Saturday, June 28, 2008

making of the SWIRL...

Every once in a while I will receive a special request from a client... and usually I can accommodate (but of course there are boundaries... but that is a discussion for another time!) So, a delightful client of mine asked if I could photo document the process of making her swirly pendant.

We're using family stones (some from a pair of her earrings and others from her grandmothers nose ring) and she wants to share with her family the process of how the piece is made. I think this is a delightful idea!

Now, the pendant/broach is going to be fabricated in platinum, which is INSANELY expensive at the moment. So, I decided to cast it as a solid and have the least amount of waste possible. And because of the intricate nature of the pattern along with how delicate it is, I decided to first cut the pattern out of silver, have a mold made and then adjust the wax.

So... let's see what we've done so far....

...The first step was to shrink and print the pattern and glue it on a 16 ga sheet of silver. From there I pierced and cut out the pattern. But I left the swirl areas solid for a couple reasons...

... Basically I knew that this piece was going to be domed and by leaving these connections it would help to keep the piece from distorting. Also, I knew I would be making a mold of the piece and it would help the wax flow easier.

The next step was to dome the piece. It is a very very low dome... but enough to help hide the bails in the back (where the chain will slide through and the pin stem for when it will be worn as a broach.)

So, this is what the cut out looked like when the paper pattern was removed and sent to have a mold made of it...

... and this is in the wax.

So, I started changing the shape. Thinning, softening and curving the different parts of the swirl. The purple is a low temperature melting wax, called Perfect Purple (I call it purple-nurple... I'm such a 5 year old), that allows me to add to the blue wax without completely distorting it with heat.

The blue tubes are for bezel setting eight 2mm diamonds...

... see, diamonds! Hehehe. The stones will be set level with the setting, but in the casting process you leave them slightly higher to make sure everything casts well.

This is the sketch and final wax. Pretty similar, huh? NOW, in the center I placed the 18K bezel set diamond belonging to the clients' grandmother just to see the scale of the pendant. There are 3 more 18K bezel set diamonds that will sit in the 3 other open swirls (the will remain in the 18K bezels and be laser welded into place... I'll explain more of that later.)

The final size of the pendant/broach is around the size of a quarter. I couldn't make it any smaller because it would loose all the details and just be crammed with the diamonds.

I decided to make an RTV mold (room temperature vulcanized) of the wax. The reason is because I spent so long on this, and for the amount of the details, I would hate for it to die in the casting process (which is not totally uncommon when dealing in platinum.) I should have it done by Thursday (before the Jeweler's Building closes for the 4th of July for a couple of weeks.)

I'll keep you posted on the progress!

BUT you may not hear from me for a few days... my computer has to go to the Apple Store because the display is going (it did this freaky fuzz out thing today!) So be patient with me and check back every once in a while!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Maori Koru

A few potential clients came to me looking for wedding bands based on the Maori Koru...

It's similar to a fiddle head fern. There are a few wedding bands out there based on this pattern, but I don't feel like it was a good translation... it appeared more 'swirly' than anything. So, I came up with this idea...

It would make the pattern visible by 3 sides and the top (or bottom) view would be a good representation of the pattern.

I'll keep you posted on their decision!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

some quick photos...

I finished polishing a couple wedding bands for clients... the only problem is when I put a really high polish on a domed piece of jewelry it does on photograph well! I'll need to try to photograph them again later, but I'll show you the photos that, unfortunately, show me in the reflection!

This is a men's Palladium wedding band...

And this will be the wedding band to match the antique ring...

The wedding band will have diamonds set in the crescent section and on the little leaves on the sides...

... I gotta say, it will be pretty sweet looking when it's done!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I started typing out this super long tirade about the jewelers building and rude people and such... but I need to edit it (there are lots of 4 letter words in it... and my blog is more PG-13, so I can't have that!)

So how about I just say nighty night and post the photos tomorrow... will that make you all happy? Come on... pictures always make you happy!

Until tomorrow...

Monday, June 16, 2008

catching up...

Unfortunately, the insomnia is back. I had a solid three or three and a half months of sleep... but it's been pretty spotty again since around Memorial Day. The only thing is I can survive fairly well for a while... but then it finally catches up with me. And that time is now.

So, I forced myself to yoga this evening (in hopes that if I really wear myself down, I will actually sleep!) I pushed myself thru the first 5 poses or so... then I started doing only 1 set out of every position... then I just laid there for the rest of the class. It was pretty pitiful! But I went (even tho I was praying that I wouldn't find a parking spot so I could just go back home! HA!)

But being so exhausted, it gave me a chance to catch up on receipts, bills and correspondence. Woo-hoo! My days are so exciting, hehehe.

Anyhoo, I have all kinds of things I'm working on... mainly wedding bands! Well, it's that time of year! I'm making one pair that is based on the china pattern that the client had registered for, some very contemporary undulating wavy bands and some antique bands. I'm also in step two of making the swirly pendant (I'm documenting all the steps for the client... I love showing how things are made!) along with the moon pendant. And meeting with some more clients for more wedding bands! There will be lots of photos to follow!

And I'll tell you if I start sleeping again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Moon Wax

Just a quick photo of the Moon Pendant I'm working on. It is about the size of a nickel. The wavy surface will not be as wavy in the final piece (I'll buff it down to a soft undulating wavy surface.) That surface will hold a bunch of tiny flush set diamonds... with one larger diamond right at the tip of the moon.

The back will have something special engraved on it. And I have a DELIGHTFUL idea on how to do it! I want my client (that will be giving this gift) to write out the engraving in her handwriting. I will then transfer her words to the pendant and engrave it in her handwriting. How cool would that be???

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

those little *%^&$!!!

When I woke up I decided to go check on my squirrel proof planters. Oh, what did I see...

Two of my cages were ripped off! Crikies! One was on my porch and the other is missing. I looked all around the house... in the shrubs... in the neighbors yards... it's no where! Seriously, I think they carried it back to the nest as a trophy of their triumph over the planter cages. Or maybe a trophy of my ever dwindling sanity.

But they must have been angry, so they shredded my cuke plants...

I'm so glad that I hadn't given the extra cuke plants away yet.

Sal thinks I should just give up on my veggies. Nope. Ain't gonna happen. I will fight these little freeking monsters with everything I've got.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

my squirrely situation...

Ugh. The flipping squirrels in my yard.

I attempted the pepper and chili pepper thing... but the amount that I had to use to keep the squirrels out I started fearing that all of my veggies were going to taste like pepper and be awfully spicy! So, on to Plan B... squirrel proof the planters.

I purchased some metal screen (the kind that is in a screen door) and made little domes over my plants. It is light enough that water and sunlight can easily get into my plants but heavy enough to keep those little monsters out of the planters.

I'm half expecting to come out tomorrow and find a squirrel trapped in my planter, eating away... if that happens, I'll have my camera ready.

For some reason they only like to dig in my long planters (I had to start new lettuce seeds today) but leave my small pots alone, so they are all thriving...

OH! But I do have 13 extra Burpee Bush Cucumber Plants. Pretty much all of my seeds came up. Amazing!

Anybody need one? I guess I'll take 'em to yoga tomorrow morning and see if anybody can give them a good home.

Poor Sal, I warned him that our deck would look like a jungle... I don't think he fully believed me!

catching my breath...

Sal and I had a jammed packed weekend! It was wonderful, but I'm still trying to recover from it!

Friday night we met up with our friends Erika and David for dessert (who brought over strawberry rhubarb pie! woo hoo!) and to finalize the designs for their wedding bands. And I must say... they will be insanely cool!

Saturday we sailed up to Marblehead on our friend Chris' Sailboat.

Actually, we ended up motoring up to Marblehead because there was NO wind what so ever! Look at the water behind Sal and I... it's like glass! We did get to sail a bit in Boston Harbor, and that was it. But even tho we really didn't get the chance to sail, we had such a delightful day! Fresh air, sunlight and the ocean... oh, and lots of chatting. Ahhhh.

Chris looks so content. What man wouldn't?

So , we got up to Marblehead around 7 PM and decided to stay for the night. I found an Inn (not quite a B&B... not quite a hotel) that had a cancellation and got a decent price on the flipping HUGE room. Sal and I both wished that we had more time up there... but Sal had a Tee Time with his buddies on Sunday. So, we enjoyed our evening at a local Pub with some friends and food and a band playing lots of Beatles and Paul Simon and the Grateful Dead. I loved it and sang along to EVERY song... Sal just smiled and laughed at me.

Sunday, we got up, had brunch and caught the 441 bus to Wonderland then the Blue Line to the Green Line to the Red Line plus a 10 minute walk, e voila, 2 hours later we were home! But for only 10 minutes to pack Sal up and send him out the in 95 degree heat for a 2 PM Tee Time! Uck!

And right when he returned Sunday evening, he showered up and we met up with a couple of my childhood camp buddies and their significant others. It was delightful catching up... and I look forward to more evenings with them.

And we finished our weekend with passing out on Sunday night, waking up insanely early Monday morning and putting Sal on a 6AM flight back to Arkansas!

And so it goes!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

cleaned up images...

I finally took some time out and cleaned up the images from the swirly rings and put them on my website. Here the link to the women's set and here is the link to the men's.

Now, when I say I 'clean up' images, it means that I open the image in Photoshop and rubber stamp out dust on the piece or the foreground, finger prints on the polished surfaces, the wax used to hold the ring in a straight standing position, and my reflections on the polished surfaces. Also, I adjust (or try to adjust) the color and the levels so it shows as close to the metal and stone color as possible. Just so you know, I don't alter the piece in a way to make it look better... I don't have that many Photoshop skills.

As a side note, if you are over 18, do a search on YouTube for 'You Suck at Photoshop' and learn a few techniques and laugh your a$$ off in the process (Kelly was the first to introduce me to it.) This is what TIME said about the series...

So who is responsible for the success of the 10-part serial?
The series features a hapless, angry, cuckolded,
mad-Photoshop-skillz-enabled narrator named
Donnie Hoyle and does three things amazingly
well: it gives a terrific overview of some key
Photoshop techniques; it has an oddly compelling
narrative; and it's wildly funny.

Click here to read the whole article.

Okay... back to work!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

glibby gloggby glubbie

So, a client came to me with a very sweet idea. It's a good friends father (they're like a second family) and he wanted rings for his two daughters.

It all stemmed from a ring he designed years ago for himself in gold with a black star sapphire. Later, when he proposed to his wife, he had one made for her as the engagement ring. Now, he wants one of each of his girls. I think that is such a delightful idea!

The style isn't something I do too often, it's VERY organic, but was a total blast to make!

Unlike the original, I made this from wax. The original version was made from lots of naturally melted pieces of gold and tons of solder. I wanted to avoid all the solder.

Because it is so very organic, all I could do is think of the is the song 'Good Morning Starshine.' It has a section that goes 'glibby globby glubie, libby lobbie lubie, la la la lo lo' and I sang that over and over and over again while I made the ring! Ha! I believe it was originally written for the musical 'Hair' (making it's debut in 1967) but has been preformed by all kinds of people... including the version I attached to this post! Take a peek. It's HORRIBLE! Horribly funny, that is!

Do you know who that is??? Beverly D'Angelo! Mrs. Ellen Griswold... from the vacation movies with Chevy Chase! Hahahaha! Classic!

moon pendant

A client wants a pendant that is clean and simple (can be worn with a gown or with jeans) for her sister. Something to reflect her sister's childhood (she always had a telescope and love the stars) and has diamonds from different family members (one approximate quarter carat and the rest are itty bitty random ones.)

So... I came up with this simple circular pendant. It will have a very slightly raised moon encompassing the little flush set diamonds representing the stars in the sky. The larger diamond will be bezel set right at the bottom point of the crescent.

We'll see if this is the right direction!

Monday, June 02, 2008

new wedding band...

I am working on the wedding band to match the antique style engagement ring (I just finished the wedding jewelry recently.) So, here is the wax version...

There will be only one wedding band (unlike other wedding set I recently finished.) The part that wraps around the head is a crescent shape which will be set with diamond tapering from the largest in the middle down to the itty-bitty ones on the sides. The shoulders of the ring shank will mimic the leaf shapes on the original engagement ring and will also have bead set diamonds.

I'm really thrilled with this design. It's very beautiful in its simplicity, but contains one of my favorite antique elements... the crescent moon shape. I have come across many antique (Victorian, Nouveau and Deco) broaches that were a crescent shape with tapered diamonds. I know it is hard to imagine what this will look like in metal with diamonds, but I promise that this is going to be soooo beautiful when finished!

damn squirrels!

Nothing says spring/summer like planting veggies. Seeing we only have a deck, I did a few planter boxes. Well, Sunday morning I woke up to holes dug up all throughout the boxes (except for the cukes), but I chalked it up to the strong rain and wind.

Well, I just walked outside to take a few photos of a client's wax... and what do I see??? FOUR SQUIRRELS IN MY PLANTERS! I think Norman, my screaming red squirrel, may have been a mama. So, I screamed (because, as I found out the hard way, they charge when they are scared) and ran inside. After a minute or so, I went back out with camera in hand. There was only one left, but he was hanging out in my gutter on the roof (we basically live in an attic.)

So, here's a photo of one of these little monsters...

... if you see him, run! He may charge you!


I found information on how to prevent squirrels from killing my garden. I sprinkled ground pepper all over my planters, because apparently squirrels have a keen sense of smell and dislike pepper. I'll keep you posted on if it works!
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