Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wonderfully Weird by Karen McGovern

First, I would like to thank everyone for joining us on the David Bowie Blog Hop last week. That was so fun, and it was amazing to see all the beautiful and wacky Bowie-inspired designs created. That blog hop was especially fun for me because I love to think outside the conventional jewelry box, and what better inspiration than Bowie???

That leads into today's post--working with the weird and unusual. I have always been drawn to unconventional materials and gemstones, and lately I have been working with some fabulous materials like natural surface gemstone cabochons, Fordite, and oddly shaped materials like fossils. Weird shapes, cuts and surfaces can be a challenge to set, and can also lead to some really fun and new ways to think about setting gemstones. Here are three ways I set odd shapes and materials.


Pin it - I am a big fan of cold connections. If you have a weird material like a funky fossil or shell, consider cold connections if traditional bezel sets won't work. Can you drill it? Can you sand or grind the back flat? If so, use a micro screw or rivet to set the material on a flat base. I often rivet or micro screw fossil coral and soft material like turquoise and river stones. I prong set the Rio Grande Rustic on a flat sterling base, then also pinned it in place when I set the faux succulent. You just need to know your material and what it can take drill-wise. Yes, I have cracked and broken material in my early days of drilling. I'm still not great at drilling stones, but I'm learning....That is another post for another day and Staci Louise has posted great info on drilling....look  her up.

Partial bezel or combo prong/bezel - Totally odd shape but flat back? Consider a partial bezel mixed with prongs. Use bezel wire where you can, fill the rest with prongs (I usually don't go thinner than 14 gauge wire for prongs) to grab the stone. I do this A LOT. Especially with teeth, bone and fossils. In the slideshow you will see a ring I made from an antelope tooth (you heard me...). I used bezel wire and prongs because the tooth had a smooth side (bezel wire) and a not smooth side (prongs). This type setting also works with material that is thick or taller than conventional bezel wire. You can set using bezel wire for a  "frame", but also use prongs to secure the material in place where it exceeds the height of the bezel wire. I did this with the garnet in schist pendant in the slideshow.

Grab it like Alien - This is also one of my favorite ways to set odd shapes. Build a "wheel" with prongs like spokes and grab the stone. I did this with the malachite and fairy stone pendants you see in the slideshow.

Bottom line, don't shy away from material you may like because you don't think you can set it. There is always a way!!!

Now, I will share with you my favorite weird gemstone dealer--Angela Fowler. She and her husband gather and cut the COOLEST STONES ON THE PLANET. I have to carefully monitor the time I spend on her Facebook page, I have little self control when it comes to her stuff. Three words--Rio Grande Rustics. OMG. Soooooo amazing. I'm addicted to her stones, man. Tell her I sent you and thank me later.

Show us how you set weird material! We'd love to see what you are working with. 

Now, go make something AMAZING!

5 comments:

stacilouise said...

i admire how you never shy away from a challenge. You have always taken on objects that others may never even think to use in a piece of jewelry. Thanks for sharing your latest pieces, I certainly love them all!

Saraccino said...

Oh, I just love your work! Weird and beautiful! :)

Angela Fowler said...

Thanks so much for mentioning me and Ron! I love your work, and appreciate that you share your ideas and experiences with everyone. I look at stones differently now because of all your interesting, amazing creations : )

Kimberly Rogers said...

What outrageously amazing pieces Karen! Every last one of them!

lakesuperiorwaves said...

I love to make these settings. It's like the copper (all I can afford) is hugging the stone!

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