Mary's Profile

About

My name is Mary Laskey, aka marstinia. To read about me, my work and my processes, see below.
For information regarding payments, shipping, returns and exchanges, please see SHOP POLICIES on my main shop page.

ARTIST BIO:
I'm basically a crafty child in an adult's body. I have a BFA degree in photography, but after graduation, my love of making things with my hands and getting dirty led me to jewelry designing and has been my sole occupation and obsession ever since.

I started designing and making jewelry in 1990 shortly after I graduated from college. At first I just wore my pieces, but friends and co-workers encouraged me to sell my designs and before long I had a new career.

My passion for glass led me to the enameling process and soon I began to take metalsmithing classes as well. In 1998…

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  • Female
  • Born on April 23
  • Joined August 27, 2006

Favorite materials

Enamel, Copper, Silver, Glass, Vinyl, PennyBrite, LysolScrubbingBubbles, Bamboo, Velcro, DuctTape, TheStuffThatsInsideLavaLamps

Shop

MaryLaskeyDesigns
Retro Inspired Contemporary Kiln-Fired...

About

My name is Mary Laskey, aka marstinia. To read about me, my work and my processes, see below.
For information regarding payments, shipping, returns and exchanges, please see SHOP POLICIES on my main shop page.

ARTIST BIO:
I'm basically a crafty child in an adult's body. I have a BFA degree in photography, but after graduation, my love of making things with my hands and getting dirty led me to jewelry designing and has been my sole occupation and obsession ever since.

I started designing and making jewelry in 1990 shortly after I graduated from college. At first I just wore my pieces, but friends and co-workers encouraged me to sell my designs and before long I had a new career.

My passion for glass led me to the enameling process and soon I began to take metalsmithing classes as well. In 1998 I established my own metal jewelry and enameling studio in Chicago called Fabrications. I currently teach the art of enameling at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago.

I've sold many pieces over the years at various art fairs and festivals, as well as on the web. I've never had a bricks and mortar store of my own, but when I opened my Etsy shop in August 2006, it felt like my designs finally had a home.

When people ask me if I can make a living with my work, I tell them: 'I don't make a living, I'm making and living.' There's a difference.
• • • • • •
ENAMEL INFORMATION AND CARE: Enamel is a form of glass and therefore completely safe to wear and does not irritate the skin. Since the base is metal (copper) it is much more durable than glass on its own. However, chipping or cracking can occur if it is dropped, so some care should be taken when handling it.

To clean enamel jewelry or dishes, use a soft cloth and wipe clean, use mild soap if needed. DO NOT use a dishwasher or anything abrasive to clean the enamel surface. Enamels should avoid contact with strong chemicals and certain acidic foods (such as citrus). Exposed copper on the back of enamel dishes can be cleaned with mild commercial metal polishes such as Brasso.

MORE ABOUT ENAMEL:
What is it? In a nutshell, you take a nut like me, some copper, some enamel powders (pigmented glass which is ground very fine, like powdered sugar), and an electric kiln. Above-mentioned nut spends hours and hours happily applying the enamel powders to different shaped pieces of copper using small sifters, stencils and scribes. Each enamel design is built up in layers and undergoes several short firings in the kiln at 1500 degrees F. This ain't no easy-bake sissy stuff! When the nut is satisfied with the design, the copper on the back of the piece is cleaned and polished and signed and dated by the artist (that's me!)

TMI:
• Unlike ceramics kilns, enamelling kilns are much smaller. Mine is about the size of a microwave on the outside and the actual firing chamber is only about 8" wide by 8" deep and 6" high.
• Most of my pieces are fired individually, one at a time. If I am working on small jewelry pieces I can fire up to about 8 pieces at a time.
• Enamels have a very short firing time from 2 to 5 minutes. The firings must be closely monitored for the point when the powdered enamel glass matures--the granules reach their melting point and fuse together to form the glossy surface we associate with glass. In enameling the glass also fuses to the metal surface it is fired on. I primarily enamel on copper, but also use silver on occasion.
•Typically my enamel designs are created by several kiln firings with new applications of different colors of powdered enamel glass in between each firing. On average about 5 to 8 firings.
•Many of my enamel designs are created with stencils. I make my own stencils out of paper, kind of like cutting out snowflakes. I position the stencil on a previously fired layer of enamel and sift enamel powder over the surface and the stencil. I then very carefully remove the stencil without disturbing the powdered design. The result is that the previous layer of color can be seen in the areas that were covered by the stencil while a new color is added to the areas of that were not covered by the stencil.

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