Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Report from North Florida...

North Florida's winter takes forever to get here and then is spotty on any given day. It's been as warm as 80F degrees in the past week here, but tomorrow night it will be 28F degrees! The temps will be all over the map before our typical solidly hot weather arrives to stay for a long summer season.

I've been resting, jewelry-wise, since New Year's, but am getting back into the flow again. Making it to the studio several times a week, so new things are in the works. I'll be posting new pics of finished things soon. But I thought you'd like a look at what's on my workbenches today.

As with most metalsmiths, I don't spend money on professional manicures! The grits of the grinding and polishing wheels used on my Foredom flex shaft tool are no friends of nail polish or satin buffings. I'm doing well if most of my nails are unbroken and smooth. (But I do treat myself to a pro pedicure occasionally! Nothing more luxurious than that...)

A lot of new things are currently underway and I'm experimenting with some new ideas. My studio partner, Valerie, is working with a laser cutter these day and the little chipboard houses you see sitting on my bench in this pic were cut that way. I'll tell you more about them in a bit.

Meanwhile, five copper trapezoids await surface embellishments and design. I make about six of these necklaces each year. A visit to my Etsy shop will show you the ones I have listed right now.

I'm also experimenting with making my own copper bezels, as seen in the large pendant underway, with the gray Senoran Dendritic Rhyolite pendant on the left side of the pic. And nearly finished sterling earwires await their final polishing so their ends become smooth and comfortable. 

If you look at these copper pieces closely, you'll see Valerie's laser-cut houses embossed into them. They're pretty subtle and I'm trying to decide if they'll make good jewelry pieces or not. I'll likely link these four into a single bracelet with handmade joinery hardware.

I embossed the houses into the metal with my rolling mill.

Peeking from under the wooden tray are the feet of my tiny anvils in the wire basket. I never use them, but love having them in my studio. One was given to me by my mother-in-law. The others I have collected along the way.

These six fold-formed pieces have been annealed and are drying after being quenched. My acetylene torch has also given them an interesting heat patina. That patina will ebb and flow, as they will be annealed several more times before they are opened, polished, re-torched, and then tumbled to reveal their final color. These six are destined to be on a new necklace design I'm working on. (The rectangular piece at the top is simply a piece of textured copper I'll use at some point.)

I use the hammer-and-anvil method of fold-forming, rather than a press or rolling mill. There are many ways to fold-form metal, but I like the method that gives me the most control over the results I want: an organic, leafy look.

Fold-forming is one of the newest forms of metalsmithing on earth.

Two pairs of fold-formed copper leaf earrings feature greenish labradorite stone beads and bits of silver. In this design, I place the beads on a handmade headpin inside the fold so that the pods cradle the embellishments.

But these are beautiful from the back side, too. Here, the central fold shows, as well as hammer-mark veins and contours.

These leaves have been ground and polished and then tumbled in steel shot so that all edges are smooth. Tumbling also makes their patinas more durable.

But, copper is a reactive metal and will change over time, influenced by the atomosphere and body chemistry of the wearer. I don't coat my metals with spray products.

I am enamored of leaves and flowers in my work and I have decided that my spring collection will feature a lot of them. I am resurrecting my 'Imagined Botanicals' series and will post more new work as it is ready. Meanwhile, please take a look at the botanical work in both my Etsy shops!

One more favorite to share! A pendant with a sunny goldenrod-yellow Mustard Jasper cabochon. Set into fine silver on reclaimed brass.

Best wishes to all of you everywhere dealing with a harsh winter this season! Hold on a little longer and we'll see spring arrive.