Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Larger Mixed Metal Jewels

Although currently we are in a time of making more smaller jewels, in the past we have made some fairly large pieces.
The two necklaces on the right were 6 to 7 1/2 inches long.
The taste of jewelry buyers changes and goes in cycles.
Currently we are in a cycle of smaller pieces being the ones
that sell the best so we are in a cycle of exploring making
smaller pieces that please us and our customers. Not that
large pieces would never sell but not with frequency. The
top two necklaces to the right were collaborative pieces
that we both worked on together although Carlie did the
majority of the construction on both. Jima polished some
of the stones and did the top pieces on them and the bead
forms on the chain. Both are constructed using silver, copper & 14k gold. The top piece has fresh water pearls, a piece of
scenic jaspar and an Orissa garnet. The bottom one has a
black onyx, a piece of holly blue agate from Oregon and a
an agate tear drop.

In earlier times we made even larger pieces, especially Jima who sometimes got carried away, making things like 5 inch in diameter medallions with 8 inches of dangling metal pieces
and earrings that brushed the wearers shoulders when the
head was turned and rings that came inches back over the
wearer's hand.

To the left is another collaborative piece, Jima made the medallion and Carlie incorporated it into her necklace. This was one of a series of necklaces that started with Carlie making some with interesting antique buttons where the medallion shape is in this one. It was a very interesting series.
Another collaborative piece although most of the work is Carlie's. This was made for a customer/friend in Chico, California, an area where we have done art shows for over 40 years. The multi stone piece in the bracelet has the birthstones of our friend's children. Jima polished one of the stones and did the sun piece.
We haven't been doing much collaborative work recently but will again. We collaborative at the idea level constantly, throwing ideas and techniques back and forth between our side by side workbenches.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Mixed Metal Mandalas

I've been making mandala forms in jewelry for a long time, probably over 45 years. And before that I drew and painted them starting in high school on the edge of notebook paper in classes I found boring. That was in the late 1950's. At one point I got into creating bigger ones, the biggest being on the side of a building in which I had some of my jewelry for sale in Ventura, California in 1970. It was about 8 feet in diameter and painted with house paint. I wish I had taken a picture of it but I wasn't into photography at that time and I don't think I even had a camera. I still make metal ones now and draw one occasionally. Recently I've been playing with doing collage work in mandala form with images harvested from books and magazines and sometimes with drawn elements.

Much of the jewelry I make is part of a series that develops and changes as the series progresses. Sometimes there are dozens of pieces in a series and in a few instances hundreds. Each series is like a group of cousins, each a little different. The timeline for a series can stretch into many years, I normally only make one at a time and when that one finds a home make the next. The game being that the new one has to be different but related. Different size, different combinations of metals and stones, different textures and so forth.

The first and third pictures to the left are of a flower mandala series that I started about 3 years ago and have made 6 of I think. They start with the top smooth and polished silver piece, then a different silver underlay that is either oxidized black or etched or textured. The copper dots around the edge are the rivets that hold the two silver pieces together. the flower shape is copper and the disc in the center is 14k gold. The bail at the top swivels and has a gold disc on the front.

The other two pieces pictured are mixed metal mandalas but distant cousins. The top is brass over copper that has been roller printed then heat colored in some areas and mechanically etched in others. The copper domes are the tops of rivets. It's set with a piece of paua shell, a specie of abalone that live in New Zealand. The bottom one is silver over heat colored and etched copper set with a peach colored moonstone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Asymmetrical Mixed Metal Earrings

We started making asymmetrical earrings a few years ago and have gotten a great response to them, each pair selling fairly rapidly. Each earring of a pair is different but they have a relationship and there is a balance. We plan to continue to develop this series of creations. Part of what keeps us interested in making jewelry after doing it for 50 years is being able to play and try new ideas. It's good for business too since a very high percentage of our sales are to customers who have bought other jewels from us, often for many years.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mixed metal cold connected beads

 Shortly after I moved to the Mendocino Coast I started making these bead form pendants. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where the beginning ideas came from but I do remember that my wife Carlie was making some soldered beadlike pendant forms that I liked, that was probably part of the original inspiration. We pass ideas and thoughts back and forth between our jewelry benches, we have been working side by side for about 40 years or so. Somehow I started making these discs and domes out of sheet metal and texturing, notching and doming them. After all of the parts are made and polished, textured and colored, I put a piece of annealed 3/16 inch tubing through the holes each has at it's center and then hammer and flare the ends until the entire assembly is frozen in place. The first beads
 I made were much simpler than these, just two domes on the sides and a disc in the center, but I became fascinated with them and the process. When I first started I became somewhat obsessed and for 6 weeks or so didn't make any other jewelry forms. I carried a chain around with me that had 6 to 8 beads on it and would stop and show it to anyone who look. I worried at first that I would run out of ideas but have found that not to be true. I'm still making some 20 years later (although not as many) and new ways of doing them still occur. I have also incorporated them
into bracelets, rings, pendants, pins and earrings.
I've made hundreds of them now and have some collectors that have as many as a dozen of them. When I was teaching at the Mendocino Art Center I taught mixed metal bead making classes several times and always really enjoyed watching someone get really excited when they made their first bead. One of the things I liked about teaching was what I learned from watching others use their own unique thoughts and design skills to make jewels. I often learned really useful things from absolute beginners who didn't have preconceived notions of how things could or should be done and would try anything.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Have a Mixed Metal Heart

Jima started making jewelry around 1969, Carlie a few years later, but it wasn't until about 2005 that either of us created a heart jewel. We didn't think about it and reject the idea, it just didn't come up. And then we got into a show at the San Jose Convention center in 2005 that happened on Valentine's weekend, we had never before done a fair in February. And, of course, the thought occurred to us that it was Valentine's and that meant hearts and we should make some and we did. Each of us made several for the fair and we rapidly found out two things. Hearts jewels sell well at all times of the year and we discovered that the range of possible designs using that basic motif was pretty much unlimited and that made it very much fun for us since we like to play and do lots of different designs in mixed metals. Hearts became an integral part of our jewel inventory from that time on and still are. As I look back through my picture files I'll add a continuing selection of some of the designs we've created over the years (and still are).

Friday, April 14, 2017

Word Necklaces

I had been thinking for several years about doing a necklace with a word or words on it but couldn't decide what word to do the first time I made one back in 2015. I had a long list but just couldn't decide so on a whim I just chose "words", while having the thought that probably no on would be interested in buying it. To my surprise it sold very fast to a woman as a present for her daughter who was an English major and blossoming writer. She was very excited to find it. 7 or 8 months later, in 2016, I made the "flow" necklace. That's always been a word that has a positive and interesting feeling for me. It too sold very soon to another woman excited to have that word to wear. My list of potential words has grown quite long, I've even solicited input from customers and friends but I'm having difficulty deciding what the next one will be. I could repeat "words" & "flow" since they sold, but somehow that doesn't seem appropriate, I need to do a new word. I want to do a new one before our next show, at Los Altos, south of San Francisco. The word that is currently dancing in my mind is "Dance". We'll see if that manifests itself in metal.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

More Mixed Metals

The pendant on the left is one of a series of layered hearts, each a little different. Different
sizes, different textures, different metal combinations, different stones. That's the way we like
to work mostly, in a progressive series that changes with each addition and unique one of
 a kind pieces. There are only a few very successfully selling designs that we repeat with
minimal variations. This kind of approach keeps us interested in our work and also gives
us new designs for the group of people that have bought our work before and accounts for
80 to 90 percent of our sales at our few remaining art shows. The layered heart is made of
silver, copper, brass & gold with a Chinese fresh water pearl. The textures are roller printed
with pattern plates that Jima makes. The layers of sheet metal are joined with rivets.
Carlie's earrings on the right are also silver, copper and gold, set with dangling Orissa garnets
from India. This is a one of a kind design from a couple of years ago and Jima keeps trying
to encourage her to continue the series.