Sunday, November 9, 2014

More Moss!

Last month I shared some images from a new series of pieces developed using clumps of moss as the base for sculptural pendants.  I am using recycled silver that has been pulverized into tiny particles that are combined with an organic binder and water in order to make a silver paste.  I developed those hollow pieces by draping moss around paper straws and soaking them in this paste as they hung to set up.  Once set, they were fired in a kiln which burns out the remaining moisture, moss and binder to leave behind pure silver.  This technique allows me to capture the intricate textures that make moss so very fascinating.  The most recent pieces in this series are more dense and incorporate color.  Instead of hanging to create a hollow form, the moss is again soaked in the silver paste, but then is "piled" on small slats of wood as it dries.  A small piece of dichroic glass is pressure set in each of them to create a focal point.  Rather than using a liver of sulfur patina of dark gray to pronounce the surface relief, I have treated this piece with a sage green alcohol ink that settles into the complex grooves and illuminates the subtle depths of its surface.  I am excited by the potential that continues to unfold from this new series...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall Artisan Markets

Sundays  October 26, 2014 & November 9, 2014  11am-4pm
Artisan Market on Broadway Island
Located at the Shops at Yale 
13 Broadway, New Haven, CT 06511

What a great way to spend a beautiful fall Sunday!  With the sun shining and unseasonably warm weather, I joined the Metal Clay Artisan Guild at our tent for the first of these two artisan markets.  Lots of folks were out buzzing around after brunch in this historic section of New Haven.  We met great artists from around New England as patrons began their holiday shopping.  Come by on November 9th to check out more work from our guild members and to learn more about our members, mission and media!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I (heart) Moss!

My inspiration comes from the surrounding environment, the places I walk through each day.  Some paths I will travel countless times and other spaces I will pass through only once.  No matter where the walk, one of the simple elements I am most often drawn to is moss.  I cannot resist its texture and softness.  I am fascinated by its complex microscopic form.  From afar, it can paint any landscape with a lush green brush.  One of the oldest plants known to earth, moss is found on all seven continents and collectively provides more carbon offset than all the trees in the world.  I often collect moss on my walks to transplant into my yard.  

Needless to say, it is one of the organic forms that I spend time exploring in my jewelry studio.  Working with ground silver mixed into a paste form, I have recently revisited moss and its potential to be preserved in the silver.  The problem is how delicate it is - how do I keep it from "shredding"? and how do I get it to hold a form that won't collapse before firing?  For a recent series of pieces, I wanted to work with the moss in a dense design and began by soaking it in the silver slip and then draping it around paper straws for it to dry.  As it was drying, I would manipulate the shape and continue to slowly layer the paste.  The paper straw gave the saturated moss a structure to hang from, and being paper could be fired in the kiln to burn out - leaving a clean tube on the interior to run a chain through.  Before firing, holes were drilled to pressure set 4mm CZs.  After firing, a dark patina was added to create contrast and allow the the intricate textures to be more pronounced.  It was then set on a simple cable chain.  These have much potential and are continuing to evolve in my studio.

Really like moss?  Check out one of my favorite blogs for some inspiring photos of what you can do with moss at Moss & Stone Gardens.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Art Show & Fundraiser!

Join us Saturday September 13, 2014 from 4-7pm for Community, Creativity and a Chance to win!

I consider it a great privilege to teach in a community that so genuinely comes together in support of the arts.  Thanks to Hairdresser on Fire for once again throwing the best Art Party around in an effort to raise money for the Windsor High School Art Department Scholarship Fund.  The money raised helps our students have meaningful art experiences beyond the classroom and allows us to create experiences that include field trips, internships, visiting artists, summer residencies for students, our own art shows and the college scholarships awarded at the end of the year to our graduating seniors.

In addition to the generous contribution that local artist Katherine Tolve will be making from the sales of her work; the food, entertainment and prizes for the evening are coming from local businesses who have all stepped up.  

A truly huge THANKS to the below businesses:

Bear's Smokehouse BBQ will be catering the event with other food donations from Windsor 75, Nat Hayden's, Family Pizza, Get Baked, Faddy's Donuts, Dom's Broad Street Eatery, and Moneta Moments.  
Raffle prizes so far from: Hairdresser on Fire, Ashley's Distinctive Jewelry, Bill Selig Jewelers, Ginza's Japanese Cuisine, Chili's, Mahaney's Breakfast, Wilson Pizza, Geissler's, Price Chopper, Body Graphics, Windsor Center Fine Wines, Matt's Outback Paintball, Many Rivers Acupuncture  Nat Hayden's, Big Y, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse, Snellgrove's, Sweet Frog, Jordan Florist, Home Depot, Stone Age Rock Gym, East Heaven Hot Tubs and Rave Cinemas.

The evening is free and open to the public.  Raffle Tickets are $5 with 100% of the proceeds going to our scholarship fund.  This is the opening reception for artist Katherine Tolve's show at HDF and for the evening, WHS student work will also be exhibited.  Come celebrate our youth, the arts and our community!

see below for more info.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Steampunk'd Wonderland

What's behind this door?  

The latest adventures of the Metal Clay Artisan Guild in CT.  It has been great fun working with them on our installation for Steampunk'd Wonderland at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT.  On Thursday October 9, 2015 from 4-5:30pm, join the members of the Metal Clay Artisan Guild of CT, along with artists from across the state, for the opening event of Steampunk'd Wonderland.  Tour more than two dozen site specific installations on the Florence Griswold Museum Campus as you take an imaginative guided trip through Alice's Adventure in Wonderland.  The Guild can be found in the first chapter of the adventure, with an installation that invites the viewer down the rabbit hole and through the hall of doors Alice was confronted with.  Once the sun goes down, the party moves in doors with a sneak peak of the museum's fall exhibits.  For more information, please visit:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Metal Clay Mojo 2015

One of the most inspiring conferences I have attended as an Artist and an Educator was the Metal Clay Mojo Conference last summer where I was pleased to serve as a discussion panel moderator.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to be invited earlier this summer as a presenter at the next Metal Clay Mojo Conference in 2015.  I will be giving a presentation and demonstrations entitled: 

Biting the Surface:  
Etching One of a kind copper texture plates for use with metal clay

‘Biting the Surface’ refers to corroding the metal on an etching plate which originated as a printmaking technique and eventually crossed over into traditional forms of jewelry and metalsmithing.  Today, etching metal plates is a great way for metal clay artists to push their work even further - whether you are looking to create your own original designs as long lasting texture surfaces or to expand your technical jewelry skills, this presentation will offer something for all levels.  I have been working with these techniques for more than 20 years and know all too well how traditional forms of etching are complicated, expensive and toxic.  This presentation will focus on simplicity, safety and convenience as we explore salt based etching methods that yield sophisticated results and can be safely used in the home studio.    Participants will even be invited to try out the techniques we explore in the evening open studio for a small materials fee.

It's a real privilege to be a presenter alongside such amazing artists and teachers as Anna Mazon, Donna Penoyer, Barbara Becker Simon, Terry Kovalcik, Noortje Mejeirink, Kim Paige, Michelle Loon, Suzanne McNenly and Robert Dancik.  This international conference is designed to foster greater community, creativity and artistry within the world of  powdered metallurgy.  As an artist and an educator I gained valuable insights that have powerfully impacted both my own studio work and teaching approaches.  To learn more about this conference, please visit:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Metal Clay Lecture

Did you miss the opening event for 
Inspired Objects:  Metalworking through the Ages?  
Join us this Wednesday at the Windsor Historical Society for another great event as part of this exhibit!

Metal Clay: A Radical New Way of Working with Precious Metals
July 23, 2014       7 PM to 8:30 PM

What would silversmith Paul Revere think of this?  Make simple pure silver jewelry on your kitchen table with a unique new product.  Metal clay combines microfine particles of pure silver that are mixed with a binder and water to form a clay-like material.  After forming the pieces they are dried and fired in a simple kiln or with a handheld torch to burn away the binder leaving hardened metal.  Bevlynn Gallant, metal clay jeweler and teacher, will show you how this material is used and how it differs from the traditional methods of working with silver to make jewelry. This talk is presented in conjunction with “Inspired Objects: Metalworking through the Ages,” a show and sale of metal clay artwork crafted by members of the Metal Clay Artisans Guild in Connecticut, on view until August 8th.  COST: $6 adults, $5 seniors and students, $4 Society and MAGiC members.  For more information, contact the Society at 860-688-3813 or

image of work by speaker Bevlynn Gallant

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bronze Rings with Prong Settings

Stone setting is always an exciting technique to explore with my students since it provides them with yet another way to expand their design process.  We will typically cover pressure setting stones, bezel setting stones and (as shown above) prong setting stones.  Students were given the challenge to design a simple coil ring in Bronze Metal Clay that integrated the ends of the coil into the design, included a surface carving and incorporated prong set round CZs.  Of course, the biggest part of the challenge was that the ring had to fit a specific size (of their choice) when done.  Prong settings can be purchased anywhere you would purchase general jewelry findings.  Since we were working in metal clay, they had to specifically be bronze to fire in place in the carbon, otherwise most any other metal could be soldered in place.  The prong settings look like little crowns with a notch along the interior points.  once the piece is complete, the stone is dropped in so that it is level and aligns with the interior notch, prong pushers (or even jeweler's pliers) are used to push or squeeze the prongs tight around the stone.  As long as the notch aligns with the edge of the stone, once closed in it should be locked in place.  One of the tricky parts of prong setting with metal clay is that the setting must be deep enough to sinter with the piece, but also supported in a way that it does not sink too far in and stays level.  Prong findings come in most any standard shape and size you might purchase pre-cut stones in.  They are a great way to incorporate stones that cannot withstand the heat of a torch or a kiln. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

3D Printed Jewelry

It seems like everyday there is another article on how 3D printing is changing global industries, from food that can be printed on long space journeys (hello replicator?) to medical miracles printing human organs and now to the fashion world where last fall Justin LeBlanc's 3D printed accessories for the finale on Project Runway were nothing short of poetic.  A simple 3D printer is now even cheap enough to purchase for home use.  The future is quite literally here, but where does that leave those of us trained using much more traditional tools? Or those of us who work as artisan jewelers at an "old fashioned" bench?  Well it left me feeling like it was time to learn a little more.  I have visited a few studios to see demos, but admittedly often lost interest when it came time to designing on the computer.  Though I have been exposed to both Rhino and Google Sketch-up (which is free) and agree that they are both easy enough to learn with a little bit of commitment.  Now, though, I knew it was time to start exposing my own students to where many of their design paths may lead them.  I made arrangements for one of my advanced jewelry classes to visit a CAD (computer aided drafting) class where they were exploring 3D printing.

Our first challenge was to rethink how we designed our pieces.  We were paired with students in the CAD class who would walk us through transforming our very simple designs into 3D printed rings.  Rather than sketching out the final form, we needed to focus on the profile view.  Once we decided on that "slice" of the ring, we were walked through drawing that simple profile on the computer.  I will say the interface was user friendly and if you are comfortable using Photoshop or Illustrator, you will likely be comfortable here.  Since we were all doing rings and this was a quick demo, the measurements/proportions had been determined and pre-set to save us some time.  Once we had the flat profile outlined, we simply "revolved" the image and it went from a "slice" of the ring to the entire 3D form.  We could revolve it and check it our from any angle.  Last we scaled the proportions so that they fit our own fingers and sent the file to the printer.

If you have not seen a 3D printer in action (or even just in pictures), MakerBot makes a line of 3D printers and scanners that can be viewed here.  It looks like a large empty box with an arm in it.  The arm begins to move back and forth and spits out two different liquids in the pattern of your design that soon turn to solids.  One is the actual object and one is any hollow areas that will later need to be removed.  Once the printing is finished, the objects are removed and put in a bath that eats out the hollow areas.  We made these very simple rings with hollow interiors, but these printers can handle everything from complex whistles to moveable chains.  Walking us novices through the design process and sending our file to the printer was maybe an hour.  It then took several hours to print and soak the centers out.

Some of my students will go on to design programs where they never sit at a bench again, but design on their tablets and send their work to printers.  This is no less authentic than the digital revolution that photography has experienced over the last two decades.  For myself, my intuition will always lead me back to my bench and my tools, but 3D printing opens up far more possibilities for the accessibility of my work.  While these rings above were printed in a nylon like material, we can now 3D print in everything from ceramic to wax to 14k gold.  I can create prototypes of pieces using traditional techniques and materials that will be 3D scanned to create a CAD file and then sent to any number of companies (such as Shapeways) to be printed in the material of my buyer's choice whether it is silver, bronze or platinum.  There is much potential to reduce the risk and financial investment of having an entire line cast when pieces can then be printed as purchased.  For me, 3D printing goes beyond simply a new digital technique and has much potential to empower artists in a new business model if they are brave enough to explore it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Delicate Blossoms

     Inspired by the "Charms Challenge" that my local Guild took on last winter, I began exploring more subtle forms.  I began preserving delicate blossoms in fine silver to keep a tiny piece of nature close to the heart.  These  dried blossoms held up well to the thinned pasting technique I had been using with my larger lace forms and served as a great place to start.  These open forms kept their outer surface textures and created interesting shadows on their interior.  Delicate pieces demand delicate presentation, so I have moved away from my usual heavier snake chains and to these fine looped chains to maintain visual balance.  With nowhere to  directly stamp these fine silver forms, a tag with both my logo and the metal quality was attached to the chain.  Come view them in person next weekend at the open event for Inspired Objects: Metalworking through the Ages at the Windsor Historical Society.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Inspired Objects

This week in the studio has been spent getting ready for the big show!  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Secret Garden

Secret Garden, 2014
Marjorie Renno
Fine silver pendant with almandine garnets & glass on a sterling silver chain
This piece was created for the upcoming "Inspired Objects"show at the Windsor Historical Society opening June 13th.  My work has always drawn inspiration from my local environment, so it seems fitting I was drawn to the silver flask embossed with flowers (see below) for this exhibition.  I am intrigued by the intricate textures of organic forms and look to capture the essence of the places they come from.  For me the flask, an object often hidden, was especially interesting because of its detailed floral design – something that might only have been seen by the owner. 

The pendant takes its horse-shoe like shape from the floral arc that curves along the bottom half of the flask.  Many of my walks, along my own hidden paths, are not necessarily lined with flowers but growth such as mushrooms and ferns.  The pendant was created using a metal clay pasting technique over an actual mushroom and leaves to achieve the deep grooved texture (see below).  Green glass beads made in the kiln and red garnets are pressure set across the surface.  Three leaves poke out from the edges to mimic the leaves jutting out from the flask design.  The piece was finished with a surface green tinted patina and set on a sterling silver figure-8 chain with a toggle clasp.

“Inspired Objects: Metalworking through the Ages”
Opening Reception and Sale
June 13, 2014       7PM to 9PM
Day of Demos and Sale
June 14, 2014       11AM to 4PM

Come view and purchase the work of members of the Metal Clay Artisan Guild in Connecticut who have created new works specifically in response to objects in the Windsor Historical Society's collection.  Learn about metalworking through the ages, meet the artisans, and enjoy light refreshments. The Metal Clay Artisan Guild in Connecticut is an association of metal clay artists who are pushing the boundaries of metal clay artistry through work that is varied and unique. The exhibit will remain on view until August 8th. Cost: FREE. For more information, contact the Society at 860-688-3813 or online at

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Etched Copper Cuffs

Last summer I wrote a series of posts on metal etching to go with the demonstration I was leading at the Metal Clay Artisan Guild in CT's July meeting.  Part 1:  The Resist, Part 2: The "Salt" Etch, and Part 3:  DIY Texture Plates covered the step by step process I use to etch.  These posts were geared towards creating texture plates for printing on metal clay.  

This past month my advanced jewelry students used this same technique to create these awesome etched copper cuff bracelets.  After piercing and etching the copper sheet they used liver of sulfur to create a patina to really bring their etched surfaces out.  Finally, the bracelets were finished with a clear coat of Rust-oleum Automotive Clear Coat to seal the surfaces they had created.  This is generally what I have students seal their work with when using base metals in jewelry class.  It is inexpensive, covers smoothly and maintains the surface they have worked so hard to achieve.  It also seems to help protect the skin on those who seem to have some sensitivity to base metals.