BronzClay and polymer pendant by Elaine Luther (c) Elaine Luther

Years ago, I wanted to start adding color and images to my jewelry. This is one of my attempts. Sure, I could have added gemstones for color, but I had begun to be fascinated by image transfers and have a large collection of photographs at my disposal.

Here’s another pendant with photo transfer:

Copper patina pendant, BronzClay with silver wire, by Elaine Luther (c) Elaine Luther

This pendant looks really cool with light shining through it, as shown here. Slightly less interesting on a black shirt. The technique might be better for earrings.

After doing these tiny (relatively speaking) transfers and fitting them into jewelry, I thought, well, why not just work larger? Why not just put these transfers into paintings?

That makes it sound like it was a quick and easy decision to change from jewelry making, which I’d been doing for 20 years, over to a completely new art form. It wasn’t. How could I abandon all the work, the learning I’d done over those years? Metalsmithing takes so long to learn, has so many techniques, that I’d never allowed myself to stray, to dabble very much, in other media. (though I do (wet) feltmaking and a little bit of quilting, those snuck in somehow.)

In 2011, I was playing around with some very small canvases — about 6″ x 6″, that I’d gotten free somewhere. They were already painted, so I painted and collaged over them. And that was the start. Those little starter canvases are still up in my office here.

From there, I began to work larger and larger, up to 16″ x 20″ at first, mostly. You have to understand that to a jeweler, this is huge! Gargantuan! After a few months, I worked my way up to 24″ x 36″, which is still the largest that I’ve worked so far.

After a time of not making any jewelry at all — the high price of precious metals helped with that — I’m now back to making art with metal. I think I needed a break, but I’m not going to leave metal behind completely.

And, just as I’ve combined image transfer and jewelry, I’ve also put metal into paintings. Here’s an example:

Copper and Rust Painting by Elaine Luther (c) 2012 Elaine Luther

That’s my journey so far, combining and integrating my two mediums.