The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

In the Spotlight: The Magical Colors of Hsu Studios

May 8, 2014
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Amy Cliser
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Santaluna by Hsu Studios

"Santaluna," mobile of anodized aluminum pieces, 70” in diameter. Santaluna means “equilibrium” in Hindi.

Beautiful bursts of color. That’s what Hsu Studios of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, creates with anodized aluminum. Carol and Jean-Pierre Hsu turn it into jewelry, wall art, and mobiles, and many people clearly love it.

For a long time, Carol and Jean-Pierre worked in separate studios, one for metal and one for clay. In 1984, they merged their talents and became Hsu Studios. Jean-Pierre spoke with us about their choice of materials, saying, "The medium we currently work with is aluminum, one of the most ubiquitous materials in the world. As a basic element in almost every industry, we enjoy the challenge of creating uncommon works with a common material."

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"Long Moln" earrings from Hsu Studios. Moln means "cloud" in Swedish.

Now, there are many ways to color metal. The anodizing that Hsu Studios does is aluminum anodizing—a different process from the titanium and niobium anodizing you may have seen on Rio's website or read about here on The Studio. (If you're interested in learning more about anodizing titanium and niobium, check out last month's post by Ashli Brooke Taylor, Creating & Coloring Jewelry with Reactive Metals and Anodizing.)

Instead of titanium and niobium, Jean-Pierre and Carol begin with mill-finish aluminum, which they texture and anodize before creating their pieces. Aluminum anodizing is an electrochemical process of oxidizing and then dyeing the surface of the metal, which creates an infinite array of colors.

Carol and Jean-Pierre have developed a line of anodized aluminum jewelry that is vibrant, contemporary, and physically light-weight—a benefit of aluminum. He says, "Change is always important to us. We continually explore new possibilities of design and technique, from the small scale of jewelry to much more voluminous mobiles and sculpture. Also, color is always a predominant element of our work."

Through color, form, and line, Hsu Studios brings balance to their designs. Their earrings and other pieces of jewelry are small mobiles expressing equilibrium, not just through visual design elements but also through the material distribution of weight. "We see mobiles expressing balance in our lives," Jean-Pierre explains, "family, community, work, and environment. Dynamic line and motion together display interdependence to the whole. We choose simple lines, showing form and giving each piece character of expression, movement, and depth."

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"Tarka" pin, 2.25" square. Tarka means "dawn" in Hindi.

Carol observes an exciting relationship that develops between customers and their Hsu Studios jewelry. "We encourage our customers to choose earrings with asymmetry and liveliness that may go beyond their standard comfort zone. They usually come back for even more color and challenge with each additional pair. It's a very rewarding interaction when someone reaches beyond their personal norms and leans toward a new arena of confidence," she says.

As West Virginia artists, Hsu Studios is an active, creative part of a vital arts community. They have participated in juried craft fairs and numerous exhibitions across the country for close to 40 years. They also create special order, custom-designed mobiles and wall-pieces in any scale. "We spend most of our time in our studio with our production lines which are available at craft galleries and museum stores across the country."

Hsu Studios participates in various art events and if you are in one of the following areas, you can see their beautiful work in person.  They participate in the Berkeley Springs Studio Tour; the American Craft Council Shows including those in San Francisco and Baltimore; the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, Massachusetts in October; and the Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show in November.

We were so pleased to get to speak with Hsu Studios and hope that you enjoyed seeing another side of coloring metal through anodizing. If you have questions, leave us a comment. And, of course, don’t forget to stop by the Hsu Studios website, where there’s even more magic to see.

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The pieces created at Hsu Studios add artistic flair in both public and residential settings.

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Ashli’s Tumbler Series: Top-of-the-Line Jewelry Tumble-Finishing with Avalon

Feb 24, 2014
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In this fourth installment of Ashli’s Tumbler Series, she introduces us to Avalon Centrifugal tumblers. Avalon tumblers are easy to operate and provide a remarkably quick and consistent jewelry finish. They also eliminate media impingement (surface deformation or dimpling) that can be caused by certain media in other finishers. Check out this and ALL of Ashli’s tumbler posts to find the right tumbler for your needs!

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Ashli’s Tumbler Series: Great Vibrations—Efficient and Effective Jewelry Finishing with a Vibratory Tumbler

Jan 20, 2014
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In this third installment of Ashli’s Tumbler Series, Ashli explains how you can use a vibratory finisher to create the finish you want on your jewelry pieces in less time and for a lower overall cost. Vibratory finishers are ideal for abrasive cut-down processes, as well as for burnishing and polishing tasks. Is a vibratory tumbler right for you? Visit The Studio to take a look at this and ALL of Ashli’s Tumbler Series—her helpful expertise will demystify your tumbling options and guide you to your ideal choice.

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Ashli’s Tumbler Series: Effective, Economical Finishing with Rotary Tumblers

Nov 14, 2013
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In this second installment of Ashli’s Tumbler Series, Ashli shares her favorite things about Rotary Tumblers. Rotary tumblers are a great, economical way to mass-process jewelry and eliminate the need to work parts individually. They are excellent for burnishing jewelry in hard-to-reach areas, burnishing metal clay creations, removing tarnish from most jewelry, as well as performing abrasive cut-down and polishing processes. Rotary tumblers are simple to use and create some remarkable jewelry finishes with far less effort.

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Plate Brilliantly with Ultrabright Rhodium Solution from MIDAS®

Nov 4, 2013
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Viqui Sanchez
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Until now, jewelers sometimes found working with rhodium plating solutions to be challenging because of the fairly precise settings needed to ensure a crisp, bright-white, professional result. But, have you heard? Legor® and MIDAS® have combined their expertise in metals and plating, respectively, to create a rhodium plating solution that makes the plating process far easier while delivering results that are brighter, whiter and more dependable.

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Ashli’s Tumbler Series: Create an Irresistibly Attractive Finish with a Magnetic Finisher!

Oct 4, 2013
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Shine up your jewelry pieces quickly and easily using a magnetic finisher. Did you know a magnetic finisher takes half the time of a traditional rotary tumbler with stainless steel shot? Magnetic finishers are extremely fast and efficient, offer a great way to remove tarnish and other soils, contaminants, and debris that may be caught in recesses, details, undercuts and other hard-to-reach areas of your work. They are also a simple way to create a shiny finish.

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Video How-To with Bill Seeley: Anodizing Titanium and Niobium

Aug 28, 2013
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Molly Therese Bell

Looking to inject some vivid color into your jewelry-making process? Get the information you need to dive into anodizing niobium and titanium from this terrific step-by-step video with Bill Seeley, anodizing guru and founder of Reactive Metals Studio, Inc.

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Lady Liberty Goes—er, Stays—Green

Jul 4, 2013
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Alex Schexnayder
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You may not know that the same eco-friendly technology that gives jewelry makers and jewelry lovers alike products such as Intercept Technology™ Tarnish Tamers and other tarnish protection products had a major role in keeping the Statue of Liberty looking her best as she shines brightly over New York Harbor.

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JCK Las Vegas 2013: The Recap

Jun 3, 2013
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Amy Cliser
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This weekend, I attended my first JCK show—and wow, was there a lot to take in. Rio Grande’s booth was chock-full of tools and equipment—and the “Rio Superstars” who demonstrated them to scores of interested individuals asking, “So, how does this work?” The air was filled with the great energy of questions, sharing, and “ah-ha!” moments.

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A Feast For the Eyes: Color Fun for Jewelry Making!

May 6, 2013
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Amy Cliser
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There are myriad ways to add color to your work, including finishing your metals, and there are so many metals and textured finishes to choose from, such as PMC in silver, bronze, copper, and gold. Check out these inspiring color palettes and then get busy creating your own color masterpieces!

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