Tag Archives: shibuichi

Winter Solstice 2014

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The shortest, darkest day in the Northern hemisphere is today. It is a powerful time for going inward to reflect, dream and plan. Add a rare new moon (in Capricorn) on the same day and you have something really potent for making positive life changes. So dive deep and reconnect with the source of what you really love-and who you truly are.

A powerful visual reminder for me to dive deep is a block print that hangs in my studio by artist Stirling Gorsuch, titled Undertow Woman. It brings to mind  the book  Women Who Run with the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A reoccurring theme in it is the “rio abajo rio”  the river beneath the river. To get to this deepest place of self,  we have to leave concerns on the surface- and dive! Far below the  obligations, distractions, and interruptions that we often place in our own way. Maybe not the easiest thing to do, (but interesting how the world can manage when you are not available.) The river beneath the river is a place of deepest inspiration and clarity. Even a short time there can result in a purging of the unnecessary. A realigning of self.

undertow woman.2jpg Undertow Woman

In addition to being a wonderful muse, Undertow Woman has had a symbiotic effect on the patina process, resulting in a much bluer colors…I don’t ask  why, I just say thank you!

some pieces from the journeys of 2014

jennys cuff3Jenny’s Cuff-etched copper with silver lining, ancient Roman coin. Photo by Marcy Merrill

gorgon cuffMedusa Cuff-ancient Greek coin with etched shibuichi and gemstones. Photo by Marcy Merrill

crab and fishCancer and Pieces pendant-ancient Greek coin (circa 400 B.C.)  reticulated silver and 18kt gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

athena cuff marcy 2Athena Cuff-etched shibuichi with amazonite and gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

athena cuff Electra Cuff-etched shibuichi with sea glass and 22kt gold. Photo by Marcy Merrill

blue labrynth pendant Blue Labyrinth Pendant-chased shibuichi with seaglass.

tidepool uk Tide pool ring-photographed on an English  sea glass beach last summer.

 

A few favorite shots of my jewelry paired with fashion by Kucoon Designs of Los Angeles

 

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kucoon burning man

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 some photos of what inspires me everyday:

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Happy Solstice~Enjoy the return of light and with it a renewal of dreams, ideas and passion!

Trippen

labrynth garnet earrings detail Chartres Labyrinth earrings, photo by Marcy Merrill

It seems somehow appropriate to start this  post with an image of recently completed earrings. They represent the sum of my explorations into etching and using Japanese patina on shibuichi alloy-and the image of the Labyrinth, which is etched on the metal surface, is highly symbolic of my own creative quest.

Long used in spiritual rituals world wide, labyrinths can be walked or danced, representing an initiation-a transformative, mysterious and universal awakening into a “universe larger than our inspirations, richer and more complex than all our dreams-it is the call of the larger cycle, the dance of the larger life.”-Helen Curry

labyrinth eaaling st marys

The long anticipated journey to Ireland and England begins this week! I am beyond excited at the thought of exploring Dublin, taking a week long workshop in Celtic Chasing with Brian Clarke, and meeting my sea glass friend Jane  in Newcastle, England. The timing for hunting sea glass couldn’t be better, as it coincides with a Super full moon on August 9th (this wasn’t intentionally planned by me-or was it?!)

I will be taking an assortment of sea glass jewelry with the plan to shoot it on the beaches in England where the glass was found. To see some stunning photography of these beaches, check out the link of photographer Ray Etchells.

Here are some shots of recent work  taken by my dear friend Marcy Merrill in her North Cove Washington studio:

sea candy collection 2 Sea Candy rings in rare shades of Victorian era sea glass with reticulated silver, 22kt gold and small diamonds.

sea candy blue 2sa

bee coin ring ancient Greek coin with honey bee, circa 350 B.C.

labrinyth earring turqs

Labyrinth shield earrings-etched shibuichi with 22kt gold rivets and turquoise.

And…here are two shots from Spring and Summer2014 as featured by Kucoon Designs, Los Angeles:

!cid_C9027FF2-5E8C-4DC6-B7A0-1B4686DD048E@socal_rrCrusader Cuffs-etched copper with sea glass and moonstones, photo by Daniel Jung

kucoon burning man

If you would like to see photos of my adventures, check out my facebook page for updates when on the road-unless that is, I decide to unplug until my return!

Patina Envy

 

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This winter I have been on a quest for patina. Patina is a tarnish that forms on metals such as copper, bronze or other like alloys after exposure to oxygen, rain, salt and other natural elements over a long period of time. It causes iron to rust and sometimes produces shades of green coloring in copper.

My goal was to coax  color development in metal  that is evocative of timeworn surfaces. To produce a texture and finish that works in harmony with the design  of my jewelry. Easier said than done…

 

Several years ago, I bought a book about Japanese patina methods. I made some attempts to patina shibuichi-an alloy of copper and silver that was once used for Samurai sword decoration. The results were pretty uninteresting. Maybe I didn’t have enough patience or time to invest in experimentation. (ya think?) Perhaps I was expecting to get results in a hurry (no comment.) In any case, I packed up the supplies and equipment and put it away for another time…

spanish door  door key hole

Inspirational (and metaphorical) examples of patina, doors and keyholes…..

Japanese patina trials part two:

This winter I brought out the box of supplies, re read the book Japanese Patinas by Eitoku Sugimori and decided to give it another go. This time with full surrender to the experimental process and all the mystery that accompanies it. This time with patience.

Before you can try out any of the recipes you must have a copper pot. Any other metal with interact with the chemicals used for patina. A glass pot would be an okay substitute, but the copper imparts something extra  to the coloring process.

Finding an all copper pot isn’t as easy as one might think. After scouring the internet  (they were either very expensive or lined in tin,) I mentioned the search to my sister. She was getting ready to take a load of stuff to the Goodwill-including our grandmother’s fondue set, which was all copper. Perfect timing!

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Once word got out that I was on the lookout for a copper pot, two other friends donated to the cause. Now I have three pots in handy sizes. The photo shows them after patina usage, with chemical residue building up inside. This residue strengthens the next batch of patina-it it sort of like seasoning a pan. FYI: the name patina is derived from the Latin for “shallow dish.”

 

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After ordering copper sulfate and rokuso (a Japanese chemical used in some of the recipes) I had to get some daikon radish. This is part of the traditional process. It is grated and applied to the clean metal just prior to immersion in the patina bath.

Of course, before this can happen, the jewelry piece must be in a near finished state. All forming and soldering completed. There is no going back after the patina bath-except to start the process all over again. If using stones, the setting of these takes place after the patina, being very careful not to mar the surface. The cuff in the patina bath below has been etched (see my January2014 post to learn about that process) formed, had rivets applied and bezels for stones soldered in place.

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This cuff is made from shibuichi consisting of mostly copper alloyed with silver.It can be purchased with amounts of silver content ranging from 25%, 15% or 5%. I decided to try all three and take careful notes on the differences. I am not going to transcribe my notes here-but rather show with photos the alchemical journey…I was trying out a layered patina.This is a multi step process. First, a foundation layer of patina is applied by immersing the object into near boiling Niage solution. This can create colors ranging from straw to silver grey to browns. It depends on the metal content and a lot of variables. I had no idea how much time it might take, it doesn’t specify in the book. When I decided the color was not changing any more, I removed it from the pan and rinsed.

The second part of the process involves fuming the piece. A mixture of ammonia, salt and vinegar can be used, brushing it on the piece and enclosing in a glass jar

 

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This produces a blue green color in crevices and craggy spots.

Athena-Goddess of Patina

The above piece changed a lot during this part of the experiment. I went from loving it to hating it. From bliss to despair. Deciding there was nothing to lose, I rinsed it, burned off the surface color and started over. It is still in a fuming jar as I write this. At about this time I realized that there must be a god of patina. And I needed to make a request before trying again. To ask for a little guidance and oversight (or insight!) My searches brought me back to Athena-Goddess of arts, craft, wisdom, war and metal. The rest is between me and her…

Some of the first pieces:

textile cuff wide 2   textile cuff wide

This cuff is shibuichi with  etched Japanese textile pattern, silver rivets and amazonite set in 18kt gold. It is 3 inches wide. It has a coat of wax rubbed into the surface to protect the patina and finish.

shi cuff narrow  shi raindrop cuff 2

These two are also shibuichi, variations on a theme..the one on the left has 22kt gold rivets and a diamond in the center. It is one inch wide. The one on the right has 22kt gold rivets, and a piece of Victorian era sea glass set in 22kt gold. It is two inches wide.

shi sheild earrings aventurine  tidepool dia ring

The earrings are shi as well, but a higher silver content, They were more challenging to patina, but I like the way they came out, like little shields. The ring is etched bronze with sea glass and a diamond. In the same patina bath,the bronze turned a milk chocolate brown-pretty with the blue green sea glass.

I feel that the above group was successful in that they are consistent color-wise-and now I have something to build on. Stay tuned for more as I continue to experiment and develop a color vocabulary…

I will conclude this by saying that every part of the jewelry making process is pretty much about control and technique. Until we get to patina. This is unpredictable territory filed with variables. It is a mysterious and intuitive process. It is a collaboration of science and art. It is magic, pure and simple.

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