Sunday, February 7, 2016

Those Stones Are Getting Set

As I prepared for my display of paintings at
Wallingford Community Arts Center,
I also kept busy at my workbench determined to get the pesky jasper stone set in my make-it-up-as-I-move-foward bezel.
Picking up from where I left off....
two additional sterling tabs were soldered onto the back of the etched base.
I had the great idea to solder two sterling, oval shaped links that I had previously made which would provide a way to link an eventual chain.

That's when my soldering problems began.

Compared to the other parts of my assemblage, the links were pretty fragile.
Meltage happend.
Melting a part of your piece is never good and can lead to sighing and sadness.
After a couple of failed attempts, I said, 
"Forget it."
Actually, I said something else, but I don't think it's wise to reveal that.
My attempts to remove the failed links left a bit of a ghost.
I decided to accept the ghost partly because it tells part of the story of how the piece was made,
but mostly because I didn't want to risk making the solder of the tabs flow again.

I still had a couple of segments from the sterling braclet that had been used for the tabs and decided to shape them into loops that could be riveted to the base.
Sterling rivets were made with 14 gauge wire.
With all the necessary metal in place, I could finally set the jasper.
The sterling tabs were cut back to reveal as much of the jasper as possible while still concealing the pre-drilled hole.
After a treatment with liver of sulfur, my new pendant is ready to become a necklace.

Other efforts to set stones continue.
Wanting a stash of material to use as a base for future bezels,
I etched pieces of 16 gauge metal.
The thickness will help me to avoid any warping as heat is applied during soldering.

Sections were cut...
filed and sanded.
Sterling bezels were soldered into place...
two beautiful labradorite cabochons 
and one yellow cabochon of unknown pedigree
were set in place,
also ready to become necklaces.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Making This My Year

I decided that 2016 is going to be my year.

Crafting a life in the world of the arts can be a tricky thing to navigate,
but one must take control, set goals and work to meet those goals.
The work to make this my year began last year.
Many calls were made, messages and images sent while I worked at my easel and my  jewelry workbench.
Before the New Year rang in, I had lined up 4 shows to exhibit my paintings.

Today is the opening of my first show for 2016.
Earlier this week, I was at 
Wallingford Community Arts Center
to hang a selection paintings.
 My display is on the walls of BeaDazzle,
 the Community Art Center's gift shop.
Some of the paintings are nestled along with pieces of my jewelry.

The Duke Gallery is featuring the inspired work of Dale Roberts.
A reception will be held on Sunday, February 21 from 2pm to 4pm.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just Get Those Stones Set Already!

While  gathering supplies at last year's bead show, I was drawn to different selections of jasper.
A nice variety of jasper ended up in my purchases that day,
including some stones that were drilled, bailed and ready to be used as pendants.
Although I loved the stones
(and the very reasonable price of the stones),
I didn't especially love the thought of using them as the intended pendants that they were.
As I stood there imagining design options that would allow me to conceal the drilled hole, another jewelry designer, who also sells in local galleries, saw the stones that I was considering.
She shook her head, telling me, 
"Yeah...I bought some of those last year and didn't sell one piece."
I'm sure they were friendly words of caution, but I chose to see it as a challenge and said,
"Oh well...I think we all put our own mojo into whatever we make."
and picked out a few more stones.
I didn't have the benefit of seeing what my fellow jewelry designer acquaintance did with her stones to get insight as to why they didn't sell, 
but decided it was time to do something with mine.

I love how the veining and deposits of minerals can suggest an abstract painting, and find that each stone has its own unique balance.
This stone appeared best in a horizontal placement.
I knew that I had no bezel wire with the dimension necessary to cover the drilled hole, 
so another method of securing the stone was needed.

The stone's shape was traced onto a previously etched piece of 16 gauge silver nickel.
After cutting out the shape with my jeweler's saw, I began to solder tabs of sterling reclaimed from an old bangle that was in my bin of 'sterling bits to be refashioned'.
Those sterling tabs will fold over to secre the stone in place while conveniently making the drilled hole disappear from view.
This is still a work in progress as I consider where the remaining tabs will be situated and how an eventual chain will be attached.

In the meantime...
I actually completed a project with some other stones that were purchased at the same bead show.
 These druzies have been tempting me since they were purchased,
but I kept getting in my own way as I tried to imagine
'just the right project'.
The druzy shown on the far right...
became a lovely ring.
I love the combination of sterling with the pale turquoise of the druzy.

'just the right project'
is the one that you just do.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Painting Workshop

When I began painting around three years ago, I had the benefit of my landscape architecture background to help me understand issues like design, composition and perspective.
I did not have the benefit of understanding some of the painting basics like canvas preparation, color mixing and techniques of developing an atmospheric image.
Classes and workshops at Wayne Art Center have helped me to find a painterly voice.

I am definitely one of those who benefits from watching somebody paint as they explain the why and what of their methods.
I was very fortunate to be part of a recent workshop with Stanley Bielen, a favorite whose classes always have wait lists of those hoping to get one of the valuable studio spots.
When this most recent workshop was announced, it filled within hours and I happened to get one of the last spaces before the wait list began.
I appreciate the unique opportunity that a demonstration gives, allowing me to absorb information that will then inform my own decisions.

My Easel Day One:

My Easel Day Two Morning:

My Easel Day Two Afternoon:

When I look back at what I painted three years ago, 
I can see that I've improved
and know that I have much room for continued improvement.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Samara Texturing

I was doing the final raking of leaves last week when I focused on the abundance of samaras from the Japanese maple in my front yard.
These winged seeds are quite lovely...
and I thought that they might be a good rolling mill candidate.

Because it's inexpensive, I do all texture testing with copper.
Two small pieces of copper were cut and annealed.
I arranged a selection of samaras on one piece...
which was then covered by the other copper piece before using the mill.
I had hoped that the entire samara would be able to pass through the mill, but I learned that a samara seed is just too tough of a nut to crack under pressure.
I couldn't advance the mill while maintaining enough pressure to capture an impression of the wing portion of the samara.

A little surgery with my X-acto knife removed the seeds
and I was able to crank the assemblage though the rolling mill with no difficulty.
After cleaning the copper, it was soaked in a liver of sulfur bath, turning the metal black with instant patina.
I'm liking the delicate texture and now think I have to get out and collect more of the samaras before the first hard frost.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Like My Own Antiques Roadshow

My ongoing search for unique materials that might be used in my jewelry has me making occasional visits to local thrift stores.
Sometimes, I'm delightfully surprised when I find a bit of a treasure,
like this etching.
After bringing this signed, 1882 etching home, I realized it was by Frederick DeBourg Richards, an American artist, especially known for his landscape paintings of New York and Delaware.
Online valuations of his work are for his oil paintings, so I don't know how this etching might be valued, 
but I'm pretty sure it would be more than the $2.50 that I paid.

A few weeks ago, I was at a nearby thrift store getting ready to pay for a small collection of religious and school medals when I noticed a large medallion.
The logical part of my brain said, "That's just too big and too heavy to use in any of your jewelry."
But the magpie in me said, "Ooooohh, pretty."
For 50¢, the medallion joined my other purchases even though I didn't know what I would do with it.

It wasn't until yesterday, when I was organizing the new purchases at my workbench, that I really studied the medallion and realized it was from 1851.
I was definitely intrigued.
The Maryland Institute for the Promotion of Mechanic Arts awarded this sterling medallion to Abbot & Lawrence of Philadelphia for the 'Best Hall Stove'.
A similar, but slightly damaged, medallion from 1856 is online with a suggested value of $750.
I still don't know what to do with it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November's Workbench

As is typical, November's workbench is a busy place.
Inventory has been dropped off for the 
and preparation for 
is well underway.

My stash of textured metals inspired some new pieces,like...
mixed, etched metals bracelet
with sterling bezel set labradorite caochon....

etched and roll-printed brass (and a smidge of silver nickel) bracelet
with sterling bezel set carnelian cabochon...

and etched copper ring
with sterling bezel set labradorite cabochon.

For several weeks, I've been working on another mission.
I found some great crystal briolettes at a bead show back in September.
Not sure how I would use them, I only bought ten.
I ended up wire wrapping the beads, making them the pendants of long necklaces featuring Herkimer diamonds, labradorite, citrine and amethyst.
The necklaces were well received at the Fine Art & Craft Festival in Swarthmore.
I regretted not having more and contacted the company that had sold them at the bead show only to find out that they had one left....
and they are not typically part of their inventory.
Of course.

Maybe I should have let it go at that point, but it was too late;
I was already a bit obsessed with having more of these crystals.
I also had the naive belief that 
'if I can easily Google it, I can easily find it.'
Well, not really.
These briolettes were not easy to find, even with the aid of the Google search engine.
But after emails, texts, shared photos, calls, false hopes...
I found some!
USPS dropped off my order yesterday,
and I got to work.
Wire wrapped crystals are now ready to become necklaces.

The wire wrapping sometimes had leftover pieces. 
I can't stand letting usable pieces of anything go to waste, 
so those scraps were turned into mini dangles.
How will I use the mini dangles?
I have no idea.
They'll probably still be on my workbench when next November comes around.