Personal Interview Regarding Making Jewelry: The Craft

What do you think about or feel when you’re designing a piece?

It all begins with something simple, a shape, a stone, a line… From there I allow my mind to clear away and my pencil to do the rest. Each piece is channeled in a way, from nothing at all. Sometimes I feel as though my thoughts and feelings are transformed into the piece I’m working on.

What do you love about working with metal?

It’s resilient, forgiving, forever. Its timeless, it will outlive even our own generations. I’m creating my personal legacy, an heirloom that will find its home through so many people beyond my lifetime.

Art or craft?

In a way the craft is the art, and the art is the craft.

You can’t make art without good craft, an artist can’t craft without making art. It’s a symbiotic relationship really. The craft is the process in which the outcome is art.

Who or what do you design for? 

I would never release something into the world that I did not find fit to my own personal standards, I create as if I were creating for myself. Although I rarely make a piece of jewelry to ‘keep’ for myself. My joy is in the creation.

What are your main Inspirations?

I find inspiration in very natural and organic things. I enjoy the odd, the creepy, the eerie, the elegant, and the beautiful.  Moss on the trees, dried up creatures on the beach, skeletons, fossils, rare stones you name it.

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

There is so much to learn in metalworking, I hope to continue to learn new techniques and facets of the craft. I hope to never consider myself a master. To consider oneself a master is to say that you’re finished learning. I see my work as a lifelong process with many small goals but no finish line. I will work with metal until my hands are arthritic and old and no longer allow it.

How will the world benefit from the work that you do?

I’d love to think that on an individual basis, each person who owns a piece of my work will treasure it for their lifetime, and possibly hand it down to younger generations. I create heirlooms, timeless emblems, and a sort of tangible relic like a bookmark in the time when it was created.

I want to give the world a different and more beautiful way to look at things that are normally not looked at at all. My taxidermy eyeball pieces for instance instill a shock in most. They either hate it or love it, but either way, they can’t stop staring at it.

What can a good piece of jewelry do for someone?

It’s an important thing to adorn oneself, it shows self worth and self love, and if everyone in the world honored their vessel, I believe the world would be a more peaceful, and beautiful place.

Do you have any messages to beginners? What did you learn that helped you excel?

Learning jewelry is a never ending process. The more you work with your metals, the more you learn their individual personalities, its characteristics, and its forgiveness. Once you create a relationship with your medium you will be able to manipulate it into becoming exactly what you want.
Experiment! Learn a million different ways to get the same result, you never know when  you are going to need it.

Bronze Seahorse Pendant Featured In Bust Magazine

Bronze Cast Seahorse Pendant

My Cast Seahorse Pendant  Was Featured New York’s “Bust Magazine”  Page 35 in their 20th year anniversary issue.

The page titled “Copy That” “Don’t be the last to rock a cast” features seven cast jewelry pieces all very unique and beautiful in their own way.

“Darling is better because casts last forever: this bronze replica of a seahorse will give you a summer-y feeling all year long $30


Photo Shoot With Colby Kauk

Jewelry, Beauties, Photos

What a fantastic photo shoot! Not only did I have an immense amount of fun primping these two beauties and playing dress up, but the photos that surfaced were to die for. I was so honored and appreciative to be at the mercy of the emerging photographer and artist Colby Kauk. His work is edgy and artistic, with a raw and very real underlining. Models Lindsey Colvin and Marisa Pfenning deeply won the heart of the camera and their loveliness was truthfully showcased.

Words cannot express my gratitude for all who were involved.          


Cabrina Channing featured in “Ornament Magazine

Beyond Sight Locket Necklace

Considering A Life In Metal Art

Featuring Cabrina Channing

“Ornament Magazine” featured Cabrina Channing and her work in a beautifully written article about the ongoing “Passing The Torch” high-school metal arts competition in Washington State put on by the Seattle Metal Arts Guild.

In 2005, she entered  and received 1st place in the jewelry design category for washington state high school students.  The winning piece, titled “Beyond Sight” is a sterling silver necklace consisting of four separate swivel rivet lockets and one hinged locket which opens two separate compartments within the piece. The back of the piece is adorned with photo etched designs from an antique Indian design book. There are also hand cut Citrines, swarovski crystals, and a large bright orange sapphire in the center of the hinged locket. The full necklace took Cabrina over one hundred hours of solid work to complete.

The article mentions many other students who took home awards over the years and follows them to see where they are in the metal art world years later. The “Passing The Torch” competition recently overcame a struggle for continued funding and I personally hope it will continue to inspire young artists to pursue a life in metals art.

Read Article Here: Ornament Magazine: “Passing The Torch, Considering A Life In Metal Art”
Cabrina Channing Beyond Sight Locket Necklace  

History Of The Wedding Ring

What is a wedding ring?

No…WHAT IS a wedding ring, REALLY? Why do we wear them specifically on the fourth finger on the left hand? Why do we wear them at all? What is the history of the wedding ring? Who started this tradition and why? Why do our generations follow these customs with no idea of its origin?

These are all questions that nobody seems to ask! Although these same people still drop bundles of cash on that special ring for that special someone in hopes that their special person might wear this special ring so everyone knows that they are forever special to someone! (phew) To most, this fully outlines their complete knowledge of the wedding ring. What they unfortunately don’t know, is that the wedding ring is  lavish and rich with history and tradition, devotion and matrimony,  ancient ceremony and endless partnership.

It is recorded that the first civilization to incorporate the wedding ring into the bond between two, was in existence over 5,000 years ago in Egypt! The Egyptians created rings of grass, hemp or other natural materials and wove it into either a ring or a bracelet. It is said that the same grass was also woven around the woman’s ankles, binding her feet together to keep her soul from escaping her body during the marriage ceremony. Those wealthier were found buried with rings made of fine silver or gold wire around their finger. The ring was always a circle, symbolizing endlessness and eternity, while the space in the middle symbolized a gateway to another phase or place unknown.

It is said that only the fourth finger on the left hand contains a vein leading directly to the heart. This vein to the heart has helped this tradition live on for centuries, the vena amoris, meaning the “vein of love”.

A simple grass ring, later transformed into longer lasting, more durable materials,  from wood to leather to iron to the eventual gold. The Irish, within their folklore decided it was bad luck to wear a ring made out of anything other than gold, and in fact made it illegal! The Romans made wedding rings of iron to symbolize the strength and fortitude of the couple’s shared love. Sometimes they would carve the image of a key in the ring to symbolize that half of the groom’s possessions were now available as well to the bride. In some Asian countries a royal style of “puzzle ring” was created to mark each wife of a sheik or sultan. It was generally made of many components fitting together in a very specific way purposely unknown to the bride.

If the bride removed her ring, it would then fall into pieces and she would be unable to put it back together, giving her husband reason to believe she has been disloyal.

It is important that the wedding band fit the bride properly. Superstition says if the ring is too tight, the couple looks forward to a life of jealousy and entrapment by their spouse. If the ring is too loose, the couple may eventually become distant and part ways.

You may have noticed, that I have only made mention of a bride wearing a wedding ring. That’s because men have only very recently started adorning their left handed fourth finger. Perhaps in earlier times, a man’s independence and sexual dominance kept him from being expected to wear a wedding ring. Men in America did not begin wearing wedding bands until world war II. The soldiers began wearing  simple gold wedding bands to remind them of their loving wives back at home. Men’s wedding bands were mostly only worn by military men, although became widely popular among the rest of the male population shortly after the Korean war.

Through the ages and all across the world, the tradition of the wedding ring somehow morphed and adjusted from simple blades of grass, into the modern flashy diamond filled platinum weights of financial bankruptcy. How did we make such a jump, from extreme simplicity with enormous emotional and heartfelt backing; to “the more money you put into the ring, the greater the love?”

Wedding Ring With DiamondsWe can thank the Archduke of Hammond  for helping diamond encrusted wedding bands go viral. In Austria in 1477, he gave a glorious diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy when diamonds were extremely rare and only royalty were able to obtain them. Although it was mot likely not the first diamond ring ever given, it was made the most public, thus starting a trend among the wealthy. Diamonds became such a commodity that the successful quest for mines allowed the diamond prices to become more affordable. The diamond engagement ring became well known and prevalent during the 1800’s. Diamonds are the hardest material on earth, denoting their timeless radiance and indestructible symbol of a love to last forever.

In our more modern times, we have begun to stray from our ancient traditions, much like we have evolved from a ring made from a shiny blade of grass. The natural cycle of the wedding ring has lead us into a culture where a wedding ring can be tattooed around the married couple’s ring fingers. Some wear rings with colorful gemstones or rings made of titanium and tungsten steel.  We also have the choice to wear no ring at all, and find happiness in the promise of marriage.


(To learn how to discover your ring size, or your lover’s ring size, read How To Find Your Ring Size)

Silver Tarnish

CLKCC10webWhy Does Silver Tarnish?

In order to understand this phenomenon , you have to learn a little background on alloys, and what goes into creating sterling silver.


Just as there are many different ways to make a grilled cheese sandwich, there are a many different ways in which fine natural metals are made into a workable long lasting material usable for jewelry.

Fine, pure silver is naturally a lustrous bright white color which will never tarnish over time. Fine silver, as it comes out of the earth is usually far too soft for most jewelry. Sterling silver is an alloy composed of mostly fine silver, but with a small amount of copper and sometimes other metals to strengthen and harden the naturally very soft and fragile pure silver. An alloy is generally a homogeneous mixture of two or more metals smelted together.  Fine silver doesn’t naturally tarnish, but sterling silver does only because of the other metals in the alloy reacting with other natural elements in our surroundings.

In my opinion, some silver tarnish can add character to a piece, darkening the craters and crevices of a design, making details pop and become more noticeable. Although, eventually the silver tarnish may overtake a piece of jewelry entirely making it turn completely black, splotchy, and dull; Tarnished silver jewelry may even leave a dark residue against your skin if not taken care of properly. Tarnish will go through many colors of silver tarnish much like a seasoned bruise in reverse, starting with yellow and ending in black.

Chemical Breakdown

When your silver tarnishes, itÂ’s actually a natural chemical reaction sterling silver has with our all surrounding life giving Why Does Silver Tarnish?AIR!

There are many chemicals and elements composing our air that help to achieve this tarnishing process. Some airborne elements and pollutants exist in most of the air we breathe, such as sulfur and hydrogen, creating hydrogen sulfide which is most responsible for turning your grandmother’s antique silver spoons black and blue. This harmless chemical reaction creates a substance called silver sulfate on the very surface of your jewelry; this is the silver tarnish you can visibly see both on your jewelry and sometimes on your skin.

Hydrogen sulfide (the tarnish culprit) is naturally present in our natural body oils. The more often you wear a piece of sterling silver jewelry; the quicker its going to tarnish. My best example of this is when faint dark tarnish fingerprints can be seen on the surface of really old jewelry. That is the hydrogen sulfide in the oils of your fingertips directly leaving tiny amounts of the tarnishing agent onto the surface of your jewelry.


There is no way to completely prevent sterling silver from tarnishing unless you remove it from oxygen all together; this is essentially impossible.

Some people have coated their jewelry with clear nail polish, this process works temporarily using an extremely fine coat, but doing this will also kill the luster and beautiful shine of your jewelry, as well as add streaks and texture to the surface of the metal. NO THANK YOU!

Although you cannot completely prevent your jewelry from tarnishing, it is possible to slow the process by following any one of these steps.Why Does Silver Tarnish?

*When you are not wearing your jewelry it is important to store it in a clean dry place with little to no airflow such as a small Jewelry box or even a Ziploc bag. This will also keep most air pollutants from reaching your jewels and causing more damage than it does to your lungs. Some chemically treated surfaces and products can also have a drastic darkening effect on your jewelry after some time, so make sure it is in a protected and clean place.

*You can also purchase anti tarnishing strips to store alongside your jewelry to help reduce the tarnishing process. You can order these from most jewelry supply stores such as Rio grande

*It never hurts to also throw a couple silica packs into your jewelry box to absorb any chemical carrying moisture circulating in the air. Usually you can find these in mailing packages to keep moisture from ruining the contents in shipping. I’ve even found them in shoe boxes and some food products. You really shouldnÂ’t have to ever buy these.

Sometimes just a little bit of “elbow grease” and a polishing cloth every so often will be your best bet and it will  have to do the job.

(Please read my post on “How To Clean Silver Jewelry“)

How to Find Your Ring Size

One of the most important things about designing or preparing to buy a ring is how to find your ring size. There are such a wide range of sizes for all types of people so naturally, this can be a lot of trouble for someone who has no idea of how to do such a thing. No worries, there are a lot of ways to determine this tiny yet crucial bit of information. First you need to decide on which finger you are going to be wearing this future piece of jewelry. I like to trace both of my hands next to one another on a piece of paper with the sizes written on the fingers to be filed away for future use. If you for some reason gain or lose dramatic amounts of weight or have deforming injuries to one of your digits, this will need to be reconfigured. Sizes for the same fingers on different hands will be surprisingly drastically different; usually the dominant hand will have larger sizes based on the amount of muscle buildup in that hand. Your fingers will also slightly fluctuate in size between warmer and colder temperatures so it is important to allow a fraction of a size in the ring for this to happen comfortably. The ring should not be so tight as to cut off circulation to the fingertips, or so loose as to fall past the knuckle where you might lose it all together. The style of ring you are preparing to wear will also be vital in determining your finger size. A wider style band will be a slightly larger size than a much thinner band.

The most accurate way to determine your size is to have a professional jeweler size your finger for you, but I understand the desire to do it yourself in other situations. There are ring sizing tools available out there that look like a cluster of metal rings in increasing half sizes attached to a larger key ring. There are usually two different styles you can buy, a wide style, and a thin style, and the difference does play a major part. When using this process, find the ring that fits you perfectly and comfortably. Try the half size up and half size down to be sure of the best size for you. Push on the ring sizer under the softer side of your finger to see how much space you can create on the top of your finger; you should be able to see a few millimeters. This should create enough room for your fingers to fluctuate in alternating temperatures and seasons comfortably.

There are ways to size your fingers for a ring at home without having to go into a jewelry store or buy a ring sizer yourself. You can easily click on the ring sizer image and print it out at home on card stock.  Cut it out and fold accordingly around your finger to determine your size. It is important to set your printer to print the image at 100% or the ring sizer will be inaccurate.

Most of the time when the need arises to find out a ring size, it’s for someone else’s finger and usually needs to be kept rather secret, such as an engagement or wedding ring. There is only one way to figure this out without giving away the secret. Obviously you can’t shove ring sizers on your partner’s fingers while they sleep, but this process does involve you to be a little sneaky none the less. Notice which rings your partner wears on a daily basis, on the correct finger of course. Wedding and engagement rings traditionally belong on the finger next to the pinky, always on the left hand. Once you’ve noticed a specific ring your partner wears on this finger, you have to find a way to “borrow” it. Maybe your partner takes it off before showering when you can possibly snag it for the day without it being noticed. Maybe he or she removes it whilst they sleep. If they notice it missing, play along in trying to find it and encourage your partner that it will turn up and they most likely have just misplaced it. Once you’ve “borrowed” the ring, take it into a jewelry store. They can quickly determine the ring size by sliding the ring onto a tapered ring mandrel where the sizes are engraved along the side. Hopefully the ring is round and not squished in any places so the size can be discovered accurately. Then you can quickly return the ring to a place not too obvious, for your partner to excitedly rediscover.

If your partner does not regularly wear rings it will be nearly impossible for you to discover your partners ring size without them trying on a ring or ring sizer. Although if you guess a size, and it doesnÂ’t fit, IÂ’m certain the thought will still be as potent as an accurately fitting ring. Then you can return the ring or have it accurately sized after it has been given as a gift.


Cleaning Silver Jewelry

Many of my clients hand over their old tarnished, once treasured family heirlooms for me to work my magic upon. After only moments, their eyes grow wide at the finished product as if it were brand new. I giggle and say “your welcome” and allow them to think that I’m a miracle worker. If only they knew how easy it is be to begin cleaning silver jewelry by themselves!!

Cleaning Silver Jewelry

I personally like a little tarnish on a loved piece of jewelry, it adds character, definition, and makes detail pop.

Tarnish can eventually overtake a piece entirely depending on the acidity of your skin and can eventually turn your skin black where the metal is in contact.

To minimize the tarnish and begin cleaning silver jewelry, first you need to identify whether or not your jewelry is INDEED sterling silver. There are many marks that can identify this alloy, the most common stamps will read .925, or written clearly “sterling silver”. If it isn’t marked it is difficult to tell whether or not it is in fact sterling silver without knowing the metals characteristics. you may take this to a professional jeweler and they should be able to tell you in a heartbeat.

How To Begin Cleaning Silver Jewelry

Access the toll time has taken on your sterling silver piece.  If its only tarnish you have to fear, no worries! A very simple polish cloth will do the trick for you.  I highly recommend “Sunshine Cloths” which can be ordered through Rio-grande or other professional jewelry suppliers. They are like magic and i couldn’t imagine a life as a jeweler without them!!! The soft yellow cloths are impregnated with a fine polishing compound that will bring your sterling silver piece back to its original high polish in minutes.

If you don’t have a polishing cloth or don’t feel like going out and ordering one, you can also make your own jewelry cleaner! Just add a little drop of dish detergent and a teaspoon or so of baking soda into a warm damp cloth and scrub the piece lightly in a figure eight pattern until tarnish is dissolved. Et voila!

There area wide variety of chemical tarnish removers out there that seem to “magically” remove the tarnish after submersing your piece in the liquid. These work wonderful if you want to remove the tarnish entirely.

Cleaning Silver Jewelry

If your piece of jewelry has dirt and “gunk” in the crevices and behind stones making them dull and dark; dirt that you are unable to remove with a polishing cloth, a toothbrush with the same baking soda mixture as i mentioned above should do the trick. If you are still having trouble cleaning your sterling silver jewelry,  most jewelers or jewelry stores are more than happy to drop your jewelry into an ultrasonic cleaner and have the ultrasonic vibrations wiggle the dirt lose for you. This should take less than 5 minutes! and maybe if you bat your eyelashes they might even take your piece to their buffing wheel for you for some extra added shine! Some Jewelers may charge you a little bit but it shouldn’t be any skin off anyone’s back.