Art Show

It’s a new year – 2015! – and one of my resolutions is to do a better job at keeping up with my blog. So, now that I’ve basically owned up to my delinquency I’ll start us off with a peek into my first “show”…that was in November of last year.


Our local Artist Association put on a studio tour and art open house. This was the first event of this kind for the Hilton Head Plantation Artists Association. I decided to put a few things up at the open house. I ended up selling quite a few things, which was a welcome surprise since it was billed more as a way to showcase the variety of work – our members excel in a variety of media from painting and photography to quilting. It was a lot of fun to see each other’s work and share it with the public – we had a great turnout. 🙂

As per usual, the end of the year/holiday season was a blur and flurry of activity. I’ve had loads of jewelry designs percolating away in my noggin, and now I’m excited to get back to creating!

Warmly, Ashley

What does Silver-filled Mean?

The price of silver is crazy right now, so what’s a wire-wrapping jewelry artist to do? A lot of artisans are exploring alternate materials so that they can continue to explore creatively *and* create jewelry that is still in an affordable price range for their customers. That’s one reason that copper jewelry has become so popular. It’s an affordable material choice, and can be utilized in many of the same jewelry designs as sterling silver wire. I happen to love working with copper: I can torch it, etch it, hammer and twist it to my heart’s content. I adore the lovely warm tones that are created with an added patina, and a simple quick rub with a dry jewelry cloth keeps it looking fantastic. However, since this is supposed to be about silver I’ll get back on track now. 🙂

In addition to copper, I create my jewelry designs using sterling silver (solid) – and I’m now adding a line made with silver-filled wire. For the jewelry artist, there are a few limitations to what an be done with the silver-filled wire. I can wrap, hammer, and patina silver-filled wire just like sterling, but I can’t take my torch to it to create the balled ends I use in many designs. However, what I’d like to really get at here is what the differences mean to the customer – to the actual wear-ability of the pieces created with silver-filled wire.






As a point of reference, think of the Gold-filled jewelry that’s been popular for ages; when solid gold is is out of our price range, gold filled is a perfect substitute. Like gold-filled, silver-filled consists of precious metal bonded onto a base-metal core (red brass). It’s made in two qualities: 1/5 and 1/10. The silver-filled wire I use (from Rio Grande) is 1/10 – meaning that it is 10% sterling silver by weight. This is definitely NOT the same as silver plating! The layer of sterling silver is hundreds of times thicker and more durable, so it will never chip, flake, or wear off.

So what does this mean to you, the customer? Silver-filled wire creations are just as lovely and durable. Jewelry care is exactly the same as for my solid sterling silver designs. If you are allergic to silver plate, but can wear sterling silver, you should have no problem at all with silver-filled.

Basically, it’s a fantastic alternative for many of my designs that do not require torch work, and a way to provide my customers with a more affordable option for quality handmade jewelry. Win-win. 🙂


What’s a patina, you ask?

I thought I would address the question of patina today, as in what the heck is it? I understand that the lingo can get a little overwhelming sometimes, especially when different sources use different terms. So, in an effort to simplify things let me say that when jewelry is described as: patinated (having a patina), oxidized, or antiqued – it’s all talking about the same thing.

Patina literally refers to the tarnish that forms on the surface of copper, bronze, and similar metals due to oxidation or other chemical processes. The Statue of Liberty is a prime example of a naturally occurring patina. Jewelry artists and metal workers often deliberately add a patina as part of the design. There are many different techniques, and each can create a slightly different effect.

I mostly use liver of sulfur with my work; it’s really smelly, but I like the consistent results. It’s a meticulous process of hand polishing to remove the excess patina, followed by a spin in the tumbler. I really love the earthy warm tones this process brings out in my copper pieces, and to me the silver isn’t really finished until it’s had a go too. The details just seem to pop, and the piece has more character.

Here are a few photos to show what all this actually means in visual terms. In each set the picture on the left is the “before” patina, and the picture on the right is “after” with the patina added. (Click image to enlarge)



Two Pairs of MagpiesIMG_0553

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings…



“Tranquility” Necklace

Green and blue mingle together in this unique pendant. The glass bead is carefully wrapped in copper wire with a flourish that echoes the natural beauty within. The pendant has been antiqued to bring out the textures of the wrapping and warm copper tones, hand polished, and then tumbled for strength. Ready to wear pendant is suspended from an adjustable leather cord, the ends of which are adorned with tiny copper twists.Image00034

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“Stardust” Earrings

The ethereal glow of these opalite beads puts me in mind of Stardust – a book from *favorite* author Neil Gaiman. Simple little copper swirls dangle these petite orbs of starlight from handmade copper ear wires.Image00043

• Earwires have been shaped, hardened, and filed smooth for comfort.

• Earrings have been antiqued to bring out the textures of the wrapping and the warm copper tones, hand polished, and then tumbled for strength.

• Total length is 3 cm (approx 1.25 in) from the top of the ear wire.


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“Oceana” Earrings

Image00012These dynamic earrings feature beautiful blue and white swirling glass beads. I created the long, curving silver-filled ear wires to echo the the ocean waves that inspired these earrings.

• Earwires have been shaped, hardened, and filed smooth for comfort.

• Earrings have been hand polished and then tumbled for strength.

• Total length is 5.5 cm (just over 2 in) from the top of the ear wire.

*Silver filled wire is non-allergenic like sterling silver. This 1/10 silver filled wire has a red brass alloy core which is coated in a 10% sterling silver layer that won’t wear, flake or peel.


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