Friday, October 15, 2010

Humble Beginnings

Earlier this summer when Bri and I hosted a BBQ I was embarrassed when a friend asked to see my jewelry studio. It was a bit of a reck because I had been jammin' it to finish a project...and let's admit it, my 'studio' isn't much more than a used craftsmen bench with drawers that barely open (bought from ReUse Center), my tank, torch, a pickle pot, and a few essential tools. All located in our less than glamorous basement. Not exactly a room with a view, but the cement walls and floor make it a safe working space usable year-round (our garage is not insulated).

So I thought I would chronicle my studio space since I plan to make improvements (slowly but surely). Here are pics of my start.
A view from the top...
I have to give Bri a BIG thanks because he installed the lights above my work station as well as the outlet. We have plans to make my bench an L shape, Bri already installed another outlet. This summer we did a minor remodel in the house; took down a wall and put in wood flooring. We saved the 2x4's from the wall and will likely upcycle them to expand my work space (you can see them peaking into the pics). I also have a peg board on which I plan to hang my tools.

I would love to hear any organizational ideas you have or great DIY blogs/websites you know of, so please be sure to let me know in the comments section below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Larimar Necklace #5

This post is part of a series answering just how I do what I do. I'm constructing this piece in conjunction with my blog posts. Last time I left off with attaching jumprings to hold the chain.
Setting the Stone
At this point I'm in the home stretch! All the soldering steps are complete and I've trimmed most of the excess silver with my coping saw and have done some filing/sanding. All this manipulation has caused a little work hardening of the silver so I decided to heat the piece again to soften the bezel before setting the stone.
I haven't mentioned it before, but after soldering steps or using flame on silver I put my piece in a pickle. I bought my pickle pot from target for $5! Once it soaks for a bit, I remove my piece and rinse it in a water and baking soda solution to neutralize the acidic solution.
To set the stone, I simply put it into place and use burnishing tools (pictured left) to gently bend the bezel over the sort of 'hugs' the stone and securely holds it  in place.
 Top views after setting the stone...
Side views...
If you recall from my sketch, I debated putting some larimar beads in the chain. After thinking on it I wanted to do something to add a little more visual interest since it is such a simple setting. I was thinking possibly an asymmetric twist, but as it turns out larimar beads I have are a bit greener then this beautiful blue larimar. So they just didn't fit. Stay tuned to see what I decided on to finish this piece once and for all! 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Don't Forget To Look Up

Saturday was too beautiful to squirrel away my time in my basement studio. Bri was off to Midland with his dad to make a visit to his grandparents so I took Rudi to Independence Lake County Park.
There's no being quiet in the woods today...the leafs crunching under our feet contributed to the cacophony of sound at this beautiful park.
Who said we couldn't go for a swim? I took off my shoes, rolled up my pants and went for it!
Of course there were sun-lit leaves...
Pretty juniper berries littering our walkway...
Funny bug patterns on trees (emerald ash-borer killed this tree)
And pretty red and green moss growing on fence posts...
Today is absolutely beautiful. I love Michigan! 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Live and Learn

At first glance this may not look so bad. I didn't bother to do any finishing so it all looks pretty rough (oh and please ignore the Rudi hair on the stone in the pic...). I certainly didn't bother making the chain (yet) which would have brought balance to such a large piece. Sad to say but this is one of those live and learn constructions.

Heart wrenching, but I will probably have to start over. 

The problem, the janky bezel at the top of the stone. Executing the design -which incorporates two silver balls sandwiched between the bezel and the bail- prevented me from properly pushing the bezel toward the stone. I did not anticipate this in my original sketches or even during construction. I was distracted by the challenge of the design overall (soldering the balls into place, positioning wasn't easy). If the stone had not been so thinly cut (and thus the bezel would have larger surface area) this might not have been a problem, but there just wasn't much room for positioning the silver balls. 

Part of me wishes I wouldn't have tried to push the bezel into the stone near the balls, which would have left a slight gap but at least a smooth transition. Instead I tired to go for it and the result was disappointing. In the end, I probably would have been disappointed if I left the gap I'm glad I went as far as trying to make it work...even though it means starting over.

I COULD try and remove the balls, push the bezel properly over the stone, and try and re-solder the balls and bail into place. BUT all this risks breaking the stone under heat or discoloring it. There are some materials I have (Heat Shield) that is supposed to protect stones and used for repair. But at least right now I'm not feeling that adventurous. So I am proposing to use my second favorite design for this will have to tune in later for the finished piece. However, at the moment I'm feeling a little defeated and need to take a bit of a break from this one. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Etsy Metal Anniversray

Those of you who've checked out the blogs I follow may have noticed one called Etsy Metal. This blog has been a great source for me for tips, tricks, and ideas, such as this one which believe it or not I had never heard of until this blog post (and I've been making jewelry for a few years)! Just goes to show there is always something to learn!

While it's always great to spread the word about good resources and blogs, Etsy Metal is celebrating 4 years and I admit this post is partially a shameless attempt to be entered in a drawing where I might win a $50 gift certificate. Wish me luck and spread the word, it really is a great blog!

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