Electroformed Autumn Raw Stone Jewelry


Mabon Meditation

Yes, summer is ending. And for those of us sun-worshipping moms out there, it's a bittersweet time. If you're like me, you relish every moment of soothing heat. I'm also Canadian and even on our mild(er) West Coast, fall, winter, and spring are generally too cool for me. I'd rather be barefoot, in a sundress, lounging on my cedar-shaded, moss-covered lawn. I look forward to summer every year before spring has so much as kissed open the first leaf bud.

Yet, I also want some uninterrupted time in my workshop. And at my writing desk. That means the littles need to go back to school. They love their school and their friends, so it's not a huge imposition on them either.

So fall brings excitement and energy into my house for everyone. We get more playground time, more playdates, birthdays, and Halloween, all before winter eventually settles in and slows it all down. Naturally, I look forward to the Autumn Equinox with a mix of anticipation and anxiety. By the time fall arrives this year, I know I'm going to have a full plate, both literally and figuratively.

For the last year or so, I've started photographing stones and other materials before I start to work with them (just like the grid above) mostly to share my excitement about upcoming projects with the social media community. But it's just the tip of the iceberg. Large swaths of counter space in my workshop are always dedicated to design mock-ups and these fun little photos are an extension of that practice.

Although I don't make grids often, it was important to really focus my creative energy before I started working with this batch of stones. I love raw stone designs (as do most of my customers from what I can tell!) and I wanted these simple pieces to be unique and full of positive intention.



Harvest Season

Now that I've been in a townhome for a few years, I've come to miss the simple pleasure of having a garden. In my previous home, I had a vegetable garden plus planter boxes full of herbs in my carport and berry bushes at the back of our lawn. Hazelnut trees bordered our driveway. It was a surprising bounty for an urban rental house.

Whenever I talk about planting seeds now, it's strictly a metaphor for design ideas coming to fruition in my mind, and then coming to life on my bench. This month's update is titled Mabon Meditation because of all the time I spend thinking about both design and the arrival of autumn. I'm now  'harvesting' the products of my intermittent summer shop sessions in one large, glorious wave of copper and stones.



Autumn Birthstones

I've always loved birthstones. The idea of expressing myself with my December stones and gifting corresponding gems to friends and family has always been important in my world. Naturally, opinions vary, not only about the origin and importance of birthstones, but about what birthstones we should use for what month and why.

Raw Sapphire Rings

I lean towards following your intuition as to what birthstone you identify with and what it means to you personally. If you have a stone that consistently speaks to you and brightens your day, roll with it!If sapphire and iolite feel right for your September birthday, jump on them. If you prefer lapis or a blue agate, go for that instead. And if you dislike blue altogether, but the idea of a birthstone is compelling, keep digging and you stand a good chance of finding one that clicks.




Electroforming Hard Stones

This month I also wanted to share a bit more about the chemistry behind what us electroformers do. And why you see so many stones like citrine (a popular November birthstone),iolite, and sapphire at this time of year. It's not just the season!

You may already know that copper electroforming, or the artistic side of electroplating, requires a solution that both dissolves copper and conducts electricity. You need an anode (source material for your plating) and a cathode (electricity delivery to work pieces) inside this solution.

Electroforming solution is primarily copper sulfate and distilled water. It is corrosive to organic material and soft stones over time. Whenever you see genuine wood or bone in an electroformed piece of jewelry, it had to be sealed before being coated in conductive paint in preparation for receiving it's final copper coating. Any stone softer than 7 on the Mohs Hardness scale needs to be protected with a removable sealant like liquid latex before the framework around it is painted.

Stones like citrine, iolite, sapphire, peridot, amethyst, and most forms of quartz are all hard enough to withstand the copper sulfate solution without these extra steps. Where there are extra steps, there is room for things to go wrong. And when a pendant or ring dissolves in the plating bath, it's not just about losing a stone or specimen, you also risk contaminating your solution needlessly.

In Canada, getting your hands on Midas Bright Electroforming Copper Solution is expensive (roughly double the US price) and sometimes difficult. If your solution cannot be replenished and re-balanced, it must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. So I baby my solution and I've been using the same bottle for almost two years. After all, what is the point of working with recycled metal to make an environmental statement if you're going to go through excessive amounts of a toxic liquid?

Raw Citrine Jewelry

I've heard some chatter (mostly on Instagram) about a good deal of citrine on the market actually being heated amethyst. I don't have the stone expertise to evaluate my inventory beyond citing the source I purchased it from. So rather than weighing in on this, I thought a quote might be in order.

According to Wikipedia:


Amethyst is a form of quartz that ranges from a bright vivid violet to dark or dull lavender shade. The world's largest deposits of amethysts can be found in Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Russia, France, Namibia and Morocco. Sometimes amethyst and citrine are found growing in the same crystal. It is then referred to as ametrine. An amethyst is formed when there is iron in the area where it was formed.


Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown due to ferric impurities. Natural citrines are rare; most commercial citrines are heat-treated amethysts or smoky quartzes. However, a heat-treated amethyst will have small lines in the crystal, as opposed to a natural citrine's cloudy or smokey appearance. 







Electroformed Copper Leaves

I hope that anyone following my work has noticed the copper leaves I use on a selection of my electroformed jewelry. They are almost all polymer clay (some are epoxy clay) and I take great care to preserve as much detail as possible while still providing a thick and sturdy layer of copper in each design. While I try to challenge myself to electroform organic matter as often as possible, I couldn't create these designs with actual tiny leaves and still deliver a solid piece of jewelry.

If you do love these leaves, please browse around my shop to see the many colors options I can offer. The red pair below are a fall item, but I've done them in a few shades of green, as well as teal, blue, and purple. I can also tint them a darker brown. Each color is created using alcohol ink which is then sealed with a long-wearing hypoallergenic lacquer.



Shop Time & Silver

If you've been following me on social media, you've probably seen me drop comments about how much I've been coveting silver in the last year. I love recycling copper, but it has limitations, both commercially and artistically. Since I realized I could work with recycled silver via Rio Grande and several independent casting sources, I've started experimenting more and more.

I'm far from ready to post silver-saturated shop updates. But the odd piece is now live in my shop and I am getting the feel for how to work with it. Once fall arrives and I'm back at my bench on a daily basis, I hope to be sharing more silver progress here and across all my social media hangouts. Thanks for reading and I hope you'll be back again!