Experiments in Colour… a ring

Quite a while ago I read an article in a magazine about a jewellery artist who uses pencil crayon to bring colour into her pieces.  I was very interested in this, ‘cause as you know I’m all about colour.  I think that is one of the reasons I like beading.  Metal, while interesting to work with, can be a little boring when it comes to colour.  I know the purists are crying a little on the inside now…

Just before I went back to school I bought a torch and I wanted to try it out!  I thought this would be a good opportunity to get my feet wet with the pencil crayon technique too.  So I made a ring, with one small element to be coloured.  Actually, I made a tidal pool – with a purple starfish (‘cause they’re my favorite)!

purple starfish ring with shells
The tidal pool ring with shells collected from trips to B.C.
side view of ring
A view of the ring from the side.

It took this long for me to try this technique on an actual piece of jewellery because my experiments last summer with metal, gesso and pencil crayon didn’t give me a satisfying result.  The article and searchs on the internet didn’t seem to give all of the information as to how to get a good result.

Generally, people are generous with sharing their knowledge, but there are some things in goldsmithing/jewellery making that seem to be national secrets.  This seems to be counterproductive to me, particularly when you hear others bemoaning the loss of craft.

Anyway, I finally found help in the form of another magazine article and a book:  The Penland Book of Jewelry: Master Classes in Jewelry Techniques. This book has all sorts of information on techniques like casting, color on metal, etching, granulation, etc.  Some of them are easy to experiment with in your home studio, others you really need a bigger shop to do.

The section on “Non-traditional color on metal” is by Marilyn Da Silva.  Marilyn creates the most amazing pieces (and it’s not just because they’re birds that I like them!).  More importantly for a novice like me, she is generous with her knowledge.  So, I found out the missing ingredient was a specific type of pencil crayon: Prismacolor premiere, which is waxier than others!  Who knew all pencil crayons are not created equal.

I’m happy with my first foray into pencil crayon coloring and my little purple starfish in it’s tidal pool.

tidal pool with small crab and three anenomes
A real tidal pool at Point No Point (July 2010).

Wistfully thinking of tidal pools…


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