Tag Archives: jewelry making

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.




Actually they have a lot of good dvd’s.

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


Silver Onyx and Charoite.


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




And these.


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.


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…..


A hundred days of what?

I came across the 100 day project and thought why not.


Trouble is I didn’t know what I’d want to do for a hundred days.

I’m not usually up for challenges as I believe they are set ups for failure, but I thought, hey, I might give this one a go.

So I decided I could either:

1. Make a piece of jewelry every day, but as I pretty much do that already it kind of seemed a bit like cheating.

2. Clean a little part of the house every day… Nah. Don’t think so.

3. Stop drinking wine for a hundred days.

That would definitely be a set up for failure.

4. Take a photograph.

5. paint a picture.

6. Create a doodle.

Etc., etc., etc…

I could do all of these things, but my dad’s coming to visit within the hundred day period, and my sister, and I don’t want to take up my time with them. It would have to be something I can do that doesn’t mean going into the isolation tank for long periods of time.

And, of course, number 2 would just about do me in and that wouldn’t be fair to my visitors, or to me.

So I chose Cornelius.


My little botanical book?


The Ledgers Ledgend of  Cornelius Audenberry III.

Intrepid Explorer and Royal Botanist to HRH Significanta Regina, Queen of Spry.

I started it when I was creating a run of triffid paintings.


Of which, you can be assured, there are many more.

And of course each triffid begged for a story.

Well, o.k. they didn’t actually beg, but rather was given one whether they liked it or not.

And so began Cornelius’ adventures to document the wildly fantastic flora of the Copstan Islands.

Of course his voyage on the Encumbrance had to be postponed due to his narrator taking all of the time she could be writing making jewelry instead, and whining about the house keeping, so to Cornelius the 100 day project seems to be a brilliant idea.

(Or not)

And one that I can easily do when my dad and sister come.

At first I thought I’d give myself a word or page goal for each day then I realized that I really just needed to write anything and not worry about giving myself rules.

So today is day four.


And I’ve already discovered a new member of the crew.

Who knew!

I usually get caught up in grammar and spelling and reorganizing the words, but this time I am simple writing it down.

One day at a time.

Other news.

Here’s a picture I’m working on because I was getting a little bored with the jewelry.



It’s got nothing to do with Cornelius as this is an entirely different world which he hasn’t discovered yet.

And a necklace.




A little bit for Linda and then some for Deborah…

As usual I started off with the good intention of photographing everything I do to cut a cabochon, but then forgot.

Sorry Linda.

Sometimes I didn’t forget, but didn’t want to lose a hand.

You understand I’m sure.

Talking of hands I was listening to NPR yesterday and it was actually about how they can do hand transplants now,

but even so I didn’t feel like chancing it…

I start out by buying the slabs already cut.

Mainly from Natalie, because she’s got loads of them and her shop is laid out nicely so I don’t have to search around forever and get frustrated because I don’t really know what I want.

Then I take them to my new trim saw which always makes me feel irritated because somewhere in the back of my mind I have a feeling I had one before which I never used and at some time must have thrown away.

This is why you never throw out anything people!

It’s not hoarding. It’s common sense.

Saying that, I did manage to take six boxes of craft books (not that I have a problem with collecting them of course) to the charity shop yesterday.

I had to listen to S moan and groan all the while as he took them to the car. He even showed me his box wounds afterward, but why else would I have had him if not to lug things around for me is what I want to know.

So I got the trim saw from Rio Grande although I’m sure you can get it anywhere.

Armed with a mask, a pair of safety glasses, my old pottery apron and a towel hooked around the front of my neck I proceed to cut the slab into manageable sizes.

Not quite as cute a look as I usually go for, but as the saw spits out water faster than I can put in it it was that or catch pneumonia and I’ve already got a bit of a cough…

Although I’m fairly sure that they can reattach fingers more easily than hands you’ll see I prefer to push the slice through with a slab of wood.

Again a seemingly useless scrap which I was loath to throw away and yet proved itself to be of vital importance.


Australian Crazy Lace

These are the manageable pieces.


Gaspeite aka The Motherlode, Tiger Tail Jasper, The Australian Crazy Lace and a Jasper gift from Natalie as she probably knows that I don’t know what I’m doing and need all the help I can get…Thank you Natalie.

Next I mark out the shapes I want to go for with a sharpie.

I used templates for the first four shapes and winged it for the gaspeite.

You can probably tell.


Then still with the trim saw I try to trim as much rock away as I can because I don’t want to wear out my grinding disc more than I have to.


And so on to the Jool Tool Extraordinaire.

I’m in two minds about the Jool Tool.

I think it’s a great little tool, but I think if you want to make cabs for a living and not just the odd one here and there, you’ll probably want a ‘proper’ lapidary machine thingy.

Like this


Oh hell. I just found this.


Save me now.

So back to the Jool Tool Extraordinaire…

This is the diamond grinding disc which I use first.


It screws onto the spindle on top of the Jool Tool.

You can see I cleaned it for you :) It was either that or the bathroom…

no brainer really.


And the idea is that you push the stone onto the disc from underneath.


The neat thing is that the discs are designed so that you can see through them as they are spinning and therefore you have more control over what you’re doing.


The speed of the disc also keeps the stone cool which is nice.

You keep the stone wet as you grind it. You can just see the little water tray underneath the wheel.

Here they are after their first round with the grinder.


Next I like to mark half way down the side of the stone and on the top for guide lines and then I sand off the edges.


Jool Tool + finger nails means never having to get a manicure again.


O.K. so here’s where I forgot to continue photographing.


Basically you continue to grind the stones in this manner until you get the shape you want. After that it’s just a matter of sanding the stones through all of the grits available until you get a nice finished shine.

For instance after the diamond wheel you go through the coarse, medium, fine, extra fine, 3,000 microns, 5,000 microns, and 50,000 microns sandpaper wheels. Then you use a fine cerium oxide wheel and finally a felt wheel with a polishing compound on it.

It really doesn’t take that long and it can be quite calming.

I’ve found I like to do it when I’m having a, oh my god I can’t go on, moment as it’s mind numbing yet productive.

But that’s just me.

Here’s what I did with the Gaspeite cabs.

I drew the sketch.


Around the cabs.


Set the collars.


Cut the back plate away so that the stone sits deeper into the piece for more dimension.


Soldered this onto a new back plate


Made some balls.


Worked on the bottom vine.


Cut a design out of the back and attached a hoop for the bottom vine to hang from


Checked it on the sketch.


Started on the top vine.


Cut some leaves.


And soldered them on to wire.


Soldered the balls onto the larger wire.


And placed the smaller vines around it.


Rechecked it against the sketch.

IMG_5933 - Version 2

Not too bad.

IMG_5934 - Version 2

And now it’s off to its forever home.

IMG_5932 - Version 2

Thank you Deborah.

Warning. Things are getting bad. Please send chocolate…

I’ve almost completely had it now with the boredom, the bathroom, and the custom order, but at least I don’t have to worry about the cactus garden for a while now as we had 162 billion gallons of water fall here last week.


I can’t even count that high.

P still went into work though because he’s very brave.

And stubborn.

It’s hard for me to imagine, but over 20 people lost their lives.

Now I’ve just depressed myself.

Which is all I need as I’m already depressed, and bored, even though it’s Saturday, and I like Saturdays – apart from the cleaning the bathroom part of it.

I should pick a new bathroom day.

I hate the bathroom.

Every day I have to get up and go in there.

I’m so over showering. You’ve got to get wet, get dry, find clothes…

It’s all boring.

Then you have to do it all over again the next day.

and the next…

Probably should have just stood outside with some soap during the thunderstorms instead.

So. On to the custom order.

I’m struggling.

I just can’t seem to get it right. The piece I’m making just feels too thin and blah and I’ve finally figured out that I’m trying so hard to make it just right for her, that I’m forgetting to go with my instincts.

As you know she likes this.


And so I made this


And this


And then I made this


Which, to be honest, I really don’t like that much, although I did cut the stone myself.

Pretty pleased with that :)

Anyway she sent me the stone she wants in it and I’m in the process of making another, but as I said, I’m just not feeling it.

So today, I’ve decided that I’m just going to go out there and stop being so precious with it and try to give it back some feeling.

I’m not upset at making the piece at all, but am very interested in how doing things for other people makes me so unsure of myself.

I’m definitely getting better at it, but it’s quite hard for me.

Of course it might not have anything to do with the custom order at all, but that I’m just in the lower part of my circle. The part where everything goes wrong and you begin to wonder whether you should just become a lollypop lady instead of fiddling around trying to make jewelry all day.


But I’m just not sure that the outfit would look as good on me.

Here’s another piece that went so wrong that I had to take it in a completely different direction from the original design.





And so what have I learned from all of this you may be wondering?

Not to try so hard and to loosen up a bit.

Otherwise just order the yellow coat already and stop moaning.

Well I’m still here,

And I’m still bored.

Maybe it’s the weather. It’s done nothing but rain since I woke up two months ago, and although I like it I think it might be making me a bit moody.

The garden is loving it though.

I’ve been thinking about water a lot just recently, and how we use it, and I’m pondering over whether I want to plant a cactus garden in the back instead of my wanna be English garden.

There’s this lady round the corner, Alice, and her native Texan garden is beautiful.

Garden envy.

I have it.

P doesn’t but look.





Of course, you wouldn’t want to be pushing anyone over into the flower beds


Or go around acting like the crazy Medusa lady


But it could be very calming

Especially if you throw in one of those blue doors as well.

Now I’ve just got to get P on board and work up the energy to get myself going.

Could be a while.

Through the boredom of it all I’ve still been making jewelry.

IMG_5661 - Version 4





And teaching myself to cut stones



But I really haven’t been in the studio much these past weeks.

I’ve also been fiddling around with the embroidery.







I’m practicing for a big one.

And I really might have to make myself one of these.


Because it’s beautiful.


Other than that there’s not a lot going on really except I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt which has started off beautifully.

I thought I might have to give the murder mysteries a rest for a while as they were all running into one another which wasn’t really helping my powers of deduction. I was getting a little confused as to the best way to knock P off if he doesn’t come around to the cactus garden soon.

The perfect murder just doesn’t work when you get muddled with too many options and I ain’t prepared to get caught over a succulent just yet.

I’ve too many cabochons waiting to be set.

Nuttin’ but worry and indecision…

While I’ve been away, recuperating from the trauma of losing one of my most beloved teeth, I’ve been working on a couple of custom orders.

(Actually, there wasn’t much recuperating going on, I was just boring myself silly with all the drivel I’ve been writing lately…)

I’ve never really felt that comfortable trying to make something for someone else and prefer to just stick to whatever comes out of the studio whenever it feel like happening, but I decided to live on the edge for a while.

I only have two custom orders, but wanted to give the buyers a couple of choices as I really can’t cope with the idea that I’ve got it wrong.

I’m sure that will get easier if I do more customized pieces.

Here they are.

For one lady who wanted a piece using Gaspeite.

I made this, which you’ve already seen.


Gaspeite and Turquoise

And this,


Gaspeite and Opal

Which is the piece she went with.

Then, for another lady, I made this


Variscite and Chrysoprase

And this,


Candelaria Turquoise and Garnet

But am still working on something for her as they weren’t quite what she wanted.

She likes this



So perhaps I should just go with it instead of trying to make something similar, but different.

I’ve enjoyed making each one of them.

In the meantime I’ve decided that I definitely have a problem with cabochon hoarding.

When I opened one of the little drawers I have which holds them there in all their glory, the whole little chest almost toppled over because of the weight of the stones in it.

It was a bit of a wake up call really.

I’m like that with books.

Finish reading the ones you have before you buy another already!

Now I sound like my mum…

So I might have a little stone setting marathon. Although that will more than likely take me well into next year I’m sure I’ll be able to come up for air at some point along the way.

Maybe to eat perhaps.

I don’t know.

Who of you offer to make custom orders for people with stones you already have which they can choose from?

Is it really that worrying, or am I just a scaredy cat?

Off to make something new.


Oh the trauma…

Lots of trauma.

First up, I had to have a tooth out.

I know, right!

Now I feel old and gappy, as though I’ve forgotten to put my dentures in.

It was a horrible experience and I’ve felt shattered the WHOLE week. I can only imagine what I’m going to be like when I have to have the implant. It’ll most likely freak me out completely.

I’ve already warned the dentist, but he says it’ll be o.k. as he’ll have his phone on hand and there’s this guy on youtube who does some great dental demonstrations if he needs to check in on the procedure.

Doesn’t help.

Secondly, much to P’s distress, I’ve been going through the whole Inspector Barbaby series on Netflix and all of a sudden, what do you know, it’s over.

No warning.

No nuffin’

It’s left a void, like a black hole imploding in my chest.

It’s going to take me a while to get over it, I mean, how do you recover from something like that…

Fortunately Netflix only went up to season 15 and so somewhere there’s another three waiting for me in the magical world of t.v. limbo land.

P will be delighted..

On a brilliant note, however, I had a great art fair last Saturday.

You know, I didn’t really feel up for it. I’d been a bit blah, as you all know by now from my recent groanings and moanings, but it was really good.

The weather was perfect. I managed to emerge from my introvert coma for the day, and we talked and laughed all day.

And, as you may know, laughing is my favourite thing to do…

I made $4,000!

I can hardly believe it.

Personally I think people were afraid, paid quickly and ran for their lives.

Whatever it was it worked, and I’m fairly sure Nepal is not going to worry about it.

Studio happenings are as follows.



Fell apart.

Don’t talk to me about it.

So I threw it around a bit, gave it a good sanding, and re made it.


The serpentine crumbled in the first setting so I had to re make the middle bezel and use his brother.

I can see I’ve still a little sanding to do in between the top two stones.

I’m also in the middle of this


Which I’ll hopefully finish today,

and I might knock up a few of these.








Because I hit the mother lode of Gaspeite


Exciting times…

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