Today, I had a coil of wire in my hand, as I was wondering what could I make for Brooch a Day. Funny, I was thinking and thinking and then looked down at my hand. What a sweet little pin, I thought!
I filed the end and there you go. Sometimes we already reached the goal - just need to tweak things a bit. And recognize that we're there already.
I made another little pin that ended up as a stylized heart. Perfect to wear for Valentine's Day.
It's been a wonderfully busy time, working on custom orders. Part of the challenge on days like this is how to work time for a new design into a full schedule. There are times during the day, waiting for something to soak, to dry, cool, etc. I use that time and scraps of whatever I am working on to create something new.
Following are some pins I made recently for Brooch a Day 2013 challenge.
I made several wedding bands with dates hand stamped inside. I always test the stamp first on some scrap copper. This scrap had a nice little arch (itself a scrap from cutting out a copper cross.) An arch of numbers designed itself as I worked. I simply made some copper jump rings and attached it to a little brass kilt pin.
I created an opal engagement ring and matching wedding band. An extra strip of silver from the band and a bit of leftover bezel were enough to create this little pin/pendant. I stamped a moon and stars on both pieces. After I set the opal, I used the same tools to set a blue zircon on the pin.
Isn't it cute? I call it Lullaby Good Night. I twisted an extra loop on the back, so it's both a pin and a pendant.
There has been an empty bezel on my bench for almost a year. I originally made it to hold a pretty turquoise cabochon. I decided to go with a different style and so, the empty bezel sat, waiting for another stone. It was a unique shape, so I never really thought I would find something to fit. But, as I was waiting for some work to soak, I found this little wampum clam shell fit perfectly!
What do you do everyday? Is there a way to recycle the leftover scraps of your work into something new? I just wrote this blog sitting in a waiting room. There is always time and materials to create something new!
Last week, during Brooch a Day, I decided to play with layers and dimension. I like the way some vintage pins are constructed by setting stones in each layer and then cold connecting them all together. (Cold connection means that no heat is used to join the metals, which is a good thing if you want to set stones before connecting. Most stones, except diamonds, can't handle too much heat.)
I used the scrap metal that was on my bench and cold connected the layers.
I annealed the metal to soften it and then formed it a bit, to experiment with depth.
I realized one reason that flowers are a popular motif for brooches. The layered petals in nature can be reproduced with layers of metal. I rarely show flowers in my work, but I decided to cut the metal like flowers, just this once.
Since a cold connection can be any material, I went with simple suede cord instead of metal, to flaunt that option.
I'm enjoying the every day challenge as I take steps each day to play with a process, technique or design.
Choose a word, put it on a pin, wear it and you have made a public statement. During the first week of the daily challenge called Brooch a Day 2013, I enjoyed thinking about the power of pins.
Pins are very public. The wearer doesn't even see them. They are like a billboard. The question becomes, what do you have to say?
Sometimes, we let others say something about us, by putting a pin on us.
Why do we let others put a pin on us? It says we are in the club, we paid, we are with the band, we are of the same tribe.
So, what word would you wear? Let me know. I'll be offering custom word pins soon.
Follow my progress on Brooch a Day here.
I love what I do. I really do. I move metal, five days a week, into forms of love, memories, faith and hope. I felt so blessed this holiday season, in the midst of all my busyness. What a wonderful job I have, to create treasures for others! How cool is that?
Shhh...its a secret. Don't let my family know, haha... Even when I had a ton of orders to make, I was sooooo happy, sitting at my jeweler bench, late into the night. You know how Derek Jeter says in the post season, "I live for this"? Well, making jewelry that means something to the recipient - I live for that.
Many people like to give a cross as a gift. I can engrave initials, a special date, a Bible verse citation, etc. Most of my crosses don't allow for too many characters though. One customer asked me to engrave the names of her four children on the back of a cross, as a gift to her husband. It seems I'm always asked to engrave more than what will fit nicely. So, I was inspired to create this square cross design.
It's a one inch square solid sterling silver on the back, which allows for lots of custom engraving space. The cross is also sterling silver. The two pieces are textured with different hammers, to create a bold contrast. I add a dark antique patina to highlight the rustic style. It's great for a man or a woman who likes the rustic look.
You can order your own version at this link.
You can see more cross designs here.
It's a new year and a new daily challenge!
Today is #1 of 365. What will you challenge yourself to do each day?
I have joined a Flickr group called Brooch a Day 2013. Each of the members will be making an attachable adornment (brooch, pin, badge, stickpin, tie clasp, etc.), every day of 2013. We'll post pictures of our efforts on Flickr.
You can follow my progress here.
You can follow the whole group here.
Look for new photos every day.
We are starting with a great group of jewelry artists. You can expect to be stunned and amazed daily! I know many of the members from the Ring a Day 2010 challenge. That was such a fun experience. It led to many great things including my work in a published book from Lark Publishing, a group exhibit in Seattle, my own local solo exhibit, tons of new designs and best of all, many lasting friendships.
I am looking forward to this new online challenge. I hope you will join me. If you are a maker, please take up the challenge. If not, please stop by and leave comments for the participants. It will be a fun journey together!
On this final day of 2012, I would just like to say, "Good Riddance!"
Life here on the Jersey Shore has not been the same since Hurricane Sandy.
For me, personally, one effect difficult to deal with is that many of our favorite beaches are still unaccessible. The place of my daily walks, Sandy Hook (Gateway National Park), may be closed until May 2013.
The neighboring beach at Sea Bright, NJ is beautiful and open. Driving through town, though, is sobering. Barely any business or homes are inhabited. The recovery does go on though. In the daylight hours there is a constant buzz of construction workers rebuilding.
So, it is time for all of us to rebuild! May 2013 be lucky, joyful and profitable to all! May we enjoy the beauty of the beach and sea once again!
My local ferry, Seastreak, has been running a cruise to Bear Mountain, NY. I remember the local tv commercials in the 1960s, advertising a similar cruise from NYC. I think Bob Dylan must have seen those commercials too. He basically did a Yelp review in the folksinging form and style of Woody Guthrie, way back then.
So, thanks to Dylan's review, we decided maybe we should drive instead. I do think the boat ride is a better way to go, if you go for the Octoberfest, because you don't want to be driving afterwards. It was a bit wild when we got there. At noon there were crowds in the beer garden, already chugging and cheering. (You can also get a glass of wine, but it does not flow as freely.) We had some Octoberfest food and drink. The park is really beautiful, but full of people. After hiking a bit, we got in the car to explore the area.
An unexpected delight, we found Manitoga, the home and design center of Russel Wright. His home, called Dragon Rock, is incredible. Look how it is nestled in the rock and trees. As you approach it from the forest, it slowly dawns on you that there is a building. The stepping stone bridge is fabulous. Aww...live there and you can be inspired to define the mid-Century Modern style!
Just down the road, we found Boscobel house and gardens. The views are breathtaking, reminding me of 18th century folk painting scenes. I especially loved the herb garden.
Next post, I'll share the contemporary metal sculpture that I found on the grounds of Boscobel. As a metalsmith, it fascinated me.
Have you ever been to the Bear Mountain and Hudson River Valley region? There are many more interesting places to visit there. I'd like to explore the area some more. Let me know your favorite spots.
I was recently up near Bear Mountain, near West Point in NY. There was reference to "The Great Chain" in 1777 made to defend the Hudson River from the British. It was a forged iron chain, 1800 feet long. In this photo is a relic of the chain. One link is big as a bench. (There's more info and a better picture at this link.)
Is that cool or what? A chain big enough to stop ships! Sounds like something out of a pirate movie! And the story gets even more fascinating. This chain was the reason Benedict Arnold was discovered as a traitor. He was found out by a female spy named Sally Townsend, who's brother was a member of George Washington's Culper Ring of spies. (Read about the Culper Ring on Wiki..wow, history has such good stories!)
So, I started thinking, how is something like this made? I know how to make chain small enough to wear, but never thought about how super large chain is made. I realized chain used on ships must be made the same way.
Well, it takes alot of muscle and teamwork. Check out this antique video of chain and anchor making. I find it fascinating.
Thanks to Warren Townsend for giving me the link to this great video. You can see Warren's wonderful metal work on his website, Metalrecipes.
Here's my own tiny version of a great chain, big enough to make a ring around your finger! I first made this a few years ago. Now, I'm inspired to make some super thick chains for a bracelet or necklace.
That was the best beach glass I've found! A full, intact, old coke bottle, made in New Jersey, plus an American flag to wave.
Mary Lu Wason
is a studio jeweler. Here she shares the inspirations, discoveries and process of creating her art jewelry collections.
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