Experiments with titanium, Swapfest loot, and other progress

So I finally started playing with the titanium wire I ordered recently.

It is very lovely stuff – matte metallics colors (it is anodized), and a soft surface unlike any other metal (probably from the anodization).

It is also, as the website said, difficult to work with. I cannot put sharp bends in it; it will break. Right away. It work hardens FAST. And, like the website said, its temper is similar to spring steel, so I have to bend it well past where I want it to be in order for it to stay where I want it. It is also very light; holding one of the small coils, I had a hard time believing I was holding a metal (well, maybe aluminum).

An ear cuff, necklace concept in progress, and random bent shapes.

I don’t feel like I’ve got a good handle on how to use it yet; perhaps if I made the entire necklace from the same color? (The test piece is stainless steel for the support structure, and two different colors of titanium for the layered leaves.)

I do like how the colors of some of the wires work with the rainbow hues on my grey glass beads:

Shiny! The wire is a greyish blue; the bead has some similar colors in it.

In other exciting materials and supplies news, I made it to Swapfest, and got:

– 2 exceptionally lovely bearings

– 1 mystery object that might have come out of an old textile mill

– 2 hard drives with platters held in place with screws and not the mysterious unremovable mechanism some of my other junk drives have, not that I’m still bitter about that

– 1 box of random metal junk, which cost me $1, and was worth at least $2 in entertainment value

Everything from the box of random junk, laid out nicely. (plus hard drives and bearings from other sellers)

There are some small wrenches in that pile of stuff. And by “small” I mean “about the length of my finger THEY ARE ADORABLE.” Most of the weight of that box is made up by things that I think are bike parts. I don’t need them, but lugging them around was a reasonable payment for the small wrenches and other random small metal objects that I am going to clean and keep and eventually incorporate into . . . something.

There was also a piece of lead, in sheet form, in the box, which is now safely contained in a plastic bag. I don’t need a piece of lead sheet metal running around loose and contaminating the place.

The disk drives were also entertaining. One has unusually dark platters; the other had some fantastic machined pieces of metal separating its platters.

Yes, the platters really are dark brown.

Here's the metal piece separating two platters in the other drive.

Later, I discovered that if you hold a platter up so you can see your face in it, you can get some really odd effects if you move the platter around while looking at the reflection, because you will also see two blurry circles of the background at the same time. If you close one eye, you will only get one blurry circle, which leads to fun things like moving the platter so that the circle (the hole in the center of the platter) is where the reflection of your eye should be. It’s like being inside a Magritte, only instead of having an apple for a head, you have a potted plant for an eye.

It is very difficult to get good photographs of this.

Um.

Anyway.

I’ve also (finally) got two tiny book pendants put on cords and ready to photograph and eventually list on Etsy. I’m seriously considering opening up another online store on another site, but there are SO MANY other sites that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to choose.

Oh and I decoupaged the mannequin! At least partially. I didn’t think it was necessary to decoupage the entire thing, since I won’t be photographing the whole mannequin, just the portions necessary to show up jewelry. So she looks like she’s wearing a very stylish sort of crop-top, since the decoupage, which has uneven edges, stops somewhere above her navel.

Neat wire jewelry by other people

Part of my motivation for making wire jewelry was to learn how to turn pretty stone beads into pendants and the like, which meant I had to learn some basic wire-wrapping techniques. Lots of people do this kind of work, so I’ve had plenty of sources of awesome inspiration and eye candy.

Another part of my motivation was to explore an idea I had for making ear cuffs, which a lot of people also do with wire, except that one thing lead to another and I found that making interesting shapes with the wire was more intriguing than dangling beads from a basic ear cuff, and I have become more focused on using the wire to create the majority of the piece, to be the focus, rather than be used as primarily connective, structural material, or the framework.

But I have not seen many examples of this kind of work, focused on using the wire as the primary source of form and interest, which has had me at a bit of a loss in some ways.

Until recently, when I started finding other jewelry designers working primarily with wire to create their designs. And the excellent thing about them is that they are all strikingly different.

Beautifully simple mechanics; industrial

First (somewhere), I found this link to an interview with Brenda Schweder, who not only makes jewelry using wire, but steel wire!

Oh my god. I am not alone!

There are a lot of awesome photos of her work on her Facebook page; it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I really like the simple forms of this piece, and the design of the sections that go around the wearer’s neck:

Winterfrost Pod by Brenda Schweder

Three-dimensional organic forms

Also from Lark Crafts (that post has a free tutorial in it), I found the blog and jewelry of Kathy Frey, who also makes sculptural jewelry out of wire. Her gallery and her Etsy have plenty of examples. Her pod shapes, and the nest shapes, are my favorites.

Suspended Hidden Pearl Pod Pendant, by Kathy Frey

Simple geometry, reminiscent of mid-century Modernism

And via a post on Kathy Frey’s blog, I found Tia Kramer, who makes her own paper and combines that with wire forms. The combination of simple geometric shapes and rich colors (from the paper) just blows my mind. She has some very elaborate necklaces that incorporate other pieces of jewelry in them (like earrings and a bracelet) that can be worn as one piece or separately, as well as many simple, stunning pieces.

Crescent Eclipse, sterling silver and handmade paper, by Tia Kramer

Science fiction, high-tech

Going for a totally different style is this choker reminiscent of cyberpunk (found via someone’s board on Pinterest (they linked another piece by the same person)):

Bionic choker by DominicElvinDesign

I am not entirely sure what media are used in this piece, other than wire. Polymer clay? Precious metal clay? Random found objects?

I don’t really care, because the part of my brain that loves high-tech science fictiony design thinks this is the best thing ever. (It is currently engaged in a standoff with the parts of my brain that prefer Modernism, or an industrial look, or organic shapes.)

Now with crossposting!

This blog will now automagically crosspost to:

My account (feathersmith) on Dreamwidth from which it will even more magically be crossposted to my account (feathersmith) on Livejournal.

If you’ve been reading via the syndicated feed on LJ, I recommend adding feathersmith to your flist, because if you comment on the syndicated post, I will probably never see it. Also, the syndicated posts eventually expire, but posts made in an actual journal do not.

Body parts by mail and other fun

Since most of my necklaces do not lie nice and flat on either a table or a quick-and-easy necklace bust, I decided that the best way to photograph them – and form them, to a certain extent – would be to acquire a mannequin.

Here is my new assistant, who is close enough to my size that I can dress her up with my own clothes (. . . which is more disturbing to think about than I was expecting). I think she needs a layer of decoupage (her actual color is a much more unappealing brownish pink than the photo shows, not to mention the texture of the plastic). And a name.

Plastic female mannequin torso in a cardboard box

Now I know how much of my dismembered carcass would fit in a box. Most of it, is the answer. There's plenty of room in there for arms and legs. (Also note the lack of packing material provided.)

So I’m working on some projects for a literacy fundraiser, which means literary themes (hence TINY BOOKS!), and somehow my original ideas unexpectedly turned into an idea for a mess of beads and charms linked together in a way that I usually don’t work with because making links kinda makes me want to cry or throw everything out the window, but it was such a neat concept that I couldn’t resist. *sigh*

Um.

Anyway.

I decided that to make the links less tediously the same (it is contemplating the sameness that fills me with despair and loathing), I would add leaf and tendril elements to some or all of them.

Of course this means I couldn’t just decide that the first way I found to do it – which is a perfectly reasonable way! – was good enough and stick with it, oh no, suddenly I have MANY MORE IDEAS for how to make bead links more interesting while incorporating leafy things. So instead of working on the damn project, I am sketching ideas onto the paper and then compelled to test them out for real.

Because if I don’t, they will bother me until I do.

Some sketches and prototypes for ways of linking beads together while making the wire do interesting things. The link in the middle is what I am currently using; the link on the bottom I like a lot but haven't used - yet. The one on the top seemed like a good idea when I sketch it, but I dislike it now. The beads and charms on the left are part of the necklace that is troubling me; the pile on the right consists of potential components.

I’ve probably said it before, but the mechanical aspects of making jewelry with wire is at least half the fun. So I may be complaining about feeling forced to experiment when I have something that needs finishing, but it’s like complaining about having to choose between hot fudge and caramel. (Naturally, one puts both on, arranged so that they can be enjoyed separately OR together.)

Speaking of exciting mechanical challenges:

Two TINY BOOKS wrapped in wire, to be used as pendants.

Two TINY BOOKS! Carefully wrapped in wire such that they can be worn as pendants! AND TAKEN OUT OF THEIR TINY CAGES!!

My excitement about these things is inversely proportional to their size.

And also, the ideas for enclosing them! TOO MANY. Or, perhaps, just enough; some of them are clearly awful even on paper. Whatever, there isn’t enough time to give them all a proper tryout.

I have another project in mind that is more of a research project than a physical making-stuff project: there are approximately TOO MANY TOO COUNT different online marketplaces focused on selling handmade stuff, and they all offer slightly different costs and benefits, and I have yet to find any single source that puts them all together so that you can, at a quick glance, compare them.

This is on my to-do list now.

SOS spells success!

Put that dictionary down before you hurt someone; you know what I mean.

The exhibit looked great, thanks to the hard work of a bunch of folks at the Asylum, especially Ecco and Carolyn, who organized it all. We – and I mean mostly other people – gave a lot of tours of the space to visitors, and people seemed really enthusiastic about it.

The art was great, too. I didn’t take many pictures, but other people did. Eventually I will have links to those photos. In the meantime:

Art! And a go-kart! There's more on the left; click the photo to see the whole set.

Part of my display, showing off my wire trees and some of the necklace busts.

Here are more photos of the construction of the necklace busts, which were made from cardboard boxes (and covered with the kraft paper the boxes were stuff with, except that black one, which I covered with a layer of black art paper, all the better to show off the necklace). They pack mostly flat when disassembled.