Friday, April 29, 2011

Poor Man's Julie Shaw

This is a necklace I put together this week using a pendant I'd made. I've always liked the way opals and peacock grey pearls look together. I made an s-clasp and put on a length of chain so it could be adjustable.

It was inspired by a ring by Julie Shaw (see below right). I love how she uses the mixture of stones, gold, and liver of sulfur on silver, to bring out the most amazing colors. You could say mine is a poor man's version! I used a silver-copper sandwich slice instead of gold, and textured the other side of the setting with punches, much as she does. I did use liver of sulfur, but I dulled it a bit because I didn't want it to blend in too much with the color of the pearls.

You can find more of her beautiful designs at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Student Work

This was a project completed by one of my students, Barbara, at the Lorton Workhouse. She is an artist-type, dabbling in this 'n that. She thought she'd try traditional metalsmithing, as she had just taken an enjoyable seminar or two with Carol Hamilton, also at the Workhouse, learning about metal clay.

She started to lose her hearing in her 30's, and hence now wears hearing aids. She wanted to create a pair of hearing aid guards, so when she went outside on windy days, her aids would not be howling from the onslaught of wind and air. They were to be functional, but also beautiful. She worked on creating templates of the earpiece, and then cut out, filed, sanded, and domed the sheet silver. Next she created coils in silver twist-wire, and after many soldering operations, soldered on these coils to the sheet silver. They are reminiscent of the ear, aren't they? She used a brass brush (leftover from her silver clay class) to burnish them, and then folded the wire around her ear; one left long enough to attach back up the front of the earguard.

Here's a picture of Barbara modeling her hearing aid guards. I was so struck by how elegant, personal and meaningful this project was to her. This was not an easy project- it took her many hours of forming, soldering, melting (oops) re-doing, etc... before she "got it", but she didn't give up. They're so chic, industrial, organic, and eye-catching, aren't they??

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More tips on photographing work

I like to flip through Metal Clay Artist Magazine -- despite never having worked in metal clay -- because I get some good ideas from it. The current issue (Vol. 2, Issue #2) has an extra goody, a long article on jewelry photography. It made me realize that depth of field might be the cause of my focus issues. The article's not just about the camera; it gets into jewelry placement, backgrounds and props, etc. It's worth checking out if a bookstore near you carries it.


Friday, April 15, 2011

New Technique

I got this pretty oval-shaped Mexican opal from the Tucson shows this year- it's quite high and I was brainstorming what to do about the setting. I decided to make a masonite die for my newish hydraulic press by using a jeweler's saw to cut out appropriate sized-ovals. The interior oval needed to remain flat and large enough in order to have the stone's bezel soldered to it. The outer oval I sized aesthetically and then glued the pieces of 1/2" masonite to a larger thinner piece of masonite with epoxy. I let it cure overnight. I pressed the form in silver, cut it out, and then soldered a plain bezel around it to create the look of it being thick; in reality it's hollow with another piece of sheet at the bottom. I soldered on the stone bezel, and the ring shank, and did a lot of hand finishing and then shined it up on my electric polishing arbor with tripoli. I need to do some experimenting with polishing compounds, but that's another post... I think it has a bit of an old Mexican vintage feel to it- perfect with the opal. I'm going to try some more pieces using handmade dies in the press- it was exciting to try something new.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big benefits from social networking

I know, I know --the phrase "social networking" sets your teeth on edge. But before you dismiss this post, hear me out. I'm a semi-Luddite. I own a little pay-as-you-go cell phone that gets turned on maybe once a week. I'm typing this on a computer that only has a dual 512K processor. I don't embrace technology unless it REALLY does something for me. But over the past two weeks, I've gotten two commissions and made two sales via Facebook. Considering that I don't have an Etsy store (or even an actual business) to advertise yet, I think that's pretty good.

So why am I on Facebook? In my pre-child life, I was a newspaper editor. Journalists tend to move a lot and be friends mostly with other journalists (thanks to weird hours), so I have friends scattered all over the world. We've found that Facebook is the best way to stay in touch -- everyone knows what revolution you've been sent to cover with one quick post. And we share all the other life news there, too. So as I learned metalsmithing last year, I posted pictures there. I'd get positive comments with each picture. But this year, something changed. Maybe it's my skill level, maybe people are feeling more secure financially, but suddenly requests are coming at me. High school friends, former colleagues, old friends of my husband that I've never met -- all have requested or bought jewelry from me this year.

I'm pleased with the advertising my Facebook page has been doing for me. I'm no longer worried that my Etsy store will just sit there, ignored, when I do open it. The one problem I have is that I'm not getting to said store because I'm doing so much request work. Which I'm OK with right now -- at least Facebook isn't charging me for each post and sale. So if you aren't on Facebook -- or Flickr, or Ibibo, or whatever else has cropped up in the last two minutes -- I recommend it. It's one more way to get your work out there. (And feel free to friend me on Facebook, fellow Ladysmiths: I'm Sharon Olson Moores in Woodbridge.)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Was in my Studio Zone today

Made these two rings both from start to felt great to work so hard and enjoy the sun while taking photos...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Call for Entries

Call for entries- non-precious materials- check it out:

Started and finished today...more ring action

Poppy Ring in Sterling Silver with 18k Yellow Gold granules
I started this from scratch this morning and really zoned out of all of my stress and into the beauty of creating this ring.
(yes Sandra, I used LOS, I can't go to the gym unless I shower!)
I took around 100 photos and am happy with the few I chose for my etsy shop display.
What's everyone up to? (I think this weather is crazy...almost as crazy as congress!)
it's me...Care--- Hi!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Trickier than it looks

I finally finished a new piece -- a massive lava stone ring. It looks like a very simple setting, but I decided to jazz it up two ways. First, I perforated the ring band to mimic the lava. I thought it'd be easy, but it took some work to make sure several of the holes didn't look like perfect circles. Second, I decided to cut out part of the backplate so you can see through some of the lava holes. However, I needed to leave enough support for the wide shank. After thinking it through a little, I ended up with a speedometer-shaped cutout. That shape allowed me to expose the best through-holes, but also left room for the shank.

Left picture shows the shank and cutout; right one shows how the cutout works with the holes:

I love making work more difficult for myself! :-)


Monday, April 4, 2011

Work In Progress

I'm getting my Latin on...feeling my muse...
(it's me, Care)HI!!!