A New Adventure

For some time now I have been working on a new project with the intent of taking my jewelry in a slightly different direction. It’s time to create a niche product, or a jewelry line all my own. I have previously written about my love of all things American made and perhaps I have even hinted at my dream of creating an all American made jewelry line. This project is the first step in helping me to accomplish that dream.

 

With funding as my first major obstacle, I have turned to the internet to raise money for this project, which will be an extension of my current jewelry business, Gretchen Smith Jewelry. My goal is to raise enough money to buy the tools and supplies I need to get the line started and I will sell the finished jewelry through my website and possibly through local shops.

 

The project is set up through Kickstarter.com and it works on a concept called “crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding is different from standard financing because it reaches out to the public for support instead of specific investors.

 

Kickstarter is the ideal funding route for this project because it allows me to connect with a network of people who are as enthusiastic about small businesses as I am. It also allows me to reach out and connect with the growing network of businesses creating American made products.

 

In line with the Kickstarter.com guidelines, I have a set number of days to raise the funds I need or I do not receive any funding. For this project, I have a 30 day window from start to finish to reach my goal of $1,500. If the goal is not reached by June 12, all pledges are cancelled and the project will not be funded. If the goal is reached by June 12, I will receive the funding to start the new jewelry line and all financial backers who have pledged amounts over $20.00 will receive one of my new jewelry designs as a thank you for their support.

 

My dear readers, I do not like going around asking for money, but I encourage you to check out my project at the link below. I also ask that you pass the information and link onto your connections. Let’s see if we can get another American made business out there.

Here is the link: American Made Materials for American Made Jewelry

Thank you for stopping by!

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The New Look of Silver

One of the things I enjoy about creating jewelry is the fact that there are so many styles and so many ways to create things. There are different metals, different stones, and different techniques to try and expand on. The trouble I have with this is when I get an idea in my head, I have to try it. My most recent idea was oxidizing the sterling silver I work with. Oxidation (the exposure to oxygen) causes silver to tarnish (turn a darker color) and deliberate oxidation can give jewelry a whole new look.

Generally, the reason people wear silver is because they enjoy the bright shiny color of it. Ladies work hard to keep their silver from tarnishing as they polish it regularly and store it in protective bags. However, there is a rising trend in oxidized jewelry. This type of oxidation is not from lack of maintenance though, it is done during the manufacturing process.

Before I get too far, let me clarify one item. Sterling silver is an alloy (blend) of at least 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (typically). The copper is added to the silver to make the silver strong enough for use in jewelry and flatware. Silver itself is tarnish-resistant, but the copper reacts with oxygen and causes the metal to tarnish. Some of the other things that can cause sterling silver to tarnish are exposure to pollution, salt, sulfur, and other chemicals.

In the jewelry manufacturing process, I have found two ways of oxidizing sterling silver quickly. The first is a chemical called liver of sulfur  The sulfur causes the metal to oxidize quickly and evenly giving it a nice dark color. The jewelry can be left dark, or the high spots can be polished while the low spots are left dark, which adds texture and depth to the piece. The other way I have found is to expose the silver to sulfur in an egg. Using a hard-boiled egg, I put the piece in a container with the egg and the sulfer released by the egg gives the silver a nice dark color. This way seems much safer to me than working with chemicals. And don’t worry…I clean the piece with warm water and a mild soap before calling it done.

With the oxidized silver jewelry, you still have the quality and durability of silver jewelry, but you don’t have to worry about keeping it bright and shiny. I think this gives the pieces a natural feel and allows them to be dressed up or down much more easily than polished silver.

Here are a few pieces I recently created. What do you think?

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Red Jasper Oxidized Bracelet

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Red Jasper Oxidized Earrings

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Red Jasper Oxidized Necklace

If you would like more  information on them or would like to purchase any of them, they are available on my Etsy site through the links listed below the photos.

What are your thoughts on the oxidized metal? I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but now that I have done these three pieces, I am looking forward to creating some more. I have always thought some stones would look better with a darker metal, but I was afraid to move away from silver. This gives me a solution to that problem.

Thanks for stopping by!

Certification and Creations

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I last wrote! With three upcoming shows, I have been busy making jewelry and trying to get myself prepared for the holiday shopping season! Yes, I know it’s only September, but when you craft you have to give yourself plenty of time to get things made.

 

I have two big items to cover in this note. The first is I have finally completed the Associate Jewelry Professional (AJP) certification I have been working on through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is considered to be the authority when it comes to jewelry, gemstones, and precious metals, so having training through them can be quite valuable to someone who is trying to get into the industry.  The certification gives an overall understanding of precious metals, gemstones, diamonds, and the jewelry industry as a whole. It has been a great experience for me and I feel I have learned a lot through these courses. I hope it will continue to pay off as I build my own business.

 

The second item of note is I received some American-made metals last Friday and have put together a few pieces with it. I don’t know if I can express in writing how excited I am about the idea of creating jewelry with all American-made components.

 

These pieces really encompass two concepts that excite me. The first I just mentioned is the concept of creating truly American-made jewelry. The second is my desire to create more all metal, or mostly metal, jewelry. I think these pieces can be stunning and also very practical because they can match almost any outfit. I focus on the simple elegance concept that I love so the pieces can work on just about any woman for any occasion.

 

Have I kept you waiting long enough? I suppose you want to see what all of my excitement is about?  Here they are….

This is a necklace and earring set I created first. I crafted the squares from a larger sheet of sterling silver. The little rings (called jumprings) connecting the squares as well as the earring hooks (called earwires) were created from a larger piece of sterling silver wire. The earwires and jumprings were an interesting learning experience. I always bought my earwires and jumprings, but I found it would be much more cost-effective if I could learn how to make them myself.

This is a pair of earrings I created on a whim. They didn’t turn out quite as I had planned, but I really like the way the turned out. The edges are a little crooked, but that actually gives them a rustic feel instead of looking like they were not made correctly. I think they are perfect for fall outfits of corduroys and long-sleeved t-shirts.

 

If you are interested in any of these items, you can check them out at my Etsy shop here:

 Sterling Silver Hammered Link Earrings

Sterling Silver Hammered Link Necklace

Sterling Silver Hammered Rectangle Earrings

 

I have also listed a few other new items that really encompass the eleganct simplicity concept, so please take some time and look around while you are in the shop.

Also, I noted my upcoming shows at the start of this note. Here’s what is coming up (mark your calendar now!):

Friday & Saturday, October 12 & 13, 2012 – Lititz Artisans’ Porchwalk. 10AM until 5PM. I will be at 26 East Lemon Street, Lititz, PA 17543.

Sunday, October 28, 2012 – Artists’ Alley at the Manheim Railroad Station. 12PM until 5PM. 210 S Charlotte Street, Manheim, PA 17545.

Saturday November 17, 2012 – Holiday Craft Show at Winters Heritage House Museum. 9AM until 4PM. 41-47 E. High St., Elizabethtown PA 17022

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Latest and Greatest in Wire

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m aiming toward creating more solid metal jewelry for my collection. Part of this incorporates the use of sterling silver wire. I have felt inspired to play with some wire lately and came up with a few pairs of simply elegant earrings. Please excuse me while I show them off…

 

This pair was created after I created a pair just like them on a whim as a gift. After I gave the first pair away, I realized I had not taken a photo of them! I had to make another pair just so I could get a photo…and also because I think they are really pretty! The thin lines lengthen the face and the delicate design goes perfectly with anything and on anyone!

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Curved Wire Earrings

 

The next pair I created by accident. I was hoping for a completely different design than what I ended up with and I’m glad they worked out the way they did. The initial creation left me with two earrings that did not look similar enough for my liking, so I cut parts off, hammered other parts for texture, bent and curled and the result is as follows:

I wish I could show these in motion. They move with such grace!  Again, the solid silver design allows these earrings to go anywhere.

 

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Semi-Circle Earrings

 

This last pair was just for fun. I had an idea and ran with it; luckily, it turned out nicely. At first glance, these earrings are a bit funky, but I think you could really dress them up or wear them for a day at the mall. The sleek silver lines give them a simple elegance with a modern twist.

If you are interested in this pair of earrings, they can be found here: Sterling Silver Zigzag Earrings

It’s funny how you can take something as simple as a single strand of wire and come up with something that has such a “wow” effect. I really enjoyed making these, and I think I’m on the right track as I am moving forward with doing more solid metal designs.
Have you let your imagination run wild lately? Go ahead, release your creativity. It might give you a boost of confidence or least give you a few moments of fun. Just try something new!

Thanks for stopping by!