Archive for the ‘Design Process’ Category

Jewelry bringing the Earth and Sea together, plus several Continents

There are two things that please me when designing jewelry: 1) I like to combine components from the Earth and the Sea and 2) I like to use those that originate in differing parts of the world.

In this jewelry set, I got to indulge both ideals.  The Peach Jade pillow beads are from Asia, the small ones are Peruvian Opal and come from South America.  The large transparent accent bead is made of Quartz and is called Lodolite, from Brazil.    And while all have been mined from the ground, as well as the metal for the Sterling clasp and the tiny fluted beads, the pearls were harvested from the ocean.  More than that, they are natural, not the product of human intervention (so called Cultured).  The oysters made these all by themselves, the old-fashioned way.  The apricot color is also naturally attained, the effect of minerals in the water where they grew.  No dyeing needed.  Both these factors make natural pearls of natural coloring more scarce than cultured pearls that may have been dyed, and therefore more special and costly.

When I set out to design this artisan necklace, I laid out several possible supplementary elements, some darker and/or in other colors.  But none seemed to work as well as the pastel pearls..  However, when it came time to make earrings, the Jade pillow beads were too big and much too heavy.  No smaller ones were available, so as sometimes happens with my work, I had to put the piece aside, waiting till I could find something to match. In the meantime I made the delicate earrings pictured here.

Natural stones come in a wide range of colors and shades.  If I couldn’t find Jade to match, perhaps another stone might be a match for color and be the size needed.  I was in no rush, determined to wait till all elements were just right (please see January’s blog ‘So why be content with just a necklace?’ – Autumn Medley).  I have dozens of necklace projects waiting their turn for my time  and attention.  I often put bead combinations together to be refined and designed later, someday.

Since color match is of first importance in my work, I cannot search online.  Even with the best monitors and photography, it is impossible .  So I have to do a physical search – I need to hold and examine the stones.  After about a year, I discovered a strand of Peruvian Opal (which does not have flashes of color but is beautiful nevertheless) of the right size and shape.  Only four of the beads matched well enough to use, two for the tassels and two for matching earrings

At last, the set was finished and could take its place of honor in the Collection.  I can see it worn with a dressy suit  or a classically designed evening gown, its wearer standing out by being different.  Subtle and sophisticated in a room full of flashing jewelry and “Look at me – Please” costumes.   What do you see?  Comment below – I’d really enjoy your feedback.

Silvercloud

ANTIQUE CHINESE CARVED GEMSTONE NECKLACES

 

When Mao took over China, the determined destruction of past cultural reminders drove Chinese citizens to protect beautiful objects and/or prized possessions by hiding them in the many caves in their country.  Later, after Nixon traveled to China to open trade talks with Mao, it then became safe for the people to retrieve the hidden treasures, and offer some for sale.  I had the opportunity to buy several such gemstone imports; one an exquisite heart-shaped White Opal, carved front and back; two carved Carnelian cartouches; two large incised Jades; and fourteen smaller carved Jade pendants and ornaments.

Some of the resulting  jewelry is listed here and shown in  the Galleries on my Home Page:

       1.   Carved Opal Heart, with Aquamarine* and Freshwater Pearls, 26”.

       2. Carved Carnelian Cartouche with Aquamarine* and both African and Chinese Carnelian beads, 17.5” with earrings.

       3.  Jade Drops with Aventurine, 23” w/Bracelets.

       4.  Jade, incised with fruit branch motif, with Aventurine and two Baltic Amber beads to echo the color where iron oxide had entered the jade before it was mined or while it was hidden in a cave, 23” with 8” bracelet.  Handknotted

       5. Jade Ornament and Aventurine necklace sets handknotted, one with African Carnelian beads, 25”, one with a 7” bracelet.

       6.  Jade Peach carved in 3D, with Jade beads, 23”. Handknotted

       7.   Imperial Jade Disk, with Moonstone, Garnets & Pearls, 23”.

       8.  Rose Quartz carved Peach, with Aventurine and Rose Quartz and beads, 19”,  with  7” bracelet.  Handknotted.

                    1.$1895      2.$250      3. $297      4.$375      5. $400      6. $266      7. $325      8. $272          

         *I was not told when I purchased and used this Aquamarine many years ago, if it had been enhanced.  Not all dealers, even today, disclose whether stones have been treated or not.  Since the color of these stones is so perfect, I now suspect they may have been.  So do not expose them to UV or moisture, if possible.       Silvercloud

 

Autumn Medley Torsade

Why be content with just a necklace I mused as I looked at the “finished” piece, when I was pretty sure I had a big Jaspar cabochon that had most of the colors of the necklace in it (I had bought it decades before, knowing I’d find the right place for it one day) – it would be a great accent/pendant. I did find it, and when I fit it into its bezel and held it right next to the necklace, the colors were as good a match as I had hoped.

But it seemed to need its own space, to “make its own statement”, not crowded up next to the necklace. Thus began an experiment into a new area for me, to make a hanger from what I had on hand (I couldn’t wait and shop for a ready-made). So I took two French earwires, shaped them into a hanger, made a collar of Carnelian chips for the bezel, dangled the stone from the necklace and was truly finished. (It can easily be taken off though, if it doesn’t fit the neckline or the occasion.)  Enjoy!         Silvercloud

I particularly like to use a bead clasp where the mechanism is hidden in a bead, allowing the design to flow, uninterrupted, around the piece.  However, the choices offered to designers are limited. Clasps can detract from the design, especially if they are ordinary.  And if a beautiful costly clasp is added to the piece, it can take over and the rest of the necklace becomes merely something from which to hang that clasp.  I much prefer to make a necklace that, when left lying on a woman’s dressing table in a random arrangement (she has more important things to do at the moment), resembles an artful museum display, where a piece of jewelry is “casually BUT oh so carefully” exhibited.   Use ‘Carved Chinese Carnelian’

 

Azurite and Turquoise in Sterling Setting

“Organic conquers Geometric”   AZURITE and TURQUOISE BROOCH/PENDANT crafted in Cancun to Silvercloud’s design

I really enjoyed the Yucatan for many reasons; its beautiful sand beaches, its awesome Mayan architecture and cultural centers and the wonderful Mexican people who made our stays so memorable. But I must confess, I mostly miss the gratifying experience of designing a piece of jewelry and having it finished, and very professionally crafted, in two days time!  Usually it takes so long to bring a creative vision to life; for instance, when I want to choose Opals, I have to contact my source in Mexico and request a digital image of what may match my vision and have them sent to me for approval. The Internet does make that easier but image color can not be relied on. Then of course the stones not chosen must be insured and sent back. So cumbersome!

I brought the casting with me to Cancun, hoping to find a stone to go with it, making a brooch that could also be worn as a pendant.  Look what I found!  The artisan I have come to trust sat with me as I drew my design, adding a bezel to hold the gorgeous stone securely.  Then when I told him I wanted whoever purchased the piece to have another option as to how to wear it, he added the necessary piece in back to convert it to a pendant.

I particularly like the way the organic natural shape in the Sterling seems to be overcoming the geometric other shapes, connecting them and also resonating with the shapes in the two naturally blended gemstones that are captured in this Sterling setting.  Notice how, when this stone was formed long ago, the pale Turquoise melted into the blue Azurite, resulting in a darker blue border.  It would take a mineralogist to say why the two together make a dark blue Lapis-like color, but that is what seems to have happened.                                                                Theories, anyone?                                                                                                                                                           Silvercloud

When I design jewelry, two of my greatest delights are (1) to combine something from the Earth with something from the Sea and (2) to gather the component elements from a variety of countries or continents, symbolically gathering the world together. The earth and the sea call out to me: to be respected, to be restored, for their beauty to be revealed.   It is not often that I get to do both as in the design.    ‘Peach Jade & Natural Pearls’

I have noticed I am most creative when my choices are limited by what is available, in cooking and in other arts. If too much of some component is available, I can get lazy and my work stale. Improvisation with what I do have is delightful to me; rising to a challenge keeps me refreshed.  I also believe that trait is what helps me to be patient when a piece has to wait, sometimes for years, till I can find what is needed to bring it to full fruition. And what a payback! That profound satisfaction and joy makes the wait worthwhile: please see Autumn Torsade.

The large Jade pillow beads in this set come from Asia and are Nephrite. The pearls are naturally grown and naturally colored, by minerals in the water where they grew. The smaller pillow beads are Peruvian Opal. The large round bead is made from a quartz crystal called Lodolite mined in Brazil.

The soft pastel of the Jade seemed to require pairing with the undyed natural pearls in two sizes. I could not find Peach Jade in a smaller pillow bead to finish the design, so as happens from time to time, I decided to wait till I could find an acceptable substitute to finish the jewelry. This was difficult to do, because it is impossible to match colors from even the best of digital images. Finding a strand of Peruvian Opal beads at my only local dealer some time later was unbelievably fortuitous and only a few stones on that strand matched well enough to use. What a blessing!  So worth the wait.

Silvercloud

 

 

 

 

 

As you probably know by now, if you’ve read very many of my pages, I much prefer a stone that “paints a picture”. So, that means I enjoy making jewelry with interesting colors and patterns. Sometimes I sit looking at a bead, especially Rhyolite (please use link to the Rhyolite pieces), almost entering into the swirling shapes, entranced with its natural abstractions, praising the Creator. ???????

For artists who want their work to express harmony, their task is always to create a balance between variety and uniformity. Too much variety creates confusion; too little, boring. Design Catagory

I much prefer to use natural pearls whenever I can. I don’t even think cultured pearls, now flooding the market, are a good substitute, especially those that are dyed every color imaginable. I can’t say why. Perhaps it’s my reverence for what hasn’t been “messed with” (HOWEVER, please see link to Baroque Peacock Pearls re: CONFESSIONS). I understand that it is now, unfortunately, almost impossible to find any stones that haven’t been enhanced, heated or irradiated. But if I CAN find them, I am glad and even a bit honored to make them into something lovely. When I CAN’T, I disclose it, even if their “de-natured” state was not revealed to me when I purchased them. Sometimes I can’t tell though.  Personal Philosophy

When I get strands of stones with variations of shape, size, pattern or color, I begin by sorting them. Then I count the number in each category. That gives me a start at knowing how to design. Will it be enough for a necklace; must I add other elements, what size and color? For example, see the several pieces made with Botswana Agate. When I sorted them, I found a limited number of horizontally striped beads and more of vertically and diagonally striped. Then quite a number of stones showed a crystalline nature. Thus I was able to add the mostly white Howlite to the fewest ones, with horizontal striping; make a double strand with the other striped stones; and by adding rock crystals and a large Onyx pendant to the third category of stones, create a completely different look: the same stone with differing interpretations. This procedure is also evidenced in the 6 Olive Jade designs and in the 15 Fireworks Jaspar pieces.  Design Process

Seafoam Chalcedony, Fluorite & Stick Pearls

I don’t like clasps as a rule. So I sometimes make the necklace 23” so it can be slipped on over the head. If I am limited as to the number of featured gemstone beads I have to work with and can’t make the necklace 23”,  I will make use of an uninspired, but helpful (and perhaps necessary) magnetic clasp, to make it easier to put on and off for those who want or need to be independent. I wish I could find beautiful magnetic clasps, but right now women who live with arthritis or other such problems, find that jewelry fitted with these clasps, especially bracelets, are easier to manage.

Also, I have begun to use hook and eyes or S-hooks, as seen above, which are safe but relatively easy to connect. I have even begun making them from Sterling wire and adding a matching bead sometimes!  An example is Pewter,Quartz,….

After the press of finishing five sets of jewelry before the final appointment with the photographer, I decided it was at last time to put my work table back in order. As I looked at the remains of three of the sets, I began to see how the iridescent colors of the stick pearls laying there would look good next to some multi-colored transparent Fluorite of the same hues in my collection.  I also had some Chalcedony ready to be put away so I decided to try adding a few with the two gemstones I had already seen together in my mind.  Yes!  Its wonderful translucence gave balance to the opaque and transparent others.

This is a more casual look than the other more elegant “Seafoam” piece. I’m always pleased when I can present a stone in more than one ‘look’, showing its versatility. And by combining a few very costly Chalcedony with less expensive elements, I can moderate the cost of a set that includes the alluring, glowing and rare gemstone (see “Seafoam” Chalcedony and Pearls for more about it).

Please note the unusual location of the featured bead in this bracelet (also see Lodolite, Rose Quartz and Rhodochrosite). Have you ever been frustrated when the accent piece on your bracelet (which is heavier than the rest) kept pulling the clasp (usually the least interesting part of a bracelet) around to the “thumb” side of your wrist? I have, so I placed the large bead nearer the clasp on the back, so the clasp will remain on the back of the wrist where a clasp should stay.

Silvercloud

 

add title: Seafoam Chalcedony, Fluorite and Pearls

 

 

 

 

I particularly like to use a bead clasp where the mechanism is hidden in a bead. Clasps can detract from the design, especially if they are ordinary. And if a beautiful costly clasp is added to the piece, it can take over and the rest of the necklace becomes merely something from which to hang that clasp. I much prefer to make a necklace that, when left lying on a woman’s dressing table in a random arrangement (she has more important things to do at the moment), resembles an artful museum display, where a piece of jewelry is “casually BUT oh so carefully” exhibited.   Use ‘Cloisonne’ or ‘Carved Chinese Carnelian’ → Read more