25 April 2009

Variations On Themes

When I develope a new design, I usually make several variations of it, as I explore using different colors and shapes in the design. Yesterday, as I experimented with this earwire design, I decided to remake an old pair of well-loved earrings. (Lately, I have been looking through all of my old earrings, which I made when I first started wire wrapping, and remaking them with my much improved skills.)

Years ago, when I lived in Eugene, I would often come across a box of stuff someone left on the curbside for free. In one of these free boxes, I found a plastic tub with random earring parts. In it was one of a pair of amber earrings with leaf-shaped amber drops, missing one of the drops, with only the broken wire remaining. There were two pieces of amber left, so I rewrapped them with silver wire and wore them for a number of years as simple leverback earrings. These amber drops are now paired with varying shades of tundra sapphire faceted rondels wrapped onto the earwires. They are so much more dramatic now!

The first pair of these earwires I made were used on a set of variations of pearl blossom earrings. I liked how the wires turned out, and desided to try them in several different variations. I used more of the keshi pearls which inspired the pearl blossom earrings, this time as falling petals. I love when the apple and pear trees' flowers are ending, and the petals fall off like snow!

The other design which I have been making variations of lately is this pearl blossom design. They were inspired by the beautiful string of freshwater keishi pearls I recently bought. As soon as I saw them, I thought of flower petals! Here are the pairs of earrings I have made so far. I am working on a tutorial for this design, which should be out later this spring. I used faceted amethyst for the stamens on the first pair. I liked the design so much, I had to make a pair for myself, and used tiny faceted spinels for the stamens on mine.

I used smaller fresh water keishi pearls for the petals on the third pair, making the flowers smaller, and I wrapped tiny peridot round beads onth the petal frames. The stamens on the mini flowers are topped with tiny round garnet beads, and they look more like plum blossoms to me.

The backs of the flower petals for this design was inspired by an ancient pair of Croatian filigree earrings I found in the book, Croatian National Jewelry, which a friend gave to me as a gift a few years ago. (I am half Croatian on my mother's side of the family.) The original earrings were quite elaborate, and the design I adapted was from just the top of the earrings. I love the swirling spirals!

I have some other completely different designs I am working on, too, but I'll save them for next time, when I can show you pictures.

Until then, celebrate every day of your life!
all the best,

09 April 2009

Steampunk Cleopatra

"This will bring you luck", the stranger said.

She put on the strange, scarab necklace, and felt a slight shiver, but it passed too quickly to notice.

It soon became her favorite necklace, and after wearing it for a while, she noticed a curious thing. It started when she was sitting in a coffee house, fiddling with the necklace, when she saw a person she really wished to avoid talking to enter the shop and wave to her.

"Oh, no!", she thought.

She glanced at the scarab and saw the tiny gears start to move. Suddenly, the unwished-for person turned abruptly and left the shop without saying a word to her. Then the gears stopped again. How strange!

"That was lucky!', she thought to herself.

Soon, she noticed other times when the gears in the scarab would move, and then good things would happen. She wished she could ask the stranger who gave it to her about it, but who knew if she would ever see him again.....

I imagined this piece as a sort of temporal vortex device. The filigree wings, wrapped with fine silver wire (very conductive!) act as antenae, The gemstone crystals align the correct frequencies, and the gear work moves events in a positive path for the wearer.

I have always been a sci-fi geek, and the Steampunk genre appeals to my inner nerd. According to Wikipedia: Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine); these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other). Apart from time period and level of technological development, the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that steampunk settings usually tend to be less obviously dystopian than cyberpunk, or lack dystopian elements entirely.

Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual craftpersons into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

One of my favorite steampunk/cyberpunk novels is The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.

This is my first steampunk piece, one of many to come. The theme of this series is Tempus Fugit - time flies. The necklace is a stylized scarab with wire wrapped filigree wings. Tiny gears and jewels range along the bottom of the wings, and the Swiss clockwork body makes the body of the scarab. The wing span is 3 inches, and it is wrapped with over 14 feet of fine silver wire.

I was hesitant to post this piece in my shop, as I love it so much, I want to keep it for myself, but musn't be greedy! Besides, I know I will be making more of these!

thanks for looking!

07 April 2009

Flowers and Filigree

The snow is rapidly disappearing, and I've even seen a few crocuses popping their purple heads up. Though I will honestly miss the winter snow (I love to ski!), I am looking forward to flowers and mountain bike rides. So, when I stopped in the Bead Shop the other day and saw these gorgeous, petal-shaped, freshwater pearls, I knew I would have to make blossom earrings out of them. I had been looking in my book, Croatian National Jewelry, for inspiration, and found it in a pair of filigree earrings from Croatian Baranja. Each blossom is made up of over 7 feet of wire, and measures just over an inch in length (not including the leverbacks). They came together quite nicely, and are light as a flower to wear! I like them so much, I'm starting another pair (I'll have to make a pair to keep!), and, at the suggestion of a fellow wire worker, will be making a tutorial for them, too. (Thank you, Sheridan!) I see flower garland necklaces, rings, and crowns in the future, too!

My other jewelry pursuits have been on a different track, lately. I have always liked steampunk jewelry, and have decided to try my hand at making my own, wire wrapped style. I am a big-time nerd, and have always loved sci-fi, comic books, graphic novels, etc. As a child, I studied insects and languages for fun, you get the idea... The thing that gave me the final nudge to give steampunk design a whirl was a group of old watch faces for sale in an Etsy store called SteampunkSupply. I love to look at the cool things in this shop, and dream. As soon as I saw the watch face set, I knew what I would make with each one! I ended up buying one of their large steampunk grab bags to get me started, instead (though I may have to go back and buy the set that drew me in in the first place...), and the ideas started pouring out into my notebook. I wanted to start making them right away, but I have to wait for the grab bag to arrive. I did make up the frame for the first one. I keep going back to the picture and studying each piece, planning where I will use it. Soon enough, you will see what I come up with!

Thanks for stopping in! 'Til next time,

04 April 2009

Spring Break

My daughter, Grace, came out to visit for her Spring break last week, so I was busy spending time with her, instead of writing for my blog. We had a wonderful visit together, and both had our projects that we worked on to mark the time. Grace loves to knit, and decided to make a scarf for one of her school friends. Here is a picture of Grace modeling the finished scarf.

I did a little crocheting, before turning back to my wire work. Grace had asked me if I could make her a wire wrapped band that she could wear on her thumb. Just as Carlos was leaving for work one day, I had a sudden inspiration of how to wrap the band, and sat in one chair in the livingroom working on the idea before it slipped away, while Grace sat knitting in the other chair. The band turned out just as she wanted, and she immediately put it on. I wanted to study the pattern more, and since she wouldn't take off her new ring, I made another one. I still haven't quite got the finishing of the band design the way I would like it, but I knew I could use the pattern to make a cool ring with stones, so that was my next project. I had a beautiful 2.22 ct. yellow sapphire briolette that would look perfect as a center stone for a ring, and I added two reddish tundra sapphire rondels set in a swirl of wrapped wires.

Grace's local friend, Camille, spent several days and nights here with Grace, and I did a study of a neat pair of pressed metal earrings she was wearing one day, which I adapted into a wire filigree design for a necklace. I worked on the necklace on and off for a few days, and finished wrapping it today. I still plan on oxidizing the wrapped centerpiece, but I took a few pictures of it as it is, so I could share it here with you.

As I was working on this piece, I had an inspiration for my next series of pieces. The series will be called Tempus Fugit, and will be a line of steampunk, wire wrapped jewelry.

'Til next time, thanks for stopping in!
all the best,