reticulated earrings

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I've Been A Bit Busy

The No-Matter-What Necklace
A reminder that friends can end up sisters.


hammered copper
hammered aluminum
SS 6mm cable chain, 16"

The Round Peg on a Square Plate Necklace

 A note to one's self that it is important to stand out in a crowd.


hammered copper
hammered aluminum
SS 1.5mm cable chain, 14" 

The Entirely Too Big Earrings

Not too big for you, though.


hammered aluminim
SS 6mm chain
hand wrought SS wires
approx. 3" long from crown of wire to lowest edge

The Pretty Soon Earrings

Reminding myself that all things ....... Pretty Soon.


hammered aluminum
hammered copper
hand wrought SS wires
approx. 1.75" from top of wire to bottom of

and of course, in all recipes, imagination.

Thanks for taking a look.
I'm headed off to bed......
Wishing you all a safe & happy Holiday Season. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Check Out My friend, Rosy Revolver's Giveaway!

Check out this wonderful artist's work:

If you do it right away, you might still have time to post an entry in her giveaway contest!

GO now!, don't waste another minute here, but come back before Christmas.  There should be a doorway to the Etsy site and a few little goodies to tempt you with......

Watcha waitin for!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Fitting In

“The Right Fit” Eardrops

Like everyday, she got up, showered up, latte-ed up, dressed up,
and it seemed like all the puzzle pieces were in place.
By the time she got home that night, one had been lost.

“It’s just not the right fit,” was all they could say.

Words can make you breathless, helpless, shapeless.
Exposed and invisible.

The pain of words gave way to the power of anger
and the motivation of individuality.

Thus the hammer hammered and the tumbler tumbled
and the tarnished became shiny and resilient again.
Richer for the working over.
Somehow, more fit.

The process of designing and producing these earrings was again an interesting one. They are made of metal and glass. Simple, you say? Yes, it turns out, after you get past the hard part.

I decided again to work with aluminum, because I wanted to build a pair of easy to wear, larger scale earrings and duh, aluminum is super-lite. I also wanted to make something that moved with the wearer's moves. Lightweight, fluid and with a honkin glass bead. 
Now, here's the challenge: I had barely held a torch in my hand much less gotten it to do any tricks. But there I was with metals in one hand and a fire-breathing torch in another. Could I tame the beast?  Could I fuse this thing together without frying the parts that fry? Could I keep my sweaty cool in these "Cataract Surgery Survivor" looking magnifiers? GINA!!!, bring band-aids and aloe vera!

One issue was how to get the glass bead attached to the chain. Wire wrapping would be the thing, but until this project I had vigorously rejected any thought of wire wrapping beads because I AM A METALSMITH (hear me roar)! But then I saw a few pieces in a magazine that were wrapped in a way as to look a bit disorganized. Not so perfect, the wire was part of the bead, not so neat looking. OK, not so anal retentive. This is a break through! That's the look I want, so I got off my high horse and tried to become one with the wire. Om.......... (I found out you have to be good at wire wrapping to get it that look)
With plan in place, I sawed & filed the metal to smooth perfection, hammered the dickens out of the two metal tear drops (you know you can tear aluminum with too much hammering, damn it ((&^%#$#&^(*)), formed the curve in the metal, drilled two holes in the top - one for the ear wire and one for the chain. I made 8 silver jump rings and soldered them together in 2 short lengths, then soldered them on to the hammered metal, wrapped the beads and attached them to the open ends of the chain, soldered these ends closed and finally hung them on hand forged sterling wires.  

And you know what?  They fit! 



cut aluminum

argentium 930 silver

sterling 925 silver

hand blown glass beads




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Storms and Animals

Urban Bird's Nest Earrings

Sitting at the traffic light.
Look up.
Birds sitting on a wire.

Where do they go after work?

Urban Bird’s Nest. 

About 3 years ago, we were in the path of Hurricane Ike.  Houston got a pretty good wallop by old Ike and while our house was left intact, many homes and trees weren’t. 

It was an experience.  It had been along time since I’d been through a storm like that, and never with animals.  Funny how animals make you think about things differently.  My instinct (questionable at best) was to hunker down in our “roomy” closet, positioned nicely inside the “big” bathroom, and so buffered by rooms on all sides.  In our case, this meant 2 humans hunkering down for what promised to be all night with 2 old dogs in a 5 x 6, windowless, ventless, cave—the usually closed-off catch-all for dirty clothes and smelly shoes.  Get the picture?

Still, it seemed like a good idea so we ousted the unnecessaries, cush-ed up the floor, pillowed out the walls, and began to hunker down with “the boys”.  After a brief  barrage of unbelievably strong and sustained winds—we were literally only into this thing about 15 minutes—the power went out.  The fan stopped blowing, the dogs began panting, and then drooling, and that was that:  we retreated from the relative safety of the closet to the relative air quality of the bedroom.  Yes, the bedroom was risky as airborne debris from God-knows-what furiously pelted the windows, but, as you know, sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils….

Focus, f-o-c-u-s……….So the point of all this nostalgia is that one of the scariest moments of my life (albeit after the fact) made me think about animals: wild animals, feral cats, birds, lizards, homeless dogs, squirrels.  Where do other living things go for shelter and security from huge, nature-crushing storms?
So, 3 years go by and I’m driving home one day; needless to say, all of this serious thinking had worn off.  I looked up and noticed all these birds on the power lines above.  At every traffic light, there were wires and birds.  Sometimes there were a lot of birds and sometimes only one or two.  What if there were none?  Which reminded me of something I heard on the radio from a guy who had just survived a tsunami:  He said, “All the birds were gone.  We knew there was something coming because all the birds were gone.”  Which made me think, what if I look up one day and there are no birds? 

Where do they go?

Cut Aluminum
Sterling Silver

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Raking What You Sow

Fallen Leaves Earrings

I love the fall.
I love everything about the fall.
Like every ex-patriated Yankee, I miss the Fallish things:
The First Frost
Apple Cider
Cold Halloween Nights
Shorter Days and Sweaters
More hot chocolate

Best of all, I love the whole leaf thing.
The “knock-me-down” breathtakingly beautiful colors,
colors you are sure that you will never see again
 and then of course,

The raking and piling and jumping.
The grilled cheese and tomato soup that come when you are done.
The smell of the next farm over burning the piles.
Maybe most of all, I love the smell of exhausted leaves
 as they finally give up on the branches
 where they were born.
I am a leaf
You’d never know it here in Texas, but in other places in the country, fall approaches. It’s the time of year most commonly thought of as the beginning of the end. It’s the driveway into the garage of the year, the demise of various life forms, the shortening of days and the lengthening of the darkness – the end. For me though, it’s right up there with Spring as far as exciting times of the year.   There’s electricity in the air.

That’s how it was making these earrings: exhilarating.  I learned a few cool tricks making them. First, I found out that sawing metal in curved lines is much easier than sawing straight lines.  I learned how to use teeny, tiny, little, bitty files and bits on the flex shaft to get a clean edge on the metal (who’d have thought that such small devices could make such a BIG difference?).  I learned how to liver-of-sulfur for color (stinky), to tumble for strength (noisy), and to make ear wires so you don’t have to hold onto your earrings in your hands (handy).  And I learned the miracle of copper sulfate etching.

Copper sulfate etching is a green process.  It uses a weak copper sulfate solution and electricity to etch the desired pattern into the metal — in this case, the veins of the leaves.  The low voltage current miraculously draws the unmasked copper away from the piece and plates it to the stainless steel pan below.  So, a key element in this etching process is keeping the item suspended above the bottom floor of the etch bath container.  The job was so important that it had to done by something firm enough to withstand the weight of the piece over a prolonged time, and yet forgiving enough to return to the bath over and over again as the need arises.  There was never any doubt; the Jesus pencil toppers would be our only salvation.


Cut Copper Sheet
Sterling Silver
Argentium 930 Silver
Copper Wire

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Engineering 101

Brass Footings Pin
All my life I’ve been stable.
Dependable, reliable, responsible.
No matter how you word it, it all comes
Down to the same thing,

Well, by some people’s standards at least.

Ok, so own it.

But who says having your feet
Solidly anchored to the ground has to be boring?

Make something.   

As simple as this pin looks, it was a minefield of trouble.  It’s true; I have lots of experience in minefields.  As many of you know, I have been fretting over handmade Valentines every year for the last twenty, fussing over impossible sewing projects (12 sundresses in 12 days), starting thousands of knitted scarves that no one has ever seen (ok, I did finish one—Gina has it; oh, and that kid-scarf that was only about 12 inches long), and of course there was also that “crazy quilting” faze that I refuse to talk about; but mixed metals?!!  I’ll need to use sharp pointy things, and FIRE, and, gasp, sandpaper!  You want to talk about grit?

It did seem a little arrogant to take this on.  I had taken ONE 16-hour metal collage class (granted, with a master) and immediately started stocking my studio (with sharp pointy things and small flame throwers and, gasp, sandpaper).  My first, ehem, professional, project was designing and producing a pin.  I would use copper, brass, and aluminum, and, since aluminum doesn’t submit to soldering, I would have to put it all together with “cold connections” (that’s jewelers’ lingo for running from fire).  I’d have to get over my fear of tools and get started.

I did.  And even better, I finished it!  I remembered to keep fire away from my recycled corrugated aluminum (aluminum comes from a dysfunctional family:  it’s happy to melt but it won’t fuse to itself) and my cold connections were a huge success.  The pin back was a complication, since the pin back of my PIN was something of an afterthought!

I was going for texture, interest, functionality (fame, fortune, etc.).  Yes, an Engineering degree would have helped, but c’mon, it’s not like it’s a bridge or anything.

Cut copper sheet
Cut brass sheet 
Recycled corrugated aluminum
Copper wire rivets 


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finding the Right Balance

Getting ready for the day can be daunting.  Not because it is daunting (I mean, it’s not as if we have to sleep standing up with one eye open scanning for hungry lions!), but because the world imposes so many constraints and there are so many ways to be free that we have to think hard about how far we dare go balancing full expression with necessary conformity.
Suppose for a minute, you’re an earring.  (Work with me, people!)  You want to dangle, you want to jiggle, you want to waggle.  But some people want you to BEHAVE!  You need a WIRE that does it all!   We all want to find the right wire, right?  A wire that will take us places, hold us tight and never let us go, yet is flexible and allows us to be who we are.  We want a wire that is the right measure between industrial and romantic, glam on the dance floor and proper at the office, not too long, not too soft, not too slack, not too… Wait, what are we talking about again?  Oh yes, earring wires. 
Now, since we are artistry in jewels and/or semi-precious metal, we shouldn’t settle for the wrong wire!  It’s not too much to expect, even demand, handsome and hypoallergenic!  And if you find one that compliments YOU perfectly? Jackpot.
Urban Bird's Nest Earrings

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

This may be most terrifying thing I will ever do:  thinking about forsaking employment and going out on my own.  Here we are, celebrating our national hotdog, I mean holiday, Independence Day and honestly, my own independence is inspiring this roller coaster between paralysis and pure elation.
And you know that teetering point between the crest and the immanent drop—that seemingly interminable moment of unadulterated dread.  I think about all of the money going out and nothing coming in and wonder, will I actually have an aptitude for metal work, will Gina & I be able to get along, spending so much time together... and then, what if all of that goes fine and nobody likes/wants/buys/collects/hoards my work?  So yes, there are some OMG!-am-I-doing-even-remotely-the-right-thing? moments.  Meltdowns, we call them around here.
So the challenge at the moment—one of the challenges—is finding humor in all of this and staying positive.  While I curse the fact that I haven’t yet quite altogether fully forsaken employment!

Anyway, look at the mess we made!

All of that for this?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thank You, New York

A loud, boisterous thank you to the NY state legislators, who had the courage to make a strong statement last week about right, wrong and discrimination.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Productive ?

Productive ^%$(^(*&*&%&()*)(??#@$@!!@$&(?

What the hell does it mean anyway? Does it mean that you got something done or that you did something? I can't figure it out. So here it is, the end of the weekend, let's recap:
  • had a panic attack requiring a 10 minute cold shower after reading new city wide water conservation requirements
  • Gina put the new sink in the studio, just in time to save water
  • sorted through teeny, tiny watch components
  • thought about: necklace, earrings, mopping the floor 
  • bought a window shade & a jigsaw - implusively
  • took naps both days
  • began blog
  • upon finding no more clean underwear, risked prison & did laundry
  • walked the dog
  • hummingbird pin...........................OOO, we did complete a pin
  • did i shower?
ok, moderately productive weekend....