I wonder what will happen if...

Feb 21 2017

“Creation and destruction are one, to the eyes who can see beauty." Savitri Devi

    

 

As a jewelry designer, I often follow instructions when I am learning a new technique. There comes a point however, when I wonder why when they say "dont'y" or always". It plays on me for a while and then I just have to find out and whoever "they" are well, they're ususally wrong. I suppose if it were my desire to make jewelry that looks like everyone elses, it would all make sense but, at least for now, I prefer to break the rules.

Take the three examples above. The first is a pair of earrings that I held the torch on much longer than I am "supposed to". I could have given them an acid bath and polished them but I chose to leave them torched and polish tham as is. The second is a copper and sterling silver necklace that I all but melted. I followed that with a tumbling and a applied a deep patina. The protruding round object was just screaming for a stone so I set a premium quality Swarovski CZ in a tube setting, attached a patinated sterling silver chain and there you have it. The third was a jumble of copper sheet and wire that I melted and set two 4mm black onyx in, strung it on a black leather cord et voila. This look is not for everyone, but I love the rustic, abstract quality they have. 

In my journey of metalsmithing, I am learning to break the rules, find out "what if" and have some fun creating some contemporary, unusual jewelry. What is interesting to me in all of this is that it is actually harder to work this way. Doing things the way they have always been done is easier, but to me a little boring.

What do you think...be honest!



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Masquerading in a beaded mask

Feb 16 2017

Several years ago for her birthday, my daughter asked me to make her a beaded mask for a Mardis Gras themed party. I had never made one before but said yes because  it's really hard to say no to her. She is a wonderful human being, mother and hospice nurse. She is always giving to everyone else. How can you possibly so no to someone like that?!

The entire mask is beaded with seed beads, genuine pearls, onyx and Swarovski crystals to match her outfit. At first, I thought I could use a preformed mask and attach the beads but sewing through that just tore the materials so I ended up having to make my own out of Lucy's StiffStuff. It was an opportunity to learn something new and I figured out pretty quickly that this was only one I was going to make!

Each tiny little seed bead and gem is hand stitched into the mask material.

What do you think?!




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Oh great, something else to be passionate about!

Feb 15 2017

Just what I need when I am trying to develop a cohesive collection to offer you....

These are so amazingly unique, mostly because I have very little control over what the final outcome will be. Here's the thing; I can plan the design and variance of shade to an extent,  but the actual color I get depends on several factors, most of which are quite beyond my control. These  are things like room temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. Even a slight fluctuation will change the outcome. What worked yesterday may not (probably won't) work today. 

First I have to clean and polish the metal, which seems silly I think since I'll just be laying a heavy coat of oxidation on it. If you know me at all, you know I tried it anyway...it didn't work.

So back to the metal...its hot now and we have to cool it a little, but not too much so no quenching. Pick it up with the tweezers and wave it around a little hoping the little 1500 degree piece of metal doesn't go flying about. Put the small tip in the torch and create a neutral flame...maybe a little toward reduction. Anyway, then I just touch the tip onto the metal in different ways to give me a different design...let it cool a little with the highly technical waving technique again. Repeat until I get something I am happy with. Then it's time to try and repeat the design...there's a challenge! Let them air cool, just a little and while still pretty darn hot apply a  micro-crystalline wax and buff...and buff, more wax, more buffing.

Funny that I'm such a control freak and I absolutely love this technique!

Tell me, what do you think of the outcome?




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What is Bridge Jewelry? It's not about bridges...

Feb 09 2017

Bridge Jewelry

No, Bridge jewelry isn’t jewelry in the shape of bridges. Bridge jewelry refers to jewelry made with sterling silver, pure copper and gold filled metals and semi-precious and other raw minerals. It is more desirable, less dangerous and healthier than costume jewelry made with plated metals…and here’s why.

Plated metals chip, peel and the plating wears off leaving an ugly dull finish, kind of like well circulated nickel. In fact, much of the plated jewelry out there contains nickel and/or cadmium. Lead is pretty much gone but the only people protected from nickel and cadmium poisoning are children…and not even in all states is that true.

Luckily most costume jewelry does not last long enough to hurt you, which…well frankly is not a very good selling point.

Next time you are buying handmade costume jewelry, ask the maker if it contains nickel or cadmium. If it’s store bought and comes from China...beware. There are plated materials out there that do not contain these chemical elements, you just need to be proactive and ask. If they don’t know I would err on the side of safety. There is a ton of information (including lawsuits) available on the internet, but here are a couple of examples:

 

 Cadmium is a known carcinogen, particularly when it is inhaled in a factory or other workplace. It also can cause serious problems with kidneys and bones, diseases that typically are caused by cadmium that has been ingested in contaminated food or tobacco. The exact risks to adults aren't clear because typically the metal takes long-term exposure to cause the diseases.

Children's jewelry has been of particular concern because kids bite and suck on jewelry - something far less common among adults. Microscopic amounts of cadmium also could be shed onto the hands, and then ingested either by eating or putting a contaminated finger to the mouth.

"Our legal action sends a strong signal to industry that we will not stand by while they play toxic flavor of the month with jewelry," said Michael Green, the group's executive director.

"Cadmium is toxic at any age. There is no excuse for cadmium in any jewelry, and we intend to eliminate this health threat to women and children," he said.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/group-finds-toxic-cadmium-in-adult-jewelry/

 

Nickel is one of many carcinogenic metals known to be an environmental and occupational pollutant. The New York University School of Medicine warns that chronic exposure has been connected with increased risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological deficits, developmental deficits in childhood, and high blood pressure

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/metal-toxicity-health-dangers-nickel

So why the term Bridge? Because it is the bridge between costume jewelry and fine jewelry. Fine jewelry typically refers to pure gold, platinum and contains precious gemstones like rubies, diamonds, sapphires, etc.

There are times when jewelry made with silver and high quality gemstones can also be considered fine jewelry so it gets a little fuzzy at times.

One of the most positive attributes of Bridge jewelry is that you get a lot for your money. Pure metals don’t crack and peel. So, silver, copper and even 14/20 gold filled will give you a very luxurious and expensive look without spending thousands. It should also last a lifetime. Or more

The jewelry I make is Bridge jewelry. I use Fine silver, sterling silver 14/20 gold filled (not plated), and pure copper. The semi-precious gemstones I use are AA or AAA rated and I also use high quality moonstones, pearls, amethyst, peridot and more. The jaspers and agates I use are cut from raw slabs by lapidary artisans, not mass produced so there will never, ever be another one just like it. I make most of my findings (ear wires, jump rings, etc.) so I know what is in them. Occasionally I will use copper leverbacks which ae plated but contain no lead, nickel or cadmium. So, you see, there is no reason (other than it is cheap) to use those elements in making jewelry. It is worth it to me to spend a little more and be certain that I am not making my customers sick.

Take a look!



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Relief4Rescues

Feb 03 2017

Do you have a passion for paws? How about feathers?

Me too!!

When I began working with enamels a short time ago, I had the inspiration of doing a series of work where, from every sale, would include a donation to one of 3 charities.

After doing some research, I am pleased to announce that I have selected:

Lucy McKenzie Humane Society  A local fqavorite

Dogs Deserve Better Rescuing chained and penned dogs, working to change laws to protect dogs from abuce and neglect

 

Wildlife Conservation Network Protecting animals the world over

Because I just got my paw stamp, going forward, $3 from every sale of my Enameled Heart Series will be donated to your choice of 1 from the above charities. If no charity is selected, I will rotate between the 3 listed above. ]

Look for reports at the beginning of each quarter in my blog.

All heart earrings made henceforth will have the paw print stamped on the back.

Here's a picture of my rescue babies...after 6 years I'm still not sure who rescued who.

       



Filed Under: Charitable Contributions ,Fashion & Jewelry
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Gold plated or gold filled, do you know the difference?

Jan 25 2017


So, you are admiring a piece of jewelry, then you see it was made with gold filled materials so you move on thinking it is not worth the cost, and it will look horrible on just a few months. After all, you aren't looking for costume jewelry.

Here's the thing. You're probably confusing gold filled with gold plated so you'll want to know the difference before you make up your mind.

Gold Plated is easy to spot due to its brassy appearance. It is made from base metal, usually nickel, and is applied in a very thin coating to the top of the base metal. It will tarnish fairly rapidly, rub off exposing the base metal. If you try to manipulate gold plated wire it will crack and/ or chip off. Typically is will last about a year, perhaps much less depending on care. The cost makes it a great choice for costume jewelry made with faux gems or stones.

Gold Filled on the other hand does not have a brassy appearance, and has a much higher concentration of gold (1/20 of the entire weight must be gold). It is also applied using  a different technique and is bonded to either copper or silver rather than nickel. You can expect your gold filled jewelry to last anywhere from 5-30 years depending on care. The cost is much less than gold which at the time of this writing is $1195.00 per troy ounce. Gold filled wire can be bent, twisted, manipulated and even soldered (if done carefully) without any cracking, chipping, peeling, etc...

In either case you'll want to steer clear of harsh chemicals. If you're wearing gold plated,  keep it out of water too. 

I don't use much gold n my designs due to the cost of the gold and specialty tools. I do however use gold filled wire for ear wires. The earrings you see here are actually jeweler's brass with gold filled ear wires. They are a great alternative to silver in my warmer designs. 

What's that? Did I hear you say "What the heck in jeweler's brass?"? Well now, that his a topic for a different blogpost! 



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Should you wear copper?

Jan 21 2017

You really like copper, but will it look good on you? Does it have any medicinal benefits?

Before we get into the perceived benefits of wearing copper, take a look at your wrist, in natural light if you can. Are your veins blue, purple, or green in color? If they are blue or purple you have cool skin tones and if they are green, you lean more toward the warm tones. Now, remember that skin tone os assocotiated with ethnicity and color has more to do with the environment.  You can have light skin tones and have darker skin color if you live somplace that is warm and sunny. Your skin tone does not change when your tan goes away...althought the color fades. 

Now, the "rules" for what metals and gems you can wear have gone out the window. If you aren't sure and not so audacious that you throw it to the wind and wear what you want, then it goes like this. Those with cool skin tones "look best" iin silver, platinum and white gold, whereas those who have warmer tones look best in rose gold, gold, copper or brass. 

Onto health! The proposed benefits of copper include reduced joint inflamation. and joint pain. When you wear copper, a minimal amount of copper is absorbed by the skin. Enough perhaps to balance out a slight deficinacy but not enough to harm you. Wearing copper jewelry is unlikely to have detrimental side effects and you may be pleasantly surprised...unless you are allergic. To my knowledge there has been no medical substantiation that wearing copper will aid in arthrits, for example; however people have been insisting it does for decades that I know of. I remember my grandmother wearing copper bracelets, swearing it helped alleviate her arthritis symptoms.

Does copper turn your skin green? It's not the copper, it's your diet and maybe you should pay attention!

In Matt Caron's blog he says this 

"Copper reacts naturally with our salty skin, which can be created whenever we sweat. This just means you have to be aware of when you might be working out or in the sun. But copper can also react to acidic environments- and your body acidity is related to your diet. Junk food, processed food, and lots of red meat will make your body acidic.

The more acidic your diet and body, the more likely you are to get sick. "

#copperbenefits 



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