Friday, 25 April 2014

Seeing Double

Double Link Bracelet

I sold a bracelet this spring and want to make a replacement as it can be paired with a slightly heftier version as a his and hers set: a wedding or anniversary gift. This one has a pattern of two links lying side by side.  To create it, you link two rings then add another that is woven through those two.

This is a time consuming project, for sure, but it makes a very handsome piece of jewelry -- or jewellery, if you're here in Canada!

Left: the first few links have been woven together. To make the links, I wind sterling silver wire (in this case, it is 16 gauge) on a mandrel (this time, 6mm). The rings, as a coil, get slipped off the mandrel, then cut to create individual rings. I wound up two batches to create the 68 rings I know I need for this bracelet. I know because, after a few years, I got smart enough to keep records of how I make things! No more reinventing that wheel.

The fine wire loop here serves as a handle while I weave the pattern.

Link Two, Solder; Link Three, Solder

The reason this bracelet takes so much time to create is because each link, once woven into its neighbors, is soldered closed. This helps ensure a smooth surface and a strong bracelet.

Here, about half the piece has been woven. A pair of "third hand" tweezers holds a link I'm about to solder. Another pair of heat-resistant tweezers hold the other end so I can drop the (hot) piece into water before I take hold of the working end to weave in the next link. I'm not actually soldering on that charcoal block but it's good to have it there in case I drop the hot end of the bracelet!

Bracelet Almost Done; Doubled Up Studs, Too 

By 5  p.m. yesterday, I had finished weaving the bracelet. All that I have left to do is create the toggle bar that will be linked to that small chain. While I was at the bench, I also soldered up a tiny pair of double circles stud earrings. Here the day's output, after a trip in a tumbler full of water, steel shot and a touch of pure soap. A couple of hours burnished the items. This is especially valuable for the bracelet as polishing a chain on a spinning wheel is pretty darned dangerous. Both items will be listed on my etsy site but I will probably wait for Monday. I feel that Fridays and weekends are pretty slow on line – especially when the spring weather hits.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

To Do : Raku

Beautiful Copper

I've become quite enthralled with the Raku process to color copper. It's easy enough to do. First, clean a piece of copper sheet thoroughly with a plastic scrubbing pad, detergent and powdered sink cleanser. Next, heat the metal (held in heat-proof pliers) with a torch until it is glowing hot then drop it into a pot full of evergreen needles and cones. Cover it and let it cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Lift it out and check the effect. I gave another copper square the treatment yesterday, then planned and cut earring parts.


Just look at the great colors in these — copper, red, gold, green and even a touch of blue.

I decided to make one pair to swing from diamond set squares. Here, the finished earrings are waiting for a coating of archival wax to preserve the colors.

The second pair here are waiting to be given a subtle vertical bend. The process is called chasing. It's easy: lay the triangle, face down, on a suitable, slightly yielding, surface. I use a hockey puck! Borrow your husband's cold chisel and place it along the item. Use a brass hammer to strike the chisel, creating a bend in the metal.

You can make the bend quite sharp but I chose to chase these lightly, just enough to increase the play of light. You can see the finished product below.

Monday, 14 April 2014

My error

Metrics killed me.

Canada Post did not impose a huge increase. I paid WAY too much because I didn't convert to kilos properly.

Paid for my mistake, so not likely to do that again!

Monday, Monday

Random Moments and a Rant

I think I will start with the rant and get it over with. For the past several years, Canada Post has charged me a bit more than $7.50 to ship a small jewelry box in a padded 6 by 9 inch envelope to the USA. I went to print a shipping label today and the cost is now — take a deep breath — $16.03. I've added a bit to my shipping costs but if I posted the real rate I doubt I'd ever make another sale. I am STEAMING but, of course, quite helpless to fix it. I must take some of the lower-priced items out of my etsy shop as shipping them now would result in a loss.

Moving On

I've been back at my bench, woking on that turquoise pendant.

Here is the reticulated silver cut out, with the paper pattern partly removed. Above it is the turquoise cab and its silver bezel.

I'd almost forgotten how much I love the look of reticulated silver and I think it will be fabulous with the turquoise.

At this point, I have soldered the bail to the top of the diamond shape and the bezel to the face. The small hole you see inside the bezel will let me push the stone out, if necessary, until I burnish the bezel onto it. Sometimes, the top of a bezel needs to be lightly sanded and you can't do that with the cabochon in place.

I'm hoping to get a couple of household chores done early this afternoon so I can set the stone. I'm also excited to make some more chains — got a new supply of sterling wire today!

Rehearsing for the Mother's Day Show & Sale

I've never done craft fair or other "face to face" selling before so I'm both excited and nervous about trying it out at VanDusen Botanical Garden on Mother's Day. I spent part of the weekend playing around with possible arrangements. The blue paper in the earring stand will be replaced with a simple black paper sheet. I find it hard to see the earrings if the stand is left open — your eye just sort of misses them.

Enjoy Monday, friends. I'm off to shop and then try to set that turquoise.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Gem Show Weekend

April 11 - Bench work + BC Gem Show

Hate being in when it turns warm and sunny but I've got a couple of projects on my bench and they have been calling me.

Design for a turquoise pendant. I want to reticulate the silver backing and that will take some time. I have a nice piece of silver that I can use. I'll do the reticulation first because it's very hard to control the process once you cut the item out.

A Run to Abbotsford for the BC Gem Show

I took a bit of time off to grab some pieces and my camera and go to the Exhibition Park at Abbotsford on Thursday to help set up the Creative Jewellers Guild display.

This is a photo of part of the club's display. Certainly a lot of talent in this group. The abalone pieces on  the right are mine but others sure outshine them. The show runs through Sunday, April 13.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

April 3 -- SOLD

Two Bracelets Found a Home

On Wednesday, I had to attend a meeting. The Creative Jewellers Guild of British Columbia is hosting an Artisan Jewellers Show & Sale on May 11 at Vancouver's beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden <>. (And, for my American friends, those two Ls may look odd, but it's the Canadian spelling).

To my delight, I got home to find that a woman in Texas had purchased two bracelets from my etsy shop. One is a simple chain with a T-bar toggle clasp (below, left).

The second is a double link — sometimes called a "wriggle chain" bracelet.

For both, I began by winding a suitable gauge sterling wire on a round mandrel, then cutting through the resulting spiral. This produces the rings that make up the bracelets.

I use a pair of chain-nose jewelers' pliers to twist the rings open, weave them together as the pattern requires, then twist them again to close them.

The toggle on the simple chain was purchased but I handcrafted the one for the more complex bracelet. I really like something being ALL handmade by me whenever feasible.

It's always a thrill to box up my creations and ship them off to various destinations. Of course, with that Show and Sale coming up next month, I had better get busy making some more bracelets! This time, I will take some photos so you can see the process.