Hello Halsted began back in Summer 2012 shortly after my first experiments with jewelry-making. I started off creating simple earrings out of painted wood and resin (some of you might even remember those!) while slowly teaching myself how to solder and work with metals. I remember the moment that I first introduced dried flowers into my work, and it never felt so gratifying to see a piece come together. Oddly enough, I wasn't even a big fan of flowers at the time, but that was about to change. Though my work has transformed very much over the years, resin has remained my favorite medium to create with.
I typically work on one large batch of jewelry over several weeks, and then release everything during what I call a "Shop Update". I try to have one shop update per month, though it depends on how many pieces are in the batch, or how long it takes to source materials. Each of my pieces goes through a lengthy process that I do in 4 stages for every batch of jewelry that I make. I get a lot of questions about these processes, so here's a short summary of everything that goes into my work.
The first stage is collecting the flowers and botanicals that I'll be using for my batch. This includes hopping around flower shops in my city, sourcing what I can online, dyeing flowers different colors, drying them, and snipping them up into tiny pieces. Sometimes I even paint them or glue tiny elements together to create something new. My favorite flower to collect in the Summer time is Queen Anne's Lace, which I use in almost all of my batches. You'll recognize it as the fluffy white weed that grows near the highway, although it comes with many lookalike varieties - even one that grows in purple! The ultimate irony is that I am actually very allergic to them, so I always need to work with an air purifier and some allergy meds. I am always on the hunt for new small botanicals to use. I tend to work very small-scale, so the tinier the flower - the better!
The next step is creating all of my metalwork. I solder each and every piece together in my home studio, pictured below. This includes a lot of hammering, sawing, working with a torch, and is easily the most laborious yet rewarding part. Every piece needs to be cleaned through a process called "pickling", so funny enough - all of my jewelry is pickled! I sand everything down to have a smooth finish, and complete every piece with a polishing in my tumbler. I work mainly with sterling silver and gold-fill, but will include rose gold-fill or raw brass every once in a while.
The third step is applying resin. Resin is a two part polymer that hardens to a solid once it's properly combined together. Every piece has anywhere from 3-7 layers of resin on it, and every layer of resin needs a full 12-24 hours to fully cure. I take very careful steps to ensure that I remove all, or as much as I can, of any air bubbles inside of the resin using degassing equipment. To make it even more time consuming, I remove any remaining bubbles or small particles one by one with a toothpick (cue the neck pain). It's important to make sure that no particles or small hairs floating around in the air end up sticking to the resin during it's curing phase. All of these techniques give the piece a crystal clear look with a hardened glass-like surface.
The last step is assembling the finished pieces. This includes cutting chain, applying a final polish, oxidizing sterling silver, assembling necklaces, measuring rings, attaching earring hooks, and whatever else needs to be finished up. I can then do my photoshoots and start setting up my shop updates for all of you amazing people.
All of these steps are made possible by your wonderful support. I feel very lucky to be able to work with my hands for a living, and am so grateful for such an amazing community. I hope I can continue to create pieces that you'll enjoy, and even expand into other mediums. Thank you for following along on social media, for your kind comments, and for granting me this creative life. - Steph