My Artful Journey, continued

I left off my art journey story at 2009, when I had last played with the silver. A that time, I was still making glass beads, and continued until 2012 when I had the call to dive into glass micro mosaics. (I just spent some time looking at old blog posts from that time. Boy, that was some fun, and I made some really cool stuff!)


When I started working with those teeny tiny little pieces of glass I never thought that that would be the end of me making beads. But, one thing led to another, and found myself only on the torch to make the small components, and to pull the fine stringers of glass for the mosaics. It was still a lot of torch time because each tiny chip of glass actually has anywhere from 5 to 11 layers of glass.

2012-2014

I did that for two years and made some really cool pieces but then I veered again, to making glass stringer stacked murrine.

Getting deeper and deeper into detailed work, as is my way, I didn’t create a a lot of finished pieces. The work that I did make was pretty spectacular, if you ask me. That whole process is a little mind-boggling.

That phase of work only lasted about six months. I’m happy to say, as with most things, I’m glad I took the time to learn the process.

November 2014

I decided that I was going to try my hand at writing again. I really do love writing, and it seemed like it would be the perfect job at the time. You see, my kids were in the tween stage and it was getting increasingly hard to find the amount of uninterrupted time that I needed to continue working in the studio. Writing would let me be in the house with them.

[insert HUGE laugh here from my writer friends]. I love you more than words, and especially the fact that you didn’t actually laugh in front of me at my naivete. Mwah!

We had also started a major construction project, adding on 1500 square feet of new space that included a recording studiol, so I couldn’t work in the studio. I don’t remember how long I tried the writing gig — maybe two years? During that time I learned that I could craft a story and I managed to write two almost-complete first drafts. I also realized that while I love writing, in the form of blogging, and how-to articles, fiction was just not my thing. It was disheartening to realize that after trying to force it for a couple years. I was miserable.

So, still wanting to do a “book thing” I decided I’d create coloring books for adults.

August 2016

I started publishing my coloring books for adults on Amazon and set the goal of publishing 12 books in 12 months. And I did it. During that year the new studio was finished and I jumped into journal art, paper art, and bookmaking.

I realized something very important. I need to make art. I’d missed it so much.

August 2017

I published my twelfth, coloring book. It would be almost a year from that time before I’d be back in the jewelry studio. I’ll pick up there in the next post. To tell you the truth, I lost track of a lot of what I did after the coloring books. My struggle with depression was at it’s lowest. I slept a lot, and was hiding from the world most of that time.

January of 2018

I found a good naturopath and I spent a lot of time working on digging out of that dark hole. The good news is that I made some major lifestyle changes and we figured out what works for me to be mentally healthy. I haven’t been on anti-depressants since September of 2017, and have never, ever, EVER, felt better.

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.