Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Shop Shots

November Projects

Harvest done.  Grass too soggy to cut. Rainy season upon us. The good news: I get more shop time!

Big Guy's Ring

My beloved lost his pinky ring many months ago and I planned to make him replacement, set with a ruby, for his birthday in July. I got the stone long ago but summer was overrun with yard work, so he got something else for his birthday. A few days ago, I finally got serious about the task.

Ready, Set, Set

Here are the parts: one ring and one ruby waiting to be set. I keep a small blob of Fun Tack on my bench. It's a very quick and easy way to hold something – in this case, it is keeping the ring upright so I can position the ruby. I also use a tiny blob of it on the end of a wooden cuticle pusher to hold stones. I know the experts use a dop stick – usually made by melting flake shellac onto the end of a dowel but I've yet to get the hang of it. Maybe, if I ever get brave enough to set diamonds, I'll have to master that!

Here is the final product; ring polished, stone set. All ready to wear.
This bench photo doesn't do the stone justice. The color is accurate but I didn't catch the sparkle.

Happily, he likes it ;-)

Two Pair in Hand

With the ring finished, I went to work on earrings. They do well in my shop and with holiday shopping starting, I wanted to stock up. Today, while the drizzle fell outside, I went to work on two pairs.
If my pendants lately seem to have a faint Oriental tone, my earring ideas seem straight from geometry class. One pair – ready for polishing in the photo  – consist of slices of square wire mounted on squares of 18-gauge sterling. I will give the back pieces a frosted silver finish (by polishing with a brass brush dipped in soap), then bring the tops of the cubes to a high polish. Nice contrast.

The second pair – yet to be assembled here – are long, slim triangles suspended under fatter triangle studs. I will  probably give the studs a brushed finish, too and do a scratched and polished effect on the dangles.

It's Not All Fun and Games

Some aspects of jewelry making are great fun but there are "housekeeping" chores, too.

Solder is essential for assembling jewelry. It is a rare piece that doesn't have at least one solder joint. You can buy silver solder in four standard grades, with different melting temperatures, to facilitate making several joins on one item. You can also buy either wire or sheet solder. Having learned with sheet, I tend to stay with it, although many people I know swear by wire.

Sheet solder has to be prepared for use by cleaning (hence the scrubbie) and cutting into tiny bits (hence the cutters and the small scoop for picking the bits off that piece of dark leather). I keep the sheets in plastic cases from dental cleaning products and store the snippets in four sections of a weekly pill dispenser. High tech! Because the solder will not flow if it is oxidized, I only clean and cut small amounts at a time – just enough for a day or two. It is amazing, however, that I seem to always need a piece or two more than I have on hand. It is annoying to find you have to stop being creative and clip solder but I guess painters have to stop to mix more paint and sculptors have to stop to sharpen a chisel now and then!