Friday, September 10, 2010

How I got started making resin jewelry

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For anyone that has followed my art jewelry and jewelry making career for any period of time knows that I haven't always made resin jewelry.  My career started in 2001 when I finally had the chance to explore my jewelry making skills.  I took a class with local jewelry artist Susan Chastain.  Susan and I became fast friends and she very generously continued to teach me jewelry making skills.

 Sterling silver, reticulated sterling silver, bronze, chrysocolla
Pin/pendant  Circa 2003

My first few years of jewelry making involved a lot of semi precious stones and minerals.  I started off making a lot of jewelry in Susan's style:  rustic, organic, a bit vintage, and very traditional. It was definitely something you wouldn't find in the latest fashion magazines.  I didn't want anything to do with the day's fashion trends.

Fine silver granulation, fresh water pearl, Circa 2005
In the summer of 2003, I took my first jewelry making class at the Penland School of Craft.  I learned granulation under Doug Harling.  Doug was another huge influence on my jewelry making career.  Doug's specialty is granulation jewelry.  He taught his technique (and taught me some non granulation techniques as well).  The granulation process was quite different than anything I had ever done.  The other exciting thing about granulation was that few other jewelry artists were doing the technique.  I was able to do something truly unique.

As much as I loved the granulation technique, one of the challenges is that it uses "purer" metal than I had used when doing the other style of jewelry.  I must use fine silver (100 percent silver -- sterling is only 92.5 percent silver) and high karat (18 to 22 karat) gold.  This was fine when the metals market was low, but once the economy took a downturn, precious metal investing became more popular and significantly raised metal prices.  Between the high prices for this kind of metal and the economic uncertainty, creating granulation jewelry wasn't economically feasible for me anymore.

Sterling silver, colored epoxy resin, 2010
I had been studying resin jewelry for awhile in books and magazines.  It interested me, but I hadn't had a chance to experiment with it yet.  In the summer of 2006, I was able to return to the Penland School of Craft to study resin jewelry making with Heidi Schwegler.  While her class lacked in the practical application of making wearable resin art jewelry, I was grateful to finally have the opportunity to learn the basics.  I got to work with silicone, epoxy and polyurethane resin.  I learned some basic skills and it definitely made me want to work with it more.

I'm still evolving with my resin jewelry, but love the journey.  I've been working exclusively with resins for only a year now, but am excited about where I might go next.

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