As I’ve traveled down the path of figuring out creative ways of using plastic in jewelry making, I’ve mainly figured out what DOESN’T work! Hand carving cast/cured resin leads to the unfortunate uncovering of little bubble holes (and I did stir the resin very slowly to avoid bubbles in the first place, as well as passing over the liquid resin with a heat gun as a further deterrent to bubbles!) I’ve also learned (literally) the painful way that carving tiny objects with high speed drills while using my fingers as the vice is recipe for disaster…fortunately, the chunk I took out of my left-hand index finger this afternoon was in a place not affected by playing the viola in tonight’s Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert.
But I’m keeping Edison’s wise words in mind…I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.
As promised yesterday, here are some descriptions of the various types of plastics you’ll come across in jewelry:
Bakelite – Invented by Leo Baekeland in 1909, this castable plastic was originally used for industrial uses. In the 1930s and ’40s, jewelry made from Bakelite became very popular for its lightweight and cost-efficient possibilities. Coco Chanel was one designer who embraced the use of Bakelite in her jewelry lines. Compared to Celluloid and Lucite, Bakelite feels heavier. To read more about how to determine if your jewelry is genuine Bakelite, please read on here.
Celluloid – The oldest plastic, dating back from 1869 (and sometimes referred to as French Ivory), is a type of thermoplastic which was capable of being manufactured in countless color combinations as well as being easily pressed and stained with precision. The invention of celluloid set the stage for costume jewelry – or the manufacture of jewelry from synthetic materials. Celluloid, unfortunately, could be damaged by moisture.
Lucite – A transparent thermoplastic also known by the trade names Policril, Plexiglas, Gavrieli, Vitroflex, Limacryl, R-Cast, Per-Clax, Perspex, Plazcryl, Acrylex, Optix and Acrylic, to name a few! This material was developed in 1928 and brought to market in 1933 by Rohm and Haas Company. To read more about the chemical compounds in Lucite, please click here.
If any of my readers share my interest in working with plastic for jewelry applications and want to share insight and tips, please write in!
A few weeks ago I designed these earrings at the request of a client who wanted to present his wife (one of my close friends) with some jewelry for her birthday:
I knew that my friend looks good in, and often wears a certain shade of green, so I carefully hand-mixed a batch of green resin combining the resin colors I had until I got the perfect shade. I felt a bit like a mad chemist….here are the finished earrings:
This design is a spin-off on a pair of cuff links from my Convergence Line of jewelry. I’ve substituted colored resin for the hematite and I think it is equally as effective. Look for these to be emerging from my shop very soon!
These earrings are now available in my online shop at Etsy. Hand-fabricated in tarnish-resistant Argentium Sterling Silver with a transparent blue resin “dot” and a faceted pale green amethyst briolette, these limited edition earrings are priced at a song and are sure to go fast.
I’m excited to offer this sneak preview of my new pieces using resin inlay. Featured above is the Dots pendant with bezel-set Moissanite and inlaid resin, and the diminutive Double Dot earrings. These pieces will be appearing for sale on my shop at Etsy over the next three days.
I’ve been working on a bunch of projects recently with varying deadlines and thought I’d share with my readers the design process, start to finish, for one of these projects.
For the upcoming Piano Arts 10th Anniversary Gala and benefit auction on June 18th, I wanted to create a unique piece rather than pull something from my stock. My reasons for this were several – the anticipated demographic of those attending the event, wanting to challenge myself, and using the opportunity to work again with resin.
My pencil quick-sketch was simple:
From here I continued to develop the design with CAD. I used the “sketch” tool to play around with the swirls and eventually came up with this pattern:
The template above made me realize how great the earrings would look if they were pierced silver with black resin inlay. This seemed also like a great design “nod” to the ebony/ivory colors of piano keys. I went one step further to CAD-render the earrings with the pear-shaped pearls that I planned to use (I didn’t render the black inlay in this version):
Then it was off to the bench where I first affixed my templates to the Argentium Sterling Silver sheet, sawed out the shapes, soldered on the backing and jump rings, polished and then inlaid the resin. The final result:
The Piano Arts Gala is taking place on June 18th, 2009 at the Bradley Pavillion of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The evening will feature a performance by former 1st Place Winner, Elizabeth Joy Roe, along with her duo partner, Greg Anderson. To find out more about this event please visit the Piano Arts website.