Monday, June 28, 2010

Larimar Necklace #2

Many who have seen my jewelry have asked 'So do you glue that in there?' The short answer is No! The long answer will be given in a series of blog posts answering just how I do what I do. I'm constructing this piece in conjunction with my blog posts.

The Construction
Now that I've decided on a design, I've got to figure out just how I'm going to construct it. I admit that I still have the habit of diving in to a piece, I just go for it and don't always plan. I guess I just get excited! Sometimes this means I learn in retrospect what to do next time (and this usually means the next time I will save time and maybe a headache)!

The Bezel
Whether I need to put a lot of thought into my construction or not, for me the first step in construction starts with the bezel. The bezel is the silver that holds the stone in place.  I cut and shape it to the stone by first bending it around the stone. This may seem like a simple task, but oh contraire! The cut ends of the bezel must be hand filed to perfection (or pretty close), meaning they must be straight up and down. Not only that, the bezel must fit the circumference of the stone just so. Too loose and it won't hold stone, too tight and you cant fit the stone in. After I'm satisfied with the filed ends, I solder them together (picture above left)

In addition, I 'customize' each bezel further to fit the height of the stone. A lot of the cabochons I work with are free form, that is they are thicker in some places than others. It takes a lot of time and patience to shape a bezel. This one (left) is not done yet! I've only started hand filing. For these reasons, it's not uncommon for me to spend a few hours on just the bezel construction.

Why go through all this effort? For me there are two reasons. For one, in the end the finished piece looks much better. Shaping it exactly to the stone assures no gaps and avoids a potential 'crinkle' in the bezel. Secondly, I personally feel that good craftsmanship calls for this type of time dedication.

jewelry, jewelry construction, metalsmithing, art

Monday, June 21, 2010

Larimar Necklace #1

When people see my jewelry (pendants in particular), so many have asked me 'So do you glue that in there?' The short answer is No! The long answer will be given in a series of blog posts answering just how I do what I do. I'm constructing this piece in conjunction with my blog posts.

The Inspiration
For me it almost always starts with a spirt of inspiration. This spirt can come from the cabochon (stone) itself, or maybe a walk in the woods- who knows. This piece was inspired by my trip to the Dominican Republic, and in fact this stone was bought on that trip (thanks to Brian's mad bartering skills). This specimen of larimar is so gorgeous it is inspiration enough. It has a great pattern and highly desired deep blues.

The Sketch
...sometimes ridiculous sketches...sometimes ugly ones...whatever pops into my head. If a design speaks to me...calls me...I go with it. Other times when I just don't feel it I switch gears and come back later. Hears what my minds' eye decided on;

I like the simplicity, after all I wanted to showcase the main beauty of this necklace- the Larimar itself! The design also allowed me to choose the chain (and lately I have been sort of obsessed with this sparkly chain).  I haven't figured out yet if I will put some other fun beads in the chain...I'll just decide that later!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

De-stress that Mess

I know I know, I said my next post would be the start of a series where I describe how I construct my jewelry. But...have you ever just had one of those days- the kind where it starts with stepping in poop first thing in the morning? Well, I just did! So...I thought I would make a post about how not to be a stress mess.

My hobbies help me relive stress. Some of them because they are physical (like running), or because I get to see and use the fruits of my labor (like gardening) and others because I get pure enjoyment from creating something (like metalsmithing). But sometimes we need a little more than a hobby or a good bout of physical activity to de-stress. So I wanted to feature a few things that help me relax, enjoy life, and leave my worries behind. First, some of my local favorites...then some ETSY favorites.

A Good Cup of Tea
I recently discovered the Tea Haus in Ann Arbor. The staff was super friendly and informational, and they have a huge selection of teas. I have also heard really good things about Arbor Teas (but have to admit I haven't tried them- yet!). Both offer a variety of organic teas, but Arbor Teas goes the extra mile and uses 100% compostable packaging! So you can enjoy a cup of tea and be green at the same time!

Scrumptious Treats- Savory Side
It's no secret in Ann Arbor that Zinngermans Deli has a wealth of gourmet foods. My favorite is to graze the cheese offerings. Call me simple, but I especially love goat cheese and they have a number of varieties. I admit that Brian and I have sat at home with a cheese spread from the Zing, a bottle of nice vino, and go to town…for dinner…but hey, you only live once!

Scrumptious Treats- Sweet Side
Looking for a sweat treat? Cake Nouveau has a lovely collection of cupcakes, but I have also indulged in their cookies, and they were yummy!

Hand Made Items
One no-brainer smell for stress relief is lavender (I have a few plants in my garden). These organic bath salts combine lovely smells with relaxing effects of Epsom salt. Don’t have a tub? Try these hand poured candles from Swagalot’s ETSY shop. I love the smell of Ylang Ylang, and BONUS it is supposed to be a stress-relieving smell! These are made from natural soy which burns longer than traditional paraffin candles (which are a petroleum byproduct).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Getting started

Well, I finally did it. I started a blog.

In May I opened my long awaited ETSY site. After talking with a friend who encouraged me to start a blog I decided I should buck up and do it. This friend happens to be a fellow etsian that has does really inspirational knitting. I guess you might say I'm diving right in...I know that if I didn't just sign up for one and start I would procrastinate for who knows how long. So here I am, and here you are enduring my first post.

I have been doing metalworking for years as a hobby, but my fascination with the materials I use started when I was very little. I was always on the hunt for rocks when I was a little kid. To me they were magical and special...and apparently tasty because according to my mom I used to put them in my mouth a lot. Even chipped a tooth once! I remember coming back from our family camping vacations with my suitcase filled with rocks, much to the delight of my parents.

In my family, there are strong undertones of creativity and science. My dad's a photographer (who dabbles in respiratory therapy),  my mom's a microbiologist (who dabbles in calligraphy) and my brother Dan is a graphic designer (who dabbles in music). Dan was really integral in encouraging me to develop my hobby, and is helping my launch my website. He has done some really amazing things, and has been an inspiration for me. You can check his homepage here. It's probably no surprise that Brian (my significant other) is also art-minded. He is a graphic designer at UGP (who dabbles in wood carving) and has also been a source of encouragement and motivation. He helped me design my awesome logo as well as my current banner.

While this was a simple overture of my history, I plan to share much more with the blogosphere than my mere history! The real birth of my blog will be my next post, where I plan to show the first few steps in the construction of one of my pieces. I hope you will join me!


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