16 August 2009


The inspiration behind the "Swirling Schools" earring, pendant, and necklace designs

13 May 2009

New location

Look for new posts on the blog attached to my website: sherrycordova.com/blog

24 April 2009

Drips, Drools and Underpainting at the San Jose Museum of Art

A favorite piece in the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art is a 3D fiberglass S form with parts of a face shown in a looping video.

After visiting the
Jun Kaneko ceramic's exhibit (huge pieces!), Doris Fischer-Colbrie, Kathleen Gordon and myself took seats at the Prints of Andy Warhol audience participation table. The exercise was designed to teach underpainting. We'd seen the San Francisco school of abstract expressionism exhibit upstairs, which has also been unkindly referred to as the Drips and Drools school. You'll see some of that influence in the works below.

The work of Doris Fischer-Colbrie:

From Sherry Cordova Jewelry

The work of Kathleen Gordon:
From Sherry Cordova Jewelry

The work of Sherry Cordova:
From Sherry Cordova Jewelry

We also enjoyed the Women's Work printmakers exhibit, especially two prints from Louise Bourgeois. Below is a photo I took of a Bourgeois sculpture at Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro in Mallorca.

22 April 2009

Advanced Filigree DVD

Yehuda Tassa filling a flower component of a filigree pendant

Filling a flower component of a filigree pendant

Friend, filigree mentor, and filigree master Yehuda Tassa is about to release his second filigree how-to DVD. While reviewing the DVD for Yehuda in order to give him feedback before the final version is cut, I took some screenshots.

Yehuda Tassa, Yemenite Filigree Master, as seen in excerpt from his second DVD to be released in 2009

Yehuda Tassa, Yemenite Filigree Master seen in excerpt from his second DVD to be released in 2009

Back in the first few sessions of filigree workshops, Yehuda used to teach the flower project first. Once us intermediate students convinced him, he started teaching an easier project to the new students, and this is now a second project in his workshops.

Below are the first three things I ever created in filigree, years ago. The filler patterns that Yehuda is teaching are different than those in my pendant/pins. And, you'll notice I went for a prong setting in all three of my pieces; the DVD teaches a bezel set stone on a pendant. If the picture of my pieces looks familiar, perhaps you've seen the photo before in "The Art and Craft of Making Jewelry: A Complete Guide to Essential Techniques" by Joanna Gollberg, Lark Books.

"Fraternal Triplets" filigree pendant/pins by Sherry Cordova

"Fraternal Triplets"
Sterling and fine silver, amethyst, garnet, and peridot

21 April 2009

Organizing the Workshop

After many many months, the hydraulic press is in it's final home and bolted down. Now it looks like a very tall person with a white shirt on; the white shirt is the fancy dust cover. Yes, I'll need a foot stool to place items on the press; luckily there's one out there because the cabinets are also too tall for me to reach past the first shelf!

Without the cover, the hydraulic press looks like this (in it's old location taking up workbench space.)

The vacuum caster is also in it's permanent location. All that's needed is a mirror so I can see the oil level while it's running.

20 April 2009

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Creatures in residence at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wolf Eel

Octopus emphasizing the "no flash" policy for photographers

Powerful and graceful hammer head in the Outer Bay exhibit


I tried to take photos of the Leafy Sea Dragons; either the creatures moved too much, or the tank distorted the image. Here's a link to a nice image. And, did you know there's a festival for the Leafy Sea Dragons?

19 April 2009

Vacuum Caster Modifications

The used vacuum caster I purchased started leaking oil after I turned it on the first time. So before turning it on again a revamp was required. The newer models are now built for servicability and for easy access to the oil input port. My older model required some modifications in order to make adding oil easier.

A trip to the hardware store seemed in order, and these are the parts from the plumbing and irrigation aisles that we thought would work.

Here are the parts installed, and below is a closeup of the modification to the oil input port.

Once the mods were made and oil was added, we ran the pump. If the pressure is low enough, water will turn to ice.

The pressure reached the max for this unit, and the water was very cold. Need a more powerful pump to make ice!

18 April 2009

The Secret Lives of Seahorses

Monterey Bay Aquarium's latest exhibit is The Secret Lives of Seahorses. Having seen only a few seahorses in their natural habitats, we knew we'd enjoying seeing more at the aquarium. The sea dragons and pipefish are something we still want to see diving.... 

16 April 2009

Dunes Reforming

Driving down Highway 1 on one of the windiest days of the year, we were able to see the changes in the dunes as they happened. The town where the pictures were taken is appropriately named Sand City.

08 April 2009

Sharing Textures

The local metal clay guild held a texture swap last weekend. Attendees brought different found, created, or purchased objects to share. The offerings ranged from fabric to carved polymer clay molds to a piece of cauliflower to a piece of worm eaten wood from an apple tree in someone's yard. Those worms are quite the artists.

Regular Sculpey (TM) was given to paid members, and after everyone had snacked, the polymer clay prep and molding began. One of the chapter officers brought four pasta machines for everyone to use. Some people, I was one of them, brought two part RTV molding compound.

While my work will still use only the molds I take when I travel, and/or my interpretation of my travels, I now have many molds to share with students when I teach.

06 April 2009

The Gold Coast

During a recent dive and snorkeling trip to Hawaii's Gold Coast (the west side of the Island of Hawaii) we noticed fewer yellow tangs than we had in the past. Every time we go there seem to be less. One of the dive guides explained that the island is one of the few places that they can be found in sufficient numbers to 'harvest' for the aquarium trade.

The Gold Coast received it's name because people flying in decades ago would see a shimmering gold coast. The huge schools of yellow tang seemed to cover the coastal reef. Now, it's a lucky day if you see a few juvenile yellow tangs. You'll see some adults but there are no more huge schools coloring the coast gold.

As you watch this video, notice that there is one yellow tang being cleaned by one Hawaiian cleaner wrasse. Fewer tangs mean less food for the cleaner wrasse, and thus fewer wrasse. Turtles and other fish also rely on the cleaner wrasse for their health care (see photo below). The whole reef is affected by the diminished numbers of these two species of fish.

For every one fish that makes it into an aquarium alive, many have had to die in the harvesting and shipping process. The reef continues to suffer and the balance of this coral reef is adversely affected. If you're even thinking about putting a yellow tang in an aquarium, I ask that you think again and resist the temptation.

05 April 2009

More Volts & Amps

When it was time for more electrolytic etching I decided to try the trickle charger as the source. Well . . . whoever named it was accurate: trickle means trickle. Even the C batteries caused more bubbles in the saltwater when they were hooked up. My friend Pat had a great idea to check the local electronics store for a battery that would suit our need (desire) for speed. Plan B meant a perusal of the battery aisle. I now know why UPS units for computers are so heavy - they have all these dense batteries inside of them.

A guy in the test/measurement department obliged us and broke out some new leads to test whether the chosen UPS battery had a charge. Yes, it did. And, it works very nicely. The good news is that when I drain the battery, I can hook it up to the trickle charger and recharge it. So, the trickle charger will be used indirectly after all.

Pat had a great idea to hide the leads behind a piece of wood to reduce the salty moisture that could deposit on them. The 18 gauge copper wire holding the cathode copper kept being etched away and dropping the etched copper piece into the solution.

After doubling the copper wire, in order to obtain double the time we had before the copper fell into in the bath, I remembered that I'd covered the leads with electrical tape before.

The yellow duct tape masked off the ends and back of one of these bracelet-to-be copper pieces. I kept taping and covered the leads, giving the copper all the time in the solution that I wanted. After three etches, the solution slowed down a bit, which was perfect because the bracelet-to-be pieces will be forged so they need to keep a decent amount of thickness to them.

On the above piece I covered the entire back and edges with rubber cement, which held up well in the saltwater solution.

I was in a rubber cement mood, so all of these textures were the result of applying rubber cement and then scraping it off with a toothpick.

04 April 2009

Valentino, Tiffany, Fabergé, and Lalique

I had a very enjoyable day recently admiring other peoples artwork. First was Valentino: The Last Emperor this is a *great* movie and the producer/director was at the showing to answer questions. With an initial limited release, the movie is playing in 25 cities. During the Q&A , journalist turned indie movie producer/director Matt Tyrnauer told the audience that they are currently making more copies of the movie because theaters all over the country are calling and asking to show it. On the movie's website they suggest that you contact your local movie house and ask them to bring "Valentino" to their screens.

Yes, the movie is about the world of fashion, yet it is mostly about the relationship between Valentino and his lifelong business partner who took care of everything else so that Valentino could concentrate on his art. The movie is also about the financial sector's takeover of fashion houses for purse and belt profits.

Our next stop was the Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique exhibit where the quality of the work was truly awesome. As with much traditional 'high end' jewelry, there was an abundance of incredible stones. The enameling was thin and perfect, with many flawless examples of the guilloché (l'art de l'émail translucide sur guilloché) technique.

View from Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco

02 April 2009

Copper and Bronze Pieces, and Auto White Balance

In January I posted a picture of bronze and copper metal clay pieces drying on a hot plate. The pieces were fired and this is how they looked before I began to patch the bronze pieces. Note that the bronze clay cracked much more than the same shapes would have in silver metal clay. The bronze clay was from the original batch handed out in mid-2008 by Rio Grande; many people report that it has improved since then.

In my previous post I mentioned that the copper clay was very moist and hard to work with. The results show that it kept it's general shape very well, yet the weight of the clay itslef pushed some of the texture flat. The inside of the round part of the toggle illustrates this. Since I tried Hadar Jacobson's copper clay, she has started selling the copper clay as a powder (and also bronze clay powder) which you can mix yourself to the consistency you desire. Note that the absence of drying/firing cracks in the copper clay. The bottom two pieces are made from copper clay, the top five pieces are made from bronze clay.

As I took the above picture, I decided to play with the Auto White Balance (AWB) feature on my camera. There are many settings such as 'daylight', 'tungsten', and 'fluorescent.' The choice of which AWB to use made a big difference in the photos. The photo above was adjusted in Photoshop (TM) in order to match the white background a little more to what it would be with proper lighting.
View the unedited photos of different AWB settings at this link to see the what a drastic difference the AWB choices make. The pictures were taken late in the afternoon with indirect natural light and overhead full-spectrum bulbs.

01 April 2009

Sheet to Rocks

My recent experience in a chasing and repousse' cuff bracelet workshop was very enjoyable. Davide Bigazzi is a great instructor; the three of us all learned a lot and two of us walked away with bracelets that were almost done. The other Sherry in the workshop finished hers!

I spent the day after the workshop finishing mine. Sawing, filing, and finishing ... here it is:

My inspiration for the bracelet was this photo taken at dusk, years ago, at Poipu Beach, Kauai.

Davide Bigazzi is a great instructor; the three of us students all learned a lot and two of us walked away with bracelets that were almost done. The other Sherry in the workshop finished hers!

If you're contemplating taking a workshop from Davide, I highly recommend it. Besides all that you'll learn, it is therapeutic to hammer away on the metal. :) 

24 March 2009

Back to Work

The vacation is over and it's back to making jewelry. Time to take the earring out of the thermoform plastic shellac and finish it.

The thermoform plastic shellac hardens when cooled or at room temperature, and softens when immersed in hot water. The material becomes clear and pliable. To remove the earring, I heated up a container of hot water, immersed the whole assembly and removed the earring from it's plastic shellac jig.

When cooled back down again, the plastic shellac starts turning back white, and becoming firm. To re-use it again, simply immerse it in hot water, insert the piece to be worked on, and cool it back down again.

22 March 2009

Humpback Whales: Breaching and Singing

The picture of a humpback whale breaching was taken on a recent trip to a dive site. The underwater video from on one of our dives allows you hear the whale singing.

We were underwater when this underwater earthquake hit. The quake was very loud underwater and reverberated unlike anything we'd heard and felt before. Which makes sense, since it's the first time we've been underwater near an underwater earthquake! We were confused, because we'd been listening to the whale the whole time and it suddenly sounded very different. :) The sound made sense the next day when our dive master told us there had been an earthquake. One of her dive
master friends had also been underwater to hear it and figured it out when the quake was mentioned on the evening news and the times matched.

What does all this underwater stuff have to do with my artwork? The article I wrote for a zine explains.

20 March 2009

Time Management

What does one do when waiting for a plane? Relaxing on the beach after a long snorkeling session seems like a great way to spend the time.

17 March 2009

Textures from the Sea

One person's candle decoration is another person's source of textures.

Look for some of these textures to be incorporated in my work. The urchin shell texture will be especially nice when shrunk 30%; it'll be nice and crisp.

15 March 2009


When I visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium I always enjoy watching the jellies.

On my recent trip I took the above photo and also picked up some 2009
Seafood Watch and Sushi Watch cards to keep in my wallet for friends who eat fish. I noticed that the aquarium has developed a "new iPhone application [which] brings the latest Seafood Watch recommendations directly to your iPhone or iPod touch."

I ran into an old friend who now works at the aquarium full time. That was a great way to top off a great visit.