September 30th, 2006

anvil, ring

The finished cloisonné smiley!

Cloisonné Smiley, in setting Cloisonné Smiley, in setting

Glass enamel on fine silver cloisonné, set into a sterling setting. Gemstone accents are natural yellow sapphires, and black diamonds.

I created this piece for a show at the Worcester Historical Society, devoted to the smiley in various media. Worcester, MA is where it was first created!

I wanted to capture the light-heartedness of the design in its setting. The "ribbons" are forged silver and undulate toward and away from the viewer, as well as from side to side. The playfulness is accented by the deliberate asymmetry of the the piece as a whole.

(The black background of the photo is modifying the color of the sapphires a bit; in real life, they match the color of the enamel.)

anvil, ring

The finished plique-a-jour smiley

Plique Smiley, completed Plique Smiley, completed

Glass plique-a-jour enamel in a fine and sterling silver filigree, with sterling silver, natural yellow sapphire, and black diamond.

This pendant has a lot of movement and dances when worn, in keeping with the playful nature of the smiley face. The black is opaque enamel; the yellow is translucent, so it looks nice without light behind it and glows when back-lit.

This is the other of the two pieces I created for a 2006 show featuring the smiley at the Worcester Historical Society. Worcester, MA is the original source for this icon of the 1970s.

(Seen in person, the sapphire is more yellow and not as orange as it looks here.)

anvil, ring

Note to all: Read your contracts!

We took the smileys into the show today, so they are out of my hands. At least for now. I feel kind of at a loss- they have been one of my main foci for the past month or so, and it feels funny not to have to plan anything more with them, and to not even be able to see them!

As far as I could tell, mine was the only jewelry, though there might have been other small pieces that I didn't see. There were some paintings out and around, and some photos- pretty cool ones of both. Mostly they did not use the smiley straight, which was what I'd guessed and why I wanted to do a very straight rendition myself. So I'm pleased about that.

But when they gave me the contract to sign, it specifically said that nobody but me was liable if someone stole the things. Now, in the flyer they sent out, they specifically said that works would be insured against theft, damage, etc. Specifically. So I called them on that, and they did end up removing the "theft" exemption after I pointed out that they'd be very easy to stick in a purse and carry off, and that was exactly how I'd brought them into the show! They did not, however, remove the other clauses, which annoys me somewhat, but the theft one was the one that concerned me the most. So I'm not exactly happy, but I did leave the things with them. I do think that's a pretty careless and/or deceptive thing to do, though- to specify a level of protection in the flyer enticing one to enter a show, and then remove it in the final contract!

So- read your contracts! Even if you know what they're supposed to say!

I did some work with argentium after returning home. The heat-treating for strength went beautifully. I then pickled and pumiced, then put it in a hot liver-of-sulphur solution to patinate it to bring out the detail. Argentium does take a lot longer to patinate than sterling does, but this has an advantage: it moves slowly through all the wonderful, rich, oil-slick colors that a thin film of patination can give you, and it would be a lot easier to catch it at a particular color with the argentium than it would be with sterling or fine. I am definitely impressed with the stuff! I'm now trying to figure out how best to get the finish I'm after- that's a bit tricky. I did remove almost all of the patination, but that was a part of the plan; I just wanted a wee bit of darkening around the etched details.
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