A (somewhat) daily rambling on the life of a polymer Clay metal clay and Fused Glass artist/teacher/author.

Very soon my blog will move to my website...as soon as it is done that is. This blog will be my Theatrical life of directing The Secret Garden

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jewel Carnival! What I am grateful for in Jewelry

Click on image to enlarge.

I know that most people praise their parents for the inspiration in their lives... but, for me, it is really true. This image is one of my first attempts at using the Painter program. I used an old black & white photo of them my great-uncle took. They were visiting him on his ship....he was a merchant marine. For some reason they were standing on some sort of hatch top. This was taken in June of 1936.... 6 months before they wed. They were so much in love. Go find old photos of your parents.... it is such a warm fuzzy thing. I had such a great time altering and drawing them in my own version of their world.

Okay, my mother started my jewelry quest off when I was very young by not having a fit when I drew on the walls and protecting my 'artwork' from the teacher when I was seven and encouraging me to play with ceramic clays. But, her biggest influence was her love of beautiful fine jewelry. She had gobs... and loose beads. I think she really wanted to create her own. She was the first person to teach me how to knot between pearls with a 'T' pin. Her jewelry was beautiful. She also had no problem changing something. She had her favorite jeweler re-create jewelry she purchased at antique stores and thrift shops into incredibly beautiful and valuable bling. Later on we, my sister Lelana, mom and I, would go to the Jewelry Mart in San Francisco and shop for pretties. I was majorly into beading at that time and we'd spend ALL DAY there. I remember one time we came outside just before sundown and the sky was beautiful with colors and clouds. We were so rummy, I remember saying, "Just look at the rose quartz and blue lace agate sky and the opal clouds...!" We chuckled over that one and then shook our heads because we stayed at the Mart tooooooooooo looooooooong. Heh, heh.

My father was incredibly supportive too. We were very close and got closer when I spent about two years working for him in his machine shop. He gave me so much confidence.... it was amazing. I was his secretary, shipping clerk and gal Friday. He also had no trouble having me run small & medium sized lathes and one huge Bridgeport vertical lathe. Amazing. Then he had me arc welding his hinges for his tire recapping parts and testing his air valves for his balancers for the huge truck tires. Did I say that he graduated from Berkeley High at 15? He couldn't afford college so he went to the library and studied mechanical engineering and passed all the tests. He was brilliant. And shy. And quiet within himself - unless he had a few 'Old Fashions' in him. He had me working with all the ferrous metals in his shop. He invented the bubble balancer for the tire industry and always told my sis and I that we were related to Frank L. Baum of Wizard of Oz fame. He made me feel I could do anything.

But, it was 17 years later before I could call myself an artist. Some times we makers have a bit of trouble calling ourselves that because of our inherent lack of confidence. After all, we are baring our souls to the world. Instead of saying that this is my art, we are feeling that this is who I am. It took me another 10 years or so to realize it wasn't me it was various expressions of the bliss of creating.

Making jewelry has given me a functional expression of my tendency towards three dimensional art and has let me create one-of-a-kind pieces, wedding rings and divorce rings. I have made wiccan jewelry, special order cold connected work with aluminum, copper and sterling, and my favorite is a wedding ring turned into earrings. He burnt the ring when working around the car battery and wanted to make half hooped and carved earring posts for his wife for their anniversary. It was fun. He came back in later and told me his wife had purchased a new band for him. They exchanged wedding rings at their anniversary lunch. Times like that made owning a gallery/jewelry store worth it.

Yes, I am very grateful for all jewelry making has brought to my life. Especially all of the wonderful friends that have touched me. Thank you to you.... you KNOW who you are.

Whew... that is enough.

Thanks mom and dad, I will always be indebted to your love and support and encouragement.
Do visit these other wonderful 'Jewelry Carnival' bloggers today:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just in Time for Europe!!! Gram's doing better...for now.

Murphy has struck again.

Just in time for Europe... this artist here decided to break a bone in her foot.

Thanks for feeling sorry for me... DRAT!!!! I bought new shoes too. So, I think I will go off to my studio and make some fun jewelry to take with me. I am thinking of matching my new outfit I bought for the journey. If I do (what else can I do?) I will post images later.

The really good news is that my Son-in-law told me today that he isn't going anywhere and to go ahead and take our trip. I have been waiting forever to order my clothes. We weren't sure if he would still be with us. They are calling his cancer, pancreatic, but they still aren't sure. He is having most of his troubles with his blood. We went and saw him today in the hospital just after I got my 'boot' on the leg. He really looks good.

Here he is skydiving... he and Dana did this with his brothers after seeing the movie, "Bucket List".

He is super-duper and grand.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What’s a skill you’d like to learn and why? Or what’s your favorite new technique?

Welcome to the Carnival!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I choose: what’s your favorite technique and why?

Shoot! My second new favorite technique is the one I just learned/figured out how to do. Later in the blog.
My first fav is especially with stone setting. Wouldn't you know that as soon as my book went to press in 2007 I would develop an entirely new process for post-fire setting stones. Large ones. Stones that could be fired in place but ones I choose not to set pre-firing. The whole idea behind this process is to have the inside of the setting have somewhat of a mirror finish. This is pretty darn important when setting stones in rings and pendants. It is VERY important when the gemstone isn't cut to reflect all the light (and color) back to the viewer. Then all the dirt that is caught in the rough surface on the inside of the setting will be reflected back to the viewer.

Also because I like my work finished perfectly from the back as well as the front.

So The above is my all time favorite technique.... now to my most recent exploration. I entered the NAD completion (see image in previous post) and decided to add strength to the torque neckpiece. I have been using a lot of argentium sterling lately because the germanium adds strength, has fire scale elimination properties and, most important to me, has a really high tarnish resistance. To quote WikipediA, "Argentium Silver is the result of research by Peter Johns at the School of Art & Design, Middlesex University." And it is rapidly replacing the copper alloy sterling silver that we metalsmiths have been using for eons. Note that there is still some copper in argentium sterling.

When heating common sterling via soldering or firing in a kiln, the oxygen at high heat forms a black surface coating of cupric oxide or fire scale. This needs to be removed with a very strong acid, such as sodium bisulfate. To remove this black surface one might need to soak the silver in the latter, warmed acid, for a very long time. Handling this acid or breathing the warm fumes are a very bad health hazard.
With argentium silver I have found a very light coating of fire scale on my work. And that is when it is subjected to a very high temperature for an extended time... say kiln firing. If I put the work into a pan of warm/hot white vinegar the black goes away almost at once. I found that I only had to do this twice. After my third firing the germanium coated the surface, there was no fire scale and that, marvelous, coating became the element to make the metal tarnish resistant.
My, I am going on. Well, sterling silver needs to be silver depleted by heating and soaking in acid MANY times. This makes the surface of the sterling fine silver and that allows the metal clay to adhere properly. One can use the vinegar instead of the sodium bisulfate in this process too. It takes longer because the cupric oxide is thicker and deeper in the metal.
Not with argentium AND a metal clay product from Art Clay World, USA. This product is called Art Clay Silver Overlay Paste (tm) and I don't know what is in it but it works wonderfully with the argentium. To make the torque, I first shaped the 14 gauge argentium wire, soldered the hinge ends and the clasp ends. I then washed the metal with alcohol on cotton pad and let dry. I then applied two coats of the Art Clay Overlay Paste and three heavy coats of regular Art Clay Paste. Of course I let the pastes dry between coats. Fired both halves of the torque and burnished the work in a tumbler after firing.

No peeling. No sign of the paste being weakened. Now this is my new very favorite technique because it is enabling me to try some more wild and crazy designs.
Do visit these other Jewel Carnival blogs find out what they like best or what they want to learn: