Monday, June 29, 2009

On the bench...

Just a quick post to show you what's on the bench for the beginning of the week. It's an array of wedding bands, in 14K palladium white gold, 18K white gold, 18K yellow gold and palladium. They all need a great deal of work to complete them... stone setting, inlay, hand engraving, additions of other parts... etc. So much to do!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Squirrel Invasion...

Okay, if you follow my blog, you know I am a jeweler, with a side job of squirrel wrangler. I have spent the past 2 years fighting those evil little furry monsters... attempting various techniques to keep them from digging up and eating my garden. But as this spring started, I didn't really notice any around. I started my herb planters without much trouble, so I thought I was in the clear. Until Wednesday.

So, I was having company the other night and decided that it is the perfect time of year to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie. Actually... this pie...

I had taken a photo of it because I thought I would post the recipe (and I still will at the bottom of the post.) Pretty huh? It smelled good, too. And apparently it smelled so good that it drove a neighborhood squirrel INSANE!

As I put my pie into the oven, I noticed a squirrel scratching at my kitchen window screen. Now... my apartment is on a 3rd floor and my kitchen window is 10"x10" square. So I yelled at him and he scurried away. A few minutes later, there he was again, this time, hanging upside down and glaring at me. This time I yelled and slammed the window shut... and watched him run across my deck. I thought this was over.

So about an hour passes, the pie comes out of the oven. It is really warm in the apartment, so I opened up the window again, and started to vac the vacuuming the apartment. After a few minutes, I walk in the kitchen and there he was, crawling through my kitchen window! I started screaming bloody murder! And he started freaking!

He kept jumping up at the window, but couldn't get back out the hole. Then he ran for the screen door, to the deck, and kept throwing himself at it and bouncing off... I could just see his little squirrel brain thinking 'maybe this time.' I didn't know what to do... so the logical thing to do was to scream! When I finally pulled myself together (or, actually, Sal talked me down) I ran down the front stairs, closing all of the doors behind me, ran around to the opposite side of the house, up the back stairs with the intentions to open the back door (to the deck.)

When I got up there, he wasn't at the door anymore and it was REALLY quiet. I thought that, just possibly, he went back out the window. So I slowly opened the door and peeked in... no sign of him. Then I slowly crept in and it all seemed clean. And right as I started to let my guard down... there he came, flying out of the rafters and landed on the couch! EEEKKKKKKKKK!

I ran back out the door... and finally, about 2 minutes later, he followed me. He didn't really do any damage, except for the screen...

Needless to say, I need to get my screen replaced with metal mesh this time. Damn city squirrels.

But, I will chalk this all up to the fact that my pie smelled OH SO GOOD. So if you would like to tempt the squirrely gods, here you go...

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie...

This recipe makes 2 normal pies... or one huge DEEP pie!

5 cups of flour
1 lb cold Crisco (I used 1/2 plain 1/2 butter flavored)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + cold water (add enough water to make 1 cup total)

9” pie plates… crust for bottom and for top

After measuring flour, sift into large bowl with sugar. Cut in Crisco until mixture looks coarse (little pebbles of Crisco.) Add ice water / egg mixture gradually until dough is formed; DO NOT OVER MIX DOUGH, IT IS READY WHEN STILL CRUBMLY. Put dough in refrigerator.

But if you are too swamped, Pillsbury makes a great option in the fridge section of the grocery store!

1 lb Rhubarb, washed and cut into 1” pieces
1+ lb Strawberries**
1 cup sugar
3 heaping tsp corn starch

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl for pie filling and let sit for 10 minutes.

Roll out bottom pie crust. Fill with strawberry rhubarb mixture. Top with crust (either solid or lattice.) Brush on milk and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Back at 375 for until pastry begins to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Turn temp to 350 degrees; bake till fruit is cooked, about 20-30 minutes or until fruit is sort when knife is inserted.

**This time of year, I but lots of random berries (raspberry, blueberry, etc) and if you have a little of something left over, toss it in! It can only add to the flavor of summer!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Final Baguette Diamond Wedding Band

Okay, how spectacular are those bands?!?! They are both platinum and the woman's contains 5 baguette diamonds totaling 1.5 cts.

Honestly, I don't know if there is much else to say. Enjoy!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let's Match!

While I love making engagement rings, I do love the challenge of attempting to make a wedding band to match/compliment an existing engagement ring. So, I have another 'family' engagement ring to match! Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it, because I get the feeling that the client doesn't want to be without it. So we're talking about making a nice straight band (not a matching/fitted band.)

The engagement ring is a beautiful Deco-era platinum ring with an approximate 1.5ct European cut diamond flanked by some single cuts. The client was thinking first of a 'bending wheat' pattern with diamonds set in the bend. I also came up with a few other ideas...

They liked the idea of combining the first and second band... the spacing of the first pattern and the 'vine-i-ness' of the second. So this is what I'm thinking...

If we move the diamonds from the leaves to the top of the swirl (shown in red), we could keep it more compact. But... if they want to... we can go all out and have diamonds in both the swirls and the leaves ;)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's not easy being Green...

Kermit said it best when he sang that it's not easy being green. While he was talking about the color of his reptilian skin, I'm talking about managing my life in an eco friendly way.

I do the best I can with my business... only dealing with local (mainly East Coast, if not nearly exclusively Boston) vendors, I only use recycled metals (a good amount of the time melting it myself), talking people into using family stones, trying to find good looking yet eco friendly packaging, etc. But sometimes I have problems carrying off of this into my day to day life.

When it comes to the little things, I am usually okay. I always try to have cloth grocery bags or refuse bags at stores, I love shopping at the farmers market and even planted my own little garden, I take the T or walk whenever I can, I switched out most of my light bulbs... you know, the little stuff. But I'm trying to be better. Because I preach to my clients that they should reuse what they have and I'm trying to follow my own advice!

Now, why am I going off on this little diatribe, you may ask? Well, it's because I want one of these bad boys...

It's a Madsen Cargo Bike. Just think, I could toss my groceries AND my wiener dogs in there! Okay, maybe not the boys, but groceries! Or my beach stuff... I bet I could fit a small cooler, 2 chairs and some towels in there.

Now, I usually don't pimp out other companies, but (1) it's pretty sweet industrial design and (2) if you click on the link I get entered to win one of these. So help a sista' win a sweet ride and click on the link ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wedding Bands EVERYWHERE!

I have been up to my eyeballs in wedding bands again. Yesterday I sent 12 new waxes off to be cast... wee! But today was a polishing day and I finished this bad boy. Lots of platinum and lots of shine. Oooooo... pretty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coat of Arms

I had recently reconnected with an old friend from Norway (thank you, Face Book) who would love to have her family coat of arms made into a pendant. But not your typical pendant, something that has almost a Roman coin style (an image stamped onto a somewhat round shaped disk.) I am thinking that the image can be the deepest (clearest) in the area of the crest and then become softer as it moves towards the edges.

This is the original coat of arms looks like..

And this is what I am thinking...

I'll keep you posted if it's a go!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Civil War Era Engagement Ring... cont'd

The complimentary wedding bands to the Civil War era engagement ring are finished! And, may I say, they are BEAUTIFUL! But I will let them speak for themselves...

Friday, June 12, 2009


Even though it would seem that 'organic' pieces of jewelry would be the easiest to make, they usually prove to be fairly difficult. A client is looking for a bypass ring with an organic style... but has very specific aspects that she wants with the design.

This was attempt #1:

This design swirls into the center stone... it reminds me of the eye of a storm. But the client wanted the 'peaks' of the metal around the stone to be off center... changing the axis.

This is attempt #2:

So, I changed the axis of the bezel and created a 'peak' off center. Also I scratched in the line traveling around the band where we will be including inlay.

I'm not sure if this will be the final design... haven't heard yet from the client. But I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Estate Diamonds

I get a great eal of requests for 'estate' diamonds. What really is an estate diamond, well, for lack of a better term... secondhand. But there is nothing wrong with that... only good. while clothing becomes thread barren and or consumer good go out of date... a diamond is just as beautiful new or used. Actually, I am currently searching for one for my own engagement ring. I attempt to practice what I preach.

And then there is always the feeling of staying on the right side of karma by knowing your diamond wasn't mined just for you... it will shine for many ;)

But I came across a great quote that fits perfectly...

"Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all."
- Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Casting Process...

Some time ago, I had somebody do a 'blog request' about how the casting process works. I agreed to do it, then completely forgot. But now I remembered, so here goes!

Step 1:

Carve your wax. For this example, we will use a round coin with an X carved into it. There are always a few things to keep in mind while carving a wax, as in thickness, angles, etc.

Step 2:

Spru up your wax. A spru is a low melting temperature piece of wax that is attached to the carved wax. This spru creates a path for the metal to low into your carved wax. There shouldn't be any sharp angles in connecting the spru to the wax, because sharp edges could break off and damage the casting. The spru wax should flow smoothly into the carved wax. There are also concerns about the shape of the carved wax, the angle in which it sits for the metal to flow, if multiple sprus are needed... but that is advanced casting work.

Step 3:

Attach your spru to a rubber flask base. The base has a convex dome, in which the spru was is insurted into a hole in the middle. Then you cover the base with wax and soften the edges of where the wax meets the base... again, no sharp angles.

Step 4:

Insert the flask over the wax and into the rubber base. What is a flask, you may ask? Well, a flask is a tube of steel with 2 open ends and perferated around the sides. What is the purpose of this... well, you'll see in a second ;)

Step 5:

Cover the perferated sides with masking tape. Why do this? The next part of this step is pour invenstment into the top of the flask. Investment is similar to plaster, which dries fairly quickly. But to help the investment dry quickly and evenly, the perferations in the metal allows air to flow (even with tape over the holes.)

Step 6:

Remove the tape and the base of the flask. By removing the base, you now have a concave negative space in your investment. Then, you place the flask in a kiln and heat. This melts the wax and it flows out of the investment... leaving a negative space of your carved wax coin.

Step 7:

While flask is good and hot (straight from the kiln) you turn it upside down. The now reveals the concave divot created by the rubber base... which is the perfect place to pour in your metal. The liquid metal flows into the divot, into the spru and finally (if everything goes as planned) into the negative space of the carved wax coin.

You actually need more metal than the weight of the carved wax coin only. This is because the metal cools VERY VERY rapidly and can freeze on even the hottest of surfaces. But if you use more metal that just the carved wax coin, it allows the metal to retain some heat while flowing into the desired area. Also, you should have enough metal to not only fill the spru, but the concave divot created by the rubber base. While the metal cools, it shrinks. And by having this extra amout of metal, it shrinks from into the negative space. Why? I have no clue... I'm just an artist, not a physicist.

But, while it shrinks inward, it takes it from that concave surface... we call this the button.

Step 8:

You break off the investment (in water) and remove the flask. E voila, you have your metal coin... well, attached to a spru and a button. Now the fun begins, saw off the spru and cleaning the metal coin.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Civil War Era Engagement Ring

I was approached to make a matching wedding band to a Civil War Era family engagement ring, approximately 150 years old. It is a beautiful ring! We played around with patterns that would compliment the ring, but still have it's own personality, and decided on a hand engraved leaf pattern.

But to start, I had to make the band to match up to the engagement ring. Because of the shape/size of the original ring, I decided it would be best to bevel the top section at a 45 degree angle and let in flow into the sides of the shank.

The men's band will have the same engraving traveling down the 2 outer edges of the ring.

Here they are so far (before the engraving)...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Back in the swing of things...

Let me start off by saying that I know I have been horrible about posting. And I have been reminded many times by different people, especially by my favorite Laney who loves to call and give me s*** about being such a slacker. Okay, I have been a slacker with posting, but not with work ;)

Here is a quick shot of a recent wedding band. The client wanted the 'perfect snowboard power line' featured on his ring. What he meant by that is the carving that is left in the snow during a turn... narrow at the straight and wide at the curve. So we started with this image...

As we discussed further, he wanted a way to incorporate a second intersection snowboard line to signify his wife. What we decided to do have the perfect powder line on the exterior and the second line on the interior. If you were able to see through the ring, you would see that they intersect. And finally, they wanted a particular inscription on the inside of the ring, but were not sure how to incorporate it without disturbing the wavy line on the inside. I came up with the idea that the text should follow the same wavy line and the only way to accomplish this was to create the ring in a CAD program and have it milled into wax, then cast as a solid.

So here it is...

Locations of visitors to this page