Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Friday UFOs

So what's all this?

It's bits and pieces of things I've started during the past year and not finished. UFOs: Unfinished objects. I'm working on these and others, most of them one-of-a-kinds or new designs, and will have some of them ready for December First Friday at Warwick Glass Studio. Eep! That's just a couple of days away! (Click the link for a map to the studio.)

This is my last show of the year, and it's a group event, so expect lots of great art to enjoy if you decide to come out and visit me.

I'll have Squiggles and chains and a mix of my regular work in addition to the one-offs ~ and everything will be at the old prices from before silver skyrocketed above $25 an ounce. (I just checked and it's $28.70 right now. If you're interested, check Kitco for the live silver spot price.) Unfortunately, my prices will be going up to better reflect the market the next time I order silver, which will be soon.

Good news: You can now shop for Tin Cup Designs jewelry at Annie Kaill's in Juneau and Flypaper in Anchorage. And soon I'll be adding Gold Rush Fine Jewelry in Fairbanks to the list. More to come in the new year.

Finally, I got the nicest compliment yesterday (from my first Canadian customer, too). It made me so happy, I hope you'll forgive me a little tootling on my own horn. Here is is: 

Thank you for the most beautiful piece! The Alaskan Autumn Leaf Pendant Necklace is so nice! I knew I would love it when I saw the picture but I had no idea how beautiful it would be around my neck against a solid, textured sweater... the earrings are the perfect match. I am happy with everything! I know my mom will love the paperclip necklace and the earrings I have for her for Christmas! ~ Gail Adams

I loved that necklace, too, and am so happy it went to live with someone who will love it just as much. There will never be another one just like it, just as no two leaves are ever alike. But if you like real leaves imprinted forever into metal and would like for me to make something for you, all you have to do is get in touch. I love working with the leaves: Always a surprise, and the surprise is always good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding my way...

A terrible sadness entered my life this summer. On July 2, I lost my beloved husband, my sweetest friend and most enthusiastic cheerleader to kidney cancer. If you know me, you know that Glenn was my rock. While I am a bit high-strung and easily frustrated, he was steady, patient and kind. He was my problem solver and my untangler-of-knots. He kept me laughing through the worst of times. I miss him more than words can say.

I have worked very little since mid-April, when he first began having symptoms. We had to re-home all of our critters and flew to Ft. Lewis for surgery on June 3. I was blessed to be by his side almost constantly throughout his month-long hospitalization, and I held him as his spirit left this earth. Since then, I have walked a very dark path. But the sun breaks through sometimes, and I am trying to find my way back to life and joy ~ and work.

I created a raven feather necklace for the October First Friday Raven Show, held this year at the Alaska Bird Observatory. The necklace is still available for purchase there.

I will be doing two holiday bazaars this year: the Holly Days Bazaar at Ft. Wainwright October 15 and 16, and the University Women's Bazaar at the UAF Wood Center on November 7. (At present, I'm confirmed only for Sunday the 7th, but it is possible that a space will open for me on Saturday.)  These shows are my main opportunity to visit with you. Please stop by and say hello. It means a great deal to me. I am not sure how much jewelry I will have ready for the shows, but I will have knot rings and will be tying bead and pearl rings as always. I only sell these rings at shows. I'm always happy to take orders, too.

I am also working on jewelry for the Alaska House Art Gallery in Fairbanks and Fireweed Gallery in Homer. I'll try to post as soon as I've sent the items, as both galleries are very low on stock. Soon you'll also be able to find my work at many other galleries and stores around the state. I'll announce new locations as they become available.

Thank you to all who have sent love and kind wishes. If you would like to know more about Glenn, you can find his obituary here, and there are more photos here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

From leaf to metal...

Many of you have asked me how this:

turns into this:

Last summer, a friend commissioned me to make a candle lantern as a wedding gift. I had never worked on anything that large, and so I decided to document the process in pictures. Basically, it's the same process I use for making the Forest Floor jewelry.

I pick the leaves as I walk on our property during the summer and fall. They're pressed and dried between sheets of blotting paper and stored in large frames built for me by a friend. When I want to print the leaves onto metal, first I arrange them on a sheet of copper or sterling silver:

Once I have them arranged to my liking, I run the metal and leaves through a rolling mill.

The intense pressure of the rollers captures even the most delicate veins in great detail. The leaves are destroyed in the process, so every piece is completely one of a kind.

After washing the leaves and sap off the metal, I decide on the general shape for the piece. This usually involves using my jeweler's saw to create detail along the edges, and in the case of the lantern, piercing holes for the light to shine through.

Next, I file the rough edges.

Here are the six panels for the candle lantern laid out in order:

and after the liver of sulfur patina had been applied:

For the lantern, I "stitched" the panels together with sterling silver wire. This technique resulted in a flexible but sturdy construction and a rustic look.

And finally, lights out:

Such a fun project; I learned a lot while making it. And I hope you've enjoyed seeing how leaves give their shape (and spirit) to metal.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1st Friday at Alaska Heritage House

Spring ~ or break-up, anyway ~ is coming fast to Fairbanks. My studio is fragrant with the scent of green leaves and grasses, as I've been working on new embossed cuffs, pendants and earrings. The oils from the leaves, crushed as they pass through the rolling mill, evoke memories of warm sunshine, wildflowers and leafy branches against a blue sky.

I hope you'll join me this week for 1st Friday at the Alaska Heritage House in Fairbanks. Not only will I have new jewelry to show for the first time, but this is a great opportunity to explore one of Fairbanks' most historic houses. Stop by anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. Friday, April 2. If you need directions, click here for a map.

These are two of the new pieces I'll have at the show. The first, the Uchiwa Pendant, is part of the Forest Floor series. Uchiwa is a non-folding Japanese fan, very similar in shape to this pendant. The copper shows the ribs of baneberry leaves and is accented by sterling silver and malachite.

The second photo shows a chased copper lily brooch accented with sterling silver balls. Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the detail. The brooch was first cut freehand from a thin copper sheet and then worked on a sandbag into three-dimensional shape with dapping tools and hammers. It features a tie-tac type pin back rather than a traditional brooch finding; this way it can be worn on the lapel of a winter coat as well as on a sweater or blouse.

These pieces are not in the Artfire shop. After the 1st Friday show, these or similar ones will be, so if you're not in Fairbanks, don't worry. (And feel free to get in touch to let me know you're interested now so I can plan to make them for you.)

Also for 1st Friday, please do stop by The Alaska House art gallery at 1003 Cushman Street. They've got a huge selection of my work in a beautiful display up front. With more than 60 pieces, there's a lot to see.

Next time I take a break from the bench, later today or tomorrow, I'll post the photos illustrating how real leaves are embossed into metal for the Forest Floor jewelry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Show more than tell...

A small confession: I've been trying to write this blog entry for days. I finally realized I'm over-thinking what I need to say. In fact, perhaps it would be better to show you than tell you. So here are a few pictures of jewelry available in my Artfire studio now.

This copper pendant reproduces in minute detail every vein and crack in a leaf I picked up after it had already been on the ground for awhile this past fall. I love the autumn color of the copper, and the rolled edge of the pendant evokes the way leaves curl up and dry out after they've fallen from the trees. With the handwrought sterling silver chain, the necklace is approximately 20 inches long.

These Starburst Earrings are slightly domed sterling silver and copper disks with hammered decorative lines. This is the larger size, with the upper disk approximately 3/4" in diameter. I also make them smaller, with the top disk approximately 1/2" in diameter. And just for fun, there's a swingy version with the copper disk on top in both sizes. You'll find the pair in the picture in the shop now; please get in touch if you're interested in any of the other versions or in a pendant.

This Forest Floor cuff, in oxidized sterling silver, includes raspberry, high bush cranberry, willow, chokecherrry, Siberian pea and other leaves, all gathered on our 10 acres this past summer. The leaves overlap each other, and the edges are sawn a little ragged to mimic the nibbling of insects and squirrels. A bit of decorative hammering adds texture and interest. Of course, it's one of a kind, as the leaves are destroyed during the process of imprinting the metal.

When you look out the window as you're flying into Fairbanks, you notice scribbles and curlicues carved into the land by the Tanana River. That's the inspiration for this simple Alaska Riverbend pendant made of hammered copper on a satin or suede cord with sterling silver lobster claw clasp.

Next up on the blog, more show and tell: A photo essay on how real leaves are transformed into jewelry for the Forest Floor series.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Artfire Shop is Open!

Head on over here and take a look... It's just a start, and I'll be adding bunches of new items over the next several days. But I promised an opening by the end of January, and shhhh... It's February 10th.

To celebrate, I'm offering blog readers a 10% discount on any purchase made before February 20; just be sure to mention this blog. And for Valentine's Day ~ or for anytime you want to tell someone you love her ~ I'm also offering free shipping on this one-of-a-kind frosted sterling silver cuff. (I'll deliver to the Fairbanks/North Pole area.)

If your gal is the playful sort, she'll love the sprinkling of hearts, and the satiny finish adds softness and a certain glow.

From Tin Cup Designs Handwrought Jewelry

I chose to use Artfire for the shop because it offers lots of flexibility to customers for payment. You don't have to have an Artfire account to make a purchase, and eventually I'll offer items for sale directly on this blog.

If you're an Etsy user (or an Artfire user), I'd love to hear what you think about either. And of course if you choose to buy from my shop, I want to hear about your experience: Was it easy to use? Confusing? What would have made the experience better for you?

Tomorrow, I'll be putting up a bunch of Squiggle earrings for those of you who need your Squiggle fix. ;) Right now, there are a couple of one-of-a-kind pieces. I'm particularly fond of these hammered sterling and copper Shield Dangle earrings with lemon chrysoprase beads. They move!

And I hope they'll move right on out of the shop.

So, Happy Valentine's Day! We're more than halfway through the doldrums of the JanFebs now. The Sun is coming back, and it's busy busy. Lots of good stuff coming up. Thanks for sticking with me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy New Year! ~ and oops...

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~ Bill Vaughn

Here's hoping 2010 is already shining brightly for you. We've all entered a fresh new decade brimming with possibilities and opportunities, and I, for one, am really excited about that.

Edit: All fixed now. Yay! There is a bit of an oops, just a little stumble, to get through right now... My business email account was deleted by my web hosting service. They're in the process of restoring it, but just in case, please send emails to with a copy to That way, I'll get it no matter what. And if you've had a message bounce recently, please re-send.

It's funny how calm I am about all of this. I think it's because it is a new year, and I'm just not going to start out on a footing of anger or frustration. I made a promise to myself to open my heart and mind to new ideas, new people, new inspiration and new opportunities, and I mean to keep that promise, because I know all those things are out there, ready for me to find them.

Winter Solstice Dawn, 2009 ~ From Tin Cup Designs Handwrought Jewelry

2009 did end on a note of sadness, as The Artworks in Fairbanks closed its doors after 35 years in business. Judy bought several pairs of earrings for the gallery before I'd even decided Tin Cup Designs would be a real business, and the entire crew has always been there for me, enthusiastic about my work and concerned about me as a person and as an artist. But, as they kept telling me, all things have a natural beginning and ending, and it was time.

There's lots of good news in the works for Tin Cup Designs, but I can only tell you a couple of tidbits for now.

First, the Alaska House Art Gallery in downtown Fairbanks will begin representing me in March when they reopen after the winter hiatus. I'm really looking forward to this new relationship: Yolande has some great plans for rearranging the space, placing more emphasis on Alaskan jewelry, beefing up the gallery's web presence and lots of other stuff, and I'm so happy to be a part of that.

And the other really great news is that I'll be showing my work for First Friday in April at the Alaska Heritage House bed and breakfast on Cowles Street in Fairbanks. My husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary and 15th anniversary of arriving in Alaska with a weekend stay there in December. I can't get over the tangible sense of history and the lovely period furnishings and restoration work ~ not to mention the light-hearted hospitality shown us by the owners and innkeeper. April 2 is just a month or so away from Mother's Day, so please keep the date in mind.

Georgia Lee Boudoir at Alaska Heritage House
From Tin Cup Designs Handwrought Jewelry

Kristin outside the Alaska Heritage House, wishing for just one more night...
From Tin Cup Designs Handwrought Jewelry

Finally, the long-anticipated, taking-forever-and-a-day Tin Cup Designs shop will be open on line by the end of the month. No ifs, ands or buts this time. Of course, there'll be a huge announcement and celebration here on the blog, and everyone who signed up for my new email list will receive a special notice. If you didn't make it to one of the holiday shows to put your name on the list, just email me now (at both addresses) and I'll take care of it.

I hadn't planned to write this entry this morning, but the lost email account forced me to do it, and now I'm glad it did. Sometimes when you've been silent for a bit too long, it's hard to find your voice again. This is just a bit of a croak, but it's a beginning, and I'm all for that!

Happy New Year!