Adventures in Jewelry Making

Three (not-so-easy) pieces: silver bezel pendant with quartz drusy cabochon, brass ring, silver wire-wrapped pendant with granite cabochon

Three (not-so-easy) pieces: silver bezel pendant with quartz drusy cabochon, brass ring, silver wire-wrapped pendant with granite cabochon

Introducing a new topic with this post: jewelry making! In the past month, I’ve had lessons in two new (to me) techniques: wire-wrapping, and silversmithing. I mostly make strung jewelry — I took up beads and stringing in high school. Last fall I dove into wire work, and resin/collage pendants; I adore both. Even before I started beading, I recognized the practical advantages of knowing your way around jewelry, from making one’s own accessories, to basic repairs. Broken clasp? Need to change out those ear wires? NO PROBLEM.

On Tuesday, I came away from my first silversmithing lesson with a pendant… not just any pendant, but something I feel I might have purchased. Something I designed, and executed. I’ve made lots of jewelry I’m happy with — I’ll be starting to sell it, this summer — but I’ve never had quite the feeling I did upon completion of this piece:

Silver bezel pendant with quartz drusy cabochon

Silver bezel pendant with quartz drusy cabochon. Made by me!

I admit, I was terrified of metalsmithing. Oh, I wanted to try it, I’ve been thinking about it for months now. But… well, it involves fire. And machinery. Hand tools. And I am more than hair-brained clumsy skilled enough to thoroughly damage myself with any of those things. After months of being too afraid to pursue this next logical step in my jewelry making, I met a silversmith, Bob Sharp, at the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Show last weekend. He offers private lessons, and I found him a very patient, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic instructor. (We also seem to have very similar design tastes, which helps. He was loath to let my pendant out the door! Ha.)

The first thing I made was a brass ring, to practice soldering. (Bob was kind enough to polish it up for me; it’s sitting on my desk, along with my first resin pendant.) I’ve never welded nor soldered, except two stained-glass projects a long time ago, which I’m told is an entirely different kind of soldering. It was enthralling to behold; I’m fascinated by how the metal heats and changes color, and how the solder flows toward the torch. It seems almost impossible that it all starts with tiny strips and pieces of metal, and that the assembled piece cleans up so nicely! After a lot of filing and polishing, that is.

At the end of March, I took a wire-wrapping class taught by Terri Cosby, through the Crater Rock Museum. I’m pretty pleased with my first piece:

Wire-wrapped pendant, featuring a lovely granite cabochon

Wire-wrapped pendant, featuring a lovely granite cabochon. Made by me!

Wire-wrapping is pretty difficult to learn from a book (which is why I paid for the class, although it didn’t help that the book I bought is not very beginner-y.) Seeing it done in person was enlightening, and though I’ll need to practice quite a bit before I feel comfortable, I understand more of the mechanics. I think I’ll be able to follow my book more easily, having seen and made the correct wrist motions (things that static pictures can’t really capture.)

As I gear up towards my first major attempt at selling jewelry, I’ll post more photos of my work. Stay tuned!

Natural Motifs in Dior Fine Jewelry

Bal Bleu Nuit ring by Dior Fine Jewelry/Victoire de Castellane

Bal Bleu Nuit ring by Dior Fine Jewelry/Victoire de Castellane

There’s always reason to post a beautiful piece of jewelry — how wearable it is is debatable, but really, who cares? Both the ring above and “Fleur d’exces” below are by Dior Fine Jewelry, springing from the imaginative mind of Victoire de Castellane. I love the nature motifs; this article by Evelyne Politanoff has more photos. (Be sure to enlarge both photos posted here — you’ll enjoy the details, guaranteed.)

If you’d like to see more, check out DIOR JOAILLERIE by Michele Heuze, published earlier this year.

The first book to celebrate the timeless beauty and craftsmanship of Dior’s jewelry designs. Since launching Dior Fine Jewelry in 1998, Victoire de Castellane has been celebrated for having revolutionized the staid world of jewelry design. Her designs play with the barriers between natural and artificial. Renowned as one of the most creative and fearless jewelry designers in the world, she trailblazed the use of the semiprecious gemstones and lacquered gold in baroque, translucent colors. Her sources of inspiration include a global mix of pop culture, floral and natural motifs, and the visual excesses of Bollywood.
Huffington Post

Crystalucinea Metha Agressiva by Dior Fine Jewelry/Victoire de Castellane

Crystalucinea Metha Agressiva, by Dior Fine Jewelry/Victoire de Castellane

I Dream of Gemstones

So the other night, I actually dreamed about gemstones:

I was in a big shopping mall — one of those indoor/outdoor galleria-type ones, upscale — in a hurry, trying to pick a flavor of ice cream to get. I was looking in a display case at the different flavors… but every time I looked, the case was full of gemstones, and not ice cream. (Are gemstones better than ice cream? Depends on the situation, I think.)

Labradorite

I vividly remember the chunk of labradorite I kept seeing in the case (not unlike this one I dug up on Google Images.) The stone was palm-sized, and had a lot of blue-green flash in it. Lovely to gaze upon, and to hold.

I also saw a pile of peridot crystals and gemstones, much like an image that arrived in my Gem-A newsletter the other day (thank you, subconscious, for bringing that one up.) I’ve had peridot on the brain, lately. More so than usual.

Those are the only two gems I remember, and I don’t think I ever successfully ordered any ice cream. Every time I tried to look at some uber-chocolate kind, it turned into labradorite.

Anyway.

I’m experimenting with a new WordPress theme this weekend, to see how it feels. (I may or may not stick with it.)

PS: What’s detritus, you ask? Geologically speaking, a rock made of random crap.