Unexpected Pleasures: Research

After deciding which pieces I wanted to explore, I produced three drawings:

I also did some research into each object. I found it relatively easy to find interesting facts and images of the pieces. I was also able to find  the materials used to make the pieces. However the most difficult part of the research was to find details on how each piece was made, and had to try and work out the processes and techniques from the materials used and how they looked.

Object 1

Title of the piece

Phoenix, 2009


Sari Liimatta

What it is


Where is it worn

As a necklace

Interesting Fact
She often uses plastic animals/toys in which she reveals the internal structure, often with these pins, in order to create a far more sinister meaning to the piece, which otherwise would be considered ‘cute’ or innocent. This piece is to show the harsh internals of a heart.

glass beads, pins, oxidised silver, a plastic toy

Techniques and Processes
Oxidised Silver: It is produced when atomic oxygen reacts with silver. Silver can react very easily when it is treated with chemicals, such as Potassium Sulphide. It gives the silver an aged, smoky look.

How to Oxidise Silver (without toxic chemicals):


1. Fill the saucepan about half-way full with water. Add a few teaspoons of salt to the water, then drop in the eggs. For an average-sized single piece of jewellery, two eggs will be enough, but the larger the item, the more eggs you need. Similarly, if you plan to oxidise multiple pieces of jewellery, you will need to add more eggs. Bring the water to a boil, and let the eggs boil for 25 to 30 minutes.

2 Place the eggs in a plastic bag or other container with an air-tight lid while they are still hot. Mash the eggs with a fork. There is no need to remove the shells, because you will not eat the eggs later. Be sure that the yolks are well-mashed, because the yolk is the primary source of sulphur.

3 Place the jewellery in the bag or container with the eggs, taking care so that the jewellery doesn’t touch the eggs. You want the fumes from the eggs to coat the jewellery, but cleanup will be easier if you do not have to remove eggs from the jewellery later. Set aside. The sulphur in the egg yolk will react with the sterling silver and create an antique look. The longer you leave the jewellery in the container, the deeper the colour will turn.

4 Check the jewellery periodically as it oxidises to determine when your piece has achieved the colour you want. Your jewellery will turning golden brown and then go through a rainbow of colours until it gradually turns black.

5 To be sure the colour on the jewellery is even, turn the entire container over from time to time so that the underside of the piece of jewellery gets exposed to the sulphur as well. Remember, although cleanup will be easier if you do not egg your jewellery, it really does not matter if the egg gets on your piece; it can be cleaned off. Expect to wait at least 20-30 minutes to achieve a nice patina, but you can leave the jewellery overnight or all day if you are sure you want a very black patina.

6 Remove the jewellery from the sealed container when it has become the colour you prefer, then rinse it with water. You are done, unless you want to selectively remove some of the oxidized finish with steel wool to bring out highlights in the jewellery.


The plastic toy has been cut away to reveal the hollow inside. Then the pins have been pushed from the outside, creating this silver texture on the red exterior, while the end of the pins interlock inside directly towards each other. The glass beads attached to the outside of the heart shape and the chains secured onto the toy.

Object 2

Title of the piece
Mourning Piece, 2008

Lucy Sarneel

What it is

Where is it worn
Neck Piece

Interesting Fact
Samuel creates strong narrated pieces, in which she has an interest in disappearing Dutch costume traditions. She uses antique costume textiles with the domestic metal zinc. In Mourning Piece she reflects on a Dutch mourning, as it is worn the black textile triangles break away to reveal the colourful textile underneath. This is used to signal the passing of time when mourning.

“In my jewellery various materials, as for instance zinc, textile, silver, gold, wood, appear. However the main metal I work in is zinc. Besides of the fact that its blue-grey colour reminds me of the Dutch sea and sky it also represents the area between black and white, life and death. It refers to daily-life objects of the past like a washtub (in which my mother used to bath me when I was a toddler), a bucket or (still nowadays) a flower box.. Furthermore it associates with protection because of its use in for instance steel rooftops or rain-pipes to prevent them from rusting.”

antique textiles on rubber, silver, thread, zinc

Techniques and Processes
Sarneel uses a range of different antique textiles, which she stitches together to form the piece. The grey flowers are made from zinc (http://www.zinc.org/basics/zinc_natural_occurrence). She also uses detachable elements (black triangles) which are fastened with silver buttons.

Object 3

Title of the piece
Frozen, 2011

Sam Tho Duong

What it is
Collier Necklace

Where is it worn
Neck Piece

Interesting Fact
Duong uses organic materials in order to represent natural phenomena. The seed pearls are used to suggest ice forms.

“When the temperature is well below zero degrees Celsius, twigs and fruit are covered with beautiful frost crystals”

silver, freshwater pearls, nylon

Techniques and Processes
This article is presented by the C. Hafner Gold and Silver Refinery, Pforzheim.

Art Aurea

Duong already created his Cherry Pit rings and necklaces while still studying. In 2002 he crafted the first pieces based on ginger roots. The bizarre shape of this root can be found in a number of very different pieces of his jewelry. By means of the electroforming technique, the root is transformed into silver and then can be reproduced. Arranging the sculptural basic shapes in rows, Duong creates necklaces held together, as if tied, by strands of onyx beads, for example. Also, he further developed this archetypal necklace with its silky-matte silver surfaces by altering the latter, i.e. by oxidizing the individual elements so as to display hues ranging from anthracite grey to black. An even more sophisticated development of this idea has been implemented in a necklace whose individual elements are studded with hundreds of rice grain-shaped pearls. Due to their flexibility as a result of being fixed to their bases by nylon strings, they are reminiscent of underwater organisms set in motion by a gentle current and make for fascinating visual and haptic sensations.

Some of his brooches are based on the same form which, cut open, reveals a cavity filled with pearls or small coloured stone beads and reminds us of a gemstone druse disclosing its precious inside. But Duong even takes things a step further. He places the hollow bodies with their delicate walls under a heavy press and compresses them until they are as flat as a pancake. As a result of this mechanical process, he obtains entirely new creations with appealing surface textures – or the faces of panda bears. Are these, we might ask ourselves, a reference to his Chinese descent like the ginger root?

Frozen is the name Sam Tho Duong chose for his most well- known jewelry line which, in terms of its sensuous surface texture, is even more subtle than all his previous works. If so far, this artist has been inspired by natural shapes, it is natural phenomena that intrigue him now. “My necklaces remind me of nature. If the temperature is well below zero degrees Celsius, the bark and skin of branches, twigs and fruits are covered with beautiful ice crystals. I try to translate this inspiration into my jewelry,” he comments. The beholder is irresistibly tempted to carefully touch this jewelry so as to feel and comprehend its seductive charm. These pieces are the epitome of jewelry, unusual yet not foreign, never seen before but familiar nonetheless – simply jewelry that wants to be worn.


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