Art and Iconography
JEWELRY BY BETSY PORTER
Some of my most recent jewelry creations are available for purchase at my
Etsy site: BetsyPorter.etsy.com!
I've been making bead jewelry for many years. I love beads, enjoy handling
them, like the way they move on a string. There must be over a million beads
in my closet!
When living in the Princeton, NJ area, I used to teach an evening course in
"Easy Gemstone Bead Jewelry" at the YWCA. Some of my students were able
to start their own small jewelry businesses!
I sold my jewelry, as well as silk scarves and marbled fabric items, at gift shops
and an occasional craft fair. Since moving to the Bay Area, I do less beading,
but still enjoy an occasional bead day with my friends.
Recently, an old interest in metal jewelry has re-awakened in me. As with
icons, the prospect of making small precious objects attracts me; and I like
learning ancient crafts. So I've been taking classes and workshops, and joined
the Metal Arts Guild.
GEMSTONE BEAD JEWELRY - Semiprecious stones; some have ceramic or gemstone pendants
GLASS BEAD JEWELRY - Hand-knotting appeals to me, and it usually works
better with glass beads, because their holes don't vary much in size.
Glass artist Abram Yocum made the
spiral pendant at near left. These
unique beads are hand made in
Other beads come from China,
Thailand, and the Czech Republic.
Upper left; handmade braids were created on the maru dai, a
Japanese style braiding stand. The strands of yarn are weighted, and
the braid forms in a hole in the middle, as you move the strands over the
top in a special order - very meditative. The 4-strand braids with
pendants are dyed by hand. I knotted 8-strand braids into pins.
Upper right; Fimo beads - this is a colored clay which can be formed
into tiny designs and then sliced like a jelly roll and baked into beads.
Lower left; ceramic pendants and pins - it's fun to make these little
critters and shapes from colored clay with a clear glaze.
Above; Metal clay kiln
fired pendants and a
torch fired ring; from a
with Lorrene Davis.
Metal clay is messy and
rather expensive but fun
to work with. Setting
stones is much easier.
The resulting jewelry is
fine silver (100% silver).
Above left; sterling silver apple pin, copper and brass leaf pin, and 2 sterling silver
rings with bezel set stones. The apple pin was started back in the early 1970's in an
evening course at Michigan State University - and finally completed fall 2007.
Above center; forged metal work - a sterling silver bangle bracelet with hammered
texture, a small copper bowl, and a ring of fine silver (100% silver). Ear plugs are
required for this work; but I find it quite satisfying.
Above right; rings made at home from sterling silver wire. The "jewels" are glass
beads attached to the wire with 2-part epoxy glue.
Left; a copper and silver "sampler" chain made
from class projects and demonstration pieces
made by my friend Kerry Bostrom; with a few
Upper right; a sheet copper pendant formed on
a hydraulic press, then punched and hammered.
Lower right; two sterling pendants with
bezel-set cabochon stones. The oval
golden-brown monokaite from Australia,
and the tear-shaped nipomo marcasite,
were crafted by Artisan Stone Traders.
Above left; 3 wrapped-wire rings and a bracelet, from a class in "Wire
Wrapping and Forming" with Michael David Sturlin at the Revere
Academy of Jewelry Arts. Following his lead, I am learning to work in
dead soft fine silver wire.
Above right; chains and earrings made at home, using fine silver wire.
Right; 2 bezel-set gemstone pendants, made in weekly classes with
Adam Clark and Dave Casella at Scintillant Studio.
Far Left; more exploration of the chain. This
necklace was made at home, using 14-gauge
copper wire. The glass beads, culled from a
handmade but non-matching assortment, were
epoxied to the wire.
Left; another pendant made at Scintillant
Studio. This one has a coordinating chain in
hammered fine silver.
Upper right; further experimentation with wire rings. The ends
of the wire were melted into balls using a torch, and some were
extended to clasp tumbled stones. With no soldering, these
rings are flexible and comfortable, as well as quick and easy to
make. The downside - the ends can catch on clothing, and the
stones can come out, so they're best limited to party wear.
More fooling around with wire! The spiny necklace is
made of forged 12-gauge fine silver wire, and incorporates
the sterling and monokaite pendant shown above.
The "Celtic" cuff bracelet is made of 10-gauge fine silver wire, with a transparent
green stone set in sterling silver.
The stone for the pendant at right is not quite rectangular and not quite
flat-backed, so could not be successfully bezel set, but prongs work OK.
Far left; sterling silver wire choker and
bracelet. The end of the wire is melted
into a ball with a torch; then it is shaped
into a spiral with pliers and forged flat
before the links are joined.
The choker incorporates beads of
translucent brown jade.
Near left; this smaller spiny necklace in
hammered fine silver wire looks nice
with a turtleneck, and is easier to wear
than the larger and more dramatic spiny
necklace with monokaite pendant above
all rights reserved
From a 2-day chain-making
workshop at Scintillant Studio,
August 2009, with David
Casella as instructor.
My loop-in-loop chain
bracelet and samples are
crafted from fused links of
fine silver. Learning to fuse
the delicate wire was a big
challenge - but fusing is an
amazing process. It's exciting
to see the metal suddenly
melt and run together!
Fabricated silver rings. It has taken me a good 8 hours to make the
ring at left, and after some initial polishing it will be ready for bezel
setting its stone. It will take me 3 hours to set the stone and finish the
polishing. A similar finished ring with pink tourmaline is shown at right.
Below; a pendant and a similar pendant/clasp with bezel-set stones.
Each has a pattern cut out in back.
Lower right; keum-boo jewelry from a workshop with Christine Dhein at
the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. Keum-boo is a method of fusing
gold foil to silver, providing the special color and glint of pure gold at a
relatively moderate cost. These pieces textured, shaped, and then
were patinated, so the silver changes color while the gold remains
Left; keum-boo components strung on fine silver wire with carved jade beads.
Center; silver and copper cuff bracelets, stencilled in the rolling mill.
Right; my first try at making lampwork glass beads! strung on fine silver wire.
My teacher at Oakland's Studio One Art Center was Harlan Simon.
Classes with Ronda Coryell at Revere
Academy and Mendocino Art Center
are leading me in a new direction,
working with Argentium sterling silver, a
relatively new, tarnish resistant alloy
containing a small percentage of the
element germanium as well as slightly
more silver than standard sterling silver.
For me, the special attraction of
working with Argentium is that (like
gold) it fuses easily. It is appropriate
for detailed work such as used in
ancient jewelry, with tiny twists and
granulations. These pendants are
fused; no soldering! Each lacy piece is
a single chunk of silver.