Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"You will see the Zulu King down on St. Claude and Dumaire…"

(Lyrics from the Mardi Gras’ classic, "Go to the Mardi Gras," by Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd, aka. Professor Longhair…)

Finished bronze crowns
This is my entry for Day 2 of Heidi Post's jewelry challenge. Adhering to my Mardi Gras theme I present bronze and white copper crowns for the season. 

However, I must briefly address two questions that have cropped up in the last few days. First, folks want to know why I haven't posted on my blog since 2011. That one is easy: I was too busy making jewelry and doing archaeology! Sheryl Howard at Merkay Fine Jewelry in Jennings, LA is the exclusive carrier of my work. She is amazing and very supportive, even though it takes me forever to do anything! [I like to think of my jewelry as "small batch," kind of like whiskey.] I own but I haven't had time to set up a web site (of course).

In relation to archaeology, I co-authored a book, wrote a book chapter, published several articles, and have presented a number of papers on some really neat archaeological sites in the Southeast. So, I haven't been idle; I just haven't had time to blog.

Second question: How or why did you start making jewelry? I started making jewelry for one simple reason: my Yums, aka. my mom, Penny Donald (we call her Yums cause that's what the grandkids call her). Anyway, she was wearing these fabulous creations by a woman from my hometown, Kathie Krielow, and she just raved about them (along with everyone else in my hometown and rightly so!). And she purchased Kathie's pieces for us as well (me, my sisters, my sister-in-law). 

Well, I was so inspired by Kathie---and I still am, she's amazing---that I started making jewelry too. Mostly tying/stringing pearls. I'm good at knots; who knew? 

Bronze metal clay
in the leather hard
stage before firing
When I started working with metal clay, Yums kept saying, "Char, I want you to make me something...a big hunk of metal that looks like it came right out of the ground." Being an archaeologist, I have first hand experience with what time, dirt and moisture can do to metal. 

White copper metal
clay before firing 
But it dawned on me that what my Yums wanted me to do went against everything I learned at Texas A&M about the proper conservation of artifacts from folks like Donny Hamilton, Wayne Smith, and Helen Dewolf. Everything I know about chemicals I owe to Donny and Wayne (that sounds bad, but chemicals are necessary to patinate metal, i.e., give it an aged finish). And when I'm making jewelry I try to channel Helen; she's both an artist and a conservator, the best possible combination.

So, my point is this: I'm continually striving to make my mom the perfect "hunk of metal, all beat up," as she phrases it. Oh, if only I could master soldering. It's holding me back in a big way (right, y'all???). 

White copper metal clay
crowns before firing

One final word: most of my work has a medieval flare to it. It's not my fault and it's not just my archaeological training. Most of my life I've had relatives travel far and wide, bringing back what to me where always exotic treasures like spears, grave rubbings, coins, etc. My Uncles Mac and David and my Aunts Brenda and Charlotte were especially proficient at this, lol. Thank heavens!

  “…the second day seemed like five days.” –Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin in 1979’s The Jerk)


  1. I love soldering, was rather scared of it at first as it never seemed to work out right, but then I found solder paste which is a million times easier!

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Niky! I picked up some solder paste, but I haven't had a chance to use it yet! I am hoping to try it out this weekend! Keep your fingers crossed, lol!

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