Sunday, October 18, 2009

Metals Mania

Sometimes I like to think about why I use certain materials, and try to explain my reasons- here is a short explanation of the diverse metals that I use, and why I use them. Basically, an explanation of the madness behind the metals....

A little information about the metals I use (and why I use them):

You may know by now that I mostly make work in Sterling Silver, (sometimes Gold)
But I also like to play with "alternative metals" like White Bronze, Mokume Gane, Aluminum Copper, Brass and Pewter.strap bracelet 2008
Mostly Sterling Silver, with a touch of 18k yellow gold

Each metal has their own specific properties that lend themselves to designing and making diverse types of work:

Sterling Silver is the metal that I use the most- A good white colored metal, it has a springy medium hardness, and when annealed is very malleable when forged or moved by chisel. Silver is the metal that I was trained in and it continues today to be my preferred material.Though it's price has increased dramatically in the past two years it continues to be relatively affordable and desired as a jewelry material.

Gold- when I do use gold I love the depth of color in 18k yellow gold.and conversely, I love the mellow suede color of 14 k palladium white gold . Because of it's expense I work with gold rarely these days except for special orders- I use it in really special pieces like wedding bands or some other piece that commemorates an occasion (charms, pendants or even special gold components for my popular strap bracelets.)

a detail shot of mokume Gane

Mokume Gane- is a Japanese technique that produces a beautiful patterned surface made of layered metals- I like to use this in really simple pieces, where the drama of the pattern becomes the focal point. One of my more popular custom items is Mokume Gane ear plugs- they really highlight the drama of the patterning, and it is a unique and exciting type of metal for these more edgy pieces.

Aluminum- I use because it is light and responds well to pressure patterning techniques (like roller printing, stamping)It works really well as a lightweight material for big bold earrings.

Pewter urn with spiral top 2009

Pewter- terrific for building large containers and urns, fast to work with due to it's low melting point (470* f)really well suited for small production casting

White bronze- great for casting, a strong attractive metal with great durability- it can be a good color alternative metal to silver, when you are more concerned with the color than metal's intrinsic value.

Brass- yellow brass has such a great color- when I need a yellow (and don't want the expense of gold) I reach for yellow brass.

Copper- with it's softness and color Copper is lovely to use in mixed metals. Also- copper is a great base for enamels- the torch fired enamels are especially deep and rich when on copper. copper also patinaes easily, and is really gorgeous when oxidized by natural elements.

OK- I hope this gives you some understanding of the madness behind my methods-
I look forward to this week of studio work- I am starting a new collection of strap bracelets- in which you can count on many diverse types of metals, techniques, shapes, textures and patterns!

Have a great week everyone (and please spread the word about Cosmo's Moon!)

I truly appreciate your support- thank you!
:-) Maureen


Jannadu said...

I just have to take the time to let you know just how breathtaking your style and the quality of your metalworking is. Without a doubt!Do you teach?

Maureen BZ said...

Hi- thanks!- I used to teach here at Tucson Parks and Rec, but I had to stop due to scheduling and child care issues- I LOVE teaching- it's energizing to me- I am working on getting some workshop outlines together- and hope to be teaching them sometime soon - I do not teach at a University because I am not qualified, as I lack a Master's degree- but I think there are many other good options!

TheFrogBag said...

Such lovely work! Really enjoyed reading about this.


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