Sunday, August 18, 2013

Warm Connections

Hilary's Garden: Brass, Sterling silver and spinel by Melissa Cable

Warm Connections

Anytime I learn something new, I find myself in a phase that I call the "why phase." This is a period of time in which I question whether I am doing a particular technique out of habit, because it is new and I am excited to apply it, or because, simply, it is the right thing to do in that particular circumstance.

Case in point, now that my soldering has improved, I want to solder everything! However, my most recent creation really pushed me to stop and consider when to combine cold connections with soldering...what I am going to call "warm connections" for the sake of this discussion.

Hilary's Garden was commissioned by Hilary Halstead Scott from Halstead Beads for their 2014 catalog (available in January). I've had Hilary as student and know she has the mad skills to create some killer flowers herself, so I was especially honored and excited that she would ask. Even more inspiring was that there were no request to use certain items, no specific jewelry type, size, or color...I had a blank canvas to work from.

I happened to have some Sterling silver branch pieces that they had in their catalog and they became my source of inspiration. They had three loops - one on each end and one in the middle. Rather than give you a step-by-step on how to make this, I believe there is more learning in the thought process. I first considered:

1) Connecting the branches together with jump rings and riveting the flowers to the center loop. (Problem: The flowers covered most of the branches.)

2) Soldering the flowers together and between two branches. (Problem: The branches became solid, meaning the necklace would not have any flexibility.)

So I finally decided on a hybrid. I soldered the flowers together and then soldered them to a tube rivet. I then use the tube rivet to connect the branches together, which allowed them to still pivot freely. Surprisingly, it took me a long time to get to that solution...I had a mental block with soldering something that would eventually be riveted anyways! But when I finally stopped and realized that this "warm connection" had purpose, it was the right thing to do, the choice became clear.

It is also of interest to note that once I was all done with the necklace, I didn't like the look of the empty center rings on each branch and I was frustrated with myself that I hadn't soldered on some brass ball bearings from the start. At this point, everything was polished and ready to go.

Warm connection to the rescue! I soldered the ball bearings to a tube rivet and riveted them on. Now, if I were to remake this necklace, I would solder them in from the start, but finally becoming comfortable with using "warm connections" allowed me to make, what I feel, a much stronger piece with the addition of the brass accents.

To sum up the lesson learned: You never graduate from one technique to another, you simply add a new technique to your toolbox.

Thanks for stopping by, and create recklessly this week!


PS - Congratulations to Rebecca Rose of Sculpturings, this year’s winner of the Halstead Grant for design excellence and business strategy acumen in the silver jewelry market! Be sure to check out her work...its gorgeous!


  1. This was my first email update received after subscribing and I am so pleased and grateful for such intelligent and worthwhile content. Thank you!

    The link to Rebecca Rose of Sculpturings was a fantastic bonus; her site and work were a revelation. Not only is her work exciting, but her "Process" section showing the creation of the rings is one of the best photo-documented processes I've seen by an artist.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. : ) Rebecca's work is great, isn't it!!