Some of my most recent jewelry creations are available for purchase at my Etsy site: BetsyPorter.etsy.com!
I've been making bead jewelry for many years. I love beads, enjoy handling them, like the way they move on a string. There must be over a million beads in my closet!
When living in the Princeton, NJ area, I used to teach an evening course in "Easy Gemstone Bead Jewelry" at the YWCA. Some of my students were able to start their own small jewelry businesses!
I sold my jewelry, as well as silk scarves and marbled fabric items, at gift shops and an occasional craft fair. Since moving to the Bay Area, I do less beading, but still enjoy an occasional bead day with my friends.
Recently, an old interest in metal jewelry has re-awakened in me. As with icons, the prospect of making small precious objects attracts me; and I like learning ancient crafts. So I've been taking classes and workshops, and joined the Metal Arts Guild.
GLASS BEAD JEWELRY
Hand-knotting appeals to me, and it usually works better with glass beads, because their holes don't vary much in size.
MORE MATERIALS FOR JEWELRY
Handmade braids were created on the maru dai, a Japanese style braiding stand. The strands of yarn are weighted, and the braid forms in a hole in the middle, as you move the strands over the top in a special order - very meditative. The 4-strand braids with pendants are dyed by hand. I knotted 8-strand braids into pins.
This is student level work, but I still feel mighty proud of it. I've been taking occasional workshops at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, and weekly classes at Adam Clark's Scintillant Studio, both in San Francisco.
Two sterling pendants with bezel-set cabochon stones. The oval golden-brown monokaite from Australia, and the tear-shaped nipomo marcasite, were crafted by Artisan Stone Traders.
Further experimentation with wire rings. The ends of the wire were melted into balls using a torch, and some were extended to clasp tumbled stones. With no soldering, these rings are flexible and comfortable, as well as quick and easy to make. The downside - the ends can catch on clothing, and the stones can come out, so they're best limited to party wear.
More fooling around with wire! The spiny necklace is made of forged 12-gauge fine silver wire, and incorporates the sterling and monokaite pendant shown above.
The "Celtic" cuff bracelet is made of 10-gauge fine silver wire, with a transparent green stone set in sterling silver.
The stone for the pendant at right is not quite rectangular and not quite flat-backed, so could not be successfully bezel set, but prongs work OK.
From a 2-day chain-making workshop at Scintillant Studio, August 2009, with David Casella as instructor.
My loop-in-loop chain bracelet and samples are crafted from fused links of fine silver. Learning to fuse the delicate wire was a big challenge - but fusing is an amazing process. It's exciting to see the metal suddenly melt and run together!
Classes with Ronda Coryell at Revere Academy and Mendocino Art Center are leading me in a new direction, working with Argentium sterling silver, a relatively new, tarnish resistant alloy containing a small percentage of the element germanium as well as slightly more silver than standard sterling silver.
For me, the special attraction of working with Argentium is that (like gold) it fuses easily. It is appropriate for detailed work such as used in ancient jewelry, with tiny twists and granulations. These pendants are fused; no soldering! Each lacy piece is a single chunk of silver.
On the deck at Scintillant Studio, a demonstration of the art of traditional silversmithing by Elhadji Koumana of www.TuaregJewelry.com