Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scrap to Treasure

Not sure how I got started last week. This wasn't in the plan. Certainly had a lot of other things I should have been doing. Perhaps it was simply therapeutic. I started tearing apart jewelry creations I made ten or twelve years ago. Things do pile up. We all have failed design efforts, but what do you do with them? There are those projects that were clearly part of a learning curve and didn't quit make the mark on great color choice, design, or sound structure. What to do with all of those projects, becomes a space issue? I found myself being rather unemotional about it all. After all will they really do me or anyone else any good down the road? Where do you put it?

As I said, I didn't plan on sitting there for two hours one day, and two more the next morning, but I have to admit, I really got into tearing some of these old jewelry creations apart. Out of it I now have beads that are free to be in other creations and can have a new, possibly, happier life. There was sterling silver chain, closures, jumprings and scrap. I throw all of the silver parts I can reuse in the tumbler, and it came out looking shiny and new. I was amazed at how much scrap silver I ended up with.

So I’m off to the place I recycle silver at today, Hauser and Miller. They are located in St. Louis where I live, but you can ship your scrap to them for recycle. Just click the link on their name above, and you will find all of the details on how to do that on their web site. You can no doubt find a reputable location near you as well. There are a lot of “We buy Gold” places popping up over the past few years, since precious metal prices have gone up so radically. Take your time and investigate who you are dealing with. Contact the Better Business Bureau, to be sure about the location you will be dealing with. Be sure that you are getting current market value for any of your precious metal.

It feels good to have cleared out the studio a little bit. I have more jewelry I can cut apart, and intend to work away at it over time. This is all in hopes of having no extraneous “stuff” sitting around the studio. What a lofty aspiration? Wish me luck and I hope I’ve inspired you to start your own clearing out.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Preparation for 2013 Bead and Button Show

Gingko in Motion
Sign Up - Here
There is a steady push, in Kathryn Bowman Studio these days, to put together class kits for classes I will be teaching at the 2013 Bead & Button Show. I’ve been doing a little work every day or every other day, as time permits. This is in the hope of getting everything put together, without a crazy push before heading for Milwaukee in June. Many years I teach some metalsmithing and some beading classes, but this year I am teaching four metalsmithing classes. This is keeping the preparation much more focused. I’ve been cutting all of the metal into the right sizes for each class project and actually making some of the parts.

Three Metal Articulated Bracelet
Sign Up - Here or Here
In a one day class the student will be learning a lot. They will be etching pattern into metal, and learning to saw, file and pierce the metal. Once all of the shapes for the project are made they will assemble the parts into a bracelet or necklace. All of this in a day!  Some of the students will know some of these skills, and some will be a total novice and trying out metalsmithing for the first time. No matter what, they are there to learn. Throughout our time together I have to keep things moving. I try very hard to keep the student unaware of the push.The student is so rewarded, when they walk out of class wearing what they made that day.
In an effort to keep the stress level low and time crunch none existent,  I’m doing a little cheating. Each student will do every technique and practice every skill during class. In preparing for class day, I am making a few of the parts for them.  I hate being the slave driver toward the end of the day, and having a little bit of the work done, eliminates the end of day nerves. Students have learned, had fun while doing so, and will hopefully go on to do a lot of metalsmithing in their future.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Metal and Beads a Marriage

Lolli Pop, Metal disc with wire
wrapped beads, and handmade toggle.
I have been having a love affair with beads for about fifteen years. I’m not alone.  Because I teach jewelry making techniques, I am around other beaders on a regular basis. It is not unusual for one of my students to launch into how much they love beads, all sizes, all colors, all shapes. Of course, I join in.

Now I know not everyone will agree with me, but I want to have a hand in all of the elements of the jewelry I make. I make beaded beads a lot, or include fine bead weaving or wire wrap beads into place in my designs. It’s whatever works ,with the inspiration for that design. The next step for me is to make all of the metal parts in my jewelry designs.  As one looks around at jewelry, there is all metal jewelry, and with its many techniques, or there is jewelry made only of beads with commercial metal connectors and elements. So mixing it together seems to confuse many. 

I want to champion doing it all. I love to bead, but I also love working with metal. The inclusion of handmade metal elements can only up the originality of the finished jewelry pieces. Real thought goes into how the connections are made, and the metal focal is truly original. That center piece will not be found or duplicated in any other piece of jewelry in the world. I’m going for “One-of-a-Kind” with all of my jewelry, and I think I am succeeding in this goal. Within being original, I want all of the elements to be made by me, whether it be the metal work, bead weaving, or wire connections.