Monday, May 23, 2011

Modern Relics in a Modern Era - One Way I'm Handling the Rise of Silver

For several years I've had 4 bronze pieces sitting on my desk. They have been waiting, patiently for me to set them in silver as I've done before with my Modern Relics series. They've waited while I've been consumed with making less expensive pieces, always getting pushed to the back corner. This year I was determined to make them into jewelry, into the pendants they were meant to become...and then the cost of silver began to rise...and rise...and RISE. And with it, my interest in creating settings for these pendants, diminished. I had already rolled out the textured backsheets in PMC but I didn't want to spend the silver - or the time to make them into settings. Then it hit me! These pieces are not fragile turquoise, or shell or other thing in need of protection. They're solid bronze and they're STRONG. They don't need sides! (I wouldn't want them to be pendants by themselves because I wouldn't want them to turn people's skin green.)

So I decided to rivet the silver backs onto the bronze. I LOVE riveting and it was easy to drill the bronze. I even drilled large holes for tube rivets so I could use sterling jumprings for bails. The riveting was easy cause you can smack that bronze with a hammer no problem!

I love the way they look and feel and I like having the sides exposed because they are cool and cracked and craggy.

Now they're actually reversible (although I still warn about wearing bronze against moist skin).

With the rise of silver I began to have a mid-jewelry-life crisis. But the first thing I did was cash in 10 years of saved scrap. This was a lot of scrap and it yielded a lot of credit at Rio Grande. Enough to get a kiln, a Flex shaft and drill press, a torch and some tools. Enough to start MY OWN STUDIO! Now it was a scary idea to start my own studio when I was worried if I could afford to keep working with silver but then I thought about my work and the materials I use. I work with copper, brass, bronze, found objects, fabric, shells, stones, leather and feathers. I use silver with most designs but as accents, as embellishments.

So I'm not about to stop making jewelry, just to start making jewelry a little differently, with a little more focus on the other stuff. In April, these pieces were the first ones I created with my new tools and it was very exciting stuff.

My mentor Celie wrote a great blog on her way of dealing with the price of silver, check it out HERE. Now that I have my own kiln and now that I love these new Modern Relics, I will be working with more BronzClay and I'm really looking forward to that. Silver has been down in recent weeks too, maybe it will keep going down, but it's good to know that you can let creativity overcome anxiety, that you can adapt.