Articles

Making Settings for my Handmade Artisan Jewelry
by Diana Kirkpatrick

My handcrafted jewelry story began years ago when I was designing jewelry from stones that I had tumbled to a high polish.   Although I was creating interesting pieces of artisan jewelry, I tired of not being able to determine the size and shape of the final finished stones.

The desire to control the design and the size and shape of the stones I was using encouraged me to learn more about gem cutting.  I learned to cut and polish cabochons from both semi-precious and precious stones such as agates, turquoise, jasper, etc.     Once I had all the lovely stones to work with, I had to find suitable settings that would fit and work with the stones I wanted to use.  Standard settings you buy are just that – standard.   They come in fixed sized and shapes and don’t always fit hand cut stones.

In order to be able to create my own settings for the stones I cut, I studied silversmithing and worked with wire wrapped designs.  I’ve been working with wire, beads, and gemstones in the process of creating my handmade woven and wrapped silver and gold art jewelry for some time now.

I add details to my work that require designing and making my own frameworks, settings, and fasteners from silver and gold.   Handmade mountings and settings for my art jewelry allow me to include a variety of gemstone shapes and sizes in my designs.  The handmade gemstone settings that I cut from silver and gold sheet and solder myself are made specifically for the particular stones I’m using in my designs.

I include lots of gemstones and beads in my unique handcrafted bracelets and my handmade necklace and earring designs. I love to work with crystals – clusters of crystals as they occur in nature or individual crystals wrapped in silver and gold.   I place crystal clusters in handcrafted silver or gold settings then mount them in my one-of-a-kind pendants or weave them into exotic earrings or my art jewelry necklace designs.  Each piece of jewelry is handmade – lovely jewelry using gemstones, Swarovski crystals, and freshwater pearls in hand-woven silver and gold settings.

Some of my woven necklace and bracelet designs involve yards and yards of coiled silver accented with gemstone beads.  I create handcrafted wound silver beads for my necklaces and some earrings, too.  My handcrafted artisan jewelry is high quality jewelry that will last a lifetime.

What do you look for in handcrafted jewelry?   Quality?  Beauty?  Elegance?  My artisan jewelry provides all of that and even more.  My handmade jewelry pieces are all unique one-of-a-kind designs. The handmade jewelry for sale on this site is guaranteed to be handcrafted from the finest materials. I use sterling silver, pure silver (called fine silver), Argentium silver, and karat gold along with precious and semi-precious gemstones.

Why would you prefer handmade artisan jewelry?  Handmade jewelry is one-of-a-kind – you won’t see two pieces that are exactly alike in any of my designs.  Many people believe that handmade jewelry has a certain vibe that mass-produced jewelry cannot match. You see the “soul of the artist” in every piece of my unique handcrafted jewelry.

Handmade Silver Art Jewelry
by Diana Kirkpatrick 

My newest designs in handmade sterling silver art jewelry combine shapes cut from sheets of silver metal with silver wire used in a variety of forms.  I select sheet silver in an appropriate thickness, trace my design onto the metal, and cut it out.  Once the silver has been cut, I begin to sand and polish my handmade piece of silver art jewelry.

In one design I’ve combined textured pieces of sterling silver with a prong set cabochon.  Each piece of silver has been carefully cut and shaped.  I’m experimenting with rivets for joining some of my silver pieces as an alternative to soldering everything.  As with everything else in these designs, the rivets are silver and are all handmade.   One heart-shaped silver pendant has a prong-set cabochon in the center of the heart.  The outer edge has been textured and has a patina applied.

Another of my new handmade silver art jewelry designs is a two part pendant set with larimar cabochons.   First I select the silver I want to use and cut out the design with a saw.   Then I file and sand to shape and smooth the design.  Once I’ve done most of the polishing, I solder the bezels to hold the stones.  For this particular pendant, I also drilled holes in each piece and connected everything with handmade silver jump rings.  Some of my new pieces have a lot of texturing of the metal, but this particular pendant has a shiny finish like a mirror.

To increase strength and stability for my woven fine silver pendants and earrings, I’m creating soldered frames for my metal weaving.  This construction approach will allow me to design more detailed art jewelry pieces that combine bezel set stones with woven silver elements.  All these pieces are handmade from cutting out the various metal shapes through the assembly of all the pieces of the design.

An art jewelry bracelet design that I’m particularly proud of uses large square sterling silver wire which has been coiled into flat spiral elements.  I’ve made each spiral a little different and linked them together with silver jump rings made from the same large square wire.  I also made earrings to match the bracelet.

Handcrafted Silver Art Jewelry –
Designed and Handmade by Jewelry Artist Diana Kirkpatrick

My silver art jewelry is often inspired by something in Nature, by a special stone I’ve found, or a fascinating shape I’ve discovered and each design has a sketch or drawing as a start.  All of my handmade silver art jewelry pieces are created one at a time:   I first design a piece or a series of pieces and then select the materials to create the jewelry.

There’s a lot of care, thought, and time devoted to developing each and every piece of my handmade silver art jewelry – nothing is mass produced.  I put lots of personal touches into the creation of each piece of Diana Kirkpatrick handcrafted artisan jewelry – from choosing the metals and the stones to selecting the processes and techniques involved in making the jewelry itself.   Each piece is truly Art You Can Wear.

I believe that most people prefer receiving handmade jewelry as gifts and also prefer to select handmade jewelry when giving gifts. People select Diana Kirkpatrick – Art You Can Wear jewelry pieces because my handmade silver art jewelry is unique and unusual.   My silver art jewelry is a gift that you can’t find everywhere. Whatever the occasion, the recipient of one of my handmade silver art jewelry pieces will appreciate that you put extra effort into choosing the perfect gift especially for them.   Unlike a lot of current fashion jewelry, my Diana Kirkpatrick silver and gold art jewelry designs are quality jewelry pieces that will last for a lifetime.

For those pieces created from sheets of silver metal, I transfer the designs to my metal before cutting out a handmade bracelet, a handcrafted silver pendant, or a pair of silver earrings.  Sometimes I add layers of wire or contrasting metal to the starting layer.  Sometimes the design is created in swirls of woven silver. Each silver art jewelry design is created to be a special piece of quality jewelry that you would be proud to own or to give as a gift.  Each piece is unique in some important way – even pieces that start from the same basic pattern have special touches added that give them their own “personality.”

Needlewoven Art Jewelry Pendants and Necklaces
by Diana Kirkpatrick 

New woven art jewelry designs are on the drawing board that incorporate handwoven  segments into metal designs and introduce woven metal and other metal elements into fiber pieces.    Some will be small pieces of weaving set into silver frames.  Another design is for a larger necklace that will have a removable silver pendant as a focal.  I’ve used braiding and twining as well as other techniques in creating these handmade woven fiber pieces.

Weaving and woven objects have been used since the dawn of human civilization as personal adornments.  However, “tapestry needleweaving” is a relatively  unique form of weaving.  Tapestry needleweaving can be used to create necklaces and “pectorals” that are ready to wear from almost the moment the last threads are woven.  This technique was originated by Helen Banes, a talented and innovative Washington, DC area fiber artist and jewelry designer.

The terminology for needleweaving is very simple:  all weaving involves warps and wefts. Warps are the heavier threads that define the shape of the piece and in this case also carry any beads you want to include in the body of your design.  Wefts are the threads and fibers that are woven over and under the warps.

The actual weaving of my handmade woven fiber necklaces is done with No. 3 perle cotton threaded through a small (#18, 20, or 22) tapestry (blunt tip) needle.  Any shop that sells cross-stitch, knitting, or similar supplies may have tapestry needles and perle cotton available in lots of colors in this size.  I use two threads together for each row I weave – one thread is the perle cotton, the other thread is a lurex metallic (the type used for punch work, or you can use the metallic version of perle cotton).  The metallic threads come in many colors which can compliment your perle cotton color or contrast with it.  I use No. 3 perle cotton with a tapestry (blunt tip) needle to weave and I put at least two threads through the eye of the needle together.  One thread is perle cotton, the other thread is a metallic.  Metallic threads come in many colors that can complement your perle cotton color or contrast with it.   You can also use two different colors of perle cotton.   To start, weave with a basic under/over (plain weave) stitch.  Once you are comfortable with weaving, you can experiment with variations (go under 2 or 3 warps then over 2 or 3, etc.).  Like all needlework, there’s a correct tension or tightness for what you are doing and you’ll learn what this is as you go.  You will need to weave for a while to get a “feel” for it and for your tension to be uniform.  Too loose will not look good and too tight will pull the necklace off the outsides edges of your pattern.

Tapestry needles (blunt ends) are made especially for needlework and weaving.   The blunt ends of the needles will not split your weaving thread.  You’ll also want small, sharp scissors.  Each row of weaving should be compacted as you proceed.  As you weave, compress each new row against the rest.  An ordinary table fork works well as a “pusher” to compact the threads after each row.

You add your beads to the warp using microfilament:   You thread the microfilament through the loop in the warp in the location where you want your beads.  Slide the beads into the proper position.  You can add beads from either the top or the bottom, but only one of these options will give you beads along the vertical center line.   Keep in mind that you may block access to some parts of the design by adding beads.  These points are especially important when you create a design of your own. Once your beads have been added to the warps and the warps are in place, you are ready to weave.


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