Projects


I remember some years ago thinking to myself “What is she thinking???” when Dana Kellin went gold. And then, after all this time, it suddenly caught up on me: I am officially going through a gold phase. I have long been suspecting that silver isn’t the right match to transparent gems such as topaz, clear quartz and all other more expensive kinds of stones. Gold does a much better job.

There are, however, problems with gold: (1) 14k gold filled is virtually unknown in Korean jewelry market, which makes it harder for me to come by, (2) 14k gold-filled findings are pretty limited in terms of designs and variety in the first place, (3) I have come to dislike vermeil silver, which is not at all pretty when tarnished, and (4) I am not yet ready to go all the way to solid gold. And a rather tangential issue: pictures of my gold pieces always seemed to come out lacking somehow, which I think came mostly from my old photo setups flattering more to silver than to gold. (This is one of the reasons behind my recent photo overhaul — see previous post.)

After giving it some thought, I decided to adopt gold-plated sterling silver. As explained in this earlier post of mine, the Korean jewelry industry has embraced all sorts and manners of “x-plated sterling silver”, where “x” can be brass, gun-metal, gold, platinum, copper, etc. It took me a while to get used to the idea, but once I did, it opened up a whole new world of design possibilities. Unlike vermeil, gold-plated sterling silver is much more resistant to tarnishing, which makes it more safe to mix with 14k gold-filled components.

So here they are, my latest creations in glorious gold. If they are not in my Etsy store, they will be soon. Enjoy! ( continued… )

The year 2007 is almost over! A whole month and another near-month came and went without a new blog post. You might have noticed that shop-keeping efforts to my Etsy shop were minimal during that time. There were some distractions: I moved mid-November to a new place, and I started out at a new job at the same time. However, the real big reason for this recent hiatus was, I think, my subconscious fear of the biggest shopping season of the year. With the recent big changes in my life, I just didn’t feel up to dealing with the mad pressure that is the Christmas shopping season. So, now, with the frenzy officially over and my audience much calmer, I resume my jewelry making and shop tending activities in a leisurely manner. :-)

And the new awakening is accompanied by some fresh new looks: I have been experimenting with new photo styles. The time for new photos was ripe. There is a roaster of photo setups that I have been using in most of my shoots: one involves a natural wood piece as a background, another with dark stone slate, and another stone background with a golden brown tone. Some lovely shots have been produced in these setups, but there were some things that warranted an overhaul. ( continued… )

Recently I’ve gotten myself completely hooked on carved gemstone leaves. What to make with them other than… big woven branches! :-) I’ve got two earring pairs made in different leaf sizes and color schemes:


The pair on the left is jewel-toned; it is made of peridot, apatite, citrine, garnet and pink tourmaline. The one on the right has a nice, autumn foliage color palette: sunstone, carnelian, garnet, smoky quartz and citrine. The leaves are larger and fatter on this pair. I am waiting out until it is deeper into the fall season and the falling leaves are on everyone’s mind before listing these in my Etsy shop. :-)

A note on the photographs: I haven’t been using this “floating over white background” style of photography in a long while. Somehow, my jewelry pieces photographed in this fashion seem to not fit in with my other pieces photographed against wooden or darker backgrounds. Now I am reminded of how nice these photos can be, especially when the object has transparent gems in them. I might try to get back into this style.

With the exception of my pompom earrings, I haven’t been using leverback earwires much in my designs. I love their functionality and looks, and I know that many customers prefer them on account of the extra security they provide. It’s just that attaching a drop to a leverback earwire always seemed to create a disjointed look between the two components due to the way leverbacks are shaped, which tends to leave the overall design looking unfinished. Recently I have been discovering many creative uses for Hill Tribe silver printed rings (such as in this bracelet), and they came in handy again this time. Simply placing a couple of them atop a gemstone dangle gives a leverback earring a cover-up and a touch of re-enforcement at the attachment spot while adding a decorative element. I went ahead and made quite a few variations of this design.   ( continued… )
My focus has been on making bigger, complex pieces lately, and the staples of my jewelry line have been neglected as a result: affordable, everyday silver earrings with rustic appeal. Strangely enough, I realized that this cool period came from… fatigue from making my own earwires. :-) Apparently, I spend too much mental energy on getting every detail and especially the contours of my earwires right. Luckily, once I got back into the mood I was rolling out new earwires and designs in no time.

For some reason I have long had this aversion to carrying variations of the same design in my shop. It somehow felt indecisive as a designer to make available essentially the same design only with different gemstones, when I should be offering one and only version of a design, painstakingly refined to perfection! Haha… Well, I decided to get off the rather maniacal high horse and try offering design series. After all, it would be good to give customers some choices as to their preferred gemstones and color schemes. I have conjured up a couple of “lines” here.   ( continued… )

I love making wire-wrapped rings. I am not as widely known for rings as other Etsy sellers such as starrydesigns and farafield, but I have had a fair share of successful ring designs of my own:
Most of them are set for retirement, so I wanted to come up with some fresh new ring designs. There are standard-sized stones that can easily be wrapped and turned into a ring, but I always felt that the center stone of a ring needs to pack a little more “punch”. The fine faceting and organic inclusions in the Aquamarine Ring make for that punch, and so does the disco-ball look on the multi faceting of the prehnite stone. This time, I wanted to use some interesting-looking free-form nugget stones. The advantage is that the resulting rings have the unique, one-of-a-kind quality; the downside is of course that these rings become limited edition, and might require individual photo shoots, which adds to the price. ( continued… )
As a designer, I go through a phase every once in a while where I am hooked on a certain design element. Flowers are, for me, not one of them: it seems that I am perennially in the state of being hooked on them. :-) Thai silver flower charms and beads have always been my favorite thing to work with; I am also always on the lookout for flower-shaped gemstone beads with high-quality and detailed carving.

Continuing from my last designs of rose branch earrings, I created three additional earring pieces designed around rose blossoms. There are also a couple bracelets and a necklace featuring Thai silver flower components. Continue reading below for larger pictures!

( continued… )

OK, so my creative juice hasn’t exactly been flowing since my last sale of new designs. Many reasons… The sale kept me busy for a while which got me exhausted. I felt slightly guilty since I wasn’t making much progress in my day job. Also, I recently purchased a whole lot of gemstone briolettes, and while briolettes are the most beautiful among bead shapes, I find they tend to dictate simpler designs and not so much bursting creativity (or maybe that is just my own tendency ^^).

Well, I finally got my act together and made something new. Lovely rose branches, one with blue amazonite roses and another with red coral roses. The wire weaving techniques used in these earrings are not completely new to me — they are variations of my other designs such as these tourmaline earrings. I have always wanted to incorporate flowers in them, so here they are. I think they turned out nicely.

Labradorite marquise leaves are cascading atop blue amazonite carved rose beads. I am loving the combination of colors here — cool blue flashes on the labradorite beads and warmer pastel blue of amazonite.
(UPDATE: available now in my Etsy shop!)
(UDATE2: This pair was featured on Etsy front page on August 28th! It racked up 400+ views that day and 200 more the next. And it sold soon after. All hail to the power that is front page feature…)
Carved red coral roses are blooming under silky gray moonstone leaves. Well, let me tell you about the moonstone leaves. They are exquisite with intricate carving and excellent sheen. I’ve always found red and gray to go nicely together, so I was lucky that I had these red coral roses handy.

You’ll notice that I made the two pieces of these earring pairs asymmetrical — one with three leaves and the other with only two. I think this arrangement accentuates the natural and organic look of the design. When I list these in my Etsy store, however, I will probably give an option to make these pairs symmetrical, since I can understand if my customer favors a bit more conservative look.
(UADATE: I went back to my supplier to buy more of the coral beads. And they were all out! Occasions like this feed my already overblown hoarding instincts. Sigh…)

I have one last set of new designs to show off before new items go on sale in my Etsy shop next week!

New bracelets are shown in the top row, “berry branch” necklaces and charm necklaces in the middle, and earrings with oversized oval earwires at the bottom.
 

 

 

Please take a closer look at each design on this page: ( continued… )

I came across these while going through the big pile of my jewelry paraphernalia: a sunflower charm (11×14mm), a heart charm (9×9mm) and a leaf charm (10×10mm).

I made these charms while I was in a metalsmithing class, circa 2003 I believe, at University City Arts League in West Philly. This was my first project for the class. I picked up a piece of red wax and sculpted the original models, which then my teacher Claire took to a metal casting place to have them cast in sterling. After I received the cast pieces, I had to re-shape, oxidize, polish and give them the finishing touch. I was particularly happy with the way the sunflower charm turned out, so I had a mold made along with a couple duplicates. I enjoyed working tiny corners of wax figures, and it was such a delightful sensation to see those tiny, red wax blurbs transformed into weighty and shiny silver pieces. I’d love to try more in the future.

The jewelry class of UCAL had the most relaxed atmosphere — it doesn’t have much of fixed structure at all but feels more like a shared studio space with a teacher present. Each student picked out what she/he wanted to make, and Claire the teacher would help them out. There I learned how to cut, solder, hammer, polish and finish metal. Fun time! I was quite lucky to be living so close to such a wonderful establishment. If you live in or nearby Philly, I highly recommend checking out University City Arts League.

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