Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spooky Night World

This Strange Night World

I found this vintage french advertising label, and loved the image. The moon and starry sky, the lady in the pointed hat. Very colorful and fun.
I'm using words from an old, shabby book, clipping out sentences that look interesting or suggestive, that spark ideas.

I made up for myself some 'guidelines' - not really rules, just suggestions to self - about how to use the words. The idea is to take words organized by someone else to tell their story, and use them to tell another story. I use the words in the order they are on the book page, only using pages with no printing on the reverse side. That means at the beginnings or endings of chapters. And no cutting and rearranging, just using the words in the sentence as they are in the book. It makes it more fun and challenging.

I found and clipped out the words 'the strange night world' in a sentence, and just knew they had to go with this french poster image.
And when I was putting it all together, I had some etched copper cuttings from an earlier project, just the corners of the copper with etched images on each side.

I noticed that the designs were sun shapes, or stars. It looked like it belonged with this little charm design.

I'm going to slip a little copper chain through the loop at the top and just keep it simple, without a lot of beads or other decorations.

I don't usually make theme jewelry for holidays, but doesn't this look like the perfect image for the month of October?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fleeting Time Closure

These glass toggles are like collages in enameled fused glass for me. I can put in a word or image, and just the hint of a ghostly script of writing, but the glass controls how the finished pieces look.

This is the timepiece fused glass toggle I posted about a while back, made up to use as a closure.

I think it looks old, and almost with a green patina on it. The metal wrapping it has been darkened, but I left the chain and toggle bar bright silvertoned, not everyone likes the dark metal as much as I do.

I'm always curious how people use these clasps but so far I haven't seen the finished results by anyone.

That's partly why I made up the whole necklace for the glass toggle with the key image embedded inside. I wanted to see how they looked and wore as part of a finished necklace.

I'm putting more glass in the kiln today. Maybe later today I'll have a happy surprise when I open it up again to take a peek!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Leaning Toward Lockets

Timepieces, Faux Watches and Gems

Had a productive day yesterday, experimenting with locket-like shapes and ideas for creating enclosed casings.

I have brass sheet that I use for etching and stamping charms, when I need words on the piece to convey a thought.

I'm attracted to old watch components, gears and casings, watch faces. But I don't like to take old watches apart. So I've been trying to come up with ways to create the look of the parts, without scavenging old or antique watches.

This little pendant pulled together a faux ivory bead I made a while ago, that I wanted to put into some sort of casing. Then I antiqued this faux gem and added it to the back, to keep it from looking too plain.

There's a drilled hole in the bottom of the brass casing that I slipped a patinaed jump ring through, to make a spot for a dangle or to attach the whole thing onto the side of a length of chain, like an off-center locket.

The sides of the casing don't go all the way around, to allow the little faux carved bead to extend out on the edges.

I wanted it to look very ancient and hand fabricated, maybe like something from the orient in the late 18th century, battered and time worn. Like a watch fob that someone wore on a long sea journey and handed down to their descendants through the ages.

Hopefully I'll learn more ways to work with the brass, I really like the shiny brushed finish of it, against the darkened patina metal.

I will keep working on the locket ideas, the faux timepieces. They are so interesting to me, with many secret stories to tell.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Belle Armoire and Returning Glass

I sent the jewelry off to the photographer for Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine some time ago, and the results were fabulous, the pieces I sent were to illustrate the article on fusing enamel with glass.

When the jewelry has been gone for a while I seem to forget the pieces temporarily, and so when the box returning them arrives it's all a surprise again for me.

I was so pleased to see the glass jewelry again, one of the necklaces had been reserved for someone very patient for a very long time! And one was my own necklace, I took a deep breath when I put it into the package and it turned out it wasn't used for the article after all.

Now that they are back, I'm enjoying seeing them again, and I've re-listed them in the shop, and the very patient lady will get this necklace delivered.

I have another deadline in October to send pieces for a proposed submission for the spring issue - the waiting is so hard to see the finished magazine!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jewelry Exchange - The Story Unfolds

I love to make stories for my beads and jewelry, and make jewelry with a story. How fun to tell the story of some jewelry and how it grew! This is about Gaea's jewelry exchange idea and how it all came about in pictures.

Gaea started it all, it was her idea and we agreed it would be fun. What would several jewelry designer beadmaker types do with a work-in-progress. Sounds like a good time! Here's the story to date. This is a photo of how it started out, and then it headed to have some more special touches added by Lorelei.

She changed the wire, added beads and the beginnings of a dangle, and a word stick to match the little heart key emblem on the focal bead. Next, Joelle added a special touch like this.

Very neat second strand added, some length, color - the exchange is showcasing various work and yet complimenting the style of all involved. Next to Mary, who put a special spin on the next stage like so:

See the cool toggle, the fiber chain and the bird bead. Neat additions, lots of texture and new colors. Many hands, one spirit, on next to Jennifer to add her special flavor to the mix.

The dangle got some new friends with a stick pearl, brass dangle stick and stamped charm on chain, very kinetic and lots of movement. Next it traveled to me, and I added some length to get it almost to the finish line.

I added an orchid bead and one of my pierced stick chain links with hand forged jump rings, connected by darkened steel wire, to add length and play on the love notes theme, metallic textures and violet colors of some of Gaea's ceramic beads.

Here's an arial view of where it was when I sent it off to Stef, to add the next touches before it goes back to Gaea for the last word and the finishing touches.

And a bit of a closeup, to show all the neat colors and fun stuff.

I can't wait to see what the finished piece will look like, and boy, was it hard to see it go out the door in that package to Stef, it's one great necklace right there! And I know Gaea has some special plans for its future, so keep posted on her blog to find out the rest of the story.

Anybody else want to do an exchange, maybe a charm or bead exchange? That was way too fun not to do it again. If five or six of us got together and made six of the same bead, charm or component, we could do a swap! and get six new cool things - then collaborate to use the charms in a bracelet, earrings or something.

Want to???

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Salvage and Secure

A thick faux gem of fused dichroic glass with deep coppery sheen inside, that had been ground and wrapped in metal weeks before the hurricane Ike landfall happened.

I put it down next to these two newly patinaed copper fleur de lis charms, and the copper in the charms matched the copper gleams in the glass - they called out to be next to this chunk of fused glass.

I made this piece with the Gulf Coast in mind, how all sorts of items wash up after such a storm, battered but surviving.

It reminds me of Louisiana and southern Texas Gulf Coast communities, the hardy determination to come out on the other side and keep moving forward.

There's a spot for a chain to go through at the top, and a loop for a dangle at the bottom. I could have finished it for a necklace but decided to leave it and let someone else finish its story by adding their own elements.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Charming Lady Thoughts

Many Sweet Thoughts, Many Sweet Faces

Made these charms using pages from a vintage book, cutting the words as I found them on the page. Sentences meant to tell another story, converted to tell the thoughts I saw in the pictures instead. I had the words first, clipped from a page torn from an old shabby book, nothing special. Just found a page with words on only one side of the paper.

I cut the glass, wrapped with copper foil, and started soldering them together, adding the loops for hanging. And decorative wire on some, framing on others. This one has the words 'this is a love letter' on the reverse side, with a vintage photo of a mother and child's faces on the front. It's hard to tell, but the image behind the words on the reverse side is the mother's hand, holding a bouquet of flowers.

Found the drilled stick pearls and couldn't wait to use them for a special piece, and this seemed just right. It's a long dangle but very delicate looking, even with the darkened steel wire wrapping.

This one has a very somber-looking woman with the words 'her passions' encased in a theatre-like frame, surrounded by wire and with one of my fused glass gems as the dangle.

This one is open for you to make up your own story. What are her passions, what is she thinking? On the other s
ide is a label from a vintage lotion bottle design. Is she passionate about life, about her looks, about comfort?

The glass dangle has dichroic sparkle embedded in a translucent glass gem, you can see through it but it has a sparkle and gleam. It will pick up any colors is is put up against, which facinates me.

In the time when the portrait was painted, women didn't have a lot of options in society, only to be wives and mothers or possibly a vocation with the church or with nursing. Is she considering what she would pursue, what her passions would be, if she was completely free?

Speaking of wives and mothers, this next one celebrates the bond between a mom and baby.

I've had the long pink glass beads with the gold trim for a long time, just waiting for the right project to use them.
I made this rectanglar charm of a baby in the bassinette with mom in pink, and I knew it needed those two pink glass beads. I combined it with some of my hand dyed costume pearls, to make a complete necklace.

The other side has an image from a vintage friendship card, with roses forming a heart shape. The metal casings on all of these charms has been darkened, and then textured to enhance the look of the silver solder.

I made the clasp for the necklace with the darkened steel wire, hooked on the side of the necklace to one of the large loops of the beads. It's simple and reminds me of the type of clasp you see on jewelry from the 1930's, just a simple hook and eye.

Do you think the fact that I have a new baby granddaughter has something to do with these images of moms and babies on the charms?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Studio Life - Key to the Studio

Studio Day

Remember the little fused glass key image, embedded inside the glass - I finally finished it yesterday and added lots of other keys to it, including a long key as part of the chain.

I wanted to make the completed necklace for this toggle, using some of my darkened patina key charms. I originally wanted to use a key charm as the toggle, but all of them were too wide to fit through the toggle hole. Rather than (gulp) make the hole a lot bigger with the drill, I put the key on as part of the chain. I like the results even better, and the twisted copper toggle fits through the hole just fine.

There are more photos of it on the Etsy listing - go there if you want to see the hanging view and get a better look at the key on the chain. I forged the jump links out of copper and used a vintage style s-chain I'd been holding for someting special, to finish it off.

I'll put the timepiece toggle on the expeditionD site, if someone wants to finish that necklace! It's very cool looking, I would love to see what someone else does with that closure toggle with the pocketwatch enameled image in the glass.

I spent most of yesterday down in Studio B, soldering and forming some glass charms. I thought I'd put some photos of that area if you pardon the mess, I'm not a perfect organizer but I have everything I need out to use when I have a few spare minutes. I lost a whole day last weekend because of the power outage, so I needed to get caught up.

The ceiling is pretty low in the basement in Studio B, but I'm not very tall so it's not a problem for me. If I ever have a lot of time and nothing going on (not likely! but possible I guess) I would paint this area a brighter white to bounce the light around better. Maybe sometime.

Here's a photo of the grinder. It has the beveling top on it, so I can shape the fused glass with good 90 or 45 degree angles. It has a water drip supply on the top, and the wheel flings water everywhere in spite of all the sponges, so I always wear a heavy vinyl apron and safety glasses when I use it. This is the grinder that gives me my frequent grinder manicures, when my fingertips get too close to the grinder. Lopsided fingernails, part of the process for me.

I also use this grinder to drill holes in the glass, that's why the swingarm light with a bright lamp in it is right over this table. The whole table is covered with clear plastic and the backsplash is to catch the spray. In case you hadn't figured it out, grinding is wet, noisy and messy! But lots of fun, as the glass goes to the shape you need.

Here's an overview of the soldering station. It's a very long and wide workbench, there are my two soldering irons. I don't let my good jewelry pliers and tools get anywhere near the soldering station because the flux will ruin them. I have some inexpensive pliers and hemostats I use with the soldering. You can see those with the yellow handles.

It's very messy, but I like to keep things out and handy so I can quickly get to work when I have some time available. Thankfully, I have the space to do that, if I had to put everything away each time it would probably discourage creativity sessions. All the equipment is on a power strip that has the radio plugged into it. That way I know when I turn off the power strip and the radio is off, all the equipment is also turned off. It's an extra easy safety feature, so I don't accidently leave the soldering iron turned on without me in the room.

The new soldering iron is the one with the blue handle, it's on a short soldering stand because it's too bulky to fit in the wire soldering stand. My older, chisel tip soldering iron is the one with the orange handle that's in the wire soldering stand. I work on top of ceiling tiles, they are heat resistent and easily replaced when they get messy and dirty - which they really do!

Here's another view of the soldering station, showing the all-important ventilation fan in the window. When I'm fusing, soldering or firing the kiln, I turn on this fan to pull any fumes out that window. There are fumes created by the flux, the solder, and also the patina. And fusing silver or firing the kiln can also create fumes, depending on what you are using. So for safety and good health practices, I always use this fan to pull any fumes out of the workspace.

This is the plastic container full of bottles of solutions I need at the soldering station. There's flux, both liquid and paste; there's silver solder, and flux cleaner to neutralize the acidity of the flux. There's copper and silver patina. Also baking soda, alcohol and polishing solutions for metal. Some for copper, brass and silver.

At the other end of the room, on a smaller table next to the kiln, is the fusing station with the firebrick and torch. I have a metal sheet underneath the firebrick to protect the table from drops of molten wire, it does happen!

See at the very right of the photo, there's the wooden dapping block. I've been working on some copper sheet to create a rounded shape, still experimenting with my locket ideas. The torch and its lighter sit on a ceramic tile. I always put them right back in that spot when I turn it off, to make sure I don't accidently touch the tip while it's still really hot and burn myself.

Yesterday I did a lot of soldering, I had a backlog built up. I needed to finish some orders and create some things that had been waiting, partly finished, since last weekend. I'll put some pictures of the charms I made and other pieces from yesterday's session later.

Thought you might like a view of where I spent the time, and today I will be fusing some silver chain at the fusing table. Safety is very important, if you want to know more about how I make sure I'm safe in the studio check out the safety posts. Always wear safety glasses, to protect your eyes!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tool Time Jewels

I love tools and equipment. I found myself yesterday, looking at a metal press mill, trying to decide if I needed it. I'm sure I could find a way to use it, and some people swear by them. So far I have resisted the urge.

I got myself a hardwood dapping block a while back, and recently a metal dapping set.

Just yesterday I ordered a disk cutter. Can't wait until it arrives. Just a small one. That makes the larger sized disks. I ordered this through Etsy from Romazone, good communications and prices.
For making charms, stamping words, and etching metal. And to make lockets. I still want to make lockets.

Now I will be able to cut out the circles, etch and dome them, to make the ideas I have in my fuzzy head about lockets.

I have been sketching and thinking about this for a while now. Does staring at the mailbox make the package come faster?
On another note, here are some tutorials I located recently at the website for Lapidary Journal Step by Step, for using a dapping block. Great ideas, and yet another use for my new disk cutter tool when it arrives!

This one is for no-solder metal beads, they do take some finesse to make but look very visually interesting. There is a mix of metals on these. Copper, brass and silver.

This one is for hollow silver beads, requiring soldering, for the more adventurous and non-torch fearful among you. It's good to read it even if you don't plan to do the soldering because the dapping instructions are helpful and interesting. And the use of a tumbler to polish and de-bur silver beads.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wrapping Up

Twisting Wire, Loopy Wrapping
I've been practicing my wire wrapping, trying to learn ways to use some of my patterned round beads.

I didn't want to start with some of my favorite beads, I've learned that the first few attempts might be less than perfect, to say the very least.

So I got out some old beads I made a long while back and started playing with the wire, trying to teach myself ways to enclose the beads and make an interesting chain.

I hope as I learn and practice it will go more quickly, it took me several hours of fitting and fidgeting to get this small length of chain.

Not completely happy with it, but I did learn a lot. I want to be able to make a bracelet using this type of bead, and I have some graduated sized beads in the expeditionD shop now, a set of five, that would be fun to do this way.

Needless to say these will be for me to keep as practice pieces, they are very rough and I know I can do better as I practice. But it was fun, and I enjoy learning and trying new things. I will extend the length with other types of chain link wire and make a bracelet.

I want to take some of the zephyr bead rounds and enclose them in wire wrapping like this, to make a pendant.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Faux-tique Fun

Did you wonder what became of the little glass sparklers fired in the kiln a while back?

Was going to metal case and wrap some on the day of the power outage, and wasn't able to work on things that needed electricity.

But on the day before the storm came up and the power went down, I made this little piece, a faux portrait encased in metal. The back is a replica of those tile ceilings you see in old buildings.

The fleur d'lys on the top reminds me of a crown or halo on her head. The portrait is an image transfer I made a while back. The patinaed charm, the faux tile and the portrait were together on the workbench so I put them together.

Then my eye fell on the little sparkler gem, and I added it to the bottom. Like an old cabinet case portrait. Her image is a little battered but I like it that way. As though someone carried or wore it for a long time, a very long time ago.

So you see there's not always a grand plan, sketched designs and predetermined means of using what I make. I just make things that I like, that speak to me. And sometimes when they are next to each other on my very messy workbench, they assemble themselves into something new.

It seems right, if when it's done, it looks like it should have been that way all along.

So how do you create ... is it somewhat in a flow like this, or are you someone who thinks and plans? I'm always curious about the mystery of the creative process, do tell ....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dove in Flight

After a storm, I often hear mourning doves coo-coo-cooing.

This little folk art dove reminds me of them.

My thoughts are with those on the Gulf Coast who are wondering how they will move on, what comes next.

Take heart.
Take wing.

This is a dove of remembrance, a dove of peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dark Cross, Light of Life

I made this dark coptic style cross and the crown heart as a set of beads to use together, and wasn't sure what to use with it.

The reverse side of both have deeply embossed textures, sanded and polished to a bright sheen. They look like black lacquer work, if you've seen polished lacquered wood. Depths of gloss, a glassy shiny finish.

But with the look of an artifact, rustic and worn-looking around the edges. Like something that went on the crusades, or came back from the dark continent in the middle ages.

This weekend with the power outage, I started wrapping wire and forming shapes, bead stick links and using black ceramic beads and amber-toned glass beads. Long pierced wire sticks hammered and forged.

Finished off with leather cord to go around the neck, doubled and wrapped tightly in steel darkened wire.

The circular shaped connector is made with tightly wrapped darkened steel wire, with the ebony colored cross and crown heart beads suspended from it. This is a long, hanging pendant. Best worn by someone who enjoys substantial sized jewelry.

The heart-shaped crown has a deep fleur d'lys design in it, topped with a reddish brown ceramic bead.

The coptic christian church is very active in Ethopia and Egypt, the word 'copt' means 'egyptian'. This style of armed cross resembles their designs. Old Coptic crosses often incorporate a circle; sometimes large, sometimes small, the circle represents the eternal and everlasting love of God, as shown through Christ's crucifixion. It also symbolises Christ's halo and resurrection. The Coptic cross is widely used in the Coptic church and the Ethiopian and Eretrian churches.

Filigree is often used in coptic crosses. In Ethiopia, these crosses can be so sophisticated that it's difficult to find the cross in the design.

Because Africa includes a blend of many religions, the Coptic cross allows Copts to easily identify themselves to each other, and to others. The cross has played this role throughout the history of Christianity, along with a number of other symbols such as fish, and at one time, wearing the cross could be very dangerous; in the Roman Empire, for example, Christians were heavily persecuted in the early days of Christianity. Therefore, the cross symbolizes not only membership in the Christian faith, but a remembrance of early Christian martyrs who died because they wore the cross and refused to renounce their faith.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mermaid's Tears

Mermaids Cry Salty Tears in the Salty Ocean

The storms and wind from the remnants of IKE hit yesterday and we lost power at 7:00 am, several trees fell and two power poles were broken.

It reminded me of sitting through the rain bands of Gustav in Louisiana not that long ago, and made me think of the on-line friends in harm's way in Houston and the Gulf Coast.

I hope your power returns soon, and you are able to get water, ice and gasoline, the three things that seem so important to have immediately after such a storm.

Yesterday's plan was to solder some items and fire some glass, but without electricity I had to come up with things I could still work on because sitting around doing nothing was crazy-making.

So I made this little necklace just using my jewelry tools and wire.

I'm going to call it Mermaid's Tears. If a mermaid cries salty tears in the salty ocean, does anyone notice?

The stone chips are florite, which has a beautiful translucence to it. The little heart shape in the blue goes perfectly with the stone chips. The stone chips have such tiny little holes, I created these wrapped links with the florite on them, and it looked to me like undewater rocks that are encrusted with beautiful coral and life. The necklace is translucent, in the light it's luminous like the color you see looking up at the sky from underwater.

So the enforced power outage made me think about how to use the time creatively without electricity, and sit quietly by a big window for light, listening to music on a battery operated portable CD player.

It's not so bad here because we can drive down the street and the stores and restaurants still have power, not like in Houston where no one has power and there's no way to pump gas or even buy batteries if your supply runs low.

Hang in there, those of you still in harm's way. And for those on Galveston Island, where the seach and rescue is still going on, I put lots of thoughts of you into this necklace called 'Mermaid's Tears' and I hope you are safe and well.

We were so relieved at 2:00 am when the power returned, many thanks to those linemen we watched from a distance putting up the new power pole and to the others we didn't see who were instrumental in getting electricity back to this neighborhood. I translate that feeling in the millions for the Houston area, and wish you the same feeling of relief and return to normal living.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Time Machine

Steampunk Machinery Pendant

I've had this idea for several weeks, and had not had a chance to pull it together.

Finally got to try out the notion of making something on the lines of a clockwork, with gears and pieces that look very steampunk, but not metal except for the chain. Wrapped in dark patina metal, too.

Like ivory carved, or a deep grey three dimensional component from some machinery somewhere, it looks old and worn and intriguing, as though it has some mechanical function or magical purpose.

In a dark casing, with a wire and loops around it, to create an image of a faux ceramic invented time gadget, a way-back machine.

It's polished to a natural sheen, very rustic looking. Lots of texture. The back side especially is sanded and polished to a lacquer-like finish.

The wire surrounding the equipment parts is large gauge, hammered flat and soldered, the two bead units connected to each other and to the hanging loops on the top.

I have drawn this, repeatedly doodled it on sketch pads. When I finally got the pieces in my hands, it was almost as though it made itself.

The chain was created today in a group session with some of the folks from the precious metal clay class, what a great group!

I had the shiny hematite stone chips, and thought immediately how they would look combined with the machine age looking central pendant.

It's darkened annealed steel wire, wrapped and connected in various ingenious ways. The long links with the wire wrapping especially fit the style of the large pendant, and the wire bits and pieces with the hematite drops are delicate yet rugged-looking at the same time.

Lots of different types of links, some simple and some more complex, make it interesting to fiddle with when it's worn.

Looks like it has dials and gears, that might once have turned the parts of a special widget, now just a reminder of times when things were mechanical, handmade and one of a kind.

What do you think?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Commemorative Jewelrymaker

Narrative Jewelry Disguised as Play - Don Tompkins (1933-1982)

In 1954, Don Tompkins, a twenty-one-year-old student of the influential northwest artist-teacher Russell Day, entered three pieces of jewelry in the second annual Northwest Craftsmen's Exhibition at the University of Washington's Henry Gallery in Seattle. It was the first juried exhibition he had ever entered, and his first jewelry.

He won a special award, and one of his works was reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue. Using found objects, wire, photo-etched and cast items, he created a visual language that is familiar to us now, but was a strike away from the familiar when he began.

Minnesota Fats, 1971
Sterling Silver, Gold, Cultured pearl, Magazine Photo, Plexiglass
3 x 6 1/2"
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,
The Helen W. Druff Collection
Photo: Lynn Thompson

Tompkins was born in 1933 in Everett, Washington. His parents were lifelong teachers, mainly in small rural western schools. The Pacific Northwest has long been a fertile center for the crafts, but only relatively recently has the importance of Don Tompkins in this history been acknowledged.

At Right: Pendant, 1954
Brass and Silver
Collection of Mary Tompkins

He created charms, talismans, artifacts. He used home welders, flat irons and blow torches instead of specialized sculpture or jewelry tools. He used any machinery available, saying that the main thing is the heart and the head, not the hand. From early on, Tompkins brought found objects, non-traditional materials and experimental techniques to his jewelry, reflecting his wild native curiositity.

Pendant, 1965
Sterling silver, Semi-Precious Stones, Coin
2 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 3/9"
Collection Marilyn Whyte

A slide of the work is labeled (in Tompkins' hand), "Pendant, ca 1965." Marilyn Whyte, who luckily still has the piece, says of it, "It's probably one of the first medallion pieces. No theme to this one like his later pieces. He cast one of [his son] Paul's toy indians, wax paper, etched lettering from a newspaper somehow, added a couple of stones, a Canadian penny, and pearls."

Day says, "People like Ramona [Solberg], Ken Cory, and Bob Winston have been given credit for what was the beginning of Pop Art in American jewelry. It was Don that brought the found object to American jewelry."

Regardless of who's on first, the series Tompkins later called "Commemorative Medals," produced between 1965 and 1976, helped stake out new ground for work that fundamentally changed American jewelry making. He wasn't alone of course; it was a halcyon time, as Don and Merrily Tompkins and others, each in their own way, redefined the field.

Jack Zucker, 1972
Sterling Silver, Found Objects, Photo-Etching
Collection the Zucker Family

He began making commemorative medals using cast metal charms and other junk he found, experimenting with visual language that was totally unique. There is a record of at least 25 commemorative medals, including Minnesota Fats, Richard Nixon and Jack Zucker.

Jack Zucker (ca. 1972) is one of the gems and comes out of a terrific story. Zucker, a Philadelphia union organizer, was a friend of Betty Tompkins's parents. Along with so many intellectuals of the 1950s, he was called up before Senator Joseph McCarthy's specious Un-American Activities Committee and asked to defend himself. He said, "Senator McCarthy, I have more patriotism in my little finger than you have in your whole body."

Tompkins commemorates those words in the work, along with an etched portrait of Zucker, an American Federation of Labor pin, and a kitschy cast charm of a dancing girl, all wonderfully balanced in the grid format. A terrific tribute.

Courageous, boisterous, lusty and creative, Don Tompkins died in 1982 of a heart attack, leaving behind jewelry and images that are a lasting influence in American metalsmithing. His work looks familar to us looking back at it, which emphasizes the depth of change he brought to jewelry making.
See article here: http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/heart-and-head.htm

This is a continuing blog post series on legendary jewelry makers, including Alexander Calder, Ramona Solberg and Amy Pfaffman - to see them all use the 'legendary jewelrymakers' label search.