Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The question of reworking existing designs

No matter the reason, whether an old design leaves something to be desired or it is good enough to inspire further ideas, it's cool to rework older designs. Just so happens the Texas Star earrings (right) were recently the target of such reconstruction. My ears are currently adorned with them since I love the smaller dime-size and bouncy sparkle, but resistance was futile as a new idea pushed its way in, simple as it was.

Called Texas Star Banded earrings. the irregular surface of the band reminds me of rough stone, limestone in fact, of the Hill Country. That and the star make for a real Texas flavor piece of jewelry. The Texas star inside a circle is a classic design that nowadays is seen everywhere--people love putting these stars on their homes like they do with icicle lights come Christmas. I find both the stars and the lights attractive, and classics, too! I also took the originals in another direction, carbon copies but now the size of a quarter. I hope you enjoy all these newfangled regurgitations!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Just Dropping In

I had insomnia (again) which resulted in some very early morning jewelry work. I have been buried with lots of other things to the detriment of exorcising jewelry projects but am exerting myself to make up for it, which has resulted in some long-awaited revamping of a couple of pieces. The first photo shows, among others, a larger "Heartbeat" drop that is now nickel-sized compared to its original 3/8" diameter. Other changes are to the Texas Star earrings, seen in the second photo. The smallest pair is the original design (just under dime-sized); for another avenue of interest I added a band around the outside, and for the last pair the original is blown up to about an inch. The new windmill and swirl pieces will be part of a new piece (not telling here!), and I keep making Texas for one of our best sellers, the Alone Star State necklace.

The fired pieces in the photo above have a satiny sheen because they have been brass brushed right after firing. When silver clay is fired, the particles are not properly aligned to create a smooth and shiny surface. Pieces in unbrushed state can be tumbled or burnished, but with brushing the process speeds up considerably, and with a better result in my opinion.

This second photo shows unfired pieces ready to be put in the kiln. They are "green"-- dry but unfired. The large domes have been placed on piles of plaster as a safeguard against flattening. I have always used art plaster for this purpose but there are other materials that work, too. You can barely see the little sterling silver earwire findings in the 2 pair on the left, which I point out for discussion below.

I included the last photo just to show my trusty 5-year-old kiln; it is a Paragon SC2. I usually try to load the kiln with many pieces, up to 2 layers, but these were the ones with sterling earwire findings embedded in them and they have to be fired at a temperature lower than 1470F, the melting point of silver. I torched and pickled the findings to bring a layer of fine silver to the surfaces, which protects the silver and allows it to be fired into the clay. Otherwise it can break afterward, and this happened to me before I learned to depletion gild--and the sterling broke after a couple of years! So it may look fine, but that isn't something to trust.

Keep checking the site for new jewelry! We work on productivity during the spring and summer to gear up for fall shows.