Jewelry-making is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of decorative applied art, including folk art. Jewelry, which throughout the course of history has been closely linked with the changing conditions of everyday life, at one time served as a mark of the owner’s social status and sometimes was invested with magical meaning. In the course of historical development, the social prestige and significance of jewelry gradually came to supplant the religious and magical ideas associated with jewelry.
In the 20th century jewelry-making continues to be a means of shaping the whole artistic milieu, making it possible to emphasize both the beauty of the initial material and the elegance of the artistic work.
The materials of jewelry making are quite varied. Traditionally, metals of many kinds, gemstones, wood, ivory, bone and vitreous enamels have been used in the creation. Today jewelry artists use many materials such as clay, silver, glass beads, precious and semi-precious gems or stones, wood, enamels and plastics and many more.
Many jewelry artists at Traditions Hand Craft Gallery create pieces using silver art clay and decorative beads using a glass technique known as lampworking.
Lampworking can also be used to create artwork, figurines, marbles, small vessels, Christmas tree ornaments, and much more. It is also known as flameworking or torchworking, as glass is melted over a lamp or torch. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements to create beads or other decorative forms.
Silver Art Clay is composed of silver particles, organic binders, and water. The clay is then molded into its desired generic shape, and dried. Once the clay is completely dry it can then be filed, carved, and sanded; after which it is fired with a gas stovetop, butane torch, or kiln.
During the firing process, the organic binders burn away and the resulting silver particles “sinter”, becoming denser and stronger. The burning away of binders and sintering of metal causes the piece to shrink 8-10% in overall size while retaining the original form. Once completely fired, the remaining piece is composed of 99.9% pure silver. The difference between Sterling Silver and Pure Silver is Pure Silver is composed of 99.9% silver and nothing else. Sterling Silver is composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of one or more other metals. Sterling Silver is stronger than Pure Silver, and as an alloy, it tarnishes more quickly as well.