Monthly Archives: June 2014

Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one …

So, yesterday, instead of cleaning the house like a good girl, I made us a project :)

I thought you might like to see my process, for what it’s worth, and make one yourself if you’re so inclined.

 It’s called, The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy.

I love to doodle. One day I’ll show you some but for now we’ll just go with this one.


I have a piece of turquoise which I’d already put a collar on because I was going to use it for something else. I can’t remember what happened with that plan, but when I found it just hanging around on my table I decided it needed a new home.


So I drove it around the doodle block a few times until we found something it liked.

If I find a doodle I like, but which happens to be too small, or large, for the stone I want to use I just re-draw the same design around the stone. This one didn’t really need resizing, but the bottom part of the doodle wasn’t working for me so I kept part of the doodle and just re worked the bottom half.

I didn’t really want it to be a butterfly flower thingy, but for some reason my doodles just keep going there.


Next I simplified the design and tried to make the shape symmetrical.


I like to give my designs some depth because a stone just placed on a sheet of silver doesn’t look quite right to me, so I drew an outline around the design which will be a bottom layer of silver.


And so now we’re ready to go.

If you fancy making one, please feel free to use my design. I don’t know how to sue people, and frankly don’t really care to. There’s plenty to go around :)

However …

‘Disclaimer: I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.’

So now you can’t sue me either



Now put your, I’m getting too old to see small things without them, glasses on,


and trace what is to be the top layer of the design onto the transparent side of a piece of clear sticky back paper stuff.


Some people just tape their drawing onto the silver, or glue it, but I really like using this clear contact paper. You can get it from craft, or office supplies, stores.


Once you peel the backing off and stick the film to a sheet of 22 gauge silver you’re ready to saw the shape out.


I have left room at the top of the shape because I wanted to have some wiggle room in case the collar didn’t exactly fit as expected.




O.K. Perhaps not, but hopefully it will all become clear soon.

Now, and this bit is very important, peel off the sticky tape from the silver, and all of the scraps. If you don’t do this when you come to solder the silver, or make balls etc., with the left overs, it will burn off and really smell bad and you will breath in fumes and die.

Of course I’ve never done this so I’m only guessing.

Sand the top of the shape you have just cut out, and also the bottom of the bezel collar.

I have a couple of squares of different grit, sticky back sand paper stuck onto my bench for this purpose. I find it’s really convenient not to have to search everywhere for the sand paper, even though my bench is always spotless …


Note: After you have done this re check that the stone still fits into the bezel as you may have distorted the collar when sanding.

Sand your hard, or medium, solder and cut it into small pieces (pallions), and then you’re ready to solder the two pieces together.


(I forgot to photograph the two pieces soldered together. Sorry.)

Next, because you want the stone to sit as far down into the silver as it can to give the piece more depth, you are going to cut away the inside of the bezel shape, and the extra silver you left at the top. This is easier than trying to match the leaf shape around the bezel.

Believe me, I’ve tried it.


Then you’re going to check to see if the stone still fits. It might take a bit of sanding, but the stone should be able to pass right through the bottom.


At this point file down the edges of the shape to smooth them and bevel them slightly.

Now cut out the design in the bottom half of the piece.


And maybe you think you want to check once more just to see what the piece looks like with the stone and the holes cut into it.

But, darn it all if this doesn’t happen just when you least expect it.


Remarkably, only the words, oh man, come out of your mouth, and as irritating as this slight set back may seem, you choose to ignore it.

Now, whether it likes it or not, you put that stone back in its home dammit and trace around the top layer of the design onto a sheet of 24 gauge silver. (Note that this is a gauge thinner than the top layer, but you can use the same gauge if you wish. I just like to mix it up a bit. I’m edgy that way …)


Now cut the rough shape out, clean both touching surfaces, and solder them together.


You’re still a bit put out, and the broken turquoise has definitely put a bit of a damper on things just as you was beginning to enjoy yourself, but you plod on and saw away the excess silver.


DON’T put the stone back into the bezel until you have either cut out a design on the back, or placed a thread of dental floss etc,. into the recess first. You want to be able to get the stone out again as you continue to work on it.

If the back of the stone is nice I like to cut a design into the back of mine. At this point I also stamp the silver mark into it. It’s a little trickier to do it at this point, but I always forget to do it at the beginning. I just prop the inside of the bezel onto a support of some kind, usually my disc cutter stamps, and brace the silver stamp against that.

Somehow I managed to stamp it a bit wonky here. Makes it look more professional though, don’t you think?


Now I pickle the piece. I don’t really like to use the pickle that much and tend to clean where I want to solder by sanding the pieces. The pickle gives off fumes, and will kill you. Yep. Also I get too impatient waiting for it to do its thing.

And when I get impatient this happens, and I can’t keep up.



So quickly get the piece out of the pickle before you come up with more ideas than you can cope with, and decide if you want to use 16 or 18 gauge wire for the leaf stems.

Really you want to use 17 gauge, but Rio doesn’t have any :( so you go with 16.


Loop the ends of the wire, and gently heat it. If you do this slowly, and gently feather the flame across the loop, the gaps in the loop will fill in with silver and leave you with this golf club shaped end. For this piece I prefer these to the simple balled ends. You can hammer the ends a little to really define the shape at this point, and sand them smooth.


Then decide if you want the club ends to face up, or down.


I chose up because down looks a bit depressing – and evil.

Shape the prongs a little and cut them to the length you want. Hammer the ends of the stems closest to the bezel to flatten out the stems and make them look fatter and more natural, then sand them smooth.


And, even though prongs up makes the piece look a little crouching tiger, jumping dragon- ish go with it anyway and solder them on.

I like to buff down the edges of the stems at this point. It gives it a smoother, more natural look.


You can’t really see it here but it does make a difference.


Now for the fiddly bit.

(You might want to look away if fiddly distresses you too much, but it really isn’t as bad as it could be. Honest.)

Cut the leaf vein things out.


First snip away at the scraps until they look almost leaf like.


Then hold them in a pair of old pliers and sand them down with the sanding disk on your dremel.

For me this is the easiest way to do it. You might find a better way.

I’ve also stamped them with a nice tear drop stamp that I bought from Larry – here.


And here’s the fun part.

Balance alllll of those little pieces onto your design, and dare them not to solder.


Like so.


Now this might seem like a miracle, but I met a nice man at the gem show the other week who told me about Wolerine Ultra Flux. I bought some because after he finished telling me all about it I felt bad not to, but I’m telling you, all of those little leaves soldered first time, and as much as I would like to tell you that this was due to my remarkably fantastic soldering skills, I suspect it was the flux.

It’s probably really bad for you, but now I’ve got my super duper extractor fan I’m a little happier about it getting rid of the fumes.

Only a little bit though.

And so finally.

I made it something to put the chain on.


Some balls and a couple of doohickey’s.


And Bob’s your uncle.

The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy all liver of sulphured and polished up.


I ended up gluing the stone together. It annoyed me to do so, but …

Don’t tell anyone.


So there you have it. I told you it was a long one.

I would love to see if you make one.

P.S. I will write up a normal, less wordy, version of this and put it up in the How To’s section of the blog later.

Bring on the vacation.

I finished the amazonite necklace.




It’s a bit chunky, and I’m still not sure if I like it. Also the stone wasn’t cut perfectly round. Annoying.

I also made a few paintings.



And this one (below) which isn’t finished yet.


It’s called, Autumn Breeze With Full Moon Shining On The Hilltop Above The Tilled Land And A Pond On A Clear Evening Just Before Bedtime.

Because it’s special to have a name.

(Look at those blues.)

And that’s about it really.

My dad comes on Tuesday, so there’s probably not going to be a lot of studio time happening for three weeks.

I’m in mourning already although, to be honest, I think it will give me some time to do other things and freshen myself up a little, so to speak.

Maybe write, or read. Definitely sketching. Maybe photography?

I’ve never really been that bothered about photography actually, and it’s a relief really to find something that I can eliminated from the, I just have to do it, list.

Woodwork and glass are off that list also.

I feel bad about the things that aren’t on the list. It’s like I haven’t picked them for my team.

Oh gosh. Now I’m going to have to get the camera out.


(That wasn’t meant to be a pun by the way.)


I’m supposed to be cleaning the house to get ready for my family, but …

I’ve only got three days left.

Three days people!

How am I going to be able to fit everything in that I just need to do before my dad comes?

Like – I’ve got to touch all of my stones. Use my new oil pastels. See if I can print out some paintings. Get more touchy-feely with the encaustics. Finish glazing my pots. Get it together with some screen printing, and lino cuting.

Actually, maybe I can do the lino cutting while he’s here. That’s not studio driven. I can be sociable and do that.

I’m really looking forward to my dad coming :) I only get to see him once a year. I’d love to be in England where I can just pop over and take him a cake, and have a cup of tea, or walk with him over the park when he takes his dog out.

So it all comes down to what is really important to me.

I can give up my studio for three weeks.


Well, I forgot.

I think I was so excited to get out my stash and put them in their little cubbies that I forgot to photograph them for you.

That’s a getting older memory block right there.

Only I’m not that old :(

Believe me when I tell you – the beads are beautiful.

African green opals, lapis, chrysoprase, some larimar, aquamarine, turquoise, green garnets.

I could go on, but then I’d have to start feeling guilty again.

I did think that perhaps I should actually start using more beads in my work instead of looking at them in wonder, so yesterday I started pondering on this.


Only it doesn’t use any of the beads that I bought this weekend because they’re just too beautiful to touch right now.

It does use a couple of the Afghan silver beads that I got from Silk Road Treasures which is one of my favourite booths at the gem show, but, I still have to see if I’m going to like it yet.

That’s my lovely amazonite cabochon.

I think it might well have found its forever friends.

Before that I fiddled a little more with something I started on Friday.


I think I shall call this set of finger paintings my angry bird period.

What! Picasso had periods, why can’t I?

And that’s it for today.


P says that I have to go grocery shopping this morning, but I’m thinking of rebelling. The idea of putting on my clean clothes, instead of those which make me look as though my bed’s under the freeway, just doesn’t fill me with joy right now.

Although I suppose it would be good to have something to eat tonight.

Man. My life, I’m telling you!

Why I should never leave the house.

I had a little problem over the weekend.

It was called the Houston Gem and Jewelry Show, and it has a lot to answer for.

I’m still in shock, and will have to take a day or two to recover, so I’m not going to talk about that now.

Stay tune to see if I survived the terror of the shop till you drop incident.

In other news.

I made another encaustic.


I’m getting more used to it now.

Don’t you think that looks like a Jet Jetson t.v.? I’ve never seen that show, but I’ve seen pictures.



And I made a finger painting.


Because brushes are too over rated.

I finished a piece of jewelry.


Turquoise, Tourmaline, and Ruby.

Remember when it was like this.


And this.


And finally, I wanted to share with you a favourite painting that always makes me stop a moment to feel good.


It’s the colours that get me, and the hill.

I just really like Dora Carrington’s work.


I also unloaded the kiln so more to come

dah, dah, dah, dahhhhhh!

(O.K. so that doesn’t make sense unless you pretend we’re in a suspense movie.

And then it still doesn’t make sense … )

Good grief England, what you playing at?

No hope.

No hope at all …

This was the first and last time we won.


Yes, back in the good ol’ black and white days.

Oh well, there’s always next time …

Got to keep the dream alive.

It’s not called the beautiful game for nothing.

I finally finished the wonky necklace.


Nevada Variscite

(Actually, I’ve placed the piece for the photograph more wonky that it actually is. It really didn’t come out wonky at all once I’d finished it.)

I decided to put its danglies on after all.

I quite like it, but I never know how long to make the chains on my pieces. It depends on the person’s neck really. I think on Etsy I’m going to just have to start asking buyers which length they prefer.

I took a break from the painting to finish it up as the jewelry table was definitely calling. I’m beginning to recognize it now. I’ll be making something, and even though I’m really enjoying it, I can feel my thoughts pulling in another direction. I’ve always tried to ignore it before, and get on with what I think I should be doing, but now I’ve just decided to go with the flow.

Less stress.

I did lay in the basic colours though, and I’m quite liking the table.

I really enjoy the vibrant colours that the oil pastels give.


And, I went ahead and sent my money off to Heifer. I selected the Haiti Project – here – although I’m pretty convinced that they just pool all the money and send it where needed.

No matter really.


So I’m off now to the studio to make my next thousand.

(See my charity update – here.)

As my new friend commented yesterday, there are many starfish to save – even if you can only save them one at a time.

(Thanks Fiona ;) )

I decided to make it a friend.




Got to wait until tomorrow now.

Sometimes things come at the perfect time.

Update on ‘the funk’.

It’s gone.


Now we can return to our normal programme.


What’s to be done about it?

My latest dive into the funk left me wondering what’s it all about. I began to wonder if I should just give it all up. After all, I don’t make that much of an effort to sell my stuff, so does it really matter to me?

Does the money do any good anyway, or are we all just blowing into the wind.

Let me tell you, the funk has a lot to answer for.

I think I will always have my doubts about where the money goes, and if it does any good, and if we will ever see a world without poverty and anguish, but I do not doubt that my life is worth more when I live generously and with conscience.

Today I saw this.

And it gave me new hope.

I learned that am not here to change the world, just to help a little bit.

Bit of a relief really.

(There goes my nobel peace prize, dammit!)


So, today’s agenda … $1000 of jewelry sales money to Heifer International, because P says he likes them most, and a little something for the Cambodia lady, because she gives me hope.

P.S. I tried looking at her bags today on their website, but keep getting redirected from their product link. I’ve e-mailed them to let them know, (yes, I know, crazy interfering Englishwoman), so hopefully we can get to see them soon.

See here – Bloom Bags – but don’t forget to check back to see if they’ve fixed the problem.

Go on.

You know you want one of their bags :)

Encaustics 101

Or more likely, 82.5

I haven’t completely gone over to the other side – yet.

But I just had to try them.


I mean, look at that red.

Who wouldn’t want to play with that?


Except I didn’t quite know what to do with it all.


And it smells very waxy and unhealthy.

Which doesn’t bode well with the old hypochondria problem.

Yet another death threat from the studio.


Not completely sure yet.

Perhaps I should just stick with the oil pastels.


Who knows what will happen next.

Stay tuned for more wonders of the universe.

If you dare.

Nuttin’ but worry.

There’s a huge conspiracy going on in my closet.

Whenever I want an old t-shirt to wear in the studio, I can only find good t-shirts, and whenever I need a good t-shirt for my rare ventures out of the house into the real world, I can only find old holey, messed up with paint, ones.

It doesn’t matter how I organize them in the drawers they move themselves around when I’m not looking.

I’m getting a bit tired of it now. I might have to change to two colours of shirt for easy picking.

That’ll teach them!

Sooooo, yeah. What’s new.

Still potting.

I actually have a pottery plan which could work if it wasn’t for the fact that tomorrow I’ll have gone right off it.

Commitment issues.

The problem I have with pottery making is almost as complicated as my life.

I love making the pots. Touching the clay and designing forms. When I first started I thought I would never want to leave the wheel. It’s so exciting, and clever.

I mean look at it.

I will now, before your very eyes, transform this small lump of dirt into a vessel of beauty.

It’s like magic.

Messy magic.


Except, of course, not everything comes out beautiful.

A lot of my first attempts at making a bowl, or vase, turned out to be ashtrays. Never one to give up, I refused to let the wheel defeat me. The fact that even though the wall of the bowl kept collapsing as I threw it and needed to be continually cut down, it just wasn’t going to stop me from making something useful from it.

I would make a functional pot, dammit, no matter that I, nor anyone I knew, smoked.

You always need to have somewhere to place your keys.


But, as curveballs would have it, I discovered that really I’m a hand builder at heart.

It was one of those, Noooooo, I don’t want to be a pie. I want to be a lumberjack, moments.

(O.K. sorry, I just went with my thoughts then. Really you just have pretend to keep up or you’ll never survive the ride. I have one of those right sided, can’t keep on track because I’m all over the place, brains. Can’t help it.)

So now I’m a hand builder, who sometimes uses the wheel, but not much.

I think it’s my sculpture background.

The making of the pots is fine.

I can do that.

Well, somewhat to my satisfaction.



It’s glazing the darn things that’s the problem.

Which is why these sad little pots are still unglazed.

So, to get back to my original thought. (You thought I’d forgotten didn’t you?)

The pottery plan.

I decided the day before yesterday to make a hundred drinking vessels to use purely for glazing and surface design until I master my fear.

These will be thrown, because it will take me five hundred years to hand build each of them, which is a bit longer than the week it will take to throw them, and also, it’s a good opportunity to hone my throwing skills.

One can always hope.

Here are the beginnings.






It’s a good plan, don’t you think? I did cut it down to fifty cylinders in my telling of it to P, just in case he thought I’d gone a little excessive about it all, but a hundred won’t be bad. I’ve already made ten or so. Then, once they’re all done, and if they make the cut, I’ll sell them for twenty five dollars a piece, or something, and send it off to charity.

Not a bad plan.

But, to cut a long story short (as if that will ever happen) …

… now, I want to paint


My life, I’m telling you, nuttin’ but worry, and all over the placeness.

Is there any hope.

Someone please help me now …

I’ve still been potting.

I made a few more boxes.

(I don’t like this one)








And the neat thing about this shape is


That it’s round when you look down on it.


I’ve also made a few bowls.



A plate.


I’ve been experimenting with glazing.



And now they’re all in the kiln waiting for some more friends.


I’ve included some of N’s pots so that I can have more to experiment on.

Don’t tell her.

And that’s about it really.

Three weeks now until my dad comes to visit. Four until my sister comes to join us.

Let’s hope that this year I don’t go on an internet rock hunting buying spree because I can’t get into the studio while they’re here.

I’ve told you about my ‘stash’, and how I’m worried it might blow up your computers if I show it to you.

Because of the sheer volume of it.

Well, perhaps I need to start fessing up as my first step to recovery.

Last week I even sorted them into types. Do you think it’s getting a little out of hand?


Actually, it does make it easier for me to see what I have.

Perhaps this will help prevent me from buying more … one can only hope.

So here they are.

(Don’t look at them Danielle!)

Mexican Crazy Lace is one of my favourite stones. So you see, I have to buy them.

Not my fault.

(Don’t tell anyone, but I just got four more which haven’t quite made it to the sock drawer yet.)


Shattuckite, ChrysocollaChrysoprase, Turquoise, and Variscite.

Now tell me.

Who wouldn’t buy these?



Red Creek Jasper.

Just look at them!


Brecciated Mookaite.

For when a girl’s just got to have a touch of ‘lellow’ in her life … and when asked about the stone she wears is also able to say the words,

brecciated mookaite!


Ocean Jasper, Imperial Jasper, Poppy Jasper, Agate SlicesMexican Rhyolite, Howlite, and Druzy’s.


Coral Fossil.

See. This isn’t so bad. They only have a half card.


African Green Opals hanging out with that blue multi coloured Amazonite one.

These are also big favs. Got to love an opal.


Tiffany Stone, Amethyst (for when it’s not banned from the studio), Sugilite, and



See. There are only three of these!


And lastly, Prudent Man Plume Agate, Moss Agate, and some little special turquoise stones.



All packed neatly into their little drawers.


Where I can find them easily.


Not quite as organized as my bench, but close.



So there’s only one thing for it.

I’m going to have to start getting up one hour before I go to bed to be able to set all of them.

Wally is exhausted just thinking about it.


And poor Willow.

I doubt she’ll be able to get up off that foot stool any time soon.


Dont’ judge me!

It’s a legitimate problem that only rock hounds understand.

And psychiatrists.

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