I made this ring this week. I call it the Pirate's Freedom Silver Wedding Band Ring. I am so happy that this design sells so well, because it's one of those rings that I never get tired of making. Although it's alot of work, it is repetitive work, that allows me to enjoy some good music while I file away. I truly get in the zone, enjoying the process and sending good thoughts to the couple who will soon be married.
You can see more about this ring here. It is part of my Pirate Tides Collection.
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.
Have you ever used a penny machine? That old fashioned, gear driven machine that squashes a coin into an elongated souvenir? If so, you've used a version of a jeweler's rolling mill. A mini rolling mill is the latest addition to my jewelry studio.
The cool thing about making jewelry is that there is always more than one way to perform a task, to get to a similar end result. I've been getting by for several years without a rolling mill, but I finally bought a mini, to make my tasks go a bit quicker. I still intend on saving up for a full size top of the line Durston mill...someday..to make everything even quicker and easier.
Anyway, above are two examples of how I've put an X onto metal. (I use these in my Pirate Tides Jewelry Collection.) The bronze X was created using etching acid. The sterling silver Xs were made with my new Rolling Mill. I used the bronze X that I had etched, and pressed it with annealed silver, so the etching was transferred to the silver. This is how your penny comes out with "Souvenir of ..." on it.
Don't let the image fool you. Even though it's a machine, it is still hand powered. My strength and adjustment of the gears is needed to perform the tasks. This is true with most "machines" in the studio jewelers shop. Come back next Tuesday and I'll tell you about another tool in my studio.
This post is the first in a series, titled Tools Tuesday. On most Tuesdays, I will share some pictures and information on the tools I use to create the jewelry I make for you.
Finally! I have gathered all my pirate themed and inspired rings, earrings and necklaces and put them together into my new collection - Pirate Tides.
Please take a look. I've separated the forms and have included an Art Rings section. You can click on each image for a detail page and a purchase option.
As you know, if you've been following me this year, I've been caught up in telling a story through the metal. The most obvious tales are in the art rings, where treasure maps are hidden. This spilled over into more "every day" jewelry, with an X marking the treasure (your loved one) and sometimes just a rustic hammered ring band that anyone, pirate or not, who likes a rugged style, would wear.
I watched every pirate movie ever made (some of them several times), while sitting at my bench and creating these treasures. I have a little dvd player on my bench. It's pure bliss to sit and file a ring, moving the metal grains on the surface, and watching a sword fight on the little screen. I love Erroll Flynn in Sea Hawk and Captain Blood. Of course, I love all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies too (especially the first one). All that swashbuckling splashed onto the metal. I think you can see it, if you look. If you like those movies, I think you'll like my jewelry too.
Thanks for your support this year - my personal Year of the Pirate. 2012 is on the horizon. I'm looking forward to discovering a new story to tell in the new year.
Till then, please take a look at my Pirate Tides Jewelry Collection. Let me know what you think.
Did that put you in the mood to watch some pirate movies?
I just wanted to share a few peeks at my new collection today. It's not quite done, but it's getting closer. Actually, I have a few items already in the Etsy store. But soon, the whole collection will be available here at Pirate Tides Collection.
What a Ship Is..
What a Ship Is.. Pendant - "Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs, but what a ship is..what the Black Pearl really is...is freedom."
-Captain Jack Sparrow
Double sided pendant made of sterling silver and a blue agate.
Pirate's Freedom Hand Cut Faceted Ring
Pirate's Freedom Ring - I used an antique design to figure the placement and technique to cut facets right on the silver for this ring. It looks like it's hammered - a very rugged look. I stamped the word FREEDOM inside the band. I think of this as a pirate's wedding band.
If you've been following my blog this year, you know that I've been working on a new collection, inspired by Pirates. The idea of this actually started several years ago, when I made my first Secret Pirate Treasure Map Ring. Since then, I've made about 6 rings in this series.
This weekend I created another piece in this series.
The Ship's Log Pirate Ring
All the captain needs, in a portable, battery free, finger top model.
Features - swivel desk for any orientation (suggested use on non-dominant hand).
Attached, replaceable quill.
Leather bound log book with decorated endpapers.
Genuine blue Kyanite stone.
Engraved "Ship's Log" and "Respect the Sea".
Special holes for tying down in rough seas.
Materials - copper, brass, silver, Kyanite, feather, cork, paper, leather.
I'm finally starting to embrace my inner Pirate and go full tilt boogie on this collection. It's so much fun. I plan to update the site soon, so that you can see all the pieces in one place. Some items will be more collectible than wearable and there will also be very wearable and affordable pieces. Please follow the blog so you'll be notified when it's ready.
Just in case you ever wondered - there are many ways to get to the same result in jewelry making. Most people, jewelers included, will just buy a clasp from a jewelry supply store. Most of those pieces are made overseas where the workers are paid pennies, or they are stamped out in factory machines here, so that there is little labor cost.
I'm still trying to find a good balance between making every part of a piece from the raw metal or buying some of the components like chain and clasps.
Anyway, here are some pictures of a clasp I made recently. First the pattern is copied onto tracing paper and glued onto the metal. Then I use a jeweler's saw to cut it out. This is not too easy, as it must be thick metal to be strong enough for a clasp. When the pieces are just sawn out, they are flat. I use files and sandpaper to round them and smooth them. Then the components are put together. This is a very simple clasp, called a sister clasp, or fold over clasp. It took more than an hour to make. The only way it is cost effective for me, is if it is attached to a necklace that is outstanding.
So...back to the bench.
Valentine's Day always comes up on me quickly. As a jeweler, I never feel ready for it. I always think that next year I will have lots of new romantic designs available. Ah well...maybe next year.
But this past week, I DID create one new design that I think would make a perfect Valentine's gift. An X - which can mean a kiss - is also used by Pirates to mark their treasure. What a perfect symbol for a simple pair of post earrings!
I made these to be rustic enough for a man, yet interesting enough for a unique woman. These are available as both a single earring and as a set.
Every part of these earrings are handmade in my studio. I designed these to be sure that sterling silver is next to the skin. There are sterling wire posts as well. The copper is antiqued and the X is engraved.
Although I usually sell all my items here on my own website, I have put these earrings for a limited time in my Etsy shop. Order (and pay) by Monday, February 7th and I promise to mail them by February 9th, which should be time to receive by Valentine's day!
I'd love to be marked as a treasure by my Pirate, wouldn't you?
Finally, I have something completed to show for my playing with the Pirate theme this whole month. Here are the Double Pearl Pirate Earrings. They are mixed metals - copper, brass and sterling silver. Notice that the sterling silver is the ear wire - so only silver touches the skin. This is good for those who have a reaction to copper or brass.
The earrings feature bronze tone glass pearls. I didn't want to use real pearls here. Real pearls should be protected from metal rubbing against them. I don't usually use glass pearls, but this seems like a good place for them. They will keep the cost of these earrings down, too.
I've decided to offer these earrings in my Etsy shop for now. Once I have several pieces ready, I'll make a new Collection page here on the MaryLuWason.com site.
If you'd like these, but don't want to purchase on Etsy, just let me know. I can send you a Paypal or Google checkout invoice direct to your email.
Meanwhile, it's a Pirate's life for me. More metal bead making, more secret treasure maps to hide.
Hope you have a great, treasure filled day!
This blog, which I started in January 2011, is a design journal, as I attempt to create new jewelry collections and also improve some existing collections.
Most of the entries so far are about a new Pirate Collection. I have challenged myself to create jewelry that is so rugged and true to the Pirate spirit, that it is wearable by both men and women.
So, my question today - would a pirate wear pearls? I love the look of big pearls paired with mixed metals with aged patinas. I'm wondering if I can pull this off, so that a few brave men might actually wear a pearl or two? I can't imagine a pirate that would be able to pass up a jewel of the sea itself.
Above is my first attempt at an earring with pearls and mixed metal. I have a few other ideas, I'll try in the next few days.
So, the question is, would a pirate wear pearls? Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I'll work on creating some designs to convince you.
Mary Lu Wason
is a studio jeweler. Here she shares the inspirations, discoveries and process of creating her art jewelry collections.
@PirateTides on Instagram