A Cloisonne Workshop with Merry-Lee Rae

Merry-Lee Rae, 2014 Saul Bell Award, First Place Enamel, Bobcat Secret

Merry-Lee Rae, 2014 Saul Bell Award, First Place Enamel, Bobcat Secret

In October, John and I took Merry-Lee Rae’s week long cloisonné workshop. Merry-Lee  is one of my dearest friends and it was a privilege to experience and immerse myself in her creative environment. In addition, it was a joy to sit elbow to elbow with my son and make jewelry together.

View of the cloisonné classroom

View of the cloisonné classroom

John in the studio

John in the studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Japan, Merry-Lee Rae would be considered a national treasure. In the United States her reputation as a world class cloisonné artist was recently recognized in 2014 when she was awarded the Saul Bell Award for best in enamel.

Each of Merry-Lee’s coveted workshops consists of just ten students. Although ours was a beginning enamel class, all of the students in our class had previous art experience.  On the first day, we were all so immersed in our projects that we didn’t break for lunch until 2:00 P.M. Many of us lingered on long after the official ending of the class and it was only Merry-Lee’s yawns and her shutting down of equipment that alerted us that we had overstayed our allotted time.

Applying Enamel

Applying Enamel

Spoonfuls of washed enamel for the Lotus project

Spoonfuls of washed enamel for the Lotus project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the class we were assigned and completed two enamel projects. The first of the projects was a Lotus design of Merry-Lee’s and all of us worked on the same design and learned the many labor intensive steps involved in making an intricate piece of cloisonné jewelry.

Early stage of Lotus project, waiting for pieces to cool.

Early stage of Lotus project, waiting for pieces to cool.

View of the cloisonné classroom

View of the cloisonné classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was interesting to compare everyone’s finished lotus cloisonné and to note the subtle variations of wire work and coloring. Surprisingly, skimming over a seemingly simple step of the involved process could make or break the quality of the final piece. Most of the class finished the lotus project by the end of the second day and by the morning of the third day we were all prepared with to scale colored drawings for our own project.

The completed Lotus Cloisonnés

The completed Lotus Cloisonnés

My expertise is mostly in three dimensional and sculptural design and I had difficulty creating a two dimensional colored line drawing to scale. John on the other hand had sketchbooks full of drawings and it was difficult for him to narrow down his choices. Since many of my jewelry designs have wave motifs, I borrowed and revised one of John’s drawings for my final project. John, who like his mother loves reptiles, sketched a chameleon on a branch for his project.

Early stage of my Wave cloisonné

Early stage of my Wave cloisonné

Early stage of John's Chameleon cloisonné

Early stage of John’s Chameleon cloisonné

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We prepped and domed our fine silver blanks, played with fire to flash and purify the surfaces, counter enameled the reverse sides to prevent warping and spent hours bending intricate wires to conform to the our line drawings. We washed our many colored ground enamels in distilled water and learned in what order to apply the various colors to achieve both depth and transparency. We laboriously applied layer after layer of enamel and kiln fired each layer, impatiently waiting for the piece to cool before returning to our work station to apply yet another layer of ground enamel and to repeat the process. Eventually, the layers of enamels reached the top of our bent wires and we pumiced the surface by hand to expose the wires and polish the enamel smooth.  A final firing gave our pieces a glass like finish and for most of us, gave us satisfying results and a great appreciation for the cloisonné process.

John's completed Chameleon and my completed Wave cloisonné

John’s completed Chameleon and my completed Wave cloisonné

Grinding out an imperfection in the enamel.

Grinding out an imperfection in the enamel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thank Merry-Lee for sharing her techniques. Her studio is enviable; equipped with tools most of us only dream of and she was patient and thorough in teaching us the cloisonné process. I am richer for having taken her workshop and although I don’t imagine that I will be pursuing a career in cloisonné, this workshop has expanded my creativity and technical abilities overall.

Merry-Lee Rae’s website.

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The End of the Marty Magic Show Season

Mime, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Living Statue Street Performer Half Moon Bay Festival

Giant Pumpkin Carving, Half Moon Bay Festival

Giant Pumpkin Carving, Half Moon Bay Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival was our final California show and it ‘Rocked’ in spite of the wind and the rain. We came prepared with a 40 ft sheet of plastic sheeting to cover and bridge our two canopies together. We also came with a positive attitude and a sense of  humor which made setting up our 20 foot booth in the dark with the aide of only solar and head lamps more amusing than stressful.

Rainy Day Shoppers Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Rainy Day Shoppers, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

John and Jackie, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

John and Jackie, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Day Shoppers, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Rainy Day Shoppers, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

 

It was very windy on Saturday and our plastic rain cover acted like a parachute but we were well weighted and John or Alisha would occasionally jump up and grab the canopy struts when gusts of wind threatened to take our booth to the Land of Oz. In spite of the weather, serious customers came out to shop and sales were good!  At the end of the day my competent crew of John, Alisha and Jackie lowered the canopies and wrapped our booth as securely as possible to protect it from the nights rain.

Waterfall Show Time

Clear the way! Waterfall showtime!

Clearing the Pools of Rain

Clearing the pools of rain from our canopy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, we arrived at dawn and were delighted to find our booth intact and relatively dry. It drizzled and rained all day and multiple lakes of water continually pooled in our overhead plastic canopy cover. At periodical intervals, John or Alisha would climb onto our table, warn nearby shoppers and announce a waterfall show as they prodded and pushed from below to move and empty the pooled water towards the outer edges of the canopy resulting in our waterfall shows. In spite of the continual rain, the inside of our booth remained quite dry and serious shoppers took shelter within our booth taking ownership of numerous purple boxes stuffed with Marty Magic Jewelry. Miraculously, the sun came out at pack up and between the four of us we had our double booth loaded into the van in record time.

Marty and the Loaded Van

Marty and the loaded van

End of the Season Toast

End of the season toast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived back at our home studio just after dark and popped a bottle of champagne to toast to  a successful end of the season show!

The nine week Maryland Renaissance Fair closed just last week and my Maryland crew has buttoned up our shop until August of 2017. I have a fabulous and seasoned crew but the weather is always the wild card. Between near 100% humidity in early September and a threatening hurricane, the crew sweated and slogged through rain and mud for much of the season. Happily, the weather on the weekend that Alisha, John and I attended was perfect and it was wonderful to see so many friends and collectors.

Marty Magic Shop, Maryland

Marty Magic Shop in Maryland, closed for the season. See you in 2017!

The show season may be over but the Magic team is now preparing for the onslaught of online holiday shopping so stay tuned for our five day Cyber-riffic Sale, our biggest of the year!

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The Magic Family at the Maryland Renaissance Festival

A Wicked Smile

A Wicked Smile – Marty Magic Shop Maryland

Our costumes are unpacked and put away for another year but the memories and photos of last weeks trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival are fresh.

Marty with customers at her shop

Marty with customers at the Marty Magic Shop

Marty, John, Alisha and her two children, Molly and Sterling attended the fair. While Marty worked, the family played hard!

Sweet Treat, Molly

Sweet Treat, Molly

Sterling, Knight in Training

Sterling, Knight in Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend’s weather was perfect and there were throngs of attendees and many walked away wearing a Marty Magic ear cuff, pendant or ring.

Magic Molly

Magic Molly

The Maryland Magic Crew

The Maryland Magic Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when the kids and grandkids were out of control, there were the stocks:)

Alisha, Far From Slothful

Alisha, far from Slothful

Molly Gossip

Molly Gossip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash back to thirteen years ago when John was just ten years old.  John is just getting into different types of mischief:)

Then: John in the Stocks

Then: John in the Stocks

Now: John in the Stocks

Now: John in the Stocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are games of all sorts; the favorite being the Jacob’s Ladder challenge.  John mastered the art of climbing Jacob’s Ladder many years ago and now it’s time for Molly and Sterling to learn the balancing act. This season, John excelled by climbing it while balancing a full beer. Should I be proud?

Beer and Jacob's Ladder

Balancing a Beer on Jacob’s Ladder?

Sterling Jacob's Ladder

Sterling Climbing Jacob’s Ladder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a remarkable Maryland Crew and after many fair hours on our feet, I treat the team to dinner. This year it was Chinese.

The Phenicie Family Team

The Phenicie Home Team

Alisha and Kidlets

Alisha and ‘Kidlets’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leah and Molly

Leah and Molly

Jacqueline and Kelly

Jacqueline and Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have had my shop at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for over 30 years. The fair has expanded around me and we have a strong following of collectors who come each season. I am grateful to have such a competent sales crew and such a loyal following! Thank you All!

Marty Magic Customers

Marty Magic Customers

Marty Magic Shop, Maryland

Marty Magic Shop, Maryland

 

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Cataclysmania Inspiration

Cosmos Ring - Side View - Wax Original

Cosmos Ring – Side View

Cosmos Ring - Wax Original

Cosmos Ring – Wax Original

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having just sculpted a new Cosmos Ring, I am reflecting on where my inspiration for this design came from. Van Gough’s Starry Night, thick with swirls of cosmic paint, and one of my favorite paintings is an obvious influence. However, the greatest influence to my work, style and choice of subject matter comes from my mother.  Below are just a few illustrations from a short narrative poetry book that my mother began writing and illustrating in the early 1940’s while attending Pomona College in Claremont. Many of the pen and ink illustrations are of whirlpools, waves, fiery comets, and ethereal cloud-engulfed landscapes.

Cataclysmania - Betty Crowell 'Celestial Cosmos'

Cataclysmania – Betty Crowell ‘Celestial Cosmos’

Cataclysmania - Betty Crowell "whirlpool"

Cataclysmania – Betty Crowell ‘Whirlpool’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cataclysmania - Betty Crowell 'Exodus of the Animals'

Cataclysmania – Betty Crowell ‘Exodus of the Animals’

Cataclysmania - Betty Crowell 'Sore-line Ripples'

Cataclysmania – Betty Crowell ‘Shoreline Ripples’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prior to my mother’s passing, my husband Art diligently formatted my mother’s prose and illustrations to be published in book form. Unfortunately the book was not printed prior to her passing but she was pleased that the project was progressing.  Several years later, Alisha spent hours carefully formatting her grandmother’s original pen and ink drawings into an archival notebook.

Alisha archiving the original illustrations for Cataclaysmania

Alisha archiving the original illustrations for Cataclaysmania

John was so taken by his grandmother’s artwork that he choose one of her drawings as a tattoo. I don’t know if his grandmother feels honored about this or is turning over in her grave.

Grandson John - Wave Crest Tattoo

Cresting Waves Tattoo

Cataclysmania - Cresting Waves

Cataclysmania Illustration – Cresting Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inking - Cataclysmania

The Inking – Cresting Waves

 

 

Betty Crowell - Early 1940's

Betty Crowell – Early 1940’s

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The Making of a Goddess

Although I may be somewhat prejudiced in how I view my compassionate, intelligent, talented and beautiful daughter, it was a wonderful experience to watch Alisha’s transformation from grounded mother, daughter, wife and jeweler into the realm of Goddess.

Goddess Alisha, photo by Emily of Sonoran Muses

Goddess Alisha, photo by Emily of Sonoran Muses

Alisha met Emily, the traveling photographer and facilitator of transformative photo shoots, at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show this past February. A collaboration between Emily of Sonoran Muses and Marty Magic Jewelry unfolded this summer.

We were instructed to bring flowers, so the afternoon before Alisha picked flowers from a neighbor’s garden to be woven into a flower headdress. She choose three outfits; one of which Emily would choose for the shoot.

Alisha Picking Flowers

Alisha Picking Flowers

Pink Flowers

Pink Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Flowers

Blue Flowers

Collected Flowers

Collected Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day of the photo shoot started early and we arrived at Emily’s host house in Boulder Creek at 6:30 A.M. From the three outfits Alisha had brought, the white dress won hands down and Alisha’s transformation began. Applying makeup and arranging the flowers in Alisha’s hair took nearly three hours. We sipped coffee, chatted and laughed a lot throughout.

The White Dress

The White Dress

Emily applying Alisha's makeup

Emily applying Alisha’s makeup

 

 

 

 

 

 

The making of the flower head-dress

The making of the flower head-dress

Finishing the Flower Head-dress

Finishing the Flower Head-dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

False Eye Lashes

False Eye Lashes

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drive from Boulder Creek to Shark’s Fin Cove took nearly an hour but we were finally on location by 11:00 A.M. The day was visually beautiful, but what you can’t see in the photos is the chill, or wind factor, and Alisha was scantily clothed.  While I bundled my coat and scarf around me and tried to keep out of the wind, it was necessary for Alisha  to step bravely out into the elements and to keep her teeth from chattering.

Emily and Alisha

Emily and Alisha

Alisha - Photo by Emily of Sonoran Muse

Alisha – Photo by Emily of Sonoran Muses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mermaid Queen

Mermaid Queen

Grotto Guardian

Grotto Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tentacle Goddess

Tentacle Goddess

 

 

Alisha, photo by Emily of Sonoran Muses

Alisha, photo by Emily of Sonoran Muses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo shoot took two hours and I knew that Alisha was chilled to the bone especially after wading into the waves inside the cave grotto for the final set of silhouette photos.

Silhouette of Alisha

Silhouette of Alisha

Silhouette of Alisha

Silhouette of Alisha

 

 

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Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Detail of Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Detail of Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Just last week, I returned from a trip to Italy, Croatia and Amsterdam. As artists, our focus was the art and we visited some of the finest museums in the world.  The Vatican Museum, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are just a few of the “rock star” museums  we visited. Very few art museums escaped our radar, but of the dozens of museums we visited, the Borghese Gallery in Rome was my favorite, and one painting in particular captured my heart, a small painting by Jacopo Zucchi, the Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America.

Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Detail of Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

Detail of Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reservations are required for this intimate museum experience and we have a limited two-hour time slot in which to tour the exquisite collection. Our son John wanders off on his own, and Art and I glide the marble-inlayed floors together through rooms filled with remarkable masterpieces. In the midst of all the monumental sculpture and larger than life paintings, a small painting by Jacopo Zucchi, the Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America, captures my eye. Water nymphs hold branches of coral and frolic with monkeys, parrots, and lobsters. Abalone shells ripe with pearls and a jeweled treasure-trove of shells and coral surround Neptune, who is crowned with red coral.

Borghese Gallery Rome

Borghese Gallery Rome

Appolo and Daphne by Bernini

Appolo and Daphne by Bernini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps it is my love of the ocean and that many of my jewelry designs are ocean and tide-pool themed but this small jewel of a painting delights me. When we catch up with John, he wants to show me a favorite painting of his. Can you guess which one it was?

A week later when we are in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I stumble upon a red coral jewelry workshop and learn about the deep sea Mediterranean and Adriatic Red Coral. I surmise that it is this type of  coral that Jacopo Zucchi painted in his Allegoria Della Scoperta dell’ America; The Allegory of the Discovery of America.

2016, Coral Workshop, Dubrovnik, Croatia

2016, Coral Workshop, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Red Coral Workshop

Red Coral Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precious coral or red coral is the common name of Corallium Rubrum, a variety of coral species that grow at great depths. Its skeleton is durable and, when polished, is intensely red or pink in color and suitable for making jewelry.

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Walk of Atonement – Game of Thrones Inspiration

Cersei's Walk of Atonement Photo Credit: Game of Thrones

Cersei’s Walk of Atonement Photo Credit: Game of Thrones

Walk of Atonement Stairway - Dubrovnik

Walk of Atonement Stairway – Dubrovnik

Episodes of the Game of Thrones were filmed in Dubrovnik and just last week I was standing on this very spot where a wide and elegant marble stairway ascends to an upper plaza. This stone stairway was featured in the “Walk of Atonement” episode and I am excited to see it. I imagine Queen Cersei Lannister, stripped naked and making her walk of penance down the staircase past the jeering crowds. Dubrovnik is a bewitching city, the very essence of a medieval Mediterranean fantasy and the perfect setting for filming The Game of Thrones.

A sinner comes before you, Cersei of House Lannister. Mother to His Grace, King Tommen, widow of His Grace, King Robert. She has committed the acts of falsehood and fornication. She has confessed her sins, and begged for forgiveness. To demonstrate her repentance, she will cast aside all pride, all artifice, and present herself as the gods made her… to you, the good people of this city. She comes before you with a solemn heart, shorn of secrets, naked before the eyes of gods and men, to make her walk of atonement.“― The High Sparrow to the people of King’s Landing[src]

Game of Thrones Stairway - Dubrovnik

Walk of Atonement Stairway – Dubrovnik

Marty, Walk of Atonement Staircase, Dubrovnik

Marty standing on the Walk of Atonement Staircase, Dubrovnik

 

 

 

 

 

Walk of Atonement Stairway - Dubrovnik

Walk of Atonement Stairway – Dubrovnik

 

 

 

 

I return my thoughts to the present, and Queen Cersei fades from my mind, and the jeering crowds turn into photo snapping tourists, myself one of them. I dutifully take photos and plan to come back early tomorrow morning when I can take photos without the tourists.

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Archipelago Moon Dragon Pendant

This  one of a kind, Archipelago Moon Dragon Pendant has been gestating for five years.

Archipelago Moon Dragon Opal Pendant

Archipelago Moon Dragon Opal Pendant

I am proud to announce that just last week, John graduated with honors from S.F.S.U. with his Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology and Limnology. Everyone knows what marine biology is but not everyone is familiar with the term limnology; the study of inland bodies of water; lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands.

John with Shark Graduation Announcement

John with Shark Graduation Announcement

S.F.S.U. graduation at ATT Park

S.F.S.U. graduation at ATT Park

S.F.S.U. Biology department graduation

S.F.S.U. Biology department graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five years ago when John graduated from high school, he was reluctant to leave his friends in Santa Cruz and considered doing his first two years at Cabrillo City College. I pushed for him to leave Santa Cruz and he acquiesced and entered S.F.S.U. as a freshman.

Reef Treasure - 27.5 Carat Australian Korite Opal

Reef Treasure – 27.5 Carat Australian Korite Opal

Moorea, French Polynesia

Moorea, French Polynesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t pretend that my bribe to make him a one of a kind 18K gold opal pendant had much to do with his decision but I promised him that when he graduated with a four year degree he could have his pick of any opal in my collection. Wanting to be somewhat surprised John choose several opals and told me to pick one for his custom piece. I chose this Australian Korite Opal because last fall, John did a semester abroad at the Berkeley Gump research center in Moorea. Moorea is part of part of the French Polynesia’s Society Islands archipelago.This intoxicating opal is the color of a tropical reef. The dragon and the opal are the main elements but I created a wave and flame setting around the lower portion of the opal and incorporated both a moonstone and a tourmaline in the design.

We gave John the Archipelago Moon Dragon Opal Pendant this past weekend and he was thrilled.

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Prince’s Love Symbol Cufflinks

Prince Symbol Cufflinks with Cubic Zirconias

Prince Symbol Cufflinks with Cubic Zirconias

Between 2006 and 2011 Prince wore pairs of these sterling silver Love Symbol Cufflinks. They were bezel set with 10mm Cubic Zirconias.  When Prince was on tour, the unexpected might happen and I soon came to understand that Paisley Park might call or e-mail me at any time with a rush order. I had this pair on reserve for Prince prior to his death.

Not for sale; part of the Marty Magic collection.

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Blazing Comet Ear Wraps for Prince

“Worn by Prince,” Comet and Moon and Star Ear Wraps up for auction.  My Comet Ear Wrap design is a blast from the past!

Screen Shot, Comet Ear Wrap worn by Prince Auction

Screen Shot, Comet Ear Wrap worn by Prince Auction

In March of this year, (2016) prior to Prince’s death, Mayte, Prince’s first wife, auctioned two pairs of  “Worn by Prince”, Marty Magic Ear Wraps. The Comet Ear Wraps pictured above had a starting bid of $5,000. The auction description is “ Ear cuff in the shape of swirling feathers, personally worn by Prince. The fanciful piece of jewelry is most likely gold plated sterling silver. Reverse of ear cuff contains designer imprint that reads: “Marty” Measures 2.5”. Minor tarnishing, otherwise near fine condition. From the collection of Mayte Garcia.”

I made several pairs of these Comet Ear Wrap for Prince personally, gold plated and set with CZ’s.  I like the auction description of swirling feathers but there are clearly 4 stars involved in this design and my vision was a blazing comet. I created this design in 1985 and it was SO 1980’s! I set 1 CZ in the vortex of the Comet and 4 smaller CZ’s in the cascading stars. The photo below of the Comet Ear Wrap with a Shooting Star accent earring was taken in the mid 1980’s by my mother, Betty Crowell.

Vintage Gold Plated Comet Ear Wrap with CZ's

Vintage Gold Plated Comet Ear Wrap with CZ’s

Pictured below is the iconic pair of Moon and Star Ear Wraps, worn by Prince at the 1998 NBA All Star game with the starting bid of $7,000. The auction description is “The playful pieces of jewelry are gold plated sterling silver with silver percentage stamp, designer and date marked: “925/ Marty 1994”.  Measures 1.75”. Some wear and tarnishing but overall very good condition. From the collection of Mayte Garcia.

Screen Shot Moon Ear Wrap Prince Auction

Screen Shot Moon Ear Wrap Prince Auction

In late 1998, Prince and his band wore pairs of my Moon and Star Ear Wraps with the free swinging star both in sterling silver and in Vermille. (gold plated sterling silver.) Paisley Park ordered several hundred pairs to resell on their fan based website and at concerts and events. Over the course of several years, Prince’s costume designers ordered variations of this design in sterling silver and vermille; both with and without CZ’s. I also made a pair or three of this design in solid 14K gold set with diamonds in the cheeks of the Moon Face as well as in the free swinging star.

Left and Right Comet Ear Wrap Masters

Left and Right Comet Ear Wrap Masters

I am reissuing the Comet Ear Wrap design that Prince wore and it will be available for sale on my web site by the end of June. I keep the masters to my designs in a safety deposit box. Let me explain the image of the Comet Ear Wraps above. I sculpted the originals in  wax and subsequently they were cast in sterling silver. A rubber mold was made off the masters above and the mold making process oxidizes the sterling silver. For this photograph, I gently polished the comet on the left but did not polish the comet on the right. The bars you see protruding from the ear wraps are called sprues and are instrumental in the lost wax casting process.

Makers Mark Comet Ear Wrap Reverse

Makers Mark Comet Ear Wrap Reverse

Above is the image of the back side of my Comet Ear Wrap masters, The left master is dated 1985 and signed Marty Macklin. (Macklin was my previous married name.) I created a right version of this design after I remarried and changed my business name to Marty Magic.

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