Saturday, August 29, 2009

BeadFest Philadelphia

Most of what I've posted here has been fiber-related -- knitting, spinning, dyeing, sewing. But this past weekend, I got to spend some time on another hobby that I haven't done much of in a while -- jewelry making.

Taking a class is always a great way to get inspired again, and that's what I did. I took a class called "Rings, Relics, and Riveting," with a wonderful teacher and jewelry artist, Susan Lenart Kazmer. The class was part of BeadFest Philadelphia, a huge bead and jewelry show with lots of classes. So on Saturday, I arrived early to check out the marketplace, where I of course spent more than I'd intended to on materials and supplies.

Then on Sunday, I had my class. Here's the course description:

Combine layers of metal sheet, objects, paper, rocks and fiber build unusual wearable rings. Focus on cold joining techniques such as riveting, prongs and staples. Add height and dimension by use of negative and positive space. Fabrication of metal by hand and tools such as disc cutters and forming block.
We started with a simple design that involved stringing various types of beads (loosely defined as anything that had a hole in it, or could have a hole drilled into it) onto a long piece of brass wire that was then hammered and shaped into a ring shank. Here's the result of mine, using a hammered copper disk and a chunk of hematite.

Then we started using rivets, tiny nut & bolt sets, staples, and prongs to hold rings together. I'd brought along all sorts of odd materials that I thought I might be able to add to a ring, and ended up focusing on a little bag of rocks that I'd brought back from a vacation to Prince Edward Island a few years ago. I made my first PEI rock ring with copper, a pale blue glass bead, and a silver-colored metal spacer bead:

I love the patina that the copper got from heating it with a torch, and the slightly irregular hammered edges of the metal disk. Unfortunately, though, in the process of riveting it all together, I cracked the rock. I haven't had the heart to take it apart yet, but at some point I'll probably put in a new rock to replace the cracked one.

After that, I decided to break out the expensive supplies -- a sheet of sterling silver. I made another ring very similar to the copper one, but this time I'd learned some things about how not to break the stone (give it better support in the metal disk, and don't hammer so hard on the rivet!) Here's the result:

It's kind of ridiculously huge compared to what I'd ordinarily wear as a ring, but I really like the color and texture of the metal, the shape of the silver disk compared to the shape of the rock, and especially the fact that it will always remind me of a wonderful vacation. And believe it or not, it's surprisingly wearable.

So ... it's Saturday now, and I took yesterday off from work to play with my jewelry supplies. So expect more jewelry photos soon!

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