Monday, June 25, 2007

Remember the NBC peacock?

In Living Color .. right?!?! The Baby Boomers among you will remember. It's that point in television history when a distinction between black and white television and color television was significant. And it seems I've made the same distinction!! That's what I've been doing for the last week or so .. ordering, and working with, colored wire! And boy, does it really(really!) dress up the Viking Knit pieces!

Today I hope to finish another necklace .. in dark blue with pale olive briolette dangles (I'm awaiting an order for more of those little bullet ends before I can complete it or any others). I'm also looking for a less complicated sterling slide for a slightly different pendant look. The pendant I used on the solid sterling piece, as well as the one on the left with the graduated peach jade briolettes, has ten little rings to which you attach beads. I'd like to find a nice slide with just a single ring beneath it .. maybe attach just a single stone or do a little multi-stone dangle with different colors and sizes (much like the bead burst pendants .. maybe a bit fewer beads .. two or three). I'm so excited about the possibilities I could just about explode! There are a couple colors I have on hand that haven't yet been made into anything, and a few new shades I ordered after a couple days of playing with the stuff ... matte lavender, purple, dark purple, red (hot cha!), and matte turquoise.

The bracelets below, while they look complete, are awaiting some sort of little charm(s). They look great as is .. I've worn each of them around already .. but a little dangle off the "eye" on the end adds a bit of interest. I ordered a stamp of my logo (the head with all the little elements popping out of it at the top of this page) to be used with precious metal clay; and I hope to make some little logo charms to attach to these funky, chunky style bracelets (the more delicate sterling jewelry tags just don't look right) .. perhaps together with a semi-precious stone. But, while I had expected the stamp to arrive by now, I'm still waitin' ... anxiously.

Anyway - from front to back - are matte olive, forest green, aqua green and dark blue shades. The shade differences are evident when you see them in person - and they're evident on my monitor, though perhaps not on yours. The wire is "permanently colored copper" .. baked on, per the company from whom I purchased it. Though I did discover that the color can be scratched off with a bit of careless plier action, it does hold up surprisingly well through the process of drawing the finished weave through my rosewood drawplate .. multiple times! So I have no qualms about continuing to use it for these purposes. I can't imagine anyone scratching the color off during normal wear; I even wore multiple chunky pieces along side for several days, with no problem. The rest of the piece is sterling.

And speaking of sterling, beginning in early 2008 I expect to start collecting a stock of Argentium sterling to use in these and other pieces. Argentium is a relatively new version of sterling - sterling silver being defined as 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals. Argentium is simply a modern adjustment to the sterling formula. It's still 92.5% pure silver; but it replaces some of the traditional 7.5% copper with a rare metallic element called Germanium. In general this results in a change in sterling's tendency to tarnish under normal use and to form oxides while it is being heated and worked. It's much closer to fine silver in its ability to resist tarnish .. which is nice, for those designs you'd love to remain bright n shiny.

I've put off participating in the whole Argentium craze because (1) it's more expensive than traditional sterling (and even traditional sterling is still relatively pricey these days); (2) the longer it's out there, the more information gets circulated with regard to its properties and peculiarities; and (3) initially only sheet and wire were available in this new medium - while one can now find Argentium earring findings, beads, bezel wire, etc.

In the interim, I've got a whole lotta traditional sterling to get through first! But those of you who are annoyed by the slow tarnish of your favorite silver pieces, keep a look out here for pieces made with Argentium .. next year around this time.

One more bit of news - I finally set the wheels in motion for a real website .. with pricing and a shopping cart and everything. However, I'm not expecting miracles. I'm using the same folks to do the programming who did The Remington Museum when my husband took over and decided the website needed updating ... and it took nine months to get theirs up and running. I try to keep in mind that my site won't be nearly as big or complicated, so perhaps by January the shell will be complete and I can begin loading photos and pricing and be on my merry e-commerce way! Time will tell. The woman who designed my logo, business cards and stationery is doing the design side .. she and the programmer will get together once I've settled on the design I prefer. And while all this is going on, I've got some decisions to make about what to ultimately put up .. and then there are ALL those photographs to take. Yep .. lots to be thinkin' about, lots to be doin'. I'll keep ya posted.

Ciao for now!

Solid Sterling Bangle

Ta dah!! This is what the bangle in my last post looks like with sterling beads in place of the blue India glass. I used a shorter core wire this time, a slightly shorter focal "bead" (that elaborate wire piece in the center) and shortened each of the four twisted wire segments; and, while it fits a bit better than the blue version, it's still a little oversized for me. But my wrists measure a little under 5.5". So, I will, of course, keep tryin'!

Though I'm wondering if this bangle just wasn't meant for me. The larger gauge wire core and clasp provide a sturdy base on which to wrap wire and slide interesting beads .. but I've been toying for awhile with the idea of trying a significantly smaller gauge for a lighter, more delicate bangle design. Not necessarily THIS design .. but something incorporating some interesting little precious metal clay beads, smaller gauge twisted wire, etc. The idea is still stewin' for the moment .. so keep watch.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Temporarily back on track ..

As all the massage, stretching and pressure point triggers were slowly working to relieve the Repetitive Strain Injury in my left hand, I got a little crazy this past week and churned out a bangle. If you check a post in May labeled "Silver is a nobel metal" you'll see a pic showing a couple others I made a while back .. quite a while back, like 2004, I think .. before we moved back to the North Country. Before I had the studio set up here I couldn't make twisted wire (the four smaller seqments on this bracelet) .. while in my temporary digs I had no place to attach a vise to hold on to one end of a length of doubled-up wire.

I've been wanting to get back into making these ever since. Got side-tracked with a whole buncha other stuff .. it happens. So many new things pulling in multiple directions .. sometimes it's difficult to focus .. for me anyway. If I was three people, it probably still wouldn't be enough to head off in all those different directions! ; )

Anyway, it's just like me to wait until the most inopportune time to do something inappropriate. There's a whole lotta wrist-wrenching necessary to make one of these - not necessarily during the wire-twisting part, but definitely during the part that requires you to wind the twisted wire (and in the case of the larger wire focal bead, half-round wire) around a wire mandrel. Dead soft wire, which is what I use for these, will get "work hardened" if you hammer, twist or otherwise manipulate it in some way. So dead soft wire, doubled up and then twisted is no longer dead soft .. and it's a bit more difficult to manipulate. And the core wire, the wire on which everything is "strung", is 12 gauge. Takes quite a lot of power to make the "eyes" at the end which contain the clasp. Silly girl .. don't know what I was thinking. But I plodded on and completed the thing. Only to have to ice my wrist when it was done. ; )

It was so worth it as it turned out great! I'm out of practice though and am already thinking of doing another to try getting back into the swing of it. This one's too big for me .. in fact, it slips right over my hand, even with the clasp in the closed position .. so I'm anxious to make another that will fit. And I may do another that includes large round sterling beads instead of the blue India sand glass. I just don't learn, do I! Sometimes enthusiasm can be a dangerous thing!

OK .. off to do Sunday chores so I can get back to SOMEthing productive on Monday ... got several knotted pearl orders awaiting completion (waiting for some materials to arrive for one or two). A much less strenuous task, as I think I've mentioned.

But my wire beckons ....

Maternal pride

I don't generally advertise or promote the fact that I make these, but I love makin' 'em! Mostly because the women for whom they're meant wear 'em to death : ) It's difficult not to love a piece of jewelry with your child's (or grandchild's) name on it. Trust me .. I've had to restring more than a few of these due to wear n tear.

Both of these examples went to the same woman .. CALEB was a gift from me and my husband to his Administrative Goddess at the Remington Museum when she had her son in the spring of 2006; BRIELLE was a gift from her to her partner's sister, who just had a baby in March (the pale blue crystals represent aquamarine, the traditional birthstone for March).

As the first one was a gift from us, I was at liberty to get a little crazy - hence the vermeil (pronounced ver MAY) beads, the addition of the little gold-filled jump rings that move around freely (you'll probably have to double click on the pic to see them), and the heart-shaped lobster clasp. (Vermeil, by the way, is 24k gold over sterling .. at least that's the traditional definition).

I've got a ton of those little sterling alphabet beads, so I'm always happy to accept a special order for one. I made a spectacular double-stranded version for my sister-in-law several years ago that made her cry - happy tears, of course ; ) So .... if you're wondering what to get your mom or sister or other important female personage in your family, these things always make a big hit! Good for scoring points, big time! : )