Sunday, January 31, 2016

(Almost) Everyday Earrings

Like that pair of jeans or sandals that fit and feel just right, we all have a favorite pair of earrings. A pair that seems to have adapted itself to our lifestyle. They're always right where we left them, never put away, always within easy reach, waiting to be put on just before we walk out the door. And if we forget them, it's ... What am I missing? My purse? My keys? Phone? Oh ... I didn't finish dressing! I don't have my earrings on! My ears are naked!

Enamel Black Bar Earrings

 Like lost puppies that arrive uninvited and unannounced; they insinuate themselves into our lives, only to become indispensable identifiers of our mood and style and personality.

So I began thinking about how a piece of jewelry could assume such a role in one's persona. It's not just one thing. Like all good things in life, music, art ... wine, earrings must appeal to a variety of pleasurable and virtuous instincts.

1)  Color. They had to be neutral - but with the ability to accent and stand out. Only black can do that for me; against any shade or color of fabric, under any tone and style of hair.

2) Shape. They must fit my facial shape and offer balance and proportion to my neck.

3) Comfort. So comfortable ... like a ring, remembered only in its absence.

4) Style. Ambiguity is the magical ingredient here: both casual and dressy. Or maybe they'll look dressy with a casual top and vise versa. Never ostentatious, never like we're trying too hard. Simplicity, like that favorite pair of jeans or sandals.

Long Black Bar Earrings

My go-to pair of earrings are these (enamel black bar earrings) elegant and unassuming, sleek and slender bolts of black lightning that accompany me (almost) everywhere I go. They are my trademark, my signature earrings when I am in public ....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Earring Allergies and my Solution

One of the unexpected scourges of growing older has been learning to deal with earring allergies. It finally came to the point that I gave up wearing earrings for extended periods of time. Inevitably my piercings closed. This has been especially maddening because the most popular pieces of jewelry that I design have always been the earrings - sold through my Etsy site to customers all over the globe who seem to delight in collecting these low cost accessories and matching them to special pieces in their wardrobe. Why should I deny myself this pleasure? I decided to investigate further.

Just as I suspected! Lurking out there, often not showing up until middle age, is something known as "contact allergic dermatitis", waiting to spoil our delight in wearing jewelry. You would expect this from certain foods, flowers, and pharmaceuticals. But metals? After a quick web search of the topic I learned to spell met-allergy.

It turns out that certain metallic elements are reactive, meaning that some of the electrons in its electron cloud are willing to swap orbits with other free electrons in their vicinity. It is what we call oxidation or tarnishing. The primary culprit is nickel, which is often used to alloy sterling, stainless steel and even some gold-filled metals. Most people never have a problem with this process. Their bodies accept it. But some of our metabolisms try to reject or isolate or defend against the offending electrons. At this point, I already knew more than I wanted or needed to know about the chemistry. What I needed was to find a pure, natural, non-reactive element that is free of things like nickel and lead - and hopefully, something less expensive than platinum! Enter Niobium!

Number 41 on the periodic table, used by Edison as filaments in his electric light bulb, adapted for use by NASA in space vehicles, Niobium has a storied history. It is strong, malleable, and 'half-hard' to shape - like sterling (and unlike pure gold and silver, which are termed 'dead soft'). But what interests us is: hypoallergenic. Also interesting to the jewelry artist is that Niobium can be electrolytically anodized into flashy colors like blue, green, purple and even pink!

Hopefully I've (re)pierced my ears for the last time. I wouldn't think of offering Niobium ear wires to a customer until I had proven to myself that they are satisfactory in every way. After weeks of self-experimentation, I am satisfied. Because Niobium can't be soldered to create post earrings, I am now shaping Niobium wire into several types of ear wires. Here is a peek at some french wires, kidney hoops and even some coil shaped posts. It will be interesting to know how many other women my age are looking for a wire that does not make war on our ear lobes.

Enamel Earrings on Niobium Ear Wires

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 then, 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
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...