5 Favorite Jewelry-Making Projects That Surprise Us
The Little Something That Makes a Jewelry Design Special
Hearts and . . . bats? Absolutely. And leaves, grapes, abstracts, and yes, flowers, too. It’s not about the motif but how you spin it that makes the difference between okay and special. Here are five jewelry-making projects demonstrated in recent issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist that I think are really something else.
ABOVE RIGHT: Roger Halas’s bat pendant and subtle bone-motif necklace aren’t what you usually think of as bridge or day-to-night jewelry, but you could easily wear the piece with a T-shirt and jeans or a long black dress. Photo: Roger Halas
Heart to Heart Silver and Agate Pendant by Jeff Fulkerson
Not everyone would look at these two agate cabochons and think “heart.” As soon as you see how Jeff puts them together, though, it’s obvious.
Rather than plopping the teardrop and near-teardrop stones onto a perfectly symmetric heart-shaped back plate, he’s used the departures in shape to create an offset heart. Now the stones fit together to form a heart, and more significantly, the result is a much more interesting pendant. As with the shape, so with the coloration: the reddish patterns in the cabs suggest the traditional hue, and then celebrate a variation on it.
Flip the pendant over and you’ll discover hearts galore in different sizes and scattered at odd angles, all but one filled with a lush texture produced by fusing filings. The one left smooth is the perfect spot to put your maker’s mark, an inscription to a loved one, or just leave plain for contrast.
Hang the finished pendant on the chain of your choice. Jeff’s choice (not demonstrated in this project) carries the theme through beautifully, with a heart-accented chain and arrow-piercing-heart toggle for a clasp. Sweet!
Vampire Bat Linked Necklace by Roger Halas
Roger Halas loves to create elaborate and really out-there creatures in his jewelry, but sometimes even he believes that less is more. “The bat silhouette is an icon made to look cool, not like some cutesy holiday decoration (as a Batman fan I had to restrain my impulse to turn this into a Batarang). I wanted to create a sense of the macabre with a touch of elegance and a little bit of naughty in a piece for anyone who loves Halloween, which should be everyone!”
The simply drawn bat pendant hung on a necklace made with understated bone–like links and toggle bar gives this design a wider appeal, as well as making it very cool. Even the choice of a Madeira garnet has a subtlety to it: there’s orange and black, but they’re separated with a bit of silver.
And for those of you who’d like to pay tribute to the recently late Adam West: Holy Sawing and Filing, Batman, instructions for the necklace are included!
Techniques for Graphite & Enamel by JoAnn Wadler
“Pencil isn’t just for paper anymore!” declares JoAnn in her intro to demonstrating how literally to draw on enamel with a pencil.
“It’s easy to create beautiful works of art on your enamels, and if you don’t draw, that’s ok. You can doodle, even zentangle. And the best part is if you don’t like it, you can wash it off and start again — before you put your enamel piece back in the kiln to make it permanent, of course.” If you’ve been putting off your dive into enameling, this is a great demo to get you launched.
Fluting a Pure Silver Cuff by Bill Fretz
Think fluted object, and you’re likely to envision a crystal vase with perfectly even, symmetrically ridged sides. Stunning in its way — but as usual, I prefer something more fluid.
In this cuff-making project, Bill demonstrates using some of his specialized hammers and stakes to produce flutes of uneven spacing and depth for a surface that is both familiar and unexpected. His choice of pure silver means the piece won’t tarnish the way traditional sterling would, while the hammering required to flute the silver work-hardens it so it will wear well.
Grape Cluster Pendant by Lexi Erickson
If you just described this jewelry design in words, it would seem completely predictable.
The main stone is purple. Its surface, a naturally bubbly, bumpy one, is called botryoidal in the mineral world because that term means “like a cluster of grapes.”
The aptly named grape agate is featured in a grapevine-themed pendant, complete with copper and silver leaves and copper tendrils. How much more literal could you get?
Literal, yes, but idealized or cookie-cutter, not a bit. Every leaf is different, the tendrils are unruly, the agate irregular — making the piece lifelike and just so juicy! Or, as Lexi puts it with a more sophisticated palette, “While I usually don’t like jewelry that represents a specific thing, well, I do like wine, and this cab just screams ‘wine’ to me.”
I’ll drink to that — or any of these great jewelry making projects!
Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Editorial Director for the Interweave Jewelry Group.
Find the Projects . . .
Find the Issues . . .
Find Them All in the New 2016 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Digital Compilation!