Like most jewelry artists, I love pretty stones! Diamonds, rubies, sapphires — they’re all lovely. But they’re also expensive and can be very hard to work with, especially if you’re an amateur like me. So lately, I’ve found that I love working with more unusual non-traditional materials.
Since I enjoy creating with rivets and cold connections, I came up with a design for mounting stones in an “envelope.” I cut a perfect circle out of a square of metal with my disk cutter, dome around the circle with a dapping block, place my stone in the hole, and rivet another piece of metal to the back. Fairly easy and lots of fun! But I’ve also discovered that I can use the same technique for materials other than stones.
I found some wonderful glass cabochons with images inside — the Man in the Moon, a Ouija board, and other cool things. They make the most delightful pendants! I even got some large glass eyes from a taxidermist, but I haven’t used those yet. I’m really looking forward to playing with them
I also found a source for “pool ball” cabochons. Yes, actual pool balls. I took one that was sliced to the right size, used the envelope technique, and made what became one of my all-time favorite pieces!
I also found some faces carved from buffalo bone from Bali and used those for my “Goddess” series of pendants — which have proved very popular! And I also discovered a source for “fossilized” tumbleweed. Yep, I did, in fact, say “tumbleweed.” It is dyed, pressed, and heated, turning it into a stone-like material. I’ve only made one pendant with the tumbleweed, but I really need to get more. I just love how it came out.
But I’ve found other uses for unusual materials, as well. Since I’m someone who loves recycling, upcycling, and “green” things, I’ve been doing a lot with recycled aluminum cans. I’ve made a whole series of pendants using recycled beer, selzer, and soda cans — the more unusual, the better! I just cut a disk out of the can, dome it, and attach it to a piece of metal — usually a nice copper or brass disk. That’s how I made my “moose crossing” pendant, “polar bear” pendant, and so many other strange and wonderful pieces.