Archives for October 2014

Texture on Metal

Textured Metal

I was reminded recently that sometimes a simple texture on metal is all you need to achieve an elegant statement.  There are lots of ways to texture metal.  But one way I really like is a simple hammering with the peen end of a ball peen hammer.  You can purchase hammers with all sorts of textures on the head.  I even learned to make my own texture on a hammer.

I am showing you today a pair of earrings with a hammered texture.  A classic shape.  Perfect for day into evening.

This pair is brass with sterling silver tube rivets and sterling French wires

I’ve listed them in my shop.  A perfect handmade holiday gift.

textured earrings


Textures on other mediums

This simple texture repeats itself across several mediums.  The texture on this armoire reminds me of a hammered texture; yet it is carved.

texture on wood

And even on glass we have a process known as batutto.

texture batutto glassLook at this wonderful texture on ceramic.

texture on ceramics

Painters use texture

texture in painting

And fine art photographers find texture in their subjects.

texture in photography

In the visual arts, texture is the perceived surface quality of a work of art. It is an element of two-dimensional and three-dimensional designs and is distinguished by its perceived visual and physical properties. Use of texture, along with other elements of design, can convey a variety of messages and emotions.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Bi-metal Project Finished

Bi-metal necklace

 Bi-Metal Project Finished

So I finished the project.  I added a patina that made the copper look aged.  I used 6 of my lampworked beads interspersed with bronze chain.  One of the glass beads is the clasp right in front on the bi-metal focal.   Read about the process here.

creating the desert in glass and metal


Bi-Metal – Studio Saturday

What am I up to in the studio?

Mixing metals is a popular trend for jewelry now.  I like to combine silver and copper in a lot of my jewelry designs.  My chain maille for instance uses both copper and silver jump rings. I like to mix up metals in my cold connections; I also solder copper onto silver, and I apply gold to silver in a process called keum-boo.


Mokume-gane takes mixing metals to a whole new level.  It is a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns and translates closely to “wood grain metal”.  Successful lamination using the traditional process requires a highly skilled smith with a great deal of experience. Bonding in the traditional process is achieved when some or all of the alloys in the stack are heated to the point of becoming partially molten.  This liquid alloy is what fuses the layers together. Careful heat control and skillful forging are required for this process.

mokume gane

I have not used a mokume-gane in my designs, but I have used bi-metals.  That is when just two metals have been bonded together in distinct layers.  Gold and silver is a popular bi-metal, as well as copper and silver.  So when I learned that there was a class being taught here in Tucson to learn how to make my own bi-metal, I jumped at the opportunity.

The class was taught by Carol Webb.  Carol has been a studio jewelry for over 30 years.  And she came to Tucson to teach her technique of fusing copper and silver and then creating a 3-D etching on the bi-metal.  The finished product appears elegantly simple, but the process is anything but simple.  Copper and either fine or sterling silver are eutectically bonded.   The designs are then photo-etched; and the metal is formed, soldered, and made into a design, and a patina is applied to darken the copper but preserve the color of the silver.  The class was 3 days and Carol attempted to share all 30 years of her experiences.

Now I have the piece of bi-metal home and I want to make a piece of jewelry.


Creating a piece of jewelry

I decided that I wanted to make a necklace and have a piece of this bi-metal as a focal along with some of my lampworked beads.  First I sketched a design.

Then I sawed a shape from the bi-metal piece made in class.  I need to decide how to orient the shape.  I’m thinking the one in the lower right.

bi-metal shape


I made some lampworked beads last week.  The base glass is “light” violet, but it looks pretty dark to me.  It is a transparent glass so the light shines through nicely.  The surface designs were made with a silvered ivory.  I wanted the designs to be scrolls to pick up the lines in the bi-metal.  But now I’m thinking it’s too busy. Maybe will make new beads….

lampwork beads


And I have to decide how I want to put it all together…..   If I use the focal as a square my idea is to use cold connections.  If I use the focal as the triangle I will need to solder on a finding – maybe.  Decisions Decisions.  Plus I have to put the patina on the bi-metal.  Stay tuned for the finished piece.

creating the desert in glass and metal


Labyrinth – inspiration in a maze

 A labyrinth is a complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult to find one’s way; a maze.

Another source of inspiration from the desert…..

A beautiful basket with a simple drawing

it’s a journey

the journey of life


labyrinth basket

Man in the Maze

The Man in the Maze is a type of unicursal labyrinth, represented in the basket making and silversmithing of the American Southwest, especially among the Tohono O’Odham nation, characterized by seven concentric circles.
So what does it mean?    The “Man In The Maze” is believed to be a visual representation of the Tohono O’odham Indians belief in life, death and the life after death. The man at the top of the maze depicts birth. By following the pattern, beginning at the top, the figure enters the maze encountering many turns and changes, as in life. As the journey continues, one aquires knowledge, strength and understanding. Nearing the end of the maze, one retreats to a small corner of the pattern before reaching the dark center of death and eternal life. Here one repents, cleanses and reflects back on all the wisdom gained. Finally, pure and in harmony with the world, death and eternal life are accepted.
Wow – I love the simplicity of this basket for such a complex concept –   the journey of life.
And I wanted to incorporate this symbolism into some of my jewelry.
This ring is the first piece.
I added just a hint of gold in a process called keum-boo.
The ring has a deep black patina.
labyrinth ring
creating the desert in glass and metal

New from the studio

New work from the studio

New Work from the studio

The Painted Desert Bracelet – each one a journey of desert colors and textures.  What’s fun about these bracelets is the copper tubing with a bead that has a large hole. As you wear the bracelet that bead can slide back and forth and that movement just makes me happy.

This particular bracelet has two of my lampworked beads from the “opal’ series.  Perfect for October, as opal is the birthstone for October and the astrological sign Libra.  And  that’s me…. born in October and a true Libra.  The toggle is old world bronze – purchased at a wonderful bead store in Scottsdale, AZ – the Scottsdale Bead Supply.  The pearls have been in my stash for awhile – organic sticks drilled at the top in the most glorious shade of burgundy with flashes of peacock and purple.  Finished with some copper beads, Swarovski crystals, and Swarovski rhinestone rondelle beads.

Just put three of them in my Big Cartel Shop.

new work

creating the desert in glass and metal

Caring for your Jewelry … and more

Caring for you jewelry

Free e-book

I’ve written a short e-book on Caring for your jewelry… and more.  click the photo to sign up for my e-newsletter and you will receive a copy of the e-book in pdf format to download.


Andamooka OpalOpal – Birthstone of October

The gemstone opal is the official October birthstone adopted by the American Association of Jewelers in 1912.  It is also the birthstone for the zodiac sign Libra.  Opal is believed to aid inner beauty, faithfulness and eyesight.

Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica containing about 10% water.  The internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed, it can take on many colors. Precious opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black.
The picture above is Queen Elizabeth’s  Andamooka opal.  It weighs 203 carats and was presented to the Queen in 1954 by Australia.

So, scientifically speaking, opals are:

“Tightly packed, regular rows of amorphous silicates (Hydrated Silica (SiOH2o)) that are 5 to 10% water, cut and polished to reflect diffracted light back to the eye.”

Boulder Opal

“Boulder opal” is a term used for a rough or a cut gemstone that displays opal within its surrounding rock matrix. Opal often forms within voids or fractures in its host rock and specimens of boulder opal reveal this aspect of opal’s origin. The contrast of color can be striking when a bright flash of opal is seen within a the surrounding rock material. Many people enjoy the natural appearance of boulder opal and find these gemstones to be beautiful, interesting and educational.

Glass Mimics Opals

Of course there are man made “opals” – from glass.  Dragon’s Breath “opal” has been around for years and was used in costume jewelry.  It’s glass that was made to mimic Mexican Fire opal and has flashes of blue and purple.

Dragons breath opal


There is also “opal moonstone”  or sometimes called opalite.  But this is glass too.



And lampworkers love to make “opals”.

Here are some beads from my “opal series.  love the chatoyancy

lampwork beads opal series



Just finished some bracelets using these beads…..  stay tuned

creating the desert in glass and metal