10 Jewelry Designs with Textures That Make Them Sing
The first time I saw a super-sharp photograph of yarn, I was astonished. It made me rub my fingers together as if I could actually feel the fibers. How could such a thing be possible, my 6-ish-year-old self marveled. Since then I’ve looked at many excellent photos. I’m still surprised and delighted every time I experience that immediate tactile sensation through sight alone. Richly textured jewelry can have the same wonderful effect on me, though I’m also enchanted by other and subtler surfaces, too.
ABOVE: Blue Cloud Drusy Pendant by Lexi Erickson, July 2017 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson
Rarer Than a Blue Moon
Blue chalcedony is favored by many for its lovely color and gentle translucency. It’s always an uncommon material, but the centerpiece of Lexi Erickson’s Blue Cloud Drusy Pendant is way beyond that. These gems are often naturally curved, but not in a way that makes such perfectly puffy clouds. Quite a bit of blue chalcedony has a drusy coating, but the very delicate drusy on this puffy surface is composed of exceptionally fine crystals. The variously textured disk/moon, back plate/sky, and bezel/horizon then work together to set up those floating clouds of stone, which remain the star of the show.
Uncommon Petrified Wood
Lexi takes a more subdued approach for a stone whose pattern and color are what set it apart. The petrified wood has been polished smooth, with a hint of depth visible in the wood’s uneven mineralization. While the bezel’s small yet pronounced serrations might draw your eye first, pointing toward the cabochon the little triangles quickly shift your gaze to the stone. The understated back plate shimmers softly from a texture produced with tissue and a rolling mill.
Heard It Through . . .
This time Lexi went all out for theme, organic, color, and, yes indeed, texture. The three-dimensional purple chalcedony embodies the idea of a mineral that is botryoidal in form — from the Greek for bunch of grapes. Naturally, she surrounded that juicy looking stone with deeply veined grape leaves and curling tendrils from the vineyard. Using a burnisher, she added one of her favorite linear textures to the top of the partial bezel. When the piece moves in the light, it seems the sun is winking back at you in a bit of extra celebratory glam. The whole bunch lies on a smooth back plate that serves as the perfect silver platter.
These three examples give a nice overview of where designing with texture can take you, but Lexi’s not the only one to make use of this element. Other jewelry artists also enhance or spotlight a focal element, add realistic detail to a representational piece, or otherwise play with texture in their designs.
Fine and Silky
In her linked bracelet, Deborah Mauser layers small pieces of fine gold foil on fine silver sheet using the traditional Korean technique of keum boo. The two layers create a slight texture, though the gleaming, richly colored precious metals themselves are what stand out. She also enhances that richness with a fine-grained texture plate to make the metals even more compelling.
The sleek look of Sam Patania’s silver cuff contrasts with its chunky turquoise in a melded style Sam calls Modernist Southwest. The smooth metal rounds lie within a chiseled channel of the smooth cuff, creating an interrupted surface that fits the irregular character of the cabochon’s surface.
Two contrasting metals run in clean lines around Tom Werkheiser’s Copper Wire Cuff with Silver Wire “Inlay.” The simple yet arresting bracelet demonstrates that smooth is a texture, too.
The traditional Japanese metalsmithing technique of mokumé gané uses contrasting metals to simulate wood grain patterns. The finished sheet is the product of a much manipulated stack of several or even a dozen or more different metals or alloys. Roger Halas is one jewelry artist who uses mokumé in his designs. In giving life to his Mokumé Gané Snake Pendant, Roger paired a snakeskin pattern with a twisting snake form. To finish it off, the creature’s tail cleverly curls into a bail, letting the pendant hang from — what else? — a snake chain.
Compare those last few designs to Erica Stice’s silver and copper fish pendant. The deeply textured surfaces of both metals are what put the motif in context. Embedded in a partly compacted, earthy-looking plate, the somewhat crumpled, skeletal fish brings to mind a fossil preserved in sedimentary rock.
In her splat design cuff, Noël Yovovich melts down bits of scrap and then smacks the molten metal into irregular shapes. She fuses her splats onto a cuff to create a piece that is lively, casual, and unpredictable. Besides being a productive use of scrap silver, she says it’s a productive way of venting frustration. I bet it is!
Jeff Fulkerson’s spinner bangles are meant to move around constantly. Like popular spinner rings, a slender bangle or two (or more) spin freely within the upwardly curving confines of the wider bangle. The layers of bracelets are the foundation of this design. The real kick comes from its constantly shifting three-dimensional landscape. Each bracelet is made different by color and luster, sometimes with added metal or gemstones.
Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.
Find These Textured Jewelry Designs
Each of these outstanding jewelry projects is available as a single project download. All 10 have also recently been released by the editors of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist in an attractively priced collection. Our 10 Textured Metal Jewelry Projects: Enhance Surfaces With or Without a Rolling Mill is available now in the Interweave Store.
Really Get Acquainted with the Rolling Mill
Whether you’ve owned and used a rolling mill for years or are just looking at one, you can learn a lot about this piece of equipment from extraordinary metals instructor Richard Sweetman. Yes, jewelry makers love using a roll mill to add texture to metal, but it can do a lot more. Benefit from his decades of experience both making and teaching in Get the Most Out of Your Rolling Mill with Richard Sweetman, also available as an online workshop or video.
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