Monday, January 4, 2016

The Year was 1976

by Patti Vanderbloemen

I remember, quite vividly, on my all-important 16th birthday in 1976, thinking...." the year 2000, I will be 40!  I don't think I will live to be that old".  Ha!  Here it is...nearly 40 years from the day I said those words and I am still here? How naive! :)

The Original Rocky - 1976
Echoing Karen's last post, 2015 was a very long year, and at the same time, I cannot believe it is over. It was a very unhealthy year for me, so I hope that the next 12 months show at least a glimmer of improvement in that department. I also do not make New Year's Resolutions. But, I do try to set goals that I can at least attempt to achieve.

Since this is a "jewelry making blog", my related goals for this year are to expand and  hone the skills that took me this far in my creative venture. It took me years to try a new technique, only to become depressed when it did not work...the very first time. As an example, I remember the first time I soldered a jump ring, only to remove the flame way too late and wind up with a ball of metal. And the solder still intact in a little ball - not even close to its melting point. Things like that used to frustrate me to the point of not making a second attempt.

I'd like to think I have grown up a bit since that jump ring.  My first bezel set stone was horrid - but I was still so excited that 1) the bezel fit and did not melt; and 2) that stone is still set to this day!  I know it is old hat - but Practice. Practice. Practice. It has truly become my mantra of late. And, while I do get frustrated when something does not go as planned, I try to make lemonade from the lemons instead of tossing the fruit in the trash.

Last Fall, I enrolled in an online class from Leslie Kail Villareal to make a Boho Saddle Ring. For the first ring I made, the silver elements were not quite  aligned - but I was so pleased that I was able to set a stone on a curve!  It's in my jewelry box now, and I do wear it. But, I made another, and another. Practice. Ahh...symmetry.

I actually recently completed a custom order for a 3-inch saddle ring - sans a stone. I received an email request, and I told the customer I was not sure I could do this, but I would certainly love to try. So, I made a practice ring in copper first - the silver ring on the right is just over an 1 1/2" in length.  

She loved it - so I crafted one in silver, just for her. You can really see the size difference in the picture below.

I know that a 3" ring is not for everyone - certainly too long for my short fingers!  But, she loved it, I loved creating it - it was win/win.  I can absolutely state with certainty that two years ago I would have simply told her "no" when she first asked.

I learned so many techniques in taking this online class. I believe Leslie will be offering this class again in February/March 2016 - here is her site if you are interested. Worth every penny!

So, in keeping with my 2016 goal of trying something new, expanding and honing my skills, I enrolled in Leslie's Boho Cuff Class, which began on December 26 (enrollment is now closed). This is Leslie's completed cuff.

Source:  Leslie Kail Villareal
Let me tell you - this is one intense piece of jewelry!  It includes so many firsts for me: Etching on Silver, Filigree Work, Tapered Stone Settings (Cone) - not to mention the geometry involved in crafting that stone setting from scratch. Many apologies to Mrs. Managault, my 9th Grade Geometry teacher - whom I boldly said to her face "I will never use geometry in my lifetime".  I was an unruly teenager - and she got the last laugh, didn't she?

While I have not quite finished the cuff, I have progressed just a bit.  First off - silver etching.  It's not for everyone. The use of a hazardous material -  Ferric Nitrate (FN) is involved and ----for me --- it was a tad on the scary side (kind of like that first soldered jump ring and the use of fire). Since I decided to jump right in and try it, I etched two pieces of silver.  The piece below is a 3" square of 18 gauge.  It could make a fabulous ring(s), or several pairs of earrings.

The next piece is the intended bracelet blank.

Although I have my own studio in my basement, I did the etching in the garage with the doors open - with head-to-toe safety! :) I have to admit, now that I have cleaned up the FN, I may try it the Spring when the recent cold snap subsides and I am not subjected to freezing my tush in my garage.

I have not completed the cuff - I still have several more soldering sessions to go, and then the all important setting of that center, faceted stone. (It's not polished yet in the pictures below, for obvious reasons).

This is by far the most labor intensive piece of jewelry I have ever made.  It has taken me days to get this far.  But, I will finish this piece. And, even if I cannot set that stone, or the tiny little balls of silver that need to be soldered into that filigree wire do not hold - or heaven forbid, I  melt the entire cuff on the next round of soldering -  it was a success in my book. Just because I tried it. Many thanks to Leslie for offering the most-awesome online classes!'s to 2016.  And more Practicing, and perhaps, Succeeding!

Now - go make something amazing!!


amazon said...


Michelle said...

Fantastic work Patti! Your leap into the scary paid off!! Both the rings and your cuff look amazing. Hope you post when you have the cuff finished.


Carol Dekle said...

I LOVE your saddle rings with just the texture Patti! They are beautiful! And your cuff is coming along very nice. I have faith that you will set that stone with no problem!

Michelle said...

Your work is so beautiful!
Thank You for this post. I think we must be twins in some universe somewhere!. I have experienced the same type of frustration you write about. I usually end up giving up and trying something else new because of the empty feeling that comes from not succeeding with a project in the beginning or the results not living up to my expectations. I now know a lot about many types of mediums and methods, but have a lack of experience in most. My friends and family think I'm way too hard on myself. Reading your comments has made me realize that I need to be much more persistent no matter how long it takes or how frustrating something is in the beginning."Practice make perfect" and if I think of it that way then I think I can have greater success. I believe I'll have a much more productive new year thanks to your post!

Bobbie said...

Thank goodness you've stuck with things beyond the initial frustration, because your work always makes me smile. Cannot WAIT to see the finished cuff!

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