Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Steel My Heart

I've recently started working more with steel wire.  I've had a spool of 16 gauge wire on my bench for some time, using it as accent wire, etc., but never as a design focal pint.  I can thank Susan Lenart Kazmer and Brenda Schweder for bringing steel wire to the forefront, both have published books, videos and tutorials about the wonders of steel wire.  I just got Brenda's book, Steel Wire Jewelry, full of inspiration.  AND, one of my all-time jewelry design heroes, Richard Salley, also incorporates steel wire in his amazing designs.

The economy has also played a big part in my shift to alternative metals other than silver or gold.  Steel wire is affordable and gaining in popularity.  I get mine from Objects and Elements.

I'm having a blast working with steel, it hammers, wraps, bends and solders like a dream.  There are several new designs in the works, I'll post pics as I go.  Shown here is a necklace/ring set made with steel, pearls and amazonite on black brass chain.  Dramatic and industrial, yet also kind of glamorous too!

If you haven't worked with steel before, I highly recommend it.  Get yourself a spool and have some fun!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Treasure Hunting

Went to our local, monthly antique fair yesterday with my good friend and amazing jewelry designer Donatella Linari.  She has such a good eye, immediately zeroing in on the booths with the "real" stuff.  She took home a fantastic, ancient glass seal from Haiti that will be transformed into one of her signature pendants, can't wait to see that.

I snagged some goodies as well.  Found a sterling silver encased chatalain pencil, which I love and are harder and harder to find.  Dated to the mid 1800's, and a bargain to boot!  This will make a great pendant element.  The cased is etched sterling and the pencil was still inside.  I also found some vintage textured brass ring bands in a gorgeous, organic pattern.  Immediately used them to make the two rings pictured here.  I really like the look of these bands, very ancient and rustic.  I hope to find more very soon (internet, here I come...).  I finished my haul with two tiny pocket watch keys that will make fantastic earrings or pendant elements. 

We had a nice afternoon, nothing is more fun that an antique fair.   All in all, a great day sleuthing for treasure!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tech Stuff

This is a quick post for those of you that create and maintain your own websites, like me.  I found a great flash slideshow program that creates really lovely image slideshows that are simple to make and embed in your websites, Facebook, blogs, etc.  It's called Flash Slideshow Maker Professional and I really like it!  I just updated my website and placed a great slideshow of images on the home page.  I highly reccomend this program, it offers tons of themes, layouts, transitions, music, and more.  Depending on your web skills, you can dig into the advanced features and make specific changes to suit your needs, or just go with the standards and you'll still be pleased.  When you are done, you upload to get the code for sharing, all with guidence and ease.  Check it out!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

HELP! I'm Being Robbed!

Okay, so maybe my post title is a bit over dramatic, but when it comes to the price of silver and gold these days, I do feel like I'm in the midst of a personal heist.

Gold and silver are at unprecedented prices right now, and that really affects what I do in my studio.  My goal has always been to create original, affordable jewelry.  With the cost of metals so unbelievably high, I have pretty much given up on designing with sterling, which is (as of this writing) almost $20.00 an ounce.  To put it in perspective, one square inch of sterling silver 24 gauge sheet is over $10.00!  So, no sterling in my studio right now except for wire, which is also priced through the roof.

For now, I am working with nickel silver which is much, much less expensive and looks and behaves a lot like sterling.  The downside is that many folks are allergic to nickel.  I'm trying to come up with all sorts of creative ways to get around this, like backing pendants and rings with resin-set images, transparencies, and even textiles so the nickel never touches skin.  The results are pretty cool, and this "dilemma" has given way to some new design ideas.  The photo below is of a new pendant made from Imperial jasper, amazonite and shell on nickel silver backed with a resin-set text transparency.  I  think it's lovely, and the cost is so much more reasonable!

For those of you that will settle for nothing other than sterling silver, I'm happy to oblige, but be prepared for some heart-stopping sticker shock.  The days of inexpensive metals are least for now!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Plum Gallery

As of this weekend, my jewelry designs will be available at Plum Gallery in St. Augustine!  This lovely little art haven is tucked away on Aviles Street, run by Karen Sheridan and Maribel Angel.  I discovered it on my last visit to St. Augustine a few weeks ago. 

I am so excited to be a part of this Gallery full of amazing art.  They have "First Friday Art Walks" from 5 - 9 PM, a great way to spend a Friday evening wandering St. Augustine and visiting the many ecclectic galleries all over town.  AND, don't miss "Sangria Sundays" from 2 - 4 PM--pretty self explanatory! 

It is always great to become a part of a new gallery, and Plum gives me another excuse to visit my favorite city as often as I can.  So, if you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by for an art walk or a glass of local sangria.  See you there!