It is very unfortunate, but making jewelry can require several extremely polluting substances. Some of them are so toxic that you are not supposed to use them unless your workspace is well aerated, as the fumes can make you sick and even cause lung damage. But even an adequate workspace will not protect you from burns, in the event that these chemicals come in contact with your skin or your eyes. Protective gear is required, and paying attention is essential.
However, some of the processes used in jewelry making leave behind unseemly residues that simply must be cleaned up. The dark heatscale that coats any silver that has been melted with a torch is a case in point. Not only will it leave a dark mark on anything it touches, but it just doesn't look good.
The opposite process, oxidation, also comes with its own challenges. While adding a very nice dark coloring to silver, oxidation is often obtained with liver of sulphur, a highly toxic substance.
The problem then becomes how to accomplish everything that these strong chemicals can do without actually using any of them, and how to protect both the person making jewelry and the environment, which can be negatively impacted by these substances.
The good news is that heatscale can be removed from metal and silver can be oxidized without any strong chemicals. Of course, both procedures entail a series of chemical reactions of one kind or another, but instead of harmful acids one can use very safe substances that we all have in the house. The process will take longer, but the advantages, in terms of safety and the environment, are worth the wait.
One of the first reasons i like making jewelry is that i get to go and choose stones and beads from some must-see-to-believe store filled to the rafters with strings of wonderful beads or complex contraptions that would please a mechanical engineer. While more and more of these contraptions are now no longer a mystery to me and have therefore lost their mystique, the appeal that semi-precious stone beads have over me is still unchanged.
There is more to these beads that their beauty and shape. These minute object are millions of years old, yet that is something we hardly ever think about. We look at them, take them in, wonder how they will look on us once we wear them and move on.
However, from my point of view beads are so fascinating also for another reason. It is when I look at beads that I get ideas for things to do with them. I might have some vague idea of what I want to design, but until the moment when I hold the right stones in my hand it is still a vague idea. Once the stones are in front of me, though, my idea becomes much more precise. A big hematite bead might inspire me to create a dangle earring. Minuscule hematite beads might make me start working on a tassel earring.
Beads are more than just an embellishment in my jewelry. I make jewelry because of the stones and I draw inspiration from them. This is also the reason my jewelry doesn't come in every color of the rainbow. I tend to go back time and again to the stones I like most and find interesting to work with.
What really appeals to me about them can vary. I like hematite because of its shine and opacity. However, agate and carnelian appeal to me because of the way their color changes in different kinds of light. Does that make me sound like someone a little contradictory? Well, maybe I am. All I know is that I can like more than one thing at the same time. Proof of it is every trip to the store where I buy my beads. In front of a display of a few hundreds of different bead strands featuring a few dozens semi-precious stones in all kinds of sizes and shapes I find myself fairly conflicted. Yes, it is true that I have my favorites, but it is also true that some of the other ones would also be very interesting to work with....In fact I think I already have some good ideas for some of them and maybe I should give in and buy them....Hmmm, if I'm quick I can get there before they close.
I love hematite, onyx, and chocolate.