The New Guy

Latest creation:

StyleAlter bronze man ringStyleAlter bronze man ringStyleAlter bronze man ring

This little guy started as a block of wax. Now, he chills on my finger.


Rings and Things

More adventures in metalsmithing going on the past few weeks. Check this out:

Style Alter Brass Rings

Style Alter Brass Pendant and Rings

I made that stuff!

My favorite of all the things I made so far is the faceted ring.

Style Alter Brass Faceted Ring

To make it, I first had to carve a ring out of wax (literally, like whittled away at it until it was the shape I wanted). The wax carving is used to make a mold, and that mold is used to make a metal ring. That’s the short story. The long version involves kilns and blow torches and centrifugal force and it’s all so COOL. You have to heat little bits of metal with a blow torch until it becomes fluid, and then force the molten metal into your mold using this contraption that spins it around really fast. The process is called casting. We’ve done it once so far and my teacher told us it would be an adrenaline rush, and it is. Because you’re really relying on physics (or for us non-physicists, COMPLETE BLIND FAITH) to keep this molten metal from flying up at your face.

Here is the ring I carved out of blue wax:

Style Alter Wax Ring

And here it is after being casted in bronze:

Style Alter Brass Faceted RingStyle Alter Brass Faceted RingStyle Alter Brass Faceted Ring


Some of the facets are smooth, others have a rough, filed texture. I love it because it looks like a big, chunky gemstone.

Style Alter Brass Faceted RingStyle Alter Brass Faceted Ring

Here it is stacked with another ring I made with the wax and casting process. The triangle piece on my ring finger is a simple guy I made when we were first learning to solder (fusing metal together with heat).

Style Alter Brass Rings

PS, my nail polish is OPI Glitzerland and Essie Splash of Grenadine. This diagonal business is easier to do than it looks. If you’re confident/lazy, just freehand it. It’s not as that hard, really. Unless you are a perfectionist, and then it will drive you crazy. In which case, use tape like in the Scotch tape nail tutorial.

Lastly, a pendant I made out of brass. Actually I made two, a small and a large. It’s hammered and rough and has a worn look to it that I really like.

Style Alter Brass Pendant

Style Alter Brass Pendant

Style Alter Brass Pendant

Style Alter Brass Pendant

Solder on,

P.S. I’m a Jewelry Designer Now

I’ve been talking about wanting to take a jewelry class forrrevvvverrrr now (as some of you know) because I have all of these vision of jewelry designs that need to exist in reality and not just my head. So after my sewing class ended, it was time to get serious. I enrolled in a metalsmithing class and a wax and casting class at Lillstreet Art Center–which started last night! Our first task in becoming metalsmithers was to create a simple pendant out of brass or copper. What I love about this class already is that right off the bat, we were allowed to create our own designs. It’s not as if we all created the same pendant–we were told to sketch out whatever we wanted and go for it.

Here’s what I made:

Style Alter Illinois State Necklace

It’s the state of Illinois! And, if you look closely–a message for my fellow Illini fans.

I actually created two, but I want to go back over the larger copper piece and physically cut out a little letter “I” to mark where Champaign, IL is.

To make this piece, I started by sketching the design on paper. I knew right away that I wanted to do the state of Illinois, so I looked up a map on my phone and drew it out. I am not taking credit for the concept of a state necklace–the idea came from a something I’d seen before. There are many versions out there, but I like to think my little “I-L-L” brings some originality to the table.

I sawed out the design, filed it smooth, drilled a hole for a jump ring and connected it to a chain.

My teacher said to make sure we keep our first pieces, because she likes for us look at them at the end of the program and see how far we’ve come. So what you’re saying is, I should be embarrassed of this? Because I might never take it off. Then again, I love absolutely anything with a U of I connotation. I kind of owe everything to this school: my career, my friends, my husband for crying out loud.

In front of Foellinger Auditorim, my favorite picture from the engagement photos we took in Champaign after Todd hired a photographer off Craiglist for a grand total of $50.

For my first attempt, I’m pretty much in love with this necklace. Maybe I’ll design an entire U of I collection. Who wants a KAM’S necklace?


I’m coming off of vacay high right now. This past weekend Todd and I took a little east coast tour of DC and NYC. DC was filled with great friends, lots of history lessons (like learning it was the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing) and tons of fun (like using the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing as an excuse to take celebratory shots. “To Buzz!”).

Good ole Honest Abe.

NYC was filled with first anniversary celebrations, good food (slash bad for you food), Newsies on Broadway (phenomenal) and…fabric! While walking back to our hotel, Todd and I stopped in Mood Fabrics–THE Mood, of Project Runway fame. I’m basically BFFs with Tim Gunn, so it was a must. Also, I really wanted to buy some fabric for the projects I’m working on in sewing class. Sidenote, Chicago has a dismal selection of fashion fabric, at least for non-designers. Lame.

So in comparison to what I’ve seen here, Mood was sensory overload.

So. Much. Fabric. Now I know why those PR contestants run around like maniacs.

I shopped quickly because I’m pretty sure the last way Todd wanted to spend his anniversary was in a fabric store. (Weird).  Luckily, I found two fabrics I loved pretty much immediately and scooped them up. I’m going to make straight, short skirts out of them. (Hopefully).

Yelp alert: The staff at Mood is extremely nice. Twice I was asked if I needed help and the guy who cut my fabric was friendly and helpful. The store was busy and there was a mix of obvious tourists and real shoppers, but they had plenty of staff to handle everyone. So if you’re in NYC and thinking about stopping by Mood, do it!

Thanks, Mood! And happy first anniversary, Todd!

You and a Guest are Cordially Invited to My Arm Party

As you all know, my sister got married this past weekend! I’m going to save blogging about the actual wedding until Lauren gets her professional pictures back so that it can really be done justice. In the mean time, I’d like to invite you to a little side party I hosted:

My dress was a combo of dark and light blue, hence the color scheme. Lauren let us choose our own dresses and accessories because she is the coolest bride ever. This allowed us to show our personality a little and I felt comfortable going kind of bold because Lauren isn’t a subtle girl herself.

Bracelets were collected over time, which made it like a fun treasure hunt.

From left to right (unfortunately, most aren’t online): Juicy Couture, Ann Taylor, Bloomingdale’s Outlet, Kohls.

Hope you enjoyed the party, thanks for coming!