Monday, May 30, 2011

Ruby Necklace

My granddaughter will be celebrating her birthday this July. As with the other recent birthdays, I try to make her a unique artisan piece of jewelry. This year, I am also honoring her for being inducted into the National Honor Society at her high school. Less than 1% of the students in her school receive this honor.

Debbie and I mined in Franklin, NC (the Cowee Valley, where there are active ruby and sapphire mines) and found several pieces of ruby. I have had this piece of rough for a couple years now, and thought it would make a great cabochon. The stone is not of facet quality. The associated mineral us Fuchsite (a form of Muscovite mica, usually green).

The rough was basically a drop shape, so I followed that and cut the cabochon using a Genie cabbing machine. The result is a 148.95 carat cabochon, with a wisp of fuchsite still attached. Then I designed a "frame" of wire, sheet and bezel wire to hold the stone to make a necklace. All components are Sterling and Fine silver. The wire wrap was soldered to the back of the piece, then wrapped across the front to hold the bottom of the stone in place. Fine silver bezel wire was soldered in place to hold the top point of the cabochon in place. Finally, the bail was added and soldered together. The pendant was then hung from an 18 inch Sterling Silver chain.

Necklace,Ruby,Cabochon,Sterling Silver

I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I had crafting it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

HAF Artist of the Week -- Lisianblue

Kris is a grandmother who produces some of the most beautiful glass work that I have ever seen. She hails from Alberqueque, NM and displays her work in an Artfire shop.  She is multi-talented, with several different genres of wearable art in her shop.  However, I was absolutely taken by the glass work and the painting she does with the glass.

This tetrahedron reminds me of the mineral crystals that I love and how beautiful nature is.    Kris is very talented and her work should be an inspiration for all.

Lapis Lazuli Ring

I started this project with a slab of Lapis Lazuli sent to me from Kandahar, Afghanistan.  From this rough slab, I cut an 18 x 13 mm oval cabochon.  This is one of the "calibrated" sizes for gemstones.  Thus I purchased from casting company the other two components the head and shank to make a ring.

Denim Blue Ring

These three items were combined to make the ring.  The cabochon was cut in the lapidary in a low dome style.  This process actually took several hours as I could not give all my attention to cutting the stone.  At the same time, I was cutting two other stones the same size, one in lapis lazuli and the other in Peruvian blue opal.  These other two have been made into pendants for necklaces.  The ring cabochon was of course cut on progressively finer grits and was polished with 14000 grit diamond wheel.  The cabochon resulting was very beautiful.

Lapis Lazuli,Cabochon,Ring,Sterling Silver,handmade,artisan,one of a kind,unique

The head and shank of the ring setting were soldered together with silver solder, then pickled and polished.  Setting the stone into the head produced a beautiful blue ring.  This ring is available in my Artfire shop online.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Necklaces, Necklaces, Necklaces

For the recent past, I have been almost exclusively making pendants and necklaces.  The most recent have involved beading, silversmithing, stone setting, lapidary, design and several other techniques.  This pendant was inspired by the rock crystal cabochon that is the focal spot of the pendant.  It is internally flawless.  Using sheet Sterling Silver, I sawed the back of the pendant in an outline of the tear shape of the cabochon.  Then adding a 4 prong head for an accent stone, I set the cabochon with fine silver bezel wire.  A 6 mm faceted Citrine was added as the accent stone at the top of the cabochon.  Citrine and Quartz

The next two, the last finished this morning, were crafted from prismatic beads in the shop inventory.  The first was made with copper goldstone beads and copper chain and findings.  The second was crafted from specular hematite beads using brass plated steel wire and findings to complete the necklace.  
Copper GoldstoneSpecular Hematite


Today, one of my friends will be coming over to the shop to begin his journey toward gems and jewelry.  He is young and wants to begin learning.  So today he will start learning about gems and their properties.  With temperatures predicted in the 90s this weekend, I will enjoy staying inside to work in the shop at my bench.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mixed Metal Pendant

I decided to take a bit of a walk on the wild side.  I was looking at a quartz cabochon in my inventory and decided to use both copper and fine silver to make a bezel setting for this stone.  In order to show the internal flawless condition, I wanted the back of the pendant to be open.  This cabochon is so clear and cut so it works like a magnifying glass. Crystal Clear Right Front

I traced around the cab on a sheet of 23 gauge copper with my carbide scribe, then using a divider scribed a line 2 mm outside the cab marking.  Cutting out the oval and then piercing out the inside oval gave me a ring about 2 mm wide.  Chasing widened this a little and then I had a shelf to put my cab on in the bezel.

Next was the forming of the bezel wrap with fine silver.  This was done, sawn, and soldered with hard silver solder.  Crystal Clear Left Side
Fashioning the bail for the top of the pendant was done with an 18 gauge copper jump ring chased on my anvil and provided a flat ring that was soldered to the back of the oval. 
Crystal Clear Reverse
The bezel was then soldered with easy solder to the front of the copper oval.  Pickled and polished the setting, then put the cabochon in place and burnished the bezel wire.  This produced an extremely unique and beautiful pendant for either a silver or copper chain to make a necklace.


This and other artisan jewelry pieces that I have made can be found in my online shop.  Please stop by and look at your leisure.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dahlish Knits

I belong to an internet group -- Handmade Artists Forum (HAF) -- that features a variety of different artists in multiple media.  This weeks feature artist is Dahlish.  She is from North Dakota and knits various pieces of wearable art.  On the internet, she sells her pieces on ETSY.  On her personal blog, she describes her unique inspiration for her very usable pieces.

I find her art quite interesting, as she states frequently that she is "winging" it when she makes the piece. The "Checkerboard" above would fit me as I am a chess player and this would be perfect to express one of my passions.  When I retired, I received a very beautiful handcrafted inlaid wood chess board as my retirement present.  To illustrate the wearable feature of her art:
 As you can see very wearable, also you can see the unique style that she has when knitting (an art that I find completely undoable).  In fact, knitting makes me feel like the next piece:
 Well, that is my impression of the artist Dahlish.  I will also forgive her for the shellacking that the University of North Dakota gave my college hockey team this year in the NCAA playoffs.  

Fire Agate Necklace

About a year ago, I bought a fire agate cabochon from a fellow artisan lapidary.  Last evening, I had an inspiration when I looked at the stone again.  I saw how to put it together with Sterling and Fine silver to make the pendant for a necklace.  Single stones seem destined to make necklaces or rings.

Using sheet Sterling Silver, I pierced out the shape of the stone and drilled a small hole in the center of the shape (used to pop the stone out while fitting).  Taking the fine silver bezel wire, I soldered the wire to the back of the pendant and set the stone in the serrated edge that I made with a triangular file.  Before setting the stone, the bail was soldered to the back.  All this made a very unique and beautiful necklace:

Necklace,Pendant,Fire Agate,Sterling Silver,Cabochon,Artisan,Handcrafted,Unique,One of a Kind

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Copper Forum Article

I have started writing an article for the Copper Artists Forum about metalsmithing. The first section of this series of articles will be devoted to the tools necessary to do basic metalwork. I spent most of the night taking pictures of tools and labeling them to use in the article (32 so far). Unfortunately, the tools must be available before you begin, but the basic set can be gotten with a fairly small investment. I have seen the set being sold together for right at $1000. Compared to a laser welder or a CAD/CAM operation or a CNC mill, that is downright cheap. Besides, I am an artisan so I prefer to work with my own hands and brain instead of that of a computer.

Also included in the beginning section will be a discussion of the different alternative metals (copper, aluminum, brass and bronze). I will also include silver and gold to provide a perspective for the readers. My problem will be to present the physical and chemical properties of metals in a manner that will be understandable for people who do not necessarily have the education in the sciences, but are very interested in using the materials. In order to work with metals, the smith must have an awareness of the different properties and how they will interact with the smithing techniques.

This will be one of my most challenging educational presentations. Here is an example of using metalsmithing techniques in the production of an alternative metal piece of jewelry.

Druzy and Copper Necklace

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Attempt at Chain Maille

I decided to try to make a simple chain maille item.  I took 25 feet of bright blue Artistic Wire and wound and cut jump rings from it.  The rings are 21 gauge wire with inside diameter of 5.6 mm.  I decided to hurry so I used wire cutters instead of sawing these jump rings.  Next time I will take the time to saw the jump rings as these all had very ragged meeting points.  Using four rings for each section and alternating at 90 degrees the orientation for each section, I crafted the chain.  Cutting the rings also tended to misshape the rings, so definitely sawing will be done the next time.  From wrapping the wire on my jump ring mandrel (long nail) to completion of the finished piece took about 5 hours (300 minutes).  At my usual pricing, this very inexpensive materials bracelet would be $300.  This used about 12 feet of wire, so if it were gold or silver, I could not afford to even make it.  Any way, here is my first attempt ever:

Bracelet,Chain,Chainmaille,Copper,Handmade,Artisan,Unique

John