Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blog Location Changed – Please Update Your Feeds!

You might have noticed a dearth of blog postings lately. Along with jewelry making and filling orders this spring, I’ve been working slowly on my website as well. As of today, my blog is moving from Blogger over to WordPress, so that it can live directly on my own website instead of relying on a redirect.
©2014 Vickie Hallmark
Argentium sterling silver and amethyst
If you’re a regular (or even occasional) reader, please update your feeds while visiting Vickie Hallmark Jewelry Blog.
This has been more work than expected, but I hope to make things easier in the future and have more time to show you what’s on the bench.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Birds … and the Bees

Perhaps it was inevitable? A bee joined the tiny birds and flora headed for the kiln.

fine silver components headed to the kiln

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Experimenting with Art Prints

It's been ages since I worked in my bird journal, which is still available in my Etsy shop. I thought I'd revisit offering prints for the wall.

©2010 Vickie Hallmark
watercolor, acrylic, ink, collage on paper
So today I uploaded the back cover, one of my favorite pages, to a print on demand site to make an art print available for only $22. Matted and framed versions are also available, as well as smaller greeting cards.

You can read about my process for making the journal here. See the full set of images on my website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

7 Leaf Cuff in Progress

The most popular item on my display during both wholesale shows earlier this year was the 7 Leaf Cuff shown below. I thought it might be interesting to show how this bracelet is made.

7 leaf cuff
Vickie Hallmark

The right and left curving leaf master models were made by hand in sterling silver metal clay, with my signature leaf vine texture. After firing in the kiln in two different stages as high as 1500ºF, the pieces are reduced to sterling silver. After polishing to provide the best surface, they are soldered to metal attachment rods called sprues and then molded with heat curing rubber. The rubber molds are cut open along the edges to remove the masters and then wax is injected into the molds repeatedly.

7 leaf cuff components
These wax copies are attached to a center wax sprue to form a tree of waxes, which is then molded itself in silica based investment (like hard plaster). After burning out the wax in a hot kiln,  Argentium silver is melted in a crucible at the center of a centrifugal casting machine, the mold is place at the end of a long arm, spring wound to spin freely. When the metal is melted, the crucible is pushed up against the opening to the mold and the spring is released to force the metal into the void in the mold. After cooling, removing the investment, cutting the pieces apart, and minor polishing, the pieces are ready to assemble, as shown above.

7 leaf cuff fused flat
Each leaf is dipped into flux, carefully positioned with its neighbors in a long line, and then each joint is  fused together without any solder. The bracelet is ready to form around a mandrel and heat harden (a specialty feature of Argentium) to maximize its strength before it is polished and patinated to bring out the texture.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Studio Organization - the Order Board

As I increase my production for galleries, I'm working on new systems in the studio to keep me organized. This is mostly a trial and error process. I tried compiling all the orders for a certain time period into a single list, at first handwritten and then input to a Word document with photos to make it visual. That at least gave me a total count when I was making a particular item. I tried printing it out and checking off items as I completed them. It was functional, but I decided that I craved some more tangible measure of progress.

order board first day

One of the home design blogs the I read, Young House Love, had a recent post on a magnetic dry erase board for organizing their home projects and blog posts. I realized that a version of their board might work nicely for my purposes. I decided to forgo their fancy customized board and just pick up something that would work. This combination of black magnetic/chalk board with white dry erase magnet strips is the result.

order board second day

My jewelry products names are written in permanent black marker, and then I use neon dry erase markers to indicate the number needed and stone color, if applicable (leaf studs in pink garnet or green peridot, for example). For now, I'm moving items from the right side of the board (in process or yet to be started) to the left side as I complete them. The change above is from one day to the next in my progress on shipments for delivery before Mother's Day. I don't move the tags until the piece is bagged and ready to ship, so one day's progress on the board may just mean that a bunch of multi-day projects completed at once. Even so, it sure feels good to walk over and move the tags. It's a bit like getting that gold star on a paper back in grade school. Now I'm thinking a few more boards for other projects might be in order. Shipments, purchases,...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gold and Blackened Silver Jewelry

As I play more and more with black oxidized silver, I've found myself craving gold. For years I've collected images of jewelry from artists that I admire which features the pop of bright gold with black. It's one of my favorite color combos.

So I finally dove in. I ordered a single ounce of fine gold casting grain to combine with some unused 14k gold rings from the jewelry box to combine for 22k casting. From this investment I have a collection of birds, flowers and leaves to try out in some new jewelry.

Goldfinch earrings
©2014 Vickie Hallmark
Argentium sterling silver, 22k gold

Here are the first few things I tried. First, a simple pair of earrings with birds in the treetops, obviously goldfinches. I've learned that I need to redo my models and molds, as these gold birds are much thicker (and more expensive) than they need to be.

Goldleaf earrings
©2014 Vickie Hallmark
22k and 18k gold

And I also made a pair of plain gold leaf studs, where I added 18k gold posts and nuts (my first time to solder gold, which went smoothly).

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vickie Hallmark Jewelry Online Shop - Test Run

I'm finally giving priority to getting the online shop up and running, rather than continuing to handle purchase inquiries one by one. The test shop is open, although not linked seamlessly yet, and not perfectly matched in appearance.

So far, only the affordable flock collection from my jewelry line appears there. I'll be adding more just as soon as I can. I have it set up so that clicking on any individual image takes you to the shop page for that item.

Please drop in to see the new shop and let me know what you think!