Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2014, the Year of the Horse!

Officially, the Year of the Horse doesn’t begin until the traditional Chinese Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, on January 31, but that hasn’t stopped jewelry fashion before. The proverbial horse is already out of the gate. During this week’s contest on Rio Grande’s Facebook fan page, we called for horse-related jewelry, and the entries reflect a universal appeal that never goes out of style. The horse is beautiful, a part of folklore, fashion, sentiment, literature, sports, and the list goes on. We adore horses in all their strength and grace, not mention their essential presence throughout history.

Without further ado, here’s a peek at four wonderful jewelry artists, plus an honorable mention, and their Year of the Horse entries on Facebook that landed them a spot in today’s blog post.

Rebecca Jurgens

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“Dream Dancer” on the left and “New Dawn” on the right, both by Rebecca Jurgens.

The overall winner of our Facebook banner contest was Rebecca Jurgens. Her jewelry can be found on her website, LandS Arts and on her Etsy page, LandS Arts Lampworks. She submitted two pieces, and both caught the eye of our judge. “The necklace was intended as just a simple pendant until I laid it on the table next to a strand of Boulder Turquoise I had picked up,” says Rebecca. “Then I started matching crystals, and before you know it this one really came together.” She also talks about how her bracelet came to be, “The bracelet for me is a kick off to the new year. New designs and all of the ideas I have had, bringing them to life.”

Rebecca’s first piece, “Dream Dancer,” features a focal point made with several colors of soft glass melted and sculpted with a torch. For her second piece, she describes how it came together, “This bracelet has several processes. I carved the horse in polymer clay, then made a silicone mold of the carving. Once the mold was made, I pressed copper clay into the mold and then combined it with other copper clay pieces and fired.”

Rebecca used many tools and supplies from Rio Grande when she crafted these two pieces, including her “tumbler and burnishing compound, other sanding and polishing supplies, copper, silver beads, jump rings, and Swarovski crystals.” She also clued us in on her main inspiration, saying, “All of my horse designs are inspired by my mother who was a horse trainer for 25 years and painted them in her spare time. It was impossible for the magic of these beautiful creatures not to rub off on all of her children.”

Thank you for sharing your magic, Rebecca!

Leah Hoffman

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Leah Hoffman crafted this pendant for her 18-year-old niece, who loves horses.

When you see the stylized and spirited horse head pendant that Leah Hoffman designed and crafted by hand, you wouldn’t guess that she is a self-proclaimed city girl having no experience with horses. The windblown mane sets this one apart. Leah was born during an earlier Year of the Horse (1978) and will have her baby this June—also during the Year of the Horse. (Congratulations, Leah!)

A Christmas gift for her niece, this pendant is not available for sale. However, you can find the rest of her jewelry at her website, Leah Hoffman Jewelry Design.

Leah generously shared her techniques for making this pendant. All of her copper jewelry is made with recycled copper that she heats to make pliable, and then hammers to give it shape. “I used the ball side of the hammer to give it texture. There are no sharp edges because I use jeweler’s files of varying coarseness to smooth the edges. Then, I move on to very fine grit sandpaper and finish off with a nail buffer.”

The patina on this pendant caught our judge’s eye. Leah soaks the copper in a sulfur solution, then buffs it off and polishes it. She says, “The darkness stays in the crevices, giving the piece visual texture.”

Leah’s beautiful work speaks for itself. She’s an inspiration to the beginning jewelry maker. She says, “I am a wire jewelry artist who is self-taught through much trial and error and a little common sense. I would like anyone who is starting out to know that if they’re having trouble learning by following a tutorial or a book, it is in no way an indication of their ability as an artist. If I had relied solely on someone or something else to show me how to create with this medium, I would have given up a long time ago.”

Leah seems to have been born under a magical equestrian influence. So, keep on with the expressive horse jewelry in 2014, Leah!

 Kim Tinnell

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Kim Tinnell’s horse bracelet is crafted from a Big Ben tobacco tin.

In 2013, Denver-based jewelry artist Kim Tinnell started her business, Perfect Tin. She makes all of her jewelry out of vintage tins, which she says is a great choice in Denver’s large handmade community. She participates in many Colorado markets and art shows, and sells her work in various Denver stores, including Night and Day Vintage, SEWN, the Denver Fashion Truck, and Jolly Goods. Check out her Etsy store, Perfect Tin, if you can’t make it to Denver. Also, read her posts about upcoming shows, her process, and her jewelry on Twitter at PerfectTin1, and at PerfectTin on Facebook.

Kim says about this piece, “I loved the tin that I made this bracelet from—a Big Ben tobacco tin. It had vibrant colors and the beautiful image of the horse. A lot of the tin was rusted, so I salvaged what I could and upcycled it into a bracelet.”

“Each individual tin piece is hand cut with tin sheers and filed smooth. I really enjoy working in this medium because no two pieces are the same and the jewelry is really lightweight to wear. I order most of my supplies from Rio Grande including stainless steel split rings, French Shop Shears, tin hole punch, and sterling silver ear wires.” We love to see what our customers are making with the supplies we sell. It makes our job a lot of fun!

The color, forms, vintage graphics, aged tin, and fabrication all come together for an urban/rural mix of fun. Congratulations on what our judge called a “funky and cool” horse bracelet!

Sharon Mossy

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Sharon Mossy’s earrings, aptly named “Dressage.”

Sharon Mossy is a horse lover if we’ve ever seen one. Her model horse hobby has taken her around the country to shows, and she’s earned ribbons to boot. She’s an expert on horses. “The horse models are judged based on their anatomy, biomechanics, and conformation to the breed standards that we’ve assigned to the model. It’s a whole world many people don’t know about!” she says.

Her love of horses carries over to her jewelry, which can be found at her Etsy Store, Emerald Meadow Stables Studios. “As far as jewelry goes,” she says, “I’ve only been making it since November of 2011. I have my mom to thank for it, too, since she gave me a couple kits and wanted me to make them for her as a Christmas gift … my jewelry has just taken off! I went to four fairs this past year, and the response to my jewelry has been incredible!”

She describes her creative process: “I normally start with a bead I really like, and then everything goes from there. I do tend to keep my jewelry on the simple and smaller side, but it’s always fun to see where the piece will end up.” Our judge particularly liked these earrings for their wearability, saying that any horse enthusiast might like to wear these with a comfortable pair of jeans and boots.

The miniature stirrups come from Sharon’s model horse hobby. “I had the 1/9th-scale pewter stirrups and had a heck of a time figuring out what to do with them. There is a whole area of the model horse hobby that makes in-scale tacks for these models. I ended up buying all sorts of stirrups, bits, buckles, and leather. I looked at the stirrups and said, ‘Hey, these would make pretty cool earrings!’ And well, the rest is history. Since these are English stirrups, I selected black and grey for the beads to go with the stirrups since black is a pretty classic color for dressage.”

Sharon told us that she has just started purchasing Argentium® Silver from Rio Grande, and that her favorite pair of pliers are definitely her Lindstrom Round-Nose Pliers. “Other jewelry makers recommended them to me, and I LOVE them. I also love my Xuron Flush Cutters. For the price, you can’t beat the quality of Xuron tools!” she says.

Thanks Sharon, and congratulations!

And for our honorable mention, we would be remiss if we didn’t share the exquisite work of the Hartman Silver Bit & Spur Shop in Culver, Oregon. Ross and Jenna Hartman sent us a photo of a horse bit that, while it’s not jewelry worn by humans, it is jewelry for a horse (sort of). It exhibits such skill and flair, we just had to include it in this post. Visit Ross and Jenna’s Facebook page to see more bits, more horses, and just how much love they put into their shop.

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A remarkable horse bit from the Hartman Silver Bit & Spur Shop in Culver, Oregon and the beautiful bit in action.

Congratulations to Ross and Jenna for their remarkable craftsmanship!

Thank you for stopping by our New Year equestrian jewelry extravaganza! We hope this has inspired you to think about your own themes for 2014. Maybe there’s a horse in your jewelry future! Let us know how we can help you, and if you have questions for the jewelry artists featured today, let us know by leaving a comment here at The Studio.

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