Monday, January 31, 2011

Thing a week, week 4 and 5

Ha! Already I am slacking with blogging about my Thing a Week creations. Sadly this probably is a forewarning of things to come this year. If I may predict: I will not manage to do all my THaWs, I will definitely not blog about all of them, and if I have any readers then they will be lucky if I blog about anything else in between. But making jewelry is always priority number 1, and blogging will always be priority number, well.

So this post will show you two THaWs, number 4 and number 5, which is nice for you because looking at pictures is always nicer than reading text by someone who obviously has no significant writing skills.

THaW 4 is this turquoise ring with a little leaf. These leaves have grown on me. I use them as details in a lot of my jewelry. They are the perfect size and have the perfect little leaf structure for being a great little decoration that goes with a lot of things. The stone is a high quality turquoise that I managed to snatch up from Lapidarious before anyone else had the chance. It's rare to find natural untreated and high quality turquoise nowadays - usually you don't know what you buy, so this is a true gem!
THaW 5 is another ring (yes, next time I'll try to make something else, but I do love rings) that looks like a stacking ring but isn't. Stacking rings are immensely popular and I understand why. You can combine them just the way you like them, adding a personal touch to your jewelry. For me, as a jewelry maker, stacking rings are difficult terrain. Whatever I do I will make something that someone else has already made. You could say that this goes for any jewelry item, and it does, to some extent, but the stacking ring is a very limited area with relatively narrow space for letting imagination flow. Hence this stacking ring illusion. You can find both rings in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


THAW2011-3, originally uploaded by SilverBlueberry.

Last week's Thing a Week is this ring. A pretty simple round band with a tube set peridot in the middle.

I struggled for a while with the right tubing and making the seat for the stone. First I tried out a piece of tubing and it seemed the right size for this stone. When I cut the seat however, the stone got all wonky and it was obvious that the tube was slightly too big for setting this stone.

The solution was to put a back plate on the tube and put a smaller tube inside the outer tube that serves as a seat for the stone. I then cut out the seat with a round bur, put in the stone and folded over the bezel.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My first pieces

In this blog post I will show you my first jewelry pieces. There are first pieces though, and there are first pieces. Before I discovered the joys of metal clay and silversmithing I did some beading, but I found that very uninspiring and I have thrown away/ripped apart/recycled the few beaded necklaces that I made then.

So they don't count. I have mentioned before that my road to enlightenment started with metal clay so my first 'real' jewelry items are metal clay pieces. The nice thing about metal clay is that you can create interesting looking jewelry without much practice, and I actually sold one of the three items I made in that one class I took. Here it is:

It's a folded pendant, a classic design to start with, with a fiery orange CZ and a snowflake pattern. The other two items I made were a silver leaf pendant and a bead. Both are lying around my bench area somewhere waiting to be melted down or sent away with other scrap (please let me know if you have any good ideas for that bead - I like the pattern on it but I can't figure out what to do with it).

Now for silversmithing, I started out with a class here too. It was a 10x 2 hour class (I still go but I'm slightly more independent now) and my first item took me about 5 occasions to finish. And no, I did not take that into account when selling the ring. ;)

It may not look bad, and I felt it looked good enough to sell, but not everything turned out the way I wanted it to. For instance I had applied a hammered texture and then polished, and polished, and polished. In the end there was almost no texture left. The bezel was sterling silver and extremely thick (18g, 1mm), which I would never do now - unless the stone was harder and I had a hammer piece at home. My teacher only works in gold and platinum (works in silver when he does mock-ups) and the only stones that ever touch his fingers are sapphires, rubies and diamonds. So hammer setting a malachite... maybe not the best choice. But it turned out okay and I have remade the design and still like it.

For more first piece fun, check out the blogs by my Aspiring Metalsmiths teamies who have posted about the same topic:

Autumn -

Friday, January 14, 2011


It's Thing a Week time again! This is week number two, and let me say, it is a good week.

I let my THAW week 2 entry and my entry for a challenge organized by Etsy team Aspiring Metalsmiths overlap, since two challenging items in one week plus a full time day job is a bit much.

I said in my previous post on THAW that I wanted to challenge myself in both technique and design in my entries. And here I said that I wanted to learn riveting. So voila and check! Sometimes you haven't used certain techniques and you think 'I can't' and 'I don't know how' but then you just try it and.. succeed. I love it when it's like that (believe me, not always the case).

The Aspiring Metalsmiths challenge is described here. It asks of us to explore our roots and translate that into a piece of jewelry. I'm a molecular biologist and work with genes, so it was only natural that instead of thinking of my own Dutch and Romanian roots I thought a little further back, and of our evolution into Homo sapiens.

It is not easy to identify what makes us human. Many qualities that we possess have later been found to exist in other species as well. One important quality that is believed to have meant a lot for the development of humanity is speech. A mutation that happened a few hundred thousand years ago in the fox2p gene may be crucial for the development of speech in humans.

The cuff I made had part of the DNA sequence of the human fox2p gene (including the mutation) on the inside. I riveted a thin silver plate to the outside of the cuff and stamped it with our branch of the evolutionary tree, starting with eukaryotes and ending in Homo, our species.

I really enjoyed making something where I could use my scientific background. Maybe there will be other projects like these..

Sunday, January 9, 2011

THAW - week 1

From now on I will - hopefully - write a weekly post with one new jewelry item. This is part of a year long challenge that a group of metalsmiths including myself are participating in. The challenge is to design and make one new piece every week, i.e Thing a Week or THAW.

Everyone can set the THAW challenge the way they want it to. My THAW goals for this year are:
- to make a new design every week and keep the timelines
- to challenge myself: use methods and make items that I am not comfortable with

This week's item, number one, is the Call of the Wood Nymph pendant. It is a new design for me, with a pierced design at the top, and soldered details to the right. I don't often mix copper and silver, but I love the combination and I should use it more often. In the center is a beautiful atlantiscite triangular stone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A warm summer's day..

PAW2011-1, originally uploaded by SilverBlueberry.
This picture shows the paw print of my cat Cookie on a frosty porch. Poor Cookie. She is a heat-loving kitty. In summer she lies in sunny corners and sleeps, then stretches, rolls a little, sleeps again, stretches again, etc. In winter, none of these favorite activities are very pleasant. It's cold outside, there is no sun of significance and all the favorite spots are covered with that stuff she always forgets about during summer - snow.

The past winters have had very heavy snowfall - all the worse for Cookie! But she does go out every day. And that little paw print there represents that feeling we can all have on dark winter days - we don't want to get up in the dark and get home from work in the dark. We'd rather cuddle up at home and hibernate, and think of warm summer days when the breeze hits us softly and the sun is almost too warm..

I do like winter. The break from the garden work. Everything is waiting as buds on the trees or bulbs and roots underground. Mice have dug tunnels through the snow and walk around there unnoticed. The beach season is far away and everything is still possible. If only there would be a little more light. ;)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A nice surprise

The Christmas holidays are always a bit chaotic. Usually we visit both our relatives and in between we wrap gifts, clean up the mess that somehow just comes by itself as soon as we put a foot inside the house, and do laundry.  My Etsy life goes on in the background but is kept at the lowest possible activity level, since I simply do not have the time.

This morning I checked in for the first time in days, and what do I see? One of my items has been featured on the front page of Etsy! Now that is a nice surprise. Thank you, treasury maker and Etsy admin!