A Walk Down Silver Memory Lane

I was thinking back about my journey in silversmithing and went looking for photos of early work. I was very surprised that my first silver jewelry piece was thirteen years ago. I thought it had only been about 5 years.

That was one of my Monet beads. At that time I decided that silver wasn’t for me. It didn’t come as easily as the glass did and I didn’t really have time to take on the amount of hours necessary to get up to speed because I had to keep selling beads.

I tried a few more pieces and then hung up my metal tools for a while. Five years later I visited my friend Chris in Wisconsin to help her with a class at the Bead & Button Show. After the show she gave me some pointers and when I got home I picked up the Little Torch again. This time I went a little crazy and tried to set into silver everything I could find in the studio.

I was having a lot of fun but I felt that something was missing. Mainly, it was my skill that was missing but, I kept at it and tried a few more.

Pretty ragged lookin, but that is how you get better.

This was the little area when I played with metal back then:
You really don’t need a big space to get it done, and it suited me just fine. Since that time I’ve upgraded the studio, a lot. As in, we built on another addition, and I got an official jewelry bench. I still use a lot of the same tools with which I started. The original plan for the new studio space was to be for additional torch stations, my jewelry bench, and maybe some woodworking equipment.

Guess where my jewelry bench ultimately ended up?

Right back in my old glass studio. I love how I can rotate my chair to access soldering and polishing equipment however I do feel a little boxed in. I’ve been brainstorming how I can feng shui it but the room dimensions are posing a challenge so I’m trying to get used to it. (you can click on these last two pictures to see a larger view).

I’ve since gotten rid of all of my glass and most of my glass tools and transformed the former torch station into a lapidary lab.

I’ll continue this little walk down silver memory lane in my next post, and show you how my work has gotten to where I am now and a little bit about where I want to go with it.

Back in the Jewelry Studio

It has been almost a year since I published my last coloring book. In true form, I’m on to the next thing. Or should I say, back to an old thing? This foray finds me back in the jewelry studio. I thought it would be fun to show you the process for one of the bracelet styles I’m making using scrap soft glass and silver fabrication.

First, I pull out some old scrap glass rods, stringer, and murrine cane, and chop it all up.
Then I line a steel tube with kiln paper and throw it all in.
After a 16 or so hour fuse in the kiln i have a nice puck of colorful glass with which to work.

These pucks get sliced into disks to reveal the designs hidden within.

I then slice them up into funky shapes.

Sometimes I use the scrap from this step.

And configure for another, shorter, fuse in the kiln.

Then comes the polishing. Sometimes I stop at a matte finish.

And sometimes I take them through six different grits of grinding and polishing wheels to achieve a higher shine.

Here is where it all starts to come together. Setting them in silver. I create a silver bezel to frame the little masterpieces.

And then cut out more silver to give them a nice backing.

From there, I solder the bezel to the backing and file the edges to a nice smooth finish.

And add some type of decorative element to make the back just as fun as the front.

If it’s a pendant, with a larger cabochon I am starting to get a little more creative with the setting, for more visual interest without being too busy against the design in the glass.

With the bracelets, the chain links that I solder between the pieces are just enough to pull it all together.

It feels really good to be back in the jewelry studio. Thanks for following along throughout the years!

If you’d like to see more of my process shots in almost-real-time you can follow me on Instagram or my facebook page.

You might also want to check out  my new web site to see all of the other pieces I’ve been creating this year at www.lorigreenbergjewelry.com.

I’m writing an ebook and Salvador Dali is my first subject.

Don’t get too excited. Today I started documenting the micro mosaic process, with the proverbial carrot dangling from a stick being a finished ebook in the end. We’ll see how that goes. It could end up being one of those, “it took me 3 years to write it” books.

I have always thought that it would be cool to write a book and then I start thinking about it and I get overwhelmed. I wouldn’t even know where to start and to tell you the truth, even though I love to blabber on here, I really don’t have any experience or idea of how a non-fiction  or memoir book is written. The few times that I’ve googled information I thought, oh, no way. It stressed me out thinking about it.

From the beginning of when I started working with the micro mosaics I have had a lot of suggestions that I should teach. While I really don’t have a desire to teach, and can’t imagine how I would fit something like this into even a two day class, I did think that some type of book could cover everything. But was I willing to show my process in depth?


Today I decided to start documenting that process, along with pictures. I could always just blog it however, I think that the time will come when I want to produce a series of ebooks for sale. I still wonder who would buy them since it’s such a niche subject, but hey, you never know. I think that even if the reader didn’t make the mosaics from the tutorials there will be lots of technique that might spur other ideas and it will be image heavy, which is always appealing (when they’re good photos).

So, the one I’m starting the documentation with is my next piece based on the image of Salvador Dali. I love my Andy Warhol piece and Salvador Dali, and his work, have always been an influence on my life in the arts. Plus, how can you NOT want to reproduce that likeness when you are looking for an interesting face?

blank glass bead tile

I’ve started my content matter research, created the blank fused tile and will be documenting it along the way and sharing the issues and solutions that arise as I consider elements for the piece. Things that I think about when I’m driving in the car alone: How am I going to hang or display this? How will I achieve shadows in the skin tone? How will the electroformed mustache be attached?

Oh, and on the back it will have a quote from Dali that says: “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs” in murrini letters as well as mosaic design. Which also leads me to think about, could/would this be wearable? It would probably be uncomfortable with raised murrini on the surface of the reverse side, but maybe I could work around that with cold working or extra fusing. And, would someone want to pay such a high price for a double sided piece if you only see one when being worn? And on and on.

Lots of things to consider when designing something different. At least, that’s the approach I take. I want all bases covered. These are too time consuming to chalk a piece up as a learning device.  I will educate myself as much as possible ahead of time and still learn a lot from the pieces that I will do differently in the next one.