maddy’s homecoming necklace

Maddy's Homecoming Necklace

Maddy’s Homecoming Necklace

A simple little project…for Maddy’s Homecoming. Wish I had a picture of her dress…but now I can’t even remember what it looked like. I made this to go with her outfit. Took a brass tube and pinched it on one end….slipped this lovely window pane agate inside. I threaded it together with a wire with copper bead at the bottom to finish it off.  Just love this darling thing. Sorta hate to tell you this part, but this treasure was left at home for Homecoming. Fashion’s a bi-atch!

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beach stone ring for gramarene

Gramarene ring for Irene Tremblay

Rhode Island beach stone ring for Gramarene

If you’re not yet aware, Rhode Island has THE best beaches in all of the US. While we were back there for a summer vacation a few years back, I collected stones from the beaches we visited. They were all so beautiful…so many different colors and shapes. I wanted to set one in a ring.

When I got back, I set to work on it at Pratt. I think I was taking the second half of Jewelry I with Amy Reeves, of Tacoma Metal Arts, at the time. She was so helpful in guiding me through what was a very complex process. First, I made a shallow copper dome to set the stone in. I had to drill a whole into the stone, solder in a post to set the stone on the shank. I then wrapped an antique brass bead around the stone itself. This was a special antique bead…from a collection of costume jewelry that my mother in law gave to me from her Great Aunt Wanda. Once the stone was wrapped, I soldered the silver setting onto the bead and found a perfect amethyst stone to set inside of it.

I know…this one crazy looking ring. But I learned tons making this one…and wanted it to have special meaning for my mother in law.

gaylene’s pink leaf lavalier

gaylene.lavalier

pink leaf lavalier

This was made for my friend Gaylene for her birthday. She loves pink…and loves jewerly…and loves to wear jewelry that artists make. I set this window frame pink glass bead in a brass tube setting. It actually spins around so you can see it from both sides. Then dropped the vintage gold leaf from delicate chain.

heirloom-inspired lasercut jewelry

oliv.yolk

my daughter Olivia, sporting my prototype

This summer, I took “Laser Cut Jewelry Design” with Heidi Dale Allen (Arboreal Jewelry), my second class at Makerhaus, Seattle’s finest design-centric fablab in Freemont. It was the perfect opportunity to create some prototypes for a necklace that I’ve been wanting to make. The inspiration came, not surprisingly, from a beaded glass yolk necklace my mother wore often. I wanted to see if I could adapt the silhouette to make a more modern version using a 21st Century tool…the laser cutter.
jane.gen.visi.05This is what I did: Took picture of the necklace —> brought image in Photoshop and made into high contrast graphic —> Imported image into Illustrator —> Use auto trace filter to create vector —> Adjust sizing to fit neckline —> and save as EPS file. Viol-la!…ready to hand off to your friendly Makerhaus laser cutter operator! If you have PhotoShop and Illustrator under your belt, it’s pretty simple process.
mom's glass beaded yolk

mom’s glass beaded yolk

lasercut.yolk

lasercut yolk (1)

lasercut yolk (2)

lasercut yolk (2)

The material they provided in the class was this industrial felt, wood veneer, acrylic polymer. Thought the felt would work best, but still curious about what those other materials would do, given this design. I still have yet to add metal hardware/clasp to my yolks. My next step will be to create a small run of these in different materials…leather for sure. Let me know if you want one!

bellydancing necklaces

bellynecklace

pink belly necklace with amulet

My friends now routinely bring me old jewelry from their jewelry boxes, thrift store finds, or odd odds and ends that they think I can use in my metal confections. Robin, one of my “suppliers”, found a belly dancing belt at our favorite thrift store. The bellydancing belts are cascades of chain…so these necklaces practically made themsleves. The blue and gold one featured in my blog banner (ablove) is made with turquoise and window pane agate beads. It was sold at a benefit auction for the Bellevue Youth Theater Foundation.

window agate and turquoise bead belly necklace

window agate and turquoise bead belly necklace

hugo pendants for reel grrls

 My sister and I took my son Kirk to see the movie Hugo not too long ago. What fantastic imagery in that movie…loved it! Then, a few weeks later, Kirk and I were browsing at the Mercer Island Thrift store and spotted an antique, Vienna pendulum clock. It was broken…and in a box with some of it’s pieces and parts…$15! I told him we could take it apart and maybe find some cool pieces inside to make jewelry out of…so we did just that.

   
My little Hugo meticulously took the clock apart…handing me one spectacular brass piece of hardware after the other. It was a school night, but we stayed up working. He told me that night that “it was the most fun thing he had EVER done”. These are 2 necklaces I made from some of the gears from the clock. I gave one of them to my friend Robin Held…as a “thank you for being such a cultural force in our community” gift, as she recently left her position at the Frye Art Museum to take the helm of Reel Grrls, a Seattle non profit dedicated to empowering young women to realize their power, talent and influence through film and media production. The other I gave to my long-time friend, collaborator, and mentor, Sandy Cioffi, is a Seattle-based film director/producer (Sweet Crude). She too, is a cultural, community, educational, needless to say, political force to be reckoned with here in Seattle. She celebrated her 50th this year, so my clock parts resembling film reels, seemed perfect for the occasion. How lucky I am to have these very real, reel girls in my life.

a silver baby rattle cuff for charley

 

This is Charlotte Quinn Gaiser…Queen of the Long Lash. As you can see, she is pretty much the yummiest little baby there is on the planet at this moment. Clearly my blog should be exclusively dedicated to her precious self. But I believe my extended family are rising to the occasion and she is trending on all social media platforms.

While awaiting her arrival, I had time to plan and plot for the perfect little bangle. Baby bracelets, in my opinion, need an update. So, I took it upon myself to see if I could set my fashion forward grand niece up with something a little more modern than the standard, dainty pearl chain or engraved gold band. I found an Alpaca silver bracelet at the thrift store and sawed it apart. Found a jingly, silver bead that I wired to another silver dome that I soldered to the frame. Viola…a rattling, baby bracelet! And guess what?…she LOVES it!

my mother’s sparkling legacy

At long last…a place to share my latest monkey business. Over the past few years, I’ve been learning the fundamentals of jewelry/metalworking at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle (Yes, a bona fide “Praddict”). Since then, I have been folding jewelry design and metalsmithing and into my creative bag of tricks. I now know enough to be dangerous.

My mom inspired me greatly. Jane Dexter Gaiser was a creative generalist who declared a different major every year in college…finally double majoring in Music and Spanish.  A skilled seamstress from an early age,  she was a fashionista long before the term was coined. She was an impeccable dresser. She designed and made many of her outfits as well as ours. Her self acquired knowledge of art, architecture, interiors, and textile design helped her break into the interior design business, but later earned her AID degree when she was in her 60’s. And, oh how she LOVED jewelry! She had a trove which included vintage heirloom pieces, colorful costume jewelry as well as eclectic necklaces and rings from her world travels. I spent hours sitting at her vanity playing with her treasures. She would would often revamp, replate or reset older pieces,  like the sterling silver napkin rings she had engraved and fashioned into cuff bracelets for me and my sisters.  Her original wedding band she had made from a favorite gold hoop earring!

I shared her penchant for creative transformations at a young age. Tucked back in the far corner of my dad’s nightstand, I found a pair of antique, gold/silver coin cufflinks. I told Jane I thought they’d make beautiful earrings and she agreed. Days later, she took me to her jeweler and we designed the perfect setting to suspend the circular, engraved links. They’re probably the most beautiful pair of earrings I own.

Marking milestones with special gifts was important to my mother.  I received a gold, signet (monogram) ring at 12, a birthstone ring at 16, a string of pearls at 21 and diamond studs at around 30, I recall. A splendid, old-fashioned tradition. When she passed away 2 years ago, among the lovely things she left to me was her signature cuff…a 24K gold bracelet with a delicate leaf pattern engraved on it. From Italy, I think. She had it since she was a young woman and you never saw her without it on. It is my single, most treasured object.

Jane’s signature  24K Italian gold cuff bracelet                   One of the silver replica we had made from her cuff

In the wake of her loss, I met with Seattle jeweler, Kathryn Whelan, to have a wax mold cast of her bracelet. My sisters and I went in on a limited edition of 10 antiqued, silver cuffs. The first one was given to my nephew Sean’s lovely new bride, Ruthie…a “welcome to our family” gift. Over the past several years, the remaining cuffs have been given to each girl in our extended family. This seems a fitting tribute to my mother and the whole process inspired me to gather up the skills I need to create these kinds of treasured, heirloom gifts.

If Jane were still here, we’d be creative partners launching this jewelry caper!  I’m very thankful for the gifts my mom gave me…her curiosity, passion and creativity, especially. She continues to inspire me everyday, and it seems most appropriate that I launch this site on Mother’s Day…in honor of her.

charlotte’s web necklace

This fun spider pin was given to my by my mother-in-law…and it was from my husband’s great aunt Wanda’s collection of vintage costume jewelry. I wanted to make something fun for for my very stylish sister-in-law, Ruthie, to celebrate the birth of  their baby, Charlotte Quinn. It was a literary opportunity I could not pass up!

“Charlotte’s Web” necklace, made with antique chandelier crystal, vintage spider pin and antique brass chain.