28 June 2010

a touch of class : repurposed chandelier crystals

For some time now I have had my eye on some chandelier crystals I found thrift shopping. Just a few short weeks ago an idea came to me. I could use the crystals to make jewelry. I had thought of wrapping the crystals to some chain, but that isn't quite my style. So, I grabbed a face shield and my torch to see if the crystals could with-stand heat. And they did just fine! 

I made jump rings which re-iterated the shape of the crystals. Next, I played around with the chains to see how and where they would attach to the crystals. Once all of the soldering was done I oxidized the chains to bring out the patterns in them. 

Quite pleased with the outcome, I placed an order for more chain, with many more designs in mind. 

Now, I wait patiently for my order to arrive because there is so much more to get out of my head. It was a fun little project and made me realize that I need to make at least one new design a week. Simple or extravagant, I need to get something new out of my head and into metal. I feel refreshed and more like an artist, better ready to face the hours of soldering ahead. 

What projects do you have which are refreshing? or fulfilling? Please do share.

xo, Kim

24 June 2010

not your mama's spoon ring

Seems I may have discovered the new, hip way to repurpose silver spoons. 

post earrings
{click on the photo to see them in my updated shop.}

{a picture taken in my studio of the raw materials and finished piece.}

These have inspired me to design some patterns of my own to transform boring silver sheet. I think I may make some designs from paper and roll them onto silver. This will be healthier than using chemicals for etching. Now to have time to sketch and cut. I love the idea of capturing random shapes to make into pairs. 

More repurposing to come. But I leave you with one hint: chandelier.

xo, Kim

an etsy shop update

I decided to spend some time on my etsy shop this week. I hear that artists make a living off of etsy while some grab a few sales here and there. For me, etsy has been a website to put on my business card. Most of my sales have been due to supplies I wanted to get rid of. There have been a few jewelry sales here and there but not enough to finally kick that old nasty habit of a day job. 

Here is my new work...

I have been having so much fun enameling! The results are worth standing in front of a 1450 degree kiln. These poppies are inspired by those gorgeous white anemones you see with the dark blue centers. 

I needed to change my rings up a bit, so I went for shine and reflections of light and color. This is a smoky quartz bead riveted to one of my square bands. I love how light dances around on this ring!

Bitty earrings are back. Oxidized and scratched. Aren't they cute?

This rings has been around for a while now. When I took photographs for the re-opening of my etsy shop I realized I only photographed the square pod ring. So, here is the round one. Hope you like it.

More bitty earrings, this time punched from a hand textured sheet. These are a great seller at the open markets.

Just like white irises with purple centers. I love playing with this transparent purple. It fires chartreuse when white enamel isn't applied first. Unpredictable and fun. 

You caught me, this is an old style. I had to re-list it because it just seems to pretty not to have in my shop. Especially during the height of wedding season. Wouldn't these be perfect for bridesmaids?

Go on now, click on the photos and peek at them in my shop. Maybe select something as a present. {It is still a present even if it is for you!}

thanks for reading and looking.
xo, Kim

22 June 2010

i {heart} enamels: more new work and inspiration

I left the studio on Friday feeling accomplished. All of my new pieces were finished for Craftland, plus I had new work to display under my tent. It seems I get along with this new work schedule. One full day in the office and the rest of the time in my studio. I am happier and more productive. Life is bliss!

All I have seen lately are the walls of my studio and that is where I have found inspiration. 

Lichen green is subtle and pretty. The background of the photo above is so soothing and I wanted to recreate that feeling in these earrings.

Specks of color can be fun too. The white of the petals can be seen in most of my recent enamels. I have been using it as a canvas instead of plain silver. It creates a sense of depth and texture. I am smitten with color.

I have been studying the warm colors in this photograph. How the orange compliments the yellow in the wings of the butterfly, making it more vibrant.

Playing with color is fun. Enamels are my adult box of crayons. I can use the color straight from the packet or play around with layers of color or introduce a few specks of a contrasting color. 

For now, I will keep having fun with my color explorations. It seems you like them too! I can't keep some of the colors or styles around for long but I won't ever complain about people loving my work!

15 June 2010

i {heart} enamels: new work and inspiration

Lately, I have been spending my time in front of a 1450 degree fahrenheit kiln sifting and firing enamels. My canvas has been fine silver circles dapped into cups, some with ear wires attached and some with holes, waiting for ear wires once they are finished. My inspiration has been photographs of nature.

For some time now, I have been studying this picture trying to decide how I will capture these colors in enamel. I love the subtle color variations. When you think the petal has finally gone to white you see the palest of blues or the faintest yellow.
{Please excuse the poor quality, this is a photograph taken of a magazine.}

Here are the first few layers of color. It seemed too subtle with white and transparent lilac with areas of light chartreuse. Out came the opaque purple so I could add a dash.

I do love the result but I feel that the inspiration was lost. This is a whole lot of color and lacking in the subtle changes that I had admired. But this is a constructive criticism on my ability to become too enthusiastic with sifting color. I will accept these and try something new next time. That is what I love about this design, they are made to be experiments in color, no two the same. 

.....Onto the next photo of inspiration.....

How I love lady beetles! Isn't the quote sweet too? Oh, I am getting side tracked. What I am really looking at are the colors and how they contrast each other. I tried to capture the lovely orange red which jumps off the green leaf.

I feel I was more successful in capturing my inspiration on these poppy earrings. My favorite part about these is that the color properly reflects their name. It isn't always the case for me because I get taken away by the world of color, but sometimes it is nice to be able to paint your own landscape isn't it?

Soon enough, I will have a few more pairs made and they will find a place at Craftland. But only for a little while until they find themselves a caring home.

07 June 2010

silver lining earrings, another pair of waste not earrings filled with hope

I am sure you read my post where I declared myself to be of an eco-friendly mind and conscious. {If not, get reading:  http://kobrienjewelry.blogspot.com/2010/06/bitty-earrings-because-every-little-bit.html} I decided to play around with the discs I had punched from scraps of silver. It seemed like fun to pile a few together, layering the little circles into a composition. No matter how I arranged the little bits of silver around they took on the form of clouds. I happily soldering them in place and later soldered a post onto them. When I got to the finishing stages I had brought them to a shine. After reflecting on them for a few minutes I decided to darken them with a patina. It seemed fitting, as sometimes you need to see through the darkness to gain some hope.

I love the meaning of the phrase "silver lining" and the glimmers of hope that come with it. Everyone has their own grey times to get through with notions that good times are to come. It is different for each person. These earrings will hold a new meaning to each person who comes across them. I love that an object which is so little can have various meanings of importance. 

So, take a look at them in my shop by clicking on the image above. Just know that these will not be made to order. It isn't every day that I have scraps of silver to make these from. However, it should happen often enough as I saw my way through projects. 

04 June 2010

i am a designer metalsmith & artisan

It seems that not a sale goes by where at least four people ask me if I am the artist, or the designer, or jeweler as I greet people from behind my work. I often wonder the reason. Is it because I look young, too young to make stuff? Or because I am a girl so I probably don't have the tools necessary to make jewelry? Maybe it is because they are so use to buying mass produced items and aren't familiar with meeting the designer? Whatever the reason, it made me decide to label myself. 

In a cute manner, of course! 

.....And onto the reason I chose my labels....
I decided on the label "designer" as I do indeed design my jewelry in the manner stated in the definition.... 
designer |dəˈzīnər|nounperson who plans the formlook, or workings of something before its being made or built, typically by drawing it in detail 

One label down, now onto whether or not to choose metalsmith or jeweler. Once I looked at the definitions I knew the proper label right away.
jeweler |ˈjoō(ə)lər| ( Brit. jeweller)nouna person or company that makes or sells jewels or jewelry.

.........So, I make jewelry and I sell it but there is so much more to the process...........


metalsmith, often shortened to smith, is a person involved in making metal objects. In contemporary use a metalsmith is a person who uses metal as a material, uses traditional metalsmithing techniques (though not necessarily the material), whose work thematically relates to the practice or history of the practice, or who engages in any number metal related activities.

Metalsmith suits me best. I feel that jeweler is limited. When I study the definition it seems a jeweler could just be a person who only sells jewelry, and this is not true of me. I hammer metal for texture, form it, shape it and bend it. I texture metal with a scribe or foredom. I add color with semi-precious stones and enamel. I anneal, solder, fuse and ball metal. There is more to this list but we are talking about labels, aren't we?

Next up is artisan. 
artisan |ˈärtizən|nouna worker in a skilled trade, esp. one that involves making things by hand.
artisannounartisans from around North America will demonstrate their crafts craftsman, craftswoman, craftsperson; skilled worker, technician;smith, wright, journeyman; archaic artificer.
Perfect! That is me!

Just as I struggled over labels, I struggled with the design of my shirt. I suppose the designer in me came out. I found some old printed sheets of iron on transfers. They were covered with my drawing of a lady bird beetle. And they were just aching to crawl over my shirt. 
There is one on the back too. I think it is a cute shirt and not too shabby for my first go of it. Maybe it will be a conversation starter. Hopefully, it will lower the number of questions asking if I am the designer or artist. 

What labels do you give yourself? Do others force you to label yourself? Do you find yourself trying to prove that you are the artist or designer? 

03 June 2010

another saturday, another open market

I hope to see you there! 
In case you forgot the drill there will be a variety of lovely artisans there from 10-4. Where is there? Lippitt Park which is located on the corner of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard. So, please put this crowd to shame, get your buns there and shop.

02 June 2010

I fell in love with retail and studio space

Not only am I a year older, this year I needed to get my license renewed. I decided to make getting to the registry a fun adventure and set off on my bike. I knew there would be nice stops on the way as I had discovered Kafe Lila on the internet a few days before. Now I can't recall how this discovery took place, nonetheless, it happened and upon finding Kafe Lila I laid eyes upon the Grant

Isn't she purdy? I love old buildings and Pawtucket is filled with them. 

As I sat in the cafe drinking an Iced Latte with soy I decided to take a look at the building's website. That is when I fell in love. I discovered this space is for rent. 
Well, not all of this space. The 750 square feet behind the red doors are for rent. I think this would make for some great studio/retail space. I would have some room to teach jewelry classes. I am thinking enameling, tool making and a few classes on texture. But I dream. It isn't feasible for one person to do. Well, not this one person. 

I need to know that one day, in the not too far future, I will have a space to call my own {oh, and to share with other lovely artisans} where I can walk by a pretty cafe and wave hello to fellow tenants. I would smile knowing that I have accomplished something for myself, the art which I love deeply and don't know how to live without. I would also smile knowing that I was able to provide a place for other artisans to display and sell their work or to come and share new ideas and techniques. It doesn't all seem like too much, does it? 

For now, this will remain a fountain, inside a building I get to visit on my bike riding days. 
But, just for now, not always.

bitty earrings, because every little bit counts!

With the years of being a young student and supporting myself through college not too far behind me I can still recall the days of using my metal in a thrifty manner. When it came time to get metal for casting class I went to an antique store a few blocks from the arts campus and bought some old sterling silver utensils which were of no more value than the silver they were made of. I chopped the spoons and forks up and made some new jewelry with them. By re-using utensils I was able to cut the fabrication and shipping costs which would have been charged by a refiner. Even more thrifty than utensils I used pieces of scrap which I had been saving for such an occasion. On other projects, if I didn't have the correct gauge wire I would roll it out and forge it to the size or shape necessary for my pieces. While I was trying so hard to be thrifty I wasn't quite thinking about being eco-friendly. Now, I look back and realize that I was indeed being a good earth loving artisan in recycling my materials. Even more responsible than purchasing metals made of supposed recycled or eco-friendly materials. There are still a lack of checks and balances for responsibly mined metals, gemstones and diamonds. {for more information read Ethical Metalsmiths.} Until there is a complete list of safe places to buy metal which has been mined in a responsible manner which meets fair trade standards I will continue to believe that I am following the path of a metalsmith who uses every last bit of her materials, wastes nothing and uses only non-toxic flux and pickle, therefore, being an earth loving metalsmith who treads lightly on the environment. 

And these little earrings demonstrate my care in using every little bit.

This is what I start with...
yup, that's right, I start with scraps of scraps. The tiny scallop-edged piece of metal. I carefully place the punch to make sure I will get a full circle when I swing my hammer over the end of the punch.

After I solder the posts on I clean the earrings with my 3m wheels. I add texture to some and bring others to a polish. Some bitty earrings are made of textured sheet from the start, which make them even more fun!
 {sorry I checked and the posts aren't so called eco-friendly. I was sure the catalog claimed that all of their findings were eco-friendly but the listing is now missing the company's new seal of eco-friendly approval. I tried to throw some recycled goodness in there for you!}

And this is the final piece...
They are itty-bitty and using up almost every last bit of metal. The rest will be saved for casting. If you are in love with these, just click on the image to see them in my etsy shop!

Are there materials in your medium which you consider to not be so earth hugging friendly as they claim to be? Please share.

01 June 2010

welcome spring! day on the farm edition

Just a few weekends ago we celebrated my mother's birthday on the farm. {The Shy Brother's Farm that is.}  We went for a stroll through the fields and on shell covered paths through neighboring land. It was fun to meet up with the ladies of the field while we were walking. I know that Callie enjoyed it, she loves meeting cows and tries to get to know them better so she can do her job and herd those unruly ladies. 

So, here are some pictures of the home of Shy Brother's Farm, where the milk comes from for Hannahbells and Cloumage cheese. It is popular here in Providence with many high end eateries carrying the cheese on their menus. Now you know the care taken for the entire process.

Beautiful irises line a stone wall near the farm house on Adamsville Road. I can't believe I forgot to take some of these home. But I will always have this lovely photograph of them.

Here are some of the ladies behind Hannahbells and Cloumage Cheeses, trying to decide if they want to say hello.

I am always so surprised at how clean these cows are. I just love how they are happily roaming the fields. Whenever we come upon them it seems like we are disturbing their mischief. 

The shell paths were lined with ferns, just beginning to unroll and spread out. 
{May be some inspiration for new work!}

We came across the occasional tractor and piece of farm machinery. The liven the place up with some color. These tires are a mere few inches shorter than my 5'3".

Behind the rows of newly planted corn you can see the house where a beloved neighbor was born. This photo seems so far away from Westport, MA.
{Aren't the clouds amazing?} 

I do love seeing this turbine here every time I visit. I think turbines are sexy.

So, all of you locals who graze on the Shy Brother's cheese, are you happy to see how lovely the land is and how happy the cows are? After seeing some new articles over the last week it seems we should all be happy that there is such a loving family who takes great care of their cows and land. Now stop reading and go buy more cheese.

thanks for reading!