Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Bronze Preview

Last year a new material, Bronzeclay, was introduced to jewelry designers. Much the same as other metal clays, it's a combination of powdered metal, an organic binder, and water. It looks and works like terracotta before firing; after firing it is about 25% smaller and is pure bronze. I find it's a little more challenging to use compared to my limited experience in silver PMC, but it is far less expensive and allows me to create amulets and forms that have the solidity and mass that I've wanted my pieces to have. I'll be posting items for sale, including several that you see here, in the future at my Etsy store:

For now, here's a preview of what I've been up to since the holidays...pictured above, from left to right: a hollow-form pod amulet of pure bronze, and two head pins of bronze attached to amulets: the one in the middle is a belemnite, or fossil squid (and nothing says "desert" like fossilized squid!), and the piece on the left is a 3-sided pod of polymer with Sonoran desert sand and gold and silver leaf.

Here are some earrings, all of of solid bronze. The pair on the left were fired all in one piece with the wire in, and the center and right-hand pair had wires added after firing.

I'm really excited about these components. They were all made from molds I made from cactus remnants that I picked up over the years down in the Sonoran Desert. At the top, an unpierced element from an Organ Pipe cactus rib fragment; left to right below are pendants from a fragment of dried Saguaro cactus skin, another piece from the same Organ Pipe cactus mold, and a third from a Cholla cactus skeleton.

The longest piece is about 3" long and has been strung on a handwoven cord with a couple of fossil walrus ivory beads (not visible in the photograph). The other two pieces next to it have since been strung on strands of seed beads, and they all look wonderful when worn together as a set, or on their own.

And here's what I'm really excited about: bracelets of solid metal! The bangles are fantastic and have an absolutely timeless, elemental quality to them. The large bracelet is my first attempt at a fusion of bronze and polymer. The bronze base was fired and finished, and then the polymer was built up over it, and cured and sanded. The layers, five in all, were made from translucent polymer mixed with earth from five different locations in south and western Arizona, gathered on a trip I took down there two years ago. I found that the sanding was the most laborious part of the work by far, two hours of wet sanding, all by hand. But the result is an incredibly smooth, pleasing just want to hold the bracelet, it's so touchable!

So there it is so far! More pieces are joining the ranks all the time, and rings will be coming soon as well! Keep checking my shop on Etsy for new items!