Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Midas Touch

I would love to do more work in gold, but it's too hard on the budget. So I learned how to do Keum Boo (or Kum Boo), a Japanese technique of diffusing bits of thin gold foil onto silver. Fine silver (no alloys) works perfectly. If you use sterling silver (which has copper and other alloys), you must use a process called depletion gilding to bring the fine silver to the surface and then apply the gold. Even though I've done a couple of Keum Boo projects already, I just purchased a book by Celie Fago called Keum-boo on Silver to fine tune my skills. 

Here is a toggle clasp that I made using this technique. I textured a sheet of silver using my rolling mill, then made the toggle with my disk cutter and applied the gold circles. I'm excited about the results!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Heavy Metal

I'm taking a metal smithing class each Wednesday morning this month with Elaine Weisman. Not only does she know practically everything about working with gold and silver (she has an MFA - Master of Fine Arts) but she has the patience of a saint. 

The classes are freewheeling. You decide what you what to learn and Elaine spends time with each of the five students on a specific task. At the first class on July 1, I learned how to work with sheet wax to make an object ready for casting in precious metal. Specifically, I made a cone model for use when I make my multi strand necklaces. The wax comes in different gauges (thicknesses) and you can bend it with your fingers and/or heat the "dentist" tools that you use to work with the wax in the flame of an alcohol lamp. With the heated tools, you can join pieces of wax, dribble liquid wax, make marks in it, etc. 

Sheet wax lends itself to very organic forms - the kind I love so much.

Here's are pics of the wax cones I made, one embellished with leaves and one with stars.  You'll have to make a very large leap of faith to see it in gold or silver :) (I also show the wax tools and a brass store bought cone on one of my necklaces so you can how they are used.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Show Stopper

I "test drove" one of my new necklaces the other day and it got unsolicited rave reviews everywhere I went from the mall to the bead shop to the grocery store. Even the bag boy said: "What a great necklace!" At least ten people remarked on it.

It's made of turquoise slices on a brass chain with freshwater pearl, white coral and blue sodalite accent beads. Looks terrific with anything from dresses to jeans.

Monday, June 1, 2009

You Ought To Be In Pictures

I'm so excited!!! A necklace and earrings of mine will be shown in the movie, A Dry Land starring America Ferrera, scheduled to be released in 2010. The costume designer, Jerry Carnevale, liked the turquoise and quartz necklace so much, he bought an outfit to go with it! What a compliment. The actress wearing the jewelry is Kate Schroeder (in the role of Kathy Valdez).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Casting a Wide Net

Been busy learning how to use wax to create models for casting. I want to make some of my own jewelry findings instead of using store bought ones. Findings are components or materials used to make jewelry such as clasps, bead caps and bead cones for multi strand necklaces.  

A wax model can be cast in a gold or silver or a mold can be made and then the piece can be cast multiple times. Casting is a complicated process so I will have a local Albuquerque artisan, Dan Morgan, do the actual mold making and casting.

My ultimate goal is to have the items plated in 24 karat gold over silver which is what vermeil is. It is a more yellow and richer color gold than 14 karat.

Whew, this wax doesn't behave very well! Gotta keep practicing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fashion on the Street

I've come across a fun feature on the New York Times web site. A photographer, Bill Cunningham, bicycles around Manhattan every few weeks photographing and reporting on what "women and men on the street" are wearing. His commentary is very light and he obviously loves what he is doing. Just go to nytimes.com and search for Bill Cunningham or look in Fashion/Style "On the Street" and enjoy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bead Show

Went to the Bead Show in Santa Fe a few weeks ago. What a treat. I purchased some strawberry quartz beads that look like icicles and some gorgeous chalcedony briolettes in reddish brown, black and gray, and off white and black.

Chalcedony is a type of quartz. It comes in many colors and is sometimes dyed. Some varieties are agate, carnelian, chrysoprase, heliotrope and onyx.

Briolettes are usually teardrop, triangular or pear shaped gemstones that have a hole drilled horizontally left to right across the top of the stone. Sometimes they are faceted. They range in size from tiny (4-5 mm) to very large (25 mm).

Here is a picture of a piece I made with yellow creme chalcedony briolettes and purple freshwater pearls.

Miriam Haskell

Just received the book Miriam Haskell Jewelry. It is a history of the jewelry company with information about the Miriam and the designers who worked for her and fabulous pictures of the jewelry through the years. There are even photos of how the jewelry is put together.

Her designs still inspire today's jewelry just Coco Chanel's has influenced fashion throughout the decades. I am planning to do some pieces based on Haskell designs. Can't wait to get started.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hello, Everyone!

I'm a jewelry designer and make one of a kind pieces here in beautiful New Mexico. I'll blog about all areas of great design, which is a passion of mine. My jewelry is featured on my web site ninaforrest.com, ninaforrest.etsy.com, trunkt.org, and seekingdesigners.com/ninaforrest.