I know you want to see pictures. They're here. But they wouldn't be here if it weren't for, first, the indomitable Lori Anderson who planned the Bead Soup Blog Party and assigned us all partners, and second, my amazing and awesome partner, Kristin Oppold, of Yay! Jewelry. Thank you ladies so very much. No less significantly, however, is you - you're here sharing our experience and your time to see what we've made. Thank you so much for stopping by!
We've all had challenges in creating our designs for this Blog Party. I've been following along with Kristin's admirable struggle to find a way to use the focal bead I sent to her and still be true to her style. My struggle has been one of health over the last three weeks - trying to fight off acute bronchitis - along with my usual task of keeping my preschooler, Sawyer, from creating too much chaos. It's been frustrating because I sketched out designs for everything Kristin sent six weeks ago. It's just been a matter of finding the time and energy to get it all done.
The most important piece - the one using Kristin's focal and clasp - is done. The piece using the silk and pearls she sent - the piece that was a true divergence for me - is also done. I also finished matching earrings for the bracelet, and another pair using some of the lovely faux beach glass she sent. Five designs I planned for the other wonderful things she sent are, frustratingly, still on my work table. They will, however, be done soon. Everything she sent, even the things that made me scratch my head a little, were too great not to use. Let's take a look!
As a reminder, this is the focal she sent and the clasp:
What I did with them was this. Inspired in no small part from one of my most favoritest jewelers ever, Michael Boyd, I did a lot of metalwork on this. All of the metal in this piece except the small chain started as sheet silver and fine silver wire in my studio. I made the lampwork beads myself after sketching out the necklace design. No glue whatsoever on this piece. Just the miracle of Material Science and elbow grease - about 15 hours worth - in action. The cabochons and metal accents you see on the stones are all riveted into inverted conical holes I drilled in the stones; nothing comes through the back.
When I sketched out this necklace I was looking for a way to use the stone focal heart that Kristin sent. I had, of course, been compelled to look at all of Kristin's work and saw that she had created a necklace using a pendant similar to the one she sent to me. So, of course, having that in my head, I felt a fierce compulsion to try and ignore that vision in my head. Consequently, I felt like where she had fostered natural warmth in her design, I needed to go with mechanical and cold. In order to accomplish this in a way I felt did justice to the focal, I dug deep and pushed my skill set to its limits. That's when I decided to implement some of the stone stacking techniques I've loved in Michael Boyd's work for so long. I didn't intentionally set out to create something that could be called "Steampunk," but I think that in the end that's where the design went.
I can't deny that I am outrageously snobby when it comes to what designers call "Steampunk." I think that most people would agree that Steampunk is the marriage of Victorian aesthetics with modern technology. To me that means a little more than adding gears to a design. One of my favorite Steampunk designers is Richard "Datamancer" Nagy, who designs Victorian-inspired casings and keyboards for very modern computers. If I could afford his work, it'd be all over my house. Hard as I think that it is to create true Steampunk jewelry, the reason that I began to identify this necklace with the Steampunk philosophy was because of the way it combined primitive, matte stones, embedded with "modern" shiny fine silver; the way the gemstone fringe softened the aesthetic in a Victorian way; the chunky links of the main chain with fine wire coil embellishments, and the lines of the embellishment chains. Others may well disagree, but regardless of how you'd classify this piece, I love the way it turned out. You can see several other images of this necklace on my Flickr page.
Kristin has a Boho style aesthetic. I knew that, coming from her stash, that she'd send me the ingredients I needed to make my own attempt at a Boho style design. I come from a background in Physics and (then later) Archaeology and History, so the philosophy behind my designs strongly considers the concepts of permanence versus impermanence, strongly prefering techniques and materials that show characteristics of permanence. Thus, I do a lot with metal, stone, and glass. Boho, with it's organic, soft, fiber-based designs is at the opposite end of the spectrum. This was the perfect opportunity for me to give it a try.
The design started with the drilled stone that was in my bead soup, and figuring out how to combine it with the silk and cording. Me, being me, I had to also find a way to include a lot of beaded fringe. Threading the silk through the holes on the stone hid too much of the stone for my taste; I wanted more separation between the silk and the stone. I soldered two silver loops, threaded each through one of the stone holes, and used a simple hitch knot to connect the silver loop to the stone; then I twisted the excess wire on either side of the stone, leaving loops on the ends for the fiber. This let the stone stand out as well as leaving me a place to connect the fringe. The wire frame around the stone came as a solution to the dual problem of containing the fringe and adding more emphasis to the stone. I absolutely love the softness of the fringe and fiber and the way it contrasts the stone and wire. This isn't something I'd ordinarily design, but I think it turned out great! I made some matching dangling earrings, too ... because dangling is the only way I do earrings!
In general, I love making earrings, so when I was thinking about what to do with the faux beach glass that Kristin sent, I wanted to combine it with a new wirework design I developed to use with my lampwork discs. This one ended up being more Mod, inspired by some hoop earrings with black and red coils that I got when I was in middle school. Man, I loved those earrings! I wonder if I still have them ...
As I sadly reported before, not everything I designed is done yet. Here's my pile of shame:
Here's what it's supposed to be:
upper left - bracelet using the coral and faux beach glass Kristin sent, to which I'm adding some lampwork of mine.
upper middle - necklace using the rhodonite Kristin sent, along with some of my lampwork. The design I planned uses the wirework motif I used in the red and black Mod earrings I finished.
Middle - for earrings using the coral Kristin sent, along with some of the gemstones from my stash.
Right bottom - peach bracelet using the glass beads, gunmetal spacers and caps, and peanut seed beads that Kristin sent.
So, there it is. There are more photos of these designs, of course, on my Flickr photostream. What do you all think?
Thank you so much for stopping by!