See My Work with Patty Lakinsmith for the ISGB/Bead and Button Convergence Exhibit

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mixed Metal - A Way Around the Price of Silver!

Yikes! The price of silver has hit the roof! As of today, Rio reported it as 34.72 a troy ounce.  That's actually down from around $36 reported last week, but it's still a shock! When I first started working with metal, I used mostly sterling silver. At that time, about 7 years ago, it was barely $9 a troy ounce.

I admit, I was rather cavalier about my silver back then....rarely worried about my scraps, never collected my sweeps, and recycling old pieces didn't occur to me. Now, you will often find me on my hands and knees scouring my studio floor for that tiny piece of silver I dropped while sawing or forming. And every piece of scrap goes in a container for reuse or to send in for refining. Now I'm looking at old pieces, or things in my "time out" box, for silver I can reuse in some form.

Another thing I've noticed is that I'm not the only one to incorporate alternative metals into my designs.
It's a good way to make an interesting piece of metal art, using less silver, and adding other metals like brass and copper. I've been seeing more steel and aluminum being used as well. I haven't tried that yet, but I'm sure I'll get to that soon.

I scoured Etsy for some unique designs by some of the talented metalsmiths, and thought I'd share them with you. Mixed metal pieces are becoming more popular, and these folks have created some unique and beautiful designs.

This cuff by LittleGreenRoom, shows how combining silver and copper can add an attractive embellishment to leather.

I really love this bangle by BobsBrass ! It's simple yet totally unique, combining several metals.

A cool pendant by lpjewelry! It's a very clean design, using rivets and stamping. The combination is very attractive.

And of course, I personally love combining brass and copper in my designs. It's a good way to way to make a large piece and minimize the cost of all that silver that I would normally use. It makes the designs more affordable for my customers in this current economy.

So there you have it! I'm seriously thinking of trying steel and aluminum next and will let you know how that experience goes.


Monday, March 7, 2011

New Stuff, Recycle, Upcycle!

Well, I'm getting ready for my trip to Eastern Europe, and I'm getting really excited! We'll start off in Budapest and cruise down the Danube as far as Bucharest. Then we'll fly to Germany to meet some friends, and spend some time in Munich before heading home. Should be great fun, and I'll be sure to post some pictures when I get back!

Meanwhile, I have been trying to add new things to my routine and have made some changes in my life.
I've been spending less time on line, more time in the studio and getting out of the house more! Spending less time on line has good and bad results.....not as much marketing, which reflects on the store, but a whole lot more time in the studio! But, yes Virginia, there is life beyond the internet!!!

I was rummaging through my studio in an effort to find some inspiration, and determined to recycle or upcycle some of my stash, and I found a box of Turquoise cabs and stones I'd forgotten about! Since I love Turquoise, and so many people do too, I'm making some new designs using my little treasures. Some of these stones are really big, so I'm trying to think of ways to use them. Meanwhile I'm tearing up old pieces from my "time out" box and recycling the metal. Have you seen the cost of silver these days????? Yikes. Definitely time to recycle and upcycle.

Here's a couple of pieces I've just finished:

I also completed another neckpiece and a big ring in turquoise and silver, but haven't had time to photograph them yet.

On another note - I found a team on Etsy for Florida! This is a wonderful discovery for me, because I have always wanted to get to know more artists from here and possibly even have a get together at a show or something. FEST is the Florida Etsy Street Team, and from what I can see, members are from all over Florida. Yay!

Well, back to the studio -

Have you pledged yet?

I Took The Handmade Pledge!