Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I'm having fun with bracelets just now.  I haven't done as much with them as I probably should have in the past for several reasons.  First of all, I don't tend to wear bracelets myself, which is probably not a good reason, but I like to wear my jewelry, and bracelets just seem to get in the way too much (and I have to admit that the 3-D-ness of my pieces tends to make them get in the way more than some other bracelets would). Second, I'm often working with repeating modules, and they tend to be big ones.  If your unit is 1" long, 
adding an extra unit or 2 will make a moderate change in a necklace but it will make a bracelet completely unwearable.  Half an inch is a big change in the length of a bracelet.
  Third reason--clasps.  I hadn't found a clasp I really liked.  I've made quite a few bracelets without a clasp, but in order not to fall off it has to be pretty tight going over your wrist to get it on, and that's a worry.  Lots of people who do work that feels similar to mine make bracelets without clasps (I'm thinking, as an example, of one of my favorite jewelry artists, Donna D'Aquino) but they're
building their structures out of soldered wire, so the strain is borne by metal.  In mine the strain is on the thread that holds the tubes together, and at some point that will be a problem.  I fix them, of course, if anything breaks, but I don't like it.
But just lately I found a clasp from Halstead Bead that I really like.  It's clean, geometric, slides right over one of my tubes and only adds about half and inch to the piece. I also found that If my "units" are based on 20mm beads, then 10 of them plus a clasp is a pretty good size.  So now I'm making bracelets.
The first one is just in here because I like it.  I'm not sure if pearls on leather cords is a big thing everywhere or just around here, but everyone has them here and I've gotten tired of them.  But those same bit hole pearls will also fit over my tubes (1.5mm diameter) and I like that use of them.  So just a simple structure  with tubes of 20 mm (on average) on the inside and longer ones on the outside.
The 2nd and 3rd bracelets come back to the issue or regular repeating designs versus irregular ones.  They're basically the same bracelet, only in one case the hexagon shapes ( actually each is made of 6 tets sharing a central hub tube) are identical and in the other they're all different.  I think I like the irregular one better, but they both seem to work.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Design and color

 I've been thinking design thoughts lately.  Partly that's because one of the things I miss from my rugweaving days is working with color.  And partly because I've started adding some gold to my pieces and the price dictates that I get maximum impact for the colored (i.e. gold) tubes I use.
First conclusion I've reached--always subject to change--Where a piece has a really interesting shape, and particularly an interesting outline, like the first piece shown, it works quite well in just oxidized silver. I could add areas of color if I wanted, but I don't have to. This would apply to my charm pieces as well.  But where a piece is really regular some color helps to break things up, like in piece 2. And I tend to like having the color offset, not at the center of things.
The next issue--placing the color.  If I use a lot of colored tubes, I can do whatever I want and it will show well, but the problem arises when I don't want to use so many tubes.  My regular and mathematical mind wants to use them to highlight the geometry I've spent so much time creating.  But doing that usually means distributing a limited amount of color over the whole necklace, and sometimes it sort of loses it's impact. In the 3rd picture I have a piece where I think that spreading out the color really works.  You just wouldn't see how the arms of the pinwheel spiral without those gold tubes indicating it. But more often I think that massing it, as I did in the piece with red tubes, is a better bet.  I'd love to get others' opinions on this.  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Necklace part 3

   Since I've been blogging about this necklace as I've been working on it, I thought I ought to show the final piece.  I ended up using double tetrahedra between the individual links.  I said in my last post that I didn't think that would work because the tubes on corners of the links would need to be all parallel to one another, and they're not. 
   But then I realized that my brain, which tends toward regular, repeating stuff, was assuming I  had to join a corner of one link to a corner of the next one.  But the outside edges zigzag, so if the corner tube points northeast/southwest, the tube next to it (I'll call it the edge tube) would point sorthwest/southeast.  So I could join a corner to an edge and it would work out.  It diminishes the square look of the links, which wasn't my preference. But on the other hand, it moves the junction away from the center of the links, so that they extend more to the outside, rather than into your neck, which is good.
  At the end I made one more change.  Although I liked the openness of the big bottom link, I decided it was just too wobbly, so I added diagonal tubes at each corner to firm up the right angles.  It's still quite open and much firmer than it was.  Anyway, that's the final product.  It's larger than what I normally wear myself, but I was looking for a more dramatic piece, and I think the size gives it that extra bit of drama.

Monday, May 22, 2017

necklace part 2

    I finished the elements I wanted to make for my necklace--1 big and 6 small.  Now how to join them.  My plan was to just make ladder-like circles of beads to join the elements.  I made one and joined the big structure to the bottom left one that way. But I didn't like it so much.  After some playing around I realized that the corners of the big piece had an angled tube that was at right angles to  the tube at the corner of a small link.  So they could be opposite edges of a tetrahedron.  I did that at bottom right, and it makes a much cleaner connection.  It will also work between small elements, so I think that's what I'm going with.
   Actually something just occurred to me as I write this.  The loops I originally planned, because they're less structured, would allow the links at the back to lie next to your neck.  I think the tets will force the whole necklace more or less into a plane, which means the back links will tend to stand up.  Double tets at each join would give more flexibility, but would (I think) only work if the tubes on the adjoining links were parallel, not at right angles.  Hmmm.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

More right angle tetrahedra

    I'm still learning a lot playing with tets (tetrahedra) that include right angles.  The first picture here, which I used in an earlier post, shows the kind of ring structures I've been building for a while with equilateral triangle tets.  The inner ring is a row of triangles alternating point-up and point-down.  Then each of these triangles becomes the base of a tet.  Then, for the outer edge I join all the top points of the tets. 
  In the last couple of posts I switched from equilateral triangles to right angle ones.  The inner ring is a row of right angle isoceles triangles that alternate hypotenuse-up and hypotenuse-down.  Then I went on to see what structures I could generate.
  But the problem with both of those structures is that all the tubes on that inner rim are at an angle
to the overall structure, so you can't easily break up the ring and put a clasp in, which you sometimes want to do.  So I started thinking about making the inner ring out of right triangles, but using the right angle so that you have tubes that are perpendicular to the overall direction of the ring.  I don't know if that makes sense, and I was in a hurry to write this down, so my picture may not show things well enough.  But I think this is going to be useful.  Here I won't be using a clasp; the plan is to make 6 (possibly 8) of the small shapes, with the big one at the bottom.  It'll be a  pretty large necklace--the big shape is over 4" across and the small ones are about 2 1/4" across.  So it should have a lot of impact.  You can't tell too well from my bad picture but there's a sort of pinwheel of orange tubes on one side and yellow tubes on the other.  I'll probably put 1 color on top for all the small shapes and the other color on top on the big one.  Stay tuned.

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.