Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bracelet time

   I'm on a roll with bracelets.  It started with the structure I wrote about in the last post, where I could build a square section that could go straight or turn a corner.  I turned that into a square bracelet.  Actually it was lucky that it worked.  A problem that I've always had with bracelets is that my structures are generally built of modules, and since my most commonly use tubes are between 20 and 28 mm (25mm is roughly an inch), they don't lend themselves to small variations in length.  An inch more or less doesn't make a big difference in a necklace, but in a bracelet it's huge. That's especially true in bracelets without a clasp, because it has to be big enough to go over your hand, but not so big that it falls off or feels like it's about to. (Also, I have a  small wrist, so I tend to err on the small side).

   As a result lately I've mostly been putting clasps on my bracelets.  For a while I did magnetic clasps, and I liked the clean look.  But I wanted a strong magnet, and it wanted to grab other things, which I didn't like.  Also, since my husband got a pacemaker a few years ago I've been leery of wearing magnets. 
    When I stopped using magnets, I moved to hook and eye clasps.  But they use up a lot of space, especially if you first have to get from a long crosswise tube to a point you can attach a hook to.  If you look at the bracelet in the last post you can see there are 5 big square units, and then almost 1 1/2" used up for a clasp.  But lately I've found a foldover clasp that I can slide over a tube and then grab a tube on the other side to close the bracelet.  That allowed me to put 6 square structures in the bracelet pictured here.  I like that much better.  The only problem is how to keep the clasp centered if the tubes you're using are long ones, but I'm working on that.  Here you can see I broke up what would have been a long tube into 3 short tubes to keep the clasp and catch centered.  I had originally planned to do something similar on the top bracelet, and have a clasp there too.  But since the tube that the clasp would have slid over was only 20mm, it all got too tight and messy looking, so I left out the clasp. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

more right angle explorations

I haven't blogged in a while; sometimes life gets in the way.  My husband and I have been in the sailboat business for 40 years, and we've just closed our store ( which was also my main studio) and are trying to figure out the future plan.  I've now sold all my looms, and the jewelry work is quite portable, but it still creates complications.  Right now I'm cutting tubes at a workbench in a storage locker we've rented, as we live in a townhouse, and the room I've set aside as my workplace is carpeted, and not conducive to sawing metal.  My plan is to cut tubes in larger batches so that I don't mind going to the storage place to do it, but I'm also looking at the possibility of an outside workbench here that won't look too industrial and irritate the neighbors.
   Meanwhile. though, I'm still playing with structures.  I find the blog is a great way to keep a record of what I'm doing.  I use my silver tubes to experiment, but it's too expensive to keep permanent structures made out of handcut and oxidized silver tubes just so that I can get ideas from them.  So if I blog about them, then I have pictures and notes, and I can reuse the tubes for actual jewelry.
    Ever since I made thebracelet above, I've been fascinated by how an alternating series of right triangle tetrahedra and equilateral ones makes these square structures.  I'm making a similar bracelet now, but I kept wondering if I couldn't make the series continue in a straight line instead of turning corners.  (This happened at about the time I realized that I didn't have enough 20 mm tubes to finish the bracelet anyway.)  So I tried it--and it works!
  Doing it just the way I had done the square structures, i.e. alternating 1 right angle tet with 1 equilateral one, I got the top  structure, which is flat on the bottom with a zigzag top.  But what was more interesting, I thought, was that since the zigzag tubeson top were at fight angles to each other I could make them into right angle tets too and then (bottom picture) I get a structure with a square profile that I can extend as long as I want.  Also if I end with an equilateral tet I have a tube at the end which
could serve as a hinge to join another structure. Actually, just as I write this and look at the pictures, I realize that this is really an octet truss, because if you left out the central tube that is the "hub" shared by 4 tets, you'd have an octahedron.  Stay tuned!
   I should mention that things don't always turn out that neatly.  When I made a chain using only right triangle tets instead of alternating, nothing interesting happened.  Also I suspect I could have found out the same thing just by creative use of the Pythagorean theorem, but then I wouldn't have pictures to remind me of what I'd learned.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

New scaffold with gold

I've just finished a scaffold piece with accent tubes of 14 kt gold.  Structurally it's similar to the one with blue and green accents below, with 2 exceptions.  Both are based on chains of tetrahedrons.  The sides are tetrahelices, but at the bottom I've massed larger groups of tetrahedrons.  They're based on the idea that 5 tets that share a single center edge, like a hub, will form a circle.  You can see such a group of 5 at the center bottom in each piece.  Trouble is it doesn't actually work.  For it to work exactly the angle between sides of a tet would have to be 72 degrees (I don't have a font that will write math symbols) so that 5 of them would add up to 360.  But it's actually around 70.5 degrees.  It would work if the hub tube were a little longer than the others.  But when you start extending
the structure as I've done at the bottom of the piece you can't do that because a tube that is a hub in one group is a spoke or rim in other groups.  So things don't quite work, and it gets worse the further you go. One of the reasons I've added small seed beads at the ends of each tube on the bottom piece is to add more "wiggle room".
    But a while ago my favorite blog, ( showed a picture of the 8 possible convex deltahedrons ( ie convex shapes made exclusively from equilateral triangles) and one of them was essentially my 5 tet circle but without a hub tube at the center.  That got me thinking, and in the new piece I left out some of the hubs where I could.  Just leaving out 5 tubes made it fit together much better.
         The other change I made was where the necklace curves around your neck at the back.  You can take a tetrahelix and go off in a new direction that's about a 30 or 40 degree change (I've never measured it).  I did 2 such jogs in the bottom piece to get to the clasp.  It's fine, but I wasn't entirely happy with the sharpish corners that stick out.  So in the new piece I made the tetrahelix curve by simply shortening the inside tubes, and it makes a smoother finish.
        I'm really enjoying working with gold tubes.  I think the contrast with the dark silver accentuates the geometry nicely.  What I have to be careful about, though, is that the high cost of the gold tubing has a tendency to make me more conservative about what I make.Starting out, most of my gold pieces, like this one, are variations on designs that I already know I like.  But if it works, I'm sure I'll get braver.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

upcoming events

I just sort of threw this picture in here to have a picture for the post, although I've been doing quite a few of these more "modular" pieces, and I quite like them.  What I mostly wanted to mention is that I'll be displaying my work in several places in the coming weeks.
  This weekend I'll have the jewelry at the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival.  Also I'm showing work in 2 gallery shows for the next few months.  The Guildord Art Center in Guilford, CT has a show called Artistry that starts tomorrow and lasts through January; and the Ann Arbor Art Center in Ann Arbor, MI has a show called Art Off the Wall, starting in a few weeks and also lasting through January.  I'll have work in both shows.  Stop by if you get the chance.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

another redo

 I didn't intend for these redos to become a "thing."  But I did another one and I was so pleased with the results I decided to post it.
This was not a case of not liking the original piece; I actually liked it a lot.  My intent when I made it was to use it as a jury shot, as it was rather big and dramatic.  But I absolutely could not get it to photograph well (and I took a million pics).  The top pic is the best I got, and the gold doesn't stand out against the black well at all.  Also, photographing it straight on like that you don't get a good sense of the 3D-ness and it's hard to judge the size. So even though I liked the piece a lot, it wasn't doing what I wanted it to do.

That wouldn't have caused me to redo it, except for one thing.  I realized after looking at it for a
while that it would have been more pinwheel-ish if I had put the arms that extend out right at the points of the hexagon that is the central structure of the necklace instead of in the middle of each face of the hex.  Then it occurred to me that the best way to do it would have been to make a tetrahelix that would be part of the central part of the necklace and then continue into the extending arm.  That would be a true pinwheel. And I rearranged the gold tubes to highlight the spiral better.  Also I'm putting together an application for an exhibit of mathematical art and that would be a much purer mathematical structure. 

So I redid it, and was quite pleased with the results.But that still left the photography problem.  I took lots of pics, basically redoing all the mistakes I had made with the original necklace.  Photographing it on the black form was the best way to get a sense of the size and dimensionality. But for some reason that I fail to understand, whenever I did that, even in the same room and under the same light conditions as the other shots, I got a picture that waymore washed out.  Finally, I turned out all the lights, so I only had indirect light from the window, and dialed back the exposure to make it even darker--and it worked.  I think it shows off the piece quite well.  No idea why.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

a redo

I've been quiet for a while, but not for lack of making jewelry.   Partly, I've been on another canal boat trip in England, but, of course, I took plenty of silver tubes with me.  But since I've been back I've been spending some time redoing som pieces I was never quite happy with.  This is one example.  The picture on top is the original piece.  It's a chain of octahedra and tetrahedra made from a mix of oxidized silver and gold-filled tubes.  While I was making it I thought it was going to be great (I usually do).  But when I got it finished I didn't like it as well as I had expected.  I've stared at it off and on for a few months, trying to figure out what I didn't like. One thing I decided was that the "corner" on the left side wasn't sharp enough and didn't provide enough contrast with the curve on the
right, so I figured out how to make it pointier.  But then I decided that the real problem was that the piece sort of had 2 focal points, the change in shape on the left and the change in color on the right.  You couldn't quite tell where you were supposed to look.  So I redid it, eliminating the corner altogether.  I also changed from gold-filled tubes to red anodised aluminum ones.  I did this because I'm starting to make some pieces with accents of 14 kt gold  tubes, so it seems too confusing to have gold-filled ones as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Ever since I figured out ( post in Sept., 2015) that I could make a rigid cube out of an octahedron and 2 tetrahedrons, by using right triangles instead of equilateral ones, I've been wanting to make a necklace like this.   Not much to say about it, except that I really like it, and I wore it for the first time this week and got several compliments. I think I'll list it on etsy. I'm working on a similar one with 1 cube made from 14 kt gold tubes.  I've been wanting to buy some gold tubing for a while now, and I've finally done it. It's not quite finished, but I love the contrast between the gold and the dark silver.