Thursday, September 30, 2010

Garnet deco prototype

The last couple of weeks have been busy with new orders at the studio. The fall brings crisp weather, Steelers football and engagement rings... sshhh, you might be getting one!
I also completed a personal milestone this weekend I spent the summer training for my first marathon that I ran and completed on Sunday in 4:49.
My list of addictions reads
1 - Steelers football
2 - Pie (there isn't a bad kind so take your pick!)
3 - Distance running
I guess it could be worse.

In this weeks post I am starting the prototype for the Garnet Art Deco ring. The first step is to cut a block of wax to the right width for the ring. I then open out the finger hole to the right size. I use dividers and my vernier gauge to mark out the settings for the stones.
I then keep removing material until the outline of the ring starts to take shape. Next week we will open up the setting, clean up the wax and then send it off to casting.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I want to take a bit of time this week to talk about one of my greatest sources of inspiration - precious gems. While I like all gems, Tourmaline and sapphires are top of my list.
In this post I will focus on Tourmalines.
As a designer I am always looking for gems with vibrant colours, that have been expertly cut and faceted. They are like sparkly gumdrops of colour to me and I find them irresistible. When working with a gem, my goal is to design a piece of jewellery that will showcase the stone and take advantage of it's natural beauty.

Tourmaline has one of the largest range of colour of any gem. They can be found in many shades of blue, green, pink, red, orange, yellow, brown. They can be found in many parts of the world with the largest deposits in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Madagascar.
Tourmalines are highly wearable as they are tough, meaning they aren't easy to chip, and they have a hardness of 7.5 on the Mohs scale. This helps them resist sratches. Tourmalines beautiful colour, high luster and wearability make it an ideal stone to use in jewellery. Tourmaline crystals can be faceted, or cut into a cabochon, like the blue tourmaline in the ring above.
Tourmalines can sometimes show Dichroism. Depending on the angle of viewing, a stone can show different shades or intensities of colour at the same time. This makes them very interesting to look at when you rotate the stone.
This one has an icy pink tone to it, I surrounded it with pave set diamonds for a bit of sparkle.
If you are ever in Brazil or Madagascar... or my studio... keep an eye out for tourmaline and it's beautiful range of colour.
Next week I will continue on with the Art Deco Garnet ring.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finishing the texture pendant

There aren't that many steps left to finish the piece, but they are the critical ones. I like bails to be simple so I am soldering on a couple of half loops to thread the chain through. They are going to be hidden at the back so I want them as low profile as possible. I heat the pendant from the back first so that I don't melt my loop before the pendant gets to temperature.
When the tempreature is right, I switch the flame to the front and put the loop in place until the solder flows. I repeat with a second loop and the bail is complete.
Next I need to set the diamonds. I start by laying out the pattern with a marker.
I use a ball burr to create a divot that will guide the drill bit and prevent it from wandering from the spot where I want the hole.
I carefully drill the holes. I use a 1 mm drill bit. They can be a little fragile so I take care not to break one off and get it lodged in the hole where the diamond is supposed to go... I am setting the diamonds off camera, I can't give away all my secrets now can I?
Here is the finished pendant. Modern, organic, playful, funky. Success!!!
Next week we start the prototype for the garnet ring. I am looking forward to creating some Art Deco awesomeness!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Texture pendant almost complete

Last week we finished by annealing the metal to soften it and get it ready for the next round of hammering. This week I did one round of hammering to round out the shape a bit more and then here I start using the back of my riveting hammer that I have ground to a long sharp edge to give me the long hammer texture that I am looking for.

I am going to have to hit the pendant several hundred times to get the texture even. Sounds like fun to me! I slowly turn the pendant as I hit to give the hammering a radiating pattern.
For added interest I am adding some longer sawed lines to stand in contrast to the shorter deeper lines created by the hammer. Sawing is also way more accurate so I can fill in any spots that the hammer missed.
I do a light emery clean up to remove any burrs or spitches left from the hammering and to get the metal ready for polishing
Three levels of polishing compound and the metal starts to look nice and sparkly!
I love texture!!! It's like candy for the eyes. It makes you want to pick the piece up and investigate it. As a maker I am always looking for things that will engage my potential clients. Once we add the diamonds we will have texture and sparkle... a deadly combination. Next week I might advise you to look away, or feel a gravitational pull like compulsion to buy this piece...
O.k. Kidding aside. We are almost finished. Next week I will solder on the little loops that will act as the bail and hold the chain. I will also set the diamonds and do the final polish. Then it's the big reveal!