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Non-traditional, non-precious materials


#1

Is there anyone out there who works with non-traditional, found,
non- precious or utilitarian materials, such as craft wire etc? I
would like to ask a few questions and see some examples if possible.
I’ve made quite a lot of jewelry, am a designer but not trained as a
jeweler. I’m starting to worry about the structure, and how long the
work will last and not break or fall apart. My questions are pretty
basic (like my materials). Any info is appreciated.

Thanks,
Deborah


#2

Responding to Deborah’s question about how long jewelry structures
made with “non-traditional, found, non- precious or utilitarian
materials” will last.

I use, for example: rubber (industrial cord, O-rings, grommets),
plastic (part of connectors used in electronics), aluminum (heat
sinks – spoked-ring radiators for cooling electronics), and brass
(gears). Pieces I made more than 10 years ago seem fine, with the
exception of some bracelets made with heavy rubber grommets that
became sticky. A few examples of my work are at

http://www.industrialjewelry.com

I’d be happy to answer questions (I do not use craft wire, solder, or
glue, so I can’t answer questions about those).

Daniel


#3

I have worked with non-traditional materials. I have used craft-wire,
funwire (plastic coated craft wire), leather, glass, etc I really
enjoy using natural objects or found objects as well. I love
non-traditional methods also. A favorite method I often employ
involves using findings in ways they were not intended for. This
began as a way for me to create pieces I had in mind before I knew
how to fabricate my own components in metal. Even now that I have some
skills, I still love to do this. A lot of my pieces are experimental,
meaning I’m not sure how well they will be recieved. They are not for
everyone and it is usually the individualistic person who thrives on
self expression that buys my jewelry.

A. Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


#4
Is there anyone out there who works with non-traditional, found,
non- precious or utilitarian materials, such as craft wire etc? 

Deborah, I make jewelry from brass, copper, nickel-silver,
occasionally sterling silver. If you have questions relating to
these, perhaps I can help. I do not use pewter or plated metals.

Judy Bjorkman
Owego, NY


#5

Look into the work of Ramona Solberg. she was a proponent of the
found object as part of her work, Ken Cory, the crowned prince of
this practice would b another proponent of this approach.

as long as there is someone who is passionate about the work,whether
it is a small collector or larger entity it will last. preservation
of art-craft that is valued is a human trait. ask Robert
Rauschenbergs’ goat…

rp leaf


#6

I work with recycled silver spoons and forks to make high class
rings and pendants.

I am open for chat.

Sam.


#7

Hello Debora

I seen your question on the ganoksin orchid. I sometimes work with
non precious metals like steel welding wire, copper (wire and sheet)

Ask the questions you want and I’ll see if I can come up with an
answer

Nicky
http://home.planet.nl/~grego079/


#8

Hi Sam,

Somehow I never considered used spoons and forks as recylcled, but
the term works. I too use them.

Jennifer
Ventura, CA


#9

Hi,

Deborah here. I just want to thank Daniel, August, Judy and rp leaf
for answering my query – it’s all so helpful. Not having been
trained as a jeweler, I tend to look at my designs as small elongated
textural unique paintings. That doesn’t seem to impress the boutique
buyers though. So far I’ve sold about $300 worth of stuff, had two
boutiques send BACK work (talk about degrading) and I’ve spent
thousands on goofy materials. Oy, I better keep my day job.


#10
Not having been trained as a jeweler, I tend to look at my designs
as small elongated textural unique paintings. That doesn't seem to
impress the boutique buyers though. 

Deborah, maybe you have not yet found your market, or your idea is
one whose time is not quite yet here but just about to arrive. If you
have found your artistic passion, I think it’s a gift to be able to
pursue it, even if you do have to keep your day job for now.

What are your pieces like, what kinds of materials are you working
with? I’m a stumbling novice wanting to try every material in order
to find what I love most, so I understand about needing to recoup
investment in materials. Learning to work with metal intimidates me
for some reason, I take refuge in fibers but long to form a real
friendship with metal. I love color as well as form, can’t give up
color. I don’t know if I should work with different colors of metals
(maybe not a broad enough palette for me), get good at bezel-setting,
learn enameling, experiment with patinas (not sure I want to
introduce a lot of chemicals), or go ahead and experiment with
colorful mixed media in materials that some people might look down on
(using fibers and metals together, tiny glass beads on wire, learn to
work with polymer clay, colorfast artists’ pastels and colored
pencils on shrink plastic fixed with transparent or colored doming
epoxies… ) must decide where to direct my limited time, energy,
money.

I would love to hear about your experiences making textural
paintings, what has worked for you and what hasn’t.

Fran
Zemyna Designs
Swarthmore, PA, USA


#11

Hi Deborah,

I just wanted to tell you not to be discouraged. There is this myth
among people who make jewelry that everything that’s not precious
stones and metal is not worth undertaking. I, myself, feel
completely the opposite. Unfortunately, unique pieces have to find
unique wearers. I learned this the hard way when I produced a
collection of pieces that merged Art Deco with Mod influences. I
thought these pieces were incredible…but not many people agreed.
However, the ones that DID agree went absolutely crazy for them. I
still have some that haven’t sold, but one thing I learned is that
everything sells eventually. It might be two years later, but
EVENTUALLY they will sell. I decided after the deco/mod collection,
that instead of making a lot of pieces, I would now only make about
4. That way if the stuff bombs out, I don’t have too many to unload.
Jewelry is my hobby and I love it. I wouldn’t do it full time,
because I would probably starve, but I’ll never give it up. Congrats
to you for selling to boutiques. I haven’t got the nerve up to even
try, although I did sell to one that saw my work in a show. I like
the way you call your pieces “small paintings.” I refer to my jewlery
as “fine-costume” because my materials have some value (sterling,
gold-filled) and it’s too good to be called just costume. You can see
my work at www.crybabydesigns.com and at www.crybabydesigns.etsy.com.
The Art Deco/Mod pieces are under the name of Mod Hop at my website.
Let me know what you think.

Always,
Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


#12

augest derenthal -

There is this myth among people who make jewelry that everything
that's not precious stones and metal is not worth undertaking. I,
myself, feel completely the opposite.

you put it very well, showing you have discovered one of the best
elements of design: it isn’t just WHAT is used to make it - it’s HOW
what is used to make it is used. (think about it slowly people)

one of my best reference books is RUSSIAN JEWELLERY - MID 19TH
CENTURY - 20TH CENTURY. a. gilodo, beresta, publisher. the 20 century
pieces were made with materials such as german silver [nickel],
‘aluminium’, shell, glass, steel, bronze, silicon, acrylic, agate,
tombac [alloy of copper, zinc, tin and other materials to simulate
gold] - no gold, no silver, no platinum. the designs are excellent,
each having such strong focus the materials are relegated to
supporting role status.

your statement,

...unique pieces have to find unique wearers. 

perfectly describes my market. as i told my partner (who believes
that home shopping programs selling 10,000 pieces of one design can’t
be wrong) when i told him replication was not in my design plan, each
piece needs just one unique buyer. my card says it all, “handmaking
jewelry for unique women.”

ive
who knows that all the yaddayadda about this hurricane season is not going to
lower the expected flooding one single centimeter.


#13
There is this myth among people who make jewelry that everything
that's not precious stones and metal is not worth undertaking. 

Really… I work with bronze, occasionally steel and even lead
combined with bone and, at times, opals, diamond, plastic and
lenses. My work sells.

Perhaps you didn’t mean to paint with such a wide brush…

Andy Cooperman


#14

Dear Andy, I would love to see some of your work, I to believe that
you can make lovely thinks that sell well from non precious media.

Sam.


#15
There is this myth among people who make jewelry that everything
that's not precious stones and metal is not worth undertaking. I,
myself, feel completely the opposite. 

I’m with you, Augest! And my experience has been much the same
(working in base metal):

However, the ones that DID agree went absolutely crazy for them. I
still have some that haven't sold, but one thing I learned is that
everything sells eventually. 

I only do this part-time and can’t keep things in stock. My jewelry
is meant to be very reasonably priced (as yours certainly is) and
FUN. I liked your Art Deco/Mod pieces, especially the vibrant colors.
Keep up the good work.

Judy Bjorkman


#16

Augest from CryBaby Designs,

Thanks for your note in Ganoksin. I checked out your website and
really like it. My daughter and I started one, but are both so busy
working on other projects that we haven’t done anything with it. Do
you find it’s worth it? Does it take a lot of time to keep up with
it?

Our’s is www.tesora.net —I haven’t even checked the contacts in
months! I suppose that might be a logical first step to making it
work, huh?

Deborah


#17

In reply to this potentially fascinating topic, I offer two words:

Tone Vigeland. (period…)

There once was a time, not all that long ago, when the aspiring
jeweler/designer/artisan could venture down to the still slightly
industrial topography of Soho, and study (night or day) the windows
and glass walls of a profound project, known as ARTWEAR…

In this visionary gallery, one of the many crowning achievements of
his Majesty RLM, “preciousness” was so far transcended by
Inventiveness, Sculpture, Creativity, and the profound relationship
of jewelry to the body, that the concept of intrinsic or perceived
value was utterly forgotten.

To this day I mourn the loss of this visionary window into the
innovative mind and the soul of eternal adornment, a link to the
true nature of jewelry in it’s most pure translations.

It was a moment, coalesced by the vision of one man and many minds
and hands, when 'Ceramit" vs. ceramic was not even a topic Worth
worrying about, nor was gold vs. crumbling corroded copper and
peeling plant bark.

Seek and search anything/everything to do with this place, and all
your questions will be answered with mind-blowing profundity.

Remember: Tone Vigeland, (not to mention Ted Meuhling…)


#18
There is this myth among people who make jewelry that everything
that's not precious stones and metal is not worth undertaking. I,
myself, feel completely the opposite. 

I was just telling someone the other day that one of the things I
wish I had some of the multi-colored iron slag I used to find around
the old 19th-century iron forges. It came in shades of blues and
greens and was striped like agate. I don’t think anyone ever made
jewelry out of it. Cut into cabochons, it would have been wonderful.
I still find small pieces from time to time, but nothing like I used
to get. At one time they paved the mountain trails here in
Pennsylvania with the stuff. I had buckets full of it. Of course, my
mother tossed it all out along with my 1950’s baseball cards, and the
1956 Sun label 45’s by Elvis. Thanks, Mom !

Brian Corll
Vassar Jewelers
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Tel.: (717) 691-0286


#19
Do you think it's worth it? 

That’s an interesting question. If I had the time to update it and
promote it, Yes. Do I have that time, No. I have made so many pieces
that are waiting to be photographed and put online. What you saw is
actually pieces I made quite some time ago. As a full-time student, I
do not have the time to keep up with the website and I have probably
only made one (yes it’s pathetic) yes, one, sale from it. However, I
didn’t pay to make the site. I did the graphics in photoshop, and my
husband, the web guru, put it all together for me. It doesn’t cost
much to keep it up there, and I’ll graduate next Spring and begin
putting time into it again. Right now it serves as a portpholio of
sorts, and the first question people ask me when they hear I make
jewelry is,“Do you have a website?” So, yes, I have to say it’s worth
it in the longrun.

I did look at your website. It’s very nice! I like you and your
daughters work. I just wish the pictures were bigger. Was it hard to
get your pieces in the boutiques? How do you go about it? Did you
ever make a successful sale by emailing a boutique? I notice that the
ones you have up there are pretty far apart distance wise. How did
you contact them? I have questions for you as well!

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


#20

To Judy Bjorkman

Thanks for the encouragement. It’s so nice to hear that other people
work with non-traditional materials too. I used to feel so
marginalized.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs