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.