Wednesday, 26 August 2015

It's Apatite Not Appetite

A Small August Project

I am still working on a custom brooch but I have yet to perfect the design for the prong setting so I took a short break from it for a couple of afternoons to work on a pair of earrings for my etsy shop. I had reticulated a large amount of sterling silver for the two-stone pendant and there were a couple of nice triangular pieces left from that. In my stash I had a lovely pair of small apatite cabochons. I love combining blue with silver.

A Match Made in Heaven.

Here is the plan — with the pieces laid out on my bench. I decided to let the deep blue cabs project just slightly below the bottom of the triangles as you see here. It's a pretty straightforward project — just trim up the triangles, smooth their edges, make and solder on the bezels and add ear posts to the backs.

Of Course, There's Always Something. . .

Shaping a bezel is done by wrapping thin pure silver bezel wire around the stone, marking the point of overlap, cutting the wire, then soldering the ring shut. After that, it needs to be rounded up on a steel mandrel (seen in photo above).

My only problem; the 6mm cabochons required bezels that were thinner than any bezel wire in my supply. In the past, I have tried cutting the wire along its length to get a desired height for a stone. That is very hard to do with any degree of accuracy. Above you can see a better solution. Once the bezels were round, I filed them down to the necessary height then used that yellow sanding stick to smooth the tops before soldering the bezels to the backings.

Well Worth the Work

Here is the finished pair. I really do love the way silver sets off a blue stone.

All I have to do now is photograph them and get them listed at

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Creative Space

My Artisan Home

This morning, I noticed etsy was featuring some sellers work spaces and, while I do not expect to land on etsy's feature blog anytime soon, it did make me think about my creative space.

When we were leaving the river, one of the things we both wanted was better (well, bigger) workshop space. One of the few negatives about our floating home was that any "building" projects had to be done out on the dock during dry weather. The indoor workshop was little more than a closet and the workbench was a shelf above the firewood storage. Eventually, the Big Guy built new bookcases in the very wide upstairs hall and included fold-down bench space for each of us (see below).

It was pleasant but a bit constrained and not easy to ventilate. Best I could do when soldering or polishing was to set a fan blow past me.

A Home With a Future Shop!

We found a home AND...!

Our new home came with a 10 X 14 foot shed. It was ugly-duckling plain and filled with rough wood shelves and spiders — both living and dead. It was, however, solid on a concrete foundation, well-insulated and wired for power.

This photo shows it in its original state. Boring. White. Shed.

First, a Facelift

Before we even moved in, we painted exteriors — house and shed. The house is that pale gold with light granite trim. For the shed, we just reversed the pattern. Better already.

It took most of the next year to get the house renovations done, so the shop-to-be remained a cluttered shed-cum-spider-retreat. But, in due course, we got around to gutting it, adding flooring on top of the concrete. Then we installed better shelving, the Big Guy's bench and tools, and my work benches.  We also finished exterior improvements with a window box, a hanging basket and an awning so I don't get wet while unlocking the door in the winter.  I feel more creative just approaching it now.

It's What's Inside That Counts

To the left in this picture we have a set of steel shelves for paints, tools, odds and ends and also a big sturdy workbench. To the right, a power saw and storage for garden tools. The full 10 feet across the back gives me tons of creative space, storage space, and proper ventilation. Jeweler's heaven!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Late Summer

Harvest Time

I haven't been posting lately. I finished the pendant and took a better photo before shipping it to the client.

I have other projects on the bench (or drawing board) but I've been taking it easy because I hurt my back about three weeks ago and am devoting time to physio and exercises. Beginning to feel better – and just in time, it seems.

The Veggie Garden

About the time I hurt my back, the garden was growing well and was pretty much weed free.

Since mid-July, the vegetables have grown like weeds. So have the weeds. It is not nearly this neat now but everything is maturing despite that. We have been enjoying cherry tomatoes on a daily basis and I picked a couple of peppers last weekend. They are oddly small. I thought all the heat we have had this year would have made them HUGE.

The Harvest

This week, we gathered the first of the beets (below, after roasting and peeling) and carrots (being packed for the freezer).

There is more to harvest and Okanagan free stone peaches are in the local market begging to be canned. Good thing my back is feeling so much better!