Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fall Provisions

Sterling Silver and Botswana Agate Ring $132.  Size 7
A Big Luscious Statement Ring

Fig Preserves

Canning and Silversmithing.   An unlikely pairing but together a lovely multitasking event for a Saturday morning in July.  Both require multiple steps and some waiting so in the summer I often find myself doing them together.  Filing a piece of jewelry while I wait for the water in the canner to boil so I can sterilize my jars.  Making preserves and filling jars while my just soldered ring is spending time in the pickle bath.  You get the idea.  I'm a Mom of three, multitasking is a job requirement.

In the midsummer my sights turn to preparing for the fall.  Preserving the bounty of our garden and the beautiful produce at the local farmers' markets. Of course, it is also time to begin making jewelry for the busy Fall and Christmas seasons.

These are the start of my fall provisions.

The sterling silver ring with a bezel set Botswana Agate cabochon is a bold "right now" piece that will take you through the fall and winter.  The perfect thing to wear with black, gray or a rich plum color.  I LOVE this stone....a gray, taupe background with hints of purple and sharp white swirls.  At a whopping 15mm by 25 mm it is the perfect size for a statement ring and really needs no further embellishment, just a simple shank forged from 18 gauge silver.

Those pretty fig preserves pictured above are one of my favorite things to can.  It's like candy in a jar but with a really complex deep flavor.  Just the right thing on an autumn evening with some goat cheese and flatbread.  Or maybe just on toast...or just a spoon for that matter...they are that yummy.  The recipe I use is from a southern cooking website and is super simple.  For every 4 cups of whole figs you add 2 cups of sugar (I reduce this a little bit usually) a pinch of salt, a half cup of water and 4 lemon slices.  On medium heat, cook the mixture down until it is thick and syrupy.  Stir often because it burns easily.  Ladle into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

The next couple of months are going to be filled with a lot more mornings like this- canning and creating.

Here's to a tasty and gorgeous fall...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Found Treasure

Bold Abalone necklace with hand forged textured Sterling Silver toggle pendant $140

Recently, my parents downsized to an apartment so we have been working hard to clean out the house I grew up in and prepare it for sale.  Much to my dismay my garage has been filled to the brim with all the stuff that doesn't quite fit into their smaller home.  I had slowly been going through the boxes, deciding what to do with each item but had yet to find anything I wanted to keep for myself. That is until I opened a small black trunk that my husband had taken from their attic.  Much to my surprise it was filled will antique tools...beautiful, rustic, worn tools.  My family thought I had come across diamonds or old stock certificates from the sound of my excitement!  According to my mother, the trunk belonged to her grandfather who was a carpenter and the tools are well over 125 yrs old.

This hammer was one of the tools in the trunk and immediately I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.  I took it to the home of my metalsmithing instructor and she showed me how to file, grind and polish it perfectly and then, being the motherly type that she is...I love that about her...she wrapped the handle in duct tape so I wouldn't get a splinter.  Old hammers like this are awesome for making interesting textures on metal.  You can shape them by cutting, filing and even etching to make a custom tool.

The hammer was used to create the swirling texture on the toggle pendant on this abalone and silver necklace.  To preserve the crispness of the deep marks I tumbled this piece with steel shot to polish it rather than using the polishing wheel which would have softened the texture significantly. The abalone are very unique...big and bold with striking waves of iridescent turquoise, blue and mauve.

This piece may be my favorite toggle necklace yet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Little Sea Creatures

Hand forged sterling silver seahorse pendant with bezel set London Blue Topaz cabochon.  Removable pendant on triple strands of cultured pearls, glass, and sterling silver.  $210

For each season I like to do a series revolving around a theme.  Flowers, leaves...usually something nature inspired.  This summer it is all about the ocean for me.  It started this winter when I was attending gem shows looking for stones and inspiration.  There were so many wonderful materials such Hampton Butte and Larimar that seemed to be popular this year.  Stones that are just the most lovely shades of green, aqua and blue that immediately make you think of the ocean.

This little guy is the first in my series of pieces highlighting ocean life. Sea horses and sea dragons have always been favorites of mine.  Simply fascinating and strikingly beautiful creatures.  Regal looking yet so cute with their little pot bellies.

While rather time consuming to make, this pendant used the most simple, basic silversmithing techniques.  Except for the soldering of the bail and the small setting for the eye this piece was really all about accurate cutting, chasing, and texturing.  A bit tedious but he was quite fun to create.

In the next few weeks expect to see some more inspiration from the sea.... creatures, sea shells and lots and lots of beautiful pearls.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mixed Metal Orchid

Hand forged sterling silver and brass Phalaenopsis Orchid pendant with a bezel set
4mm faceted yellow quartz stone on a sterling silver omega chain.  $164

Sometimes the thing you are searching for really is right under your nose.

Lately, I have been looking for design ideas, specifically flowers that I have not done before,  It is still rather dreary outside and we are a few weeks away from the full bloom of spring so nature certainly wasn't offering up any ideas.  After scouring the internet, I began perusing my gardening books and then out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of one of the pots of orchids in my living room.  Why on earth haven't I ever done an orchid before?  At any given time I always have several Phalaenopsis plants blooming in my house yet not one has ever inspired me before.

Maybe it is because orchids conjure up visions of Hawaiian shirts and large gaudy accessories.  A shame since they are such elegant flowers.  Crisp white with sleek lines that actually lend themselves quite well to a very modern look.

In this pendant I used both sterling silver and brass to provide contrast.  The heat from the multiple soldering applications caused the copper in the brass to come to the surface.  Usually, I would polish off all of the copper color to reveal the golden color of the brass but in this piece I only polished the tips which gives it a two tone effect.  I think it looks cool.  The center is a bezel set 4mm round faceted yellow quartz.

Now hurry up and get here spring... I need some inspiration.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fabulous Fordite

Sterling silver earrings, 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch, with bezel set Fordite cabochons. $98.  Sold

I bet you have no idea what those stones are.  Actually, they are not technically stones but a manmade material called Fordite which also goes by the names Motor Agate and Detroit Agate,  Believe it or not these cabochons were made from layers of vintage automobile paint!  Decades ago when multiples of production cars were hand sprayed in the factories, the oversprayed paint would accumulate on the tracks the cars rested on.  Over time, these layers of paint built up and were repeatedly hardened when the cars went into the ovens to cure.  When the paint became too thick it was scraped off resulting in a rock hard slab of enamel with crazy colorful patterns.  Some very crafty workers got the brilliant idea to use this beautiful material for other things such a cabochons. 

Fordite has been around since the 70's but since that  process of painting is no longer used there is very little of the raw material left.  A matched pair like these is especially rare so I was quite excited when I came across them.  These particular cabochons came from the UK.

The photo really doesn't do these stones person the colors are vivid and the cabs are cut in an unusual, very dimensional way.  They stand on their own so I just set them with a simple bezel on little sterling squares to show them off.

Very very cool....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Poppies and the Promise of Summer

With the holidays far behind me I have been focusing on pieces for my summer and spring lines.  The bright vibrant colors, the beauty of nature at full bloom, the ocean....they are all so inspiring.  That's why I love designing for the warmer seasons.  Right now I am thinking about a sunny day in June, sitting in my garden with a glass of iced tea admiring the salmon pink oriental poppies that I planted in the early fall... 

The poppy is such an elegant, regal looking flower that I thought it deserved center stage. I looked at other poppy themed jewelry online and really couldn't find anything incorporating an oriental poppy.  I found that rather odd given that they seem, to me, to be the glamour girls of the poppy world.

Apparently, oriental poppies with their layers of overlapping ruffles are actually complex.  When creating a flower I can often simplify it into just two or three layers.  That is not possible with a poppy so I had to cut out each petal and solder them individually.  There were a total of nine layers that I had to solder!  While time consuming, the end result is a very dimensional, lifelike flower.

This solid sterling silver cuff is adorned with a hand forged oriental poppy that has a bezel set onyx cabochon as it's center. With the diameter of the poppy being over 2.25 inches this is a statement piece for sure.  A cute sundress and this bold cuff and you are all set for whatever spring brings.   Lunch at an outdoor cafe.  A lovely outdoor music festival.  The farmer's market.

My warm weather dreaming on this dreary winter day...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let It Snow...Let It Snow...Let It Snow.....

This week I have been locked away in my studio in preparation for our Haute Metals trunk show this Thursday at Gifted Hands in Wexford.  The perfect storm of... a health crisis with my mother that demanded my complete attention, the blessing of a very successful show last month where we had record breaking sales and a wee bit of my tendency for procrastination left me with a lot of work to do and not very much time to do it.  Fortunately, I work best when I am under a little bit of pressure and I find that creativity begets creativity. It's funny how that works.

The past few days have certainly lent themselves to staying in and nesting a bit.  Christmas music, a nice cup of coffee and a lovely view of our winter wonderland from my second floor studio window definitely put me in the Christmas spirit and got the creative juices flowing. I had so many ideas swimming around in my head for weeks that it was actually rather cathartic for me to finally create the pieces.

One of the results is this chunky sterling cuff bracelet.  The stone is a large oval fossilized coral cabochon.  It is a beautiful specimen and you can see all the little coral formations in it.  It was a real find and the photo simply doesn't do the stone justice.  I love the way the big substantial cuff goes with this deep earth toned stone.  It's bold but sublime all at the same time.

If anyone is interested in attending our show on Thursday evening here is a link to the information on our website...

In the meantime..........Let It Snow...Let It Snow...Let It Snow...