Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grandma's Birthday Card

I haven't been in the studio for about a week because I was out of town on a fishing trip.

While I don't have much jewelry progress to show, I do want to post this picture for my Grandma. She sent me this birthday card last week and wrote in it "...and I expect you to color piglet." So I did. Here's how it turned out. Love you Grandma!

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Progress In The Studio!

I got to work in my studio all day this past Thursday and made some headway on a few pieces. Here is the coral pendant in progress. All of the stone setting components have been soldered in place. I have a silver bezel for the main cabochon and a 14 karat bezel for a fossil coral. There are two 14 karat prongs to hold another fossil coral. The excess silver around the pendant has since been cut and filed, and I just need to finish the bail before I can start setting the coral.

Above are some more of the pieces I had time to assemble. The first is a simple wire ring with two large prongs to hold a fossil embedded with quartz crystals. Mike and I found this fossil on our dig last week. The second ring is for a green ocean jasper. It has granules of silver soldered to one side of the bezel where the shank begins. The last ring will hold a bullet-shaped, fluorite tiffany opal. The bezel has a silver round wire lining and the shank is formed from square wire. Once the pieces are finished and the stones are set, more pictures will be posted.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Using Up Some Rocks!

Now that I've finally finished the jasper pendant, I've got some ideas for my new cabochons. The first piece will be an all coral pendant in silver and 14 karat yellow gold. The oval coral cab is from the gem show this past weekend, and the two fossil corals were found by my boyfriend and I on our fossil dig. The cab will be bezel set with silver, and the two fossils will be set in 14 karat gold. These golden elements will match the color of the sunbursts embedded in the prehistoric cabochon. The bail is going to be a short length of silver tubing, possibly with the ends flared out to mimic the shape of the horizontal fossil. The bail will have some gold embellishments to tie it in with the rest of the pendant. ...We'll see how this piece evolves!

Another design I've had in mind is reserved for this deep blue lapis. This lapis will be set into a ring with a silver bezel. Additional silver elements will be formed and soldered around the corners of the stone. 14 karat yellow gold tubing will be soldered at each corner, and also east and west of the lapis. I'm planning to cap the tubes with small round diamonds (approximately .02ct each). Lets hope I don't mess this one up! These two pieces are just two examples of the many projects waiting for me to tackle. Many drawings, stones and metal bits are laid out on my bench anxiously waiting for me to get working!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's Finished!

Haleluia! I finally got the stubborn thing finished! The 20 gauge sheet that I used for the bezel soldered just fine to the base. It was much harder than I predicted to push the bezel walls neatly over the stone...had to take a hammer to the butt of my prong pusher to secure the stone. I was waiting for the jasper to crack in half, but it didn't! And I'm done with it! Now I can finally move on to a new project.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day At The Gem Show

So lucky am I to have a Mother who loves what I do. For Mother's day, my Mom wanted to join my sister, boyfriend and I on our trip to the gem show that was in town this weekend. They are all good company when picking out stones for upcoming projects. We spent the day browsing cabochons and buying way too much! We found some incredible stones and the prices were pretty good too!

Above are the ocean jasper cabochons that we picked. I have made a few pieces from ocean jasper in the past, and it seems that people always notice it. So I thought I would stock up. I will be set for a long long time!

The stones above are some of the more unique specimins we found. Wood agate opal, fossilized coral, portrait jasper are just a few of the pieces shown. I will be very busy with these, and can't wait to get in my studio to start working on new jewelry.

This last image is a beautiful blue labordorite that I bought for my Grandma. She has been hinting for a piece of jewelry set with labordorite for a little while, and I thought that this stone was absolutley perfect for her. Her birthday is in September, so maybe I'll have a finished piece for her to open up!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Third Time Is The Charm?

I've been working on a "simple" pendant for quite some time now. The stone is a 40x 20mm oval chrysanthemum jasper. It will be set in silver with a pierced floral back. The bail and silver ring that connects the bail to the stone is made of 2mm square wire. The ends of the square wire have been tapered on each end and have pegs for 5mm half-round pearls.

I say "simple" because this piece really should be a quick make for me. However, for some reason I have had some trouble with the bezel. I completely made the piece twice. The first time I made it, I set the stone and after the final polish found that there were still gaps between the bezel and the base.

The second time I made the piece, I got it entirely assembled and the bezel seam came apart. I experimented with trying to fix it while still keeping a tight fit for the stone, and failed. I failed miserably and the bezel melted into a nagging clump of frustration. Humpf!

So this is round three. I think since my stone is so large, my thickest bezel wire just isn't thick enough and can't withstand the heat needed to bring the base to the proper temperature. This time I made the bezel from a strip of 20gauge silver sheet I had laying in my scrap pile. It looks like it may be a little too thick at this point, but I need it to be able to stand up to more heat so the solder flows all the way around the large perimeter. I also chose to use such a thick bezel because I tend to be heavy handed when cleaning up my pieces. I like to have a little extra metal so there is some leeway when filing and polishing.
I have had to re-saw the backing pattern out three times, because once the excess metal is trimmed and filed flush with the bezel, it is next to impossible to match a new bezel to the exact outline of the existing backing.

This "quick project" has put me back in my humble shoes. Even soldering a simple bezel can stick it's tongue out at a somewhat experienced metalsmith. I will post the finished pendant, once I conquer the beast!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Studio

This is the new studio! I finally have a space for all of the wonderful, magical, delicous tools I have been collecting for so long!

My boyfriend built some walls in his basement, equipped with electrical outlets and ventilation. There is still a little bit of work to do yet. The wiring for the outlets isn't hooked up, and more lighting will eventually be added. For now though, I am able to work with the use of extention cords.

This is the soldering bench. The actual table top is a piece of slate that my Dad just happend to have laying around at home. It weighs a ton, but is perfect for stacking my bricks and hot tools on. I use an acetelyne B tank, and a smith torch handle. I have an assortment of tips so I can work comfortably on pieces of various sizes.

Pictured to the right is my beloved bench. It was a joint christmas gift from several members of my family. Here is where all of the drilling, sawing, filing, and sanding occurs. The Dremel that is hanging off the right side of my bench will soon be replaced by my new Foredom flex shaft. A delightful improvement from my puttering dremel.

My forming table is topped with a dapping set, disc cutter, hammers/mallets, and the mother of all tools-my hydraulic press. This baby was made by my jeweler friend's brother. He welded the steel frame together and stuck a 20 ton jack in there. Works wonders!

And finally, my research and design area. This is where I begin all of my pieces, research them online and photograph them once they are finished. Notice the clean desk top. It doesn't look like that anymore! Once I got the entire studio organized and began working, the neatness dissolved into a pile of projects on every surface.