Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Words may not break my bones...

... but stones might just break the bank.

I admit I have a stone addiction. I am fascinated by all sorts of gems, from smooth cabs to sparkly faceted and, specially, interesting phenomenal gems, which have rare "special effects". I learn as much as I can about gemology, with help from some very knowledgeable people from GemologyOnline and many dealers who have become friends over time.

Since I am an engineer, I love the physics and mathematics that go into precision cutting. In this technique, the cutter considers all aspects of a stone to cut it to the precise angles and patterns that maximize the effect. Many precision cutters develop their own patterns and some are very creative, like the Liquid Flower cut below.

Liquid Flower cut by Osiris Gems (smoky Quartz and Amethyst)
Concave cut tourmaline by Richard Homer
Fancy cut sphene by Gene Flenigan
Modified Trillion Rose Quartz by Peter Torraca

Gem carvers not only facet or polish a stone, but they also include three dimensional carvings, which change as the light moves. I searched for a long time until I found this Munsteiner amethyst and it is one of my pride and joys.
3.3ct Munsteiner Amethyst
And then there is a whole range of faceted stones - spinels, tourmalines, garnets, zircons, tanzanite, sunset quartz and a lot more. Here is a taste...

Inclusions are also interesting - small bits of "something" that get trapped inside the crystal as it is forming.  They  are very unique, reflecting the creation of that particular stone is forming, and visually impacting.

Fluorite crystal in quartz
Lepidocrite in quartz
"Pink Fire" covallite quartz (it flashes neon pink in sunlight)
Sunstone with copper schiller

These are tenebrescent hackmanites. If they are kept in the dark, they become a pale pink, blue or lavender. As they are exposed to sunlight, however, they slowly darken. This is completely reversible, so after a few hours in the dark, they are pale again.

And that is far from all... there are plenty more of all of these, as well as cabs and phenomenal stones, which will have to wait for a different post.

Yes, I am addicted and I have no plans to be cured any time soon. There are too many beautiful gems still out there!

This month the aspiring metalsmiths are bringing out their stones. For many, collecting stones has become an addiction. Come take a look at their favorites and what makes them so special.

Autumn Bradley -
Clarity @ Scrollwork Designs -
Stacy Low -
Chrissi Lynn Designs -
Sylvia Anderson -
Jessica @ Abella Blue -
Contemporary Jewelry by Beatriz Fortes -
Esmeralda -
Steph Stargell -
Pennee -
Silver Pearl Jewelry and Metalworks -
ArtistiKat -
Claire -

How we start creating

This morning, a fellow team member from Handmadeology shared how he started his line of Vintage Space Toy Art for his son's nursery. What a great concept for a nursery, by the way. It is a heart warming post and you should read it here. And he is having a 25% off sale as well in his shop.

Toy Robot poster by John Golden

I was also recently writing about how I started my art, so I will follow John's lead and repost my own story here (sorry for those who have already read it elsewhere).

I always loved jewelry. As a kid, I would drag my mother to see all the pretty pieces – no matter if it was a high end fine jewelry store or a handmade piece in a craft show. No mass produced, cheap costume jewelry, though – I was quite the young snob!
I also loved stones. Smooth cabs with interesting patterns, gemmy sugarloaves or faceted stones – all are beautiful to me.
One day it hit me. Why didn’t I make jewelry myself? It seems so obvious, but it was quite a revelation. I found a teacher, took classes and learned to saw, anneal, forge and solder. Then I learned more on my own. And I found some workshops. And so I learned my craft.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A surprise!

This morning, I came online and had a very nice surprise. Handmadeology published my profile and a very nice mosaic of some of my work on their site:

Handmadeology is a great blog for artisans and Etsy sellers. They have great articles explaining the intricacies of photographing your work, SEO, marketing and all other aspects of online selling, as well as artist profiles, tips and trends. Check it out!

This was really nice for me since I am terrible at marketing myself. I don't like to push myself or my work out and I end up very apologetic while doing it - which, of course, shows. Since I know that marketing is a big part of being successful online, I have been working hard at it. This is a very nice return on my effort.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My design process

I envy the people who have sketch books filled with drawings, doodles and inspiration pictures or objects. I love looking through them, seeing the evolution of a design and of the artist's aesthetic. I am sure it is a very helpful tool. But I can't do them.

Oh, I have tried. I have several scattered around the house, with half a dozen pieces sketched. But I can't keep one up. It is just not the way my mind works or that I design.
Right now, I am figuring out a variation on this design

I tend to think over a piece for days or weeks, tweeking it in my mind, moving it around, figuring out how to fabricate it and how to finish it. By the time I sit down, I have everything sorted out in my mind. If I try to this process with pencil and paper, it doesn't flow.

Perhaps it would work if I could actually draw anything decently.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Starting this blog

My friends urged me to start a blog. "But why? I have nothing to say". After the laughter calmed down and eyes stopped rolling, I was informed I had never heard myself talk about my metalsmithing, my books, my passion for history or any other of my interests.

But now I am sitting in front of the screen just wondering what to write. Yes, this blog started out with a serious case of writer's block. Specially since I want to impress all my (potential) readers with my wit and wisdom. I thought I would start out by presenting myself, my life and my work but I find I have nothing to say. I would rather show my thoughts slowly, so you can form your own impressions, instead of listing my self perceived attributes.

Having said that, welcome to my blog. I hope to share a little of myself with you and that you will find it interesting. I hope this is the beginning of a good relationship between us all.