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!
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. 🙂
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)
Hope you enjoyed my ramblings…
I’ve been a busy bee finishing up this collection of earrings for all of my daughters’ teachers. Their school is celebrating Teacher Appreciation week next week because this week is PASS testing. We are so lucky to have a great school and *amazing teachers* – I love making teacher gifts!
It was really fun letting my muse take over and just put together a bunch of different styles. Sometimes I’d be in the middle of finishing one pair and I’d already know what I wanted to try next, and sometimes I’d just play and see what came to life in my hands. I wanted to have different options for the girls to choose from so that they could decide which earrings best “matched” each teacher. It was kind of funny that there wasn’t much hesitation, and no arguments. Each pair seemed to speak to them very distinctly to tell them who they needed to belong to. My girls are excited to give them out next week and I’m hoping their teachers enjoy them!
There are *so* many new jewelry techniques and project ideas I want to explore! I love to learn new things and experiment. Mostly that’s a good thing. However, sometimes it just contributes to my scatterbrained disposition. I can feel almost frozen when I sit down at my work table, wondering where to start – too many ideas swirling around at once. I’ve found that these are the times that I really benefit from working in “batches”.
Here is a pic of my latest batch of wire wrapped links. It’s really quite therapeutic to go into a bit of an assembly line mode. While working on a repetitive task, two wonderful things happen. First, I’ve moved past frozen to productive. Conquering that little speed bump protects me from falling victim of an artistic slump – not a fun place to visit. Second, in just getting my hands moving my muse becomes more focused. Instead of fifty things I want to do, I’m able to decide what I want to make *next*. For some reason I still haven’t figured out how to do a million things at once, so this is a big help!
By the time I finished making these links, most have already been assigned to a design in my head. The ones that are left will go with my other finished findings and be happy discoveries next time I want to play with impromptu designs. 😉
Thank goodness for the wonderful online community of jewelry artists! I stumbled upon an amazing video today in my email. (Yes, in my own inbox – don’t even get me started on how scary it is in there, yet another to-do item.) Anyway, I’m *so* glad that I had subscribed to Laura Hagan’s blog posts. She shared a moment of discouragement and self doubt that really struck home for me today – and even better, she spoke about getting past it.
She makes beautiful pieces, so it was amazing to me to hear her speak on self doubt – and it really gave me a boost to know I’m not alone in these types of feelings. It can be a bit scary when you decide to follow your dream, it’s a lot easier to just talk about it. I’m glad there are other regular down to earth people willing to share their journey. Thanks Laura!
Here’s a link to her post – very empowering! Art Show Psych Out