Great Expectations

If you follow me on my personal social media platforms then you already know the news, if you don’t let me be the first to tell you: I am pregnant!  I am 6 months and at the tail end of my 2nd trimester and what a time to be pregnant!  This has been for the most part a decent experience considering the current circumstances.  

If you are wondering what we are having; we are having a boy and I could not be more thrilled.  

A dear friend asked me how if feel about bringing a life into this world with all that is going on? Well, to be honest I feel honored and very hopeful.  These recent times of a global pandemic and civil urest have inspired me.  The conversations that people are having around loving and respecting thy neighbor and around race, justice and equality have been needed for so long that I can only feel hopeful and empowered.  

As this little male body grows inside of  my female body, I can only imaging the talks we will have together and as a family.  Deep thoughtful conversations are something that I truly enjoy and I hope to pass that ability to dive into the real, on to my young boy.  

My hope for my son is that he will feel free enough to think and question all that he sees and hears and reads.  I hope that he learns courage and grace from what I do and say, but mostly from how I move around in this world.  We have learned that children are visual learners and I must be mindful of how I represent my Black womanhood to him.  

I hope to empower him to speak-up for himself and others when they need an understanding voice.  I hope to encourage him to be a free thinker and to have the courage to make space for himself when others are not willing to make space for him.   

I also hope for my son to be of this world and know that the world is of him.  I believe education, travel and exposure to various ways of being are the building blocks to compassion, community and self-confidence.  There is a beautiful quote that I love: 

“The best teachers show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” – Alexandra K. Trenfor 

With that, I look forward to watching my soon to be boy truly see this world, and know that it is a place of wonder and possibility, with its beauty and it’s many flaws.  

Thanks for reading!

Charmaine 

Jeweler and Metalsmith Charmaine Vegas makes her and her husbands 18k gold wedding bands in her Long Beach jewelry studio

Making Our 18k Gold Wedding Bands

Me and my fiancé (now husband) recently married this past July.

We had a small ceremony at the Griffith Observatory and it was quite lovely.  Our day was captured by Long Beach based photographers Isaiah Ryan and Taylor Cathrine.  I was introduced to their work by my cousin and her fiancé; they used Isaiah and Taylor for their engagement photos. I loved the photos and promptly sent an emailed to hire them.

A month before our elopement, Brandon and I met with Isaiah and Taylor over coffee to talk about how we wanted our day to go.  I mentioned that I'd be making our wedding bands and they enthusiastically asked if I'd like for the process to be documented.  Um...Yes. Of course I do!

They came by my studio on a very hot summer day, a few weeks before Brandon and I were to say our nuptials.  We really didn't discus much of how the shoot would go, as they set up their equipment I put on my favorite Lofi station to set the mood, sat down at my bench and began to work.

Isaiah and Taylor have disarming energy; they are calm and easy and moved fluidly around me as worked on the rings.

18k gold sheet for wedding bands
charmaine of bless the theory making her wedding bands in her jewelry studio
Bless the Theory Studio Dog Miss MoneyPenny
Charmaine Vegas of Bless the Theory Making Her Wedding Bands_ Sawing 18k gold sheet in half
charmaine vegas of bless the theory annealing 18k gold sheet for wedding band
Charmaine Vegas Annealing 18k gold sheet
charmaine vegas of bless the theory forming 18k gold wedding ring on a anvil
charmaine vegas of bless the theory annealing partially formed 18k gold wedding band
the making of a 18k gold wedding band by charmaine vegas of bless the theory
charmaine vegas making a 18k gold wedding band in her Long Beach jewelry studio
solid 18k gold wedding bands handmade by charmaine vegas of bless the theory
I am in love with Brandon's wedding band and I'll tell you why.

Most times when you see a hammered texture on jewelry it is put there as decoration.  I originally wanted to give Brandon's wedding band a light scratch finish with some intentional mars, so that it would look "old world" - like something for the 17th century; and he wanted something beefy -  solid.

After I finished his ring and had him try it on for the 4th time, it turn to be a tad too small.  Dang.  So I went back into the studio to stretch it.  I size rings up by annealing (heating the metal to relax it), then lightly hammering it to stretch the metal; I repeat this process as needed.  Doing this leaves hammer marks on the ring which can be planished or sanded out latter.

Giving the thickness of Brandon's ring and the strength of 18k gold, it took over 10 tries to stretch his wedding band; I had to use my might in each blow.  Once I got the band to properly fit Brandon's finger, I sat back down at my bench and got ready to smooth out the hammer marks.  Holding the ring in my hand and figuring out which way to start, I was paused by the beautiful texture that the stretching process put on the surface.

Each of those hammer marks were of purpose and process and  I could not bring myself to smooth them out.  They remind(ed) me of the work that we, Brandon and me, have put in our relationship.  It just all seemed too fitting.  So I left them.  And every time I see that ring on his finger I smile and want to touch it.  I like to hold it in my hand and run my finger tips over the texture.  The weight of it reminds me of our life built and the texture remind me of the work we've done and are doing.

I simply love Brandons wedding band.  And so does he.  And that makes me proud to have made it.

charmaine and Brandon Griffith observatory elopement wedding bands

Men’s Wedding Band

Last week was received and online order (all the way from Australia) for my Mens Flawed Wide Band and in the notes read:

"This will be my wedding band."

I always feel exceptionally honored when working on wedding rings; and this felt even more special...a flaw in a mens wedding ring?  Yes! What a brilliant idea.

Most of the wedding rings I do are commissions; meaning they are custom, made to fit the ideas of the client.  Although this order was not technically a commission, I did treat it as such.  Every piece of jewelry that leaves my studio IS hand fabricated by me; which adds a custom feel.

I was quite pleased with the finished look of this band.  The flaws that you see in my work are unique; each very different from the other - like our own flaws so to speak.

I hope this unconventional men's wedding ring reminds the soon-to-be-groom not only of his union but that he too is loved, flaws and all.

Thanks for reading,

cv

Charmaine Vegas_Bless the Theory featured in In Her Studio Magazine

Featured in ‘In Her Studio” Magazine

I'm back from my Oregon trip and am slowly returning to my daily routine.  While sipping coffee and going through my mail, I was pleasantly surprised to find my 6 page feature in the premier issue of "In Her Studio" magazine, by Stampington & Company!

You guys know how much I enjoy my studio, so I was quite taken aback when asked to submit photos and a story to this wonderful concept of a magazine!  In the article I talk about how I got into metalsmithing, how I get out of creative ruts and of course; my studio - it's glories and its challenges.  I also give some tips on setting up and organizing creative spaces!

Not only am I honored to be featured in the magazine but I'm honored to be showcased alongside some very talented female artists.  I truly enjoy learning about other creatives and how they find inspiration and move through their practice.  The editors of In Her Studio did a lovely job of curating a cast of women whom work in a diverse set of mediums - the stories are beautiful and the photography is eye-candy! You are sure to be inspired!

This issue of In Her Studio is out now and you can order a copy here on the Stampington & Company website!  You can also find a copy at your local book retailer! *I've been told that a few people have picked it up at Barnes & Noble.

thanks for reading!

cv

P.S....If you are a female artist and are interested in being featured in In Her Studio magazine; they are taking submissions for the next few issues...you can learn how here.

Spring Studio Refresh

I did a little Spring studio refresh this past weekend and the result feels spacious and airy! I spread out a bit by adding a soldering station (haven't had one of those in years); giving me more bench space for making and designing.  And I reorganized my tools and sink area - even added a few hanging lights!  I love rearranging spaces - I was a visual merchandiser for 12 years so it's in my bones!  Rearranging shifts the energy and brings back life into a room... and to things; which in turn inspires the soul!

My favorite books, blogs and podcasts!

I wanted to go into more detail on my favorite books, blogs and podcast, here as I promised on yesterdays Instagram post for March Meet the Maker.   I read more books thank anything; pictured are a few that I keep in my studio.  I read mostly interior design blogs and listen to one industry podcast at the moment.  So I apologize that those sections are quite slim.  Having said that, here is are my current favorites: 

 

Jewelry/Metalsmithing Books

 

Art / Inspiration Books

 

Eye Candy Books

 

Blogs

 

Podcasts

 

I hope these are helpful!  Of course this list could go on, and on, and on (the book sections at least)...but I encourage you to explore and discover wonderful things on your own - those are the best discoveries aren't they?  Happy Learning! 

Oh, I wrote a post a while ago about jewelry books I was reading, here! Theres some gems in there - enjoy! 

 

Simple Vow Renewal Wedding Bands

vow renewal wedding bands

I finished up these simple and sweet vow renewal wedding bands last week and sent them on their way to a lovely couple this morning.  There is always a special feeling you get when making ceremonial jewelry.  There is a sense of duty and honor - not matter how simple the piece.   The couple wanted something in silver with a light hammered texture.   I have to respect knowing what you want and they knew for sure what they wanted; no stones, no engraving, no elaborate details...just the essence of love and unity. 

March “Meet the Maker” Can’t Live Without

There are a bit of things in my studio that I can't live without.  If I had to choose a few items right here, right now; the first would be my copy of Complete Metalsmith because I refer to it from time to time.   Second would be my copy of Creative Metal Forming; such fantastic book! Inspirational photos and projects to help you learn.  Third would be my copy of 1000 Rings;  it has been my favorite book in my studio for many years! Forth, is my rawhide mallet and my dapping block; my work, right now, consists of a lot of domed circles and these tools help make them.  And fifth; is my Optivisor; I quite quite a bit of fine detailing and these help me see tiny things, without eyestrain.   

If interested in more things that "I can't live without"; I wrote a post on jewelry books reading a while back; you can read about them here

A Peek Inside My Jewelry Studio | Studio Tour

It is not often that I give a peek inside my jewelry studio.  I sometimes share the occasional *studio shot* on my Instagram, but mostly progress shots and inspiration live there.

My studio is my sacred space.  It is where I experiment and make my ideas 3 demential. Where I work long days prepping for a show and sometimes it is where I go to sit when feeling *uninspired*.  I love to collect and store things.  My studio has also become a space where I mount my findings from my daily walks and travels.  And where I catalogue artifacts for later use or observation…

My workbench

I do not own a tradition jewelers work bench.  My studio is set up in my garage and the garage has a built in workbench reaching either end.  Its sturdy and gives me a somewhat flat surface to work on.  Being that my garage does not get much light, I painted almost every surface white – to brighten it up bit!  Underneath my work bench, I have some cabinets and drawers from Ikea.  They are great! I use them to store my tools and keep them within arms reach when I’m working.

A peek inside my jewelry studio bless the theory

 

a peek inside my jewelry studio jewelry bench

 

All the *interesting* things!

I must confess; I am a hoarder of things – but only of *interesting* things.  Give me the weird, the oddly textured and the old – especially the old – and I will store it in my studio.  Twigs from my walks, dead bees and butterflies from my backyard and old tools from retired goldsmiths’.  I also looooooove drawers and cabinets!  I found the antique watch makers cabinet (in photo below) at  Magnolia and Willow in Long Beach.  It’s one of my favorite cabinets currently in my studio.  Mostly because it has the original watch bits in tiny glass tubes stored in the drawers.  My other cool cabinets (not pictured) include a vintage locker that I acquired from a past studio mate.  And my recent acquisition, a vintage metal law document cabinet.

Inspiration wall a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers Work Bench a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

studio vignette a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers tools Ring Shank Gauge and Sheet and Wire Gauge a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

My soldering station

I remember my first jewelry studio very well.  And it was very basic; a few hammers and pliers, a jewelers saw and flex shaft.  And a few other tools.  I also remember having no fire!  I was so intimidated with the idea of bringing a gas tank and torch into my studio at that time.

Now, I’ve had an equipped soldering station for many yeas now.  I don’t see how I lived without one back then!  We all start somewhere, right?

Currently, I’m using Acetylene / Air with the Smith torch.  Even now, my studio remains pretty simple.  My soldering has the necessities.  There are various soldering blocks, tweezers and tongs and props.  I have the same striker and soldering pick from my college years.  And I keep two quenching bowls, of different sizes, near by.

Jewelers Torch and Soldering Station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Jewelers soldering station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

soldering station a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Wall Textures in a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Textures in Old Drywall a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

My Inspiration Board and Library

This part of my jewelry studio inspires me daily.  I keep my cork-board here for my studio tool wish list, drawings, exhibition postcards and quotes.  Below the cork-board is where I store all of my jewelry books and jewelry magazines like Metalsmith.   And true to form, I have a few vignettes of interesting randomness displayed on top of my book case.  There’s also a few bust forms here.  I sometimes use them for displaying necklaces and such.

Jewelers Inspiration and Vision Board a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Studio vignette a peek inside my jewelry studio

 

Inspiration Board a peek inside my jewelry studio

This was just a surface peek into my jewelry studio.  There are so many nooks and crannies that one cannot share in a single post.  I hope to write future post like this soon!

 

Thanks for reading and I hope this inspires you!

cv