Monthly Archives: September 2014


I went to bed last night watching you tube videos on ancient jewelry making techniques.

Now I might just have to give the filigree another bash.

Remember this.


Well I hated it so I remade it into this.


And so that was that.

It was hardly filigree, but one of my first ventures into soldered curly things and I thought I’d never want to go back, but some of that old filigree work is spectacular.

We’ll see what happens today.

It might be filigree, it might not, but getting out there into the studio will definitely be the first step.

You might notice that I’m a late starter.

For those of you too excited to wait any longer, here are the earrings.


I’ve got an art fair coming up and need to make a lot more smaller items.

The hungry can’t wait for me to sell a $200 necklace, however much fun I’m having.

I’m thinking of sending my next $1000 to Save the Children. I was reading this morning about the children orphaned by Ebola. They are being shunned because of the fear that they might give caretakers the virus. Some of the children are just toddlers. I can’t imagine the abandonment.

From the BBC news – HERE.

I think I’m going to have to listen to music in the studio today.

So, in other news…

As you know I’ve been volunteering at the assisted ministry and am sad to report that I have hated it so far.

I’ve been so bored I decided that even doing housework here at home would be more thrilling.

Yesterday was my fourth day and up to now I’ve been trained to answer the phones, although so far I’m not allowed to touch them which kind of disappoints me in a, good grief how hard can it be, way.

After telling them that I could hardly stand the excitement of waiting every half hour for someone to call and then not answer the phone I was banished to a back room to sort all of the socks into three pairs. I had to put an elastic band around each trio which was fairly exciting and I also had to sort the underwear into size and gender.

This could have been o.k. except I was all by myself and it was hot and stuffy back there. I did feel somewhat proud of the trust bestowed on me when I was also given the task of taking all of the outdated juice boxes out of the little zip lock cold and flu bags that had been made up for those who needed them.

Yet yesterday I could hardly stand to go back.

But, as luck would have it, they must have felt my despair and put me in one of the sorting rooms and I got to price fabric and fold tablecloths. Now, this doesn’t sound thrilling I know, but I got to sit with three really nice ladies, and we laughed a lot, and as that’s my favourite thing to do I was quite happy and think I might actually enjoy going back next week.

I did have to come home and have a little lie down afterwards though.

Sorting fabric is shattering.

So, it’s back into the studio for me today.

Don’t worry about me though. I still laugh, and I get to talk to the dog, and make fun of the weather man when he comes on and starts his news with the same little guttural sound each time. AND I’m still practicing for the X Factor auditions, although I think I might have missed the cut off for this year.

Darn it.

Oh well there’s always next year.

Sunday offerings.

Once upon a time, a long while ago, I said I’d show you some of my doodles.

As I’ve got bazillions of them I can only show you a few at a time in fear of your computers exploding.



Some of them are pretty ugly, but they’ve allll got dangles which might mean something.

But might not.


o.k. so this one hasn’t got a dangle.






I mainly doodle while I’m watching t.v. which is why I keep missing some of the more important issues in the Game of Thrones and have to keep asking P questions like, why can’t they just all get on together already? and, when is that little boy who can’t walk going to do something useful for a change? and, John Snow must really smell under all those furs, does he ever get to clean his teeth? Kissing that northern woman must be real enjoyable.

P get’s a little annoyed with all the questions, but I’m sorry, I need to know these things.

Anyhow after the aquamarine bead necklace, which really only had eight beads in it so I should probably start calling it something else, I chose this doodle.


Because I thought this stone might work well with it.


Darn it. While I was getting the link to Jim’s shop  (HERE) who is one of my favourite cab people, I had to buy six more stones!

Will the madness never end.

Indonesian Coral

Indonesian Coral

Crazy Lace Agate

Crazy Lace Agate

Another Crazy Lace Agate

Another Crazy Lace Agate

Yep, you guessed it, another Crazy Lace Agate, but look at it - bloooood red!

Yep, you guessed it, another Crazy Lace Agate, but look at it – bloooood red!

Just one more. You could say Crazy Lace Agate is one of my favourites.

Just one more. You could say Crazy Lace Agate is one of my favourites.

And just to mix it up.

Tiffany Stone, which I'm never too sure about although I really want it to be one of my favourites.

Tiffany Stone, which I’m never too sure about although I really want it to be one of my favorites. Got a feeling that it’s never going to be though.

So I went through my process



sticky back contact paper HERE








And ended up with this.


IMG_3965 - Version 2


IMG_3966 - Version 2

Next stop.





And maybe how to make those little balls …

Beginning soldering tips. Share yours in the comment box and share the wealth … although you don’t have to ramble like I do … unless you want to …

After I made this bracelet I decided that I wanted to use some more of the aquamarine beads.


And thought I’d show you my process again.

Mostly for Jane W :)

Of course, half way through I became too involved and forgot to take the photographs.


I’ll show you what I have though.

From the beginning.

I found a stone that I thought I could use.

This one is a drusy from – HERE.


And drew a rough sketch around it.


I took my bezel wire which I buy from – HERE.


And wrapped it around the stone to make a collar.


When you have aligned the cut ends of the wire ready to solder together, take a pair of flat nosed pliers and gently squeeze where the two ends touch. This will flatten the side of the collar slightly and ensure that the ends are perfectly flush.


You can just about see the unsoldered join below. This is what you’re looking for, a nice flush connection.

I seem to have snipped my thumb also.

Oh well. That’s it for being a hand model I suppose.


(Don’t look at my poor jewelry making fingernails!)

Fitting the bezel wire around a stone takes a bit of practice. You don’t want it too loose or too tight and it can be a bit frustrating at the beginning trying to get the right fit.

Be brave. It will come in the end.

The key is to cut the bezel wire too long first off, then keep checking it by wrapping it around the stone and snipping away at it, and not your thumb, until it’s good.

Then you’re ready to solder.

I think everyone has their own way of soldering, but this is mine.

I like to hold the collar in my third hand, as the alien said to the shirt maker.

Again you can find this at Rio Grande – HERE.

I used to solder the join on the inside of the collar, but now I solder on the outside. I changed because I still sometimes get a solder bump at the join which can affect the fit of the stone. I also found that as I continued working on the bezel, by adding the back and any decorations, often I could see the join in the finished piece, which annoyed me.

By soldering on the outside I can more easily file the bump down when I’ve finished, and it seems that the join remains hidden no matter how much more work I do on it.

I tell you this solely so you can send me your first-born whom I will train to make my tea.


As I was taught there are three types of solder. You can correct me at any time, but I warn you, I may have to send your first-born back and then you’ll be left paying for their schooling and worrying about EVERYTHING they do even though they’ve left home and you think things are all good now.

Not that I speak from experience you understand.

The types are Hard, Medium, and Easy.

Go figure.

Each has a different melting temperature and so you use them in sequence as you build on your piece.

Depending on how many stages you will go through to build up your bezel setting you will start with the hardest. So for instance I would start with the hard solder on my bezel collar. When I next solder the collar onto the backing plate I would use the medium solder. This ensures that the solder will flow at a lower temperature than the hard and won’t ‘undo’ the first solder. And so on.

I don’t do this.

I just use regular ol’ easy solder or whatever I’ve got hanging around and wing it.

Which is probably why I always got that solder line at the end, but as I’ve fixed that problem now with the outside soldering trick I say all is good.

Choose your method at your own risk.

I use two types of solder. Chips – HERE, and wire – HERE. You can also use solder sheet which you can cut into your own chips but I haven’t got around to that yet.

I typically use the wire for larger areas, as in joining the bezel collar to the back, and use the chips for the more delicate areas.

I used wire on this collar as even though it’s a more delicate join I sometimes like to break my own rules.


Next you want to cut out the back for the piece.

I used 24 gauge fine silver sheet – HERE, and drew a circle slightly larger than my bezel collar with a template.

This gives you wiggle room.

Note this is just a simple bezel. In other designs you would cut out the back accordingly.


Although I don’t need this cut to be perfect I try to use every opportunity to practice my sawing. That way, when I really do need a perfect cut I will have already put in the practice.

I found sawing the most frustrating when I first began. Lots of broken blades, and wonky lines, but practice makes perfect, and that applies to most jewelry techniques.

Then clean the back up and make sure it’s as flat as it can be. You want the join between the bezel collar and the back sheet to be as clean and as flush as you can make it. I use sandpaper to clean mine.

(Still not a perfect round. I just don’t know how those guys do it!)


Sand the bottom of the bezel collar also.

Here’s a photo of me doing this on another piece. I have a couple of squares of sticky back sand paper (HERE) on my table to make this easy for me.

Tip. Sand the piece in a figure eight movement. This helps keep the bottom level.

MAKE SURE that your stone fits into the bezel collar afterwards as the sanding may have distorted its shape.


Now flux the two surfaces.

I use this.


Which you can find – HERE.

I’ve used various types of flux, but so far this is my favourite.

Cut the solder wire into pallions, which is a fancy way of saying small pieces, and place them evenly around the join.


When you start to heat the silver the flux will begin to melt and the pallions will jump about and you will have to use your soldering pick (HERE) to push them back into place. To help prevent this, heat your piece very gently at first.

(You can find various soldering blocks – HERE. I prefer the honeycomb block, but any of them will do.)

Circle your flame around the piece without it quite touching the silver. Every so often wave the flame over the silver and back out again. Keep your flame moving and at a, let’s say, two-inch distance from the silver. You will begin to see the flux start to whiten. When this happens you can start bringing your flame over the metal more and more. Still gently.

Take your time.

The key is to keep your flame moving. You are trying to heat the silver, NOT the solder. The solder will run over the hot surface when the silver has reached the solder’s melting temperature. If you keep your flame in one spot the silver will not heat evenly and the solder won’t always run everywhere you need it to. Also you will be in danger of melting the bezel collar.

As the silver continues to heat up, every so often rest your flame in the center of the piece, but take it away almost immediately. Remember the bezel wire is much thinner than the back sheet and will heat up faster.

I also like to hold my flame downwards. Depending on how large the piece is that I’m working on this seems to heat the area more evenly. If you hold it at an angle, toward the piece, even though you are moving the flame around the piece, the heat is coming in from one side only.

This might not mean anything, but works for me.

Could be magical thinking.

Just when you think nothing is happening you will see the solder start to change and run around the join.

Be patient.

If you have any gaps between the back sheet and the bezel collar the solder will not join the two together. Sometimes pushing down on the top of the collar with your soldering pick as you heat it is enough to allow the solder to join them. Hold the stick horizontally so that you push both sides of the collar down simultaneously. If you push down on one side only the other side will raise up.

You’ll get the hang of it, or I can come round and show you.

Keep heating the silver gently until the solder has run the whole way around. You can use your soldering pick to help it on its way.

You can just see that shiny piece on the inside left hand side. That’s what the solder will look like when it melts.

It’s a beautiful thing.

The brown stuff is the flux. You will put the soldered piece into pickle (HERE) to get this off. Oftentimes I wait to do this as I don’t like to use the pickle too much, also I’m too impatient.


Note on Soldering.

Sometimes there’s just nothing to do but to stop trying and start over.

If you haven’t done everything His Fickleness requires you may as well just bang your head against a wall and take up bowling.

The metals, including the solder wire, have to be clean, and the two pieces needing to be joined together have to be flush against each other. Once you get the hang of it you will begin to see when it doesn’t matter how long you keep heating up the silver the darn solder just isn’t going to melt.

Don’t let it get to you. Turn the torch off, cool the piece in the bowl of water that you always have at the side of your soldering brick, put it into the pickle to clean it, and, or use some of THIS remarkable stuff to clean it even more, and start over.

Now file down the excess from the sides.

If you have a lot of silver left around the sides of the bezel collar, which you should try not to as silver is very, very expensive, you can use your jewelers saw (HERE) to remove most of it first, then use your file.

I just bought myself a new ’00’ file with larger teeth because I’m too impatient to wait for my ‘0’ to do its job.

It’s brilliant.

There is a great selection of files – HERE.

Note. If jewelry making is something that you can see yourself doing for a long time it’s worth buying the best tools you can afford as you will only waste money later by replacing them with better ones.

I like using the Grobet barrett files and the half rounds. I typically only use the larger tooth files however as I find sand paper is more than enough to do the rest.


You can also use the sanding discs on your Dremel, or Foredom.


BEFORE you test your stone in the setting drill a hole into the back of the silver so you can push the stone out again.


O.K. So this is where I started to get a bit forgetful.


I started fiddling around with things and forgot all about you.



But I was enjoying myself, and practicing for my audition for the X Factor.


James Morrison was helping me by singing along although he couldn’t quite keep up with my take on the tunes.


So after a while I had to switch to Michael Jackson, although I do have to say he was slightly off also.


And voilà!


Before I knew it, it was doneth.


It looks exactly the same as my sketch, don’t you think?

Jane, I hope this helps a little bit. I do tend to wander off in my descriptions so you can well imagine just what’s going on in my head as I make this stuff.

The key is to practice. One day you’ll pick up the torch just after you’ve decided to give up, and it will be a piece of cake.

Here’s the torch I use.


You can find one at your local welding supply shop.

If you’re just starting a small hand-held torch might be the way to go.

Theres a nice little soldering kit – HERE.


And as for the pickle, I have a small, very cheap, crock pot in which I put about two inches of water and a couple of teaspoons of the pickle granules from Rio Grande.

You can just see my pickling pot back there in the corner.


And remember.

Always keep your table perfectly organized.



Drink lots of tea.


But don’t listen too much to the BBC world news on the radio as it will put you in a funk and you have to go into hiding of a couple of weeks.


O.K. I’m trying here.

I had to take a little break what with the Ebola and everything. A week or so of shut down seems to have done the trick.

So, back in the studio we go.

I have a few things on the go.

Every so often I like to get the beads out and have a bash.


Don’t ask me why.


Except I really like making them.


Then I decided to go a little boho.


Which I enjoyed.


Until it all started getting out of control.


I mean, how many more beads do you think you could get on one bracelet without it breaking your wrist?


So I decided to calm it down and go back to my normal stuff.

IMG_3874 - Version 2

Except this one slipped in when I wasn’t looking.


So I had to rein it back in again.


Until the Triffids took over once again.

IMG_3806 - Version 2

Bless ’em.

I love the Triffids.

That’s a little chrysoprase he’s got there.

Looks like he’s carrying it off into War of the Worlds land.

Man! Now I’m going to have to get all of those old science fiction books out again and N needs to come home for a visit so we can spend a day watching all the old bad black and white movies together for one of our lets watch all of the old bad black and white movie days.


Dum dum dum!

It’s been ten days, but

As Thumper would say.


Not that I have anything not nice to say, but rather, I have nothing to say at all.

I know! Hard to believe, right?

I’ve decided that if I’m boring myself I’ll probably be boring you also, so

I ain’t got nuttin’ going on right now except the same ol’, same ol’.

Yes, Scotland is safely back in the arms of the U.K. and our flag is safe once more, but all I’ve been up to is sorting out my studio.

So once that’s over I’ll get back to you with something yum to make.

’till then.

Paintings, jewelry and postcards.

I’ve been working on some older paintings.


And think that they’re almost finished now.


Very colourful don’t you think.

They almost match my black t-shirt dress code.

I think perhaps they are too fussy.

But, who cares, I might start another one today.

I’ve also made a few more jewelry pieces.




amethyst drusy and chrysoprase

But apart from that nothing much else going on.

I’ve been re working some old pieces of jewelry that I feel I can make better now that my skills are improving. I’ve enjoyed doing that. I’m also working on preparing some post cards to thank people who have bought from me over the years.

post card sept 14

Not sure about that though.

Also uploading all of the addresses to vista print means filling in this tiny tiny spreadsheet which I can barely see.

I’ll have to see what I can do about that as I’m sure there’s an easier way to do it.

Usually I have them post them for me as it’s cheaper (I think), but I might just have them sent here and post them myself if I can’t figure out how to upload the addresses.

Also, I don’t really like playing around with people’s addresses and them getting junk mail.

That’s why I’m not sure about it.

I’m also experimenting with varnishing my paintings, those that aren’t still gooey, and I’ve also mounted some prints which I hope to sell at the art fair coming up next month. I think these might sell better than the originals because I can price them lower.

And that’s about it really.

Bit fed up.

Bit tired.

And I’ve just really bored myself.

Oh well.



The other day I made an inny and an outy.


Which I’m thinking of making more of in different designs.

I keep toying with the idea of selling wholesale, but can’t quite get my head around it.

Do I really want to make the same stuff over again, or do I just want to make my one of a kind jewelry pieces?

I could do both.

I could sell my one of a kind jewelry pieces at wholesale, but how much can I push the price I want for them when I have to sell them at fifty percent of the retail price?

That’s the bit I can’t figure out. They take me a long while and I don’t just want to give them away.

So it boils down to what am I worth, and can I stand firm to that?

That’s pretty hard for me.

I’m thinking something is in the air though if I want to save the world.

Selling a piece here and there isn’t going to eradicate world poverty now is it!

I’m also dithering on a website.

My life, I tell you.

Here’s another piece of amethyst.

The stone is gradually winning its way back into favour.


Amethyst Slice and Chrysoprase

And a bracelet.


Green Opals, Emeralds and Thai Silver

I think I might make another bracelet today.


The prudent man is still waiting.

So the boy woke me up at four last night with a bum call.

Actually I woke up all on my own, but happened to check my phone and saw that there had been a call from him an hour before.

With a no voice voice message which sounded like windshield wipers going in the pouring rain in that, I’ve had a bad accident and am upside down in a ditch, way.

No screaming though which was a bit of a relief.

Of course I knew he was O.K., but he had mentioned going to a bar last evening, and, mum that I am, I just knew he was in hospital or something horrible and he needed me. But then why would the message stop at three seconds? Surely he would have said something, like ouch. So maybe he wasn’t in an accident, but was being attacked and tried to call home but had his phone ripped from his hands and stomped on by the bad guy which had effectively ended the call at three seconds …

Could happen.

But I knew he was o.k. and that it was just a bum call, but …

So I got up, had some juice, and worried some more until I decided that, yes he was twenty one but that didn’t mean he could bum call me at three o’clock in the morning and not expect me to have to text him and asked him if he’d bum called me so that I could go back to sleep again?


Amazingly he replied almost immediately. He had bummed me, and he had also taken some sixty pocket photographs.

Still couldn’t go back to sleep though.

Update on the strange, what are you really doing here, painting.


And I’m off.

Talk to you later.

I can’t stay.

I’m on a roll.

I don’t go into the studio for a month, now I can’t leave.

First up.


(yes, I know it was banned from the studio)


Amethyst Slice and Purple Jasper



Royston Turquoise

Royston Turquoise

I know it doesn’t look like turquoise, but it is.

Now I’ve a piece of prudent man plume agate waiting for me, and you know how impatient that can be.


So where were we.

Oh yes.


Which brings me to the Tate Gallery in London, and



John Everett Millais

When I was home a couple of years ago I went to the Tate Britain specifically to see her.

She lives there and the one time I get to visit,

she’s on loan!


I remember when, more years ago than I care to admit, getting lost in awe as I stood in front of this painting.

But I remember it being ginormous, and really it isn’t.

It seemed to fill up the whole wall and I just stood there enthralled.

I really, really wanted to see her again.


In my opinion this is an example of one of those paintings that doesn’t grab you in books but completely wows you when you see it in real life.

I never expected to like it.

I do love the Pre-Raphaelites however.

Here’s The Lady of Shallot.


John William Waterhouse



Isabella and the Pot of Basil.


William Holman Hunt

I love it that she’s got her lover’s head in that pot.

And this one is St. Eulailia.


John William Waterhouse

which again I would never have thought I would like, but which completely blew me away.

It almost made up for Ophelia.

I really didn’t want to like it, but I kept having to walk back over to it.

The perspective was stunning.

I’ve slowly but surely been getting back into the studio, which is a relief because I was beginning to think we would never make up.

It really does take me a long while to get back into the swing of things after a family visit.

I’ve been putting more and more things up on Etsy, and one woman bought over five hundred dollars worth of jewelry from me.

That was incredible. I hope she likes it all when she gets it.

So I’ve only about $400 to go before the big $20,000.

I’m almost impressed with myself.


The Lady of Shalott

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale-yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse –
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Thro’ the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken’d wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot;
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
A corse between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

%d bloggers like this: