Slowly…

Very slowly, the dollhouse is squeaking along.

I’m still spending most of the time sitting and looking at it, and thinking about it, and looking some more at it, because quite frankly I don’t know what I’m doing.

And don’t even get me started on scale.

I’ve decided not to worry about scale…

As a consequence the whole thing is taking forever and I might have to take a break from it and make some jewelry.

At least then I’ll know what I’m doing.

Perhaps

The house so far.

All along I’ve had trouble with the second floor and where the windows will go because of the roof so I decided to cut it down and work on the first floor upward.

Instant relief…

So it went from this.

To this.

I made a mock up of a wall which turned out o.k.

I made a practice floor.

And painted it.

I worked on an Inglenook fireplace.

Which was going to have a firebox in it, but I’m thinking now the box may have to go somewhere else.

And then I made it some book cases.

I worked some more on the stairs.

Which are a complete mess inside because I just made them up as I went along. Who knows, next time I may very well know what I’m doing.

(Probably not)

They’re going to have a cupboard.

With shelves.

The whole thing just cracks me up ?

Now I have to just put a second coat of paint on the walls, make the room a larger floor, put a grate in the fire and paint the woodwork. Then I’m going to make it some beams and go onto the kitchen.

Or maybe I’ll make some jewelry…

?

I always knew I was messy

But I’m ashamed to say that yesterday I actually took my dollhouse from one room into another when the mess became too overwhelming – even for me.

Yes, I walked away from it.

I love the concept that we create from chaos. The fact that I can take perfect lengths of fabric and cut them into hundreds of smaller pieces only to put them back together again to make a quilt has always fascinated me. That individual tubes of colour can come together to make an image that wasn’t there before is like magic, but I’ve a sneaky feeling that my creations leave more destruction in their wake than the chaos that gives life to them.

Reluctantly today will be a cleaning day.

But before that, my progress so far for those of you interested in how not to go about making a dollhouse from scratch.

I’m not going to lie, maths was never my strong suit and so mostly I have to visualize things first before I can get the numbers down.

That involves a lot of cardboard and blue painters tape.

It started off like this…

Here I will show you only two renditions as, to be honest, there were quite a few of them.

A day or two into trying to work out the structure and fiddling around with all the cardboard boxes I could get my hands on, I started to get bored and so tried my hand at making some windows and stairs.

Because it’s never not a good idea to jump ahead and waste time carving out things that you’ll probably end up not using.

Look at those teeny nails ? I didn’t need to use them because the wood glue would have been just fine on its own, but I couldn’t resist.

And so after quite a few cardboard mockups and carved out windows and doors I decided to stop procrastinating and got the wood out.

It has to be said that there has been a lot of sitting and looking.

And then getting bored with it again and making something else I probably wont use.

But just look at that dormer.

I can’t tell you exactly when the house started to morph into something larger than I’d intended, but I think the dormers had something to do with it.

Because then I had to bump out the side wall to accommodate them

And, of course, add a chimney breast.

Or two.

But really it’s the roof that’s giving me pause for concern so I’m mostly ignoring it at the moment. Adding a few sheets of cardboard here and there when I feel a moment of inspiration (albeit short lived) but I’m determined I’ll get there.

Of course an engineering degree would have come in handy at this point, but no, I just had to pursue that sculpture degree for what use that does anybody ?

To be continued…

It’s a strange thing, but true

That for a long time now I’ve wanted to make a dollhouse.

I know. Don’t think about that too much for now as I don’t really understand it either.

All that needs to be said right now is that it’s been bubbling along inside me for years now and so finally I decided it was time.

As with most everything I do I tend to spend ages thinking about how to go about it – mostly because, as my very own number one cheerleader, I think it will be too hard for me and I will fail miserably. It was the same with setting cabochons. I would be making my silver pieces while all the time thinking about how to go about making a piece with a stone in it. I’d already made a cabochon setting in a class I’d taken at community college, but I made it again and again in my head as I sat at my table. Eventually, when I was finally ready, it was as though I’d been setting cabochons forever.

Same with this dollhouse thing, although I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as the cabochon setting – no matter how long I think about it.

So I looked around the internet a bit to get some ideas on how to go about making one and who knew (not me) how many people were making doll houses! It’s a remarkable thing to see. It kind of put me off a bit as I could see all of my ideas already made. It was as though I’d already made it – without making it – if you get what I mean.

But I continued to think about it until I knew that it was only a matter of time before I’d have to give in and open up this whole new can of worms because, as I’ve learned throughout my life, when I’m in I’m really in and now I was going to have to buy all of the stuff that I didn’t know I had to buy and then some.

The fact that I could most likely buy a couple of brand new, fully furnished, fantabulistic doll houses for less than the materials and tools I ended up getting didn’t deter me at all although it did confirm what those other people who live with me have been telling me for years now, that I’m a little, how can I say it nicely – obsessed.

Who wants to buy a new doll house anyway when you can spend ages regretting that you didn’t pay attention that day in school when they were teaching the Pythagorean Theorum. Now, had they told me then that I’d be needing that, or something geometrically similar, to figure out the structure of my future dollhouse roof pitch no doubt I would have been all in and at the front of the class, but… oh well.

All I can say is that now, with dogged determination, I am winging it.

I’m aiming for something in-between this.

https://mulvanyandrogers.com/gallery/

And this.

Doable I think…

And now, before your very eyes…

I’m going to show you how I keep everything organized.

I wasn’t going to because half the time I don’t know what I’m doing – you’ll see that when I get to my feeble attempt at bookkeeping – but what I’m about to show you works very well for me and so for anyone who doesn’t want to take the six years that I did coming up with an efficient way of keeping their jewelry straight, this is for you…

First up – Storing each piece of jewelry so that it’s easy to find.

I separate my pieces into categories as such.

Necklace/Cabochons

Necklace/Silver

Bracelet/Cabochons

Bracelet/Silver

Earrings/Cabochons

Earrings/Silver

Rings/Cabochons

Rings/Silver

Use as many, or as few, categories as you want to. You might not want any and just clump all of your pieces under one umbrella, however, I tend to have a lot of pieces hanging around and find breaking them down this way works well for me.

Then I make each category a chart.

This makes me feel very efficient.

Each category uses the same chart and I just switch out the heading when I’m printing it. The Silver items don’t have stones I know, but if I use beads (I don’t usually) I can list them there.

I made this chart initially as I was interested to see how much it was costing me to make each piece and how much in fees I was paying. Especially as I’d been hearing a lot about how much Etsy was charging. I wasn’t really paying attention at that time, but started to wonder how much I was actually making on each piece I sold. Now I often see beautiful pieces on Instagram and Etsy which I doubt are making anything much at all for the artist.

I don’t have a column for Time here as I can see under the Net column if the amount I’ve made after Cost and Fees is worth my time. This really is a chart to keep everything straight.

Here you can see the chart in action.

This is just an example as I just pen mine in.

It’s pretty straightforward. Each item gets a SKU number (the SKU for the Kazakhstan Necklace therefore is NC3) and a brief description.

Under Gross I put what I’m going to charge for the piece.

Next is the silver column. I weigh the piece on a small scale I bought from RioGrande – HERE – and times it by the cost of the silver – which is $26.67 per troy ounce right now. You’ll find the market cost for silver on the RioGrande home page top left. This gets a bit tricky I suppose as the cost of silver moves and if I kept track correctly I would know which piece of silver cost what when I bought it and when I used it. Not happening. So I tend to just times the troy ounce by $25 right now and keep an eye on the market. If it dips or rises in price significantly I alter my calculations. The silver used in a piece is negligible at this point I think. In this column I also include the cost of the chain and clasp which tends to add up to $15 for the ones I typically use. So the amount of silver I used for the Kazakhstan Necklace after the chain and clasp was $7. I round these amounts up or down accordingly to keep it simple. – O.K. and also because my dad laughed at me when I showed him how I used to calculate this part down to the last cent.

Next I fill in the Stone column and then the Cost column is the Silver and Stone added together.

I don’t put the Fees in the sub total here because Peter says he just needs the actual material cost.

Yes. Peter does my taxes for me because – I don’t.

When I tell you that I can put three sets of numbers into the same calculator and get three separate results three times in a row you’ll understand why…

Don’t judge me.

I could lump the silver and stone together in one column to begin with but I like to know how much I spent on the stone as sometimes they can be expensive and later, when I come to see the price I’ve charged, I get worried that I’ve messed up my silver calculations (read the paragraph above) and reduce the piece out of embarrassment and then only realize once I’ve sold the piece that I’ve lost money because the stone cost an arm and a leg and I forgot etc., etc..

Then I put in a rough round up of the Fees charged for using PayPal, Stripe, etc..

I have a sheet which I refer to at the front of my folder which tells me how much PayPal, or Stripe, or Etsy (if I still used them) is for the amount I charged (Gross) for the piece. And so by adding the Cost and Fee column together the final Net column is what I will have made after all of that. Now I can see what I will actually get for a piece and depending on how much time it has taken me and how involved it has been to make I can decide then if that’s a good price for me and alter it accordingly if needs be.

Now all of my pieces have their SKU number and I’ve a rough idea of their cost they get their own box.

But, to make it more exciting, they also get bags.

Yep. Sometimes it’s even too exciting for me…

Now. This may look a bit anal, but I have a tendency to make a lot of jewelry so…

The bags you see below are the Mother Bags. (I’ve just watched an Alien movie so work with me here as I try to get the lingo out of my brain). Each Bag represents a category (again you might not need this) and each Mother Bag has smaller individually numbered bags in them ready to be filled with a piece of jewelry that corresponds to their SKU number on the chart.

Necklace/Cabochons are NC1, NC2 etc.. Necklace/Silver are NS1, NS2 etc.. Earrings/Cabochons are EC1, EC2 etc.. You get the idea.

You can decided what you need.

Then, as I fill them with finished pieces of jewelry, I put them into larger bags of ten. This means that I know exactly which box and then which bag a piece of jewelry is in when I need it. Of course you have to put the SKU number in the item description in your shop otherwise this method will do you absolutely no good whatsoever.

Yes. I’ve done that…

Here are the cabochon bracelets in their box ready to go.

I keep all of the charts in a folder so that I can enter a piece as soon as I’ve made it, give it its number and put it in its bag.

If I sell a piece I run a highlighter over it to know it’s gone. A different colour for each year… just for jollies.

And then behind that I have monthly records where I can enter pieces I’ve sold and also items I’ve bought. I can also keep receipts, etc here.

At this point you might be wondering – why.

And it does seem a lot as I write it here, but actually it’s not and it really helps me keep everything in order. The monthly Sales page (below) also helps me keep a record for the tax man as I have been known to spend hours and hours at the end of a year trying to find out how much I’ve sold throughout the year, and then, how much tax I’ve collected and how much ‘I think” I’ve spent on materials. Etsy and PayPal keep records for that I know, but well, I find this so much easier and it keeps my pieces organized at the same time.

So again this is pretty self explanatory and is again just an example.

This is where I write in how much the customer has been charged, by me, in total – including shipping and tax if any. The date it sold, the SKU number, how much it cost me to make (found on the first chart), the invoice number, the exact amount I’ve been charged in fees by PayPal etc. The exact amount it cost me to ship, and I also have a column where I can indicate which payment of a layaway it is if that’s relevant. (Layaways have a different baggie, but that’s for another time…)

I make two sheets for each month. The one above and this one.

On this one I just write the date, what it is I’ve bought, whether I paid via PayPal, or another way and finally the amount I paid. I really only use it for supplies but you could put equipment, etc., here also.

And at the end of each month I can calculate each column and put their totals on here.

The Supreme Commander Chart.

And at the end of the year I can add up all the columns and be able to tell the tax man exactly how much I sold and how much it cost me in materials without having to resort to drinking.

You’ll have to ask Peter how to do all of the other tax stuff because, frankly – not my thing. Sorry. As long as it’s all done I will just thank him nicely and make him an extra cup of tea.

And that’s how I organize. It sounds involved, but it really isn’t. It works well for me. If you’re like me and make a lot and are absent minded and can’t find something when it’s sold, this might work for you also. There are a lot of systems out there and I know many are much better than this one so use at your own risk…

If you happen to find that none of this is clear nor makes sense you’re probably not the only one.

I made my charts using Pages on my computer. You can use my examples if you wish or make up something that makes more sense to you.

Stay well

?

So

I woke up one day and had nothing to say.

Actually it wasn’t one day as it had been creeping up on me for some time. Since my dad died to be honest.

And that was that for the blog.

And for my motivation.

I don’t really know if I’ve come back from being gone yet but I’m going to try hard this year to get back some purpose.

I’ve got a new house and a new grandson.

What’s not to feel motivated about.

Jamie

It’s on!

I don’t do New year’s resolutions because they make me anxious and I just feel set up for failure.

I prefer to call them good intentions.

To be honest I have a lot of good intentions throughout the year which I often fall short on, but it always feels on-going for me. Like I haven’t lost my last chance of doing well on the test.

I love the potential of the New Year. It makes me feel hopeful. A fresh start to clear the way. and in many ways I prefer it to Christmas.

Just don’t tell Santa.

It makes my head feel lighter like it does when I have my hair cut. Granted my hair is pretty short, but that extra couple of millimeters really bring me down. God knows what I’m going to do this week as my appointment isn’t until the 9th and I can already feel it creeping down toward my knees…

So here we are again and my whole life is opened up before me. What will I do with it all because at 58 I’m really beginning to feel an urge to get going on my life plan.

Depression gets in the way of life plans.

I suffer with depression.

It takes away my umph and makes the sofa a thing of beauty.

In the short time (or sometimes long time) it takes me to wake up and get up I can have gone from being excited to make something or do something to knowing that there’s no point.

It’s like I’ve done it already in my head so why bother.

I share this for those of you who suffer also so that you know you’re not alone, because sometimes it makes me feel ridiculous. As though I make it up and that, of course, I can snap myself out of it.

An interesting thing, however, happened to me a couple of months back. I was having lunch with an old friend and she mentioned that she didn’t think that she had ever been depressed. That she felt down at times and fed up, but that she didn’t think that she ever had been really depressed. It took me by surprise as I really thought that everyone was depressed. That it was just a symptom of life. So maybe ‘snapping out of it’ for me is different than for her.

Just a thought.

Anyway, that said, I do feel excited for the new year.

I do have lots of good intentions and I’m ready to see where they take me.

Most of them involve creativity, but a few important ones involve moving onwards and upwards with my attitude toward myself. Those mostly regarding the negative thoughts that don’t just creep in as I always thought, but that live constantly with me.

Damn them.

So.

I have paintings to finish.

I have jewelry to develop.

I have books to work on.

(I love writing my books. It’s my happy place which is probably why I avoid it.)

I have good food to make.

I have less wine to drink.

I have more smiling to do.

(That’s almost as good as a haircut)

I have books to read.

I have getting out of bed as soon as I wake up to do.

I have more arguing with the Texas humidity to do so that I can take a walk more often.

Might have to give that one up and get the tread mill out.

?

I have getting a better attitude toward the tread mill to work on.

And I have the Noble Peace Price to attain.

(This is probably just an interesting pshycological consequence of being told I’d never amount to anything, but I’m just going to go with it. Can’t hurt.)

I could go on, but don’t want to get myself too excited that I have to lie down again.

The struggle is real…

So I’ll leave you all with a little lovely something that happened last night.

A grandson from one daughter and a wedding from the other.

What’s not to like.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with the boy…

Wishing you all a good year.

It’s been a while.

A couple of biggies happened this year which seem to have blown me off course.

First my middle daughter got married in April which was lovely. My son and I arranged and decorated for it and I must say that Stephen turned out to be a great wedding planner – much to his mortification at being associated with lovely flowery things… and hearts.

Here she is with her sister.

Then.

And now.

Goes quickly doesn’t it…

We also went home to visit a couple of times. I would go back to live in England in a heartbeat but that trip wears me out and always knocks me back.

So the jewelry was put on hold for a while which I’m not sure was a good thing as it seems to have put me off track somewhat.

The final big thing was having the studio renovated which took far longer due to trips etc. than we expected.

I only wanted a new floor.

Really I did.

I had a concrete floor put in when we first built the studio and I thought it was going to be treated and have that lovely smooth finish and it would be practical and easy to clean. But no. The nice man who thought he knew better than me didn’t treat it and I didn’t complain and after a while it became pitted and stained and the worse floor ever to keep clean. I actually don’t think it was clean for ten years however much I swept vacuumed and washed it. It was a health hazard and when we hired a contractor to talk about renovating our house I asked if after that was done he would put in a new floor for me.

This is when my husband had the brilliant (I must admit) idea of renovating the studio first and then moving into it while the house was done.

I am incredibly lucky as my studio is like a small house. It has four rooms which we designed to be converted into a ‘granny’ annex if we ever moved so the store room was plumbed for a future bathroom and the kitchen area arranged so that it could semi function as such if we ever needed it to.

The kids have all up and left, except that the boy came back (still trying to impress on him the need to move back out, but I must admit I’ll miss him. You never know when a new flower arranging extravaganza will come up) and so we had looked, (I would say on and off for at least four years), for a smaller house to buy closer in town. The houses were great and we saw so many that we could have easily lived in but typically they had no gardens and definitely no room for an outside studio so eventually we decided to stay in this far too big for us house and renovate.

It took me forever to move all of my stuff out of the studio. I seriously believe I had more stuff packed in there than we have now packed from the house.

On a side note I don’t actually know what planet Peter lives on but he seriously doesn’t believe I need it all.

?

Now, except for most of my jewelry stuff, it’s all in the garage waiting for us to move back into the house so it can come back inside the studio to play.

The studio came out wonderfully and this week we finally moved into it and, I must say, I might not want to move out of it ever again.

Well that’s what I say now…

It’s not ideal to have your jewelry studio in your living room, but hopefully it won’t be for too long and perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to write more and to finish some of the paintings I have lying around and so not create as much dust and fumes as normal. I’m also going to be a grandmother in February so I think a baby blanket is in order. I’ve not tried Tunisian crochet before so I’m going to give it a go.

Little Monkeys Designs

Only the colour will be a mustard because that’s how my middle daughter likes to roll.

?

And so that’s me.

I’m not completely convinced that I want to share my studio with Peter. It’s like an intrusion on my sacred ground, but as it was his idea to renovate it and it’s way nicer now than just having a new floor, I might have to give in on that score.

WARNING:

Although no flash photography was used in the making of this video, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would really be interested in what the studio looks like and so felt a little silly filming it, I kind of rushed it. Not super rushed, but enough to say whoa, hang on a minute there girl while I let the dizziness pass.

Enter at your peril…

So you can see that I’ve still a bit of unpacking and sorting to do and the jewelry area does look a bit out of place. I’ve yet to down-size on the clutter and decide what to keep in here or not as it does look as though it’s all stuffed in right now and as I’m not the tidiest person in town I think perhaps the less I have hanging around the better. The one downside is that we have to have the litter boxes in the room with us as there’s nowhere else for them. I’m not sure that I’m going to be o.k. with that. Also there’s nowhere to hang the wet towels right now ? I’ll have to think about that one. But as none of these are world problems I think we’re good.

On a stranger note I happened to google my name the other day and this lovely lady popped up.

I don’t really know who she is (although she does look as though she’s in England) so I thought I’d show you the real me.

Try not to be disappointed that I’m not young, blonde, and beautiful as I’m sure you were all imagining…

Also Youtube seems to have changed things around since I last posted a video so I don’t know how to turn the sound off right now.

To be honest I don’t even know if the videos will post correctly.

?‍♀️

So now you’ve seen my face I’m going to have to eat you.

Ha! you thought that was just for disposing of paper evidence didn’t you…

It’s been a while.

A couple of biggies happened this year which seem to have blown me off course.

First my middle daughter got married in April which was lovely. My son and I arranged and decorated for it and I must say that Stephen turned out to be a great wedding planner – much to his mortification at being associated with lovely flowery things… and hearts.

Here she is with her sister.

Then.

And now.

Goes quickly doesn’t it…

We also went home to visit a couple of times. I would go back to live in England in a heartbeat but that trip wears me out and always knocks me back.

So the jewelry was put on hold for a while which I’m not sure was a good thing as it seems to have put me off track somewhat.

The final big thing was having the studio renovated which took far longer due to trips etc. than we expected.

I only wanted a new floor.

Really I did.

I had a concrete floor put in when we first built the studio and I thought it was going to be treated and have that lovely smooth finish and it would be practical and easy to clean. But no. The nice man who thought he knew better than me didn’t treat it and I didn’t complain and after a while it became pitted and stained and the worse floor ever to keep clean. I actually don’t think it was clean for ten years however much I swept vacuumed and washed it. It was a health hazard and when we hired a contractor to talk about renovating our house I asked if after that was done he would put in a new floor for me.

This is when my husband had the brilliant (I must admit) idea of renovating the studio first and then moving into it while the house was done.

I am incredibly lucky as my studio is like a small house. It has four rooms which we designed to be converted into a ‘granny’ annex if we ever moved so the store room was plumbed for a future bathroom and the kitchen area arranged so that it could semi function as such if we ever needed it to.

The kids have all up and left, except that the boy came back (still trying to impress on him the need to move back out, but I must admit I’ll miss him. You never know when a new flower arranging extravaganza will come up) and so we had looked, (I would say on and off for at least four years), for a smaller house to buy closer in town. The houses were great and we saw so many that we could have easily lived in but typically they had no gardens and definitely no room for an outside studio so eventually we decided to stay in this far too big for us house and renovate.

It took me forever to move all of my stuff out of the studio. I seriously believe I had more stuff packed in there than we have now packed from the house.

On a side note I don’t actually know what planet Peter lives on but he seriously doesn’t believe I need it all.

?

Now, except for most of my jewelry stuff, it’s all in the garage waiting for us to move back into the house so it can come back inside the studio to play.

The studio came out wonderfully and this week we finally moved into it and, I must say, I might not want to move out of it ever again.

Well that’s what I say now…

It’s not ideal to have your jewelry studio in your living room, but hopefully it won’t be for too long and perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to write more and to finish some of the paintings I have lying around and so not create as much dust and fumes as normal. I’m also going to be a grandmother in February so I think a baby blanket is in order. I’ve not tried Tunisian crochet before so I’m going to give it a go.

Only the colour will be a mustard because that’s how my middle daughter likes to roll.

?

And so that’s me.

I’m not completely convinced that I want to share my studio with Peter. It’s like an intrusion on my sacred ground, but as it was his idea to renovate it and it’s way nicer now than just having a new floor, I might have to give in on that score.

WARNING:

Although no flash photography was used in the making of this video, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would really be interested in what the studio looks like and so felt a little silly filming it, I kind of rushed it. Not super rushed, but enough to say whoa, hang on a minute there girl while I let the dizziness pass.

Enter at your peril…

So you can see that I’ve still a bit of unpacking and sorting to do and the jewelry area does look a bit out of place. I’ve yet to down-size on the clutter and decide what to keep in here or not as it does look as though it’s all stuffed in right now and as I’m not the tidiest person in town I think perhaps the less I have hanging around the better. The one downside is that we have to have the litter boxes in the room with us as there’s nowhere else for them. I’m not sure that I’m going to be o.k. with that. Also there’s nowhere to hang the wet towels right now ? I’ll have to think about that one. But as none of these are world problems I think we’re good.

On a stranger note I happened to google my name the other day and this lovely lady popped up.

I don’t really know who she is (although she does look as though she’s in England) so I thought I’d show you the real me.

Try not to be disappointed that I’m not young, blonde, and beautiful as I’m sure you were all imagining…

Also Youtube seems to have changed things around since I last posted a video so I don’t know how to turn the sound off right now.

To be honest I don’t even know if the videos will post correctly.

?‍♀️

I had cut the clip from the first video and then I thought, why not.

So now you’ve seen my face I’m going to have to eat you.

Ha! you thought that was just for disposing of paper evidence didn’t you…

It’s all fun and games in the studio until it’s not…

Perhaps it’s because the studio is being renovated and I’m make-doing in my dining room.

Perhaps it’s because we left for a visit home and I got all jet-lagged and everything.

Maybe I’m homesick and don’t know it.

Or perhaps it’s just one of those, ‘it goes in cycles’ things.

Whatever it is, it better hurry up and sort itself out because I don’t want to play any more…

I don’t think I’ll ever understand how one day you can’t put a foot wrong. Everything is going right for weeks and weeks and weeks and then bam! you go to bed one night and the next day you can’t make a darn thing work. 

To be fair on myself, I am betwixt and between things.

I’m in the dining room trying to work and all around me my house is in boxes waiting for its turn to be renovated. It’s unsettling as I’m always thinking I should be doing something else.

There are always people in my studio, which of course is where they should be, but I feel as though I’m just in here twiddling my thumbs. Not getting on with anything ‘important’.

And to top it all off I just finished a few pieces that I ended up melting down because they weren’t doing it for me.

And so my world has ended.

Woe and more woe.

I look at all the beautiful pieces that people are making on Instagram and think – why? 

Why me?

What has my life come to?

Will I ever be able to make anything again?

(Too dramatic?)

Well that’s what it feels like anyway.

Anyone else?

I must admit that since I stopped making my jewelry for charity I kind of feel that I’ve lost my purpose. Where’s the reason for making it?

I reached a mile stone for the amount I gave to charity and thought that perhaps it was enough. That considering the world’s horribleness doesn’t look like it’s going to be fixed any time soon that mine was a pretty futile effort.

I don’t know.

I enjoyed sharing what I’d learned with others, but now it seems I can’t even come up with anything remotely interesting so that’s also gone out of the window.

So roll on tomorrow and bring me some meaning.

Or at least a spark of interest.


Don’t let that mini crisis get you down man… A little snippet about me.

So if any of you have read the little box to the top right of this page you will have learned that I’m a recovering hypochondriac. Which is actually code for I take anxiety medicine. This makes me laugh because I had no idea that hypochondria was a form of anxiety. I just thought I was a full blown Woody Allenesque wimp – but with more hair. (Actually that’s not true as my hair is probably shorter than his. Unless he’s bald in which case I definitely have a smidgen more). The medicine helps, but I still have bouts when all kinds of illnesses come back to tease me. Some of which I’d never heard of before, and wish I’d never heard of. I mean vulva cancer. Come on!

I even had to stop reading one of my favourite murder mystery series because the detective’s sister is a doctor and so all sorts of intriguing illnesses are thrown into the mix. Of course I had them all. Even the ones that only men can get because, of course, the doctors could be wrong…

It’s known as hyper-vigilance. I can also have it when I’m in the movie theatre and someone is eating their popcorn loudly. It makes me cringe up inside and it’s all I can concentrate on. I seem to try to make myself as small as possible as if to protect myself from outside noises.

Weird right?

When I learned that it was all a form of anxiety I felt so relieved that I laughed out loud. O.K. and I felt a little stupid for not knowing about it before. Not that I wanted anxiety, but because it explained a lot of things about me. Some things that I’m still discovering. But it means I can now stop in the throes of it all and try to figure it out. Doesn’t always work but at least I know what it is now, and the medicine, however much I hate taking it, helps.

One thing that I’ve always suffered from, and I will say suffer because sometimes is debilitating, is a lack of confidence.

I’m definitely a perfectionist, which I actually like about myself. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem for me or actually the cause of my confidence issues. It can be frustrating, but I think it’s a quality that helps me strive to make things better and to always be moving forward. I’m not saying that this is always a good thing and I could definitely do with spreading the effort around a little more – like in the case of housework for instance.

Nah…

So here I am – again – in the middle of a mini self-confidence crisis, which no-one can help me with. Compliments (and believe me I’m not looking for any) in my top heavy world of insecurity actually makes it worse.

Right now I’m wanting to literally contact everyone that has ever bought anything from me for in the past ten years to ask to buy it back.

Yep. It’s that bad.

So what to do about it?

I want to answer – to give myself no chance whatsoever to mess up so that I won’t be caught in a mistake and people won’t be disappointed with my work (aka me) – but that’s an awfully small box to put myself in and I actually think it’s impossible so I figure that I’ll just have to ride it out.

Again.

Or maybe I could hit myself on the head so that I lose consciousness for a couple of days until it’s all over and I forget altogether what the hell I was worried about in the first place.

Could work.

But before I try that I thought I’d share the struggle because I know there are a lot of others out there who suffer the same way.

I see you.

We’ll be o.k.

🙂

Rings and Buffer happenings

I thought I’d just offer a little tip, but then decided I would go ahead with another quick show and tell on how I make a simple ring – I want to say shank, but am pretty sure that’s not what it’s called and I can’t for the life of me think of another name for it…

Just not that good at words sometimes.

So first up. The tip.

It’s not a big tip and probably everyone does it, but I used to get frustrated trying to straighten up wire. Don’t laugh.

Wire straightener – riogrande.com #116717

Personally I never use it, but if you want to straighten longer lengths of wire for viking weaving etc., I’m sure it would be pretty handy.

Now for the ring.

This is just a simply way of making a ring shank. (I just looked it up and I think it might be called a shank after all). There are so many ways to make rings and everyone makes them differently, but I just wanted a simple band (haha! I think I have the word I was looking for. Came naturally when I wasn’t looking…) but with more support because the top of the ring is larger and a single band seems too thin for it. There are different styles also so chances are you won’t want to use this one. But just in case you do and have never made one before…

There is a chart for working out lengths of wire that you need for each particular ring size. I’m just too lazy to bother with it, but if you really want to be economical with your silver you should look at it.

In this video I have already made the top of the ring as I wasn’t planning on making a show and tell.

As always be warned that I don’t edit but I do make the videos in snippits so you can skip around. If you click on the video it will take you to YouTube, but you’ll have to come back to the blog to watch the next one. The show and tells really are just for beginning jewelry makers that might need a little encouragement so the idea of them being out there in the YouTube universe kind of seems too much.

Ring mandrel – riogrande.com #112390 – this is a stepped mandrel which would be more accurate.

NOTE: If you use the wire/length chart above be aware that different gauge wire would alter the fit of the ring slightly. If, for instance, the wire is thick the inside diameter of the final band would be smaller so that’s something to be aware of. Also this chart will make a perfect ring shape and I have taken some of that out so you will still cut too much silver for this particular style. If you do cut the wire to the correct length, however, you can hammer the ends and file them down before bending it into the ring shape. Not as fiddly, but I’m often down for fiddly…

Diamond burs – riogrande.com #346063 – there are lots of different burs of different quality, but this is a cheap starter pack which includes various shapes. Once you’ve figured out which bur you use the most you can invest in more expensive ones.

Silicon polishing wheels – riogrande.com #332579 – again there are lots of different silicon wheels so it’s a matter of experimenting until you find those that work best for you.

Snap on sanding discs – HERE – you will also need the snap on mandrel which you’ll find at the bottom of the page.

Graver – this is a selection of gravers – HERE – I use one with a sharp point to scrape any solder that may have flowed into textured pieces. You’ll find them at riogrande.com also

O.K. so here’s the thing. My buffing machine should be bolted down onto the table, but I’ve never got around to it. Don’t judge me…

I just haven’t found a spot that I’d like it to stay in and it’s usually o.k. However when I first started out I made the mistake of buffing a length of chain that I was holding too loosely and it whipped around the wheel (and my hand) and as I tried to jump away I pulled the whole thing onto the floor. This is when the knob fell off.

DO NOT DO THIS!!! (I can’t write that loud enough) I’ve stupidly done this twice (maybe three times, but I’m not admitting to anything). It hurts and it could have been a lot worse than it was. Fortunately I only broke the machine, but I nearly took my fingernail off and had to say ouchy ouchy more times than I’d like to tell you when the chain was wrapped around my hand so tightly that I didn’t think I’d be able to get it off especially as my eyes were watering as I tried to use my not so good at cutting left hand.

I can’t stress enough how dangerous the buffing machine can be. My new one, because I think I’m going to have to get another one, will be screwed down. Don’t make me come out there to smack some sense into you as someone should have done to me…

Just sayin’

Black Max – riogrande.com

3m yellow radial discs 80 grit – riogrande.com #326026 – There are different grits for different jobs, but I mainly use this one.

You can buy a selection pack of them if you’d like to experiment with each grit at – riogrande.com #326024

NOTE that I like to use the 7/8 size. You can buy the smaller ones here – riogrande.com #332595

I use this wheel on my buffing machine to finish my piece – riogrande.com #330541

And this is the smaller buff for my handpiece – riogrande.com #338130

This is the link to the new mask I have – HERE – So far I like it and it’s easy to get on and off. It seems to push down on my nose a little which made me sniff in the video, but I think I just need to adjust it more.

NOTE: The fibers from the buffing wheel and the dust from the Black Max will still be in the air when you turn the machine off. Normally I keep my mask on because of this. I do have a dust collector, but it isn’t connected to the buffing machine at the moment because we took it off so that Stephen could whip me up something less cumbersome than the set up I had. He never got back to me which is why I’m seriously considering cutting back on his food rations. With that and the knob situation I’m deciding if it’s really worth keeping him around…

The video stops on this one as someone called me. Sorry.

It may seem like it in the video, but I’m not sanding an awful lot of the bezel thickness away. I’m just really skimming it over the surface to clean off the Black Max. If you want to try this just be careful to keep an eye on the blue masking tape so that you’re not sanding through it. You could also put two layers of tape over the stone if you’re worried you might damage it.

And that’s it!

Hopefully it wasn’t too boring. As I said it’s really just to encourage new jewelry makers to have a go. I found rings quite intimidating at first and couldn’t quite figure out the best way to do it.

This is one way to make a simple ring band. Someone else would make it differently and probably far better, but it’s just a beginning and you can go on from there.

Loop in Loop take 2

Hopefully you’ll be able to see what I’m doing in these videos as the first time I tried to make it for you everything at the end was out of the camera line and so was kind of a non starter 😉

Mexican Fire Opal

For this particular chain I’ve used 20 gauge fine silver. (You can use sterling silver, but it might be harder on your fingers). I’ve used a 9mm diameter mandrel to make the jump rings.

Single Loop in Loop Chain

 I’m pretty sure that I have seen some charts that will tell you which gauge of wire to use with which diameter jump ring to make different sizes of chain, but I haven’t been able to find them yet. If you’re like me, however, good old trial and error works just as well. You can make some test runs with copper first to save messing up with your silver. Your main concern will be to avoid using a diameter ring which is too small for the wire gauge as you want the chain to move well and not be too stiff. 

O.K. So…

This time I only focused on making the actual chain and not how to make the jump rings. If you would like me to make a video on how to make and solder the jump rings just let me know

😉 

MATERIALS:

For 6″ length of chain

30 x 9mm, 20 Gauge Fine Silver Jump Rings.

Round nose pliers

Awl for jewelry, leather or bookmaking

Draw Plate

This first video stops abruptly because my son came into the studio. It was kind of irritating, but we did have a nice chat about how I could edit him out…

NOTE: You don’t need to solder fine silver. If you make sure that the two ends of the jump ring are lined up perfectly and there isn’t a gap where you’re going to join them you can slowly and evenly heat the ring until the silver fuses itself. This just needs practice. 

LINKS:

Pepe Jump Ring Maker – riogrande.com #110189 – I have the older version of this tool. I really like it as it has a huge number of mandrels to choose from. You don’t need a jump ring maker, however, to make jump rings as you can wrap the wire around a length of dowel or something similar that is the width you’re looking for. Just be sure to wrap the wire as tightly as you can around the mandrel.

I think the word I was looking for at the end of this video was ‘fluid’, but you get the idea. I haven’t found the need to anneal the chain once I’ve finished it, but perhaps if I used sterling silver I would. It just softens the silver up after you have worked with it so that all of the links move more easily. As I said you have to be careful when you anneal it if you have soldered the joins together because you don’t want the solder to re-melt. This is another good reason to fuse the fine silver instead of soldering.

LINKS:

Draw Plates – HERE – There are many different kinds of draw plates out there, but these are the ones I use. I’m sure for this purpose you could even make your own by drilling holes in a piece of wood.

Awl – HERE – Again there are loads of different needle tools out there. This one seems most like the one I use.

And that’s it.

The only thing that might put someone off making this chain is that it’s fiddly, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.

There are a few variations on this chain, such as the double Loop in Loop and also a triple one, but I haven’t made either of these yet as I’ve got to build myself up for extra fiddly.

Maybe later

😉

Just a hello…

I made a video on how to make the Link in Link chain for you, but right at the end, right at the crucial part where all the important stuff happens, I move my hands out of the camera view and you can’t see any of the good bits.

Here I’ve used two 3″ lengths of the Link in Link chain to make up this Mexican Fire Opal bracelet.

So a remake of the video is now on my to do list as it’s a really simple chain which you might like to have a go at making yourself. It’s fiddly, but once you get it down there’s nothing to it.

Just a note here on the videos I make.

I’m by no means an expert, but I don’t mind sharing how I make things with you. If you ever see something I’ve made and would like a, ‘behind the scenes’, just let me know. I’m not very good at making the videos. I can’t be bothered to delve into the tech depths of editing for instance, I’ve too many other things I’d rather be doing. So what I do in real time is what you get, so to speak, including all of my mistakes. And I do make mistakes which is annoying as oftentimes it’s just because I’m being lazy or not paying attention or I simply don’t really know what I’m doing and I’m making it up as I go along, but I think mistakes can also be good to share as it’s encouraging to see the ‘real’ stuff going down.

Well that’s my story anyway.

😉

I also get very bored, very easily and don’t know what to do next so a video challenge gives me something to do.

Except for when I’m depressed then we ain’t getting nothing.

But the sofa sees a lot of action.

I get depressed a lot.

Just one of those things.

I’m also a bit all or nothing. I’m either going full steam and don’t lift my head up, or at a full stop wondering what the point of it all is.

You know how it is…

In other news. I went to the MFAH the other day to see the Royal Family which I really enjoyed. Well I enjoyed the Tudors and the Windsors. I didn’t care for the Stuart and Hanover paintings. Too wafty for me. I like the meat of the Holbeins.

I mean look at Anne with her lovely long neck.

I love the simplicity of this style of painting.

Unlike this style.

Which is a little too frivolous for me. I also don’t like all of the space around it.

Brilliant painting though.

He is George III. Mad King George. The one we got rid of in the U.S.

And here is Charlotte, his Queen, and interestingly enough the first black queen.

I didn’t know that.

Anyway. Back to the Tudors.

Lady Jane Grey.

What a tragedy.

Below is one of my favourite paintings of her in the exhibit.

According to the nice man on the audio tape it apparently was thought lost, destroyed in a flood, but was unexpectedly discovered rolled inside another painting years later in London with extensive water damage. It’s amazing how they were able to restore it.

You have to stand in front of it to feel the awfulness of it.

It was one of the only paintings in the exhibit that I felt compelled to go back to several times.

Then, of course, there was good old Henry himself.

Which was fantastical

🙂

Although this has to be my favourite.

I have to include one of the Earl of Essex of course because that where I come from.

He definitely looks like he knows how to get things done.

Thomas Cromwell

Of course he ended up with his head on the block.

And then there were the Windsors.

My people.

The Andy Warhol.

The Princess Di.

And this, my favourite, of the Queen.

I know. I know. Not quite her most flattering, but it was marvelous.

The one I stood in front of was the blue hologram (below) which doesn’t translate well from my photograph so I found you a decent one online.

It was mesmerizing. Almost magical.

Strange, but true…

Of course no good visit to the MFAH should end without a quickie to the African gold room.

 

 

A looksee at the wonderful little these things.

 

And a finish off in the what the hell happened in here room.

 

 

 

They make my rather large and peculiar butterfly necklace look rather mundane…

Happy Sunday.

🙂

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Dendritic Lanscape Agate – How to fix it…

Here’s a little ‘how to fix it’ for when something decides to fall off your almost completely finished piece of jewelry so that you don’t need to pull your hair out.

The subject of this video series.

 

NOTE

You can watch these videos on YouTube, but will have to come back to this page to find the next in the series. I do this as often I forget to mention things in the videos and will write notes to accompany them. Because of this they are not stand alone videos.

Links

Stone from @godsownpaintings on Instagram

Burnisher – riogrande #113017

Optivisor – riogrande.com – #113214 – This one comes with four lenses. You can chose to buy the optivisor and buy just one sense.

Sticky wax – riogrande.com – #700187 – NOTE: There’s lots of sticky wax out there, this is just the one I have. Fair warning – there’s loads of it in the box and it will probably last you a life time…

You can find a selection of flat headed diamond burs – HERE

 

NOTE: Some stones are more delicate than others and you may be more likely to scratch the surface of them if you’re not careful. I’ve found that, for whatever reason, the dendritic agates are fantastically forgiving…

If the stone you’re trying to remove is exceptionally thin (as the one I’m using is), or is delicate any way, you have to be really careful when you press on it with the wax stick so not to crack it.

Here’s hoping that none of your bits fall off…

😉

 

Dendritic Landscape Agate

Amber necklace – Show and Tell

O.K. so I’m not sure about this one.

 

This video series is really for anyone who wants to see my thought process and particularly the soldering bit in its entirety.

So, you’re duly warned and might want to skip it if the tedium of it all will get to you…

The stone I use for this show and tell is Turquoise and is also round so the piece turns out slightly differently from the one above. You’ll get the gist however.

MATERIALS

A 12 millimeter-ish round-ish piece of Turquoise or other stone.

A smaller 5 millimeter-ish complimentary stone.

22 gauge fine silver sheet for the base.

23 gauge fine silver sheet for the leaves.

Some 18 and 16 gauge fine silver wire.

TOOLS

You’ll find a list of the tools I use and their links under each video.

I don’t endorse any particular tool, nor recommend that you use them. They are just the tools I used.

NOTE

I keep all of the videos here on my blog. If you click to watch one on you tube you’ll have to come back here to find the next one. I do this as sometimes I feel a little more explanation may be needed and so I write notes to accompany them. As such they aren’t really stand alone videos.

 

1

This video has a small glitch in it around the 3 min mark when somebody texted me or something. Sorry ;(

Note: It’s best to anneal any silver you intend to form first.

2

Now that the leaves are annealed I can actually squeeze the ends together and snip at the same time.

You don’t have to use fine silver. I prefer it as it doesn’t tarnish as sterling silver does. Bear in mind, however, that fine silver is softer that sterling so anything you want to hold its shape, like cuffs etc., will distort more easily.

I am a very visual person so I find that I’m constantly using my tweezers to move pieces around etc. Even if I’ve made a drawing I like to get an idea of how everything will look together. Sometimes you can’t get this from a drawing alone – unless you’re one of those super accurate fine jewelry making drawers, in which case you shouldn’t be watching these videos…

Cutting Shears – Rio Grande #111289

Snap on Sanding Discs and Mandrel – HERE

Here is a photo of the necklace I refer to in the video which uses the leaf stems as prongs and has the 50 plus pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

When I make a bezel collar I find that the combined thickness of the overlapping bezel wire gives enough extra length to ensure that the cabochon fits just right. I cut the wire a millimeter or two longer than where I mark it with the pencil just as an added precaution. Often times, however, I end up snipping it back down to the pencil line. If you are using a very thick bezel wire this will still work for you, but you will have more wire to snip away. It’s just trial and error with the type of wire you prefer to work with, but the principle is the same. It just gives you a good starting guide of where to snip and if you wrap the wire around the stone correctly you should have perfectly matching edges to solder together.

You have to make sure that the bottom of the bezel wire is flat to the block and that the sides are perpendicular and not bent inward, or outward, at any point along its circumference for your bezel join to work properly.

Bale making pliers – HERE

Note: I use fine silver bezel wire.

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

SCRAP RECYCLING:

Although there are other companies that will recycle your scrap silver I send mine to riogrande.com

You can find their scrap programme at the bottom of their page under Rio Grande Services & Brands

5

This is a long one so if you want to watch it go get yourself a cup of coffee or a stiff drink of some sort and settle in for the ride as I will now attempt, before your very eyes, to solder all of the fiddly bits on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but with practice and patience you too will be able to do this and probably better than I do…

Some notes:

Don’t tell anyone, but I rarely use a proper file.

It looks bright enough in the video, but it was pretty dark from my angle and I couldn’t see properly.

I had two sizes of balls. Small ones for the oval pieces and slightly larger ones for the leaves to give it more interest.

I have several pairs of tweezers handy so I can swap them out as they get hot.

Often the pieces won’t stand up on their own as the small piece of solder I’ve placed on the bottom form a slight ball. This is why I put them on individually instead of soldering them all at once. If I can get them to stand up on their own I would do it all at once. As it is I tack them into place first and then give them a good once over at the end.

You have to keep your eye on everything at once so that you can see if something is going to melt. By moving my torch in and out I can generally avoid the other pieces, but this is also why you have to make sure you give everything a good going over at the end. I generally do this by changing up my torch head to a larger one because it can cover more area at once. If I’m careful I can get all of the pieces to settle at once and not have to keep working one area at a time. Seriously, it’s just practice and knowing where the heat is.

You can do it 😉 It’s like one day you can’t do it, you can’t do it, you can’t do it and everything melts and you’re going to give up and take up crochet, then suddenly voila a shift in the fabric of time and you won’t look back.

Solder Chips – HERE

Penny Brite – HERE

7

It’s difficult to see anything doing anything in this one, but it is short and sweet – thankfully 🙂

8

It wasn’t worth it to keep re-heating and moving the pieces around to fit the stone in as it was such a small slither of silver to take off, but I think that first cut off disc was blunt and wasn’t doing anything.

The stems did fit into the leaves more easily than in my previous necklace, but it turned out that I still found it easier to tack the tip of the stem onto the leaf and then push it in to get a better fit before continuing to solder it in place. By cutting the end of the stem first rather than before soldering it I could make sure that it was be the right length to travel up along the leaf and be long enough to continue up as a prong. If I hadn’t cut it first I couldn’t be sure that each prong would be the same length.

Cut Off Disc – Rio Grande #346080

9

I just sand the tips of my tweezers with the sanding disc in my Foredom. Use a mask if you do this.

I know I seem to be fussy about that small piece being out of place, but I think it’s good practice to try to make things as best you can.

This video shows you just how fiddly it can all be. It was even annoying me. If you haven’t got the patience or really don’t want to make things like this you might still pick up one or two things from seeing me struggle – if it’s only to not do it this way.

Honeycomb Soldering Block  – HERE

Metal Pins – HERE

10

The piece wasn’t entirely clean which is why the flux went a funny colour.

Cup Burs set of 12 – Rio Grande #344397

12

Here I use the rubber end of the hammer so that I don’t mark the silver leaves.

13

This video stops short as someone phones me, but it’s at the end anyway. The only thing I had left to do was to go over it all again to make sure everything was completely soldered.

15

I propped up the leaf at the end because if the solder melts again the leaf is still in place and won’t just drop off.

16

Generally annealed wire is easier to wrap, but this was still a little awkward.

Warning – the sticky wax in my link comes in a huge packet which will last you for the rest of your life if you’re just using it for this purpose. You can probably find similar products elsewhere. It won’t always get out cabochons which are really stuck in a setting so don’t rely on it unless you’re pretty confident it will work.

Sticky wax – Rio Grande #700187 – Warning. This is a lot of sticky wax. You won’t need to buy any ever again.

Black Max – Rio Grande #331053

Yellow 3m wheels – Rio Grande #332581

Very Fine Buffing Wheels – Rio Grande #330541

Bench Lathe  – Rio Grande #334016

18

Finished!

Here it is

I know it was a long one, but I hope you got something out of it – even if it’s only that you never want to make one.

🙂

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Ocean Jasper Box Necklace – Show and Tell

I’ve made these on and off over the years and thought I’d share with you how I make them if you’d like to give one a try.

Coral Fossil

So.

Same disclaimer as always.

I’m not a professional.

I don’t endorse any tools or materials, but just let you know what I use.

And last but not least.

I will deny any responsibility for your getting annoyed at the video in a court of law.

Moving on…

I am definitely a make it and figure it out as I go along sort of person. I also forget from one minute to the next what I’m doing. Usually I’m not showing anyone else so I can generally get away with it 😉

I like to put a design on the back of the pieces I make because I think it looks nicer if the necklace turns while someone is wearing it. It also serves the purpose of being able to work the stone out of the bezel setting when I’m making it and for releasing hot air when soldering.

NOTE: I soldered the box edges (the bezel wire) onto a piece of silver. I’m showing you on this larger piece of silver, but I had cut a smaller piece before I soldered the box sides on.

NOTE: Making sure that the flow of silver is continuous on the outside of the bezel wall is relevant to any bezel making. When I first started to make jewelry I used to be disappointed when I could see little pits along the outside of the setting. It took me a while to realize that if I took a little time to make sure I could see a continuous line when the solder flowed to the outside edge my finished pieces would look far better. You can help the solder flow by using your pick to spread it evenly or, if this doesn’t work, it might be that you haven’t enough solder and need to add just a little more. Even if it looks great on the inside it can still be pitted on the outside.

If you find that you need to cut down a piece of bezel wire that is too high for the stone and you have already soldered it onto the silver backing you can mark the sides with a sharpie, adjust a pair of dividers to the amount you want to cut away, and then run the point of the dividers around the bottom of the bezel wire. This leaves a fine line that you can use as a guide to file, or sand, the excess away. To make sure that you have the edge completely flat you can finish it up by then marking the bottom with a sharpie and sanding it in a figure of eight motion on a flat piece of sand paper until all of the sharpie has gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was trying to focus the camera closer to the work and so it doesn’t show that I’m just picking up small pieces of solder with my pick and bringing them back to the small cutouts.

Solder will stick to the end of the pick If you heat up the pick and ball up small pieces of solder at the same time. They have to both be hot. Then you can bring your pick back to whatever you’re working on.

I do the same thing when I’m soldering a ball into place except I replace the pick with the ball. I pick the ball up with a pair of long tweezers and take it over to the solder. The ball is thicker and more solid than the small pieces of solder so the ball has to be heated more before the solder will stick to its bottom. Then you can take the ball back over to the piece you’re working on. If the back plate is as hot as the ball, the ball should solder onto the plate with no trouble. If the plate is not hot enough the solder may come up over the ball. The temperatures have to be the same with anything you’re soldering and you have to bear in mind that each piece, due to its size and thickness, will take different amounts of heat to attain this. Only when both pieces are the same temperature can the solder join them.

I often shield a piece I’m working on with my hands to double check that I’ve got the pieces in the right position for soldering. If the light source is coming from one direction it can be deceptive.

If you’re looking for a shiny surface in the finished piece, obviously you wouldn’t sand the silver as I do. I like a more matt, buffed, look and so this doesn’t affect the finished piece.

You won’t always need to put a stopper inside the box. It just depends on the fit of the stone.

You have to look around the web for the Wolverine Ultra Silver Brazing Flux as it seems to vary in price and availability. I use mine by putting a small amount of it in a smaller jar and mixing it with distilled water until it’s fairly runny. Even though I keep a lid on it the water evaporates out of this very quickly so each time I open it I have to add more water. This seems to work well for me though.

Cross locking tweezers – riogrande.com – #115206

Honeycomb soldering block – riogrande.com – #502005

Soldering pegs – I can’t find where the pegs are sold separately, but you can find some here – riogrande.com – #111039

TIP: Unless you like living on the edge as I do you might want to measure the height of your prongs first 😉

It would have been easier for me in the long run if I’d made up my mind about the small pieces of balled wire that I added at the end before I soldered the box onto the back plate. It’s not a problem to add things afterward, but whenever you solder anything onto a piece after you have added the prongs you have to be very careful not to re-melt the prong solder. I just kept the flame away from that area and kept a good eye on it, but you can coat the areas that you don’t want to be affected with that yellow oxide powder that I used in a previous show and tell. I just forgot about it – again… (riogrande.com – #504080)

As it was I cut the wire to the correct height and held them in place with tweezers using the same technique as with the prongs.

Ocean Jasper

larsonite

And some older work using the box.

Sonora Dendrite

 

Purple Passion

 

Jasper

 

Poppy Jasper

 

Prudent Man

 

Amethyst Sage

Next up I’m thinking of making some more of these if you’re interested in another show and tell.

Amber

🙂

A show and tell for Keirsten…

 

Although I don’t pronounce her name correctly.

Sorry.

:/

Not my fault really as I don’t know anybody called Keirsten and so don’t have much opportunity to say it.

As always this is just a show and tell. I’m not even sure if I wanted to show this one as I think it’s really boring. You can definitely see how I go about making my jewelry though. I was being completely serious when I told you that I wing it. Sometimes I follow a drawing, but more often than not I just place things here and there deciding as I go along if I like it or not.

And yes I mumble and um and ahh to myself also.

It can be a little lonely in my studio at times so if I’m not talking to the radio man I’m talking to myself…

:/

So that’s the design aspect of it. The technical aspect is to simply work on the fly using whatever tools I have hanging around that I think might give me the result I’m looking for. One day perhaps I’ll go to jewelry tool school and figure out what they’re really made for.

I’ve always hated going to sites like Rio or Otto Frei and seeing fantastic looking tools and not really knowing what the hell you do with them. Sometimes they give you a little video how to on them, and Youtube is pretty good for finding things out, but I hate knowing there’s just the tool out there that will make my life easier and not knowing about it.

My world can be a dark, mysterious place sometimes.

Moving on.

I’m going to try to make another of these…

…for Keirsten.

Please remember.

I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools and materials used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others and some less expensive. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

I got these little pieces of turquoise from turquoisesusa on Instagram. I have bought some in the past from aztrading.madison on Instagram also.

Warning: This video is just like watching silver melting 😉

I felt in this one that I didn’t really explain the silver stretching part properly. You’ll find that just stamping on one side of the silver lengthens and distorts the strip. You have to balance it up by stamping or hammering out the opposite side. If you want the melted part to stay as it is and not stamp it as I did, do all of the texturing before you melt the edge.

I keep checking the back of the strip as I form it because I don’t want to completely mess up the texture. You’d have to be a whole lot more careful if you want to have a good smooth finish 😉

I was trying really hard not to use up my acetylene, but I was going nowhere fast by not having enough heat on the piece to solder it. The idea of taking that bottle back to the shop really kills me…

Just so you know I was joking when I said why do it the proper way 😉 that’s just not as much fun as making things as difficult as you can…

You have to be really careful when you bend the tube as I’m doing here as the silver can easily split. I try to do it really slowly and gently.

When I say I’m going to buff the ends to smooth them out I mean I’m going to use the coarse scrubby bits that I used before – HERE.

Brown (thicker) cutting disc – Rio Grande 337217

Thin dangerous diamond disc – Rio Grande 346080 There are a lot of different ones of these so you might look around.

Cylinder bur – Rio Grande 343029

Grinding wheel – Rio Grande 332189

Smaller knife edge cutting bur – Rio Grande 348520

Dawn Gill you’ll be pleased to know that I just bought myself a new honeycomb soldering block as mine’s now in five pieces 🙂

Spider tool – HERE.

Just making decisions…

This video is cut short by a phone call.

Black Max – Rio Grande 331053

Yellow 3m wheels – Rio Grande 332581

Very Fine Buffing Wheels – Rio Grande 330541

Always wear a mask when buffing even if you’re not using a patina as the small fibers from the buffing wheel get everywhere.

And voila!

A turquoise cuff.

 

 

So all said and done it’s nothing like the original, but the way I made it is the same – somewhat. I prefer the originals myself although I think that’s because I was surprised by this one’s size.

Small things throw me a loop…

🙂

The old bottle out.

New bottle in.

Phew!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Behind the scenes – Amber cuff…

Here is another series of videos showing how I made this silver cuff with Amber.

They come in bursts so that no one is ever that long, except for one I think, but maybe you’ll forgive me for that one.

Sometimes the rambling gets away with me…

They’re just work in progress videos and not really intended as tutorials, but if you glean any snippets, even if they’re what not to do, I think my work here is done 😉

Disclaimer

I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools and materials used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others and some less expensive. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

Notes:

In this first video I call the necklace a bracelet so you can see that we’re off to a good start…

And please excuse my clothes! I don’t know about you, but I just use my old tee shirts and jeans, etc. to work in the grime of the studio and apparently this morning I was also playing with the cat…

Cabochon from New Stone Age Cabochons on Instagram – HERE

Note: I use fine silver bezel wire so this is not for you if you need sterling.

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Notes:

I didn’t show making the components in this video as you can find out how I do this in the Cheetah Jasper Necklace show and tell – HERE

I typically use a #0 head on my acetylene/air torch. I change up to a #1 head when I want a little more overall heat and to not concentrate on smaller areas.

Wire doesn’t crack or snap! It seems that sometimes I get a little bored with using the correct terms. It can however break off when you push on it if the heat from the flame has weakened it.

I mostly pick solder when I’m soldering small pieces. When I solder balls onto a piece, however, I use the ball as my ‘pick’. At the end of this video you can see that I take the balls to the pieces of solder and heat a small blob onto its bottom. I then take that back to the piece I’m working on.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Note:

A phone call interrupts this video and cuts it short.

Notes:

This is the long one…

I find lifting the piece up off the soldering block allows the heat to flow more evenly around and under the piece. These titanium strips do the job nicely as I read once that they are not a heat sink. You can find them – HERE

I heat around the piece until the flux turns a sort of powdery white. This is the point where the water has mostly evaporated from the flux and you can then move your flame closer to the piece as the pallions of solder won’t bounce around. You can see that the flux then starts to get a little gunky and then glosses over slightly. This stage happens just before the solder will flow and is where I lift the piece up with my pick. I do this because it just seems to give the solder that little extra nudge that it needs to get going.

I use Wolverine flux. You can google it as the price seems to change from site to site. I take a small amount of it out of the main jar and mix it with distilled water in a smaller jar. I’ve used a few different fluxes, but for some reason I really like this flux. The solder stays in place and doesn’t bubble around even though I dilute it more with water. I also spread it over all of the silver, even those places I’m not directly soldering on. I think this is mainly a superstitious act as a prayer to the solder gods. Don’t judge me…!

I bend the tips of my tweezers so that they pick up the small pieces more easily. It appears that haven’t done this yet with my new pair.

I concentrate on soldering, or tacking, one piece at a time. Because they’re not fully soldered I can move the pieces around more easily if I want to at this point. Once I get them all into place I change up the torch head for a larger flame as now I want to make sure the solder flows. I hold down each piece with my tweezers, or pick, and you can feel it ‘relax’ into place as the solder flows then I take the heat off it and after a fraction of a second I tap it to make sure it’s secured. You have to wait just that tiny bit as if the solder is still hot the piece will move even though the join is good. I’ve been tricked into thinking I haven’t soldered something more than once because I’ve nudged the piece before the solder has hardened. Once I think that everything is fixed in place I move the heat around the whole area this time to make doubly sure that everything is evenly soldered. You have to keep a good eye on it at this point as the larger flame will bring everything up to the same temperature more easily and this is when the silver can melt and give the pieces more opportunity to move out of place. Note: I only solder this way if I’m soldering a lot of tiny pieces at one time. If you’re just doing a simple solder you don’t have to go around tapping the piece as you can see it flow 🙂

Usually the solder from the bezel join takes care of attaching the ends of the stems. If not I will at some point come back in and place just a tiny dot of solder to secure them.

Notes:

Yes. Sometimes it still amazes me that I’ve managed to do it!

To make sure all the pieces are absolutely secure I scrub them with a toothbrush and take the opportunity as I do so to clean it up more with Penny Brite – HERE

Notes:

I have a few of those stainless steel condiment cups that I like to use for holding small items and it was handy for mixing the No-Flo.

Rio No- Flo –  Rio Grande #: 504080

Notes:

I get a little sidetracked here with the whole plaster mixing thing. These are just the sort of questions that take up room in my brain and distract me from the real issues at hand… sorry.

I placed the top piece on the back plate a little too soon. The top half had melted, but I should have given the bottom half a little longer this is why it took longer for the solder to flow on one half. I also use too much in the center. Usually I would have soldered both sides and then turned the torch off to place the pallions in the center, but was trying to do it all at once for the video. Well that’s my excuse anyway 😉

Now, don’t hold your breath on these next videos making any sense whatsoever. I’ve only made maybe four or five cuffs before and it’s like reinventing the wheel each time. Maybe I should start taking notes…

I also tend to jump right in when perhaps I should pay more attention to what I want the end result to be before I actually begin cutting up stuff.

Where you can literally hear the painful process of my brain whirling. It’s really not that hard Deborah…

Contact paper – HERE – this stuff will last you for five hundred years or more.

Notes:

They’re not pieces of wire. They are silver sheet.

You have to experiment with which torch head works best. The key is to heat it to the point of melting and not leaving the flame in one spot. It doesn’t really look as though I’m doing anything to it here, but it improved on the first effort.

Notes:

Warning. Skip this one if you get annoyed easily. It’s short, but painful.

This is where I had actually figured out how I was going to make the cuff, but then completely forgot when I came to videoing it.

There’s a hole in the end of the strips as I’m going to rivet the two pieces together.

Contenti abrasive discs – HERE

Notes:

Thankfully the torture is nearly over.

In case I’m not clear (hard to believe I know) the sterling silver may over time tarnish and so the nail polish is a barrier to that.

It is Lexi Erickson’s tip. I watched a couple of her videos years ago which were really helpful when I first started and I always remember the nail polish over everything 🙂 I worry a little bit about the polish discolouring and always mean to research it. Perhaps it’s high time I do that now.

Check out her videos. I can assure you they are a lot more comprehensible than mine 😉

If I find that a sanding disc won’t fit I use a flat bur to clean out the bottom of the bezel.

And so that’s it.

Again it’s not really a tutorial, but more of a show and tell because you can’t really teach if you’ re making it up half the time.

If you got anything useful out of it, great.

If not, well… sorry.

😉

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Behind the scenes – Cheetah Jasper Necklace…

As you probably know by now my video skills leave a lot to be desired. I had wanted to make a, ‘why don’t you make one along with me’, video of the Cheetah Jasper necklace, but what with the glare and the constant fumbling around for my grown up words and then forgetting to explain what I’m doing I have decided that really this is just a show and tell.

If you are able to make anything of it that helps with your own jewelry making I congratulate you 🙂

 

NOTES AND LINKS:

Indian Jewelry Supply not Art Supply, but I’m not sure if they’re around anymore.

Short-Handle 1lb Brass Head Hammer – Rio 112061

Lindstrom HS6001 Cutter Shears

Buffalo Rutland Stamps

Chasing tool from 2moontools on Etsy.

Turned out to be no dilemma at all as I only had 23 gauge anyway 🙂

I use an acetylene/air torch and mostly pick solder.

Here I’m using the little silver balls to pick the solder up instead of my pick. I pick the ball up in my tweezers and take it to a pile of solder chips I have laying on my brick. I heat a little piece of the solder which then attaches itself to the bottom of the ball. I keep it heated as I move it back toward the leaf.

I mainly put the little hammered balls under the pieces that make up the bottom layer. I do this to bring the pattern up off the back plate to give it some dimension. As I build the picture up I don’t use as many balls but instead lay pieces where I think they will best suit the design.

I generally have all of the solder ready to go on the bottom of each piece.

As I said, I’ll try to figure out a good way to video the process without the glare and try to show you how it all comes together on another piece.

I know you can hardly wait…

BeadSmith 1-Step Big Looper Plier

Abrasive wheels.

 

SaveSave

Happy New Year!

I was going to write about my New Year’s Intention to work on protecting my boundaries without feeling guilty and how Joe from Little Women is my new, just be yourself, hero.

I was also going to tell you about the face rash I developed the week before I was due to fly to England for Christmas which I thought was shingles and which I just knew would prevent me from getting onto the airplane due to being infectious to pregnant women and children and how I would have to stay home alone to suffer my own sad and lonely holiday, but which simply turned out to be an allergic reaction to hugging a friend.

I was also going to tell you about how I’ve fallen three times since August due to not paying enough attention to where I’m placing my feet and how the third time I fell, on Boxing Day, although it seemed that I barely touched the floor with my knee, it resulted in a bruise to end all bruises which has systematically migrated from the tip of my left kneecap down to cover the whole of the front of my shin and which is, even now, moving around to the side of my leg and down to my ankle.

I was also going to tell you that Christmas was good albeit especially cold on the one day we chose to spend in London drinking cocktails in the Ice Bar (because why not spend 45 minutes in a room even colder than the already bitter outside) and taking the Jack the Ripper tour well into the dark, bitter evening. And how I was disappointed with the tour because I, and I think most everybody alive today, already knows the ins and outs and the hows, whos and whys of this particular serial killer and as most of the sites the guide took us to are now either modern office buildings or parts of London which did nothing to call up the horrors of the day we could have happily sat with the guide in a warm pub drinking beer as he pointed to the pertinent locations on a map. All I could think about the day after were the poor half frozen to death prostitutes waiting for tricks on dark miserable corners with nothing but the prospect of getting drunk silly on gin and orange to keep them warm. Which reminds me to look up the months that the murders took place as the idea of a knife piercing already bone-chillingly numb skin seems somehow worse than if the murders took place in the summer months.

Just me?

I could also tell you how my daughters boyfriend approached me ONE week before we all left for London and asked me to help him make her an engagement ring. Of course he had zero experience and had never made a piece of jewelry before and I had never made a prong setting, but we did it in spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that I told him every inch of the way that he wouldn’t be able to do it. A somewhat new approach for me from the encouragement I normally give my kids.

He did good

🙂

 

But then I decided to not tell you about any of this, but instead just wish you all a Happy New Year

🙂

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Chrysoprase Necklace

This past week I gave myself a Pulling Teeth Challenge because that’s just what making jewelry, or anything else really, felt like.

I think I’ve been a bit down for a good while just recently and then, all of a sudden, the sister of one of my good friends died. Just like that. She was one year older than me. I thought I was o.k., but going to the funeral did me in completely, you know the whole death and family stuff, and I still can’t comprehend how my friend or her family feels especially losing someone so young.

I mean they’re just there, and then they’re not.

It was a bit touch and go for a while there and, let me tell you, I was almost on the brink, but you’ll be pleased to know that I think I’ve finally pulled myself out of it.

Hearing about everyone else’s ‘dry’ spells on fb and Instagram, due to depression or anything else really, helped out a lot also.

Put things into perspective.

I knew I was in trouble when I was sitting at my bench and it was all I could do not to just lay my head down on my steel block. Giving myself the challenge of going into the studio every day and making myself start and finish something and then post it on Instagram even though I didn’t feel that I even had the energy to close a jump ring together let alone solder it, started to bring me out of it and on the day after Thanksgiving I thought I’d have another go at making a video.

Just for jollies.

Well for jollies and for the fact that the act of committing to something seems to have been the key to snapping myself out of it. Although it must seem as though I’m always vague and slightly confused I was definitely dragging at the beginning, but by the end I simply couldn’t take myself that seriously especially when I listened back to how awkward I am.

And my god the words! Why can’t I remember the words.

I think when my brain is on the go the words just aren’t always that relevant.

Sorry words. And sorry to those of you watching that might have liked some words that could have actually shed light on what I was trying to explain.

So that said, this new ‘How To’ video series is a bit rough and ready although you can thank your lucky stars there aren’t near as many to get through.

See. Bonus right there.

I do want to say that I will be the first to agree with any jewelry maker who’s been properly trained and who gets upset with someone, like me, who tries to ‘teach’ other people how to make jewelry.

I haven’t been trained. I just get through.

Think of this blog as just a thinking out loud platform for me to share with you how I do things. Not for me to tell you how you should do things. Some things I do quite well, some things not so well, but all of it is meant well and in good faith and for you just to have a go yourselves.

That said here’s my disclaimer.

Please remember that I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

-.

And so without further ado…

For the Chrysoprase Necklace you will need.

Materials:

A stone

🙂

(I used a 23 mm x 16 mm chrysoprase)

Silver sheet.

(I used 23 gauge fine silver)

A 3 to 4 “ piece of silver wire.

(I used 18 gauge fine silver wire)

black max or liver of sulfur etc.

Tools:

pliers

saw

torch and solder

contact paper or rubber cement etc.

buffing tools

straight line chasing or stamping tool to make the leaves.

sanding tools or file

Video 1

Where I think I’m just going to show you the necklace I’m going to make, but then decide to explain how I’m going to make it differently than I normally do even though that’s not what I intended to do in the first place and so it’s not really very clear what’s going on until you get further into the videos.

And even then it’s touch and go…

 

SPECIAL NOTE: It’s ChrysoPRase, not ChrysoPHRase as I’ve pronounced it here. The word was very long. Forgive me.

Video 2

A quick recap on how I make my bezel collars.

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Video 3

How I cut my leaves to give them a more 3 dimensional look.

I haven’t shown how I make the basic leaves because I covered that – HERE – and thought it best not to keep going over things you’d already seen.

NOTE: Seriously, I did not lie to the nice snipper guy. I do not use my good snippers to cut off the ends of leaves I use them just for wire. I couldn’t find my old ones. Promise.

Video 4

A quickie on making silver balls. Skip if you already make them.

Video 5

In this one I’m figuring out the best way to make the necklace the new way and also deciding if I want to make it into a bracelet/cuff instead.

Video 6

The contact paper bit.

NOTE: For sawing out fine detail on a piece of silver sticking an image onto it using rubber cement is probably a better choice. I’m not sure if you can print a design directly onto the contact paper because I haven’t tried. I know some people use sticky back labels to get the same effect.

Contact Paper – HERE

Video 7

More babbling as I figure out the design.

NOTE: As each piece is individual and so not exactly the same shape as each other remember to keep the pieces in their specific order as you go along. I kept forgetting to do this.

Video 8

Continued belabouring of the design

NOTE: When I make pieces that have a few different layers I pay attention to what I imagine the end weight will be. Sometimes the stone is heavy also. Had I used a slightly heavier stone here and just one layer of silver work I would perhaps have used the 20 gauge sheet, but because there were essentially three layers (including the leaves) and then the stone I used 23 gauge as it all adds up.

Video 9

Soldering the first two pieces together.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Video 10

Finding my grown up words and moving on to the next stage.

NOTE: I usually run a Sharpie around the edge of the top layer of silver if I want to contour it. This gives me a good guide line for sawing. Pencil rubs off too easily and the thicker Sharpie has a good width for a starting point and I can sand more away later if I want it to be narrower.

Video 11

Soldering all the little pieces on.

At the beginning of this video you will hear what it sounds like when someone tries to get more than one word to come out of their mouth at the same time.

Doesn’t really work…

NOTE: When I’m attaching smaller pieces to the base I hold the attachments, leaves, balls, etc., close to the flame as I’m heating the base. This means that they’re not coming to the piece cold. Typically they don’t need as much heating as the base so you can control their temperature more by easing them in this way otherwise they may overheat and melt more easily.

MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT BREATH FLUX IN. Quench your piece first before putting more flux on it. The heat from the silver sends flux fumes into the air. Heating the flux with your torch also sends fumes into the air, it’s just not as obvious as it looks here. Use an extractor fan if you have one or at least solder in an open, well ventilated area. I have a fume extractor which I didn’t put on here as it would have been too noisy, but even so putting flux on a hot surface as I did in this video is not a good thing.

Penny Brite – HERE

Long tweezers – Rio Grande #115222

Video 12

Muddling through the next soldering part as I demonstrate to you why your piece of silver should be clean.

Video 13

Fitting the stone in the bezel.

NOTE: Another reason why something doesn’t solder easily could be because your flux isn’t clean also. Just clean everything. Teeth, hair, clothes, etc.. then you should be covered.

Links – cut off wheel – Rio Grande #346085

Video 14

Using the Black Max and the first buffing.

NOTE: Really you should wear gloves when you’re using the Black Max or any other chemicals. I have those latex free ones. I would take them off, however, when using the buffing wheel. It probably wouldn’t happen, but I just have visions of a piece of loose glove getting caught up in that wheel and taking your hand off. This is probably my tendency toward dramatic thinking here, but you never know.

You don’t need a buffing wheel, or whatever that machine is called, for finishing your piece. You can get smaller wheels for your hand piece which will do the job. Just maybe not as fast. Links below.

Small hand piece buffing wheel – Rio Grande #338130

Machine buffing wheel – Rio Grande #330541

Small yellow wheel – Rio Grande #332581

Machine 3″ yellow wheel – Rio Grande #332076

3m elongated face masks –  HERE

Video 15

Extra notes on setting the stone.

I was trying to explain here that although the bezel wire fits to the bottom circumference of the stone, because the stone I’m using has a very shallow dome there is a lot more wire to push over to hold it in place. In this instance if you push too much of the wire over the sides of the stone too quickly the silver will likely stretch unevenly thereby distorting the fit. The stone I used in the bracelet video had straight sides and so this wasn’t as critical, but you should always rotate the piece as you push the wire over the stone so that you’re not concentrating on one part for too long..

Also I don’t know if I explained it clearly, but by pushing the stone toward the bezel pusher as you push the wire over, you are always pushing the stone away from its opposite side. You will never get a good tight fit if you do it this way. You don’t have to actually pull the stone away from the bezel pusher very much, just make sure you’re not pushing it toward the pusher. See, not confusing at all…

In case you missed it, or need to go through the torture again, here’s the link showing how I set the stone in the previous bracelet video – HERE

Video 16

Ceaning up and final buff.

I know it didn’t look as though I was sanding the sides of the bezel gently, but I was 😉

And so that’s another one done.

🙂

I went ahead and made the bracelet using the method I said I would at the end of the last video and I think it’s definitely quicker and more precise than the way I demonstrated for the necklace. Next time I make something similar I’ll experiment some more and report back, but I think you get the drift.

And here is…

Day 1 of the Pulling Teeth Challenge

Day 2

And day 3

Thank you for letting me waffle my way out of my funk.

🙂

SaveSave

SaveSave

Notes on watching the videos of my bracelet tutorial

This is my first video series and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to understand YouTube and what I wanted from it when I uploaded my videos on there so I thought I’d just give a quick explanation of my thinking here.

When I made the videos I knew there’d be some extra notes that I’d want to include as I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to talk and make the piece at the same time. I think I did pretty well with most of them, but there are one or two which I felt needed a little further explanation.

Also I’ve included a lot of links to the materials I’ve used etc. for those who would like to know and there are no notes for any of this on YouTube.

To be honest, the idea of anyone being able to watch this on YouTube worried me a little bit also. You guys may know how I muddle through and perhaps forgive me for it, but there’s a lot of stranger danger out there in the grown up world.

I’m hoping this will work out, but just let me know if you have any trouble.

The first part of the tutorial is HERE

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Bracelet tutorial continued.

NOTE: If you’re here and you haven’t seen my previous post which shows how I make the first part of the bracelet from hell you might want to take a look at that one first.

Otherwise here are the second batch of videos which show how I made the sides of the bracelet.

 

NOTE: That this is NOT stainless steel. It’s sterling silver.

This obvious lack of brain function marks where the bracelet starts to go off the rails. Had I remembered what material I was using perhaps I would also have remembered how to use the darn saw. If I had taken the silver to my bench pin in the first place things may well have been different.

But I didn’t and it wasn’t.

As for the vise holding thing. I’ve written before about my cack-handed relationship with it. I would like to say that it’s a love hate relationship, but I’d be lying. It’s a hate relationship. I know it can do wonderful things, but I seem to have an aversion to it and so only use it rarely. Consequently, when I do use it, I find I have completely forgotten how I managed to work with it the first time and so it’s a learning curve all over again.

You may find this curve painful. I certainly did when I played the video back.

2 X 2″ lengths of sterling silver 5mm x 2mm rectangular wire – Rio Grande #100552

Miter-Cutting Vise and Jig – Rio Grande #112700

Sticky back measuring tape – HERE

Sorry that you can’t actually see the tape in this video. You might catch it in the others, but I have about a two foot length of it stuck on the edge of my table. I like it because it doesn’t get in the way and I don’t have to keep looking around for a ruler. It does wear out on my working table more than on the other tables I have because I’m scraping silver bits around and over it, etc., but it comes in a large roll and is easy to replace. There’s lots of different makes of this tape and some may be cheaper than the one I’ve linked. I like the one with both inches and centimeters on it.

Making and soldering the bars.

Wolverine ultra flux – If you google it you can find a couple of places that sell it. I haven’t linked to any because it seems too expensive on amazon and I haven’t checked out the other places yet for a good price. I think mine is a 7oz jar.

Finishing the caps on the bars.

1.5″ piece of sterling silver extension chain –  Rio Grande #632812B

Infinity Stamps sterling silver tags – HERE – I use H

Infinity Stamp custom stamp with tag mate – HERE

As I mention in the video the tag mate system with a custom stamp is quite expensive and actually the tags are also I think, but if you make a lot of jewelry and you’re interested in buying one with your own makers mark on it you’ll have to draw up your art work first. The way I did it was to draw my initials (which is all I wanted on my stamp) over and over again on a piece of paper until I came up with something I liked. Keep the paper white and the writing sharp. I think I used a thin sharpie.

 

 

 

 

 

I then scanned it to my computer and sent it to Infinity Stamps. (It was a lot sharper than the image here on my screen).

They charge you extra if you want them to do the art work, and they tried to charge me for alterations on another stamp I’d designed when I felt they hadn’t actually changed anything on it. This was probably an oversight on their part, but you have to be careful as it can add up. If you get the artwork right the first time and feel it’s nice and sharp etc. you should be o.k. Infinity stamps will reduce the image to fit the tag.

Taking one of the end caps off.

Not the most flattering working position, but I think I work it well…

Apologies as I tend to wear my old, worn out clothes in the studio. I’m not that good at keeping myself clean while I’m working. Perhaps black isn’t the best colour for buffing dust and cat cuddles 🙂

Selection of Mandrel pliers – HERE

This is the video where I go on, again, about the solder going up and over. I tell you every time that happens to me I kick myself. I think I’m more reminding myself here than anyone else. I also didn’t realize how many times a person could say, there you go, in one sitting.

NOTE: In this next video when I say the ‘thin’ one, I mean the smaller torch head. I typically use a #0 torch head. The ‘thin’ one is a #00 and I sometimes use it for delicate chains. I mean really delicate, like under 20 gauge wire or if the chain has like micro links that you don’t stand a chance soldering anyway. Always up for a challenge. The larger torch head I use is a #1. I like the #1 because you can feather the flame around the piece and it heats everything up evenly all at once. This is good for a final once over if you want to make absolutely sure that all the pieces are solidly soldered or if you’re soldering pieces over a larger surface area. You have to be more careful with the #1 if you’ve got more delicate pieces that you want to attach as it can be a little fierce. However, you can adjust it to get a softer flame which is nice.

I use a #2 torch head to heat down my scrap pieces into maybe 1″ ish blobs which I can then take to my rolling mill to make small sheets. More silver than that is too much of a work out for me. I bought a #4 head to begin with thinking that it was a good one for the job, but it scared the bejesus out of me as it lit with a small explosion like sound and was like the flame thrower Signorey Weaver torches the eggs with on Aliens. That one’s on the top shelf now, out of harms way. For heating the balls at the end of the day, I turn off the tank and use my #0 torch head to use up the acetylene left in the hose. When the flame turns white I turn it off at the torch handle and then I turn down the pressure on the regulator.

I use an Smith acetylene/air torch, so I can’t recommend which tips you use with the other systems. I only used gas and oxygen once when I took some lessons at the community college. It always freaked me out as I could never remember which valve I had to open first. Just knew I was going to blow the school up. Too much anxiety right there.

AND finally, they are cross locking tweezers! Man! Almost drove me nuts trying to figure out what they were called.

This video stops abruptly because I’m recording it on my phone and the phone’s alarm went off. You’ll probably need a break anyway 😉

Joining the bracelet ends to the setting.

There are lots of ways you can hold two pieces together for soldering. I have a lot of success this way, but sometimes you just have to move it around to see which way is going to be best. My third hand tweezers need to have their ends snipped and leveled which would have probably helped make this set up easier this time.

This is also the video with the shaky hand. I think the inside of my arm was leaning against the side of the table in a funny way and it was resting on a nerve. This may have been because I was holding my arms awkwardly as I tried to solder in view of the camera. Either that or I’m going to have to stop the afternoon drinking…

The alarm went off again in this video because I had it on snooze. Sorry.

Second attempt…

Cleaning it up.

Black Max – Rio Grande #331053

This is the bench lathe that I use – Rio Grande # 334016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And these are the buffing wheels that I use to get the result I’m looking for – Rio Grande #330541

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also use these – Rio Grande #332581 – to get into tight places before I give it a final buff with the wheel above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the stone.

I think I called the gravers engravers. They’re not engravers. They’re gravers. I would be the engraver, if I were engraving, which I wasn’t, not really, and the graver is the tool, not the person. Just to clear that up. And yes, those things that you can buy at the supermarket that help you see better. Those are glasses.

 

This is the bit that I like to use (this one or one like it) to clean out the insides of my pieces – Rio Grande #343124

This is the nail bezel pusher – HERE

Foredom H-15 Hammer Hand piece – HERE

Foredom Hammer accessories – HERE

Foredom  H.20 Quick release hand piece – HERE

Foredom H.18 Quick release hand piece – HERE

Optivisor – Rio Grande #113201 but you can pick whichever strength you prefer in the drop down box.

Burnishers – HERE

Gravers – HERE

The end.

And if you made it through all of that you’re a real soldier 🙂

So there it is.

The bracelet from hell is finished.

No laughing allowed as it was my first ever talking picture show.

If you have any questions just ask and if I can answer I will, and if I can’t I’ll make it up 😉

I’d love to see a photo if you make one.

Au revoir.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

I thought I’d try something a little different this time.

Someone asked if I would write a tutorial on one of my latest bracelets, which I’m happy to do, but just for jollies I thought that this time I’d try to video my process.

I’ve never made a video of myself before and so I’ve never really heard my own voice other than on one or two voice mails so it was quite a shock really. I could definitely hear some american in my accent and it kind of surprised me. Perhaps not a lot of american, and some of you might not even notice it, but it was something I wasn’t expecting and it took a little while for me to realize that this is my voice now. Some of you may know that I come from England, but as I’ve been here for 28 years now I suppose it’s not surprising that the native tongue has mingled with my own. At times I think the cross contamination makes me sound a little Australian perhaps, but god knows I don’t want to offend any Australians out there. It’s bad enough to think I’ve messed up the whole American thing, let alone good old England’s thing.

Will they ever let me back…

Another thing I noticed and which I will warn you about now, is that I ramble. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone who’s ever read one of my blog posts, but it kind of surprised me listening back to it although I do seem to remember now that Peter and the kids have made it a long-suffering point to complete my thoughts.

And there I was just thinking they’d been brought up wrong.

I’m not proud of it. I tried several times whilst making this to get my head into straightforward explanation mode, but until I have some kind of remedial, how to talk in complete sentences, lessons I think I’m stuck with it for now.

Sorry.

It’s like I’m living in a dream land all on my own. All the possible words I could use and calls to action are just up there in my head bumping into each other. It’s like the sentences are completely unsure of whether they should even make the effort to get out of my mouth.

“Shall I go now? No, wait for it, wait for it… Now!

Nope too soon. Call it off. Abort. Abort…”

Really it’s not cool and so unless you think it’s not going to bother you, just save yourself now.

And lastly. What a nightmare!

Making this bracelet took me three times as long as it normally would, which I think is obviously because I was trying to explain my process along the way. (I use the term explain loosely). Also, and this is a huge, good grief!, moment, How clumsy can I possibly be? I think I dropped everything all of the time and the whole sawing using the vise fiasco really should have been my, walk away and do something completely different now! For heavens sake leave it!, clue.

But no. I slogged on and not only did I slog on, I decided to keep it all here, for you, so that those of you just beginning to make jewelry can see just how frustrating it can be even when you’ve been doing it for ages. Today I could probably make the same bracelet again and everything would go smoothly.

But yesterday was another story.

I don’t want to make excuses, but I do think I’ll have to practice if I ever decide to make another video because there has to be a way you can make and talk at the same time, and not only make and talk, but make sure that everything you do is actually in the line of the camera. Yes, I fell foul of that once or twice also.  And why not? Everything else was hit and miss…

I also decided to leave everything in, minute by painful minute, because some of you might like to watch it that way. It’s broken up into snippets so that if, after reading this, you have decided to take your chances you can take frequent breaks.

…from which you may decide never to return.

You have been warned…

And so, without further ado, this is the piece I’m going to be working on.

It is also the piece which, from now on, shall be referred to as

The bracelet from hell.

Disclaimer.

Please remember that I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

You will need:

Medium sized cabochon. I got mine from HELGASHOP on Etsy – HERE

2 X 2″ lengths of sterling silver 5mm x 2mm rectangular wire – Rio Grande #100552

1.5″ piece of sterling silver extension chain – Rio Grande #632812B

Lobster claw –  Rio Grande #613042

Bezel wire

Fine silver sheet

Small length of 16 gauge sterling silver round wire

Small length of 18 gauge sterling silver round wire.

NOTE: If you watch the videos here and not click over to youtube you will be able to see all of my notes and links. I don’t have any descriptions etc., on youtube.

Making the bezel collar.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Working out the design.

Straight lining tool from 2moontools – HERE

Coming together for soldering.

Initial soldering.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Contenti siver solder wire – HERE

Continuing working out the design.

This is a very short one because Peter phoned me half way through. That man. I tell you.

Taking it back to solder.

This is the one where I like to use the word burn instead of melt. It’s just a thing I do…

Note: When I’m soldering the first leaf onto the stem I mention that the key to soldering is that all of the pieces of silver need to be at the same temperature for it to work. In this case I meant only the stem and the leaf because those were the only two pieces to be soldered together at that time. Had I wanted to solder down the tip of the leaf to the back plate, I would have made sure that the tip was in place and touching the back plate and I would have brought the back plate up to the same temperature also. This would have probably involved concentrating my flame more on the back plate in the beginning as that would have taken longer to reach the soldering temperature than the leaf and stem would. In this way, by paying attention to the temperature of all the pieces around the area you’re working on, you can also avoid undoing previously soldered pieces. If you keep an eye on it you can tell when a piece of solder is about to flow or when a piece of silver is about to melt. There are products that you can buy to coat previously soldered areas that can help prevent solder from reflowing, but it’s not needed in this piece if you’re careful.

Cutting out the back plate.

Cleaning up.

Contenti snap on sanding discs and mandrel – HERE – I tend to only use the coarse discs because I’m really impatient. Not necessarily a good thing.

Contenti abrasive discs – HERE

Finishing up the setting.

Sticky wax – Rio Grande #700187 – Warning. This is a lot of sticky wax. You won’t need to buy any ever again.

Finishing up the setting – continued.

Cutting down the bezel collar.

NOTE: It’s not a dapping punch thing it’s from my hole punch making Pepe thing. Also it’s not a ball bur, it’s a cup bur.

As this part of the bracelet is complete I’m going to stop here. I don’t want to push my luck as there are loads of videos in this post and I don’t know if WordPress has a limit. I’ll show you the next part of the bracelet in the next post.

I hope it hasn’t been too boring. I can assure you that it gets a lot more painful…

MORE NOTES:

The two types of shears I use are both from Rio Grande – #111244 – #111289

CLICK for part two HERE

-.

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

So wot’s been going on here then…

It’s been 516 days since I’ve been an orphan.

Not that I’ve been counting or anything… but,

Blog’s been out the window that’s for sure.

But I thought I’d just pop out of hiding for a few minutes or so to let you all know that I’m still alive and to tell you a little bit about my mental state when I come to the realization that I’m going to have to step it up a notch.

Because I’m thinking it’s time again.

😉

I liken my jewelry making to potty training.

Bear with me now…

You know when you put your kid on the potty every darn day for a month and they still pee in their pants so you throw your hands in the air and give up on it completely. Then a week later realize that every other kid in preschool has mastered the big toilet so you try again, not expecting much, but whoa, it’s like they’ve had these alien beings invade their little bodies since you last tried and they’re poohing like champions on the potty all the time now and laughing in your face like what’s been your problem anyways…

Yeah my jewelry making is like that.

Although not quite as messy.

It comes in stages, like one day I’m really struggling and then voila! the next it’s like I’ve crossed a bridge into I can do this with my eyes closed land.

O.K. So not quite with my eye’s closed, because that would be dangerous and I could lose digits or burn the studio down, but you get my drift.

And it’s so satisfying.

You feel like champion of the world for a day until you realize that there are so many skills left to master that from here on out you’ll always need to keep your spare pair of pull ups close by in case of emergencies.

It excites me when I see something that I haven’t done before and I just know that I’ll be thinking of it for a while until suddenly, that’s it, I’m going to have to have a go even though it looks really, really tricky and my old friend, You’ll never be able to do it, turns up uninvited and leaves me struggling with, I’ll never be any good at this, dammit!, until I finally decide to give up on jewelry making altogether even though I have all those tools and gadgets and stones.

Because I’ve completely forgotten about all the stuff I can do and have done and how far I’ve come since that one day when I thought, hey, that looks like a fun thing to do.

It’s a rollercoaster I tell you.

That said, when I look at all the great jewelry out there, and see all the things that I can’t do yet, I know there are challenges coming that I can’t avoid.

So right now I’m trying to think of one of the many skills that I shy away from because I think it’s beyond me.

And I’m thinking it’s going to have to be stone setting.

Not cabochon setting as I think I have that down now, but those fiddly little, how on earth don’t you just pop out, stones.

I might well have no hair left after accepting this challenge, but it’s been on my mind now for some time, and every time I see a video of someone setting those little boogers I can’t help the stubborn in me whisper, If they can do it, so can you.

So we’ll see what happens.

If, of course, I can get past the, Nah! Why would you want to bother with that anyway, voice.

I’m off out now to get some pull ups.

 

 

The How To’s of a ring.

For Patti.

This really is a fairly simple ring to make.

Honest.

I used 23 gauge fine silver sheet, 18 gauge sterling silver wire, and 10 gauge fine silver wire.

Remember that you’ll have to accommodate for the silver around the cabochon you choose to determine the final size of the ring.

First up this is just the way that I make my jewelry. I’m self-taught and make loads of mistakes and don’t always do things the best way.

I’m a bit of a muddler really and so the way I do things and the tools I use are not meant to be set in stone.

The best way to view this How To is to take a looksee and see if it’s something you’d like to experiment with.

I won’t be answering the door to any subpoena’s for incorrect information.

Just saying…

😉

I start all of my pieces with a quick drawing to get a feel for what I’d like to start with.

Sometimes these are brilliant pieces of art work.

Sometimes not.

Here you can see that I’ve already made the collar for the cabochon, but you don’t have to do that first.

I just happened to have this one hanging around for a while because I started off with an idea for it, then couldn’t make up my mind.

I’ve got a lot of indecision on my table.

Then I stamp and cut out little pieces of silver.

Lots of little pieces of silver.

Which I then play around with on the sketch I’ve made adding some silver balls that I have laying around.

Every time I turn off my torch for the day I take out a charcoal block and use up the excess gas in the line to make balls out of the scraps I have laying around.

This way I feel as though I’m not wasting anything and the bonus is I have loads of little balls just waiting for a home.

Of course, however many balls I have hanging around I never seem to have the exact size I’m looking for.

Life can be complicated like that sometimes.

Once I’ve come up with a plan I then take a piece of 18 gauge wire and wrap it around the stone.

I try to do this loosely to give it a little personality.

Here I’ve used sterling silver because that’s what I had hanging around and so I annealed it first to make it more pliable.

If I were using fine silver I wouldn’t have to anneal it first as it’s much softer.

Once I think it’s interesting enough and balances out the stone nicely, I place the little pieces of silver on it to get another feel for it.

And then cut out a piece of the 23 gauge fine silver sheet to solder it on to.

I usually cut out the shape of the pencil line I’ve made around the piece so that I don’t waste so much silver, but for today I’ve just measured out a rough piece to work with.

I did have lots left over to make new leaves though so it’s all good.

🙂

Now I clean it up with my handy sanding pad.

And place the collar and wire on it to solder.

NOTE: I cover all of the plate with flux.

Some old gentleman at one of the shows I did a couple of years ago told me that this helps prevent fire scale, so I decided to believe him and that’s what I’ve done ever since.

Seems to work.

(See more info on this at the bottom of the post)

Also you can see above that I haven’t cleaned the wire for soldering.

I know you’re supposed to, but I’ve found that it’s really the correct heat and the area you heat around the piece you want to solder that is the key. I do, however, always clean the back plate.

I’m not recommending it, just explaining what you see in the photo.

Next I sand around the area to clean it up.

Sometimes this is enough, but sometimes you will need to pickle it.

I then check that the stone still fits using either dental floss to ease it out again, the sticky wax on a stick thing, or, if it’s willing, by just tapping it out.

And now you add the bits.

🙂

I have attempted to make a little youtube video showing how I do this.

It’s quite boring so I’ve sped it up a bit, but if you want to take a look at it I’ll put it at the end of this post.

You’ll see that I place each piece of stamped silver individually around the collar. Sometimes heating a little blob of solder on the bottom of a leaf etc.,and then taking it over to the piece works well enough, but this time I found that I needed to place the solder on the wire around the collar first and then place the leaves, etc., on it for it to stay put.

I use tiny chips of solder from Contenti to do this.

I heat the wire a little then I gently heat a stamped leaf piece as I take it over to the solder. I melt a tiny piece of solder onto it’s underside and then I bring it back to  it to the piece to fix it in place.

If you watch your flame and control where your heat is you won’t undo the pieces you’ve already soldered.

Continually watch the silver. You will see when a piece of solder is going to re-flow. Just take your flame away and come in gently again to the piece you want to solder.

This will work most every time once you get the hang of it..

NOTE: You can place all of the pieces on the piece at once and heat it up evenly until they’re all soldered, but I find that not all the pieces will stay put and I also like to make it up as I go along. You’ll see in the video that I sometime try different sizes of balls, for instance, or I might like to add or take away something.

Now I pickle it and cut it out.

You don’t have to use a sharpie to out-line it, but I find it helps me to keep the back plate just a little proud of the top which is the look I’m going for as, for me, it adds to the depth of the piece.

And now this stage is done.

Next up is the ring shank.

You can make this anyway you prefer, but for the purpose of this How To I’ll show you how I made mine.

I took two pieces of 10 gauge wire which I rolled slightly through the rolling mill.

You can leave them round if you wish, or gently hammer them if you prefer.

Once I flattened them slightly I then bent them so that their middles met to be soldered.

That’s when I found out that I’d used one piece of fine silver, and the other piece, which I’d found lying on my table, was sterling.

Told you I mess up a lot.

My life, I tell you.

:/

But we’re not going to talk about that anymore.

Needless to say, when you have joined two pieces of the correct wire together you will bend them around your ring mandrel.

Depending on whether you measured out you wire before hand, which I didn’t, you may have some excess which you can then mark off at the size you want the shank to be.

And cut down accordingly.

You will then need to take your rubber/rawhide hammer to shape the ends around the mandrel.

Next you will need to angle off the cuts so that they will sit flush to the base of the ring top.

You can do this a couple of ways.

By holding it in you fingers to file down.

Or your thumb.

Or you can sand it.

I stick a piece of that sticky backed sanding paper on my table next to my bench block.

Once the ends sit flush you are ready to solder it onto the ring top.

Here I’ve already stamped the bottom with my mark and silver content. You can do this as I’ve done or you can stamp them on the ring shank itself.

I usually stamp my pieces after I’ve made them and before I’ve set the stone.

I balance the piece on one of my disc cutting punches and stamp it that way.

Don’t question me. It’s just a thing I do…

And now you’re ready to finish up.

I cleaned up the bottom with my new favourite abrasive wheel.

You can choose the best way for you.

Then I cut down the collar.

I ran a pencil around the inside of the collar keeping it flush to the top of the stone.

You might want to cut off the collar differently depending on the cut of the cabochon. This one had a distinctive curve that stopped without transitioning smoothly to the flat top of the stone and as I didn’t want the collar to sit short of the top I decided to roll it over the sides of the cabochon to meet the flat top.

I don’t know if that makes sense, but a long story short I felt that the collar would look wrong curved just half way up the edge of the stone.

I next brushed it with Black Max and buffed it down as much as I could at that point.

 

After which I set the stone and covered it with masking tape to protect it and finished off buffing it until I got the finish I was looking for.

I prefer this brushed look, but you can finish yours using the method you prefer.

And there you have it.

Your new ring.

Hope that all made sense.

I’d love to see what you make.

Happy Mother’s Day.

🙂

As I didn’t want you to watch sugar dissolving I sped this video up a bit, but I think you’ll get the gist. Here I’m soldering the bezel collar and the 18 gauge wire to the back plate using a larger #1 Smith nozzle on my torch which helps to heat the whole area evenly. The solder pieces are already placed inside the bezel collar and the whole piece is raised up from the honeycomb block on one of those titanium strips which I’ve bent into a triangle shape to support it. Once the solder pieces (pallions) begin to shine slightly you might just be able to see that I lift the corner of the silver plate up from the titanium prop with my pick. This allows the heat to get underneath the piece and helps the solder flow.

This lifting of the corner is a great tip and my solder flows every time I do it. I use less solder because of it and it really flows evenly around the whole area leaving no pits on the inside or outside.

Depending on how much you use some of the outside wire will be caught up in the solder flow, but generally only those areas that are closest to the collar. You’ll see that after the bezel collar is soldered I use my pick to pick up small chips of solder to attach the outer edges of the wire to the back plate. In this instance I didn’t need the wire to be completed soldered down as I wanted it to lay in a more natural flow around the piece. I just needed it to be secure, but you can use this technique to fix it all down if you need to.

If you use this technique, at times, if the pieces to solder aren’t evenly heated, you might find that as you bring the solder on your pick to the piece it will flow up over the wire and not underneath it to join it to the back plate. If this happens take another small chip of solder and hold it down with your pick as you heat it so that it doesn’t have the chance to go where you don’t want it to.

                                             

 

This second video, which isn’t 7 minutes long by the way, but is thankfully only as long as the first video, shows how I attach the small leaves and balls.

I flux everything and then heat it up. As I mentioned above at first you can see me taking each stamped piece to the small chips on my board, heating them slightly so that the solder sticks to their undersides and then taking them back to the place I want to attach them to. Usually this works fine, but for some reason today, (probably because I was being watched) they wouldn’t stick. To remedy this I then took the small chips and placed them on the wire where the attachment was to go and soldered them that way.

                                             

Let me know if I’ve missed anything out, or something doesn’t make sense.

😉

UPDATED INFORMATION – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK.

If you have anything to add that may be of relevance just let me know and I’ll update it here.

  • First commenter: Only one issue: that particular flux is not a prevention flux for firescale. It’s a flow flux, to facilitate solder flow. No need to put it all over the piece; just use a little where you want your solder to flow. 

 

  • From another commenter:  I thought all flux covered firescale & flow. No?

 

  • Original commenter: No. There are flow fluxes and barrier fluxes. Neither does both jobs.

 

  • Another commenter: Sooooo cupronil says it’s both a flux and a fire coat preventative … is that not the case?

 

  • Cupronil contains some boric acid and some do use it like Prips as both, but I have not found it to be as good as using 2 separate fluxing preps- all in what you get used to and how you were trained. My training was to fire coat thoroughly, then use flow flux only where you would solder.

A couple of new tools for a good girl.

Maybe not so good, but I have been trying.

I’ve been enjoying making the cuffs and up to now have used the strips that Rio sent me that one time when I messed up my order and ended up with six, 6″ x 1″ strips instead of a 6″ x 6″ square.

Always check the order form before you click submit.

I was a little bummed at the time and they hung out in the draw for a while as they seemed a little too special to use, like they had some heavenly purpose for being there, but then I decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.

And so my cuffs were born.

🙂

Except that the 1″ width frustrated me at times.

Sometimes I wanted a little over and sometimes I had to saw them thinner which was fine if I was going to use the crinkle edge on them, but annoying when I couldn’t get 6″ of a perfect saw line.

I used my Jedi mind powers, I did, but there was always that one time about 3″ in when just as I was thinking how well I was doing I’d end up messing up.

Over confidence can be a killer.

So new tool number one!

The table shears…

I didn’t want to pay a tremendous amount for the times that I would be using it.

If I was a mass producing beast of a cuff maker – maybe.

 So I ended up with this one.

That I picked up from Amazon ,

I’ve since noticed that you can get it cheaper at Contenti, and Otto Frei has one although the cheapest one is for a 4″ cut, but I’ve got so many good girl spending points at Amazon that I ended up getting it for nothing.

Can’t beat nothing.

It cuts like butter through the gauges I need it for even though it’s much cheaper than some of them.

😉

And to further aid in my recent cuff making frenzy I also bought one of these from – HERE

Because although I already have a mandrel I find it hard to hold and couldn’t find a bench attachment for it.

Also this one swivels.

And that’s always fun.

So, there you have it.

My new tools.

I feel spoiled when I think about being able to get these things for myself, and I am grateful, but I have been good, promise, and just think of the damage I can do with that shear….

🙂

So.

I had the old end of the world earthquake dream this morning.

It wasn’t all bad.

As we waited for the pre-quake green black apocalyptic storm clouds to totally cover the sky a small van pulled up down our road handing out supplies to the residents.

Did we need any survival supplies?

I chose a couple of dust masks.

You know, those simple ones with the little vents in the front.

Seemed as though they’d come in handy.

A large high rise was due to fall onto us once the quake started. Instead of moving away from the object of our imminent death, we instead contemplated the chances that the gaping hole torn into the side of the building would fall exactly over where we waited thereby saving us from being crushed to death.

I tried to calculate the exact trajectory of the high rise’s collapse, but ultimately knew that the life saving cavity would miss us by a few inches.

Bummer.

Still didn’t get out of the way though.

In other, less violent, news I just managed to send off another $7,000 to charity.

To celebrate.

A chain.

🙂

This is a very simple chain which you may have already seen on my Instagram page, and I promise this post is not as long as my last one.

😉

I used 16 gauge sterling silver wire.

I haven’t calculated how much though, so sorry about that.

First up you will need a torch to ball up the end of the wire.

After which I like to use a large cup bur on it to round it out.

You won’t need the bur if you use fine silver as it will make a perfect ball when you heat it, but I tend to use sterling for most of my chains.

You can find a selection of cup burs – HERE.

If you have never balled the end of a piece of wire before simply hold the wire vertically in a pair of tweezers and move the flame up and down the bottom of it until a ball forms. If you keep the flame on the ball for too long after it has formed it may fall off, so be sure to remove the flame when you have the size you need.

Now make a loop as shown.

Solder the ball end at the spot it crosses over the other end of the loop and then make another smaller loop and cut off the extra length of wire.

This loop is turned and soldered just under the first soldered join.

Take the remainder of the wire and ball up the end again.

Make another loop.

This time you will thread the larger loop into the smaller loop of the first link before soldering the loop together.

After soldering it make and solder the smaller link as before.

And continue until you have the length of chain you desire.

I made sure that the balls were all sitting the same way and that all the links matched.

No rules though.

You can mix it up if you want to.

😉

Here are some more photographs of the process.

Now put a catch on it.

And you have a new bracelet.

🙂

Now I’m going to get my survivors guide to the end of the world out and see if there’s anything else I might need to start collecting other than dust masks.

😉

The anatomy of a stone cuff.

This is going to be a long one.

You have been warned…

I thought I’d show you how I made one of my cuffs. So if you want to make one yourself, and if you’ve the patience to get through this post, here are step by step instructions.

Before we start you should know that a lot of times I tend to make things up as I go along and only afterward realize that, had I a plan in the first place, things could have been done more efficiently. So if some of the steps here seem just plain wrong it’s just the way my brain works.

Not my fault…

Also there’s going to be a lot in here that seasoned jewelry makers already know and so many of you, who I know can recreate a piece just by looking at it, might want to skip this post entirely unless you’ve been having trouble sleeping.

Here’s what I’m working with, you can pick any cabochon that you think is worth the amount of silver in this cuff.

It’s a lot.

As always links are in the photographs and dotted around the text for the suppliers and tools I’ve used.

These are just what I use and are not necessarily what you need to create this bracelet.

Dendritic Landscape Opals from HELGASHOP

First off choose your stone and make the bezel collar.

Here I’m making a collar for the earrings, not the cuff, but the process is the same.

Find the right height bezel wire. You’ll want it to be at least a couple of millimeters, if not more, proud of the stone.

I find I mostly use this one – HERE

For thicker stones this one – HERE

And very thin ones – HERE

Overlap the bezel wire as you fit it snug around the stone and then mark off with a pen or pencil where the join is going to be.

Be careful when you wrap the wire around the stone, especially if the stone has a domed edge, that you don’t push the top of the wire over the stone as this will distort your line.

Cut the bezel wire a millimeter or so away from the line so that the collar will be slightly larger than needed.

It’s better to keep snipping away thin slithers until the size is right than cutting off too much to begin with.

Once you have snipped away enough for the collar to fit perfectly around the cabochon, (ideally so that the stone will slip easily in and out of it without it being too loose), push the two ends into and beyond each other so they overlap slightly then you can pull them gently apart until they meet under a slight tension.

The two ends should be flush together as should the top and bottom of the collar.

Once they are in place I like to squeeze the edges together with a pair of pliers. This takes care of any distortions on the flat sides of the collar.

You can just about see the join here at about 2:10 o’clock.

Or is that 2:11?

😉

This is how I solder my collars.

I like to hold them in a Third Hand – HERE – and solder them with hard solder on the inside of the collar.

You can’t see them clearly here, but the joins are on the bottom waiting to be soldered.

I prefer to use Contenti solder – HERE.

It seems nicer to me.

Just sayin’.

I also like to use their chips for soldering links and small parts – HERE.

And I use Wolverine Flux which you can find on Amazon.

Because someone recommended it to me and I believed him.

Don’t judge me.

As with everything here, you can use whichever products you prefer.

Now they’ve all got their collars on.

🙂

Hopefully, if they behave they will become a pair of earrings, two rings and a cuff.

Next I cut a piece of silver sheet leaving about a centimeter around the stone.

Here I’m using 23 gauge because I didn’t have any 22 left.

You can then saw or cut it out.

If you use snippers, as I do, it can distort the sheet. In this case take a raw hide hammer, I prefer one of those rubber hammers – HERE – and tap the sheet gently as you pull the hammer out away from the center rotating the sheet as you go.

This will flatten the sheet.

Alternatively you can place it in-between two bench blocks and hammer the top.

Whichever way is good for you.

I then take the sheet and hold it in-between a pair of long tweezers – HERE – and begin to run the heat slowly along the edges of the sheet until it begins to melt.

This can be a little frustrating.

I use an acetylene/air torch so I’m not sure how this will work with the smaller hand-held torches, but the key here is to use a torch head that will heat the edges sufficiently to keep the molten silver moving.

I’ve found that on smaller pieces a #0 torch head is sufficient, but on longer or larger pieces you may need to use a #1 torch head.

Ideally I needed a torch head in-between these two numbers for this piece as the #0 wouldn’t touch it and the #1 took itself way too seriously and wanted to control the whole show.

But, if you’re careful you should be able to melt the edges into a nice crinkly blob effect.

Note, however, that if you haven’t done this before and decide to practice with the torch you have that different metals will melt at different temperatures. So using copper, for instance, which would be great to practice on, may give you a different feel for what you’ll experience with silver.

One thing I’ve found is that it seems to work best if you keep the flame moving at a slight angle along the edge of the silver and then once it starts to melt you can ‘push’ the melting silver along.

(That’s not strictly true as you’re not actually ‘pushing’ the melting silver, but rather new bits are melting as you move along the edge.

Just wanted a visual is all.)

Anyway, watch it carefully as one lapse in concentration can result in the whole thing going to pot and you’ll have to swear mightily and roll around in a tantrum across the room.

Which actually might not be a bad thing as could be you’ll find all sorts of goodies that you thought were lost forever on the floor.

Not that I’ve done that.

So, all blabbing aside, this is what you should end up with.

Which I then clean up with one of these special things – HERE – that I bought a while back and didn’t know what to do with.

The melted edges can be very sharp and this bristle brush takes care of it almost immediately.

Love it when I finally figure out what to do with things.

Now solder the bezel collar to the melted sheet.

If you have trouble soldering the collar because of the rippled edges of the back plate and you find you are left with some gaps that you can’t fill, solder what you can and then quench the piece. Put the piece on your bench block and gently tap the collar with your rubber hammer to close any gaps. If you do this gently enough you won’t distort the collar too much as the silver will already be softened due to annealing during the first solder and it won’t take much to close it.

If it does distort you can place the stone back into the setting and re-form those parts affected. I use wax – HERE – which I have blobbed onto the end of a stick to lift my stone in and out of a setting if I haven’t drilled a hole in the bottom from which to poke the stone out.

Doing this isn’t ideal as you should try to get your bezel collar and back plate to sit as flush as possible, but in a pinch this works for me.

Now you can put a little more flux on the piece and heat it up again so that the solder flows nicely around the edges.

Next I put the stone back in the setting and textured the area in-between the wavy line of the melted silver and the bezel collar. I also textured slightly up the collar.

I then used a pair of pliers to turn up the edges.

You can’t use normal metal pliers as I have here if there is no texture on the back plate as they will mar the silver, but you can carefully use the pliers with the nylon tips, or I have also used my burnisher to push the sides up from underneath.

Again this step can distort the bezel collar so you have to take care not to trap the stone.

Once this is done I cut the inside silver away.

As a note, I have turned the sides of the setting up both with the back still in and with it cut out. Although it seems more logical to turn up the edges with the back already cut out so that the stone doesn’t get trapped I found that, for me, it distorted the setting more and it was harder to get the shape back so that the bottom lay flat.

You could try either.

You don’t have to cut out the inside of the setting, but I like my stone to sit further down into the design as it gives it a little more dimension. It also takes away some of the weight from the larger settings.

Use your pliers to reshape any distortions.

Try to saw away the inside as close to the edge as you can otherwise you’re going to have to do a lot of filing.

😉

I rest the collar on the edge of my bench block and either use my file,

or an old, worn down grinding wheel – HERE – that is able to fit inside the setting.

This can be a bit vicious however so use with caution.

You want to end up with your stone being able to slip right through the setting.

Now cut out another piece of silver sheet just a fraction larger than the piece you’ve just finished.

Sand the silver sheet with a piece of rough sandpaper.

I like these foam backed pads from the local hardware store – HERE.

And use that special buffing thing on the bottom of the setting.

Or whatever you normally do to clean things up for soldering.

I like to lift the larger pieces I need to solder up off the block a little as it really helps to move the heat around.

I use one of those titanium strips – HERE – that I don’t know what else to do with.

I never can seem to bend them into the shape I want, but for this it’s perfect.

When I solder larger pieces I not only raise it up off the block a little, but once the flux has begun to gloss over I lift the whole of one side of the piece I’m soldering up with my pick. This really gets the heat moving around and the solder flowing.

For those new to soldering sometimes you will notice that the solder flows up onto the bezel collar. This is because the bezel wire is thinner and therefore heats up faster than the rest of the setting. The heat draws up the solder. Be patient. Keep an eye out not to melt the collar, but the solder will eventually begin to flow and you will have won the game.

It’s all about where you place the tip of the flame and getting it to heat all of the silver to the same temperature at the same time.

You don’t want to concentrate your flame on one spot, but rather move the flame continuously over the whole area you want to solder.

The very tip of the blue part of the flame is the coolest, so that can be a little closer to the top edge of the collar. The hotter part is about a centimeter out from the blue tip. This is the part that will melt things, so if you bring the blue tip down closer to the top edge of the collar the hotter part of the flame will go down beyond that to the area where you want the solder to flow and not melt the collar itself.

You still have to be careful, but it works.

😉

I then saw away the base to mirror the top layer of the setting and sand it smooth.

And voila.

A little grubby but I’m not complaining.

Now I put it in the pickle and work on the cuff.

Here I have a 6″ x 1″, 20 gauge piece of fine silver.

I tend to use fine silver for all my pieces and only use sterling for some wire.

Anneal the silver.

Charles Lewton-Brain says that you know when the silver is annealed when the flame turns orange.

I always looked at the colour of the silver, but now I look at the flame.

It’s good to mix it up once in a while.

😉

Once annealed I start to hammer it over the edge of my bench block to fold it in half.

Bit fiddly.

Eventually I decided it was easier to wedge the silver in-between the block and my bench, push down on the block and whack the thing upward.

Once it folded over as much as it wanted to, I annealed it again.

I then hammered along the very edge on the fold.

Which opened the ends up slightly.

Enabling me to get one of my jump ring mandrels inside and pry it apart by tapping gently on the mandrel with my rubber hammer.

I put the hammered part of the fold, about 5mm or so, into my bench vise and then hammered one side down to make it a 90 degree angle.

After which I was able to fold it back over itself.

And flatten it down.

It doesn’t look tremendously great at this point.

Going to have to work on my folding skills.

Remember to keep on annealing during this process. As soon as the silver seems harder to work with put it back under the flame.

Now you’re ready to stamp.

I hate stamping, and I hate wire wrapping.

Fortunately I only had to deal with one evil here.

You are going to have to level up the underside of the cuff with a piece of metal so that the stamp will mark evenly on the top.

Here I’m using another piece of silver because I was too impatient to find something else.

Not really one of my better ideas although it didn’t spoil the smaller piece as much as I thought it might.

You can use card or something else to pad it with.

Here is the front of the piece ready to continue stamping.

You can gently hammer on the edges of the strip if you find it has distorted during stamping, but the reason it’s distorted here is because I have stamped more on one side than the other which has, in essence, stretched the silver out unevenly.

You can correct this by stamping more on the other side to compensate for this.

Here I have leveled it up and snipped away part of the ends to help with shaping.

And now it’s ready for the edge melting process.

At this point I shape it on a bracelet mandrel.

And take the setting out of the pickle to cut down the collar to the correct height for the stone.

I run a pencil around the inside, snip as much as I can away with some snippers, and then file the rest down.

For this setting I wasn’t as precise as I usually am as I wanted a more uneven look to go with the setting.

I propped up the cuff and used far too much solder on it to join the two together.

But that setting ain’t going nowhere…

I forgot to mention that at some point I also added some balls and whatnots to the setting.

Sorry.

I pickled it once again then painted it with Black Max – HERE – which is not the least toxic of products out there, but is my favourite patina.

Just be very careful with it and always wear a dust mask when buffing it.

Always wear a dust mask anyway.

I give it an initial buff which I forgot to show you, with both a radial wheel – HERE – I like to use these 1″ yellow ones for the tight places and then with my dinky buffing machine – HERE – with this very fine buffing wheel – HERE.

After I’ve got it almost finished with the first buff I set the stone and place masking tape over the top.

Which I then cut away leaving enough to protect the stone.

And then I buff it again.

Until I’m satisfied with the end result…

 

 

So I hope you made it through without my boring you to death.

🙂

If you make one, I’d love to see it.

Hello. It’s me…

I come to you today with my new, ‘stepped up’ pieces of jewelry which now I actually think of as being more ‘stepped out’.

They kind of happened when I wasn’t paying attention.

Which I highly recommend.

I’m a very anal creative.

With the pottery, with the quilt making, and with the jewelry making, I like to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, and will often go back, even when something’s finished to fix something that, in my opinion, is just not quite right.

Can be annoying.

Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily always a good thing.

Sometimes you’ve just got to let yourself go.

It all started with a ring that a lady had asked me to make for her, but which we could never really decide on.

She liked this, but I couldn’t find a similar stone.

I also thought that perhaps all the little leaf things would catch on other non-leaf things when she wore it.

Looking at it now I’m not so sure.

So I cut quite a lot of stones and made up a few settings, which I consequently made into necklaces.

India Black Skin

Larsonite

I didn’t mind doing this as I’ve been needing some help getting into the studio.

I really like this setting. It’s clean with a little interest and it highlights the stone nicely.

India Black Skin and Larsonite are now two of my favourite stones.

India Black Skin from NataliesRockCraft

Larsonite from NataliesRockCraft

I next cut a nice piece of dendritic opal.

Dendritic Opal Opalite from OCDhobbiest

And this is where it all went wrong.

And right.

I admit I was at a loss for making the ring and when I feel that I’m not able to do something I tend to self sabotage.

It’s not going to work anyway, right? So why pay attention.

This happened while I wasn’t paying attention.

I had made a cuff the day before, but I didn’t like it. I did like the melted edges, however, so I decided to make my favourite setting with the same edges.

And as I’m a slow learner I soldered the bezel collar to the sheet first.

Not smart.

I managed to melt the edges of the sheet o.k.

Along with the collar.

Frustrated I just decided to leave it and make the most of it.

I was kind of liking the rough and ready, Capt’n Jack Sparrow look to it anyway.

Don’t ask.

It just reminds me of him.

Pirates in general really.

So I improvised around the collar, in the back of my mind thinking that it might turn out o.k. after all, but at the same time not holding my breath.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a ring as it was just too big, so a brainwave later, I decided to put the whole darn thing on the ugly cuff.

Still on a bit of a downer after dad.

Everything’s ugly.

Or dark.

In-between nice shiny bits of lovely.

It’s a work in progress.

Bottom line is that I kind of liked it.

It’s funky and statementy and more out there than what I’m used to, but it may just be exactly what I need right now.

Not that anal isn’t necessary at times, but I need a change.

So I made it a friend.

And then decided to make it some cousins.

Here’s a ring.

Luna Agate from NataliesRockCraft

And another ring.

Purple Salvia Chalcedony from CatalinaCabochons

Seen here at their group photo op.