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.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Missing the target

   A while ago American Craft magazine had an article about the artist Wendell Castle, and it included a list of his artist rules to live by.  One that struck me particularly was " If you're hitting bullseyes every time, the target's too close."  
   Recently, I've been trying to produce some pieces with some more drama and impact to them.  One way to do that is with size.  I did a post about that not too long ago, comparing 2 oxidized silver and stone pieces with a sawtoothed edge. There I felt that by making the sawtooths considerably bigger I had produced a more interesting necklace.  I've been trying to do that with another concept.  Back when I was working mostly with seed beads I did a series of pieces I called "links".  Each necklace was composed of a series of open trapezoid shapes with a stem and toggle on one end, so that each could be joined to the next.  First I did plain links, and then I started to embellish them.

You could add or subtract links to change a necklace.  I really liked that series, and I've wondered about making links out of oxidized silver tubes.  They would necessarily be a lot bigger.  I've worked on that idea for past few weeks, but haven't been able to make it work.  Here's my final version.

I've tried all sorts of variations-- embellishing the bottom link, adding the stone link, making one of the links (the 1 at 11 o'clock) a more rectangular shape, and many others that I took apart and did over.  It actually doesn't look bad laid out flat like this, but on the body it just isn't great.  Also the toggles tend to fall out of the ovals too easily, making the necklace come apart.  I think one of the reasons for doing this post is that gives me a record of what I did, so that if I want to revisit the idea, I'll know what didn't work.  Now I'll probably take apart the stem and toggle on each link, and see if I can do something interesting with the open ovals.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Loom for sale

Just because this is a crafty sort of group, I thought I'd mention that I'm selling the Glimakra loom that I've used for rug weaving for  many years.  For the weavers I'll say that it has shaft switching and a warp extender per Peter Collingwood's specifications.  I have lots of pictures and plenty of information for anyone interested,  and would be happy to spend time getting you comfortable on the loom.  Just contact me.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What a difference 8 beads (tubes) makes

 Yesterday was a good day.  I feel like I improved a necklace.  The top pic is a piece I made a few months ago. I wanted it to be sort of special, because I don't do too many pieces in bright silver  (don't want to spend time worrying about tarnishing). I had high hopes for it, but when I was finished, I wasn't quite happy with it.  I wasn't sure why.  But yesterday I was scrolling through my pictures, and stopped at that one.  It occurred to me that what I didn't quite like was the extreme pointiness of it, sort of like an icicle about to fall on you.  I also noticed that there were a pair of triangles on either side of the bottom point that could be turned into 2 faces of either an octahedron or a double tetrhedron.  I chose the double tet, cut some beads and added them on and I like the "new"
necklace, the one on the bottom, better.
That is both one of the upsides and one of the downsides of beadweaving versus the rug weaving that I used to do.  When  rug came off the loom it was done.  Nothing more to think about, because you couldn't change anything.  Now I find myself tinkering with pieces.  Mostly I like that, although sometimes it's nice to just say it is what it is.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

building with tets

This is  a continuation of an idea I talked about over a year ago ( Jan, 2015 to be exact).  I've made several pieces that are chains of tetrahedrons.  What I've learned is that instead of making 1 tet, adding the next and then the next, I can plan it better if I first make a chain of all the bases of the tets (far left in the first picture), then turn each base triangle into a tet (middle) then join the tets at the tops.  The length of the tube that joins the tops will determine the curve of the structure.  Here I thought of not using a tube to join the tops, but rather a string of beads.  The length of the bead string determines the maximum curve, but within that limit the necklace can take the curve it wants.  And the curving bead string gives the piece a ruffly look that I sort of like.  The tighter the curve the piece takes, the less ruffly it will look.  I assumed it would want to take a tighter curve at the bottom of the necklace than along the sides, so I added 1 bead to each chain for the links at the bottom to preserve the ruffliness.
As a side note, I have to say that this blog has turned out to be a help to me in keeping track of what I do.  I've now had several occasions where I've had to reproduce something I've done before, or a variaton on it.  I've never been too good at keeping records of what I do, but looking back at what I've blogger about has been a help.  When I come up with a new idea, it seems interesting enough that I won't forget it, but 6 months down the road,  I'm trying to remember what the actual lengths and arrangements of things were, and it's gone.  Ah...age.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Size matters

 Here are 2 variations on a theme.  The one with the green stone beads (African jade) was made a couple of months ago, and I was pretty happy with it.  I like that it is regular, and yet the sawtooth edge breaks up the symmetry a bit.  But recently I started wondering how I could take the idea and make it a bit more dramatic.  The answer turned out to be size.  By increasing the size of each unit from around 1.5 inches to over 2.5 inches,  I made a necklace that, to me at least, has more impact.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Some math, some design

 In some earlier posts, I've talked about some necklaces I've made out of octahedrons, where a long tube, often a colored aluminum one, acts as a hypotenuse to create octs that can stack in a way similar to the cubes in RAW.  This works well for necklaces, where it's nice to have the structures lying somewhat flat, but it doesn't work so well in a bracelet, where you would generally want them to stand up.  I needed a way to join 2 standing up octs so they'd be at an angle to each other.  After some trial and error, I  came up with a solution.  If I made an oct so that the triangle on the top used tubes that were half as long as the tubes on the bottom, I'd get an oct that if you looked at it from the top would look like one of the pictures
below, with the little triangle in the middle being the top of the oct and the bigger outside one being the bottom.  And the triangle "walls" that connected them would be perpendicular to the top and bottom ones ( actually there are  are 6 triangles connecting them and every other one is perpendicular.  If I used the pattern on the left to join 2 of my squarish octs, they'd be at right angles to one another; if I used the other, equilateral one they'd have a 60 degree angle.  That's what I used, and started to make the bracelet  shown below.  I was pleased
 with it from a structural standpoint, but it didn't seem to have enough color, and the aluminum tubes seemed to sort of get lost in all the dark sterling.  I decided that the problem was that the joining octs didn't have any colored tubes, and also that the colored tubes on the inside of the bracelet were kind of lost.  So I took it apart  and moved all the tubes to the outer wall of the bracelet, using them in both the squarish octs and the joining octs.  Both the bracekets are incomplete because I was gradually taking apart the first one to build the second one.  But I hope  they're complete enough that you can get the idea

of what they look like.