Copper in the Arts

June 2007

Chelsea Stone Livens Up Her Jewelry Designs with Copper

By Deena Walker Williams

For the past decade, Arizona-based artist Chelsea Stone has been creating unique jewelry that runs the gamut from amusing to extraordinary, but when she started working with copper, her work took on a whole new dimension. Her collected designs have garnered awards, been featured in books and placed her works in more than 50 galleries throughout the United States.

Gator Pin by Chelsea Stone

Gator Pin by Chelsea Stone

Photograph courtesy of Chelsea Stone

With a master's degree in jewelry design and metalsmithing from Texas Tech University, Stone began primarily using sterling silver but started incorporating copper into her designs as a way of adding color variation.

"The warmth from the copper contrasting with the cool from the silver was a way for me to expand my color palette," Stone explains. "The copper patinas beautifully, creating a broad range of colors from brown to deep plum."

When working with metals, Stone prefers to start the process of design simplistically, manually cutting out shapes and manipulating the design with a hammer. She then shapes and fuses the composition freehand, to form it directly from a flat sheet of eighteen to twenty gauge copper. Once the style comes into shape, she chooses from a multitude of finishes to complete the work-two of the main types that she uses on the copper are enamel and/or patina.

Enamel, a process that is roughly 3500 years old, is the application of a thin layer of colored glass, usually in the form of a paste. It solidifies and forms areas of color after firing in a kiln or oven. This method creates a brightly colored design that sits atop the metal like a protective coating.

The other, patina, is a chemical fading, darkening or aging process applied to the metal. There are two basic ways to achieve this effect. A chloride-based patina gives the copper a green façade while a sulfur-based compound tends to darken the metal to differing shades of brown and in some cases purple.

Cat Pin by Chelsea Stone

Cat Pin by Chelsea Stone

Photograph courtesy of Chelsea Stone

If this sounds more like sculpture than what you think of as jewelry design, then you get the idea. Stone incorporates complex techniques with designs that bring her creative modern abstract art to life. Her sculptural handcrafted pieces come in silver, copper and gold, accented with handmade glass beads and colorful gemstones. And whether it's a Kitty-cat pin or a Gator necklace, her work encapsulates a feeling of fun and whimsy.

Stone, who is grateful to be able to make a living doing what she loves, is a full time studio artist who finds the time to instruct metalsmithing and jewelry design classes at Yavapai College and her undergraduate alma mater Northern Arizona University. "Inspiring others to see the possibilities in metal is very rewarding," says Stone.

Her distinctive jewelry will be on display the first weekend of August at the 38th Annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival held in Park City, Utah. Stone will be displaying her work along with 220 other select artists.

Resources:

To view more of Chelsea Stone's designs, visit www.eyecandybychelsea.com.

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