Sunday, July 1, 2018

Picking Up Sticks: Aleatoric Design

"Aleatoricism is the incorporation of chance into the process of creation, especially the creation of art or media"  (Wikipedia). Aleatoric design technique is something I have used a lot over the years in my jewelry and painting.  I never knew there was a name for it, other than randomness, until Ted Lincoln told me about Aleatoric design.
 I had the occasion to make 4 of these Pick Up Sticks necklaces for a gallery, Beaufort River Glass  that carries some of my work and I thought it might be interesting to show the process.  The original idea came from a random arrangement of parts on my bench. I was making earrings and I liked the way several of the same part randomly arranged themselves on the bench.  It made an interesting design.  With a bit of re arranging and some engineering,  I came up with something that I could reproduce with some fidelity without changing the original idea too much and yet each one is different.
 The process may be fairly obvious.  I make the parts and solder them together. ( I always love instructions like that.  How to make jewelry: make parts and solder them together) I make the parts by forging out round wire and melting the end with the torch. I  make the final assembly in 2 layers and then solder the layers together.  However the parts are never the same length nor do they develop the same curve when hammering or melt to the same length so besides the chance in the design there is also some randomness in the parts. They end up being about 2 inches wide and 2 inches long.
 these are on my website here.

Parts of wire cut and shaped and starting to forge the ends

Using a slightly domed face hammer to forge out the ends of the wire.  I like the domed face in this case because of the dent it makes.  A more flat face would make a less noticeable dent so the whole piece would be smoother
Melting the ball on the end.  This is why all the shapes don't end up the same length.

Starting the assemblage of the parts to get the design arrangement.  At this point I start to solder them together

4 variations on the theme

 After soldering and several steps of grinding and sanding they come to the buffing wheel for the final high polish before assembling with black cotton cord or sterling chain.

Variation one. This is the basic design and the one I do the most. I can come prety closr to this each time I do them now
This is variation 2. There is still differences between each piece but I come close enough to these 3 every time. Each one is unique 
This is variation 3 . These are the 3 main variations that come out of this design. Which one is your favorite? all three are available here

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Double Flare Buckle Set

Special blog and newsletter price 250.00
Father's day surprise. I'm trying something new. This is a thought I've had for a while.  The idea that I could make something and sell it.  Doesn't sound too radical right?  Well the usual way this happens is quite different from that. In the past I would make things "on spec" and send them to galleries on consignment. It can take months or years for things to sell. Another direction is take the work to trade shows and hope to get orders from stores. Lots of expense and effort to get wholesale prices.  Then I did art fairs for many years (still do some) I have to make lots of work and take it on the road and hope the conditions are right to sell some small part of what I bring. Any artist can write a whole book of Art Show Stories. Now I'm more "on line" where the time and effort is shoved in a different direction.
It's time consuming to post things on etsy and my website. Multiple platforms and 2 different mediums means different audiences. There's pictures to take and edit and post, descriptions to create, seo tags to think up and research, ads and promotions to create and post. Then there is social media to announce and tell the world about the work. More pictures, words and posting. I have 3 web stores, 2 active blogs, 2 Instagram accounts, a Facebook profile and 2 face book pages, and a newsletter. So to cut back on all that time and effort, I'm going to try offering new work exclusively to my newsletter and blog readers. Again the idea is, if I can sell something quickly and not spend a ton of time and effort on marketing, it's worth it for me to offer the new work at an extremely attractive price. If this works it will inspire me to make new work every couple of weeks for the newsletter. I could be more productive and make more interesting work if I didn't have to spend so much time marketing.  I don't know where this will lead.  Maybe to more new work and multiple new things with each letter and maybe it wont work and everything goes back to full retail on web. On thing for  sure though, I'm going to need a bigger audience so if you know of anyone who might be interested in this idea please forward the letter to them 
sign up here
 So here it is and the story below

 I started out with the question "what can I do with this pile of Heavy Sterling?"
I had a long bar of silver about 1/8 thick and 1.25 inches wide so I cut off a piece  2 inches long.
Here I'm bending the side plate with the hammer
I had to anneal the metal to soften it with torch heat so I could form it and hammer texture it.
 The basic box has been soldered together and the bar is soldered to the back end. The top plate was hammer textured and slightly domed.  The side plates are now forged into shape to fit the arc of the top plate. Once soldered in place the top plate is ground to match the shape of the sides giving the buckle a flared design.
Keeper has also been forged into a curve using 2 hammer shapes . On the right I used a paper template to figure out how to bend the curved bar into a rectangle.

All the parts are soldered together and ready to start finishing. 
The side panels have been ground into a taper to fit the thickness of a belt 
 The back view shows the double flair on the ends and the compound curve of the side panels.
 The silver has been patinated and satin brushed to give a soft luster and show the texture.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

New pendants.

Starting on some new pieces 
Four vine and leaf spiral pendants . 
This has been a popular design even though I only made one.  Since Michelle started wearing it lots of people have commented on it. (That could be more due to the model that the jewelry, but I thought I'd give some other people a chance to have one also. The original was done with amethyst these four have other stones.  Here is a link to the etsy store
Peruvian Lapis



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Silver Farrier Workhorse Buckle

This is the first of the new work horse buckles I have done in sterling silver. The original was forged, but this one is from a mold made from the original.  It's getting the cross peen hammer texture. This is a nice hefty buckle about 2 inches long and 1.5 wide. I designed it for dress or jeans or dress jeans. It works well on 1 3/8 to 1 1/2 belts shown here on 1.5 rawhide.
The finished Farrier Workhorse buckle in sterling silver (available here)

This is the rough shape while doing the sanding. Silver buckles take considerably longer to finish because the surface must be sanded down with multiple grits to get past the oxides that cause fire scale to show up.  Fire scale prevents a good polish and it causes a pinkish gray color to appear as the piece ages.  By removing it, the silver will develop a beautiful patina as it ages and will come back to its original silver color with metal polish. 

Here it is being textured. I use a special anvil that follows the shape of the piece so the hammering doesn't distort it. 

Oxidation puts color (tarnish) in the depressions. The surface will be polished again to brighten the highlights.

Monday, January 29, 2018

February is the month of hearts

  It's hard to juggle all that has to be done to maintain ones self as an independent artist. You have to try find time to fill orders, make custom designs, and come up with new ideas. Oh yeah, and figure out your marketing.  But that's my goal. To remain an independent artist.
 I spent most of 2 days setting up spreadsheets to make my workflow smoother and more streamlined for listing items to Etsy and Jewelry Art Studio  and for posting to Instagram and Facebook It worked. I got 15 items in a new category called hearts on the etsy shop. I also listed the new stone of the month pieces on both sites and started a new category for stone of the month. These will be mostly one of a kind or limited edition pieces.

  Unfortunately Facebook is making it harder and harder for us to reach you without paying for ads. I'll keep trying but much of my efforts now go toward instagram, pinterest and email to show new work, attract followers to my websites, and announce codes for specials. So the new schedule for these email updates is around the first and around the 15th of each month.
    Here are some rough castings of Hearts in process. These will be pendants and earrings. Some are already in the new Hearts section.  I'm trying to get a jump on the demand.  Don't let Valentines day get too close before you order, I might get too busy to get it all in the mail on time.
and some of the fabricated heart pendants in process.  The finished versions are on the etsy store

   The stone of the month for February is amethyst. here is a little article from the American Gem Society
The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the tanzanite was added to December. There are numerous legends and myths about birthstone healing powers and their therapeutic influence. According to these legends, wearing a gemstone during its assigned month heightened its healing powers. For the full effect, individuals needed to own all twelve and alternate them monthly.

January Garnet 
February Amethyst
March Aquamarine and Bloodstone
April Diamond
June  Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone 
July Ruby 
August Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel 
September Sapphire 
October Opal and Tourmaline
November Topaz and Citrine 
December  Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise

  I didn't get any feed back from you all on separating the art news from the jewelry news so  it stays together in the same letter for now. If you unsubscribe to one you unsubscribe to both. 
  I've made a new signup form so you can choose 1 or both.

Keep up with new work, shows, and studio stories for and about my jewelry and art by receiving my twice monthly email updates

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Happy New Year

 New for 2018
 Happy New Year! (how long can we keep saying that before it's the same old year)
  Did the new year sneak up on you? It did to me. I went from an intense build up for the Holiday to a period of not having much to do, and suddenly there is too much to do again! Thus the late posting of this twice monthly update.
 There a lot of changes coming up this year. One thing I'm doing is starting a Gem of the Month series with designs  based on the stone color of each month. There may be one or several new pieces each month.  Some designs will repeat through out the year with different stones. Some will be one of a kind or limited editions
    I'll be adding new designs in my regular jewelry lines for both men's and women's. Including new buckles in silver and bronze. I have ideas for new animal and nature designs as well as some abstract variations. The women's line will get more one of a kind pendants with stones, more gold, and other designers will be added to the mix on my website. However the Etsy store will continue to be only my handmade creations.
   This newsletter will give you access to discounts on my websites, exclusive opportunities to own one of a kind pieces not posted to facebook or my websites, and It will tell you about instagram contests and give-aways.  I'll also share more stories from my blogs about my art and jewelry process and adventures.
    Art continues to be important.  I'll get more of my work online both on my etsy store and my Fine Art America site starting with a series of small mix media abstracts coming soon. I'm trying to make more time for painting on location and studio abstracts.
    I hope to stay more in touch with my audience this year. What do you want to see more of?  More jewelry? More art? More stories? More process? Do you only want updates only about art?  More heart jewelry?  More sealife ?  More expensive one of a kind jewelry? More men's jewelry?  Please feel free to reply in the comments . I'm always interested and listening to new ideas

   I'm trying to build my following so please forward this to anyone you think might be interested. Thanks again for your support! Wishing you a happy new year!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Making of The Silver Farrier Quater Horse

This buckle was designed for 1.25 inch belts. It is now on my Etsy store.  Its based loosly on shape of a horse shoe and the Western style buckles. This is the process for making a Quarter Horse Farrier buckle in silver. I have done this one in bronze but this is the first time I've done it in silver. You can see more about this design here and see the finished bronze version here
After the casting process, which takes many steps, I start sanding down the silver to get all the surface imperfections and oxides off.

 Then I use various hammers to get the final size, shape, and texture. 

 The silver is then oxidized to create the dark areas and the highlights are polished.