Friday, 13 May 2016

Pair of Agates

This Took AGES!

Last year, I picked up a pretty semi-translucent agate in shades of golden brown and grey. I knew I wanted to make a very special necklace to showcase it but did not, at the time have a clear vision. As months went by, I would put it on the bench and ponder it's shape and colors.

The Plan

Slowly, I began to see that vision but it required finding a round cabochon in similar colors. Easy? Well, you'd be amazed at the hundreds of color tones to be found in agates. It was not until this spring's BC Gem Show that I found the right stone. Here, the stones on a sheet of sterling silver. I have marked lines for the cuts.

Copper Mounts for Color

I decided that the colors – like a bit of South West desert – would really look great if I mounted the agates with copper. Here, I am measuring the height of the large stone so I can cut a strip for the base mount from copper sheet. I used the same process to cut a strip to form a round bezel for the small cabochon. The copper wire was selected to pin the top of the large stone.

Checking for Fit

Part way there. At this point, I have soldered down the base for the large stone and the bezel for the cab. I have also marked and drilled the holes for that riveted pin at the top. It's coming together.

At this stage, I have been working on this project for a couple of weeks but there were many interruptions to tend to the vegetable garden. It's not that I love digging and raking, it's just that I love fresh tomatoes!

Pre Polishing – It Helps in the End

Everything is in place except the stones and the wire pin. Time to sand and polish to get the smoothest finish possible before placing the stones. Here, I have a polishing disc in my flex shaft. I have learned that you can take the time now or work twice as hard later.

All the Parts Lined Up

Somewhere along the way, I decided that this piece deserved a hand crafted chain. I considered copper but, in the end, decided on sterling silver. I wound and cut the rings from 16 gauge sterling wire. Above, all the parts.

That Ugly Stage

Rings being soldered. This was essential because I did not plan to use a chain of round rings. To shape them into ovals, you must solder them shut. That's more than 40 tiny solder joints, folks. Below, part way through shaping the ovals. Each side is pinched, using those pliers, around a small steel mandrel. That's more than 80 pinches. Sore fingers!

Worth All That Work

Given the hours of work, I am not sure if I will sell this beauty or keep it for me!

What would you do?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Marvellous May

The End of the Story

Back in the fall of 21015, I posted about a casting from plant session. To refresh your memory, here are some photos from that time.

In sterling silver: the casting sprue (top), a cedar sprig (now set with cubic zirconia and in my shop: and "The Ubiquitous Weed". I harvested it from the edge of my vegetable garden. I have also found it along the edge of our driveway and — somewhat to my amazement — in a gutter on Maui.

Once I had the parts cut off the sprue, I had to polish them.  I thought "The Weed" looked pretty good after polishing.

The cedar casting was always intended to become a brooch but I was, for awhile, not sure how to use "The Weed" so I could enter it into the Botanicals theme case at the 2016 BC Gem Show. Eventually, I settled on a hair stick.

I obtained the handmade wooden stick from a seller on etsy, adapted the pre-drilled hole in the end and used a combination of a sharpened end on "The Weed" and a touch of epoxy to secure the casting to the stick.

I can't wear it — I am a short hair kind of gal — so I planned to list it in my shop after the Gem Show. Instead, it found its new home very close to me. Here it is in our lovely daughter's hair. They both look good.