Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Failed Experiment, and Some Happier Endings

Well, that bezel cup that I have been working on turned out to be a bust.  I could never get the cabachon I was using to sit in the cup, so I took it to a jeweler friend of mine.  He cemented it in place, and then he used some specialized equipment he has to force the edge of the cup over the lip of the stone.  Perfect, but then he felt the need to buff the metal.
The stone I was using had a titanium plating on it.  Had.  It got partially buffed away.

Oh well. On to more interesting things...

This is a piece that has been waiting for materials to finish it.  I had the cloud piece and the chalcedony briolette, but I was lacking the different wires and the chain.  I am very pleased with the simplicity of this piece.  

And this is my new favorite piece.  I made earrings like the twisty links in this necklace, and then knew I would have to make the  necklace, too.  And then I sold the earrings before I got to finish the necklace.  But I just made another pair.  Nice to be able to do that.

These are my go-to pieces for the fall.  I wear them all the time.  Of course, that means I will sell them quickly.  As soon as I find time to post them to etsy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Surrender to the Dye

When my sister was first learning to dye her own fabric, she learned a valuable lesson.  You can't control dye, you have to let it do what it wants.  Thus the mantra was born: 
Surrender to the dye.

I have had a similar experience, although if it was control I wanted, I could have had it, if I could just have been a bit more patient.

Here I have a bezel cup pendant, and I am about to fuse one of my sterling balls to the side of it.  
Now, there's two ways I could have done this.
One is to fuse the two pieces together.  This will work only because everything is fine silver.
The other way would be to use solder to make the connection.

I have no solder, so I decided to be a happy idiot and see what would happen.

And what happened was that several of the smaller sterling balls fused with some of the medium sterling balls, making large sterling balls that may or may not have actually fused with the pendant.
Which is all good, as it turns out, as I was going for an organic look, and you can't get much more organic than letting the silver decide for itself how and where it's gonna fuse.
And this isn't even the latest.  Several of the deelybobs came off as I was trying to sand the shine back into the piece.  But it's still all good with me.  I learned something, and I'm pretty sure this is going to turn out to be a stunning pendant, when it's all polished.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Torch Works, I think

I went and bought a new bottle of butane to fill my torch, and I'm not sure if it fixed the problem.  However, it was fixed enough to be able to make a bunch more of the sterling balls I'm doing.  
It takes less than a minute, in most cases, to heat the sterling scrap up to the point where it forms the ball, so I can't say for sure if the torch will do what I want when I have to use it for longer periods of time.
We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Here is a picture of the scrap awaiting the torch.  It is sitting on a charcoal block that is made for the purpose of firing metal with a torch.  I have it sitting on a cast iron skillet that I don't intend to use again, and that is sitting on my stove, with the fan going.  I really need a garage.
And here is the after shot.  The torch sometimes causes the metal to roll around and move from its original position, almost like a wind is blowing on them.  And, of course, they are not very pretty as they are covered in firescale.  I take the melted balls and quench them in water, and then move them to a solution called "pickle," which is a mild acid that eats the firescale off.  They come out of that bright, but not quite shiny.

I think I have made enough of these little deelybobs, as I called them last time, to use for my project.  The next step fills me with trepidation, but I won't let that stop me.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sterling Deelybobs

In anticipation of the shipment I should be receiving this week, I did some jewelry-making prep, as I described it to my husband.
"Husband," I said, "I need to do some jewelry making prep this weekend some time."
This was to forestall his following me around all weekend, wondering what I was going to do next.

Anyway, it all starts with my scrap.

So this is a small plate of snipped ends and cut off mistakes of sterling wire that I keep.  Usually I just sell it back to  my supplier, but this time I wanted to try a new technique.

I took several small snips of wire and heated them with my torch.  Eventually they make themselves ball up under all that heat, and I have some sterling deelybobs to use in my designs.  
I was surprised at all the different colors - but I suspect that has more to do with how long they sat in a solution that is supposed to remove firescale more than anything.

Well, I have lots more scrap and far fewer deelybobs than I thought I would.  The problem was that my torch was giving me fits.  It may have stopped working correctly, or it may just be that I need to buy a new container of fuel.  I will try that first, anyway, because it is the cheaper solution.

Stay tuned for the anticipated arrival of goodies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shopping Spree

All of the checks finally cleared, and so with my paypal account fully flush, I went on a shopping spree for jewelry making supplies.
I was surprised at myself because it took so long to make up my mind.  Usually I'm more impulsive than that, but I guess it was because I had limited funds - not a small amount, but there was definitely an end in sight.  And because I wanted every dollar to count. 
Now my concern is that I actually have the skill to make everything I'm imagining without making a mess.
Here is the list of some of the things I purchased - the building blocks, if you will. I wanted to post pictures, but they were not available for downloading.  Durn!

round sterling half-hard wire in 16, 20 and 26 gauge
3 feet of sterling cable chain
1 20mm titanium blue window druzy cabachon
1 20 mm sterling bezel cup pendant
1 sterling collar with 2" extension
4 8mm moonstone cabachons
sterling bead caps
sterling bead spacers

Oh, it's hard to read that list and be excited.
Unless you're me.

It will be here next week!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hot Pink and Turquoise

As I am waiting for a check to clear before I go ahead and stock up on materials again, I am posting some older pieces that haven't been shown previously.

I made this necklace 16" long because I thought the colors in particular were more juvenile and would appeal to a younger girl.  
Which is not to say that I don't love them!  Yummy!
It's been quite a while since I worked on any jewelry making that wasn't just a thing of the moment.  I've gotten out of the habit of going into the studio every morning and every evening.  
And I'm starting to get that antsy feeling.
Hopefully I will have supplies soon and will be back to work making new and different pieces!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Photo Essay

We went apple picking this weekend.  The apples were happy to see us.  I took some pictures for you.  Enjoy.
"Kiss kiss!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Computer Woes

Just when I was feeling better and ready to get going on my blog and my etsy shop, computer woes struck!
The hard drive where my pictures are stored stopped working.  Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. I wont bore you with details.

You're welcome.

But we're up and running again, so let's have some jewelry content, shall we?

This is actually a necklace I made a while back, and even tho it's made from lesser materials, you know I love it!

It's the crystals, of course!

And those flat head pins are pretty interesting, too.

It's just a cluster of shiny round things!

The foot is doing much better, thank you, but I have occasional twinges.  I am ready to get back to work!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moonstone Necklace

I bought these moonstone beads while I was still living in Singapore.  I haven't seen anything like them since I've been back in the states.
I always struggled with them because of the way that they are drilled.  I'm not sure this pendant is the best solution, but it does work.

At least, it works for Shubert.

Isn't she photogenic, though?

I must apologize for the brief hiatus in posting.  Wednesday night last week, I stepped off the curb into a sewer inlet that was both several inches below where I thought the street level should be, and also angled so that I came down on my left foot hard and twisted.  I didn't break anything, but I was sore for several days and didn't feel like doing anything.
After a lovely long weekend spent sitting on the porch and reading for several hours each day, I am feeling much better.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For the Love of Crystal

I've always loved crystal.  Something about it being clear, but refracting the light into rainbows thrills me.
This particular bead isn't actually clear.  It has what is called an aurora borealis coating on it, making it more rainbowy.

But that iridescence just is way too cool for me.
The beads in the chain also have the ab coating, but they don't show as well in this picture.
Sometimes I worry that my tastes aren't sufficiently sophisticated, but then I am reminded that diamonds also are clear and refract the light in much the same way.  But without needing any coating.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Urgent Need to Create

I have so  many older pieces that I intend to blog about and then list in my etsy shop, but last night I really needed to make a new piece.

I had been thinking about this square frame idea for some time now.  I had seen similar earrings made in some other metal, and they had fringe made from some fiber hanging off the bottom.  Looked like hair to me, and it did not appeal.  The other pair also had a bead wired between the two loops at the top of the square, and I've sworn off beads for the time being, so...

..I sat with the squares for a while and finally came up with this solution.  They kinda remind me of wind chimes, altho they are silent when worn.

The Wire-Only Challenge continues!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another New/Old Piece

Here is another piece I made a while back.  I was just getting the hang of making a beaded chain with this one.  I used some of my favorite swarovski bicones in the chain - I think there are 3 different colors.

But I hadn't yet learned how to make a wire wrapped beaded chain.  Those are a little more secure than this looped version, but I still like this version.  
The star is deliberately wonky, and this was made before I had my torch, so it is just folded over itself and hammered.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Props, Older Pieces

 A couple of weeks ago, I retrieved some pieces I had made earlier this year from a little shop in town that had been selling them.  
I had some moderate success early on, but no sales at all in the month of August.  The owner of the store suggested perhaps my prices were a little high for their clientele, and maybe I should think about rotatinging my stock.
I decided to just list the pieces on etsy, instead.  I might consider lowering some of the prices, as these pieces were made while I was still just fooling around, and of materials that are not the finest.  

I also decided to change the way I photograph my jewelry.  I'm done with the light green background for now.  I went out and bought this black wire dress form, which is actually for displaying jewelry.  
And I bought a bag of black river rocks.

Not sure if Shubert will continue to be used as a prop.  She's not entirely cooperative.

And the last purchase was a display board, like a student would use, as a back drop.
I've move the whole she-bang out of the studio onto the dining room table.  I've taken so many pictures and uploaded them to my computer, and now the computer is acting a little weird.  Need more disc space!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Working Improvisationally

When I got into my studio last night, I was a bit lost as to what I would work on.  Lacking inspiration a bit.  So the first thing I did was to buff this pendant.  I haven't figured out how to get a picture of the mirror finish I am putting on these pieces that I buff, but this one is really shiny.

My wire supplies are running low again, but I had it in my head to challenge myself to make some earring designs using only wire - leaving the beads out.  I love beads, but sometimes I feel like they lack sophistication.

I don't usually spend a lot of time planning what I will make - I call this working improvisationally.  I just make it up as I go along. So, using only wire without a net, I came up with these earrings.

I like the way they feel, the weight of them is nice.

Wire Only Challenge

I'm excited with this challenge I've given myself to create some wire only earrings, no beads included.  It is hard for me to leave beads out, but I am being reminded how much I like a high polish on silver.
I took this picture before I decided to use the buffer, but it's hard to photograph that high polish anyway, so you get the idea.  
I don't think these earrings are as original as I wanted them to be, but they were in me to make, so they got made.

Also, I would like to share a really bad photo with you:
A really bad photo of something really exciting: both of those necklaces are ones that I made!  And they are for sale and on display in the front windows of the oldest business in downtown Chattanooga! I happen to work there, so I have an in, but I never thought my creations would be purchased by my own store!  Keep fingers crossed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Playing with Power Tools

By way of review, here is a picture of the big roundy links necklace (in the background) that I posted last week.  I did decide to make the necklace again using a heavier gauge wire, and that is one of the links in the foreground.  I had enough of the heavier wire to make a necklace, which is now for sale in the store I work at - yippee!
But, I did not have enough wire to make a matching bracelet, which is what I was attempting Sunday.
So there I sat, looking at my dwindling supplies, when I finally got up enough gumption to attempt to fool with power tools.

My husband has this rotary tool, a Craftsman, and I knew it had the ability to be used for polishing.  But changing out the bits seemed daunting.  He always did it for me if I wanted to try to use it, and I knew I had to learn to do it myself.
It wasn't that hard.  And it came with two wheels for polishing, a coarse and a fine, which is what I need to put a mirror finish on my silver pieces.

Seeing as I was just dinking around, I decided to tackle this piece which has been sitting on my workbench for weeks.  I gave it a real good polish, and then decided I needed to drill holes in it to attach wires or chain to it.  Doh!

So off came the polishing wheel, and then I had to do a presto chango to get the drill bit attached.  
For those not in the know, polishing or drilling on a piece of silver creates friction, which creates heat, which is ouchy on my little fingers.
Of course, after drilling the piece, I had metal burrs that had to be filed off, which meant the piece had to be sanded afterwards and then polished again.

In the midst of all this, I decided to use up the last bit of my heavy gauge wire to make something.  It wound up being an apple.  I know this is a bit unfocused -  I wanted to show you the mirror finish I was able to put on a hammered wire piece.  It is so shiny!

And to be honest, that shiny finish on silver is the whole draw for me.  Up till now I had to take things in to my work, where there is a polishing machine, but some of the pieces I've made have been too delicate to be able to be polished that way.  

So here are the two pieces. I don't think I'll keep that red chalcedony attached that way to the apple piece.  We'll see.  And I am lacking wire  that will allow me to hang the blue chalcedony below the cloud piece.  I need to sell some jewelry, people!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Roundy Links Earrings

After making that beautiful necklace the other day, I found I wanted earrings to match.  I made this decision in the morning, while I was getting ready to for work.  Since I have very few minutes to spare at that hour, I had to rush the design process.
I am a very firm believer in letting the subconscious solve problems while we sleep, and although I hadn't spared a lot of thought for the idea of making matching earrings, I know I must have come up with this design in some dark recess of my mind.  It just came together so quickly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some Brass Content

Recently, I was fooling around with the leftovers of the brass wire I bought to make the hook and eye closure for that guy's bracelet, and these are a couple of things I came up with.  
I liked working with this wire because it was pretty soft, which means my hands didn't get the usual workout.  It also has a non-tarnish coating, which seems like a pretty good idea for brass.  But sometimes that coating will flake off if you've done too much with the wire.
I love the gold and blue combination for the earrings.  I might put them up on etsy at some point.  But the bird's nest is hardly an original idea.  I just gave that pendant to my daughter.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Big Roundy Links

I worked for many hours this weekend on a necklace made from Big Roundy Links.
I used 20 gauge wire, which is what I usually use for earring hooks. It is not the heaviest wire I own, so I might be making this again.
It has 29 links, including the closure, and it was a wrench not to put a single bead onto it. I may yet! But I'm trying to let the silver speak for itself.
Each link had to be filed for texture and shine, and then filed some more to remove any sharp edges.
It looks and feels great to wear.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spectacular Necklace

I really enjoyed working on this piece, even though I had to wire wrap several beads - which is repetitive and can be fiddly at times.

But I feel like I'm working in my chosen colors: crystal clear and black with rainbow iridescence.
Getting those wire wrapped beads to cluster at the top of the large focal crystal was a bit challenging, but I'm pleased with the results.
I think I'll do something different with the earrings...

Stay tuned.

New Earring Style

I've been making those ear wires with the knot of wire on them for a while now, and I decided I wanted a change for these earrings.
They  hang really nicely, but the best thing about them is that they take a lot less wire.

These are a little simple, but they match the necklace I posted last time, which is a bit more complicated.

I think next time I might add more beads before the bend in the hook.