Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shimmery Spring Jewelry in Enamel Lusters

Enamel Cross Earrings in Shimmering Blue



Jewelry makers naturally keep an eye on the latest styles and color trends. So I've noticed that this year's spring fashions have been dominated by iridescent fabrics and high-wattage metallics. These lovely shimmering pastel textiles reminded me of a group of unique mica based pigments - Carefree Lusters - that I had purchased from Thompson Enamel a few years ago. After seeing the samples in the middle of a Thompson's catalogue I just couldn't resist ordering them, knowing that someday they would be ideal for a special project.






Metallic Aqua Enamel Teardrop Earrings



Back than, I had played with the lusters for a few days, but never had that "Ah ha!" moment...  until I saw this spring's fashions begin to appear on travel shows, commercials and in fashion magazines. So I retrieved the lusters from storage and began to experiment anew, making samples and recording the results at different firing times and temperatures. Soon, I felt comfortable enough to fire the lusters on actual enameled components and was ready to begin creating some new jewelry pieces to complement this spring's styles and colors.
Tiny Metallic Rose Gold Enamel Earrings





For those of you who may be interested in the techniques involved in working with Thompson Luster Enamels, I will offer a few of the discoveries that I made through trial and error in developing my own procedures.
  • Firing temperature is calculated according to the base enamel.
  • I had success firing at approximately 60 degrees below the normal firing temperature of the base enamel.
  • More is better. Any excess of unfused luster can easily be wiped or washed away after firing; but using an insufficient amount of luster can result in a rough surface.
  • Always start with a smooth, level surface that extends completely to the edges.
As with any new enameling technique, one should experiment, make samples, and become comfortable before using it on something special. Enjoy! I did!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Custom Color Palette

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law, Shari, admired an enamel disc bracelet that I had made in sky and sea tones to sell in my Etsy shop. She asked me if I would be able to make a similar one for her. I knew what that challenge would involve. You see, back in the 80's Shari "had her colors done". For some time now she hasn't shopped for clothing or accessories without her palette of custom color swatches in hand.

For Shari, adding to her wardrobe is a process of determining which colors coordinate with her skin tone, hair, eye colors, and with each other. She is an "autumn", so she wears "jewel tones" as recommended by her colorist. Of course, one of the benefits of using her 'color set' of swatches is that she is able to assure that each purchase will coordinate across her entire existing wardrobe.

Now, you'd think that submitting oneself to a pre-determined and defined 'set' of colors would confine one's choices into a kind of prismatic prison. Instead, I found it actually liberating to sort across Shari's palette of recommended hues and tones. In the end, the real difficulty was to limit the choices down to only the 6 or 7 to be included in the bracelet. We finally decided on rusty brown, caramel, turquoise, purple, dark green, blue and dark red.


The enamel artist has one advantage over jewelers and beaders. Like painters, we own the colors of our canvas. We blend them, and fuse them, and create new ones when necessary, to achieve singular effects that are limited only by our imagination. And now I've noticed that, like in the 1980's, there is evolving a new interest in color, stimulated by the internet. It ranges from the "chip it" applications available at the paint manufacturer's websites, to Pinterest boards that focus on the nuances of color palettes, and color planning websites that focus on interior and exterior decorating.

Expect to read more here in the future as I begin to explore this new (to me) discipline of coordinating colors to personality and lifestyle.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Artistic Inspiration

Enamel earrings inspired by the color of Bradford Pear leaves.

In “Colorful Colorado” nature imposes herself on our senses throughout the year. We are blessed with a kaleidoscope of continuous change and vitality. We watch nearly in awe as our mountains and our prairie transition from season to season, from arid to lush, lifeless to effervescent, in an endless story of birth and resurrection. But for those of us lucky enough to possess one in our yard, of all of nature’s showpieces and specimens, none surpasses the majestic Bradford Pear in her display of colors and natural hues.

In the spring our Bradford Pear explodes into a massive tuft of cotton candy, urgently demanding our attention before an errant breeze can scatter her blossoms across the lawn like driven snow. Summer’s warmth brings forth her foliage, so dense that it conceals the space it occupies, affording a canopy of shade to the lawn, nesting spaces for birds, and refuge for squirrels.  When fall arrives, the pear expends the energy that she has hoarded throughout the summer. It is as if her leaves attempt to re-bloom, as she becomes a palette for a thousand shades of yellow, burning into orange, then crimson, then copper. Then finally, exhausted and spent, her leaves take flight with the first winter blast, to reveal the silhouette of her limbs in a pointillist sea of tiny sugar pears that remain to sustain her resident birds and squirrels throughout the winter.

The Bradford Pear leaves us not only with memories of her grandeur, but also with artistic inspiration. If only to capture one single moment of her glorious transition - into jewelry! I waited breathlessly for the radiance of the kiln to subside, and for the glow of the enamel to “fit” itself into its final glaze, to know if I had been able to replicate that instant when she “bloomed” her final golden farewell to this season. 

This pair of dangle earrings holds true to the promise of enamel jewelry for its beautiful color and gorgeous, glossy finish.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unique Jewelry Findings


Enamel Earring Findings

        One of the most rewarding aspects of art is when one’s work acquires an entirely new dimension when placed in the hands of a fellow artist. Let me explain:

          I describe my own designs as inspired by the art deco and nouveau periods in modern art. The notion of beauty and uniqueness combined with functionality has always been my goal. So I was flattered when a fellow Etsy seller, after seeing some of my dangle earrings, contacted me to inquire if I would consider creating enamel findings that other jewelers could combine with their own designs. Imagine my delight when I realized that Soleil of Sunrise Treasures creates beautiful and colorful bohemian and southwest motif jewelry.

          Who would pass up such an adventure into new shapes and colors? No longer was I creating entirely from my own internal design library, but relying on another artist to interpret and finish the work using her own artistic notions. Please take a peek at Soleil’s first pair of chandelier earrings made from my enamel earring components!


Chandelier Earrings by OxArtJewelry
         
 It has been such fun (like watching your children in the staring role in the school play!) that I have decided to open a new section in OxArtJewelry to offer an assortment of unique jewelry findings and components to other jewelry artists. With a little help from our friends, the artist can indeed explore new dimensions. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mixed Metal Jewelry Collection

Ox Art Jewelry Mixed Metals Collection

When we formulate our thoughts, we reach into our vocabulary to find the right words to give them context, meaning and nuance. In the same way, the artist uses tools like color, texture, line and shape to communicate her ideas.

But how do you express, artistically, notions like simplicity? Effortlessness? Versatility? Or timelessness? These are the kinds of things the modern woman wants to express in her lifestyle – so different from the ornate, over-embellished, and sometimes gaudy designs of the past.

So I gave myself a challenge, to produce a new collection while keeping certain words in mind. Modern. Simple. Fresh. Sleek. Versatile. They seem to demand neutrality in color, clean lines, natural finishes, and uncomplicated, aesthetic shapes.

The result is my Mixed Metal Jewelry Collection. I think of it as a clean, easy and modern style. It seeks to both define and to streamline that lifestyle in constant motion without attracting undue attention to itself.

Leaves Layering Necklace by Ox Art Jewelry

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nature's Paintbrush

January Colorado Sunset
A few Moments Earlier

"Mother Nature has taken out her paintbrush again..." I said to the person driving the car, as I pointed to the sunset and reached for my camera. "And what a beautiful palette!" Mindlessly, I said these things to that slavish reader of Discover Magazine, memorizer of scientific factoids, analyzer of natural phenomena, rejecter of all things mystical and magical: my husband. Without even pausing to consider the inevitable scientific explanations.
He did not disappoint.
"Nonsense." He said. "Colorado sunsets over the prairie are beautiful because the physics of sunlight works well here."
Told you.
"Of course," I humored him. "And everyone knows that the skies are redder at sunset than at sunrise because…" Here he would normally complete the sentence for me. He disappointed.
"… because," I labored on.… "…because of that train whistle effect? Don’t they call it red-shifting?" It made sense to me. You know, as the earth spins towards the sun in the morning and away in the evening?
"You mean the doppler effect?" Now he did not disappoint, completing my thought. "That only works with sound. Applying it to sunlight would contradict Einstein’s theory of relativity, which requires that light travel at a universally constant speed without regard to the motion of the observer."
Quickly, before my eyes could glaze over, I snapped another picture.
I flashed him an indulgent little smile, then plodded on. "Of course. Everyone knows that sunsets are caused by all that stuff in the atmosphere, aerosols, pollution, particles…" even though I sensed his lack of conviction, still I soldiered on. "… and because the air is warmer, and more humid in the evenings than in the early morning." Did I also mention that he is a stoic? I saw his head nodding slightly forward in a kind of grim determination not to disagree with any of my continuing observations. So I gave him my summation: "I just wanted to see if you were paying attention."
"Think rainbows," He offered. His patient inner professor had found its voice. "Think how, after a rain, the water droplets in the air scatter and bend sunlight into its various wavelengths like a prism, which our eyes interpret as color. When the sun is on the horizon its light must travel through many more miles of Earth’s atmosphere than when it is overhead. It scatters the shorter blue frequencies, causing the sky to appear blue, and leaves only the red for us to see on the horizon. And since, on the Great Plains, clouds almost always form in the west in the evening, they provide a dense canvas for…?"
I refused to help him out. I just wanted to hear him say it. I continued snapping photos, capturing every swirl of Mother Nature’s hand.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Instructions for DIY Jewelry Display


We spend a lifetime accumulating a collection of jewelry that defines our lifestyle. But, unlike the collection of clothes that hang in our closets, the necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that we have acquired are not disposable. We hang onto every pendant, ring, and pin, treasuring the memories they evoke. And they continue to reflect our moods, set the tone for an outing, or… or become invisible at the bottom of a drawer or inside a box on the vanity. Why not display them like the fine art and keepsakes that they are, I wondered?
A few years ago, when I ran a custom frame shop, I made a simple jewelry display for myself. I still use it and have since made many more at the request of family and friends. So here is a simple DIY project for anyone who would like to keep her jewelry collection at hand, and on display. They also make wonderful gifts.
Because I had beautiful framing materials at my disposal I chose a rich cherry molding to make a 16x20 frame. There are, of course, many choices of imported frames in the art and craft supply stores that carry ready-made frames in various sizes, shapes and styles. It will be easy to find one that will fit your wall, cabinetry, and color scheme.


At the hardware store, pick up nylon window screen and a piece of thin, stiff cardboard or plastic which will be cut into edging strips to hold the screen in place.  Or matboard works beautifully for the strip and can be purchased with the frame.

On a padded counter top, lay the frame on its face. Cut the screen material to overlap the frame about an inch on each side. Snug the screen to the inside of the frame using the strips to hold it in place and staple each side in place, as in the photo. Trim the remainder with a utility knife.  Attach a sawtooth hanger or eyelet and wire.

Earring wires hang nicely on the screen. For necklaces or bracelets, use ornament hooks, or make your own from 18 ga. wire (I used Artistic tinned copper wire) as seen in the 3rd photo.

Your favorite jewelry will be easily accessible for the woman on the go!


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