Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pathological DIY

My dear husband likes to say that people don't mellow with age, as the old adage says. He believes that humans tend to do quite the opposite as the years go by. The idea being that we don't loosen who we are as we go along, but that we become a concentrated version of ourselves until such a time as we begin to fizzle out of this mortal coil.

His theory suggests that a grumpy person becomes a full on curmudgeon, the jovial wit becomes the life of the party and if it holds's looking like by the time I hit senior citizen status I'm going to find a way to summon matter from the void, because I'm addicted to making ALL THE THINGS. And sooner or later I'll hit a point where the only things I haven't made with my own two hands will be on the subatomic level.

This is my cross, this is my's a disease really.

For years and years I have managed to keep an entire genre of the handmade world off my "to do" list. Anyone familiar with my work and personality knows that my style is that of a raccoon. If it shines or sparkles, I love it. But for all my love of flash and bling the one area of creating I purposefully kept off limits was jewelry making.

The reason is, even though I'm addicted to making ALL THE THINGS, I'm also an unabashed jewelry snob. No disrespect intended to those who wear or create costume, glass, textile or any other type of jewelry that doesn't include gemstones and certain metals. I simply don't wear it. Rhinestones, sequins and glass beads are wonderful and I adore them, but I don't hang them from my ears or wear them around my neck. Those places are reserved for pearls, garnets, rubies and generally any natural element (sorry wood, you don't make the cut) that can be polished or faceted and the list of metals that I wear is extremely short.

Since I don't make things that I don't or wouldn't use myself and the heavy investment it would require in equipment and materials to smelt up some gold and cast a setting is not remotely a small thing, I have studiously avoided jewelry making because I know how expensive my tastes run. Champagne taste on a beer budget, you see.

Well, I have finally found a way around that, and I am loving it.

I have discovered a way to make metal meet gemstones with my own two hands without having to sell a kidney or a first born child and without using pre-made components. (Although I might still entertain taking offers on the first born child.) I have discovered and begun dabbling in wire wrapping. My first attempt is this necklace using a technique called Egyptian coil: Photobucket

That first experiment is composed entirely of copper wire found at the hardware store as is this necklace that came into being shortly after I finished the first: Photobucket

It didn't take long for the power of the internet to lead me to some sparklies and fancy copper wire in gauges and shapes that would make an electrician laugh and this set was born: Photobucket

Then I came to an impasse when I realized I had not ordered wire in a small enough gauge to fit the entire lot of gemstone beads that I had in my possession. Another order of copper wire was made (along with a splurge on a small amount of silver wire) and now that it has arrived, I'm chomping at the bit to finish the pieces I started and snatch from the ether the ones rolling around in my head.

As soon as I feel proficient enough I am considering offering a few copper pieces for sale. Once I feel like I'm good engough, I'll get over my slight case of nerves and begin working with the silver (the cost of precious metals is a tad daunting) and eventually I'll work my way to gold filled and I shudder to think about the cost of solid gold wire right now...but something tells me I won't rest until I get there.

Who knows, by the time I get to where I would feel proficient enough to dabble in the solid gold, I'll have gotten this alchemy thing down and I'll just make my own.