Monday, 27 October 2014

Handmade Sale Coming

Sale on November 8th

I will be joining other members of The Handmade Forum in our first annual cyber-sale for holiday shoppers on November 8. The link below (if I did this right) will take you to a downloadable flyer so you can browse the shops in advance. You can also look for information on the Forum page <>

The coupon code for all shops is SALE2014.

Here are handmade items from three of our shops. Truly something for everyone.

Friday, 24 October 2014

October 24

Moonstone Pendant

I love it when the bench is a cooperative environment. Some days solder joins do not join and polishers fail to polish. Today, however, was charmed. I went back to the moonstone pendant I started planning out a few days ago. I think I am still feeling the pull of the orient ;-) Here is the rough assembly.

All the Parts

The photo doesn't really catch it but there is a slight taper so the bottom of the backplate is a bit wider than the top.

The backplate is of reticulated sterling silver and I chose to top it, pagoda style, with a highly polished sterling bar. The bail is in two pieces. I captured a partial ring of round wire between the backplate and the bar. Once all the other parts were soldered together, I threaded a slightly teardrop loop of square wire through and soldered it shut.

Setting the Stone — Carefully

I took this photo just as I was about to set the 8 mm moonstone cabochon. The green painters tape is these to protect the silver from the setting tools. At the top of the photo, you can see the working surface of my bezel pusher. I rock that rounded surface against the bezel to force it against the stone. That step is not too risky but the final detail, polishing the bezel with a steel burnisher, can create small scratches on the silver.

Fuzzy Photo of Completed Piece

Here is the finished pendant on my desk. Terrible photo but there will be much better ones in my etsy shop as soon as there is enough light. Hope that will be tomorrow.

As I was making this, I realized that I made a very similar pendant, with earrings, for our daughter years ago!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mission Accomplished

Earrings and Pendant Done

The projects I had just started in my last post finally crossed the finish line this afternoon.

Adding Shine 

At this point, I have finished soldering, pickling and polishing the earrings and the pendant.

That tool is a steel burnisher. Its highly-polished surface brings out a brilliant shine on sterling silver. It is hard to use it effectively on flat surfaces (I prefer jewelers' rouge on a buffing wheel for that) but it is superb for burnishing the edges of items. In this case, it will make the rims of those earrings flash. Party time!

The Final Touch

This photo shows the pieces with the turquoise cabochon set on the pendant. I'm pretty happy with it and am certain the I prefer it with the hidden bail.

I sure hope there will be a bunch of light tomorrow so I can take the listing photos. It is possible to set up lights but it is a lot harder to get the look I want that way. Bright daylight plus a small LED light as fill seems to work better.

Tomorrow, I have plans to get started on a moonstone pendant. :-)

Saturday, 18 October 2014

October 18

Random Shots From My Bench

With the onset of fall weather, garden chores are nearly over. Household chores go on, and on, of course, but there is more time to get to the bench and follow up on ideas that took shape over the summer.

Start on Swinging Earrings 

Here are the cut components for a pair of earrings (Step 1). I have made several along these lines. I sold some and I have a pair I wear frequently. I am going to drift a hammered pattern across the lower parts of these to add some sparkle (Step 2). I will use wire and fine tube to create hinges on the back of these so the lower portion swings freely (Step 3). The final step will be to solder ear posts onto the back of the circles.

Turquoise Pendant - Ugly Duckling Right Now!

I designed this pendant a few months ago to hold a pretty turquoise cabochon. I'm using a piece of sterling silver I reticulated earlier. I like the almost fabric-like bunching at the bottom of the silver.

Here, I have trimmed the backplate and soldered on the top bar and stone bezel. Looks pretty gross, doesn't it?

I considered that loop as a bail but have decided I prefer the clean line of that top bar, so  I will put a hidden bail on the back instead.

I still have to add that bail and do a lot of polishing before I can set the stone. The weekend is not looking too busy, so I may get it done before I have to head out to the Creative Jewellers Guild <> AGM on Sunday afternoon.

A Change of Pace

I don't usually work with beads but I was looking for a project that I could do in the house: one to just pick up and put down when I had a few moments to spare. This necklace is the result.

There are two kinds of blue beads here: opalescent and crystal. Each bead is on a sterling silver ring. I linked them all, then added a ring and lobster clasp fastener. Bingo — it's a necklace. I still have some rings and beads so I may weave a pair of chandelier earrings to match. Party jewelry for the holiday season.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

It is Thanksgiving

But Only in Canada

That's right, folks, we here north of the 49th celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

Let's get this out of the way first; we get that we did not invent Thanksgiving. As we all know, that honor (honour up here) goes to the Pilgrim Fathers. Basically, it was such a great idea that we stole it. We set the October date to make it clear this is a Canadian holiday. I think, however, we benefit from that longer break between turkey dinners.

Although the holiday is Monday, my family usually celebrates on the Sunday to let the worker bees recover with a nice, light salad and an early-to-bed night before going off to work on Tuesday. As we have no Pilgrim Fathers watching, I think we are safe to bend the rule on that.

So, to my friends around the world, welcome to my Thanksgiving.

The turkey is headed to the oven at our daughter's house (well, I fervently hope it is). Our kitchen is busy with other preparations.

Guess We Stole This, Too, Huh?

Maybe so, but the pumpkin filling recipe was my mother's and it is so identifiable that my brother once told his wife, over a Thanksgiving meal at our home, "Now that is what pumpkin pie should be". My ex sister-in-law is, by the way, a stupendous cook. And my brother sure would have failed as a diplomat!

Is Something a Bit Odd Here?

I really have been making these pies forever but this is the first time one came out of the oven looking like Grumpy Cat.

I cannot believe it is the fault of the oven in my magnificent new stove. It's too new to be haunted. Actually this is the result of the way I smoothed the filling and inserted a knife to test if cooked. I do think it will produce gales of laughter when we serve dessert tonight.

It Ain't Turkey Without. . .

. . . the cranberry sauce. I make mine with some orange peel.

I think if more people knew how easy it is to make cranberry sauce, Ocean Spray would be very worried. The canned product is perfectly okay but homemade is so easy and so good.

A Lighter Vegetable Dish

For decades, the turkey was accompanied by mashed potatoes and a mashed turnip and carrot dish. With all the food, we were all delighted when I found a recipe for citrus glazed carrots. Much lighter than the mash and I'm pretty sure Mom and Nana do not object. Well, unless they put that grumpy face on the pie.

Oh, don't be silly, Dix.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my kitchen ;-)

Saturday Was Polishing Day

Yesterday, I got out to the shop and polished the tourmalated quartz brooch. I really like how it turned out. I tried blackening the depths of the hammer marks but decided that was overkill so I polished it out. I will wait for Tuesday to list this as etsy is pretty much the dead zone on a long weekend.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Weekend Work

Fall Fashions Demand Pins

Come fall, we don coats and jackets — and their lapels cry out for pins. We also wear a lot of those lovely, cozy scarves and, to keep them from blowing away in the winds of autumn, we we secure them with pins.

Despite the frustration that pin findings present (they are small, fussy and darned hard to solder on in proper alignment), I really love designing and making brooches (broaches, pins, as you choose). I already have several in my etsy shop.

Big, Bold, Broochs

Left: I love the blue-grey tones lurking in this big oval agate. I set it with four clips brought up from the sterling plate. I cut away most of the area behind the stone to lighten the pin and to allow more light to come through the lovely agate.

To Go: Russian Charoite with Amethyst on the Side

Right: I love this deep purple Russian Charoite. These glorious stones are only found in an area of Siberia north-east of Lake Baikal. Loving the color, I couldn't resist adding that sweet amethyst cabochon. Gilding the lily, I guess, but — why not?

Neither of these would be of any use in the summer when you wear those silks and cottons but, come fall, they are perfect.

New Pin Underway

So, it being October, I am starting another pin. As always, I began by annealing a piece of sterling silver, cutting out a shape and filing all edges and corners. The came sanding. And sanding. And sanding.

This one is an off-kilter pentagon and is intended to showcase a lovely, oval tourmalated quartz. These delightful stones, found in Brazil, are clear or milky quartz and contain black tourmaline needles. The effect is quite striking.

If the Stone Fits. . .

The bezel is okay. I love that because fitting an oval (or any non-round) bezel is a bit tricky. If it is a touch too small, you can stretch it on a round bezel mandrel and then re-shape it around the stone. If it is too big, there is nothing for it but to cut it open, remove a sliver of material and then solder it closed again. Crashing bore!

I took one of my hammers (a riveting hammer) and created all those dashes. When the whole thing is finished, I will darken the lines — hopefully that will echo the black inclusions in the stone. Should be a very handsome piece.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October Already?

New Projects

With holiday shopping days looming, it is time for esty shopkeepers to fill the cyber-shelves with new items. I want to add one or two bracelets to my stock so I wound some rings the other day.

I still plan to try a "solid" bracelet or two — made from a strip of metal bent and shaped into a bangle. I already know, however, how to make chain bracelets.


This jump ringer comes with a winding chuck and a wide range of mandrels you can use to wind wire into a long coil. In this photo, I wound a short length of wire onto one of the mandrels. Normally, you wind almost the entire length of that mandrel.

Once the coil is wound, you cut through it to create the rings.

You can do this by hand (and I often do) but I also have (thank you, darling husband) a power cutter that will let me take a long coil and render it into ring in moments. If you plan to make a number of bracelets — or a necklace — your hands are really keen on that power cutter.


Once they are cut, you have a heap of silver rings.

Nothing left to do but link them all up, right?

Stay tuned.