Category Archives: New Work

A Quilt and a Copper Cuff – Story of Handmade

Here’s an excerpt from my December 2013 newsletter, with a bunch of progress photos from making copper cuffs. A story of warmth for a chill December day!
Last night I went in search of my other blanket – the quilt made by my grandmother. My hands smoothed the pinks and purples and greens, snippets from garments she had made. I felt the love as I drifted off to sleep, finding the comfort in something handmade that I will own forever.

This morning, as I slipped on the copper cuff I wear daily, I thought again about the handmade. It’s a simple thing, this cuff. Seeing it on my wrist every day brings comfort. It is pretty, it feels good, I made it, it will last forever. I can have as many as I care to make, but I only wear this one almost every day.
Two blankets. One cuff. Sometimes it’s not about more. It’s just about having something beautifully meaningful. This Christmas season, I encourage handmade, meaningful things in small quantities topped with warmth, and human connection.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.
Here’s how these cuffs are made, skipping a bunch of steps!
Cut a bunch of copper, then file the edges and sand it all over.
Anneal the copper, then hammer it in overlapping hammer blows.

 

 

Tip the edges of the metal over a steel block held in a vice

Anneal the copper, and bend it around a bracelet mandrel
Handmade Tipped Edge Copper Cuff Bracelet by Nancy Lee

Making Amunet Amethyst Goddess Earrings

My friend, Lisa Zimmerman of Soul Level Solutions, is calling this month “Rocktober” due to all of the planetary influences she feels will come to bear. I wonder what this month has in store for all of us, planetarily and otherwise. That remains to be seen!
What I do know is that I’ve been under the creative influence. Following these urges feels like playing hooky, since I have custom orders for which my lovely peeps are patiently awaiting. Yet at times I get in the grip and nothing else will come from my hands. This is how Amunet came to be.

When the creative influence takes over, it is often sparked by the materials sitting on my bench.

Then the assembly begins – these earrings, simple though they seem, had seven separate soldering operations.

Soldering complete, these earrings are ready for oxidization and gemstone setting. And, of course, some handmade earwires.

My works often name themselves, and as I was in the process of making these earrings, the name “Amun” came to me out of nowhere. Or, maybe it’s because I’m learning to speak Egyptian Arabic. Anyway, after doing a bit of research, I discovered the female counterpart to the Egyptian god Amun is Amunet, “the female hidden one”. Although at 2 1/4″ inches long, you won’t stay that way while wearing these!

According to gem lore, the amethysts gracing the earrings possess a spiritual quality and enhance dreams, purification, healing, love and peace. That’s a lot to enjoy! Please do.

Making Peace and Love Earrings!

Peace and love? That’s a tall order for an earring. But these aren’t your everyday earrings, and I’ll tell you why.
I typically work out designs on paper and then create them at my workbench, changing things up as I go along. It’s an efficient way to work, and works pretty well for me. Other times, I take the luxurious route, one in which I allow the materials to speak for themselves, and very often these are my most inspired designs. A moment like this was gifted to me recently. I gazed upon the materials strewn across my bench and picked up some simple silver jump rings. If anyone out there has ever made jewelry, you will understand that jump rings are an integral part of jewelry-making. They do everything from creating connections between two elements all the way up to becoming a center-stage design element.
This time, I was inspired to intertwine the two rings and solder them to a “stick” of silver that would create a long, dangle earring. I grabbed my pencil and scratched out the idea before it was gone…then scanned my bench to see what else I needed to bring this idea to life. I already had the silver jump rings. Then I spotted several lengths of square wire that had been bent into an arc – these were meant for another earring design I hadn’t yet completed. Easy prey, they would soon be sacrificed to the new idea. My thought was to get this prototype soldered together to see if it would work – THEN I would make it from proper materials. Next…the soldering station.

Soldering setup for silver earrings (c) Nancy Lee

The image above shows the slightly tricky setup for the earrings. The arced square wire is laying flat, with one of the two rings already soldered to it. The next soldering operation is in the works, with the inner ring snug against the end of the square wire. It really wasn’t hard to do once I got the rings to stop slipping off of the square wire. The tension of the jump rings ultimately helped to grasp the square wire and hold the assembly in place. With the aid of some T-pins and honeycomb block, I was able to secure the soldering assembly into a softer soldering surface below. The rest was easy.
After the earrings were soldered, I tumble-polished them using stainless steel shot, which gave them a high glow and very sturdy feel even though they look quite delicate. Then I did a “test-dangle,” to make any final adjustments to the earrings. This is when I discovered the symbolic “peace” element I had inadvertently created! Can you see it? Enjoy!

Peace and Love Sterling Silver Earrings (c) Nancy Lee 2013 all rights reserved