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The Work of Beauty


“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” 
Kurt Vonnegut

Sweet words I’ve been hanging onto lately.


My holding the ideal of Beauty daily, takes work. The creation of Beauty’s adornment teaches me this. The call to just show up can be fraught, let alone the challenges to remain in Beauty while navigating the day. Yet Beauty once seen, once realized, this siren’s song resonating as an intimate part of my being, becomes a constant companion. A homing beacon and call to continually seek and recognize where Beauty dwells, humming steady in the beat of my heart. This percussive constancy assures me that Beauty is pervasively omnipresent. May the work of my hands bear the fruit of this relationship.

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The return of Beauty

Easter, Equinox, Eostre, all celebrated at this time of year. The return of effusive Beauty, named Spring. This is the time of year when the Cherry Blossoms dazzle and baby birds living there delight. Early morning birdsong reveals tender blooms in a resurrecting sun. The push of purple, pink, yellow and blue from the soil demand Beauty’s reverence. This lush view has come at a price.

As days become warmer and longer, I too find myself venturing out of myself and of my self-imposed winter cave. A mental exile seemingly. One of those barren, neutral grey spaces, a sparse and eerie landscape. Think jutting driftwood and dried bleached bovine skulls, a singular black raven. European black and white art cinema images come to mind.

My recent winter’s abiding and at times, overwhelming sense of urgency and dread has reached feverish pitch and only now begins to break. I question whether this is a collective sigh,,, only to be picked up again, with it’s viciousness, following the collective’s normalizing celebration of Easter, Passover and Spring. Either way the land is inhospitable to my soul, and therefore my ability to access the realms of Beauty have regularly fallen short. There have been few life sustaining elements in the glare of a new reality save One Love and Hope. My attempt to break free of Fear’s grip and Ignorance’s wounding, has given way to an evolved Surrender. A letting go to a moment of free flight where my limited understanding is unfettered. An acceptance, where while awareness of fear and ignorance remain, their strong sting remains far below. For this moment.

From the height of fever’s screaming view, I have beheld a promised land. In a brief unguarded moment standing in a roundabout of Elder trees through Logan Circle, to a moment of stillness that sees through the nubile canopy of pink over-head. Spontaneous moments like these, collectively have opened to a new level of understanding. That which I give my attention, my focus to, has me. There I am, right where I focus. This can be done, this is how to loosen a hold. With this heraldic break I’m venturing and endeavoring to turning my gaze. As I look to Spring sun’s promise and warmth, it pulls me through recent Change’s icy grip. This is to be a life practice.


Whew, time to shake it off. Remember this one? Shake it off!

We all know shopping can be therapeutic, so I’ve been told, heard, tried, whatever, you get it. Rio Grande , a jeweler’s be and end all, serves as my therapy outlet. This resource is always offering balm to a battered passion that awaits Beauty’s return. I’m hoping dressed as creativity.

A few new toys in my toybox. An inside ring holder to assist my favorite stone setting techniques. An attachment for my vise allowing the securing of small items. There are attachments on attachments to boot, again for stone setting and to come, possible carving, etc. At times it has felt as if I’m back playing field goals with a small triangular folded piece of paper shooting small bits of silver and gold across my Studio. Playtime again indeed!  I’m eager to explore their potential uses, and in the pursuit perhaps hoping to express Beauty adorned.

Going forward I aspire to, at a weekly minimum, report back here with what’s new and sparkly for JasprCraggJewelry.

Thanks for following along the journey. Hoppy Easter, Passover, Oester, vernal equinox fest, however you celebrate the constancy of Spring,  here is to the return of Beauty.

Your questions and/or comments concerning JasprCraggJewelry are always welcome below.

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Empathy

A perfect day for the warmth of a jeweler’s torch, and a bottomless cuppa.

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Argentium 935

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Sweet short interview with the creator of Argentium 935 and a YouTube video of the creator.
I have enjoyed learning and working with this material.
I was attracted to it for it’s white like silver coloring.
Follow these two links:
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Cherry Blossom Festival

IMG_3702Being proudly, a D.C. based, small business artist, I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate the beauty of our Cherry Blossom trees.

Annually the city holds a week long festival celebrating the blooming, history and gift of these trees. Here is the Festival’s link. The festivities last the week through and is definitely a good time showcasing our beautiful city.

National Cherry Blossom Festival

To be inspired by these is endless. To see them en masse is amazing and lifts your spirit immediatley upon seeing them. Spring floods your senses. Their simple shape beguiles by mesmerizing the viewer with shades of pink. Shades of blush to hot can be found among the varieties. This is definitely a universal symbol that says “Bloom Spring!”

To debut I decided to keep it simple and work with fusing 18kt gold techniques to Argentium 935 silver. After the design was drawn and sawn from two disks at a time, filing creates shape and interest. Fusing and forming by dapping add dimension. The stamen doubles as the earring post behind.


An alternative set of earring jackets is available. Using your own stud, these change up your standards quickly.

All of these have been heat treated to give them the maximum durability. Polished and satin finished to highlight the differing metals. These measure 1.75″ across and are ready to bloom for you now! I will definitely be revisiting working with this design, BTW,  inspired directly from a bloom off my neighbor’s tree. I will vary the gold in the design. I definitely see adding some Spring sparkle in the form of a pink sapphire, rose quartz, or pink tourmaline. Requests?  Maybe a few blooms atop a cuff?

 

 

 

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I’m not crazy…

 This looks like I’ve mostly lost it. Whatever “it” was. Actually this is a process called heat precipitation hardening.

 I like to work in Argentium 935 silver for a few reasons. One reason why is this material’s potential hardness. Baking my Argentium silver pieces, whether they’re finished or prepped for setting stones, allows me to take full advantage of this inherent property. Baking at 500 degrees for 1.5 hrs. accomplishes this feat. This allows my finished piece approximately twice the hardness of annealed sterling after the fabrication process.

 Another curious advantage to using the Argentium metal is it’s anti-tarnish properties. Utilizing another heat process called surface passivation after my piece is done, I’m able to bring this material’s anti-tarnish abilities to full potential. I bake the piece at 212° for an hour. This causes the geranium in the silver to rise quicker to the surface, than it’s own natural timing, forming an invisible protective layer. Thus Argentium is less prone to tarnish than traditional sterling 925 silver. Bonus!

See, I’m not too crazy.

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“A great artist is but a conduit for an expression that resonates with something that is greater than him or herself” Imaginary Foundation

This, this two minute video. All of this. Each word, each thought, each idea expressed. 

Studio time is where my magic happens, here the relationship with Beauty is tended on bended knee. Here I find a flow, a sense of the eternal qualities of Creation herself. Staggering paralysis, humiliating at once, a leveling sense of awe…gifts me with the tangible result of creativity created, brought forth to fruition, handmade. Often and at best, fleeting glimpses of Eternity, Creativity’s source.

Creativity’s source

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Share the Love 


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Happy Valentine’s 2017

The days come and go, ❤Love remains!#jasprcraggjewelry #valentines2017 #madeindc #acreativedc #logancircle #washingtondc #argentium #ruby #carnelian #935 #18ktgold 

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Just do it!

2016’s Tax time- a creative’s balance. (cue laughter) 

All in all very thankful for my clients this year, whom have helped me double last years #’s. Going into year three working for the same figures! 

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WIP 2017

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Needing a 14kt gold pin for this design and not having one on this winter’s day, set me up to have today’s warmth by making my own. From this point I’ll continue to anneal the gold ingot, hammer and draw this to make a bit of wire.

 

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Finishing up. Needing an Argentium 935 lobster clap and I’m good to go.

Custom clasp to match the pendant design. Pendant is a 12mm Carnelian bead held in an Argentium setting. Two 14kt hand drawn and forged pins accent the design.

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