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…

ūüėČ

 

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 ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101003

Medium bezel wire ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101051

Wide bezel wire ‚ÄstRio 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 ūüėČ 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 ūüôā

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 ¬†‚Äď 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 ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#700187 ‚Äď Warning. This is a lot of sticky wax. You won‚Äôt need to buy any ever again.

Black Max ‚Äď Rio Grande #331053

Yellow 3m wheels ‚Äď Rio Grande #332581

Very Fine Buffing Wheels ‚Äď Rio Grande #330541

Bench Lathe ¬†‚ÄstRio 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.

ūüôā

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ 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 ūüôā

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…

ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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 ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101003

Medium bezel wire ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101051

Wide bezel wire ‚ÄstRio 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 ‚ÄstHERE

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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 ‚ÄstHERE

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 ūüôā 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 ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

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‚Äôs 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

ūüôā

(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‚Äôm just going to show you the necklace I‚Äôm going to make, but then decide to explain how I‚Äôm going to make it differently than I normally do even though that‚Äôs not what I intended to do in the first place and so it‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101003

Medium bezel wire ‚ÄstRio Grande¬†#101051

Wide bezel wire ‚ÄstRio 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 РHERE Рand 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 ‚ÄstHERE

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 Р 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 ūüėČ

And so that’s another one done.

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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…

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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

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….

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

Here are some more photographs of the process.

Now put a catch on it.

And you have a new bracelet.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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?

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

Pretty darn big rings really.

And here’s their second cousin once removed.

Which isn’t as deep, dark and seductive as it is in this photo.

See.

For some reason certain stones just want to mess up the whole show.

So in a sense I think I have stepped it up.

In that out of the box way.

Although I do tend to suspect that my inside self is more big, bold and colourful than my outside self gives up.

And so I’ll leave you here¬†to¬†go out to make more.

After I’ve cleaned the cat litter.

Bloody cats pooh anytime they want to…

ūüėČ

Time to step it up – again…

I’m still doing a lot of things wrong.

Mostly it’s because I’m impatient¬†which,¬†of course, often times means that I¬†end up needing to work on something for longer anyway because I¬†didn’t pay enough attention in the first place.

So I’m going to step it up.

Again.

I know I stepped it up once before, and¬†that was a good thing, but now I want to work on always being able to know, with confidence, that what I’m doing is definitely going to work the first time and that when it goes out the door I’m completely satisfied that it’s the best I can do.

I know it can be done.

I know there are people out there who are so bang on their game that they’re just brilliant at it.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed my new pieces.

Mexican Amber
Flamingo Rose Agate
Sapphire Berry, Ocean Jasper, Larsonite

But I always get worried when one of them goes out the door.

No, not worried.

Agonized.

It’s worse when I see that I have a review on Etsy.

I can literally feel my heart stop a beat because I know they are just so disappointed with it and I have to cross my fingers to see if it’s going to be o.k.

Crossing my fingers, by the way, happens to be my go to safe place.

Nothing bad will happen if my fingers are crossed.

Well that’s what¬†I tell myself anyway…

It’s amazing to look back at pieces I made when I first started out and didn’t know what I was doing.

The amount of solder I used for instance.

Way too much

ūüėČ

But you don’t know these things unless you keep on doing them wrong until they¬†whack¬†you over the head.

And that’s o.k. as we all have to start somewhere.

But for a while now I just would really like to not do it wrong.

And for me that means slowing down, paying attention, and finally being able to let go of a piece knowing that it’s everything it should be.

Too much perfection I hear you say.

Maybe.

But if I don’t try I’ll be bored me thinks.

ūüôā

Orderly disorder.

I thought I’d share with you my inventory system.

For years I just put all the jewelry I made into little bags and popped them in a drawer until I sold them.

This worked well until I started to drown in finished jewelry pieces and¬†found¬†myself becoming more and more fraught with anxiety each time I sold something and couldn’t immediately put my hands on it.

It didn’t help that I wasn’t always good at following the drawer rule either.

Sometimes I’d find the pieces in other places.

Just laying around.

Mocking me.

I’ve always worked, (and lived really), in a chaotic mess which has never really bothered me except that sometimes the idea of running a business just really brings out the nerd in me.

I mean I love Office Depot for instance.

All those organizing things under one roof.

¬†It’s just unfortunate that Ms Chaos runs rings around¬†Order¬†every time I¬†decide to sort myself out..

But now I have the perfect system.

For me anyway.

Prepare to get your nerd on…

… and your baggies out.

And the sticky labels…

NOTE:

This is only for those of us who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

For all you other people who already know what you’re doing this will probably have you either in stitches or you’ll lose your eyeballs in the back of your head.

You have been warned…

I break down all of my items into codes as such.

Necklaces with Cabochons = NC

Necklace without Cabochons = NS because they’re typically just made with silver.

And so on.

Earrings = EC and ES

Bracelets = BC and BS

Rings = RC and RS

Then I add their numbers after this code and stick it onto individual appropriate sized bags.

Like so.

NC1

NC2

NC3

etc..

I then use a larger bag to hold up to ten pieces of jewelry.

This bag gets its own label.

NC1 – 10

NC11 – 20

NC21 – 30

Into which I put the corresponding items.

The good thing about this is that I can then store them in bag order in the drawer and so when I sell item NC26, for instance, I can put my hands on it straight away.

To encourage me to remember to do all of this I have a set of numbered bags ready and waiting in a little box on my work table.

When I finish a piece I put it straight in its pre-labeled bag, then I just take the box inside and list the pieces that are in it.

It may sound simple.

You may already do this.

You may have a better system.

But to me, this is heaven on a sticky label.

Here are the cabochons waiting for their turn.

I then have a simple spread sheet that I made on my computer which has this code number on it, where I have it listed, i.e., Etsy or my Website, the item name, how much it is, and finally a box in which I can mark off when and also where I sold it.

i.e. ‚ąöE = Etsy

‚ąöF = Facebook

‚ąöI = Instagram

etc.

This one is for the earrings.

Don’t ask me what the P is for…

Just goes to show. You can take a horse to water….

Maybe it’s a private sale?

We may never know…

So there you have it.

Of course you have to follow through with all the putting things in baggies and remembering to put the code in the¬†item’s title when you list it on Etsy, etc., although¬†I noticed that now Etsy has a new box for putting in your SKU number when you list something so that should make life easier.

O.K. so don’t laugh that it’s taken me this¬†long to figure things out.

I didn’t know I was going to make so much stuff.

Not my fault…

Of course I don’t have any¬†system whatsoever for keeping track of materials etc.

I suppose I’ll be saving that little project¬†for another decade.

Checking in.

As those of you that read my blog know, I’ve kind of lost my way since my dad died, but I don’t want to give up just yet.

My trip home was good.

I only had a cry three times, including one where my sister lovingly tossed me a used tissue.

Bless her.

Probably why I’ve got the lurgy now.

I’ve come home with a sore throat, cough and achy parts.

Thank you K.

I ate all of the food on my list except for the pie and mash, fish and chips, and the pint of bitter.

So much food, not enough time.

The flights were awful. The most uncomfortable I’ve flown for a long while and took for ever. We did make it there and back in one piece, however, so I’m grateful for that.

I wasn’t as cold there as I expected, which is unusual for someone who usually curls up in a corner with a blanket and doesn’t come out again until all the heaters are turned up high.

In fact, at times it was just as cold here in Houston as it was in England.

We stayed at my brother-in-law’s house which is an old converted barn.

Actually I think it was the pig sty as the large barn is to one side.

I started a painting of their house before we left, but I just can’t get those pesky oil pastels to dry.

They’ll probably get it two years from now.

Our bedroom was behind the larger window in the roof, above the kitchen door.

The house has the original brick floors and some brick walls, but I really only had to curl up once.

Probably the red wine helped.

I’m thinking of painting the barn opposite also.

But not the big black barn.

It’s just all barn and windows.

Nice, but a bit boring.

This is the entrance coming into the old farm.

Before Christmas I made quite a few pieces which I shared on Instagram, but only got into the studio for the first time yesterday.

A friend wanted a piece with topaz and amethyst, but it was hard for me to find anything that I liked.

In the end I found these.

And this is where K and her used tissue comes in.

Usually I’m pretty good at replicating one of my drawings. In fact it always surprises me, but this time.

Well…

Don’t even talk to me about it.

So today I’m off out to get my hair cut, which always makes me feel better, and then I’m boycotting the studio until I feel better.

I’m going to sit on the sofa and switch off BBC and put on some old film.

An old black and white Barbara Stanwyck¬†movie is my preferred choice, but I doubt I’ll be able to find one.

And I might even start back on my embroidery.

¬†ūüôā

I gave it my all

I did.

But now I’m done with the Art Fairs.

I gave it ten years.

I persevered through the Houston heat and that one bizarre time when at the same time of year I nearly froze to death it was that cold.

Honest I did.

But yesterday even the good ol’ Texan boys were complaining.

Grown men moaning about the heat.

And I was with them.

I’ve never been so overheated in my life.

I wasn’t just sweating, it was coming off me in planes.

Sheets of wet sliding off my face.

My face looked like a wet rhubarb and I gave up on trying to keep what little make up I wear on my face.

Just wern’t¬†‘apning.

I had to go au natural, which actually wasn’t natural at all because no one looks the way I did yesterday.

Ever.

Oh I checked it out alright.

I looked at every last vendor there and no one looked as much like a wet fish as I did.

And I bet you no one had to change their clothes three times!

It was bad enough at the beginning after setting up, but then it rained. Not a lot, but just enough to make the humidity virtually unbearable in the hour or two afterward.

We can’t have a good old cool down after a sprinkle can we.

No, Houston has to turn into the hothouse of hell.

It did let up later in the afternoon until the thunderclouds decided to roll on in.

Fortunately, (or not), they did seem to pass either side of us. I say not because at that point I was actually praying for a catastrophic storm, or even a small earthquake really, that would mean we’d have to go home.

Not one to abandon ship at an art fair, because that’s just not cricket is it, I was at one point seriously considering emailing the show organizer and telling her that my leg had just fallen off and that I had to leave. Sorry.

I trooped on though and have now vowed that it was my last.

I had four sales including the one from the friend who helped me with the booth.

This morning I still can hardly walk.

I’m telling you.

I almost died out there.

As I was in the shower later that night I tried to turn my misery around and thought about all the people in Syria and Yemen and how they must feel just living day to day in awful conditions with oftentimes no water or food to boot.

It made me feel a little ashamed that I couldn’t make one day without completely falling apart and so I determined to continue to make my jewelry for them ¬†as it’s the least I can¬†do.

Although not at art fairs unless I can¬†find a good one in Houston that’s indoors for heaven’s sake.

For the love of god, are¬†the people who live here even aware¬†that it’s completely abnormal to even consider¬†outside activities in 90 degree heat with 90% humidity!

And I was one of them, but I’ve come to my senses at last and not a minute too soon.

Before yesterday I was even considering applying to the three day Bayou Festival they hold here twice a year.

What drugs was I on…

I am never leaving the house again.

A little lapse with, if I say so myself, a brilliant recovery…

As I write to you on this fine morning I admit to having just deleted the FOUR new games I gave in to midway through this week.

Shame on me.

But it did bring home to me more than ever the fact that this addiction to wasting my precious time is wasting my precious time.

I was reading again.

I was like almost finished with the book I’ve been reading for over a year now.

And then – nothing.

A black hole of word games sucked my life into a mindless funnel toward zombie land and I was gone again.

But now I’m back.

Until the next slip.

Not going to happen.

Maybe.

Despite the relapse I’ve had a fairly productive week and I sold quite a few things.

I’m now over $60,000 for charity which although¬†amazing seems to have had no impact whatsoever on saving the world.

Man.

Can you say disappointed or what!

But, kidding aside, I do want to thank everyone who has bought a piece of jewelry from me.

ūüôā

The new lovelies this week are.

A pair of earrings with beautiful purple Luna Agate stones.

This shop is expensive, but I just can’t resist the stones there. It’s sometimes hard to use them as they make the jewelry so much more expensive.

img_9334

This Ocean Jasper was from there also.

fullsizerender-22

And here’s its back.

fullsizerender-20

Then I made another one of these for someone using one of my new favourite stones.

Rare Purple Chalcedony.

img_9332

And this one with a piece of Carnelian that I cut myself

ūüėČ

img_9279

Next up I’d always wanted to make something with one of these dentritic stones.

It came all the way from India. I prefer not to buy from outside the US, but look at it

ūüôā

img_9319

And then I fiddled once more with this piece which has been giving me some trouble with its stone choice.

I think finally I’m happy with it.

fullsizerender-21

I also made a couple of chains, some simple silver earrings, and cleaned up my work table to the point where I’m shocked whenever I go into the studio and see it again.

Simple joys.

ūüôā

I’m still having trouble avoiding purchasing stones, but look at this

il_570xn-1037721324_da5v

And this.

il_570xn-862988581_s87r

Seriously.

I had to have them.

No hope for the wicked as my old mum used to say….

Just as a side note those are not my fingers. He seems to have cut the top off of one of them, something to look out for when cutting my own stones perhaps…

And on a completely different topic.

Just look at our orange tree!

img_9300

We bought it last year and I forgot what it was. I picked one thinking it was a lime and cut it open. Wow. The combination of the gorgeous green outside colour to the vivid orange inside was incredible.

Another shock to my week.

It’s all good.

ūüôā

TTYL

Today I did something a little out of my comfort zone.

I signed up for a class.

On my own.

All alone and

By myself.

clasp-class

I’m a bit of an introvert you see,

with extrovert tendencies…

It seems that I will talk with anyone, and actually I do, but really¬†I’m a scaredy cat who frets until I’m there and doing it.

Then I’m like.

Who are you? And what did you do with Deborah?

But not in that, Be gone from me Satan way.

In a good way.

I almost left the page, then I thought Do It! And so I did it.

It still makes my heart skip a little, but I’m sure there are worse things I’ll encounter.

Like my next trip to the dentist.

I also thought that as I’m pretty good at watching a video and picking things up through trial and error that perhaps I should save my money, but I think I really want to go mingle with like-minded people and see what happens.

Can’t be a hermit forever.

In other news.

The tank is back baby!

This is the old one going home to his empty friends

IMG_9165

Doesn’t help calm the nerves that they put¬†that bright red sticker on it.

And here is it’s replacement.

IMG_9167

Looking a little lost with his clown nose.

Anyway he soon got right to it and we made a couple more necklaces.

IMG_9174
Turquoise

IMG_9176
Turquoise

IMG_9180
Ocean Jasper

It’s like my old nan used to say.

The back should be as good as the front.

Could do with a little more work under that second leaf on the right though…

IMG_9178

Yesterday I ruined my painting.

This is it started.

FullSizeRender 5

I haven’t got a photo of it ruined as my darn phone keeps telling me that I have no storage.

It never used to have this problem so I think it’s all just a dastardly plan to get me to buy a new one.

They think I don’t know about their dirty tricks.

It’ll probably work though…

And now I’m off to Austin to visit B, my eldest.

We are going to have a weekend of watching movies, doing some stitching,

I’ve still not finished this.

IMG_5779

Or this.

IMG_5570

And just hanging out.

And so I leave you with a Rumi quote.

Not really into all that touchy feely stuff, but this one kind of makes me feel very centered.

luna-let-yourself-go

Have a good weekend y’all…

(Sorry)

The darn acetylene’s empty again.

When the gauge gets down to around 4 on the regulator thingy I start to get anxious.

The inevitability of having to drive that bottle down to the shop one more time and bring back a full one starts to weigh on my mind and every time I light the thing up I know I’m just a little bit closer to the end of the world.

D day awaits me tomorrow.

I’d have it delivered if it wasn’t for the fact that I live in the Stepford Wive’s neighborhood.

They’d probably have a committee meeting to throw me out if they knew the goings on in the studio.

I think I’m safe though as I’m pretty sure they think I’m the house cleaner.

So today I could paint. I could make some¬†non soldered pieces – I’d like to brush up on the old cold connections and work on some riveting.

I could clean the house.

I think, however, it’s going to have to be the cinema.

Bourne has been waiting for me and I hate to disappoint him.

Yesterday we went to the Summer Chills here in Houston to see Agatha Christie’s, The Spider’s Web.

I love going to the theatre, and I especially love it now as we make a point to go see these summer murder mysteries with all the family.

It’s become a tradition.

Except S hasn’t been around for a while.

He sayyys he’s working in his namesake town, Stephensville, but how likely is that.

I personally think he’s been kidnapped into slavery again.

Or he’s working undercover to throw down some huge drug ring in the middle of Texas.

Negotiations have obviously been thwarted if it is abduction, however, as first he was to come home the end of July, now he’s to stay there through September.

They let him answer his phone occasionally so that’s kind of them. Most of the time though we don’t hear a peep out of him.

Kidnappers can be so inconsiderate like that.

Here’s his picture so if you see him would you¬†alert the authorities.

stephen

Although he’s grown a bit since then.

Like 20 odd years, but I’m sure you be able to pick him out in a crowd…

I haven’t done much since we last met. I made the simple things a simple bracelet.

IMG_9150

I’m quite pleased with the simple things except they take me ages to make as I’ve to cut each piece out individually.

I started on another oil pastel painting.

I’ve decided to call these paintings Happy Art, because they’re not really real art, but make me happy.

Dawn, see. A Triffid.

IMG_9102

Although I think I prefer the black background.

IMG_9108

Maybe I’ll work some more on this today.

Yet.

Triffids v Bourne?

No brainer really.

ttyl

Everything was going so well.

Things had picked up.

They’d moved on from the funk.

Even I liked the pieces I was making.

I know, right!

I should have known something was up when it took me five years yesterday to solder two caps onto the ends of some wire.

I should have walked away then.

But no.

I had to persevere didn’t I.

I had to finally, after hours of fiddling around and trying again and again, finish the piece and decide to buff it.

Didn’t I.

One rotation, that’s all it took, one rotation of the buff and the same mood that had obviously been lurking around during the whole time I was making the darn thing, and that was it.

The wire wrapped at least twice around my hand, if not more, so tightly that it’s a wonder it didn’t rip my finger off. Fortunately for me, (well more than fortunate really), the wire snapped. All three strands of 18 gauge half-hard silver wire. Otherwise I don’t know what would have happened.

That’s how much it had twisted around my hand.

Twice around my hand and then spiraling off when it couldn’t go around anymore into a mass of twisted wire before snapping.

It hurt.

Please.

Please!

Always use the buffing machine with care and your full attention, and don’t use it on things that it’s not meant for. Like chain or wire.

The dent in my fore finger was so deep I didn’t think it would ever go back to normal, and with a bruise on my pinky and a gouge out of the underside of my forefinger, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

For a minute I didn’t think I was going to be able to cut it off with the snippers in my left hand and all I could think about was tiny baby toes getting wrapped up with a thread from their blankets, rotting, and falling off.

I know.

Don’t ask.

But it was fine. I had a little cry, because right now it’s all just piling up, and turned the buffer off and shut down the studio for the day.

Should have done that right at the beginning.

Today’s not much better. I don’t seem to be able to get myself moving and it’s taking me ages to do anything.

I know why. My sister sold¬†dad’s car and we made the decision to sell his¬†house also. I was doing o.k., but then smacked into emotions about the house that I didn’t know were there.

And then P had a birthday and dad’s was always the first card to arrive.

It had to happen, and will happen again. This year will be a first for everything.

Just putting it out there.

But I was happy with the pieces I’ve made, which most of you have probably seen on Instagram or Facebook.

It’s like I have no surprises any more ūüėČ

First up the Carnelian.

I broke the stone I made it for so had to cut another.

IMG_9069 (1)

Looks like a jelly bean doesn’t it.

IMG_9071 (1)

Then there was the chrysoprase.

IMG_9098 (1)

A bit blurry.

Sorry.

IMG_9100 2

Then I used up some more of my scraps using the blob of silver¬†I’d heated and rolled and heated and rolled till my arm almost fell off.

FullSizeRender 4

I quite like these and am making a bracelet to go with them now, but due to The Mood it’ll probably take another five years before it’s finished.

Next I made a little something for somebody.

IMG_9086

I quite like the rustic look of this one and might try it again.

IMG_9087

Then I bought some lovely East Java Purple Chalcedony off of Shirl and Bruce and made this little one.

IMG_9107

Designs by Shirl is one of my go to cab shops. They’ve always got some interesting things going on.

Then there was the quartz.

IMG_9130

The piece for which I almost lost my finger.

IMG_9131

And its friend.

IMG_9136

Who was much more well behaved.

IMG_9137

I like this one as the back of the stone is a¬†pyramid (I’m sure there’s a term for that) and so it juts out slightly from the hole I cut in the back.

IMG_9138 (1)

Anyhow, those are all the newbies.

My next challenge is taking the acetylene tank down the road to get a new one.

I’m putting that little treat off until I don’t feel so accident prone.

ūüėČ

I’ve given it all up – again.

Call it what you will.

Off the boil.

Bored with it all.

Funk.

Decline.

But the jewelry’s taken a plunge.

Again.

Hasn’t stopped me from buying up all the cabochon’s on Etsy though.

Or a new saw.

455301-4d

I didn’t want to buy it.

Really I didn’t.

Just look at it in all its funky self.

I didn’t want to encourage it.

I’m not that fancy gadget tool kind of girl.

But, although my trusty German beginners saw has done me well over the past years, I decided to bite the bullet.

And I’m glad I did.

It’s a beaut.

What I love most about it is the tension lever. I do find it a little more awkward to change the blade or open it up for piercing, but only because I haven’t found a comfortable way to hold it yet. The old saw just sat nicely in-between my chest and the bench, but because you don’t need the tension of your body for this one it seems to wobble around more and it’s just a little more fiddly, but aside from how to hold it as you put the blade in it really is easy to load and it saws like a dream. It almost seems to do half the work for you.

I love it. and recommend it.

I perhaps wouldn’t have got the 5″ one, however, as it hits me in the Optivisor¬†if I’m wearing one. I thought it was a good idea, but as I buy my sheets in 6″ squares, it doesn’t accommodate the width anyway and I feel that the regular 3″ would have been fine.

Because of the asthma I’m also going to have to invest in a dust collector.

I’ve seen a few that will work for me and just have to make up my mind.

I need a hose that goes to two places on my bench. One where I buff and one where I use the Foredom to sand, etc.. I already have a fume extractor which I’ve started to put over the pickle pot as well as over the soldering area as, as the fine doc says, you can’t fix stupid. Actually he said fume damage, but I knew what he meant.

So I may go for this one.

8541540

Or this one.

336009.jpg

I’m thinking the Dura-Bull as it looks easier to change the filters. Depends on it fitting under the table with the hoses sticking upward however.

So, maybe it looks like I’m not giving up jewelry again after all.

Maybe just taking a break.

Here are the newbies.

Petrified Fossil Wood
Petrified Fossil Wood

IMG_8979

I broke this one so I’m going to have to re-do it.

Perhaps this was the beginning of the funk.

You know. When everything goes so well.

And then not.

So my heart really wasn’t in this one below.

IMG_0238
Plume Agate

IMG_0241

Although it turned out well.

Or this one really.

IMG_8997 2
Australian Crazy Lace

IMG_8999

I have enjoyed making the torc collar, or whatever they’re called, for the pendants.

I looked everywhere for them as I knew that my work would be better suited for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere. In the end I asked a jeweler whom I’d noticed used one. She told me she’d made her own which I had thought about doing myself, but for some reason thought that they wouldn’t hold up well. So this gave me the confidence to go ahead and make one.

I used three strands of 18 gauge sterling silver wire which I capped off and soldered a lobster claw clasp to.

IMG_0233

This is the jeweler I asked.

il_570xN.594930649_cgmx
Laura Jane Bouton

I really like her jewelry.

You should go check her out if you haven’t already.

So that’s it really.

Spud’s all jewelry’d out.

IMG_9004

And I’m off out to do some painting, which I’m sure I’ll really, really enjoy until I decide to give that up also.

My life. I tell you…

ttyl

Why good Sirs I do believe I’ve found me a fine Southern boy…

After Dracula I had decided on either Rebecca or Anna Karenina, but when I listened to the preview readings of the audiobooks I didn’t fancy either of their voices so I search around aimlessly until I came upon¬†South of Broad by Pat Conroy.

Bit of a difference I know, but work with me here.

I think everyone must have seen The Prince of Tides with Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand, but I hadn’t ever thought about anything else he’d written until I listened to an interview he gave on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. He was talking about his book The Death of Santini and I was fascinated, until I forgot about him again.

Sorry Mr Conroy.

As I listened to the preview of South of Broad I was hooked.

What a warm, relaxed feeling that Southern accent gives. I could listen to it all day. I don’t know if Mark Deakins who narrates it is from South Carolina, but who cares…

And the words, in the sentences, that make up the paragraphs.

What can I say.

Pure bliss.

I’ve nearly finished it so I’m sure now I’ll have to go through and listen to them all.

You may never hear from me again…

I’ll be on my veranda drinking cold lemonade with my audiobooks.

If only I had a veranda.

And some lemons.

Not a lot going on in other news except that I have just found out that I have asthma. Turns out that instead of keeping me for two days in hospital and signing me up for five thousand heart tests when I went to the doctor with the heavy chest and shortness of breath feelings, they should have just looked more carefully at the chest x-ray they took when I first got there.

But at least now I know my heart’s O.K. and that, as P points out, they actually¬†found one.

At first I laughed when the pulmonologist told me as asthma was the last thing I expected to hear, but of course then I thought that he¬†had also got it wrong and in fact I have silicosis which he had overlooked in favour of the lesser deadly disease because I don’t look like the silicosis sort.

I started preparing myself for the inevitable lung transplant.

So when I went back to the doctor after having the ‘breath tests’ which the man kept referring to as ‘breast tests’ (was it just a lisp I asked myself or had the v-neck of my t-shirt got stuck around my waist again?) we had the, ‘ So, how do you know exactly that it’s not silicosis because you know I work with clay and other¬†fraught with danger chemicals in my studio’, chat.

He said that I didn’t have silicosis.

I questioned him again, just to make sure.

He said no (again).

I didn’t have it – yet.

He could have left that last bit off because of course that means there’s still a chance that I could contract it in what’s left of my lifetime (I’m opting for the 40 more years version) and so my hypochondriacal self will obviously be having a field day with the possibility of contracting silicosis from now on out.

Girly you really need to get a grip.

So now I have two inhalers and some other medicine. I sometimes wonder that they don’t just give out this stuff like candy. I’m going to have to tell him that I can’t be inhaling that stuff everyday forever when I go back in six weeks.

No-one got time for that…

But I’ve definitely been more diligent with putting on the old fume extractor¬†since.

And so here’s a¬†new lovely.

IMG_8963
Ocean Jasper

And some new drawings for some Willow Creek Jasper.

IMG_8968

IMG_8969

IMG_8976

Although I must admit I’m having a bit of trouble getting excited about them.

Don’t know why, but perhaps I just need a break.

A painting break?

Not a pottery break. I’m too silicosis’d out for that right now.

I know for sure that I need a break from going to the darn doctors every day since the beginning of eternity.

ūüėČ

So we haven’t had a project in a while…

And I thought you might like to play along with me.

By the way, Dracula is great. I much prefer it to Frankenstein except that it’s spoiled somewhat by the fact that the Gary Oldman/Keanu Reeves movie¬†is¬†so true¬†to the book that I¬†can¬†see it all playing out in front of me again. I really wanted to¬†imagine it differently this time.

Oh well. Rebecca next…

Or Anna Karenina.

Don’t know.

So onto the project.

I bought¬†a¬†lovely piece of Sage Amethyst and thought I’d make another of my boxy pieces.

So if you fancy making one here’s how I did it.

I drew a rough design around the stone.

IMG_8840

Then I took a length of bezel wire that is the same width as the depth of the stone and shaped it into the top three sides of the box.

You can just about see it below.

See.

IMG_8842

I sniped it to sit perfectly on top of the stone.

IMG_8844

Then I bent another piece of the bezel wire across the top of the stone.

IMG_8846

And soldered it to the bottom part of the box.

IMG_8847

(Prepare for fuzzy photo)

I turned it over and soldered what will be the top of the box onto a piece of silver leaving enough overhang on the bottom edge to create a lip that will cover the top of the stone slightly

IMG_8848

Then I cut around the sides of the box.

(Another fuzzy photo)

IMG_8850

and checked out how it fit to the stone.

IMG_8849

I actually thought of leaving it right here as the plain silver looked so good on its own. But you know me and my fiddly ways…

Here’s the lip.

IMG_8851

You can see¬†above that the area where the sides of the box and the stone meet doesn’t lie flat on the block. Annoyingly¬†I had forgotten my own instructions and chosen the wrong bezel¬†depth¬†so I had to adjust¬†the lip¬†slightly¬†so that¬†it¬†didn’t lay quite as¬†far¬†over the stone as I would have liked. This allowed the two pieces¬†to sit flush.

Had the sides of the box been deep enough I wouldn’t have had to kick myself and swear (just a little –¬†I’ve¬†had bigger problems) but as I’m all about problem solving I manned up and moved on.

So much for paying attention.

Then I forgot all about it when¬†noticed¬†a half set little Tiger’s Eye just laying around on the table doing nothing much in particular and thought it might look good with the amethyst.

The colour actually looks a lot better with it than this photo gives it justice and, as Snow White would sing anytime she had chores to do РSomeday my Prince will come РIt was as if it knew its soul mate would eventually come.

Somehow thinking of P when I’m doing the washing up doesn’t quite have the same effect on me..

IMG_8853

As the¬†sides¬†of the tiger eye bezel wasn’t as deep as I wanted it I decided to make it another.

Now I don’t know if you remember, but I had an awful time fiddling around trying to get this vice thing to work for me.

But now I can tell you it’s my new best friend.

I just wasn’t being stern enough with the screws on the top.

Now I’ve figured out that I just have to be firm with it the thing holds the tubes, and whatever else you want it to hold, like a champ.

So I cut another length of tubing to fit the tiger eye.

IMG_8854

And placed the cut off bit back in the vise and made sure to sand the ends completely flat.

You can file right down the¬†vise and not damage the file,¬†or¬†so the Internet says, and you know the Internet is always right…

IMG_8855

Once you’ve done that you can use your nifty bur to drill down into the tube to cut a seat for the cabochon to rest on.

IMG_8858

As you probably know you can purchase cabochons, tubing and bur sizes in various millimeters so¬†that they all¬†correspond to make¬†setting a stone a breeze. Once you get the hang of the annoying vise…

See here how it sits so pretty.

Took me over a year to figure out the easy way to do this.

Man I’m slow…

IMG_8856

Next I cut out a matching hole on the top of the box.

IMG_8859

You can just about see below that the tube has been soldered¬†to¬†just stand proud of the top of the box. You want the tube to fit snug into the hole you’ve made so that the solder joins the two completely and you want just enough of the bezel¬†showing¬†above the box to be able to push the sides over to hold the bezel.

IMG_8860

Next I filed the bottom flush.

IMG_8861

And cut out a backing sheet of 22 gauge fine silver to fit both the top box and the stone.

IMG_8862

Before soldering the top to the backing plate, however, you¬†have to pierce the back so that air¬†can¬†escape as you don’t really want another explosion in the studio.

Just sayin’

My tube sits all the way down and will be soldered to the back plate so creating a sealed chamber around it inside.

My preferred way to do this is to trace around the pieces to be soldered with a Sharpie pen.

IMG_8863

This way I can play around with some ideas and then saw out my design.

IMG_8864

After I have done this I can then go ahead and solder the box to the back plate knowing exactly where the design will lay by matching the top to the Sharpie lines.

IMG_8869

I then drew in the bottom part of the stone again and drilled some holes for the prong setting.

IMG_8868I like to solder the prongs using a charcoal block. This way I can place¬†each prong into the hole I’ve drilled and gently tap it with a hammer so that it¬†sinks¬†down into the charcoal a little. I place each prong as you would close a bezel up, tapping the next prong on the opposite side, etc., etc., until they are all in. This way seems to keep them more secure.

IMG_8871

Then I place a little blob of solder at the base of each prong and place the leaves around the bezel and after soldering

IMG_8872

See if I haven’t completely messed up and that the stone fits correctly.

IMG_8874

Here is the pierced back.

And my grubby finger. Oh how we suffer for our art…

IMG_8877

Here I have cut the excess silver from around the box and stone and have cut the prongs down to their correct height and finished them by shaving some of their thickness off and smoothing out the tips.

IMG_8878

Here’s it’s sexy shot.

IMG_8880

I fashioned it a simple, yet charming bale and soldered that to the top after I finished up the back design.

IMG_8881

At this point we know that it would be an extraordinary thing for me to have managed to photograph every stage of the pendant’s making.

Extraordinary I am not.

I forgot to show you the back.

You’ll have to improvise.

Sorry.

Here is the piece sanded, patina’d and buffed.

IMG_8882
Sage Amethyst

Turns out that I’m not completely happy with it because the top left hand of the stone doesn’t sit as snug as I would have liked it to and the prongs are set too far out on the left hand side. I think it happened when I had to fiddle with the lip to fit over the stone.

ūüôĀ

IMG_8883

But I will bravely continue on with my struggle to produce technically perfect little pieces of lovelies.

I’ll never surrender…

And here’s its back.

Finished while¬†you weren’t looking.

IMG_8884

And here’s another piece I had on the back burner.

IMG_8885
Variscite

So let me know if you make one.

ūüôā

The dangers of not paying attention…

Left forefinger – bur cut.

Not just any old bur, but the sharpest bur in the box bur.

Middle finger – sanding disc cut.

Yep the edge of the disc managed to slice open the side of my finger at full speed ahead Рwhich kind of hurt.

And it had to be the coarse disc didn’t it…

IMG_8780

Right forefinger – water bottle cut.

Man!

Who slices their finger open on the cap of a plastic water bottle!

IMG_8782

They’re all wrong. Too much water is obviously hazardous to your health.

I haven’t cut so many of my fingers at one time – ever, and all of them¬†are really sore and needed Band-Aid attention.

Previous to that, in this same week, I suffered a scalpel blade cut and yesterday a chain swipe around a thumb as I was happily buffing away.

Don’t do that.

Buffing chains is not cool and can kill you.

I just like to live on the edge.

I blame it on Mary Shelly as listening to Frankenstein had seemingly lured me into a deep hypnotic state¬†from which I obviously couldn’t wake up from in time to prevent these bodily dangers.

Darn you Mary Shelly.

Or was it the narrator?

Probably more likely.

What can I say except that Victor Frankenstein is a complete weeny and is frankly getting on my nerves a little bit. He needs a quick kick up the you know where so that he can just buck up and stop going on and on about how tormented he is all the time.

Such a drama queen.

And that wretch the Monster. Good grief. He learned an awfully excellent vocabulary in the short time he’d been exposed to the German mother tongue¬†and showed an extremely enlightened compassionate side to all fellow creatures for one so primitive.

I almost kind of liked him.

Until, of course, someone ticked him right off and he threw all decency out of the window in one hell of a toddler temper tantrum and decided to kill anyone who he decided had done him wrong.

No hello, no how you doing, no nothing.

Just straight in for the kill.

Talk about bi-polar.

Now don’t get me wrong I am enjoying it, but Dr Frankenstein’s final telling of his story as he searches once again¬†for his offspring, this time hopefully to put an end to it all, is getting just a little mind numbing.

Dracula next.

Dum dum dum…

Here are my newbies.

IMG_8761
Sonoran Dendrite
IMG_8762
Mexican Crazy Lace
IMG_8753
Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper

For all his woe is me drivel I have to admit that Frankenstein seems to have definitely steered my designs toward a new path. Now, if only I can keep all of my fingers intact I might be on to something…

Whew

FOUR days with no tears!

I was beginning to despair.

And yesterday after finding I needed to sleep on the sofa from 2:30 to 4:30, which I guess is another symptom of grief, I finally made it into the studio.

I nearly came straight back to the sofa as I had no energy whatsoever, but then I had a thought.

Hadn’t had one of those for a while so it kind of caught me off guard.

Instead of the radio I plugged my phone into the speakers and blasted music.

What a difference.

I ended up staying until 8 p.m. and have almost finished 5 pairs of earrings.

I’m telling you. If your dad has just died that world news can really bring you down man!

I’ve decided that I might need to lay off it for a while which is a shame as I do like to know what’s going on, but needs do as needs must I suppose.

In other news.

I’ve decided that I really must use up all my silver scraps as¬†I almost have a full bowl of them which I try not to look at as they worry me.

I know that I can send them back to Rio, but I don’t know how much the postage will cost as they’re¬†so heavy and I can’t get my head around it right now.

I think I am going to have to do it at some stage, but for now I’ve decided to just see how much I can reuse.

Kind of like a challenge.

But not.

I did flatten one of my scrap pancakes into a nice flat round of silver so that was a great result, but it took forever to keep annealing and rolling.

I’ve now discovered muscles I didn’t know I had in places I didn’t know existed from working that mill for that long, but it was very satisfying to finally get that nice sheet of silver.

Trouble is that I don’t want to use it now as it’s so lovely and the idea of messing it up and having to start all over kind of stresses me out. So¬†I’ve put it to one side for now so that I can just look at it and be reminded of¬†the little engine that could.

For when the old muscles recover of course.

Here’s a bracelet that I made using scraps.

IMG_8714

But that touches hardly a zillionth of what’s in the bowl.

I did take the beads out of the bracelet as it made it too long, but it fits nicely now and I think I’m going to make some more.

So there you have it.

It’s all I’ve got.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

ūüôā

Apologies for not being around.

I can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.

It’s o.k.

I am in the studio though so that’s good otherwise¬†I¬†might have to start worrying.

Since we last spoke I’ve sparked up the old slab saw and cut my first cabs on the CabKing.

Willow Creek Jasper
Willow Creek Jasper

The Lapidary machine is a lot faster than the JoolTool and I think I prefer it simply because it has more power and grit. The slab saw is amazing. I thought I would just be using it for cutting the slabs and keep my smaller saw for trimming them into cabochons, but in the flick of a switch the automated slab saw becomes a manual trim saw and it cuts like butter.

It’s magic.

It uses mineral oil which is a little messier,¬†although not that¬†much as to bother me at all really, and bonus point, I’ll definitely have the softest hands in town by the time I’m finished cutting all the rocks I bought ūüôā

I am going to have to practice, a lot.

The JoolTool was easier because I could see the stone¬†from above as I trimmed the edges, etc. You come in more at a slant to the wheels on the CabKing and I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of it yet.

See how that bottom cab’s top right corner isn’t the same as the left hand corner? The oval one is good, that’s just the angle of the camera, but the bottom one may well have to go back to the sander.

Another thing is that I found it was easier to miss¬†small¬†scratches on the top of the cabs. I just couldn’t see properly. Again I’ll just have to watch out for that instead of getting so excited to see the end result.

I’m definitely going to keep the JoolTool. It’s extremely handy for taking just a fraction off the side of a cabochon that you’ve fit a bezel too tightly for and for polishing. The CabKing has a polishing pad on its side, but I like using the JoolTool for finishing and I feel it will be more¬†convenient for using different pads with different compounds on them.

I did have to work through the fear factor of it all when I first started, but actually once I got going it was fine. I still have all my fingers and toes

ūüėČ

Here are some newbies.

I cut this Carnelian on the JoolTool

IMG_8597
Carnelian

 

IMG_8603
African Green Opal

 

IMG_8631
Turquoise

 

IMG_8639
Turquoise

I’m off now to see what more damage I can do

ūüėČ

ttyl

I’nt it cool…

So I finally got around to starting up the new ol’ slab saw.

You remember.

The one I got after my dad died because I got to thinking why does anything matter anyway so why not.

No?

O.K. so I think maybe you might be getting the new ol’ slab saw¬†a little confused with the other new ol’ thing I got because my dad died.

Namely

The CabKing extraordinaire.

cabking-cabbing-machine-6-2

And perhaps I completely forgot to tell you about the new ol’ slab saw thing.

Sorry.

So here it is.

The¬†new ol’ slab saw thing¬†in all its glory

bd10a

The Barranca Diamond BD-10 power feed trim saw with 1/3 HP motor!

I refuse to feel guilty about it.

Except for just a little bit.

Maybe.

Anyway I’ve had it for a while now and have to admit to having pretty much ignored it as it’s sat there in its corner looking all important like.

Not because I was intimidated by it or anything.

:/

Of course I knew that it was there, and it knew that I knew that it was there, but we both chose to not know… in that not knowing way of knowing.

If you know what I mean…

But yesterday was¬†the day I faced my fears…

Except I had just a little trouble understanding the concept of when a socket is a socket and not a socket trying to protect the world from catching fire.

You know, that old chestnut…

I’d bought my new ol’ slab saw a ground fault circuit interrupter because the instructions said I had to and as I have an inordinate¬†fear of authority of course I did.

I also bought the saw the mineral oil it needed to run on.

So with all the instructions read and everything set up just as it was supposed to be I plugged the interrupter into the wall socket and the little light came on which to me, and call me old fashioned if you feel the need to, indicated that the thing was working and ready to go.

Nope.

Not a thing happened.

After all that anticipation and all.

I had to irritate myself by asking P to come in and tell me what was wrong with the darn thing and who knew (except for P damn him), that apparently the little light in the interrupter box meant danger danger Will Robinson and actually had to be off for the thing to work.

Man!

Since when did a ready steady go light mean everything was dead and wouldn’t work even if you did give it the death stare while shouting swear words at it!

So after P had given me the ol’ sideways, omg really? look which, you’ll be pleased to read,¬†I deliberately ignored, I got out a rock and cut away.

O.K. so only after having to drag P back into the studio two more times to explain some other little tricky bits to me.

All I can say is that I was having a bit of an¬†off day – and I’m sticking to that explanation so don’t question me…

Here it is in action.

IMG_8559

AND it does it all by itself…

IMG_8560

So you can get on with other things while it does its magic.

It’s a beautiful thing.

So guess what I’ll be doing today.

ūüôā

As I was preparing myself for this first brave step into slab cutting and toying with just leaving it in the corner for another week, I started another painting to take my mind off it.

IMG_8557

But after biting the bullet and cutting two small slabs, which it did very quietly I might add, and rushing inside to show P my new lovelies¬†it became evident¬†to me that my excitement over conquering the¬†fear of death by slab saw wasn’t going to elicit¬†any amazement¬†out of him. Nor Spud come to that.

IMG_8564

And Nutmeg couldn’t raise a curious eyebrow to save her life.

IMG_8551

They just ain’t got no joy…

ttyl

ūüôā

Now I’m really boring myself…

I just got nothing.

It’s all boring me, so I’m not going to bore you with it.

I get out of bed. I shower (big effort). I try to make it past¬†the sofa, and if I do make it, which is touch and go let me tell you… I go into the studio.

I have been making some stuff so it’s not all bad, but nothing else seems to get done.

To take my mind off it all I’ve decided that the jewelry needs a step up.

Every so often I think this is¬†a good thing otherwise I feel I could become a little complacent, so I’ve decided that now nothing goes through the studio doors until it’s perfect.

Or as perfect as I can get it.

So I’ve slowed down.

I’m a very fast maker. I’ve always been that way. Actually, I don’t know if I’m a fast maker or that I just drop everything when I’m making and enter that zone where nothing else exists.

I don’t think this is¬†particularly healthy, but it sure helps with shutting out all that world stuff.

But now I want to relax into it more.

Take my time and try not to get so excited about seeing the finished piece before it’s halfway made.

I always have at least two pieces on the go and this helps with the impatience somewhat, but how can someone be so particular about making all the fiddly bits that make up a piece of jewelry and yet be so impatient to have it be finished.

Anyway here are the latest.

I finished this.

IMG_8478
Turquoise

And this, which was its running mate

IMG_8466

IMG_8480
Turquoise

Then there was this lovely piece of Willow Creek Jasper

IMG_8467

Which slowly morphed into this.

IMG_8490
Willow Creek Jasper

Then I decided to make it a cousin.

IMG_8487

Once removed.

IMG_8499
Peruvian Blue Opal

And after a cup of tea.

IMG_8495

I thought I’d get the ol’ turquoise out again.

IMG_8485

Which after much fiddling.

IMG_8496

Became this.

IMG_8521
Turquoise

Next I decided to go big or go home.

IMG_8512
African Green Opal, Willow Creek Jasper, Dendritic Opal

But wasn’t quite sure what to do with them all.

I thought this might be a bit dark and moody for a flowery pendant.

Like a poisonous midnight bloom.

IMG_8513

But wasn’t so sure about this one either.

IMG_8514

I kind of liked this one.

IMG_8516

But not with the tendrils as it looked a bit insect feelers like and creeped me out a bit.

IMG_8517

In the end I chose this.

IMG_8522

But must have been sleep making when I discovered that the shape was completely off at the top.

IMG_8525

I don’t actually mind it, but it definitely needs something on top to balance it out.

So I’m off now to finish it.

I do have another African Green Opal which I’m going to make the other design with, so actually both drawings win, and that’s always a nice thing…

ūüėČ

So here’s the thing.

Even years used to be my favourite.

Now you might say that this is magical thinking at its best, but I know that when you enter the dark world of odd numbers there’s just gonna be trouble in store.

Just take a look.

1 3  5  7  9

Now you can‚Äôt tell me that all those odd numbers don‚Äôt look dark, angry, and downright depressed compared to their round and jolly even compadre’s.

2  4  6  8  0

O.K. so the 0 is a bit ominous…

Can’t see it? Then I can’t save you from the consequences of ignoring the possibility of imminent every other year danger.

Sorry.

But, I’m beginning to think I was wrong as so far 2016 has sucked, more so even than 2011 when both my mum and father in law died within a month of each other costing us a small fortune to go back and forth to the U.K. for their funerals. Not to mention the waste of time and energy it took to unpack from the first trip just to load it all back up again.

Oh, and let’s not forget the distress and anguish part.

To be honest this mess of a year did start back in December of 2015, as though it was saving up its winning card to throw onto the table right at the last minute Рjust when you thought you were safe Рso perhaps that’s what set 2016 off on the wrong foot. But let me tell you, from now on the even years have got a lot of making up to do…

The story so far…

December РCervical scare. Hospital procedure involving Victorian leg tights, deli cap, and stylish hospital gown. Waited a month. Nothing wrong…

Also in December РKidney’s took a 50% function hit involving blood and pee tests Рnothing like keeping your pee in the fridge alongside the dairy to keep life interesting. Two weeks of scouting out unsuspecting, healthy looking, kidney donors in the supermarket Рonly those in the fruit and veg section of course, didn’t want any of those vitamin deprived kidneys hanging out in my body, and the making of an extensive reading list to keep me going through dialysis.

January РKidney tests came back A Okay for no apparent reason whatsoever except, I suppose, to keep the hypochondria fed and watered. This lead to a small smacking of the doctor to let him know that it sucked to be fooled into false diagnosis’s even though it wasn’t his fault. He should have known better than to pull his chair up that close to an anxiety ridden hypochondriac.

Also in January РMammogram scare. Another month of terror. Hanging around. Tests, tests, and more test. Turned out to be a cyst… or did it. I can see that little blot on the landscape may well be hanging around in the depths of my overactive imagination for some time to come…

February – Ovary scare. Loads more tests culminating in the making of a, who get‚Äôs what, list. The studio was divvied out and preparations for the Viking send off in the pool were arranged. Couldn‚Äôt be doing with all the expense and ceremonious inconvenience of a regular funeral, rather a floaty, a large G&T, and then get the¬†ol’ jewelry torch out for me.

March – Dad died. All of a sudden. No warning. No nothing.

April РWell this week really. Apparent heart attack… O.K. so that was jumping ahead a bit.

On Monday I went to the doctors having had chest pressure the whole week before. They wheeled me right down to the E.R. which was kind of embarrassing, and distressing as apparently there was a 6 hour wait! What! I almost decided to go home when my name was called. For some reason they like to check out the high blood pressure, chest pain, quiet, pale people sooner rather than later. So six tests and two days later I came home. Can’t say they weren’t thorough.

Turns out it’s probably anxiety, although I’m pretty sure it esophageal cancer. You know a hypochondriac is nothing if not vigilant…

So, taking into account that, alongside my dad, all those other lovely people have died. Bowie, Prince, Victoria Woods, Ronnie Corbett, to name just a few, 2016 pretty much sucks.

But, I know its number and where it hangs out so 2016 better be darn well careful from now on is all I can say…

So back to life…

Before the trip to the E.R. I finished the sad girl painting.

IMG_8193

And this little lovely although I’m not enjoying how it looks like a bunny.

IMG_8180
Polychrome Jasper and Turquoise

This, which seems a bit too chunky.

IMG_8187
Candelaria Turquoise

And just before all the excitement I began this

IMG_8190

Which has a long way to go if it’s going to hang around with the others.

The afternoon they released me from you know where I started these.

IMG_8196

And it was wonderful to get back in the studio.

I finished them yesterday ūüôā

IMG_8199
Kingman Turquoise, China Mountain Turquoise, and something lovely

I call them my little freedom lovelies…

And now I’m putting chains on all of my older pieces in time for the art festival.

To me this is the most boring part.

IMG_8204
Condor Agate, Ocean Jasper, Larimar, Ocean Jasper

So friends just to finish. I started this blog as a way to put myself out there. I wanted to show myself¬†that it’s not worth living with a lack of confidence, and to face all of my insecurities. And it’s working. I’m growing as a jewelry maker and I found along the way that I wanted to share all of this, warts and all, so that anyone else who struggles knows that’s it’s o.k. and to just do it. In the long run, none of this matters.

So I share my mistakes, my anxieties, my hypochondria, all be it tongue in cheek. I am o.k. It’s all good. And I want to laugh in the face of it all (except for my dad) and just get on with making the most of it all.

None of this is meant to get you down or elicit¬†sympathy, although chocolate never hurts…

Sorry if it does.

TTYL

ūüėČ

More paintings…

A while back I decided to take the 100 faces painting challenge.

Why!

I know darn well that I never keep up with these sort of commitments.

So I’d only¬†done two up until now.

This one

IMG_5876

And this one

IMG_5877

But yesterday I fought all day with finishing these

IMG_8176

I just started to get really bored with it all even though I know I’ve the art show coming up and need some more jewelry.

So eventually, after a good amount of moping around while¬†eating all the mint humbugs even though they made me feel guilty because they’re really P’s and I stole them, I gave the jewelry up and started another face.

IMG_8177

She’s a bit sad.

I might have to change her up a little so she doesn’t look as miserable.

I couldn’t do much with it as even though it hadn’t rained for hours the electricity went out around 5 p.m. and I couldn’t see what colours I was picking up in the dim light.

For a heart stopping moment I almost used a brilliant red for her eyebrows which in my honest opinion just wouldn’t have worked.

Perhaps that’s just me.

In other news I have a confession.

I didn’t get out of bed until 12.30 today

ūüôĀ

Just couldn’t be bothered.

It’s now 2 p.m. and I still can’t be bothered to do anything.

ūüôĀ

Even though the face is waiting, and the jewelry pieces are waiting, and, it seems, everything is waiting.

Maybe a cup of tea will do it…

ttyl.

Alrighty then…

I bought myself a new toy.

IMG_8111

I decided to give myself a pick me up after, you know what, happened.

Now, whenever I grind a stone, I can imagine my dad did it with me.

We’ll be in it together.

Trouble is when it arrived my immediate thought was to phone him to tell him the exciting news. He would have laughed at the thought that his daughter had bought yet another piece of machinery and perhaps wondered what happened to her and all the girly things.

But of course I couldn’t phone him so instead I took¬†a photo of it and sent it to my sister and told her to show him.

He’s under her stairs.

He was on the porch for a while, then she put him under the stairs until we can decide what to do with him.

She can’t look at him yet. Also she’s had to give up watching soccer as she used to watch it with him every Thursday when he came to her for dinner which is a shame as she loves football.

For reasons only known to him, dad supported Queens Park Rangers. Traitor to those of us who know that West Ham is the team to beat. Well according to P that is.

My nephew called QPR and apparently we can¬†spread dad’s ashes on their football pitch if we want¬†to.

Who knew!

Lords cricket ground won’t have him though as, although he loved the game, he wasn’t actually a member.

I just can’t get over how many dead people all those cricketers and footballers must be¬†playing on.

Do they know?

It’s almost as bad as all those dead people laying underneath the aisles of the churches.

shakespeare-grave
William Shakespeare

Gives a whole new meaning to not stepping on the cracks.

Anyhow, in other news, I was thrilled to break the $50,000 mark and my new goal is $60,000. I did wonder if it should be $55,000, but then threw caution to the wind and decided to dream big.

You can see where I sent it all – HERE

And I’ve been making a few things all whilst eating the sweets I brought back from home.

S00171-Maxons-Sour-Apples-350x350
Sour Apples
small-pear-drops
Pear Drops
rhubarb-and-custard_zoom_2
Rhubarb and Custards
Mint_Humbugs_WR_m
Mint Humbugs

Don’t judge me…

Actually the Rhubarb and Custards have gone now because they’re my favourite.

The Mint Humbugs are actually P’s, but I confiscated them as I feel my need is greater than his.

Here’s what I made.

Another one of these.

IMG_8121
Chrysophrase

Another one of these,

IMG_8144
Chrysophrase

One of these,

IMG_8101
Star Ruby

One of these,

IMG_8103
Ocean Jasper

One of these,

IMG_8140
Amber and Garnet

And a pair of these,

IMG_8151
More Amber

And I finished a happy painting.

IMG_8097

Now I just have to get up, get going, and wonder what else I’m going to make.

I’m thinking I should make some simpler things for the art show coming up as I’m wondering if all my stuff isn’t a bit big and fussy.

They just seem to want to be that way.

All on their¬†own…

ttyl

A few lovelies.

Not a lot going on here at the moment.

The tank ran out again. I think I’m averaging just over six months a pop which means that twice¬†a year my life is on the line.

This time I made the boy come with me. He wasn’t too thrilled about holding the tank in-between his legs though.

Can’t imagine why.

So¬†now¬†that little¬†tragedy waiting to happen is once again over and done with and we didn’t blow up and the possibilities of being a grandmother is still¬†viable, I now have a full acetylene bottle all set to go .

In other news, my final trial is over. The bad mammogram is put to rest for another year.

That was a bit worrying to say the least.

A whole month of waiting!

My hypochondria was never so thrilled.

Is this how it’s going to be from now on I wonder quietly to myself. A slow body breakdown from here on out?

Can she cope.

I think not.

I do seem to have finally got back into the swing of things, however, and am enjoying the studio.

I even bought me some new toys to celebrate the left breast news.

The super quick-change hand-piece.

117590.jpg

And the intriguing hammer hand-piece.

117026.jpg

With all it’s friends and family.

117537.jpg

Not sure I really need them, but as I said, I’m celebrating, and it’s my birthday next week.

So there.

Here are the lovelies.

IMG_8008
Pink Opal
IMG_8009
Back
IMG_8016
Star Ruby
IMG_8052
Powell Butte Agate
IMG_8059
Condor Agate

And some sketches for the biggest stone alive…

This is a paper cut out of the stone which I printed out at the actual size.

I don’t usually do this, but as the stone is larger than I normally work with, 58mm wide I think, I wanted to get a proper feel for it.

IMG_8031

It’s a prudent man cabochon for someone who might like to send me¬†it¬†to set.

IMG_8055

¬†I like the sketches, but I’m wondering if they will be too much.

IMG_8061

I also grouped my houses together so that I can just look over when I’m making my jewelry and feel at home in the English sea-side towns.

IMG_8024

I’ve always wanted to live by a harbour, in a little house, making my jewelry as the gulls scream and the fish smell.

Strange, but true.

I could also live in my fantasy land, although maybe that’ll be a bit freaky in a Wizard of Oz¬†way.

I might start to feel sick with all the colour and shapes.

Too much sensory overload.

IMG_8025

And it may well be possible that this strangely depressed bird might pluck up the energy to peck me to death in a moment of utter despair.

IMG_8017

Maybe he needs a change of scenery too.

Just not in my harbour is all….

Darn you Cadbury

For bringing out those sweet little chocolate bird eggs again!

Every. Single. Year!

O.k. so now that’s out I’ll move on to the blog post.

Whilst I eat my chocolate eggs.

And put on the pounds as I do so.

I don’t eat a lot of sweets, but for some reason those little eggs¬†are the best.

I think they put drugs in them.

I’ve been making rings.

I don’t usually make them because I never know what size will sell. In fact I’ve only ever made two or three of them before.

But.

They’ve been on my mind for a long time now, like a year, and usually when that happens for that long I just know that I’m going to be making not just one ring, but a whole bunch of them when the flood gates open.

It happened before with my first cabochon so I know.

It took me a long while thinking about it before I¬†set my first stone, but when I finally did I think I had already sorted everything out in my head already and it was like I’d been making them for ever.

I couldn’t stop.

Bit obsessive that way.

So, I had these little larimars

IMG_7954

O.K. and an amethyst…

and thought I’d make another bracelet like the one before.

IMG_7867

But then I didn’t.

I knew I wasn’t going to even though I was going through the bracelet motions.

I tried to fight it, I did.

I thought, O.K., just one ring then.

IMG_7964

You’ll enjoy it. It’ll be done. You can move on.

The other two can still make a bracelet.

Or two bracelets…

But nope.

One thing led to another,

IMG_7986

And then there were three.

IMG_7992

So I will take these to the art show and that way people can try them on rather than me getting the sizes wrong in the descriptions.

I have a gauge, but I’ll see how it goes.

I wasn’t so sure at first, but I’m beginning to really like larimar. Quite a pretty blue.

Next up I made some little lovelies.

IMG_7994

Which I seem to have photographed out of focus.

IMG_7997

And have decided to make some more of these to take to the art show also.

Right now I’m having a little trouble typing this as Spud has decided that my fingers taste remarkably delicious.

IMG_8003

Told you the eggs had drugs in them

IMG_7999

Probably cat nip.

In more exciting news I finally worked out how to use the dreaded mitre-cutting vise.

112700.jpg

O.K. so I didn’t figure out how to use it as that was pretty simple, but I figured out how to make it work for me.

It’s still touch and go, but it’s progress…

IMG_7957

I don’t know if any of you have one of these little beauts, but I’ve always found it irritating.

The top screws would never screw down evenly and it was all just fiddly and annoying.

Eventually I just forced the screws all the way, and lo!, that seemed to do it.

Now I think I was just being too timid with it.

Don’t really know.

I wasn’t ever going to touch it again. I’d put it into a drawer, right at the back so I wouldn’t have to think about it. It just irritated me that much,

Everyone who ever wrote about the thing would say how great it was. Their favourite tool. Couldn’t do without it. etc., etc.. And there I was wondering what planet they were from and if I could get a trip there.

 

But then¬†someone asked me to make something I’d made once before which had a tube setting and I decided to give it another go.

IMG_7977

It’s like I’ve passed some kind of initiation¬†or something.

I’ll leave you with Spud after her chocolate egg overdose.

IMG_7959

Look at that. Completely glazed over.

Cadbury’s you have a lot to answer for…

A chain for you and a question…

I thought I’d share with you one of my chains.

It’s very simple, and like most things creative, not unique to me, but if you’ve not tried making your own chains yet and fancy having a go, read on…

You will need about 4 ft of 19 gauge wire for this 18″ chain and simple soldering skills.

IMG_6788

I used sterling silver because that’s all I had available in 19 gauge.

Of course you can use any gauge and ring diameter, but you will have to adjust for the amount of links, etc., accordingly. You can use copper if you prefer, but note that the solder tends to show more.

TIP

When making calculations for a different chain design or gauge I like to make a 4 or 5 link sample chain. This way I can measure how long that small piece of chain is and then multiply it for the actual amount of links I would need for the chain length I want.

I can also see at this time if I like the chain design and the gauge.

For this reason I’ve started making different sample chains out of copper for quick reference.

To calculate the length of wire needed for each chain I’ve found this handy interactive chart.

how to work out the circumference of a circle

and for calculating millimeters into inches,

how to convert mm to inches

NOTE

Jump ring sizes are measured using the inside diameter. To be sure that I actually have enough silver to complete the chain I measured the jump ring I want to use by the outside diameter.

Now for the chain…

Make 24 x 9.5mm jump rings.

IMG_7874

Wrap them with tape.

IMG_7875

And saw them apart trying not to slice your finger open Рbecause it hurts.

IMG_7877

TIP

After much experimenting I find it easiest to use long blade passes through the rings holding the rings just proud of the edge of a wooden block. Start sawing at an angle and once you’ve got a good purchase straighten up the blade so that it runs more or less perpendicular to the outside of the rings.

With practice it becomes easier and that’s actually the first time I’ve cut myself.

Must not have been paying attention.

Always pay attention…

Now make 26 x 3mm jump rings and do the same.

Beware as this is more fiddly and swear worthy.

Now solder the small jump rings together.

Note: I like the whole chain soldered, but you can skip soldering the small jump rings if you wish and just join the completed larger links together at the end.

For a completely soldered chain, however, I find it easiest to solder the small jump rings first.

IMG_7913

For joining the jump rings I like to use chips of solder which I buy from Contenti.

IMG_7901

IMG_7923

I sprinkle a small batch directly onto my soldering board and use my pick to take them one at a time to the links.

NOTE

You do not need flux or solder to join fine silver together.

IMG_7924

You really only need one of these tiny chips to solder the 19 gauge jump ring together. The key, as always, is to make sure that the ends of your jump ring fit tight together.

There shouldn’t be much of a gap at all otherwise the solder will not flow across the two ends to join them.

Now they are all soldered you can slip two of them onto a larger jump ring and prepare to solder that closed also.

IMG_7915

TIP

¬†Always point the joins you want to solder in the same direction. This way takes the guess-work out of finding the join, especially if you’ve done a good job preparing them and they’re so tight you can’t find the join at all.

IMG_7919

Now take two of the soldered links and join them together with a third, large link.

Solder these also.

IMG_7921

Now you’ll have groups of three.

IMG_7925

Which you’ll join together with another large link.