Category Archives: Tutorial Stuff

Finally!

I’ve got some things done.

It’s been like pulling teeth.

Every day I go into the studio just to find some excuse to take a break.

Even after just fifteen minutes.

When I can’t find a reason to leave the studio I just decide that I’m so thirsty I’ll die if I don’t get a drink stat!

What’s all that about?

Remember this.

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That wouldn’t cooperate and decided that it just didn’t want to be made even though it deigned to pose to show you what you can do with all your broken pick sticks.

Well it took me three days by Jove, but eventually I was able to finish it in-between all the drink breaks and consequent rest room trips.

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Chalcedony

Not completely sure about the beads though.

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And I ordered an I.D. stamp.

Ain’t it cool :)

From Infinity Stamps.

They’re very expensive, but I’ve had one before and I really like the quality.

You just design your logo and send them the pic.

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It also took me five years to make these.

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Ocean Jasper

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Ocean Jasper and Chalcedony

In the meantime, while I was procrastinating going into the studio by ordering more stuff, I bought a sand casting kit.

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The wrong one as it turns out.

It all looked so easy on the videos, but man, that sand went everywhere. I even got some in my mouth.

It was like I was a child again.

O.K. still…

I couldn’t keep my space clean to save my life, yet the man on the video didn’t get a grain out of place.

It was very depressing.

My first casting came out so horribly that I just packed all the stuff back into the box in disgust and put the whole thing down as a waste of money.

But I really, really wanted to do it :( and if that man could do it, so could I damn it!

I’d bought it on Amazon and decided to go back there to buy some different sand and try again.

The same sand that the annoyingly good at it man used.

And, while cursing myself that I always get things wrong, I decided to read the reviews on the kit I’d bought.

Now I always read the reviews before I buy anything.

Always… except for this time.

Should’ve read the darn reviews.

Everyone complained about the sand, and when I came to think about it, I couldn’t quite remember why I had bought the brand I’d gone for in the first place when it was more expensive than the brand I’d originally gone onto Amazon to compare pricing on.

The funk’s messing with my brain man!

Then I got a bit ticked off because it was 120 odd dollars and it didn’t work even though it said, new and improved sand, in big letters on the tub.

That should’ve been my first clue.

So in a fit of determination I sent the whole package back even though I’d used the sand and the casting flask had burn marks around the funnel area where I’d poured the silver in.

I told them on the little return box that I’d used it, but that it was horrible, but Amazon refunded me straight away, even before the company had received my parcel back.

I was quite impressed.

Don’t know if the sand casting people are going to be though.

Now I’ve ordered the one I wanted in the first place.

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Stay tuned…

Emboldened I next contacted a nice lady on FB who reps for JoolTool.

I’d decided that I’d had enough of defective tools and products.

If you remember some of the discs that came with my JoolTool (seven of them!) kept spinning off the spindle when I was using them because their threads had worn or something.

These things are expensive and so are the adhesive pads and papers that you stick to them.

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I mean this bunch right here cost over $400!

(I shouldn’t have looked at the price…)

I’d already contacted the shop a couple of months ago and no one had answered me, so I was feeling pretty taken.

BUT this rep was great and Anie, the product designer and owner, phoned me and walked me through fixing them and now they are perfect and ready to go!

Great result.

Great customer service.

Very happy camper right here.

To celebrate I have a little pair of earrings you can make.

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All for you :)

First take 18 gauge sterling silver wire and wrap it around a mandrel six times.

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I’ve used the largest ring on this pair of pliers.

It always irritates me when I get this particular pair of pliers out because I can’t remember why there is a number 1 and an asterisk on them.

I don’t think I put it on them, but why would I buy a pair that were marked?

Just another of life’s mysteries to mess with my mind…

Now snip and solder them.

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Shape them into rough ovals and haphazardly hammer them.

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And group them into threes.

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As always I’ve forgotten the next photo which would have been of making a loop out of a thicker piece of wire.

I used 8 gauge half round wire.

Now loop the three wires through it and solder the top of the loop together.

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Because the half round wire is thick I left the top of it shaped as a teardrop instead of trying to get it perfectly round.

Now find two large silver balls that you have in your silver ball scrap box and solder one onto the rounded part of the thick tear drop ring.

The next photo’s are fuzzy, sorry. I tried hard to get good ones, but, as good as I am, I couldn’t hold everything at once.

Hold the tear drop point facing down in your third hand tweezers.

If you haven’t already got third hand tweeter, get some.

They’re invaluable.

Saves a lot of hospital visits.

Now make sure that all of the soldered areas of the thin large rings are facing down away from the tear drop and place one of those old pick sticks through the tear drop to separate the three rings from the soldered part of the tear drop.

This will help prevent the tear drop solder flowing onto the three rings while you’re soldering the ball onto the round part of the tear drop.

Capisce!

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Put some flux on top of the round end of the tear drop and on the bottom of the ball.

Heat the bottom of the ball and pick up a melted ball of solder with it.

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Now heat up the round end of the tear drop and solder the ball onto it.

Turn the tear drop over and clasp it in the third hand, again putting the broken pick stick between the bottom of the three rings and the inside of the round end of the tear drop as before.

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Get a little jump ring and place it in your third hand with the join facing downward and put some flux on the bottom of the jump ring and on the tear drop end of the large ring.

Gently heat the jump ring and pick up a small piece of solder as you did with the ball.

Now heat the tear drop end keeping the jump ring away from the flame, but close enough to stay heated and when the solder is ready touch the jump ring to the tear drop end.

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Pickle the earrings.

Make some ear wires.

And polish the way you desire.

And voilà!

Your earrings are ready.

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Now you can knock yourself out and make as many variations as you want.

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I tried a different way to connect the ear wire here, but don’t like it as much as the other way.

Always good to experiment though

;)

I leave you with the progress of the painting.

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And,

you might want to look away…

a poor me sawing injury

because when you’re in a funk normal activities take on a life of their own and like to do things to make you swear.

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I’ve made it small for grossing out purposes.

A lot.

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For Nancy.

The end caps.

You can make these plain or textured, wonky or straight, rustic or perfect, but these are the way I made mine for the pieces you’ve seen.

I use fine silver.

I buy all of my sheets in fine silver and most all of my wire in sterling. I like to use fine silver for my bezel settings because it doesn’t tarnish like sterling.

Sterling tarnishes when exposed to air because it has a little more base metal in it than fine silver. Sterling is .925 silver and fine silver is .999 making it purer. PMC is also .999 as is Thai Silver.

Just love the Thai Silver :)

Back to the project…

Cut a strip of 24 gauge sterling silver, or fine silver, sheet and texture it with a favourite stamp.

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I have a selection of stamps from the Indian Jewelry Supply store – HERE

It’s like christmas every time I look at them.

Cut a manageable length off the strip and wrap it around a mandrel.

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You might need to anneal the silver to do this as stamping, hammering, or any work you do to a piece of silver hardens it. Annealing the metal by running a soft flame over it until it changes colour and then quenching it, softens it again making it easy to work with.

Some people don’t quench afterward as they say the silver hardens again, but, as you may know by now, I’m too impatient to wait for it to cool on its own and I’ve found that quenching doesn’t really affect the results I want for this project.

When you’re annealing be careful not to melt the metal. It just takes practice. If it does start to melt no worries as you can then practice your reticulation skills, but that’s for another day… ;)

You want the silver to just begin to turn a dull pinkish color then take your flame away.

Now you can bend it around the mandrel until the two ends meet for soldering.

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The mandrel can be anything that is the shape and diameter you want. I often use anything on hand. The shanks of my stamps or dapping tools, wooden dowels, but better still are the mandrel sets that come with a jump ring maker.

Like this

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As you then have a selection which will last you forever and you can more easily match the mandrel diameter to the size of bead you’re using.

I’ll be using 8mm beads for these tube ends.

Now solder the seam.

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Once soldered you can cut the tube into the lengths you want either by hanging it over the edge of your bench pin.

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Or by using some other way to keep the tube secure as you saw.

This is an old paintbrush.

For this method, slowly turn the tube and gradually saw around the circumference for an even cut.

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Now you can put the smaller lengths of tube back onto the mandrel so that it just overhangs a couple of mm’s making it easier to file the ends straight.

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At this point you can decide whether to keep your tubes straight or make them wonky.

I like wonky.

So I use one of my dapping things to hammer into the tube to flare out the ends slightly.

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And then I might even hammer them down even more to wrinkle them.

I haven’t done that here, but just so you know all of my secrets…

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The next step is to punch out the silver discs which will be the end caps of the tubes.

I like them to be just a fraction larger than the tube, (including the flared out diameter), as you’re going to dome them and this reduces the diameter of the disc.

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Now you can use a hole punch or a drill to make a hole in the center of the discs.

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I’ve found the easiest way to use a hole punch is to mark exactly where you want the hole to be with a sharpie and then place the bottom of the punch over the mark.

Then you can see exactly where to punch.

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Now you will shape the discs into the caps using a dapping block.

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If you don’t have these tools you can perhaps use makeshift ones.

Making shallow holes in blocks of wood, for instance, may make a good substitute for the dapping block. You can also round off a matching dowel piece to use as the punch.

For the discs you will have to either saw them or snip them. You can then file them down when they’re soldered to the tube.

At this point you are going to solder the caps onto the tubes.

You can solder the first cap from the inside.

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But will solder the second cap onto the top.

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Warning:

You can only do this if there is at least one hole in the silver for the hot air to escape.

If you do not leave a hole the heat will build up inside and the piece will explode!

It will fly away from the soldering board and, if you’re as lucky as me, will probably land on your body.

And it will hurt.

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Now clean up the edges of the caps with a file and sanding board.

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And they are pretty much done.

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These are my ‘rustic’ ones, but you can make these so that the joins don’t show. It will just take more precise measuring and filing, etc.

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Here’s what I did with mine.

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:)


I’m a jump right in person. You?

Of course this doesn’t always go according to plan.

I’m just a little too impatient to read all the books and watch all the YouTube how too’s.

I just like to look at the pictures and wing it.

So I’ve made a few of no go’s over the years, and that’s o.k. as sometimes new ideas come from them.

I tell you this as I just want to remind you that, for most of the time, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I would hate for you to think that I have the best advice out there, even reasonably o.k. advice.

But I just love making stuff and think that if you want to have a go at something you should just do it without thinking you have to be some kind of expert at it who never makes mistakes.

Here’s a mistake.

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19 gauge sterling silver wire using an 8mm mandrel.

Oh yes, it looks all fine and dandy I know, but it’s stiff and lifeless.

The gauge of wire is too thick for the diameter of the ring and the chain can’t move freely.

Now, I know that when you’re using rings to make a chain you need to know the ratio between the wire gauge and the diameter of the ring.

Yep. I know that.

But when I want to make something and I get excited I ain’t got no time to go looking for a chart or read the books, so I eyeball it, make a wish, and have a go.

Don’t try this at home folks.

Actually I wasn’t far off. I think half a millimeter may have done it.

Or maybe one.

(See, I’m doing it again.)

Don’t do it people!

Get a chart.

(I haven’t found a chart yet but I’m looking.)

If you have a chart I want one in millimeters, not fractions. I can’t be doing with all of that 5/16 stuff unless you’ve also got a chart for turning 16th’s into millimeters.

Math is NOT fun for me.

Web surfing is, however, so I’m off to find my chart as soon as I finish up here.

So the chain wasn’t a waste of time really, because I also decided that sterling silver hurt my fingers too much. But using sterling silver wasn’t a waste of time either as I soldered each link perfectly, not always a regular occurrence, so that was pure satisfaction right there.

See.

So next up I made another chain, this time using 20 gauge fine silver with the 8mm mandrel.

Much better, but I’m going to make another today using the 8.5 mandrel.

You should have a go if you haven’t yet.

It’s fun.

And the sense of accomplishment having made your own chain is a wonderful thing.

Warning: I may have mentioned that I still haven’t got ‘the chart’ so you might want to wait until you, or I, find one or I actually make a chain that’s perfect.

Don’t hold your breath on that last part.

So.

Single Loop Chain.

(This is going to be boring for people who already do this, so stop reading now unless you need a nap)

20 gauge fine silver 8mm mandrel

Make your jump rings and fuse them together.

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I use a hard charcoal block for this.

The most important thing to remember when fusing silver is to make sure that you have no gaps in-between the two parts you are fusing together. The join has to be completely touching. If you have any gap at all, however tiny, the ring may fuse, but you can end up with a thin area of the ring which will be weaker than the rest of it.

So preparation is key.

Place the rings on the block with the joins all facing the same way. If you’ve done your job right and the ends are flush against each other it can be really hard to see where the join is so this eliminates that problem.

You want your flame to be a little softer than perhaps you usually use so you can turn down the pressure on your regulator a little to get it to a nice balance that will heat the silver, but isn’t so fierce that it melts it.

Now keep the flame moving around the ring until you see it just start to change, then quickly hover it over the join and take it away immediately the silver flows.

Keep the flame there too long and it will melt into a ball. Then you just continue to melt the ring and add it to your ball collection.

This might grow considerably as you practice.

It’s o.k. ;)

You want to keep the flame moving around the ring as the whole ring should be brought to the same temperature. If you get a gap, or a thin area, where the join is you either had a gap there to begin with or you have heated one side of the ring a little more than the other and the silver has gathered there pulling itself away from the join.

It’s just practice.

You don’t need any solder or flux to fuse these fine silver rings together.

Now you are going to stretch the rings out using a pair of round nose pliers.

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Try to keep the rings at the same place on the pliers each time you stretch one as you want your shape to be as consistent as possible. I use the tips about 2mm down. You can mark the pliers with a sharpie or tape if you need to.

It’s at this point in the game that you’ll discover if your joins are fused properly.

It’s good to find this out now rather than later, so either re-fuse the broken ones or add them to your ball collection.

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Now squeeze the middle together.

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And bend them in the center.

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Use a length of wire, (I’ve used copper here), to anchor one end of the link and push the top ends together.

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Now you can slide another link into the first.

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To do this you may have to squeeze one end of the second link together slightly so that it fits through the hoop in the top of the first link.

sorry about the photo.

sorry about the photo.

Also you can push an awl, or your center punch, through the hoop you wish to thread the next one into to widen it slightly.

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Now you just continue to make the chain until you get to the length you need.

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Once it’s completed, anneal the chain by gently running the flame backward and forward over it until the surface of the silver just changes slightly, and then quench it.

For the next part you’ll need a draw plate.

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I bought mine HERE, but you can find them anywhere, and any kind will do. I just drilled a hole through an old piece of wood before mine arrived.

Once the chain is annealed pull it through the draw plate to even up the links and make it look beautiful.

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You just want to even up everything at this point and not stretch it so be careful which hole you pull it through.

The chain will be crunchy afterward so just loosen it up in your fingers and then voilà!

You are done.

Finish it however you prefer, I like to blacken mine, and then make something extraordinary with it.

Go on. You know you want to.

:)

P.S. Remember Ann Cahoon has a great visual tutorial on chain making – HERE


And the winner is…

O.k so it’s not a winner exactly, but I felt that since we had talked about the chain I’m still impressed with myself for making, that it’s something of a big reveal to show you what I did with it.

And so, without further ado,

Open the curtains please…

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The Bracelet.

Dah daaah.

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Lol

Bit of a let down really.

Made myself chuckle though.

And

Just because I like you, here’s a new link.

Take a manageable length of 16 gauge sterling silver wire and hammer it flat and file the end.

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Now make a small curve with your round nose pliers at the flattened end.

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Still using your round nose pliers shape the wire into a link so that the small curve is on the inside.

As you close up the link push the wire past the end it’s to be soldered to so that when you wiggle it back into place the ends of the wire will be touching.

Annoying I know, but the two ends have to touch to solder.

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As you form the link match it to a master link.

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This way you’ll always be checking it against the same size and it will be easier to keep them consistent.

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Now cut the link from the remaining wire

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And make it a couple of friends.

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When you have as many as you need pick solder the ends together.

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With just the tiniest pieces of solder.

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Now trim them and file the ends smooth.

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And join them together with a soldered jump ring.

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Then you can go to town with making another bracelet.

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Because you’re on a roll.

:)

Sorry that a few of the photo’s are bad quality, but you get the drift.


O.K. So while I’ve been gone…

Nothing what so ever has happened!

It’s just been a weird month that plugged into my hypochondriacal, so I’m going to die now am I, self, which only stopped yesterday afternoon.

Nope it wasn’t big.

Loads of people go through it.

BUT

I didn’t like it and I felt really really sorry for myself and really really annoyed that I was feeling sorry for myself and everything screeched to a stop as I planned for how I was going to react to my biopsy being positive.

Told you.

Hypochondriac.

Actually my doctor said that she had seen hypochondriacs and that I wasn’t one, but I’m pretty good at hiding my secret life of health anxiety so she didn’t know that I had already planned my funeral and given away all of my jewelry tools.

(Penny, you would have hit the jackpot! Especially as my imminent death didn’t stop me from buying more.)

Sooooo,

That’s about it folks.

I made it.

I’m still here.

And now that’s over I’m going to take my jewelry to the next level.

Again.

In other new.

My dad’s here so that has also slowed down my days.

But I did manage to finish a piece for Leslie.

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Blue Opal and Ocean Jasper

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Back

 I’ve also finished a second piece for Leslie to consider, but I don’t like it and can’t concentrate as much as I would like to at the moment on making something better.

And before dad arrived I made a chain.

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My first.

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And I was pretty darn pleased with myself.

I started on a double one, but got the gauge wrong and haven’t been able to start another yet.

If you want to make chains this is a really good dvd.

And they’re really not as fiddly as you think they’re going to be.

Of course I haven’t got on to the triple double o.m.g. one yet so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Throughout my trauma Spud has slept.

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Without a care in the world.

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Just to rub it in.

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But I still love her.

Even though I had to restock on phone charging wires and computer leads.

She doesn’t discriminate. P’s leads are as much in danger as mine.

And she comes onto the bed at all hours of the night when she decides she needs to spend a couple of hours purring next to a human head at decibels exceeding those made by a pneumatic drill.

It’s all good.

And finally, to all of my cyber friends who need a boost.

I have found our new motto…

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May all your s#@* be amazing…


Another quickie…

For anyone out there who would like a comprehensive tutorial on prong setting, bezel setting, and flush setting faceted stones, Ann Cahoon has one of the better demonstrations I’ve watched.

You can download it to watch immediately or purchase the dvd.

HERE

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Enjoy.

Actually they have a lot of good dvd’s.

And here’s another piece I’ve just finished because I know you were wondering.

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Silver Onyx and Charoite.

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I’ve decided that my next pieces will concentrate on finishing and polishing.

Jane I know you asked, but I’m really not that good at it.

For the pieces I make with the leaves I simply buff the hell out of them using one of these

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These

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And these.

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The bottom two make it easier to reach into the nooks and crevasses.

You can also use fine sandpaper.

I know steel wool will work also, but I threw mine away because it hurts.

All those tiny slithers of steel get into your skin and even if you wear gloves there are still stragglers on your bench etc..

They really hurt.

I know, I’m a weeny.

I actually find it very hard to finish my pieces.

My journey to correct this starts now…

stay tuned.

When I get frustrated I take it out on a perfectly innocent canvas.

Sorry canvas.

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As you all may know by now I start a lot of paintings, but rarely finish any of them.

I’ve decided not to let it bother me and just enjoy the flow.

Perhaps I’ll get to  finish this one as I’m pretty sure my acetylene is going to run out at any minute and I won’t be able to replace the tank until later next week.

Will I be able to make it…

dum dum dummm…..


And now…

I’m going to share with you my latest adventure into jewelry making where I seemed to have fire scaled the living daylights out of an innocent piece of silver…

I have to tell you the truth, up until now I hadn’t given much thought to fire scale.

I’d heard the word bandied around the jewelry channels often enough and yet, as with many things that cross my path, I didn’t think they were talking to me.

Those colourful papers with school activities and happenings would come home from school in the kid’s backpacks and I would just put them aside thinking they were meant for other mums.

Until I missed the event and wondered why no-one told me.

Yep. That’s the world I live in.

I think it’s called dissociative.

I call it happily going on my way and ignoring the stuff I don’t want to deal with.

Like fire scale.

Then, as I was making my latest piece, I was taken by how beautiful a piece of silver was that I had just soldered.

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I mean, look at it.

And I was wondering if I could make a piece and somehow protect this finish.

But I believed it was just the flux having a field day with the heat and that it would just come off in the pickle.

Actually, I haven’t pickled that piece yet, so I still don’t really know.

Ah, the wonders of experiment.

Anyhow, somewhere in the back of my head the word ‘fire scale’ started to wake up, and now I think that’s what it might be.

Here’s a good article on fire scale.

So onto my latest piece.

Which might bore some of you because it’s pretty much like all of my latest pieces.

I bought a nice piece of Peruvian Blue Opal from Shirl.

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I didn’t like the shape, but I liked the stone.

So I had a few drawings hanging around and decided to make one…

or two…

You know how it is.

First up I re-cut the stone to fit my design and polished it through all of the grits of the Jool Tool.

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I do like how I can now adapt stones I’ve already bought, and for that I think the Jool Tool is worth it for me.

So here it is in its sketch.

I’m kind of over the big leaf design, but for some reason here’s another.

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I made the opal, and it’s friend, a collar.

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But felt that to just solder this onto a sheet of silver wouldn’t look good as it needed some more substance.

So I rolled out one of my silver pancakes that I’d melted down from my scraps.

Because I wanted chunky.

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Decided where I wanted the dimension.

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Used that sticky film paper

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To cut out the shape.

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And then decided it needed to be stamped.

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I then soldered the collar onto it.

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And that’s when that beautiful surface design happened.

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The back didn’t look quite as good though.

That must be the copper coming to the surface.

Still kind of interesting though.

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Because I wanted the stone to sit down further into the design I then cut the inside out of the bezel.

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This also reduced the weight of the piece.

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I try to saw as close to the inside edge as I can otherwise I’ll spend a lot of time filing away the excess.

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I want the stone to pass easily through to the bottom.

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Next I tidy up the edges of the bezel where the stamping may have distorted the shape and see how it looks on the sketch.

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Now I solder it onto its new back plate, which is 22 gauge silver sheet, making sure to leave enough room around it to be able to give it a ‘step’.

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Here it is trimmed to its final outline.

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And now a much needed chip break.

I don’t usually eat them, but S brought me in some.

I think just to make sure I was still on the property.

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You can see from the last photo (above the crisps) that I have traced a line around the inside of the bezel where I want the collar to fit against the stone.

I now also decide on the design I would like to put on the back.

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I draw it onto the inside of the bezel because it’s easier to saw it out this way. I also always use a sharpie pen because I find that pencil rubs away as I’m sawing and so I lose the shape.

I don’t cut it out before I solder the first part of the bezel onto it because I want to make sure the design is exactly where I want it to be.

I drill the holes.

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And cut it out.

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And at the same time cut away and file the extra from the height of the bezel collar.

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As you can see above I’ve already cut out the leaf shapes.

You can snip them out of scraps, but here I’ve used my saw as I haven’t got any scraps left.

They’re all repurposed pancakes now.

Oh well, live and learn.

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Then I put them onto the sticky tape and use my chasing tool from Larry to make a leaf design.

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Which I then solder onto lengths of 20 gauge wire.

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I cut a length of 16 gauge wire for the main stem and soldered it onto the top of the bezel.

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I then filed down the excess back plate to follow the curve of the stem.

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And checked it on the sketch.

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I wrapped the leaves around the main stem and soldered them onto it.

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I do this very gently.

I move my torch in and out of the piece that I want to solder, all the time watching the surrounding area.

With practice you can see when another part is going to melt and so then I will quickly take my torch away, then bring it back in again slowly.

Depending on how many different solder points I have sometimes I will do this in batches in-between pickling the piece.

This is because often, before I can get to a different solder point, the flux has become grubby and the solder won’t flow so I can just manage three or four points at a time.

I just have to be patient (not easy for me) and go into my zen place.

If you are going to try this know that it is possible and just takes practice.

I only use easy solder for all of my joins from the beginning to the end of the whole piece and I am able to do it so keep at it.

:)

I added some balls then pickled and sanded it, bringing it to its pre-finished state. Trying to get all of the excess solder and my new friend, fire scale, off and then I smothered it in Black Max.

Because I like to live dangerously.

Oh, and I decided on that little ball thing hanging from the bottom.

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I buffed it a little bit and then set the stone.

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I prefer to use the bezel roller.

I started with the square pusher thing, and did find that easier at first, but I like the smoothness of the roller.

It’s worth practicing with if you can take the pain of constantly pushing it into your fingers when you begin.

And voilà.

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Yet another viney, leafy piece.

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I really need to get some new designs going.

BTW

If you read the Ganoksin article on fire scale (linked above) you will have read this line.

“Traditional polishing apprenticeships lasted from three to five years”

No wonder I find the polishing part the hardest.

Aint got no time for five years though so I’m just going to have to keep on winging it…


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