Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Ring Again

November 26 - Moonstone Again

I have been making progress on the custom orders at last. The Open Heart Brooch is now a private listing in my etsy shop. New etsy twist -- even I cannot see it in Shop View. Sure hope the buyer can!

With that off my bench, I am working on the second moonstone ring (you may remember that the first one was a bit off-center).

Try a Different Technique

It was annoying that the bezel and one of the silver balls slipped off centre on the first try. I thought it might be because I rounded the ring first. Pretty easy for something to slide on flowing solder if it is sitting on a curved surface.  This time, (see photo), I soldered the elements on first. Doing it this way means I had to be very careful with hammering the ring into a circle. Sure didn't want to smash that dainty setting! You can see how well lined up everything is here.

By golly, it worked!

The photo on the right shows the completed circle. The red stains are from yellow ochre. Yeah, I know, but it goes on yellow. The heat changes it. Heat changes lots of things. Couldn't make jewelry if it didn't! Anyway, the yellow ochre painted all around the well-soldered elements kept them from moving while I soldered the join on the ring shank. Solder will not flow unless the metal is super clean.

At this stage, the moonstone is just sitting there. I will not set it until I have washed off the yellow ochre and done most of the polishing.

I  think it will be very pretty once I get it gleaming. Hope the woman who wants it will think so, too. It is a "gift to self" but I still want to get it to her in time for the holidays.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

November 23

Red, Red Garnet Set

Maybe that relaxing time beside the ocean helped my focus. Sat down at bench today and got that lovely little garnet set on the heart brooch.

The Parts - Ready to Go

Here is the brooch -- pre-polished and ready for the garnet. The stone itself is held on a cuticle stick with a bit of Fun-Tak. Not all tools are costly and specially created for jewelry work ;-)

It took quite a bit of careful work to get that tube setting to accept the stone because the shape was slightly off-round. The initial setting was done with a stone setting bur (see my blog of September 5 - Stone Setting 101). The next step involved some hand-shaping of the opening so the stone would set squarely into it. A bit troublesome but worth the effort. Once the stone was set, I did the final polishing.

 Final Photos: Finished at Last!

By the time I got the stone into the setting and the tube burnished over to secure it, the daylight was fading so the final photos are a touch dark. I could have set up studio lights but sometimes they are more trouble than help!

This brooch (broach, pin, to each her own!) is about 1 inch high by 1 1/4 inches wide. The garnet measures 4.5 mm diameter. 

I am pretty happy with the way this turned out. I love that the design suggests two hearts, similar but not identical. I think the symbolism is very appropriate for the ultimate owner. I also really, really love that deep red garnet. A very dear friend hand-carried it for me from India so I wanted to use it in a special project. This filled the bill perfectly.

Tomorrow, I will get going on the second version of that moonstone ring. This time, I will make sure the elements stay in line ;-)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Two Day Wonder

It felt as if we were in the "two homes, no money" world forever. Finally, down to one home and most of the renovations done, we drove down to Cannon Beach Oregon for a too-short getaway.

Pure Luxury

Checked into a very comfortable room at the Surfsand Resort. It was dark when we arrived but the Pacific Ocean really does exist a stone's throw from those windows.

Pure Beauty

I won't try to explain why this place feeds my soul; I'll show you.

The two on the left of this photo are The Needles. The monolith in photo below is Haystack Rock.

Below that, sunset here on Tuesday night.

And, in case you think this is only for fun ;-) I am including a shot of one of the many patterns wind and waves carve in the sand. For a jeweler, this is pure inspiration. Sadly, I do not think our tax department will let me write expenses off!
Home tomorrow, refreshed and ready to hammer some silver ;-)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Slow But Sure

November 17

Jewelry progress has been slow -- too many interruptions with tradespeople working on the house. So glad that we are almost done with the rennos. Flooring, carpeting, kitchen counters.... endless but it all looks good.

The Heart - Ready for Its Garnet

I thought this would be finished and listed on my shop <https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/DixSterling> as a custom order last week. Flooring & carpet caused some delay. My caution caused the rest. The tricky bit on this piece is setting the stone. It was hand faceted in India and, while beautiful, it is not an absolutely perfect circle. To get it properly into that tube setting, I started with a stone setting burr on my flexshaft machine. That reamed out the basic setting shape. Now I am working very carefully with hand tools to adjust the top to get a proper fit for the stone. It must slip in there neatly with just enough silver showing above it -- all the way around -- to allow pressing a rim over the stone's girdle to hold it fast. This is a custom piece for special clients so I am happy to spend all the time it takes to make sure that stone will stay put for many, many years.

My Other Custom Project

I got some moonstones from a supplier recently to fill a request for a ring. I've been muddling along with it along with the heart (and a couple of other items). It's good to have more than one project on the bench. I'm not the most patient person you ever met ;-) so I'm apt to try to move too fast if I only have one thing on the go. Never a good idea. Things just need to sit in the pickle pot for awhile so they will be clean enough for the next step.

So, yesterday, I actually thought I would get the ring finished. Yeah, right.

It was only when I got the setting burnished onto the stone that I realized what had happened. It may not be obvious in this photo, but the bits  slipped a little when the solder flowed. If you look really closely, you should be able to see that the stone does on align straight across the ring. As well, one of the silver balls is a touch of kilter. 

I guess this one will be mine. I acquire quite a bit of jewelry because of these technical glitches!

We are away for a few days next week, then I will be back to the bench with another of those moonstones. The client will get a ring that is -- as far as handmade allows -- perfect. When the elements are properly aligned, I think it will be very pretty.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Finally Finished

Another Abalone Pendant

I started on this pendant long ago. With the new bench all set up, I finally pulled it off the back burner. I assembled the parts while waiting for a couple of other items to go through the pickle process. Nice to have space enough to work on more than one piece at a time!

I wish I could find a way to light abalone to really show off the colors. This shot comes pretty close but still misses the flashes of pink. I'm not as happy with some of the others I shot for my etsy shop.

I really like the way that mother-of-pearl triangle at the bottome of the abalone plays off the moonstone.

There is a gap behind the moonstone to allow threading a chain or thong to wear the piece.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bench Work

Progress on Pair of Projects

With the bench all set up, I've been spending time on a couple of custom projects.

 Silver Heart with Stone Mount in Place

Here is the first of my Open Heart brooches with the tube mount for the stone soldered to the body of the brooch. I was not happy with the garnet I tried earlier, so I went into my "stash" to seek a better option

What a Pretty Stone

Look what I found! Love the deep, rich red of this glorious garnet. At the moment, it is just sitting in the setting. I can't actually set it until I add the pin and pin catch to the back (kind of essential for a brooch!). When that is done, the piece will need lots of polishing time. Setting the stone is the last phase.

I think it will be quite lovely. Once I finish this one, I have a couple more open hearts to work up.

Project Two - a Ring

I'm also working on a moonstone ring. This photo shows the planned layout.

First, I cut the ring blank from 18 gauge sterling and filed and sanded it, paying special attention to the edges. That's the boring part of making any piece of jewelry and every piece requires a lot of filing, sanding and polishing. Dull work but utterly essential.

Below: and now it's a ring. Well, sort of. It wants rounding up on a steel mandrel next. Can you tell I'm loving my new bench? After a year of being hunched over a student desk, I'm sure my spine is enjoying it, too!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

First heart Shaping Up

New Bench Working Well

Been housebound (a bit of essential painting) for a couple of days but got out to my new bench this morning. Went back to work on the heart brooches.

The first one, all silver, is farthest along. Here is a photo of the pierced heart shape, a garnet stone and the tubing that will form the stone setting. I annealed the metal this morning and gave it a soak in the pickle pot -- hence the chalky look of the silver. That will polish off later.  I also reamed out a setting in the end of that piece of sterling silver tube. For more on that process, see my September 5th blog: Stone Setting 101. Once the setting is perfect, I will cut it from the tube and solder it to the heart.

That garnet is paler than I remembered; almost pink. I may look about for one the same size but a deeper red. This one might do better on one of the silver and copper hearts. I will get them farther along the process before I try it with them.

Gosh, the sun is almost down already. Comes as such a shock at first when the time changes. The good news is that I can walk earlier in the mornings again ;-)