This dragon cuff is a sample of roller printing metal work from Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

Metal Work Opens New World of Adornment

A series of weekly classes in metal work opened a new world of hand-made adornment for me. Thanks to the ongoing schedule over eight weeks, I managed to make several pieces that gave me a much stronger understanding of metal.

Basics of the trade like sawing, filing and soldering were previously unaddressed in my world. Even wire held little interest, because I reached for the much-more-comfortable-tool of needle and thread, such as this bead embroidery cuff bracelet. (Or else I purchased ready-made ear wires, and so forth.)

Now, I’m experimenting. I find myself seeing jewelry with new eyes. I’m discovering a new relationship with tools.

I indulged my love of brass, for example, and played with copper and silver as well. During one of my metal work sessions I met Debbie West  Miles who fashions jewelry designs for Fierce Women. Debbie and I hit it off, in part because she says I remind her of “Aunt Ida.” (Maybe next time around, she’ll add the Fierce Woman label in addition to the Aunt Ida one.) I confess to loving Debbie’s Mayan designs, but that’s another story.

Here’s a brass rendition of Mayan metal work, yet to be formed into a cuff.

This is the mayan cuff potential created by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

Thanks to Debbie’s expert tutelage, as well as that of her partner in crime, Kate, I etched and rollerprinted metal, forming still more new associations with copper, brass and silver as well as rolling mills, hammers and other fine tools of the trade.

Stencil symbols prime creative juices for metal work

Kate happened to have a few stencils that primed my creative juices. Think dragon for empowerment, waves for balance and movement. I combined the two in a simple and yet effective way, placing waves on either side of what appeared to me to be a water dragon. The waves represent life flow, their evenness an intention for ease, grace and dignity. The resulting cuff may be one of my most favorite pieces ever.

It was amazing to form the flat metal into a beautifully shaped cuff, to feel the metal taking shape beneath my hands, to watch it shift and evolve as I played.

When I shifted my focus to earwires, I discovered the heavier gauge metal work had changed my confidence level for the better. I’m psyched to see what other new impressions I’ll discover as I continue this exploration. For now, let me state that metal works has opened a new world of adornment for me.

Scroll to Top