Monday, November 16, 2009

Precision at Each Step

I have finally entered into a VERY creative avenue! I am the happiest I have ever been making jewelry - for a couple of reasons. First, I am making individual pieces that are not necessarily designed to be reproduced over and over. This allows me to spend extra time at each step to ensure that the finished piece will be precise and accurate. Also, it opens up endless ideas for me regarding design and craftsmanship; a fantastic creative challenge!! Secondly, I have a 'home' to send them to when I have finished: Seasons on St. Croix Art Gallery in Hudson, Wisconsin. These two facts are extremely motivating and have sparked me. I will be in design and fabrication mode this winter. Great timing!! Let that snow fly folks.

My new pieces are a marriage of techniques that I have been working with independently; hand engraving, flush stone setting, and more advanced soldering techniques enabling me to make more detailed designs. I will blog soon about my artistic influences (I have some definite ideas about series, etc.) I will continue making chain components, but will expand on original ideas to get more 3-D; soldering components and forging these pieces. I will be learning new forging techniques at the studio with a little help from my studio-mates... so great to share brains and equipment!

Forgot to post in October!! Will blog soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Exploring New Ideas

It seems that I have spent a lot of time seeking out my niche... or niches. Trying to combine interests, skills, and appeal can be challenging. Before I started selling my pieces, I simply made jewelry that I wanted to wear. I have been collecting jewelry since I was little, and own a lot of variety. Usually things I have made have been different, and represent things that I like ~ not necessarily what anyone else likes ~ or would buy.

New directions (and fun times in the studio) include hand engraving, flush stone setting, and art influences that, until now, have not been allowed in! My art teaching has exposed me to other art worlds and I am touched by them. Botanicals are ALWAYS on my mind, and will continue to find their way into my designs.

The Baramundi Fish pendant was influenced by Aboriginal artwork. The inclusion of gold has added a touch of color, and the hand engraving adds some rich texture that is evident in Aboriginal artwork; dots, lines, and the x-ray view.

I am gearing up for the Spirit of the St. Croix Days art festival on September 26th and 27th in Hudson, Wisconsin. I will have several new designs to offer, and plenty of hand made chains.

Next on my bench: Botanical designs using hand engraving and flush set stones.

Hope to see you in Hudson!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Improve and Enhance

I am fond of some of my original thoughts about jewelry. They are designs that are part of me and will continue - either in their original form, or the beginning of another. A few of these will not change, as they are now a separate and complete entity - Vining Leaf, Keepsake Heart, and Ingots are a few of these designs.

Moving forward will mean integrating some of the techniques I presently use, combining them to make new and unique pieces.

Watch for flush set stones combined with surface decoration such as acid etching and hand engraving. Discovering new themes for pendants and earrings will be my path this fall, pulling in a touch of color. Presently, I am sparked by lessons in the elementary art classroom - Aboriginal artwork, tessellations, and abstract compositions. I think it's time to start a new sketchbook! 

Friday, July 31, 2009

Front End of that Learning Curve...

Several things have happened in my studio since the beginning of the summer.

First, I have noticed that I can get markedly better at the finishing of my pieces; details! I am developing a more critical eye for craftsmanship and can improve my work. This is an overall goal for all that I work on.

Second, I absolutely need accurate gravers to do fine hand engraving. I have an order in for these, and need to move forward with this.

Third, in order to complete new designs, I will be adding precious and semi precious stones. I will not try to learn this technique... I WILL learn this technique. I am determined. There is a definite learning curve for this, and practice is key.

So, off to the studio to get my projects in order and plenty of practice pieces lined up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Cutting into wax is like cutting into butter... so easy and satisfying. The cuts in wax can be deep and angled easily. Cutting into metal takes a lot of pressure and does not go as deep.

Direct cuts into metal or cast wax pieces provide reflective edges; the hand engraved cuts into metal are more exact and provide very shiny edges.

The Ingot Pendants remind me of less polished and exact pieces - like old Roman jewelry. They are smooth and substantive. The best thing about these pendants is that they can hold any image!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This is an interesting moment in the creative process! Getting ready for a sale; pulling a body of work together to get feedback and to sell, involves a lot of pulling together of loose ends and polishing final details. It is an important moment and one which will help guide my next stretch of time in the studio.

The Botanical Artworld is, and will continue to be, my focus. The design opportunities inspired by nature are exciting and endless and have my full attention!

After the Hopkins Arts Festival, look for changes in my website. I am inspired to focus on my work that I love to make and explore new ways to represent nature. Look for new designs and improved existing pieces!

I hope to see you this weekend!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Botanical Disk Slide Pendants

Two more weeks until show time, and I'm winding down production of pieces. Today I took inventory, and will have a nice variety of things I think. After the festival I will continue to explore more chain ideas and variations on the Botanical Disks - Pendants and Earrings. The acid etching absolutely lends itself to botanical themes, and I love that process. I have started adding hand engraving to the backs for fun. I have worked at sharpening my gravers correctly, and when they are done correctly, I could cut all day. So satisfying!

We are enjoying the strawberry patch behind the studio. Good thing the plants seem to love creeping charlie - both are thriving!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Counting down the Days...

Summer has just begun, and things are busy at the studio. Beth and I will be in the Hopkins Arts Festival on July 11 and 12, and we are readying not only our jewelry pieces, but everything that is involved with selling out of a tent... including the tent; signage, credit card machines, displays, etc., etc. This will be my first outdoor sale in years, and I am pumped!

Along with my 'chain' commitment, I am working with botanical pieces made from PMC pressed into molds. Each piece has a bale secured into the back. They are textural, detailed, and lovely. While I am used to working with sterling silver, fine silver has a density and sheen that is beautiful. I pressed 12 molds, but will finalize about 4 designs for the festival. As I finish them, I will get them up on my website.

I will have two examples of commemorative jewelry on display at the festival... one for Millie and one for Max, our family pets. I am hoping that people will at least find them interesting! I'm just wondering where I will find extra fur on Max that won't leave a short spot.

I am also continuing to acid etch pendants and earrings. Right now these are my favorite pieces. They are substantial and deeply cut. Some larger pendant disks that I am working on this week will have a backside that will be hand engraved with botanical designs and symbols. They will certainly be unique pieces!

I will blog again before the sale. Time to get working!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Summer Schedule

When my 'day job' ends early in June, I will have a new schedule to nail down.  Working in the studio is/has been free-floating up until now.  My goal is to head to the studio as if it were an expectation!  Just like a job.

Summer will offer longer stretches of time to experiment and follow my creative activities... the chaining of one idea to another.  I am looking forward to this!

The Hopkins Arts Festival (July 11, 12) is a great goal to make and complete pieces.  I will be figuring out tables/displays and figuring out logistics of selling outdoors for two days.  So, Here's to Summer!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Commemorative Jewelry

Originally I thought it would be great to etch a photograph into metal - a true likeness of a person or an animal.  A true likeness would be fantastic!  After researching jewelry pieces like this, I found that laser imaging would be optimal... an investment that would entail a total focus and commitment!  Etching with acid is lovely (especially for my botanical pieces), but not exact; it doesn't really lend itself to this end.  I think I would need to run a parallel life in order to pursue this!

So... I am exploring other means to achieve personalization and meaning.  This horsehair pendant with the added touch of hand engraving might work well.  Each piece would be unique and require more in-depth communication during development.

Also, I am interested in trying other shapes and forms for this.  The disk lends itself beautifully to this piece because of the bezel and top crystal, but the surrounding shape could be more inventive, I'm sure!  Front designs could be unique and significant, and the back could also include designs with the lettering.

YES!  I am still making chains.  I think I am up to 6 unique hand made chains... I have 4 more designs to make!  I have worked around the same basic idea for the first 6, so my last 4 will definitely be a different approach.  When finished with this goal, I will line them up and publish a picture.  So far, the "Twigs Deco" is my favorite.  I will make a neck chain (not one of my 4 new ones) that will have shorter 'twigs' and perhaps attach a Peace Square in the middle.  (This one is for me. I should actually wear more of my jewelry!!!)  Making chains is like therapy for me and I am anxious to design my last 4... (maybe more)... we shall see.

If you have ideas about Commemorative Jewelry, I would love to hear them! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hand Engraving - Getting Personal

Hand engraving is a traditional and specific technique of creating surface decoration in precious metal.  The tools, gravers, are made by the artist from steel which is then anchored in wooden handles.  The steel is shaped and honed at particular angles so that the precious metal can be cut then lifted from the surface.  While good and careful cutting is critical, the layout of design comprises 90% of a successful job.

The differences between hand engraving and machine engraving are important.  Hand engraving cuts deeper into the surface and the groove goes from thin to thick as the graver lays over on it's side while cutting a line; the resulting edge is reflective.  When two or more lines echo each other, the light basically dances over the surface of the piece.  Machine engraving does not have a reflective inner edge because the machine stylus cuts straight down into the metal without lifting out pieces and basically forms a ridge on either side of the cut.  The cuts are more shallow and are not artistic in design.

Older presentation platters and trophies have 'entries' that are hand engraved.  They endure over time because the words/dates do not wear down from handling and polishing.  I have felt honored to cut platters and trophies for more than a couple of years in a row, adding to its history my 'hand' to the pieces.

I am interested in making pieces that are personal using hand engraving.  While I am a traditionalist with this technique, I am exploring ways to loosen up and have some more fun making designs on my jewelry pieces.  I am thinking of commemorative jewelry - of people or pets... Let's see what develops!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Sunday, May 10:  MOTHER'S DAY!
I have placed my first Facebook Ad highlighting the Keepsake Heart Pendant for Mother's Day.  It will run for one week.  Let's see how this goes...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Traveling Jewelry

In the mid-80's, I decided I wanted to learn how to cast silver, because that was one class I had not had.  From there, I continued taking classes, and fell in love with the processes of casting and fabrication.

Larry (bless his heart) gave up his woodworking shop in the basement so that I could work at home.  When my Dad visited once he noticed that I took Larry's grinder. He replaced his with a new one!  I didn't know about this until years later.

I'm not sure if my Mom was interested in keeping me going with the jewelry-making or had a real need, but she asked me to make her some "traveling jewelry"... jewelry that was not valuable, was big enough to make a statement, and would catch the light and sparkle.  That was really the beginning of my creative process developing new designs and ideas in jewelry. Here is a picture of my first pieces that I made for Mom; wide band rings - each original and carved from wax, then cast. She never did lose any pieces, and enjoyed them for a number of years.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On a Roll...

New chain link bracelet - "Twigs Deco".  This is my second rendition of Twigs... perhaps a little more comfortable, and of substantial weight like Twigs.

I guess that making chains is addicting.  I'm already halfway done making another take-off on this design; a neck chain.  It is made with smaller gauge sterling wire, and half the thickness.   Maybe one more "Twigs" design after that... then something different.

I love the sturdiness of soldered links, with 16 gauge sterling wire! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Twigs Earrings...

These are very simple earrings that match the Twigs bracelet... but I think I will make them again and add a round, crystal bead. Perhaps they need a little bit of weight!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I don't know if it's strange or not to name my jewelry pieces, but it is one way to identify them.  The other day someone was talking about my botanical pendants, and I just wasn't sure which pieces until we agreed they were the "Botanical Ingots".

So, I am beginning to make chains.  My goal is to come up with 10 original designs - including variations on a theme.  Here is my first one named "Twigs".  The pieces inside the rings have quite a bit of movement, and look like they should simply slide out.  But because of how they are connected to each other, they can't... a bit of an optical illusion.  I guess this bracelet will be worn for beauty and interest, not necessarily for comfort.  It reminds me of wearing my coral twig necklaces...a definite commitment to form and color, not necessarily comfort!  My next chain will be a variation on this theme, without so much poke!  I am presently working with sterling wire, so I will need to figure out how to end the twigs... until I experiment with fine silver wire. I will be putting this on my website, with matching earrings.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I am interested in making chains.  The problems with chains - the challenges of making chains - have to do with how they move and function in space.  It is sometimes difficult for me to design a three dimensional object... to visualize how it will move.  An additional variable is how something will drape and lay on the body.

For now, as I sketch and make aesthetic decisions, I am thinking of links as components.  Each component can be a link, or a series of  links.  I'm thinking that if the components work well and move well together, then multiples of them will also work.  That is how I am approaching this problem - challenge. 

My challenge will be to design and make chains that are comfortable and beautiful...that have a flow of movement, are strong, and have good proportions - either as necklaces or bracelets.  I am thinking of botanical themes... 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Well Worth the While

After learning how to hand engrave precious metal, I quickly discovered that the optimal surface to cut is flat in both directions.  I learned how to cut on the curve and a curve heading both directions, but it was stressful beyond words.  Thus, the seven-sided ring was born, providing seven opportunities to practice layout and improve cutting skills.

I made this ring by first carving a cylindrical wax and then filing seven even sides flat.  After casting, each side was treated as a window pane, with a deep frame cut around each rectangle.  One side shows my monogram, and stylized flowers (there's that botanical theme!) fill the remaining six sides.

Only two additional 14k gold rings like this one were made - one for my Mother - with her monogram and flower choices for each pane, and one for my Mother's best friend.  She chose for her monogram cursive/feminine letters, and her husband's monogram, with more masculine block letters. Her flower choices were symbolic and personal.

When we greet each other over the holidays she reminds me that she wears her ring every day.

The time that I put into these pieces was extensive.  The satisfaction of making something that is beautiful and meaningful, and will be handed down to daughters' daughters is immense... well worth the while.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two Queens

When I was young, my parents decided that we should travel instead of buying life insurance.  It was a gamble, but one that provided us with lasting memories and some world knowledge.... and, a life-long love of traveling.

When I was eight we sailed to England on the Queen Elizabeth and sailed home on the Queen Mary.  I still remember swimming in the saltwater pool (for the cabin class travelers), the cinema theatre, and the ability to try new food without fear of being stuck with my selection.  Shuffle board, deck chairs, and getting seasick were also part of this experience.  My experiences of traveling to all corners of Great Britain are another story.  Priceless!

When Annie and I visited California last year, we had the chance to tour the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  What a cool experience remembering times I had on board 47 years ago!  The beautiful Art Deco touches were still there. 

While on board in 1963, I purchased enamel pins of the Queens, which at that time probably cost about $2.50.  While they may be more valuable now, I would never give them up because of the memories they hold.  Why does one pin face one direction and the other face the opposite direction?  One traveled to England, the other traveled home.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Three Silver Angels

Three angel images I have chosen for the "Angel Tags" (pendants) were transferred from photographs and etched into sterling silver. These tags have fixed sterling chains with simple hooks.  Some of the halftones of the statues and the sky resulted in textures on the metal surfaces.  I included a sun/highlight on the tags and on my first image, in the middle, I included a botanical accent.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting Real

Last June I felt it was important to sit down and figure out what I wanted to accomplish at my bench.  In doing so, I came up with a list of things that I felt were important to me - a list of what I believe jewelry should and can be:
Jewelry should be easy to wear, compliment the body, have a deeper significance beyond the first glance, should be loved by it's wearer.  Jewelry can reflect personal ideas through design or symbols, can be (and certainly is) influenced by history or current climate, can be worn 24/7 - even in the shower!.  Jewelry does not have to be made by using a difficult technique.  Handcrafted jewelry should be unique, well made, have a signature, be sought after, and last an eternity - be enduring.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My First Piece of Jewelry...

For as long as I can remember, I have loved jewelry... looking at it, wearing it, buying it, and now making it. I believe the the best part of jewelry is the significance behind it.

This silver pin was given to me by my Grandmother when I was 4 years old.  I walked around her house with it and lost it. I was crushed.  We hunted all over for it, and finally found it stepped into the inside doormat of the porch... it had become bent and twisted, but I still loved it.  I value it because of this story and, most importantly, because my Grandmother had given it to ME. 

My Father bought me jewelry, especially items that he knew I had seen and made comments about.  When traveling I buy jewelry... and I get to remember my trips every time I wear it.

Both my Grandmother and Mother loved and collected jewelry, and shared that love and appreciation of it with me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday at the Studio!

Nothing much more fun than Friday at the studio...except maybe a Sunday - when we are all working.  Nice.  I am focused on figuring out PNP paper and photo transfer.  I think my main problem is making sure that the silver is super clean and slightly rough to accept the transfer.  I am interested in making an angel pendant...have wanted to for a long time.  I think that the etched figure is the way to go.  However, the practice piece I made (for myself to test-drive) may not look like an angel unless you have that idea to begin with.  Luckily, I have several other images that I will work with, hoping to come up with a suitable layout.  This image was taken at the Recoleta Cemetary in Buenos Aires.  I love this image, and thought it would work well with the photo transfer...already a
silhouette. However, some of the sections of the sculpture don't make sense (in silhouette).   So, mine is an angel, and I am sticking with that.  I am also interested in pursuing the "fixed chain" pendant - a design that I call a "tag".  These pieces are less formal in approach and young.  While the angel is a photo transfer, the other tags I have etched started out as simple sketches...a fun format for me to work with.  The tag's fixed chain is putsy to make because I insist on soldering all of my jump rings for sturdiness - it is well worth it.  So, I will continue to pursue the angel tag with a different and clear angel image. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Signing on...

Here we go!  Welcome to Silverleaf In the Park Blog!  My plans are to talk about art and ideas about jewelry - with new design ideas!  Please offer feedback and suggestions!  Let's make this work!