Get to Know
My first venture into the art of jewelry making was at Christmas in 2004, when I was looking for a unique gift for my sister-in-law. While wandering from store to store in downtown Lawrence, I stumbled into a bead bar where a patient "barrista" helped me create my first necklace. It was far from being expertly made, but I still inflicted it upon my sister-in-law, and can honestly say it was indeed a "unique" gift.
My technique and design skills have improved considerably since then, but there's always something more to learn, and that's part of the fun! Much of what I've learned has come from the Internet, from other artists in bead and jewelry groups. I recently took a metalworking class at the Lawrence Arts Center. I'm also a member of SRAJD, the international organization for self-representing artist jewelry designers.
What I make
My jewelry designs are eclectic, from traditional and rather frou-frou to fun and funky. I like to do wire wrapping--it's a pleasant compulsion, actually--so you will find lots of wire-wrapped dangles and coiled wire in my work. I also like taking age-old chainmaille designs and embellishing them or combining them in different ways.
What it's made of and how it's put together
My pieces combine metals described below with semiprecious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, handmade artisan lampworked glass beads that I purchase from other artists, and other carefully chosen materials.
* Sterling silver. This is at least 92.5% silver with the other 7.5% being another metal, usually copper, which makes it stronger than the softer metal of 100% silver. The alloy makes it more susceptible to chemical reactions that create tarnish through exposure to air that contains elevated levels of ozone, hydrogen sulfide, or sulfur. While it's desirable to keep the silver in some jewelry designs tarnish-free, tarnish darkening can also be used intentionally to create a patina that brings out details in a design. I intentionally darken some of my pieces with a compound called liver of sulfur, then buff with extra-fine steel wool to bring out highlights. Depending on factors such as water and air temperature and concentration of the solution, liver of sulfur can bring out all sorts of beautiful colors on the metal, from blacks, grays, and browns to subtle blues, reds, and greens.
* Hill Tribes silver of Thailand. Composed of 95% to 99% silver. Thai silver from the Karen Hill Tribe is typically 99.9% silver content, considered fine silver, less susceptible to tarnish. Hill Tribe beads and elements are handmade, so no two are exactly the same.
* Copper. I love this metal for its color and warmth. Unless otherwise noted, all my pieces are either raw copper left to acquire patina naturally over time (to the color of an old penny), or copper that has been patinated with liver of sulfur (instant old-penny color or darker, buffed with extra-fine steel wool to bring out highlights). Differences in body chemistry mean that some people's skin reacts differently to copper than others. For example, when I wear a copper piece, my skin reacts with it to actually polish it up a bit, with no effect on my skin whatsoever. However, there are others whose skin turns green when wearing copper. If you love the look of copper but you're a "greenie," I have a water-based acrylic finish seal lacquer that can be easily applied to a piece to prevent skin reaction. Please let me know if you'd like me to do this for you.
* Gold-filled. This is many, many times more durable than gold-plated metal, yet not as costly as 100% gold. To make gold-filled material, a layer of gold is mechanically bonded with heat and pressure to a supporting base metal (usually brass), then rolled or drawn to a given thickness. In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold (usually 12 or 14kt) must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product. Gold-filled items will remain gold for a lifetime if cared for properly.
* Vermeil. Pronounced vehr-MAY, this is sterling silver plated with gold, at least 2.5 microns thick and 10kt to be considered true vermeil. Gold vermeil will last for many years without tarnishing and without the gold plate wearing away if cared for properly.
Durability is as important as beauty in a design. For strung necklaces and bracelets, I use professional-quality Soft Flex nylon-covered stainless steel cord. Wire guards add durability where the cord connects to a clasp. In other pieces, I use wrapped wire loops for dangles and some connections rather than simple loops that can bend open; heavier gauges of wire when possible; and double or triple rings or soldered rings for some connections.
Sizing is free, unless there is significant expense involved in adding things to lengthen it. (Note that sizing the bracelet may change its design slightly, since beads or other elements may need to be removed or added. Please contact me, and we can make arrangements.
I have leverbacks, ball posts, and french hooks available. If you prefer something other than what comes with the original design, I'll switch them out for you for free. Exception: clip-ons are extra, as they can be rather pricey. I don't keep these in stock, but can order them.
You can also find my work at the following location:
Northland Exposure Artists' Gallery, Parkville, MO
Hours: Tues-Sat 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Sun 12:00pm-4:00pm www.northlandartists.com