Thursday, February 3, 2011
Winter themes typically involve crystals, glittering snow, ethereal fairies in winter white garb, angels, ice cycles, and children frolicking. A winter theme involving jewelry will often capture that imagery in spectacular ways and I am looking forward to the responses to Artbead's Winter blogging theme.
As we leave January and enter February, Michigan's winter often has a harsher look. The snow is no longer pretty but grimy with dirt, we begin to tire of huddling for warmth, and our arms ache from shoveling mounds of the no longer white stuff out our driveways. By the end of March, when it is still frosty cold in the Midwest, I will admit to being downright grumpy and feeling more like Robert Brynes, "Winter is Nature's way of say 'Up Yours'. Should snow fall in April, you'll hear a collective groan from even children who would rather go to school than huddle one more day in the cold.
It was this imagery of winter that captured my imagination. My husband's yells from the other room as the hockey game played locked in my response to the theme. I wanted to show winter in an industrial city like Detroit; beautiful but grimy, hard edges and raw power, a raw uncut diamond and a dangerous yet elegant opponent.
My husband is from the Detroit area and I'll never forget my first Redwings game. It was before we were married and we went to Joe Louis arena with his parents to watch them on New Year's. Needless to say, it was an incredible experience. Nothing beats being at a live game; the pounding of the men hitting the boards, the roar of the crowd, and yes the excitement of the fighting surely chases off the winter chill.
Hockey, like winter, is many things. It is beautiful; the shear grace of the players as they maneuver, their unrestrained joy as the puck reaches it's target, the equal joy when a goaltender thwarts a goal, all of it at amazing speed on thin little blades of steel. It is also brutal, not many players make it through a career with their front teeth intact.
Winter is also breathtakingly gorgeous. Freshly fallen snow is like a blanket of fine opals while nothing compares to the sun glistening through ice. And there is no doubt that winter is the harshest of seasons especially to those without adequate heat and shelter.
After a few searches, I selected these items from Artbeads:
I chose the charms as a literal representation of the Redwing's team and the black agate coin beads represent the puck. From my own stash, I selected stainless steel jump rings to represent the skates. A hockey sticker and a plumping washer add an industrial element to the back. A sterling silver washer and sterling wire completes the front of the bezel, effectively invoking the beauty of the season hidden under a layer of patina. The bottle cap I used originates from Labatt's celebration of Stanley Cup winners. Usually, I cull the heavily scratch caps from my collection, but these hockey caps are relatively rare and, after all, hockey is a tough sport. A pristine, unscratched cap would be a bit out of it's element representing what it means to be a Stanley Cup champion.
The silver bezel was not my first choice. I've been experimenting with a wire wrap bezel that allows the edge of the bottle cap to show to make it more apparent a bottle cap was used. However, I still have not captured the right look with wire, it's too delicate and pretty for the more masculine look I wanted. After two scraped attempts with wire, I found this sterling washing in my stash, left over from a class with Anne Mitchell. I gently formed the center circle of the washer with pliers, then hammered it to fit the cap. The rivets holding the layers in place are a combination of aluminum welding rivets and eyelets (where an open area was need for the charms).
The reverse of the pendant is more industrial looking but still mirrors the front. The necklace is not quite reversable, (unless you don't mind seeing the hockey player from behind). I see a lot of potential in these pipe fitting washers from my late step-father's garage. I believe he would be quite proud that I found a use for them and did not allow them to go to waste.
The chain alternates between the black agate coins wire wrapped with sterling wire and chain maille sections done with square stainless steel jumprings in a Jens Pind pattern. I love the richness of stainless steel, it is every bit as beautiful as sterling yet tougher. These rings are 18 gauge, the heaviest I can use with my hand strength and I envy those who work with the heavier gauges. The Jens Pind pattern is one of my favorites and is a suitable look for men and women alike, and is especially elegant in 20 gauge sterling.
The clasp is a textured sterling silver magnetic hook and a ring of fine silver I made in a PMC class I took with Kate Mckinnon. The final piece is not a traditional winter look, but I believe I captured both the feeling of winter in Detroit and the fun of that first hockey game.
As a final note, I selected two additional items from Artbead's; a link that reminded me of an Octopus and a another that reminded me of a goalie mask. They didn't make it into the design, but I believe I'll purchase another set to use as earrings. So for now, I'll keep them a surprise.
You can learn more about the products used in this project at Artbeads (the product codes are included in the picture) and find charms here and semi-precious stones here.
Disclosure: The above mentioned beads from Artbead.com were kindly provided free-of-charge by Artbeads.com, within the frames of Artbeads.com blogging program. The author of this blog has not received any payment from above-mentioned company. The post above represents only personal opinion of the blog author. You can find additional participating artists and their blogs on Artbeads' facebook page.