Yikes, Silver today was almost $37 raw/ounce. Well until it starts to drop, (ha ha) if ever, I have discovered that brass is a great alternative. Most silver jewelry being done today is translatable to another metal besides silver. Unfortunately, I do have trouble offering chain maille in copper or brass. In my opinion, sterling is still the best metal when weaving jump rings together forming simple to intricate chain designs.
This past Sunday, I sat in on a class by master Metal Smith, Iris Sandkuhler. I was interested in her techniques for texturing, stamping, antiquing and riveting metal. The class was suitable for beginners and was a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon. I have a new appreciation for brass components. I will continue to bring in more variety of brass items so that students have a reasonable alternative to the higher priced silver.
Vintaj makes some great brass filigree beads and components, Tierra Cast has introduced a new brass plate to their wonderful line of casted clasps, beads, findings and charms (and they are manufactured in California to boot!) and Softflex has manufactured a great craft wire called Vintage Bronze which goes perfectly with our collection of brass beads, findings and chain.