Inside the Studio with Ema Kilroy of Ema K Designs

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
Congratulations Colleen! You have won three beautiful, beaded beads from Rebecca at The Curious Bead Shop. Please send Rebecca an email with your information.
Hi Friends.
Recently I needed to summarize my creative process for some pieces I was creating for a special project. You’ll have to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about where these pieces are heading and why I documented the process. I love to know how an artist works and I thought you might be interested too. So I thought I’d share my creative process with you in today’s Inside the Studio post.
I begin with metal scraps. Thus far all of the copper I use has been salvaged and upcycled from the construction industry. Here’s a look at the raw metal before being turned into pieces worthy of jewelry designs.
The copper is annealed (heated with a flame until it is glowing red) to soften the metal, pickled and then cleaned.
Patterns are added. The metal is cut using metal shears or disc cutters.

I then use a grinding stone to round off any sharp, pointy edges.
Now comes the fun part…..
I have collected and dried an assortment of flowers. I’m so excited that Spring is here as I continue to add to this collection everyday. I then apply the dried flowers to the component. Individually placing the flowers sometimes placing one little stem or flower to harmonzie with the shape of the component. 
In the step above I created a sandwich of paper, copper, flowers and paper. The sandwich is run through the rolling mill, impressing the dried flower into the metal, thus creating an image on the copper.

After the images have been impressed into the metal, pieces are tumbled to remove any construction grime and work harden the softened metal.
Fresh out of the tumbler. It makes all the difference. The pieces are so nice and shiney. Finally starting to look like something to be used in a piece of jewelry.

Liver of sulfer patina is applied. 

The pieces are hand sanded and dipped into liver of sulfer multiple times until I’m satisfied with the end result.
Renaissance wax is applied to finish each piece.
All these pieces have been sent to Chris Thommen at The Art of the Bead and will be for sale at Bead & Button June 6 -8, 2014. You can read the back story over at my blog over at Ema K designs. So if you’re going to be in Milwaukee, WI and attending the Bead & Button show stop by booth #1200 to pick up your favorite.
A personal note:  Here in the US Memorial Day Weekend begins tonight, a time to celebrate and remember those who have served our country and lost their lives doing so. A special time to honor those who have fallen. Personally, I honor those who have served in any capacity. I would be amiss if I didn’t give a shout out to all our military branches for the incredible job their doing! One my best girlfriends has been in the US Army for 20 years! I’m so proud of my friend Marilyn! 
I’m going to giveaway a copper pendant impressed with baby breathe, 1.25 inches round (impressed image may vary from picture). Answer the question below in your comment for your chance to win. 
Next week I’m planning to write a post about tools. Since I work in two different mediums I could go a  couple of different ways with this. I’d like to hear from you. What would you be most interested in? Do you want to see an overview of metal working tools or lampworking tools? As always, thanks for visiting ABS today!
Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

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36 Comment

  1. NEDbeads
    May 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Such gorgeous components! I love seeing the process, it always amazes me how much work goes into creating each beautiful piece. 🙂 I would love to hear more about lamp working tools, the glass process fascinates me, even though I only end up getting to work with the finished beads. Thank you for sharing with us!

  2. NEDbeads
    May 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Such gorgeous components! I love seeing the process, it always amazes me how much work goes into creating each beautiful piece. 🙂 I would love to hear more about lamp working tools, the glass process fascinates me, even though I only end up getting to work with the finished beads. Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. Deb Fortin
    May 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I love that your copper pieces all come from recycled (or up cycled) metal. I too have obtained copper sheet from my local scrap metal yard. I cut my pieces with metal shears.
    I didn't know that something as squishy as flowers could add an imprint to metal. incredible. I'd go try it right now buy alas i don't have a rolling mill.
    so my vote for your tool expose would be for metal working tools.

  4. Wendy
    May 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    beautiful components, it was great t see how they're made. Which tools would I like an overview of? Both really, but metal more so as I'm getting ready to have a go at metal working myself.

  5. Becky Pancake
    May 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Emma I really enjoyed seeing your process. I would prefer to see your lampworking tool as i am interested in starting lampworking. I will look for your pieces at B&B.

  6. Divya N
    May 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I just looked at an artist's work who had used a rolling mill and was wondering where I could read about it and then I opened this page. I am so happy to have come across the info I wanted direct from the artist's mouth. I do metal work but with the most basic tools so I would love to know more about tumblers, mills, embossing tools, etching or enamelling tools

  7. Linda Y
    May 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Great post! Very informative. I love these pieces. I would love to see an overview of metal working tools.

  8. Sarajo Wentling
    May 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I love your gorgeous pieces, Ema! Just fabulous and I'd be so lucky to win that sweet pendant.

    For me I'd love to see more about metal working tools. I adore lampwork glass, but have no illusions (delusions?) that I'd ever work in that medium. Metal work feels much more of a next step for me. Thanks!

  9. Erin S
    May 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I had NO IDEA that something as soft as dried flowers would make an impression in copper. The finished pieces look amazing!

    I'd rather read about metal working tools, since I don't do any lampworking.

  10. Pam Sears
    May 23, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    It's amazing to me something as soft and giving as a dried flower will leave such a clear impression in metal (even annealed). These are amazing. And, personally, I'd like to hear more about metal working tools as I'm taking sloooow baby steps into that process.

  11. Shaiha
    May 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Those are gorgeous! Are you going to be selling them elsewhere so those of us that can't make it to to B&B would be able to pick some up?

    I would like to learn more about metal working tools. I just picked up a flex shaft and would love to learn more ways to use it.

  12. Kristina
    May 23, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Such beautiful pendants! Though I love metal and want to become more familiar with working it, I would love to see lampworking tools and techniques. I may never get into glass myself, but I'd love to learn about it.

  13. Shalane Hopkins
    May 23, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    That's absolutely incredible! I love seeing your process for how you created those pieces – definitely inspires me. Personally I'd love to see more info on metalworking tools as that is something I am hoping to get more into in the near future…

  14. Meadowland Designs
    May 23, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Wow! I'm amazed that the rolling mill can imprint the flower shapes onto the copper pieces (which all look lovely & fascinating!)

    If I must choose just one kind of tools, it would be to see the metal working set…however it would be awesome if you could do the lampwork tools, maybe in a later post?
    Thanks for sharing with us!

    ~ Catherine

  15. jackie
    May 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I vote for metalworking tools. I am just getting started in this medium and would love some tool info.

  16. Kristen
    May 24, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I have been wanted a rolling mill for a long time so I would love to learn more about them. Thanks for this post!

  17. Angi
    May 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your creative process! I am a beginning metal smith, and getting to see all of your steps is so helpful to my learning process! Your designs are amazing and I want one of each of your components! I would love to see an article about your metal working tools!

    Angi Mullis [email protected]

  18. Maneki
    May 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    'sigh* Oh, I want a rolling mill too! Them seem such fun to work with.

    Well, as metal is one of the media I like to work with I'll vote for that.

  19. Lynn
    May 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Oh, Ema, that was so informative and interesting to really see your process of creating your gorgeous copper components. I wore my bracelet with the fern imprint focal yesterday and I just love looking at that beautiful copper focal. I would vote for learning more on the tools you use—I probably will never be able to afford major tools like that, but I love using your beautiful components. Lynn 🙂

  20. Susan
    May 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Love your pieces, they are very unique. To answer your question, I'm very interested in learning to make lampwork beads so I'd be most interested in the tools used in that process!

  21. uglibeads
    May 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I'm a beadmaker too, so I always love to see lampworking stuff! The pendant with the impressed flowers is just beautiful. — Julie Wong Sontag

  22. Eileen The Artful Crafter
    May 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Metal working tools please! Metal stamped, patinaed pieces are huge today.

    I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI and still have a lot of family there. How I wish I could be at the Bead and Button Show!

    This was a fascinating post. Your setup looks so industrial that it's intimadating, but still fascinating 😉

    Beautiful, beautiful work!

    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Ann
    May 24, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Love your process. I would love to see some lamp working tools. That would be interesting!

  24. Beth
    May 25, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Well, since I just stumbled on to your blog… I would be willing to see everything discussed in the tools… post. But I'll settle for what ever you decide.

  25. Jean
    May 25, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Dear Ema, thank you for the chance to win a giveaway from incredibly talented you! My comment may not be able to help as I would like you to do both posts. Is that possible? If not, I would like a lampwork post with a link to a metal post, or visa versa.
    love jean xox

  26. motidana
    May 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Wow , these pendants are absolutely gorgeous ! As a beginer in metal crafting , I am constantly reading about how to work with metal , and I happened to come upon this lovely post .
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful and detailed tutorial. And I would be very grateful to see more of these tutorials

  27. Nan Smith
    May 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Dear Ema, Thanks so much for the details of your process. It's amazing how much work goes into one single piece. Your work is beautiful…..both the metal work and lamp work. I would be happy to hear about either set of tools as I'm gradually developing my metal working skills and I'm fascinated by lamp work although it's only a dream to ever try it myself.

  28. KayzKreationz
    May 26, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Your metal pieces are gorgeous. I'd like to see an overview of metal working tools, since I work with metal and don't do any lampworking at all. Thanks

  29. Debra Gibson
    May 26, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Thank you for sharing your work ! I love all of them! I would love to see an overview about metal working tools please! Thanks for the chance to win !!

  30. Alicia
    May 26, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Emma, thank you so much for the article – wonderful tips in there 🙂 I have one question: what is the gauge of your copper sheet?

    As for the tools – I am mostly interested in metal working tools 🙂 Thank you!

  31. Kathy Lindemer
    May 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I am very interested in metal working. Thank you for sharing the process you used to create these beauties, I would love to win the pendant .

    Happy Memorial Day!

  32. Jane B.
    May 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

    I too am amazed that dried flowers make such a clear image on the metal! I would enjoy learning more about metal working tools.

  33. Susan Lloyd
    May 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    love love love these!
    metal tools please

  34. Lecia Woessner
    May 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Ema, thank you so much for sharing your process! I can't tell you how helpful it is when an artist gives their readers an "inside look" at the way something is done. I'm self-taught and I'm constantly scouring the web for tips and tutorials! Thank you! Now I'm wondering what I could use in place of a rolling mill?!? Maybe I could sit on it!!! Anyway congratulations on getting chosen and I'm for metal tools!

  35. Shel
    May 27, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Love your metal components – and the heart toggle I have from you is one of my favorites ever! Congrats on B&B – how exciting! And, thanks for acknowledging/honoring the men and women who serve our country and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice – I have family and friends who gave their all and who I miss and celebrated this past weekend.

  36. Kim
    May 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    These are so beautiful, I love them. I plan on stopping by to get one next weekend at Bead and Button!!

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