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Ema Kilroy


I’ve Got to Run but Let’s Talk about Niobium First!

Niobium jewelry by Moon Heart Studios

I have news to share with you today. I’ll cut straight to the details …I have come to the conclusion that the time has come for me to resign from Art Bead Scene. Life has a way of rolling away with me. Between the day job, family life and having fun I’m not finding much free time to settle into a creative schedule. Leaving me feeling that I don’t have much to share as of late. I’m also feeling a strong urge to pull back and learn. I have a sense that it’s time for me to develop, digging deeper into my own creativity.

Over the course of the past two years I’ve been presented with many exciting and amazing opportunities, one of those wonderful opportunities was becoming a contributor at Art Bead Scene. I have been honored to join in and share the Art Bead Scene journey with a group of wonderful, kind and talented women and to have had a chance to connect with so many kind hearted and equally talented readers. It’s a bit scary moving away from the fantastic opportunities that have been presented but I’m a firm believer in life shifting and changing. I know that doors will open again when the time is right.

It’s my plan to take some classes, develop additional skills and hopefully I’ll be able to share that journey as I learn more.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to visit the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference which was held in Boston, MA this year (just around the corner from me – well sort of – close enough that I couldn’t resist popping in).

I didn’t have the chance to take classes but I thoroughly enjoyed the student show and trolling through the vendor room. Some of the big name vendors selling metalsmithing tools and equipment were in attendance; HalsteadOtto Frei and Rio Grande to be exact. I was excited to see so many tools in person. You know that feeling when you get to see and touch all the tools you’ve been eyeing in the catalog! eeeek! Joy!

I also discovered another vendor and an incredibly fun type of metal. Billy Seeley of RMS, Reactive Metals Studio Inc introduced me to Niobium. OH What fun you can have with niobium and an anodizer! Billy gave me a fantastic demonstration and I’m excited to try my hand at making something with Niobium. The ideas are running rampant in my head.

An example of Niobium metal sheet which can be purchased at RMS

A few facts about Niobium:

  • Niobium is a somewhat rare and pure metal, found on the periodic table as a natural element (Nb)
  • Niobium is hypoallergenic and nickel free, which means most folks with metal allergies can wear it. 
  • It’s light weight yet very strong.
  • Niobium is sold in various forms (wire, sheets, jewelry, etc.) which looks similar to sterling silver (and costs about the same too).

Anodizer photo – Rio Grande

The really fun bit about creating with Niobium is that by using an anodizer (a safe way of bringing electricity into the creative process) you can easily change the color of Niobium. By adding an electric current it creates an anodized coating on the metal (similar to a plating or patina). The Niobium will change to a specific color based on the voltage used (read repeatable results).

This beautiful niobium jewelry was created by Joan at Moon Heart Studios over at Etsy.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pieces of my own niobium to show you. I think the above pieces from Moon Heart Studios are simply gorgeous.
I did purchase a sheet of niobium from Billy at the SNAG conference but haven’t had a chance to work with it yet. Well technically I still need an anodizer. I’ve been looking into building my own. I’m not sure I’d take this path on my own but since my husband is a licensed electrician I’m sure to be safe building it with his help. Now we’ve gone full circle and we’re back to the time issue again (as in he has none and many projects already on the honey-do-list). Maybe I’ll just have to buy one. 🙂
As always, I thank you for stopping in for a visit at ABS today.
I extend a heartfult thank you to Heather Powers, my beautiful co-contributors at ABS (Rebecca, Tari, Erin, Claire and Mary) and to all you fabulous ABS readers. You’ve all made writing for ABS a delightful experience.
I invite you to follow my FB page Ema K Designs if you’d like to stay in touch and see where this journey takes me.
Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts.