New Pendant with Wire Weaving

New Pendant with Wire Weaving

Here is a new pendant I finished today. I am working through a new-to-me technique: wire weaving. Much like with string, weaving with metals is taking a long piece of wire in, around, through, other pieces of metal. This pendant will be part of my Terra Riche Collection very soon!

I used copper wire on this, though I plan to soon try this technique with silver wire. The beads are turquoise dyed magnesite and solid copper with ridges. Magnesite is naturally very light in color but takes dyes very well, making it a nice alternative for many who cannot afford more expensive natural turquoise stones but love the color.

New iPhone 6 Camera

New iPhone 6 Camera

Boy, howdy, am I loving my new iPhone 6! I think it takes much better quick pics than my iPhone 5. This is my copper bracelet with the Rustic Heart design.

What’s Coming in 2015

What’s Coming in 2015

During the past few weeks, I have been busy with putting together beautiful mixes of gemstones, Czech glass, and metals like Argentium 935 silver — and many of the finished pieces are now available in my shop!

When I first started making jewelry half a dozen years or so ago, I used pickings from estate sales and unknown metals, plus whatever I found beautiful and sparkling at Hobby Lobby and the local bead shop. Life got in the way for a few years, as tends to happen with young mothers and a hobby / budding business, but I finally got to the point of relaunching Rococo Riche in October 2013.

Vintage Button Necklace

This is still one of my favorite pieces, which featured vintage buttons and vintage brass chain with a mix of newer components.

 

While I still have a love for repurposing vintage materials, learning techniques in silversmithing and finding the world of wholesale suppliers (wow — did this open up so many new options!) has pushed me in a new direction.

Goal #1: Higher Quality Materials

With new suppliers available for bead and metal selection, I can offer jewelry that is more valuable. My original stash I had built up from estate sales, craft stores, and the like included quite a number of plastic and acrylic beads of fair quality — they weren’t terrible, but I wasn’t terribly educated about the broad range of beads available.

Research into the differences in metals and types of beads has led me to aspire to something more that my customers can wear and keep for many years. I recently listed one of my last pieces featuring a less expensive bead palette, if you will. Although there is a HUGE market for the sub-$30 range in jewelry, especially with the younger crowds, I want to be different from the masses of jewelry retailers serving up such pieces.

Goal #2: Color / Theme Collections

Over the last year, I have been working hard to expand and grow my jewelry line to include collections of jewelry featuring certain themes and colors. The Terra Riche Collection is one of my latest, which gathers together warm hues, earthy gemstones, and a variety of metals.

 

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One of my latest pieces for my Terra Riche Collection — hand forged bronze, hand hammered, with Czech glass and brass beads on 14K gold filled earwires.

My other collections include:

La Mer Riche — ocean and beach themes with soothing palettes of blue, green, aqua, and sand

Mod+Pop Riche — modern pops of hyper-brights and solids in black, white, and gray with a mix of metals

Noir Riche — a darker mix of glamorous beads in jet black, deep purple, moody blue, and more 

Purely Silver Riche — this collection features handmade jewelry made only of sterling silver or higher purity silver

Vintage Riche — lots of jewel tones, floral patterns, and feminine motifs with rich patinas

Warrior Riche — neutral colors with a more masculine feel in leather, copper, and hand engraving

 

While a few of my collections are a bit bare with only 2-3 pieces as of this writing, I will be creating new looks and designs for all these lines over the next weeks and months — and I am really excited about several ideas in particular! Make sure to bookmark these collections to see what’s new as I add pieces.

Goal #3: More Hand Engraving

Though I am always learning and looking for new techniques to include in my metalwork and bead stringing, hand engraving is another BIG part of where I am headed in 2015.I have posted to my social media accounts on a few occasions that hand engraving is one technique that needs to be featured more often in my work.

It sounds crazy to think that I have been hand engraving for almost a decade now. With dozens of custom hand engraving orders in 2014, this area of my jewelry design became a major focus. Part of Goal #3 is to expand to a line of charms available for both retail AND for other jewelry designers to incorporate into their own beaded pieces.

One way I am already working on more hand engraved pieces in my jewelry is through my Bespoke Riche Collection — this is a collection where you can select handmade pieces made-to-order or get a custom design hand engraved — by me, right in my studio.

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This is one of my most popular designs! I use my own hand lettered initials to design a custom monogram for each customer — nothing machine made or template based here. I also fabricate the ring in my studio using thick sterling silver wire and sheet.

I have lots of people interested in hand engraving — and why wouldn’t they be?! It is such a cool, old-world method of embellishment for jewelry. As part of my goal for hand engraving, I plan to produce a few videos for this In The Studio section of my blog to give everyone an inside look at what it takes to product a single piece from start to finish.

The public at large truly has no idea the time, skills, and emotions that go into a handmade piece of anything. The difference between handmade jewelry that may take hours and a mass-produced piece that takes minutes is huge. I think this video series will help my customers really see what I do in my studio — and to see that it can be a fun process even if it is a challenge.

What are YOU looking forward to from Rococo Riche?

I love getting feedback from my customers and followers — it helps me to know what only works for me and what more people find special. So, tell me, what are you looking forward to in 2015 from my shop? More handmade bracelets or earrings? Seeing a few more unique, hand engraved pieces?

These are the newest pieces, released today. Feel free to browse all my latest pieces in my New Items section.

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These pieces are also available in my Etsy shop.

Thank you so much for continuing to encourage and support my endeavors with art, metal, and beads in 2015. I really appreciate every custom order, like, share, comment, and word of feedback!

A.L. Henson
Owner / Designer*, Rococo Riche Jewelry & Art

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*also: Photographer, Copywriter, Listing Manager, Web Manager, Web Designer, Accountant, Social Media Coordinator, Shipping Manager, Purchasing Agent, Inventory Specialist, Researcher, Order Fulfillment, Marketing Director…did I leave anything off? 😉

Soie Riche Chain Maille Bracelet is ready!

Soie Riche Chain Maille Bracelet is ready!

One bracelet in bronze complete! You can order this style from my shop now — available in bronze, copper, sterling silver, and Argentium.

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The weave pattern on this bracelet, in addition to the scale of the rings, makes for a very bold statement bracelet. I will soon offer a charm version as well, with a mix of earthy gemstones, beautiful Czech glass, and an array of hand engraved charms with a bit of rustic yet glamorous flair. Since this is a made-to-order bracelet, be sure to check shipping times before ordering.

Writing & Recording Techniques for a Tutorial

Writing & Recording Techniques for a Tutorial

This weekend, I am finishing up a tutorial on chain making! This is the first of this kind I have done, and it has taken much longer to photograph and make notes than I would have expected — but it has been a great learning experience.

I have done countless tutorials on software in the last ten years, and this is the first hands-0n tutorial I have done. I can’t wait to get this finished and submitted for print! I’ll be sharing the magazine issue when it hits to news stand.

 

Antiquing the Guitar Pick Pendant

Antiquing the Guitar Pick Pendant

I gave this hand-engraved guitar pick pendant a liver of sulfur patina yesterday to darken the lines and give it a more rustic look. I love an antiqued finish on jewelry. It brings out the right amount of contrast for hand engraving for a nice visual texture.

Liver of sulfur is a great tool, if you will, for metal. The chemical, when applied to metal like copper and silver, creates a durable, permanent color on the surface. In this case, I get a dark black finish on the surface. Using polishing paper, I can remove the surface treatment while leaving the blackened surface in the hand engraved lines.

I am hoping to get it all put together with some beads this weekend — we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Mandala Guitar Pick Pendant, Engraved & Ready for Beads

Mandala Guitar Pick Pendant, Engraved & Ready for Beads

As I work on finding my voice and style in my jewelry, I look to the art world in general for inspiration. One design motif that recently caught my eye is the mandala. I have always been a stream-of-consciousness artist when a pen finds its way to my hand, and there is something to these mandalas that remind me of my pages of doodles in class notebooks and on random sheets of paper.

Over New Year’s break, I worked up around a dozen new designs for hand engraving. All are variations on a theme: mandalas. The patterns and elements found in these designs are perfect for creating original artwork and hand engraving that artwork in metal.

This guitar-pick-style pendant is the first in a series of these whimsical, geometrical pieces I will be making this year.

With all the lines hand engraved, now this special pendant in copper needs some special blackening agent to darken the lines and then a string of pretty beads to make it complete. Watch for the new listing coming soon to my shop!

Hand Engraving on a Mossberg Knife

Hand Engraving on a Mossberg Knife

Here’s a quick pic of my first knife engraving. This knife is a Mossberg brand knife with steel bolsters.

While I do not hand engrave steel very often, this steel alloy wasn’t too bad for cutting.

I used a small, pointed tool called a scriber to lay out my design here. After lightly marking the hand lettering, swirls, and thin wooden cross, I used a C-Max 120 degree graver to cut the design. The knife was a Christmas gift for my father-in-law — he loved it!

Now on to more fun projects like this. 🙂

God gave me you, sis.

God gave me you, sis.

I had so much fun with Christmas orders this year. Here is a custom variation on my “Faith” bracelet. I make the bracelet from 20 gauge sterling silver sheet at 1/2″ and round off the edges before drawing on my artwork.

“God gave me you, sis.”

I constantly have customers ask about the engraving process, so here is a glimpse at the basic process for creating a Rococo Riche handmade and hand engraved bracelet!

My Process

Most often, I use a fine-point Sharpie® marker to draw the design directly on the metal. If I need more precise lines, I may draw a design with a pencil, ink it with a .005 Micron pen from Sakura, and then take a digital photo of the artwork. After that, I can print out my artwork using a laser printer. The toner used for some laser printer can be “released” with acetone, so I print my artwork in reverse and then use a quick rubbing of acetone on the back side of the paper to release the artwork directly on the surface of the metal — pretty cool, huh?

Once I have my design on the metal’s surface, I start hand engraving. I use air-assist equipment, which basically replaces the hammer in traditional hammer-and-chisel methods with compressed air, which helps lower the amount of physical fatigue that comes with hand engraving. Some pieces take hours to hand engrave to completion, so lots of breaks are a good thing!

This bracelet has such a sweet sentiment! What would you want me to engrave on a handmade bracelet?

 

Shipping Gifts for the Holidays

Shipping Gifts for the Holidays

So many gifts shipped out this week! I love hearing from my customers after the gifts have arrived — just a few more days until Christmas…will you be getting a Rococo Riche jewelry box under your tree?

Custom Monogram Ring for DMI

Custom Monogram Ring for DMI

All done and shipping out soon! Handmade ring with custom hand engraving and original hand-lettered monogram. I really love making this ring…I think I need one for myself. Would you want the initials of your children or loved ones on this ring, or your own initials?

Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags?

Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags?

Two of my new chevron rings going out this week made me think about holiday gifts…do you prefer wrapping paper or gift bags?

It really depends for me — I love the fun of unwrapping a gift, but a bag can be reused much more easily. Either way, gifts are tons of fun.