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My introduction to steel as a jewelry material was rather quiet. Steel first snuck its way into my research while I was reading up on the Studio Jewelry and New Jewelry Movements. Famed sculptor Alexander Calder played with steel and non-ferrous metals in his jewelry forms from the early 1930’s to 1950’s and was responsible for helping to push jewelry onto the avant-garde art scene. Around this same time, studio jewelers in America were becoming interested in narrative expression, turning to non-traditional jewelry materials to give life to their ideas. Once the New jewelry Movement took hold in the 1970’s and 1980’s, alternative materials hit their stride. Studio jewelry increased its use of plastics, resins, wood, and other non-traditional materials in the quest for artistic and creative expression.
Alternative materials today find just as wide (if not wider) an audience amongst studio jewelers. In the case of steel, I knew that it was an increasingly popular material, both in the studio crafts and jewelry industry, but had never given it much thought outside of this general knowledge.
I was attending SNAG Seattle in 2011 when I happened upon Brenda Schweder signing promotional copies of her book “Steel Wire Jewelry” (Lark Books). She was kind enough to sign one for me and thus inconspicuously began my collection of steel jewelry knowledge. Schweder’s book provides an assortment of information ranging from a brief history of steel, reasons to love it, and a variety of techniques and quick learning projects. For someone like myself who had not previously given steel a second glance, “Steel Wire Jewelry” got me to give steel a chance to explain itself. The more I learn as I prepare for Massey’s workshop, the more entranced I become by steel’s suave characteristics.
Image Information: Calder, Alexander. Lousia Calder's 53rd Birthday Gift pin, 1958, gold and steel wire www.miamiherald.com/
Schweder, Brenda. "Steel Wire Jewelry" www.larkcrafts.com
Iron and steel has had a niche in jewelery/small metals making for longer than you might imagine.
Try to find some links to: Musee Le Secq des Tounelles, this museum located in Rouen, France has probably the largest collection of small functional/decorative ironwork in the world. MIND BLOWING!
Once you commit to taming the inherent tenacity of black metal it really is a marvelous material to work with.
Have fun working with Sharon at TS.
Thank you, Glen! I will definitely look into the museum. From the little bit that popped up when I did a google search, I have a feeling I will be in for an inspirational ride! Thanks again!
Here is a link to a great Dover Book. Decorative Antique Ironwork. I think it catalogs most of the museum collection. It was always the small stuff that attracted me most!
Sewing kits, locks& KEYS, smoking accesories, and quite a bit of jewelery. This book was a great inspiration to me back in the 70's.