Friday, May 27, 2011

GS: Etsy Treasury

Happy Friday!

I woke up to an email from Etsy telling me that my upcycled Lemon Ring was featured in one of the Etsy Treasuries. Cool! Go ahead and take a peek!

But it seeing it with all of the other listings, I realized I need to photograph my Etsy stuff with bright colored backgrounds. My fine jewelry looks nice on a dark background, but whimsical pieces new to be fun and bright!

But that's a project for another day. I'll just be happy that somebody likes my ring ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ME: Finally Starting to Look Like a Chair

I haven't done a chair update in a while, which is bad on my part since the chair is nearly finished.

So, last you saw we were up to the eight way tie, I have made some good progress since then. It is really amazing how my empty little wooden box is all of a sudden looking like a chair.

On top of the springs you add burlap...

And then you made edge roll. An edge roll is a burlap stuffed with cotton (rolled and stitched) and added to the edges of the chair to start creating soft edges...

Now, the front edge roll actually came from the original upholstery of the chair. It is not made from cotton stuffing but a cork tube. This will help keep the shape of the front of the chair. Now, to keep that in place, I had to stitch it onto the burlap covered seat...

When I was done adding the burlap and the edge rolls, I had to stitch the springs to the burlap. This is to make the springs move with the burlap when somebody sits on the chair. This is just a quick basting stitch, so there isn't much rhyme or reason other than the fact that you have to catch 3 spots on each spring...

(You only have to catch 2 spots on each of the back springs since they don't see as much action as the seat.)

Once all of that is done, you move onto the cotton and foam. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of these stages. But from there, you add the muslin. Now, if you send something out to get upholstered, they may or may not use muslin, but for us in class , it is like a dry run before we cut our expensive fabrics!

E voila... it's looking like a chair all of a sudden! And at this phase, I couldn't stop sitting on it. I know, silly, but damn it's was more comfortable than I thought would be!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

GS: Stacking Ring(s)

One of my first ever custom jobs was stacking rings... and I haven't had an order for any since. So, it is only apropos to have one of my last custom jobs be stacking rings.

I started with making a very whimsical band with round and modified diamond shapes. While it the shapes seem that they wouldn't stack/fit together well, sometimes you can force the square peg in the round hole and it just works...

I decided to stop at this stage and make a mold. I really liked the simplicity of the shapes and thought they would make wonderful simple stacking rings. Or possibly cool wedding bands. Or maybe the inclusion of flush set stones in the round sections. And the possibilities are endless!

Then I continued on, and finished the 14K white gold ring (below) by adding a prong head, basic engraving to mimic the look of stones in the band and milgrain. Now, this is the first of 4 or 5 rings. The opal is the birth stone of the client's first child, and the plan is to add more rings for future children along with her and her husband's birthstones.

If you notice, the photo doesn't seem shot in my normal style. That is because I used somebody else's light box. We all have our own style. I shoot my pictures in a fabric light box with natural light on black paper. This was in a light box with about 20 different lighting options, a glass floor and crinkled black tissue paper underneath the glass. While it's not my style... and the crinkled paper feels a little 80's to me... it still works to show you the ring.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

GS: The Polka Dot Process, Part 2

Okay... I shouldn't really be calling these polka dots. Polka dots are 'cutsey'... that is not how I would describe these rings. I know the state that they are in now (in this photo) the red gold is virtually screaming adorable polka dots, but that's not the actual intent. This just goes to show how many stages a custom piece of jewelry goes through.

We were going for something more complex... more layered and textured. Normally, when I'm talking about layering textures, I'm usually speaking of fabrics. But you can layer textures in metal too.

For example, anybody can put a satin finish on a ring, there are many different ways to do it. But there is only one way achieve an incredible satin finish... start with a high polished finish. I know, sounds counter productive to polish something only to make the surface matte again. But the polish shows through, adding a wonderful lightness and luster to the satin finish.

And then there are the little details that I like to add in, like cross hatching. Yes, I like to overlay my satin finish in different directions, which I feel adds not only another layer of depth but allows the light to reflect off different areas at different times.

Now, in the image of the vase, you saw this wonderful geometric pattern spread across the vase. It seemed sporadic in some areas and carefully plotted radiating circles in others, all creating a wonderful final 'layer' for this vase. For our purposes, in jewelry, we needed to find a way to recreate this layer.

We played around with the idea of drilling the holes (but that looked a bit Swiss cheese), half drilling the holes, using a ball bur (which reflected like little diamonds and not the look we were going for in these rings), using a ball bur with a hammer finish on top... and a few other ideas. Nothing seemed to fit, they were all TOO geometric, not organic enough. Then the decision was to go with selective planishing...

And finally, to complete the rings, both rings had to be finished first to a high polish and then brought back to a satin. And this is the final pair of rings...

They are not polka dot anymore. They are complex and subtle all at the same time.

The reason I wanted to share a lot of information about the process of building these rings is because even though they look like simple wedding bands from a far, a great deal of time, thought and effort went into every step designing and fabricating them. I think this point is lost on a great deal of people... they are not just spit out of a machine or picked up at a mall, these were labored over.

And, in my humble opinion, these are not just wedding bands but small pieces of art.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

GS: The Polka Dot Process, Part 1

It all started with a picture of a vase by Kitamura Junko...

There is so much to say about this beautiful piece. The geometry, the pattern lay out, the layering of color and texture... just amazing! So we had plenty to work with.

We started simply with an 18K white gold ring and 18K red gold wire stock. I had to carefully drill each hole directly through the ring (to make each dot visible from the inside and outside) just a hair smaller than the wire to be inserted. The reason is because the tighter the fit, the better the solder joint.

Now, you're probably wondering how you make the wire fit into a hold with a smaller diameter. Simply put.. you taper the end and hammer the hell out of it till it fits.

I proceeded to drill all the holes in the ring and lay out the 3 sizes of red gold wire in preparation for soldering...

While it was technically soldering the pieces together, I would actually consider it more of welding. The reason being is because the flow point of the solder is very close to the melting points of the two metals.

I used 19K white gold solder which melts at 1670 degrees. 18K white gold melts at 1730, just over the solder flow temp, and 18K red gold melts BELOW the solder flow temp at 1655. This is why the end of the red gold are melted after soldering...

This is also why I had to leave an excess of gold wire for each dot. Seeing the melting temp of the red gold was below the flow point of the solder, I needed that little extra red gold material for melting. If I had each of those wires cut flush with the white gold ring and then attempted to solder the pieces together, there would be a very good chance that the dot would actually melt and leave a divot at the top surface. And if that did occur, I would be forced to remove quite a bit of the white gold band to meet with the lowest points of the divot... or even worse, have to flow red gold solder into each divot to attempt to fix any mistakes.

But thankfully, with taking a great deal of time preparing, the joints cleaned up beautifully...

I have to admit, I have always wanted to make polka dot rings...

But we aren't quite done yet! To be continued...

Monday, May 02, 2011

GS: Compass rose ring

I have always loved the idea of a compass ring... you know, to help you find your way home. And I don't know how many different clients I have suggested the idea of making a compass rose ring, but apparently they don't get lost as much as I do ;)

I think an antique map with an ornate compass rose is beautiful...

Well, I finally found the perfect client! While this isn't quite the ring design I always envisioned (I wanted to do a little more detail, red gold inlay, engraved fleur de lis, etc) but I think this is clean and simple... and delightful!

This compass rose ring is in palladium with a collet set rhodolite garnet and hand engraving.

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