This whole jewelry thing started because I wanted to wear the pieces I had acquired as a career woman, but found them a little outdated and formal for my current lifestyle. After I succeeded in dismantling everything, I was left with some really nice components, and absolutely no skills to create something fresh.
I bought some basic skills books and did a lot of practicing and experimenting. Along the way I discovered how much I was enjoying myself. I wore a pair of earrings I put together to a First Friday, and was encouraged by the response from a couple of fellow artists I knew from the Oregon Glass Guild. Who knew, maybe I was on to something? Six months later I was selling my jewelry locally, and participating in Craft events. I have always been a crafty person, learning sewing, knitting and crocheting at my mother’s knee. Through the years I have also painted, created numerous stained glass pieces, and dabbled in mosaic art. I live with a woodworker who shares my passion for art in all forms, and who has taught me any woodworking skills I may have. We live in a house built in 1914, and it has been our pleasure to do the majority of the preservation work needed to maintain its beauty and original style.
We have lived in Hood River for nineteen years. Having previously lived in some beautiful places (British Columbia and Seattle), I can honestly say that Hood River has been very inspirational in all our pursuits, and particularly so in artistic and design endeavors.
My basement is my workshop. It’s a quiet place to create, and a retreat from all else that is happening in my life. My pieces are, for the most part, one of a kind, and not mass-produced. However, I am happy to reproduce anything you like, whether it be identical, or in another metal, or with a different stone. I have also done commission work with a customer’s stone, or in design collaboration with the customer.
From start to finish
Inspiration is everywhere; the shape and texture of a flower or leaf, the filigree design on a wrought iron fence, geometric shapes, or museum pieces. Inspiration can also be sparked by a spectacular or unusually shaped stone.
Materials are everywhere; that rock in your garden, a piece of glass, the internet, a Gem Faire, a garage sale or grandma’s old jewelry.
Once I have the stone and the shape, I am ready to draw the design. Everything starts with a drawing. Sometimes I get it right the first time, but it is more common to try several different versions before I settle on one. I go through a lot of erasers.
Once I settle on a design, I measure all the wire lengths with a flexible wire to begin creating my instructions. This step eliminates wasted wire. I then rely on one or more of the techniques I’ve learned to write step by step instructions. I may want to make the design again, and most designs hold up even with slightly different shaped stones, or smaller/larger ones.
Very often during the construction phase I discover changes that I want to make, or that need to happen, such as adding an extra step, or changing the order of steps.
When I am finished with the piece I can alter wire lengths used, if necessary, to further cut down on wasted wire. The decision to antique (darken) the wire is sometimes made at the end, but I usually make that decision before I start, so I can antique the various pieces ahead of time, or during construction.
Some pieces look better with a little embellishment: beads, pearls or crystals. This would be the last act before polishing.