mother's Jewelry Box" features her baby ring. It's so very tiny - I measured it at a size 1.5. So small that I can only slide it past the first knuckle of my pinkie finger. It has a little diamond chip in the center, with 2 dark blue chips on the sides. I think they're probably sapphire. I love how the metal is delicately engraved with rope-like details along the edges.

The outside back of the ring shank is scratched enough that it makes me believe Mom must have worn this ring at some point in her childhood, perhaps as a pinkie ring. Actually, when I ran across it a few days ago, it was so dirty that I didn't realize there were open spaces between the sapphires and the center stone. The open spaces were filled with dried dirt. Did Mom play in the mud while wearing this ring? I think so! While I thought it was cute when it was dirty, after cleaning it up a bit, I love this ring even more than when I first found it. Here's a picture of it all caked with dirt:

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 3

In part 3 of "My Mother's Jewelry Box", I'll show one of my mother's faux pearl necklaces and one of her little jewelry boxes.

The "pearl" necklace is something she wore often when I was a child. I thought the rhinestone clasp was so pretty when I was young. As you can see, a few of the rhinestones are missing now. This isn't something I wear. I just keep it in the jewelry box for sentimental reasons.

The little jewelry box (under the necklace) is one of my favorite remembrances of my mother. She had several little boxes of jewelry and one primary box (which now belongs to my daughter) that I don't have a photo of. This box is just plastic and I'm not sure if it was intended to be a jewelry box, or an evening bag. The brand name painted inside is the name of a suitcase & handbag company originally located in MN. The top lifts up and has a little mirror inside. She always kept her "pearls" in this one. I still keep them there, safe and sound.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Mother's Jewelry Box - Part 2

In keeping with my Mother's Day theme this week, here is a picture of another one of my Mom's rings. It's an amethyst stone. I wore this ring daily for many years after Mom passed away and it remains one of my favorite rings today. I love the swirl in the ring shank and the shape of the stone. I've managed to scratch up the top surface of the stone by wearing it so often. I really should bring it in to a pro to see if the scratches can be polished out, but part of me believes a little wear and tear adds character to jewelry. I recall my mom wearing this ring only a few times. It was one of the newer pieces in her collection.

I'm excited to bring you more of my mother's jewelry box throughout this week. Going through the box is bringing back fond memories for me. Oh, how I loved trying on her jewelry when I was a child!