Trends of Metal Work Techniques and Jewelry Designs Through the Eras by Tobias Dean

Jewelry is traditionally a symbol of wealth, prestige, power, and has always been an important part of human culture. One of the most popular eras that saw great innovation in jewelry making was the Georgian era in which intricate shapes of jewelry with rare gemstones embedded in them were created. Silver was the most popular metal used for jewelry at the time and handcrafting such detailed work was a feat in itself. Antique jewelry from the Georgian era is most probable to be crafted with either Repousse or Cannetille jewelry making techniques. The former involved the use of a hammer to create complex designs out of malleable metals and the latter was inspired by embroidery work and involved the use of creating designs using wire-work.

One of the most interesting that came into being in the Victorian era was the rise in popularity of lockets that has space to feature photographs. of the buyer’s loved ones. It also had space to hold a lock of the hair of their deceased loved ones, which fetched it the name “mourning jewelry.” The Edwardian era also brought many innovations that include new diamond cutting techniques, besides many others in years to come. If you are interested in learning more about antique jewelry designs through the eras, check out this detailed infographic from RHJewellers. Continue reading…

Art Moment: Holly Anne Mitchell

Meet jewellery artist Holly Anne Mitchell.  She uses newspapers and other print materials to make hand-formed, and stitched jewellery. Her one of a kind bracelets, brooches and more are made of paper and are sealed in a non-toxic, moisture-resistant coating.,h_750,al_c,q_85,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/fc2db1_5f6b78ac538f4032b1dc6a8468429eb4~mv2_d_3888_3240_s_4_2.webp

From Holly Anne Mitchell’s site: “Holly Anne began exploring newspaper as an artistic medium back in 1990 while studying metalsmithing at The University Of Michigan. She had an assignment to create a piece of jewelry which did not consist of any traditional jewelry materials (no metal, precious stones, etc.). “I chose the Chicago Tribune newspaper comic strips because of their bold, vibrant color patterns and the character’s facial expressions. I discovered the best way to bring out these aesthetic strengths is to transform the newspaper into beads. I’ve been exploring this material ever since.”,h_1000,al_c,q_85,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/fc2db1_bab3e746715e49869b8b17f6a5ed5b43~mv2_d_3427_3427_s_4_2.webp

Video of artist with her work at the Smithsonian Craft Show.

Paper artist Holly Anne Mitchell of recycles comic strips and ads to create her beautiful #jewelry. She explained her creative process in this video. #smithsoniancraftshow2018#smithsoniancraftshowsswc#nationalbuildingmuseum#americancrafts#dcevents#thingstododc#finecraft#dccraft#washingtondc#handmade#craftsmanship#contemporarydesign#paper#craftshow

Posted by Smithsonian Craft + Design Show on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Find more of her work on her website:


Cyprus Copper: Celtic Cross by Martha Biggar

Inspiration Cross by Carson Sams.

Part 1: Experiments with Cyprus Copper

Here’s the back story to this unusual Celtic cross:  while Ed and I were working glass at the State Fair of Virginia, we met a nice young blacksmith named Carson Sams.  Carson did regular demonstrations during the ten days of the Fair, as did we, and we got to know each other pretty well.   I watched his demonstration of this cross and was floored by his techniques.  He started with three straight lengths of steel; the first piece he heated and beat and heated and beat until it became a ring.  The next piece he beat into a U-shape, and then he assembled the three pieces, as I’ve shown here, and beat the U-shape down to lock them in place.  This he called a friction fit.  He finally added through rivets to keep the shape in place.  He used his riveting hammer to add the texture at the end of each bar, flaring the ends as he hammered.

I was so fascinated by this process that I went back to our tent and made a small one out of silver metal clay.  I’ve done a few more small scale pendant pieces out of silver, but wanted to do something in a larger scale and so decided to give the new Cyprus Copper a try.  The only real modification I made to Carson’s basic technique was to start with a donut shape for the rounded part instead of a straight length.  I used a bit of slip to connect the pieces before firing, and used faux rivets to continue the design.  This takes a little patience and practice to get to work out, but is worth it in the end.

Continue reading…

Artist Profile: Armelle Burbaud by Julia Rai

Armelle Burbaud

I love the work of French metal clay artist Armelle Burbaud. Her sculptural pieces are complex and so beautifully rendered. And what makes them all the more extraordinary is that they are mainly made in bronze clay with all its inherent issues.

Armelle was born and brought up in Paris, France. “I was born in Paris and spent all my childhood in a suburb just outside the city,” she began. “Even if it was a place with some greenery, in the end I longed for the quiet of the countryside. Now, however, if the truth be said, I miss Paris. It was so easy to go and see performances and exhibitions, or just stroll in the streets, and I loved that. I do get to go there still from time to time, but it’s not that easy when you live in the provinces.” Continue reading…

Art Moment: Melanie West

I have been a *huge* fan of Melanie West’s art for years.  Her work reflects her unique vision of Nature.  Here are just a few samples of her happy, whimsical and awesomely unique jewellery. Please visit her website to learn more about Melanie, her jewellery and her classes.

Plasma and Cells BioBangle

Hand formed, carved and laminated polymer and epoxy. Features Melanie’s signature polymer cane work.

Magenta and CellsHand formed, carved and laminated polymer and epoxy. Features Melanie’s signature polymer cane work.

River Rock Bead Necklace in neutral colorsHollow form beads with hand pigmented translucent polymer cane work.

polymers, silicon, neoprene, magnets

Torque Necklace #2Hand formed, carved and laminated polymer and rubber with magnet clasp. Features Melanie’s signature polymer cane work.

Artist Project Series: Peacock Ring by Armelle Burbaud

    Peacock ring 

Cool Tools and Creative Fire are pleased to present another project in our series of works by master artists. This tutorial is a gorgeous peacock ring by Armelle Burbaud.

(Version française cliquez ici.)

“I love sculpting birds, both because I find them quite moving and because they are a nice pretext to create movement. And since I love spending hours refining the sculpting part and carving with a scalpel to eventually let emerge the quivering feathers – and since I love rings … here is a tutorial which allowed me to incorporate those two passions of mine… a peacock ring!”

Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: Une Bague Paon par Armelle Burbaud

Cool Tools et Creative Fire ont le plaisir de présenter un autre projet de notre série d’œuvres de maîtres artistes. Ce tutoriel est un magnifique une bague paon par Armelle Burbaud.

   Bague « Paon »

J’aime beaucoup sculpter des oiseaux, à la fois parce que je les trouve émouvants et parce qu’ils sont un joli prétexte à créer du mouvement. Et comme  j’adore passer des heures à fignoler la gravure et creuser la pâte avec un scalpel pour voir apparaître le frémissement de leurs plumes – et que j’adore les bagues …  voici un pas à pas qui m’a permis de lier ces deux passions : une bague paon !

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Artist Profile: Ann Davis by Julia Rai


I’ve met American artist and metalsmith Ann Davis several times at conferences in the USA, back in the days when there was a big conference every year for metal clay artists. Ann works in a wide range of media including glass, metal, enamel, ceramics and metal clay, which is what makes her work so interesting.

Ann told me a bit about her home. “I live in Virginia, just across the river from Washington DC, with my wonderful husband Howard, who does my photography, and my two Hairless Chinese Crested pups. I consider myself to be a maker, artist and being my only employee, chief custodian, but I am a metalsmith.”

Brought up in Ft Worth, Texas, Ann’s creativity started early. “I remember stringing Pyracantha berries on kitchen string with my grandfather, I was about four. Or perhaps my earliest memory was using Silly Putty to transfer the newspapers colored comics onto…mmmm everything…walls too,” she laughed.

I asked her when she first discovered metal clay. “I think it was 96′ or 97′. The first thing I made was a small pendant, well not so small when it started,” she smiled. “I thought it was easy, but my minor was in ceramics. I had a keum boo class at the Torpedo Factory the next day and we were told to bring something in fine silver. Since I was a production caster at the time, and only cast sterling, I thought I would give it a try. I figured it was easier than depletion gilding something already made a dozen times. I fired it in my giant pottery floor kiln, it’s amazing it worked! Took it to class and keum booed it, perfect, then entered it in ‘Positively PMC’, I think the first national show and was accepted. There were some amazing pieces in that show that really opened my eyes to what could be done. I didn’t know anyone else doing it at the time.” (Image Ann Davis-“Tiger 1”) Continue reading…

The Art of Possibility- Inspiration for Creative People

The Art of Possibility-Inspiration for Creative People is a new chapter on Creative Fire.  Some people collect rocks, others mugs. I collect quotes. I love my secret stash of inspiration and encouragement…and I thought I should share it. Every week I’ll add a new quote or image. I hope they speak to you, offer inspiration and from time to time make you smile. ~Jeannette

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Finalists and Judges Announced for 2019 Saul Bell Design Award

It’s that time of year again–and although there is not category for Metal Clay, we are still represented by Liz Sabol, who is a finalist in the Jewelry Collection Fashion/Bridge (image below).  Every year I think the competition cannot surpass the previous year. This year is no exception.  This a great collection of contemporary jewellery and a chance for us to see new work and be inspired to learn more.

Rio Grande, the organizer of the Saul Bell Design Award (, is pleased to announce the 45 finalists of the 2019 Saul Bell Design Award competition, as well as the two panels of experts tasked with judging the finalists’ work. Now in its 19th year, this international competition challenges designers to pick up their tools and seize the moment. Continue reading…