ABOUT OUR PRODUCT
About Kitschygumi Designs
Kathy Dawdy is a fiber and jewelry artist and part time resident of Madeline Island in beautiful Lake Superior, just a ferry ride away from Bayfield Wisconsin. She winters in Fort Myers, Florida and has studios in both locations. She designs hand fabricated jewelry under the name Kitschygumi Designs Kathy attended the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduating with a degree in Home Economics from the U of M. Her initial focus was on textiles and she began developing a small line of designer clothing for various botiques and shops in the greater Minneapolis, Minnesota area.
Kathy Dawdy turned her attention to metal fabrication. She fell in love with jewelry making the first time she picked up a torch. To Kathy the process of metal fabrication and clothes design are answers to the same questions, "how do I turn this flat material, whether it be metal or fiber, into a dimensional wearable piece of art?" Kathy created Kitschgumi jewelry to complement her line of art-to-wear clothing.
Product Design, Construction and Care
Construction: Each piece of Kitschygumi jewelry is the product of hand fabrication, nothing is cast or mass produced. The process of hand fabrication creates a product that is unique each time, even if a design is replicated. Each piece is wrought from sheet metal, wire or tubing. Using traditional jewelers tools and a soldering torch, pieces come to life on the jewelers bench. Pieces are polished, burnished, embellished and bejeweled and presented for sale.
Materials: Jewelry is constructed from sterling silver, Argentium Silver, 14kt gold-fill, high karat gold, copper, and brass. Product descriptions will inform what is in an individual piece. Ear wires are sterling silver or 14kt gold filled. Some pieces will have ear wires of jewelers brass, niobium or titanium (there are no allergic reactions to niobium or titanium. I have heard of no instances of allergic reactions to jewelers brass) and where those materials are used it will be noted in product description. I will note here some of the materials which are used frequently in my pieces.
Argentium Silver: Argentium Silver is an alloy much like Sterling Silver. Argentium, like Sterling, is an alloy of fine silver (pure silver) and copper, however, a portion of the copper has been replaced with the element Germanium. The addition of Germanium in the resultant alloy creates metal characteristics which differ from traditional sterling. Argentium can be readily fused without the use of solder. Argentium has a slightly whiter brighter appearance than Sterling and is a harder more durable metal metal. For the consumer the most distinguishing characteristic is the fact that it is tarnish resistant (where a patina has not been applied). So pieces that are shiny bright will stay so much longer.
14kt Gold filled: Gold filled products have been around for a long time. A gold filled item has an actual wear layer of gold on the surface, unlike, gold plate or vermeil. The gold layer is regulated by world standards and is heat bonded to the surface of the core metal. Gold filled jewelry has 100x more gold alloy than gold plated, it last longer and stands up to wear and tear.
Sterling Silver: Sterling Silver is an alloy consisting of Fine Silver (pure silver) and copper. It is the copper in the sterling which makes pieces tarnish when exposed to the environment as the copper oxidizes. A treated jewelers cloth will remove this surface tarnish.
Gold Plate and Vermeil: Gold plate and Vermeil are similar products. Both have microns thick layer of gold electroplated onto the surface of either a base metal (in the case of gold plate) or Sterling Silver (in the case of Vermeil). Because the gold layer is but microns thick, it has a tendency to wear off if used on pieces which are exposed to abrasive wear, such as a ring or bracelet.
There are numerous techniques used in hand fabrication. I will make note here of ones which may not be familiar.
Reticulation: Reticulation is a process that can best be described as controlled melting. It requires that the jewelry uses a material that has metal of differing melting points so that the top layer melts at a faster rate than the core metal. Using the torch carefully the jeweler can "lead" the melting metal across the surface as the metal chases the flame resulting in a unique highly textured surface.
Raw Silver: This technique uses fine silver dust which is fused to the surface of the sterling and creates a rough raw look to the surface.
Fusing: Fusing is where pieces of metal are bonded to each other using only the torch and no solder.
Keum Boo: Keum Boo is an ancient process of attaching thin sheets of high karat gold onto a prepared surface of sterling silver or fine silver using only heat and pressure. The bond created is a permanent fusing of the two metals, though the surface of the gold is thin.
Patination: Patination is a process of darkening the surface of a finished piece to reveal the texture and depth of the various elements in the design. Patination is a surface technique and while durable will change in appearance over time with wear. High points on the jewelry will become brighter while the recesses stay darker. The use of a treated polishing cloth will remove some of the patination over time with repeated use. The product I used is the most common used for creating a patina, Liver of Sulphur.