Monday, November 01, 2010

Autumn Harvest at the Jersey Shore

This weekend I reluctantly admitted that summer is over here at the Jersey Shore. I took a look at some of my beach walk finds that have accumulated over the past several months on the back porch.

And I decided it was time to sort them and "can" them into wide mouth canning jars. This should make it easier to find the perfect beach glass, pebble, seashell or other found object for each  project. I'm excited about all the flat pieces I have that will be perfect to set like precious gems in my jewelry. It's almost like finding them on a beach walk all over again.

Maybe next weekend I can find a space in my studio for all these jars.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the turning of the leaves with me. It's still a perfect time to gather treasures at the beach.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thank you from Mary Lu

I was happy and grateful to see my collage pendants mentioned on The Carrotbox jewellery blog this week. If you are not familiar with The Carrotbox, then you must go NOW and check it out. But be warned, it is addicting and there is new delicious eye candy everyday. If you are not an art jewelry addict yet, especially for rings, you will soon be chanting, "Feed my Fingers".

Thank you to The Carrotbox!

I'm also thankful to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ, where you can now find some of my art jewelry for sale in their Museum Gift Shop. I love that place, it is so unique and inspiring. I'm so excited to be able to offer my own art jewelry there. Please make the trip this Spring or Summer, especially if you are in NJ, PA, NY or DE. It is worth the trip!

Finally, I'm sending a belated thank you to the folks at Artella for publishing my how-to article on Making Found Object Art Jewelry. The article was published in December 2009 in Artella's *Art Journaling Journey* online magazine Issue 14.

I always feel good when I see others recycling as a part of making their art. I was glad to share some techniques.

Back to my studio now. Every day I am making something..usually rings. They are starting to appear on my new website. Take a look at .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This week on Ebay
My items on eBay

I put some jewelry up on eBay today. Haven't done that in months, or maybe years, so we'll see what happens. You might be able to get some good deals with these.

I put up three of my soldered glass pendants that feature my original collages. These are based on the concept of Alice in a Steampunk Wonderland. I create the collages, then scan the originals and have them printed on professional grade printers. I then sandwich the print between glass and use a stained glass technique to soft solder them together. This solder has no lead or nickel so is safe for jewelry.

I also put up two rings that I made this week on President's Day weekend. They are made of coins. I think they're fun. If I get much interest, I'll offer custom coin rings - any size, year, coin, etc. I think they would be fun for special anniversary gifts or birthdays. Even a shower gift could have the bright penny ring as part of the gift wrapping. Kids would love these too, I think. 
So, if you're interested, please make a bid by Sunday February 28, 2010.

My items on eBay

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rings for Haiti Auctions

Don't miss it! My Tears for Haiti ring is on auction with only a few hours left. All funds go to Haiti relief. There are also more rings being auctioned for the next few weeks at this link. Please consider shopping for a good cause.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ring a Day and Tears for Haiti

This year I joined a flickr group called Ring a Day. It was started by Nina Dinoff as a challenge to jewelers of all types, to be inspired each and every day of 2010. The challenge is to create a ring and then post a picture of it on the Ring a Day gallery. Sometimes the pictures don't get posted until a few days later (almost always in my case). But the day of creation is listed, so at the end of the year, there should be close to 365 rings for each participant.

This has been a fun and inspiring challenge. The concept of a ring is all that is required, so we've come up with some silly and some artsy examples. There's a freedom to this, to play with different ideas or techniques. As an artist, my creativity floodgates are open. Some days I can't stop writing in my sketchbook all the ideas. It's wonderful to think, maybe I'll actually get to try most of them, since I've dedicated a part of every day to it. And I've been pushed to make some ideas that I've had gathering dust (always a good thing for an artist to do).

It's also becoming a bit of an addiction to watch each day as new rings are added to the group. There are so many artists with different styles and approaches. If you take a look, you are sure to be surprised, awed and have a laugh too. I'm reminds me of the Lark 500 series books. This summer I was traveling for a month. Suitcase space was precious, but I packed both 500 Wedding Rings and 1000 Rings books. Why? It just gives me energy and inspiration to see forms of pure creativity. I get the same surge checking out the new additions to the RAD gallery. So do take a look and enjoy!

The link to the whole group, with over 100 members is here. The link to just my (Mary Lu Wason) ring entries is here.

Tears for Haiti

Since we are making the ring each day, they are reflecting our lives and concerns, in some cases like a journal. As you can imagine, this past week our concerns about the conditions in Haiti have shown in the rings.

On January 13th, as the news of the earthquake was on my radio, I decided to make a carved ring. Often when you see a carved ring, it was originally carved in wax. Wax is easier and more forgiving than metal to carve. It's also less wasteful, which is important for gold or other precious metals. But carving in metal is more immediate. When it's done, it's done - no casting. And the final product is one of a kind, a testament to the time involved, unique to a memory. I wanted something to reflect my concerns of that day.

It took me several hours to work from a ring of square sterling silver metal, to the ring pictured here, which I call Tears for Haiti. Stylized tears flow one to another, in a circle of silver.

I am donating this ring to be auctioned, with other rings from the RAD group, to raise funds for Haiti relief. Thomasin Durgin of Metalriot has generously offered her time to run the auctions soon. Watch her blog for updates. I'll post details here too, when available.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Try Something You've Never Done Before

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
-Pablo Picasso

The last few weeks have been frustrating for me. I am always trying out new ideas and sometimes the final product is not what I was attempting. These "challenges" seem to come in clusters and so, I've had one disappointment after another recently. When you are working with found objects or just trying something new, there's often no clear cut method. It takes so much experimenting to not only get the technique, but to then get it to do what you need.

It is difficult sometimes to go against the norm. If only a simple clasp or a traditional setting were all I needed to complete a piece of jewelry, life would be so simple. But, there is something inside me that just doesn't see the purpose of creating another piece of jewelry that you've seen a million times before. I always have to be different and so do my creations. Believe me, this does not make life easy, even though it does make it interesting.

I was feeling a bit disjointed today, eyeing all my unfinished projects, when I saw the above quote from Picasso.

Picasso was always trying out new styles and techniques. So, he must have always been doing things he did not know how to do. He did them anyway, and kept on doing them, because he wanted to learn how to do them.

This quote inspired me to take a fresh look at some of my recent unfinished projects. And do you know what? They all came together. I see a solution. I can combine the different techniques I've been working on to get exactly what I was aiming for.

I'm off to do this now. Meanwhile, I hope the quote inspires you too. Don't be afraid to try something you've never done, it's the only way you'll learn how to do it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Asbury Park Images at the Boardwalk 2009

I have several 100 year old postcards on my site of Asbury Park NJ circa 1909. I took some pictures last week of some familiar spots as they are now in 2009. Here you'll see, Convention Hall, The Paramount, The Casino, Madame Marie's, and the now empty Carasoul building.

Monday, November 02, 2009

More Inspirations from The Met

Just last week, a new exhibit opened at the Met called Art of the Samurai - Arms and Armor 1156-1868. Learning the properties of metal and moving that metal is what jewelery making is all about. Those who make the Samurai arms are total masters of metal. So, this exhibit was interesting to me, from a jeweler's perspective.

The first half of the exhibit is mostly the blades themselves, shining in space, incredibly old and looking as though they were made yesterday. All I could think of while looking at them was to wonder at the knowledge and the strength of the person who forged them.

The second half of the show was the armor. This was interesting. Again, some of the pieces were hundreds of years old, but in perfect condition. Most were kept in families through many generations. It turns out, each Samurai had a special style of his own. They liked the bold, over the top look! Check out the guy in the gold necklace who is the poster boy for the show. His actual armour is in the show. The antlers are black lacquered and glittery! I just love the huge gold prayer beads he wore.  They contrast with the black just right. This was a fun show to go through, opening my mind to different approaches to metal and ornament.

On the first floor there is a hallway that I often find myself in at the Met. It's on the way back to the Great Hall. There are some ancient pieces of Celtic and Frank items. I'm always drawn to a few of these and finally took a picture, so that I might be able to use them as an inspiration someday. The red is slivers of sliced garnets. I think these were from the 500s AD. Someday I'd like to make something like this. I'm starting to think about buckles and this would be a good start, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

 American Stories, Paintings of Everyday Life at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Another one of the newer exhibits I viewed at The Met on Friday was called American Stories, Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915.   (Be sure to click on the link because they have a great online sample of the paintings and narrations of the show.)

This show is so well put together. It's a series of rooms, small collections that each make a point and lead us through American Art. It's not preachy, it's enjoyable. So many old favorites are there, but there were quite a few surprises for me. 

One of the first paintings made me laugh. It's called Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam, ca 1752-58. The scene looks right from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The painter has poked fun of himself and painted himself vomiting in the hallway.

Another surprise, Why didn't I ever know about Lilly Martin Spencer (American, 1822–1902)? Her paintings are delightful. I am going to look into more about her. Painting from a women's point of view in the mid-nineteenth-century, with wit. We can't get enough of that.

Some of my favorite American painters had multiple works in the show - Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, William Merrit Chase and John Singer Sargent. But walking into one of the rooms, I was drawn to a huge yellow canvas. I was surprised it was Frederick Remington's Fight for the Water Hole.It looked so different outside of the Western themes that I'd expect it in. In this room it more than held it's own, it dominated the room. It looked to me like a brand new painting, because of the fresh perspective. 

It's a lovely exhibit. If you can't go to see it, the online exhibit is worth browsing through.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A visit to the Met

Yesterday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I have a membership there this year and have been trying to take advantage of that. I wholly recommend anyone in the area to do this. The Met has so much to offer and there are new exhibits every month, so there is always something new to discover there.

 I went to see the special Vermeer exhibit called Vermeer's Materpiece The Milkmaid. The focal point, of course is the titled piece, on loan to the Met. They have also gathered all their own Vermeers together and some other works by Vermeer's contemporaries. 

The Milkmaid surprised me. I thought I knew Vermeer. I thought I knew what all the fuss was about him. The light, the composition, the servant girl, I've seen these before and admired them. I have always loved Young Woman with a Water Pticher. 

But the Milkmaid is not the same! It is crisp, crisp, crisp lines. It is so much more of a photographic portrayal. And the colors are just so right. It is beautiful. It is worth going to see if you have the opportunity. 

I loved that the exhibit had the other works nearby, because I went back and forth, looking at Water Pitcher and Milkmaid, observing the differences between them. Water Pitcher is more diffused, as through a veil. I still love Water Pitcher, but have even more love and respect for Vermeer after seeing The Milkmaid. 

It also pointed out to me yet again, how important it is to see works of art firsthand. A picture of the works can never fully give you the same experience.  In a book, pictures of these two works will look very similar. In the same room with both originals, you will be struck by their differences.

Stay tuned.. I'll review some of the other exhibits I saw in the next few days.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's Going On?

In the past few days, I stirred up alot of changes. Actually, I've been working on all these changes for months, but now they are something you can see.

I have a brand new website called Mary Lu Wason Studio Art Jewelry.. 
Take a look at

This site is a portfolio and a marketplace for my art jewelry. I found that I needed a place to showcase and maintain a focus on my collections. It's also a place to point to for show entries, galleries and wholesale accounts.

Every part of the pieces on this site are handmade by me. No purchased charms or earring hooks, clasps or other jewelry supply findings, i.e., no shortcuts.

The site is a little bare right now, but I am so happy to present it. It's a start on this new journey, just a step forward. I hope you enjoy browsing it. Most items there are also for sale, both retail and wholesale.

Amethyst Lobster - Unique Jewelry is undergoing a complete transformation.

Creating the new signature site for my art jewelry required me to re-evaluate the Amethyst Lobster site. I believe it was getting confusing for customers. So, it is now wiped out and I will be building it up again with a clearer and more cohesive style. It will focus mainly on the (obvious from the name) nautical and seaside inspired hand-crafted jewelry. 

Since I was making changes to Amethyst Lobster, I decided it was time to move it to it's own domain. I originally started it as a part of my Lobster Lu Postcards site.  It grew and grew and really should have had it's own domain years ago. it does at .

I hope this helps to clear up some confusion. Please feel free to send your comments or concerns. I'm still here and will soon have a few of the old favorites back on Amethyst Lobster, as well as many more new items on both sites. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Escape from the Ordinary

I was supposed to be working on some rings this week. But the Esc key pendant that I started a few weeks ago kept bugging me. So, I let the plans drop to heed the call of the Muse.

This is a sterling silver square that I textured with a hammer and other items of destruction. The sawed out circle has a brass collar. The focus is the Esc key from an old computer. My way of recycling. The keys are very high for jewelry, so I had to saw the plastic key in half. And the shape of the key is difficult for this type of bezel setting. I will try a different method for my next computer key. There's a copper "scrap" with two tiny 1.5mm Cubic Zirconias in a burnished setting. I love the way they sink into the copper and contast with it.

I will put this on a simple brown suede cord.

Wearing this, I will state my desire to escape from the ordinary that surrounds me. My jewelry, too, I hope will escape from that. Some people find comfort in the common, but I feel stifled and bored with it. So, I'll continue to listen to the Muse. I'll work on more designs to recycle computer keys, so that I can offer a line to my customers soon. I know my customers are always looking for a way to state their uniqueness. Soon, we will all escape from the common.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A New Day, A New Direction
Well, I did it! I finished the course at Studio Jewelers, Ltd. It was not easy, but it was sooooooooo wonderful. I learned more about making jewelry than I thought was possible. I am so grateful to the wonderful teachers there. They are really the best!
(Check out their website at ).

So, now I have so many new skills and so many new designs swirling in my head. First, I need to set up my own studio so that I can do more of the types of work I just learned. There is so much, though. A little at a time is all that is possible.

But the main, major tool for a bench jeweler is the bench itself. It's so specialized, there are so many features that make perfect sense and become a necessary part of creating.

The jeweler's bench height is important. It's higher than a regular table or desk. The bench pin (the wedge of wood sticking out of the middle) is where most work happens. That often needs to be eye level, or chin level, for comfort. A chair that easily adjusts height, is also required. There are two openings on either side of the bench where slats of wood for arm rests can go. When setting stones or holding something firm, the arm rest helps to hold the project steady. My bench also has holes to hold mandrels. When banging rings or bracelets, it's so much easier to have the mandrels held firm. Another very important part of the jeweler bench is the pull out metal lined tray. Without it, the floor is a mess of metal or wax shavings and dust. Besides, tiny stones and metal pieces of a project tend to fly at the most unexpected time. Without a bench, a jeweler will spend most of her time, on hands and knees, searching for a stone that dropped. Believe me..I know this for a fact! There's also a cut-out tray that slides out and has a little shelf above it. This
is another way to catch the precious pieces and ensure there is no space between the jeweler and the bench. If you are working with a precious metal, you really don't want to lose anything. Some frequently used tools can go on the shelf. In my case, a jeweler's saw and some files.

A jeweler's bench is much more than just a workbench. It really is a tool, that allows a smoother creation process.

I was so excited to recently receive a jeweler's bench as a gift. Here it is! It took quite a bit to get it where it stands today. The UPS couldn't handle it (cracked the first one). So, I drove myself up to Zak's in the Diamond Distrit, NYC and in the pouring rain, they loaded a new one and took back the broken one. (Those guys are great, if you need any jeweler tools). I was so happy with this brand new bench in the back of my van. I looked up and realized I was in the middle of Times Square. The lights were shining for a new day, a new direction in my designs. The whole world of moving the metal ahead of me.

Here's a picture of the bench before being christened. If you can see, the bench pin is a rectangle. I had to cut it, as jewelers before me, into a v shape. This requires woodworking saws. What an ordeal! I felt like I was committing to jewelery making as I realized again and again, I did not want to be a woodworker!

It stands in an alcove of windows that overlook the forest. It is a joy to sit at this bench and create objects to adorn my friends - those I have met and those I hope to meet someday. I look forward to this bench getting old, with nicks and holes from making many fresh and inspiring necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches and maybe a tiara or two. Oh...and the kitty is looking for a diamond cat collar.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Expanding My Skill Set

This week, at school, I made this ring. It involved transferring a pattern, sawing two identical pieces, soldering at 3 places, lots of sanding and polishing and finally a little pearl and rhinestone setting.

I like the design of a circle in a shape and the side view profile of space between the two identical forms. I would like to play with this concept in the future with different materials and finishes.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Week One in Studio Jewelers School

Here's a two metal (brass and copper) turtle brooch that I made on my second day of school in Studio Jewelers. I'm learning incredible skills and making new pieces every day. I'm so excited at the possibilities of new designs these new skills will enable me to create.