Winter Solstice – Iron Torc

December 21, 2009

My Winter Solstice experiment – a torc made from 14 gauge annealed black steel wire.  I like the forged iron torcs better, but they take a lot of time to make and are quite rigid, making them unsuitable for sale on my website since the buyer can’t try it on.  The wire torc is springy and can even be tweaked to fit once the basic shape has been formed.  This one is a bit short for me, but would easily fit somebody smaller.  Made from three strands of wire, wrapped with a fourth strand.  The ends of the wire are coiled to form mirror-image spiral terminals.

Black Steel Wire Torc


Jellyfish Bell

December 20, 2009

I just put four new bells on my website – they have been lying around the shop half-done for months.  Finally got them out of the way so I can concentrate on newer projects.  Here’s one of them.  Jellyfish is forged from a triangle of 1/8″ steel plate, with the corners split, drawn out, rounded, and polished.  The clapper is a tapered coil.  I may add more links.  This one was a lot more work than most of my bells.  It has a beautiful light, clear, sustained sound – I’ll put a video up on YouTube in the next couple of days.

Jellyfish Bell

Craterellus is named for Craterellus cornucopioides, a black trumpet-shaped edible fungus.  A very stylized drawing of it appears on the Ironwing Tarot Seven of Bells card.  This is a nested triplet of cone bells forged from 1/8″ plate.  The two larger bells are drilled through the side and the three bells are wired together.  The large bell has black steel wire fringe on the sides, and the medium-sized one has steel wire spirals (not visible in the photo).  All three bells were flared on the anvil horn, then crimped with pliers while hot to give them a wavy edge.  The edges are highly polished.  A pretty bell that was probably more work than it was worth, since the clinky sound isn’t as loud or bright as I’d hoped.  Still, it would make a very decorative and pleasantly noisy decoration for a drum or costume.

Craterellus Triple Nested Bell 

Black Cat Mask

December 9, 2009

Feral Black Cat Mask is quilted, embroidered, and embellished with black steel wire ornaments.  Buttonhole stitch binds the eyeholes and outside edges.  Made from black cotton fabric (front and back), cotton batting, quilting thread, and #8 pearl cotton embroidery thread.   Entirely handstitched except for the ties, which are machine stitched.  8.5″ x 6″, excluding ornaments and ties.  Very comfortable to wear, and easily rolls up to fit in a small jewelry-sized bag.  There is a larger image on my Flickr site.

Feral Cat Mask

Guatemalan Blue Jade

December 3, 2009

A few months ago, a friend gave me two pieces of Guatemalan “Olmec Blue” jade for carving.  It is a a muted translucent bluish-green, like seawater.  Guatemala has produced green jade since ancient times.  The source for the dusky bluish stone of Olmec carvings remained a mystery until 1999, when flooding from Hurricane Mitch revealed outcrops of blue jade in a remote jungle river valley.  Prospectors brought small pieces of gem-quality jade to the Tucson gem shows a few years later.  It remains an expensive material and difficult to obtain.  Compared to other jades, it’s also a challenge to carve, especially in small sizes, since a lot of it contains innumerable pockets of crumbly crystals that can give even highly polished stones a slightly pitted “orange peel” surface texture.   I cut a thin slice off the end of one piece and carved this claw-shaped pendant while removing as little material as possible from the tiny slice of stone.  The back isn’t shown, but the two sides are identical.  The other pendant is fossil mammoth ivory with a very similar bluish-green color.  Both are about 1.5″ long, including the sterling silver settings.  The blue color in the jade is due to iron and small amounts of titanium; in the fossil ivory it is due to vivianite, an iron phosphate.  Both pendants will be part of a necklace with beads and mixed metals.

Guatemalan Blue Jade & Fossil Mammoth Ivory