Friday, December 14, 2012

Mixed Metal Jewelry in Chico

It's Friday night and we just got our booth set up at the Bah! Humbug Festival of Crafts. We will be open for business on Saturday morning, the 15th at 10am.
I'm tired after driving from the coast and setting up the booth but I just put together this collage of some of the new work that we will have at the fair that hasn't been shown before. We had 10 days to work before coming and it was a productive and fun time for us in the studio. This, of course, is the last selling that we will do this year and we are excited to have 3 or 4 months to play and be creative after the first of the year, depending on the shows that we get into next year. We are looking forward to seeing all of our Chico friends and customers in the next 10 days and taking turns wandering around Chico, having lunch with friends, and visiting Chico and Oroville thrift stores to harvest books for my next book sale in Caspar on the day before my 70th birthday, January 27th.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mixed Metal Jewelry at the Davis Art Center

We've been very productive in the time since our big Sacramento fair at the Convention Center at the beginning of November. Most of the work in these two collages is newly created since then.We have a few more days to work this week and will be finishing additional pieces. We're having a good time in the studio.

We did well at the Sacramento Arts Festival, Friday, the first day of the fair was our best single day at the festival in our 14 years of showing there, with most of our sales to people who have bought our work before who came at the beginning of the fair to get the best selection. Saturday and Sunday were not as good but overall it was our 2nd best year, 2011 being the best. I'm not surprised, since my records show that fairs that we do that take place just before a presidential election are always a little less successful than the previous year and the following year. this is very consistent. So, we're looking forward to a great year at the convention center in 2013.
We're also looking forward to our 4th year at the Davis Art Center even though it looks as is there is a good chance that it will be a rainy weekend. It will be warm and snug inside, we just might get a little wet when we are unloading our display on Friday and at close up time on Sunday. That's happened before and we'll take our rain hats and tarps.

At this time of year we start thiinking about what directions our jewelry designs will take next year, what new ideas, new designs, new materials, new techniques will keep our interest and be fun as well as lead to interesting new jewels to present to the large group of clients and collectores who already have a significant amount of our work. One thing that we both want to focus on
is starting to use more of the gemstones that we've been collecting and stashing away for over 40 years. We'd like to find homes for them so that others can enjoy them. It will be interesting to see what other new directions happen. The period of time between Christmas and springtime when we start doing show again is often the most creative time of our jewelry work year.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mixed Metal Jewels at the Sacramento Arts Festival

We've just finished selling our work at the Sacramento Arts Festival at the convention center downtown. To the left is a collage of work that we had at the show, all new work.  We did well and enjoyed talking to a lot of our area customers. We had the 2nd best show for sales in the 14 years we've participated, with most of our business coming from people who have bought jewelry from us before. We are pretty happy about this. We enjoy this show, the arts and crafts are very high quality and we know many of the participants from our many years of doing shows in the Sacramento area. The fair next year will also be on the first weekend in November.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Work for the Kings Mountain Fair

I haven't posted for a while because I've been so busy making new jewels getting ready for the Kings Mountain Fair which starts tomorrow. Here is a fast lay out of a few of the new pieces that we will have at the fair this weekend. I just took pictures of all our new work last night and I'm in a motel in Belmont at the moment posting this to the blog. It was a very productive month for us in the studio. We are looking forward to a good show, it has been consistently successful for us for many, many years. We have a great number of long time regular customers who come to see us when we are in this part of the bay area. I'm hoping that it warms up over the next few days, it was chilly and wet up on the hills in the redwoods along Skyline Drive when we were setting up our display today. I'll try to post some more pictures of new work soon.

When I get home after this fair I'm intending to create a post detailing how I make the mixed metal beads that I've been infatuated with for almost 15 years now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

 We're in Salem, Oregon at the moment and will set up our booth at the Salem Art Fair and Festival in the morning. The fair starts at 10am on Friday morning. Weather is looking pretty good, a very slight chance of a few sprinkles on Friday but sunny and 80 to 85 degrees on Saturday and Sunday. We have a very good selection of jewels for this show, that's one of the good things about doing fewer shows, having time to make jewels.
Above are just a few of the new things that Carlie made in this last work period from mid May to now. We've both been working on a lot of pieces that include our mixed metal beads.
To the right, a few of the jewels that I've finished recently. We both had a good time in the studio, especially in the last two or three weeks. We had a very good show at the Mendocino Art Center last weekend, one of only two local showings of our work this year. We are looking forward to spending a few days working our way home down the beautiful Oregon coast after the Salem show.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roller Printing

 A lot of the textured metal surfaces that we incorporate into our jewelry designs are created through a process called roller printing. One type of texture is made using pattern plates that I create using sheets of a copper alloy called nickel silver that is a little harder than either copper or silver. Using steel punches and stamps, many of which I make, I stamp designs on pieces  of the nickel silver, one hit at a time. This part of the process sometimes takes a long time.
 I can only do so much stamping at a time because my hands and wrists get tired. So a finished pattern plate sometimes takes as long as a couple of weeks to complete. After the plate is completed I use the tool in the picture to the left called a rolling mill to impress the pattern on sheets of copper, silver, brass and gold. The rolling mill reminds me of old wringer washing machines from many years ago except the rollers are of hardened steel and can be tightened down
 to create pressure. You can thin out sheets of copper or silver with it also, I've sometimes taken copper 1/4 inch thick and rolled it down to almost paper thin. To impress a pattern on a piece of copper I create a layered sandwich like the one pictured above with the pattern plate on the bottom, the metal to be embossed in the middle and a thin sheet of cardboard on top.

 I've found by experimenting that the cardboard pushes the metal more completely up into the pattern plate so that the texture is deeper and more distinct. The pictures to the left shows me rolling the sandwich and then the result after imprinting.

 To the far left here are a pattern plate and a piece of copper that has been imprinted with that design. To the right of that image are a few examples of printed copper sheets from different pattern plates. At this point I've probably created nearly 40 of these kinds of plates. They thin out a little each time that I use them but I can use each of them dozens of times.
Here are few expamples of how Carlie and I use these patterned sheets in our work. I'm working on a couple of new pattern plates at the moment and have ideas for a few more that I'll work on as the year progresses. I'm also getting ready to play with making some new stamps out of tool steel that will lead to new patterns. It's a never ending cycle of play. As well as using the plates I create, other textures can be made by rolling metal with window screen, lace, burlap, sandpaper, feathers, various other found objects and also patterns cut out of manilla folder with an exacto knife. When I first started playing with the roller printing process I got fairly obsessed with trying everything that I could think of and had a great time experimenting. Some of those experiments turned into jewels that some of you now wear.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Busy Time

I've meant to post to this blog before now but my life has been very busy as it sometimes gets. We've just finished two consecutive weekends of art shows and one of my book sales this last weekend at the Caspar Community Center. I'm happy to report that they all went well and were economically successful. We are shifting our scheduling of art fairs to give ourselves 6 to 8 weeks in between so that we have time to restock and also time to relax and do other things. We have almost 7 weeks before our next two fairs in July and I'm really liking this new rhythm. It takes my memory back a goodly number of years to when I was young and crazy and doing 35 plus shows a year, sometimes going to art fairs 10 weekends in a row and feeling tired, burned out and slightly insane. The thought floated into my mind that if I did fewer shows and had more time to work in between and had a better stock of jewels for each one that I did perhaps I might make as much money and my life would certainly be easier. Well. as it turned out, the next year I cut my show schedule down to 20 or 22 shows and ended up making significantly more money. Duh! Live and learn, hopefully. We are down to about 8 or 9 shows now and as we continue on our retirement curve we are having conversations about which shows they will be when we are down to 4. It will be a few years but it's coming. I'm looking forward to this next jewelry making phase before our next shows, I'll have time to be really productive but have the space to also be creative and playful and try new things. Exciting. I'll be posting pictures of new jewels as they get born.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Year's First Showing

These are all new jewels that haven't been shown before. I had intended to post to the blog sooner but I've been in the studio most of the time making and finishing pieces in preparation for our upcoming fairs, the first of this year. Usually we have done a couple of fairs before this, in Arizona and/or southern California but Whole Earth Festival will be this year's premiere  showing of our jewelry to the world. We hope the world likes them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A celebration of creatures

Most of our work is non-representational but I've become fond of creating creature based forms over the years and have done a number of them, these are some examples. They mostly take the form of pendants and Pin/pendants. I use a lot of copper in many of them because of it's heat coloring tendencies.

I've trying to come up with a new creature design currently but don't know what it will be. The other thing I've wanted to do for a while is a piece that is a musical instrument. I've started working on one and it looks as if it's going to be a cello hybrid of some sort. We'll see. Sometimes designs develop a mind and direction of their own.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Carlie's New Earrings

Carlie is accumulating quite a selection of new earrings, some of which are pictured here. Most of the new ones feature gemstones or pearls and are mixtures of silver and gold or silver, copper and gold. Some of the simpler designs are available set with other stones. Prices start at $155. To inquire about scale and exact price, email us at

Thinking about earrings makes me think of a time 40 plus years ago when I made my first solder constructed set that were asymmetrical. I displayed them at a fair and the first woman who asked about them sat looking at them for a couple of minutes and then said to me, " you know, they are supposed to be opposites, the one for my left ear should be the reverse of the one for the right". Well, I can't recall a time of feeling more stupid for having made them exactly the same, but I then made two opposites and ended up with two pair which both sold very shortly so it turned out OK.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Few New Jewel Objects

We are still working steadily in our little pygmy forest studio, getting ready for our two May shows and the show up in Salem, Oregon in July at which we have been accepted to participate. We are looking forward to that and also taking a week afterwards to wander home down the wonderful Oregon coast.

On the left are images of jewels we've recently finished. We've been working on some smaller heart pendant designs, the left two are close to nickel size and the one on the right is closer to quarter sized. The pendant at the upper right is called Spike, it's inspiration was a martial arts tattoo that I saw on the Internet, it's number three of a series. The earrings at the bottom right were a joint project although Carlie did most of the work, I made the lotus shape at the top. I traded them to her for ear wires that she makes for me to use on my earring designs. We pass parts back and forth between our work benches as well as ideas. If you have any interest in additional details of scale, materials and price of any of these jewel objects email us at

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Making Heart Jewelry

It's interesting to note that we both had made jewelry for well over 30 years before either of us had created a heart design. I'm not sure of the reason, it's not like I thought of it and then rejected it as a cliche, it's just that I don't ever remember thinking of it. Then about 8 or 9 years ago we scheduled an art show at the San Jose Convention Center on Valentine's day weekend and as we were thinking about the show we sort of both said at the same time, "Oh, Valentines's day, we should make some hearts. And we did, each of us made several. And what we found out was a couple of things, one was that people like to buy heart jewels, and the other was that it was fun and there seemed to be an endless range of designs to create using the heart motif. So, a great variety of hearts has become a part of our jewelry output and will likely continue to do so for some time, probably til the end of our jewlery making careers. Basically every heart we have made has found a home. And that is a lot hearts. The collage to the right is a small sampling that I created last week to send to two clients for whom I'm working on jewel designs. Let me know if you have any interest in hearts and I'll email you new designs as we create them. Right now we are making some of the smallest hearts we have made, nickel size or just a little bigger. Who knows where we'll go from there.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Work

Starting this week I'm going to start posting a collage of work we have just finished, this is number one of that series. I will create a page called weeks work soon and will put them there. These pieces are for sale, if you have an interest in any of them send us an email at and we'll send you more specifics, scale, price, materials, etc. We have been working steadily, we were hoping to be on our way to Arizona right now to do a show that we've done off & on for over 20 years but we didn't get in this year, something that happens every so often. It's a very competitive show with probably 1200 artists applying from all over the US for a few over 200 spaces. We're not bummed out but we'll miss spending a couple of weeks in the sunny desert. The upside is that we will have exceptional selections of jewels for our May shows in Davis and Los Altos. It won't make any difference in our year's income by year's end, we'll have more to sell at our other shows. We are interested in selling things off this blog and I'll be concentrating on figuring out exactly how to do that in upcoming months. This blog will give clients who only see us once a year a chance to see a lot of our work that they wouldn't get a glimpse of otherwise. To keep our cash flow flowing we'll be concentrating on completing special orders and I'll be pursuing my other money making modes with my monthly book sales and my computer tutoring.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recycling Silver in Our Work

 Recycling materials has been an integral part of our jewelry making endeavors for a long time.
For years I've sought and found copper and brass at flea markets and yard sales in the form of old plates, cups, bowls, trays etc and have cut them up and used them in our mixed metal jewels. Many years ago I used to find sterling silver ware and objects to use but when the price of silver started going up that became a rarity.

 In more recent times as the price of gold has continued to soar we've traded quite a bit at fairs for jewelry that is broken or no longer worn, chains, old class rings, dental gold and so forth. These trades have been mostly gold but as the price of silver has continued to rise we have also traded for old silver jewelry also. To the right are a series of images detailing how we use this scrap metal that we trade for. The top two pictures are scrap silver, the first jewelry items we've traded for and the 2nd scraps from the jewelry making process that we save.
 The next image shows me using my oxy-acetylene torch to melt some of this scrap in a depression I've routed out of a compressed charcoal block 
 Here is the still red hot molten blob of silver just after I've taken the flame away after being satisfied that the melting process is complet. 
 After quenching in water the blog turns silver colored again.
 Here is my tool called a rolling mill that is kind of like an old fashioned wringer on an old washing machine except the rollers are incredibly hard steel and can be tightened down. I start by rolling the above cooled blob of silver through the mill and continuing to tighten the rolling mill each time I do that so that the blob of silver gets progressively thinner and reaches the thickness that I want. I have to anneal the silver a couple of times by bringing it up to red hot in order to make it soft again or it will start cracking as it gets brittle from the stress of the rolling process.
 Here is the flattened sheet of sterling silver that I have rolled down to 18 gauge thickness.

 Here I am using a jewelers saw to cut out a double curved shape that I have scribed onto the sheet of silver using one of the templates I have created with dozens of sizes and variations of the double curved shape that we use in our designs.
 The sheet and the cutout shape.
 Two shapes, one with a new stamped design that I have just started creating. This is the 2nd time I've done this particular stamping.
 Here is the top of a hinged bracelet that has just had a shape soldered to it. At this point I will polish it and then add a 2nd shape and other design elements.
 Here is one of my new bracelets with two shapes that have a different stamped design and a gold dome between them. This is a hinged bracelet that clips on the side that I just put the final polish on a couple of days ago. This is the 2nd variation of this design. It is for sale for $335.
I also just finished this one, also the 2nd of this design variation featuring the 2 double curved shapes, two gold balls in the center and a wavy line of copper. It is for sale for $285.

This process of recycling the metal for use in our work is a labor intensive but personally satisfying process.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The ring is the thing, mixed metals

Mixed Metal Rings
This series of rings started about 30 years ago and is still going strong and continuing to change. It's rare that I go to a fair without at least a couple of new variations. This is one of my personal strategies for keeping myself interested and involved with my jewel work. I look at a finished ring and say to my self, " that's nice but how can I change & vary it, what else can I do to make it interesting and esthetically pleasing". Of course, every once in a while a design pops up which becomes a standard, I like it, it sells well and I duplicate the design. Because these rings use similar design elements, double curve shapes, curving lines, gold balls, domes, they seem to me to all be cousins, sharing genetic design genes, they're a family. The ones pictured have already found homes but in the next week or so I'll be creating a page on the blog that will feature ones that I'm making and finishing now which will be for sale. Most are silver, copper & gold mixtures but some are all gold and some are just silver and gold. Both men and women buy & wear rings from this series and I have created quite a few sets for couples.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Work for Sale

 We have been working in our little pygmy forest studio very diligently making new mixed metal jewels and getting ready for our annual selling foray into Arizona in March. We are starting to do the final finishing on pieces now so I'm going to be posting some of these to the blog in upcoming days. These pieces will be for sale until we head off towards the desert. Part of the time I've been contemplating the fact that I turned 69 years old a few days ago and am still having a hard time getting my mind completely around that. And so it goes.

The pendant at the top is one of Carlie's hinged pendants set with a piece of Mendocino abalone that I found, cut & polished and a cabochon of Afghani lapis lazuli at the bottom. At the top is a Chinese fresh water pearl. It is made of silver,
Mixed Metal Pendant
copper & 14k gold. It is 2 1/2 inches tall and 7/8 inch wide at the widest point. It is $335 which includes a sterling silver snake chain.

The bottom pendant that I made is silver, copper & gold set with an Orissa garnet from India. It is a little over an inch in diameter and will sell for $185 with a silver chain. If you have any interest or questions about any of the jewels we have posted to sell, send us an email and we can work out details.

I'll soon be going to the ocean to look for pieces of abalone shell that have been washed up by the recent storms we've had. I'll post some pictures of my findings.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where horizontal meets vertical, a cross

 About ten years ago when I was visiting my dad back in Texas, my step sister asked me if I ever made crosses. I had made a few years before in my first 5 years of being a jeweler but hadn't in several decades but her question stuck with me and when I returned to California I started playing with a cross design using shape elements that I used in other jewelry forms and also mixing metals. A series of crosses evolved and probably 30 variations later I made the cross at the far left of the group to the right. Back in October of last year, out of the blue

and never having made a cross before, Carlie suddenly started working on a half dozen cross designs most of which we sold at fairs before Christmas. When we started working again in January she continued designing and making crosses and her variations continued. All the other crosses in these two pictures are her designs. It was really great fun and also inspirational to me to watch her play. I imagine that I will make some more crosses in new variations sometime during this upcoming year. This is a typical process for us in our jewel work together, throwing ideas back and forth between our work benches and influencing and inspiring each others work. It's a fun game we play. The crosses without stones pictured here range in price from $135 to $155, the ones with stones range from $145 to $185. The price includes a sterling silver snake chain. I forgot to mention that the last time I visited Texas and saw my step sister, I gave her one of my crosses in thanks for her instigating a successful design series of jewels.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The ever changing Metal Mandala

I call these jewels mandalas, most are set with Chinese fresh water pearls in the center but sometimes I use agate, mother of pearl or gold domes. This metal series has been developing for 30 plus years, although the ones pictured here were all created during the last 10 or 12 years. Before and after I started making jewelry I was attracted to the mandala form and drew and painted in this mode including once a painted one ten feet in diameter on the side of a store in Ventura about 1970.
The metal ones are composed of multi metal layers, the top layer pierced with a thin jewelers saw blade in a variety of patterns and the back layer(s) textured by stamping or roller printing. When the back layer is copper, it is usually colored by heat oxidation with a torch. layers are joined together with rivets that I make out of wire. The design process starts by dividing a circle into equal segments, most commonly eight, but sometime 6, 5, 4 or 3 and then creating a design motif that repeats in each of the sections. I plan to divide a circle into 7 segments this year to see what kind of design that might lead to. These jewels can all be worn as either pins or pendants and although in this illustration they all look the same size, they actually vary in diameter from 1 1/4 inches to 2 1/2 plus inches. I normally only make one at a time and have rarely had more than one in my case at any given showing. These days I'm tending to make ones of smaller scale because the bigger ones are not selling.

Friday, January 13, 2012


It's been a while since I've set any faceted stones, but one of my very good customers brought a very beautiful pink sapphire back from a trip to Madagascar and asked me to make her a ring with it. At this phase of my very long jewelry career I choose to do very little custom work, choosing instead to let myself play at my bench and do what feels good to me but decided to take this one on. As I often do, I'm making models to get a sense of what the sapphire ring will be like. These are the first two models and they sold very fast at Christmas time, one with a Brazilian amethyst and one with a citrine. I'm working on a 3rd now and also the sapphire ring. I'll post pictures of them when they are finished. I'm actually going to create a series of faceted stone rings since I got such a good response and also because I have a stash of faceted stones that have been sitting boxes for years. Knowing me I'll probably even buy some new ones when I go to the San Mateo Gem Show this spring. I'll post pictures as I finish more rings. It's my intention this year to see if I can sell new work through this blog. Actually I've already sold a couple of things, some clients who moved to Atlanta, Georgia and haven't seen me for years found me through this blog and ordered a couple of things recently. 

I'm in the initial phases of creating another blog that will be a teaching blog to share the techniques I use to create my mixed metal jewels. I hope to have it up and running by the 1st of February.