Monday, October 11, 2010

MooShu can be happy with the most trivial things.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I got home from work today and guess what was waiting for me?!

A box of new toys for making jewelry.

All of this is stuff I've never used before but I've been dying to try.  I just put in an order on Monday with Contenti, and I wasn't expecting to see my shipment for a week.  But here it is!

It's just like Christmas at my house.  It took me about 5 minutes to rip open the package. 

Whoo hoo!  What did I get!!!???

  • A DRILL PRESS.  Although this is their economy model, it should make it easier for me to make holes in metal and cut-outs in metal (for example, the settings behind my cabs).   

I've wanted it ever since Contenti started carrying it, but it's been out of stock for months.  Until this week.

I especially appreciate this description in their listing:  "The instruction booklet provided with the unit is written in incomprehensible English. For the sake of clarity, we have re-written them."  (So true to life that it's almost funny.)

Yup, no more using my dremel, which is pretty inaccurate for drilling and has made me ruin more than a couple pieces.

  • A NYLON HAMMER.  No, not for me to whack my husband.  But for me to whack silver without marring it.  I'm hoping it works even better than my rawhide mallet.

  • BINDING WIRE.  To place little bits of silver into bondage for me to solder them more accurately.  Never tried it before.  This might prove to be very interesting, fun and, probably, oh so frustrating.  

Or, as those of us in the corporate world are taught to say, "This will be an opportunity."  (ARGH!!!!)

  • A CHARCOAL BLOCK.  Yes, I'm going place my leftover scraps of sterling on this and melt them into little balls of solid silver goodness.

And, best of all, something I should have gotten long ago:

  • AN OPTIVISOR.   5 x, with a loupe.



And yes, my daughter literally just threatened to disown me.



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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just a quick post to show you a new listing in my shop.

This is similar to another bracelet I had in my shop.  I was going to "discontinue" it, but I had a special request from someone.  So I went ahead and made two:  one for her and one for my shop.  (Oh, and then I went ahead and made another one in copper!)

I'm making an attempt to be better in creating some of my jewelry in multiples.

For example, it used to be that I would only make a single pair of earrings.  "Why should I make more", I'd think.  "If I make several and they don't sell, the silver and gemstones will be a loss".

Now that I've established my shop and have a little more experience, I know that I should keep some items always in stock.  (Can't do that with those one-of-a-kind cabs though!  I think that's one of the reasons I love them.)

Right now my sales are a little slow, but that's usually the case in the summer months. (No, no, no, I'm not complaining.) Come December, I'll be rushing around trying to keep up with orders.  I know it's only June, but I want to promise myself to start preparing for Christmas.



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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Bloomington Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Show was HUGE.  3 buildings in the fairgrounds and overflow dealers outside.   I couldn't believe how big it was - but cab sellers were the minority. Tons of people were selling rock slabs and huge amounts of chunks of rock. Despite that, I think I did pretty well.

The only person I met from Etsy that I knew was GemCutter.  It was like meeting an old friend.  I got a chance to see his cabs in person and preview some that he'll have in his Etsy shop later this week. A few of the ones he was going to list went home with me.  (Do you see that huge plume agate and the large Bruno Jasper.  Sorry, they're never going to get listed in his shop as they're mine!)

I thought I bought quite a lot of cabs, but when I laid them out to photograph, it doesn't seem to look like much.  As you can see in the photo I  got some Atlantiscite, plume agates, bruno jasper, imperial jasper, turquoise, a boulder opal, and a bunch of other stuff.  (If you want to see individual photos of the cabs, go to my flickr site. )

It's so nice being able to see the cabs rather than buying them on line.  They look so different in person and you really know what you're getting.  I bought a couple new types that I'd never seen in person, the bruno jasper and the imperial jasper.  I'd never been impressed when I'd seen photos of them.  They looked pretty boring in photos so I never bought them.  But when I saw them in person - WOW!  Especially the Imperial Jasper - it has an amazing inner glow that is so difficult to capture.

It was hotter than heck and I was so exhausted when I got back home. ( I have no idea how the sellers can do it.)  But I'm already planning to go again next year.


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Friday, June 25, 2010

Guess where I'm going this weekend!

(Hmmm, that disclaimer on the page is a bit strange: "Not Responsible For Accidents".  What kind of accidents do you think they've had?  Lapidary artists engaging in fisticuffs in the parking lot?)

I was told this one is the biggest in the Midwest.  I can't wait!  I hope to have some swag to show you when I get back.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

After having worked on an elaborate turquoise necklace, I felt the need to go minimalistic. So I put together this sweet little pendant. It's a lovely nugget of turquoise that I purchased long ago.   It's been waiting patiently in my bead box for far too long. Perhaps it can find an owner and finally feel loved.

Summer has really taken a bite out of my hours on the workbench. I used to have time in the evenings when my daughter was busy with her gymnastics, but during the summer she practices during the day when I’m at my full-time (non-jewelry making, corporate America) job. Plus my older daughter is back home from college and they both want attention from me when I get home from work.

Not only do the kids want attention, but my yard needs attention! Spring and summer is when I make my pathetic attempts at gardening. This year I’ve sworn to get the back yard in shape (I’m sure my husband is laughing as he reads this) although I doubt that I’ll be able to tackle my side yard. (Only one side of the house per year.  Neither my attention span nor my gardening abilities will allow for more!)

And, of course, there is the temptation to just enjoy the summertime. I was definitely doing some of that, this past weekend.  We have an artsy area of town and I was there checking out these  cute little shops that sell hand-crafted jewelry. And there were so many lovely pieces!

One of the shops I visited had some bezel-set pendants under the counter. There were ocean jaspers, laradorites, moonstones, and others. I thought the quality of the cabochons was pretty poor. (Not to brag, but the ones I've acquired put them to shame.)

I asked to see the pendants because I was curious about the prices.  I like to think that someday in the future I might try to market my work to some boutiques and I wanted to check out the potential competition.

Now the cabs were simply set in bezels - I like to think that I put some effort into customizing each setting to bring out the best in each cab.  Still,  when I saw the prices of the pendants I was a little disturbed. They were priced at almost half of what I would charge for my bezel-set cabs!

All were made in Indonesia.  Considering that the shop’s mark-up must be twice of what they paid for the pendants, and that the distributor was making a profit as well as the original shop, I can’t imagine how little the workers must be paid - although it's so likely that the wages they're receiving in Indonesia, although so minimal, are probably crucial to their families' well being and survival.

Right now, based on the cost of materials, equipment, and the amount I pay for taxes, I'm pretty much breaking even.  I can't imagine selling my works to a boutique/shop for 50% of what I charge on Etsy.  Nor can I imagine increasing my prices on Etsy just so that I can reasonably sell to a shop.

I guess I'll just continue to be an independent artist on Etsy for a while longer.


(Sorry for the rambling post.)


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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

 Just finished this necklace this weekend.  (I blogged about this necklace earlier, here and here. )

The centerpiece is a huge Sleeping Beauty turquoise.  It's a beautiful solid blue.  The setting has vines set asymmetrically on one side. Similar vines have been cut out on the back, allowing the blue turquoise to peek through.

The chain has silver and turquoise beads - one set dangles in the back from the clasp and the other set is to one side of the pendant.

This took me too long to make. I kept fiddling with the design and it took me a while to get the bail just right so that the pendant would hang correctly at the neck, without tilting. There is a lot of heavy silver in this one, and the amount of silver in the design on the left made the pendant want to tilt.  But I did get it finally get it right.

The person who originally commissioned this pendant decided not to purchase this piece. The silverwork on it was bigger than she expected.  So you'll be able to find it listed in my Etsy shop.




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Monday, June 21, 2010

MooShu is quite good at fetch. In fact, he's better than any other dog I ever had, even dogs with retriever blood in them!

He has a tiny little tennis ball and, after fetching it, lays it down at my feet to throw it again. If I don't pick it up, he'll pick it up and toss it at me. Slowly he learned that picking something up and tossing it can be a game he can play by himself.

So here's MooShu with an acorn that turns out to make a very nice substitute for a discus.




(Oh, and if you look carefully, you'll see the absolute first appearance of Contrariwise (me!) in this blog.)




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Friday, June 18, 2010

I saw this headline on Drudge yesterday:




Intriguing.  But it couldn't possibly be real heads, could it?  I just had to find out.  So I clicked on the link and the following article came up:





But what the heck is that photo in the lower left????!!!   
















Could it be?????








ARGHHHHH! 





Thursday, June 17, 2010

I’ve been working on the pendant for the past couple weeks. It should have taken me much less time, but I’ve had some problems.

1.  It took me forever to get the bail into a graceful shape that approximates the vines in the rest of the design. Every time I would get the front part right, the back of the bail didn't sit in the right position. But worse still, once I finally got the bail on, the chain wouldn’t balance properly, making the cab look tilted. So I had to “unsolder” the bail and make a new one.

Twice.

(After ruining 5 bails, I’ll know better in the future.)

2.  I also learned that an adjustable chain should not be directly attached to a necklace if you want it to hang straight. (It hangs straight at 18 inches, but is off-center when the chain adjusted to any other length.) So I had to add a jump ring to the bail and string the chain thought it, so that the pendant can move freely.
And then I didn’t have any beads for accents that were the right color. So I made a special trip to a bead shop and bought 2 beads. Just 2 beads. (I spent more on gas to get to the shop than I spent on the beads.)

3.  Thank goodness there’s one mistake I didn’t make. I remembered to oxidize the silver before the turquoise cab is in the setting. (And, oh yes, I learned this the hard way. Most stones aren't stained by the oxidizing solution. Most. Not turquoise.)

It's late now.  I know enough not to work on a piece when I'm tired. Otherwise I'd do a little more fininshing of the sterling,  set the cab, and finally be done!

And now for something that went right – despite me!

This was a custom ring. The buyer purchased this mookaite cab and I worked with her to design the ring. The buyer really wanted the little hemispheres I used in another piece, my Dark Side of the Moon ring, and wanted to incorporate them in her ring.

To be honest, this was not at all the way I envisioned setting the ring. Never in a million years would I have thought of adding those little spheres on either side. But it works!

And right now, it's on the way to the buyer. (I hope she likes it.)



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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I think these are amongst the best cabs in my collection.  Each is so unique and would make an incredible ring or pendant.

I'm offering these for custom designs.  They'll be listed in my shop on Wednesday.

1. Amethyst Sage. I love this stone and  can't seem to pass them up.  This cabochon contains both purple agate and feathery plumes with gold highlights in a lovely assymetrical shape. Size: 25 x 30 mm

2. Galah porcelain agate. This is a very special agate from Agate creek in North Queensland Australia. The pink color combined with the banded patterns is so beautiful. (Collected 15 years ago by a well known opal and agate seller from Queensland Australia.) Size: 20 x 22mm

3. Blue Moss Agate - This Blue Moss is features blue and black mossy inclusions in a clear/milky white agate base.  An exquisite cab. Size: 17 x 15mm

4. Morrisonite Jasper. UPDATE 6/17/2010:  this one is now sold.  It's been replaced with a bright yellow and red Mookaite in my Etsy listing

5. Ocean Jasper. (One of my favorite stones) Here's a striking and unusual green and white Ocean Jasper cab with green orbs outlined by a white lacy halo. It also features a milky white agate covered druzy pocket. So icy. Size: 27 x 18mm

 ALSO, tomorrow I'm planning to post some things I've been working on.  One is a finished ring and the other is a work in progress.  (Yes, that turquoise pendant.  It's been giving me all sorts of headaches, but I think it's finally coming along.  It's been quite a learning experience for me.)


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Sunday, June 13, 2010

I just finished a few custom orders and have almost caught up with everything in my shop.  The "Design your Own Ring/Pendant" listing in my shop was so successful that I had to stop taking custom orders for a while, but now I'm ready again.

I'm planning to list these in my Etsy shop on Monday.  They're all cabs in sizes suitable for pendants or, in a couple cases, large cocktail rings.

I tried to get a good mix of different stones and these are amongst the favorites in my collection.  They are, from top to right:

1. A frosty colorless agate with green orbs.   Some of the orbs have orange centers. Size: 33mm X 22mm

2. A Tiffany Stone (Bertrandite) in cream and golden browns with some picturesque dendrites. Not your usual purple Tiffany Stone. 40 x 24mm

3  A bright pink Rhodonite from Nevada.  Super color on this one.  Often seen in the lighter rose color, this one is a bright, bright pink. 27x37mm.


4. A Tiffany Stone  with "chicken track" dendrites. The color of this cab ranges from light lavender to a deep bluish purple.  40 x 24 

5.  (Best for last?)  I've been saving this one.  A Graveyard Point Plume Agate with Druzy from Oregon.  The druzy is out standing in this cab!  50 X 25 mm.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Just a quick post to show you a custom pendant I've been working on.

It's still very rough, so please don't mind the unsanded edges and the lack of finish.   But here it is, warts and all!  I'll be working on it some more over the next couple of days and I PROMISE it'll look better.

The buyer and I started this custom piece by scouring the internet looking for a large Sleeping Beauty cab.  Finding such a nice clear blue stone without much matrix was a bit more difficult than I imagined, but we finally found two that were very close to what she wanted.  I bought both and planned to return the one she didn't want, but it was so nice that I couldn't stand to part with it.  (Can you believe that! )

She liked the designs of a couple of other of my pieces, an ocean jasper pendant and a cherry creek ring, so I started making some sketches.
What usually happens is that I make some sketches, the buyer decides which elements she likes, I make more sketches, and we come to an agreement on the design.

The first batch of sketches, which you see on the left, weren't quite what she had in mind, but that's quite alright. With her input, I got the design she wanted the next time around.

However, I'm definitely keeping these sketches for future projects and inspiration.  I really like a few of them.  In fact, can you see the middle drawing in the top row?  I've started making that setting already.  You know, I thought the poor turquoise cab that was rejected needed a home.

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Friday, June 4, 2010




Here's the ring:



And here's the original sketch I blogged about last week:



This ring was actually finished two days ago except that I discovered that I didn't have anything to antique it with.  My Liver of Sulfur was grey and dead - the summer humidity destroys it.   And I couldn't find a bottle of Silver Black that I just ordered.  So I decided to antique the ring the "old fashioned way" using eggs. 

Two days later the color wasn't what I wanted, so I went to an out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall rock shop, Jox Rox, and bought some fresh Liver of Sulfur to finish the ring. 

Oh, and this trip to the rock shop cost me BIG TIME. It turned out the shop had just gotten a shipment of Ocean Jasper, and I couldn't resist picking up some cabs. The prices were great so I bought way more than I should.  (Yes, I know.  I have a problem.  And admitting to it is the  first step to recovery.)

The ring got antiqued last night and it went out in the mail this morning.  

BUT I DIGRESS.  

I really liked the horizontal striations in the Tiger Iron cab, so I carried them forward in both the band and in the background behind the stone.  And I think the silver spheres are a good contrast to the horizontal lines of the ring - without them, the design would be a little dull.

When Hope picked out  this cab, I really wasn't convinced that it would make a good ring. I'm very happy to say that I was oh so wrong. 

Now let me give a big shout out to the lapidary artists who cut this cab:  AZ Blue Rockers.  They just started selling on Etsy and they've been wonderful to work with.  I'll be featuring more jewelry with cabs that I've purchased from them in the future.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

After placing a "Pick your cabochon and design a ring/pendant"  listing in my Etsy shop last week, I got a few new commissions.  One of the commissions was to set a gorgeous deep-blue labradorite as a ring.  I worked on it over the weekend and had it almost completed - except for the last step, setting the cab into the ring.   

When setting stones, you need to make them fit tightly and make sure the bezel is the correct shape for the stone.  I always check the fit of the stone by laying a piece of dental floss over the bezel and inserting the stone over the floss.  The floss keeps the stone from becoming stuck in the bezel and makes it easy to pop out.

I placed the stone into the setting and the fit was good and tight.  Very tight.  I had to use the floss to get it out.  Out it popped, up into the air, and then downward, toward my hard concrete floor.

I didn't see it hit the floor but I heard it.  

It took me a few seconds to find it, and I had a bad feeling in my stomach while I was looking for it.

Yes, the unthinkable happened, what I always fear: the cab was broken.

Of course it's irreplaceable.  It's a designer cabochon and not a standard size. I felt absolutely horrible and sent a message to the buyer.  Luckily she was very understanding.

In the meantime, I have a lovely ring with an empty place where a cab should be. 

I hate melting it down, so I'm checking with lapidary artists to see about cutting a stone to fit the setting.


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Monday, May 31, 2010

I've heard that dogs can't see laser pointers because they're color blind.  MooShu proves that this is is nothing but an urban legend.




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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bringing a sketch to life

In my last post, I wrote about sketching out new designs.  Well, here's the work in progress.

When it's finished, it'll be going to Hope.


Hope has been waiting for this ring for a long time.  She wanted to another ring in my shop but someone beat her to it. Then we spent a couple months looking for a cab until we found one that she liked on eBay.  Then she had to wait a week for the auction to finish.  (Luckily I won it - which doesn't seem to happen a lot for me.)

So when I got the cab I drew a few sketches and she decided she liked design #5.  Unfortunately, that design required beaded wire that I didn't have.  

It then took another couple of weeks, but when I got home on Friday, I was so happy to see the long awaited box of supplies sitting by my front door.  (With TWO dog biscuits on it.  The UPS man always leaves a biscuit for Indy and a biscuit for MooShu.)

Now FINALLY I have everything and, as you can see, her ring is on my workbench right now.  It's still a little rough, but with some filing and tumbling, it should look pretty good, I hope.

And here's a few more items on my workbench this weekend.
The "Pick a cab and design your own ring/pendant" listing in my Etsy shop turned out better than I expected.  It turned out so well, that I won't be accepting any more custom orders until I get these out the door!   But I'm definitely planning to run it again in the near future.




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Friday, May 28, 2010

Each cabochon is unique and I try very hard to carefully create a design specifically for each stone. I think every cabochon has a voice that needs to be heard.  Sometimes the voice is loud and strong.  Other times, it whispers, almost unheard.  Some cabs don't speak for a while, but eventually, perhaps when they warm up to you or when the moment is right, they let you know what they want.

One trick I use to coax out a design from a cab is sketching around a photocopy of the stone.   This works especially well with unique stones.   Seeing the natural patterns of the stone really gives you a better idea of how the overall design of the setting should flow.

And if you're making a custom design for someone, it allows the buyer to better visualize how their piece of jewelry will eventually look.

This cab is going to be a ring and I'll be working on it over the next week.  I'm planning to post updates on it to show you how it progresses.  (And to tease Hope, who's been patiently waiting for me to begin work on her new ring!)

So which design do you think Hope chose?


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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Every time I list a new ring in my shop, I get emails from people that want the ring in a different size.  Unfortunately, it's not usually possible to resize the ring, and since the stones are one-of-a-kind, a can't make an identical ring.


So I decided to try something new for my shop.  I now have a listing that offers cabs that will be incorporated in a custom ring for the buyer.

I don't know how well this will work, but I thought I'd give it a try.

In this first attempt, I tried to select cabs that are as different as possible from each other:  I have a druzy, a labradorite, a mookaite, a Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper, and a Priday Plume agate.  All of them are gorgeous, and each would make a lovely ring.  (I personally can't pick a favorite.)

Do you know what will be the hardest part?  It will be waiting for someone to claim the cabs and NOT setting these stones right away.

For example, I just got the yellow and red mookaite in the mail yesterday, and it's like a juicy piece of candy.  I'm dying to set it in a sleek and modern design. And I almost started setting the Priday Plume agate last weekend.

Oh well, it's not like I don't have any other cabs in my collection that I can work with.  I'm at the point that I have to commit to STOP buying more cabs.   (At least, that's what I say to myself every time I can't resist a new cabochon.  I promise myself that that'll be the last purchase for a while.  Ha!)

You can find this listing here, in my Etsy shop.  There are more details about these cabs in my shop listing.



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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Snowstorm in May

It's cottonwood season again and the pesky seeds land in my yard and form little drifts of "snow".  Pretty, yet annoying at the same time.

However, cleaning up the mess they make is easier for some than for others:


I feel so sorry for the spider.  As soon as he rebuilds his web, it's going to fill up with cottonwood seeds again!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yes, I finally finished it!  (If you check my past few posts, you can follow the progress of this ring from a few sketches, to the finished piece.)

The centerpiece of this ring is a Bazooka pink druzy of rhodochrosite . It's covered all over with a shimmer of crystals. To its right is a blue topaz which forms the center of a handcrafted flower. The flower is three dimensional - the petals curve inward toward the topaz and there are more petals underneath.

(More photos of this ring can be found here.)

So what's a druzy? It's a blanket of tiny, sparkling crystals most often found inside a geode or an agate. The sparkle looks like spilled salt or sugar. The tiny crystals are made after molten rock begins to quickly cool, trapping gasses within it as it becomes a solid. The trapped gasses make crevices and cavities in the cooling rock. Later, groundwater flows through these gaps and crevices, layering minerals which crystallize on top of each other. The crystals are druzy (or drusy). This process doesn't take days or weeks, but a few hundred or even a few thousand years.

(BTW, I got this one-of-a-kind stone at Mountain Glory Gems, a great seller on Etsy.  I haven't seen another one like it, but I've bought other lovely and unusual cabs there. )


This ring offered a few challenges. The cab had uneven depths and surfaces which made it hard to set. And I forgot how much of a pain small cabs like this topaz are to set. And then, just after the stones were set and I want to add the finishing touches, I found that the chemicals I use to oxidize / antique the silver were dead. (The sudden humidity of the summer weather destroyed the Liver of Sulfur I usually use.) I thought the ring was going to have to wait until I ordered more chemicals, but then I remembered: I can oxidize silver the old-fashioned way, using egg yolks. The sulfer in egg yolks is really effective at darkening silver and enhancing the depth of the details.

(If you're interested in how to oxidize silver with egg yolks, I wrote a tutorial about it here.)


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Friday, May 21, 2010

Look at what I snagged!
I found a lapidary artist who had a number of these cabs and I picked as many as I could up. (The name of his site is L'Ochsner.  It's a brand new shop - I think I was his first customer!) And I also found one cab by Artcabs on Etsy.  I'm so excited and can't wait to set them!

If you read my earlier post, I wrote about how much I love this agate but that it seems to be harder to find than before.  Info I found on the internet claimed that the mine was CLOSED and there was no new rock to be had.

Well I got an email from someone who really knows about this agate, Terry from LostSierra.  (Check out his Etsy shop.  He cuts great cabs which I've been trying to resist buying, very unsuccessfully.)

Terry states:
"The info in your blog about the Prudent Man is incorrect. I happened to live most of my life quite close to the mine...
1) Mine location: Central Idaho (Lost River Valley)
2) Status of mine: Active during summer/fall or when snow melts.
3) Owner of mine: Steve H. (Lives in Idaho Falls) know him well.
4) Vein #2: "Your Cabochon" variety is readily available.
5) Vein #1: Closed,mined out.(Highest Grade RED/SAGE color Plumes)"

First: many thanks to Terry for correcting my post.  It goes to show that you can't believe everything you read on the internet. 

Second:  I envy Terry.  Can you believe living close to these wonderful mines, being able to personally collect these rocks and rough gemstones, and then being able to bring them to life!

Third: this means that I should be able to easily buy MORE or these wonderful agates.

Fourth: wow, someone actually reads my blog.


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another long day at work (are they ever short?) followed by dinner at home (thank god for leftovers!) and all the other activities one usually might expect (or not) while school is coming to a close for the kids.

Toward the end of the day, I was so close to heading out to bed and vegitating in front of the TV.  But I also wanted to work on my latest project.

Until this past December, silvermaking meant I had to head to the garage - and dress appropriately for the weather.  Now that I've moved to the basement and arranged a work area, it's so much easier and the weather isn't an issue.  So now if I have a couple of hours, I don't have much of an excuse.

It was a pretty close call, but I decided to continue working on my latest ring.  A couple of  hours later, and this is what I have so far.
I don't know if you can see it, but the silver work is a bit different than before - yes, the details are still rough and need finishing, so bear with me.  But the leaves and flowers are slightly more 3-dimentional than in my earlier work.  I hope that this becomes more evident once I finish the edges and oxidize the piece to add more depth.

If I have enough free time, I really hope to make some more progress tomorrow.  With luck, maybe even finish it!

I'll keep you updated on the progress.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Both my day job and new commisions I've been working on have kept me pretty busy.  Plus my daughter is graduating from eighth grade, so there are all kinds of activities there. (Rehearsals, recitals, plays, and parties - oh my!) 


It seems like there's just never enough time in the day.

In the midst of it all, I was cleaning up my workbench and found a stray cab that I had forgotten about.  And all of a sudden - probably because it was feeling neglected - it DEMANDED to be made into a ring.

I'd bought this dainty pink rhodochrosite a while ago without knowing what I was going to do with it - but it was too pretty to pass up.  It was patiently waiting for me, until inspiration knocked me upside the head and told me what I was supposed to do with it.

Seriously, this is the way it seems to work with me.  An sudden idea.  A few drawings to get the idea on paper.  But then after the drawings,  I still have to figure out how to make the design work with silver and solder.

This juicy pink druzy is going to be part of a floral motif on a ring.  I'm going to pair it with a small blue topaz which is going to be the center of a flower.  I've also got some ideas on adding some depth to the petals and the leaves - different than I've done before. 

I hope to have some time to work on it through the week and will try to post some photos as it progresses.


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Thursday, May 13, 2010

I've just been fascinated by this particular stone. The detail is amazing. I've had people look at a cabochon and tell me that they can't believe that it's a stone and not a painting.

Because I liked these agates so much I started buying cabs whenever I could. But lately, two things have happened: 1. It's getting more difficult to find cabs 2. The price has gone through the roof.

The stone is mined in Oregon and the owners of the land no longer allow mining  (at least that's one of the stories I've heard.)  so there  is no more new stone to be had.  Only the earlier mined slabs are available right now.

This is the third agate that I've set and this one is a beauty.  Each has been in a different setting but, because I was inspired by the forest scene in each stone, I've always cut a leaf pattern into the back of the settings.

I just listed this necklace tonight and it can be found in my Etsy shop.   (More pictures are there.)



But you may ask, where did the name, Prudent Man come from?   I've wondered myself and just found out. (All hail google!)  The name "Prudent Man" is a reference to a clause in the 1872 mining law that states a claim can only be filed on a lode or vein that a prudent man could earn a living from by working it.



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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm taking a little break from soldering.  I had a frustrating couple of weekends and my brain and my metalwork were at odds with each other.  So I decided to go back to wirewrapping, which I haven't done for a while.

Although wire-wrapping briolettes may be agonizing to some, I find it soothing.  Looping the wire carefully around the stones is almost relaxing to me.  I love getting it just right and ending up with a neat line of wrapped stones lying on my workbench.

I dug out my boxes of beads and gemstones and looked for something to work with. My boxes are color-coded and, being inspired by the spring, the box with pinks and purples called out to me.

These new earrings are of amethyst and peridot and their particular shades of purple and green are a perfect contrast to each other.  They remind me of hyacinths.  I also made similar earrings in rose quartz and amethyst.

After finishing the wire-wrapping, lining up my little creations on the workbench, and sitting there gazing at them,  and felt much better and happier.

I might be ready to tackle soldering again now.





Just listed my my shop a couple minutes ago, more photos of the amethyst earrings can be found here, and photos of the rose quartz are here.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just listed these in my shop a minute ago.

I have a handful of Sleeping Beauty cabs I bought about a year ago and, while they last, every once in a while I get around to making another pair of earrings.  Each pair of earrings has been different in design.  (To see the other earring styles in my blog, go here and here.)  And I think each new pair has been better than the last.

These latest earrings were an experiment in stamping metal.   They look simple, but I probably made them in the most difficult way imaginable!  (It's all in my learning process.)  Next time, I'll know better.

More photos of these earrings can be found here.

And, right now, I have several new pieces in my tumbler:  a couple different gemstone earrings and a large Prudent Man Agate pendant.  I hope to be listing them in my shop in the next couple of days.

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I'm still playing around creating setting with graceful vines and flowers.  With this one, I used recycled sterling to create the flowers.

I always have scraps of silver lying around.  When I get around to it, it's easy to melt them down into spheres of various sizes.  Here, I flattend out a few balls of silver into discs and stamped them.  I like the way the stamp wasn't perfectly centered on each disc - it looks more natural that way, as though the flowers were being swayed by a warm breeze.

If you'd like to see more photos of this pendant, they can be found here.

The stone is a chrysocolla.  They've sometimes fooled me into thinking that they're turquoise, except the color can be a bit more vibrant  bluish-green. Chrysocolla is found in quite a few places in Europe, North Africa, and the United States.

It has many metaphysical properties attributed to it. In Eqypt, it was thougth that this stone had the power to make violent people more sensitive and tolerant, which is apparently why Cleopatra carried chrysocolla with her everywhere she went.

Native American Indian cultures regarded chrysocolla as a healing stone. This earth-like stone was used to strengthen the body's resistance and calm a person when he or she was upset.


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Thursday, May 6, 2010

I used to keep all my cabs in a candy bowl.  Everytime I got a new one, I'd drop it in.  Then when I wanted to design a new piece of jewelry, I'd start rummaging through the bowl to find what I wanted.

This was OK for a while, but when my collection grew, I started forgetting about what I had.  And sometimes cabs would be missing because it was so easy to leave them lying about all over the house. 

When I  showed my cabs to someone,  I'd just spill out the contents of the bowl on a table and we'd sift through all the pretty stones.  Fun, yes, but not very efficient or professional.

What to do with them?!

I thought of organizing my cabs in those acrylic organizer boxes that are used for beads or embroidery thread.  But that would just mean that the cabs would still be strewn in little containers - just more of them!  Then a friend of mine suggested using a scrapbook.  Why didn't I think of that!

I found a couple of scrapbooks for $1.99 on a clearance rack.  These look like photo albums but have clear plastic sleeves that you can slip things into. 

And I found the best time to do a little organizing.  Our family was planning a long car trip, so I brought along my cabs and the scrapbooks for the ride.  Rather than sitting around bored or looking at scenery, I spent several hours happily organizing the cabs into the books and labeling them:


The cabs are roughly organized by color or type of stone and each has been labeled with the type of stone, where it was purchased, and how much I paid for it.  I secured them with double-sided foam tape which holds the cabs firmly, but allows me to easily pull them off when I need to.  Plus they're protected in the plastic sleeves. These scrapbooks are expandable which is helpful, as the cabs are bulky and they're easy to page through.

And, happily for me,  I still have plenty of room to expand.




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Monday, May 3, 2010

Because MooShu is such a little guy, he's very sensitive to temperatures.  During the winter he got cold so quickly.  We wanted to make sure that he didn't get chilled, so we let his hair get long during the winter months - and kept him bundled up in sweaters when it got really chilly.

This didn't mean he didn't get a trim now and then. 

Because it's so inconvenient to routinely take him to the groomers, I decided that I would take the shears into my own hands.  Over the years I've trimmed the hair of my husband and son, so I thought I could do the same for MooShu.  So I bought some pet clippers and sharp scissors and kept him tidy.  Plus it was fun trying shape his hair and allow him to grow out his whiskers and a top knot.  (And look at that cute little beard!)

But now that the warmer weather's arrived, he gets hot very quickly - his fur is dark and it tends to absorb the heat.  But there's another problem: his fur is just so soft.  MooShu is a cross between a maltese and a yorkie and, rather than the silky hair of a yorkie, he's inherited the hair of a maltese.  It's so soft and fluffy that it tends to mat.  Between the heat and the knots, it seemed that a haircut was in order.
But, of course, before the haircut, comes a bath.

Why is it, no matter how casual and nonchallant I might be, he knows. 

Yes, he knows. 

And he runs.
I chase him around the living room and, eventually, he decides that it's no use.  He cowers, shows me the underside of his belly, and I pick him up and away we go for to the kitchen sink.

But this time, there was more than just a routine bath.  Yes, much, much more.

It was time for (...cue the music...) T.H.E.  H.A.I.R.C.U.T.


It takes all of our patience. And about half a cup of Cheerios, a favorite treat. 

Then, after it was over, we probably had enough hair left over for another Mooshu.  Maybe even two

And now, with his hair shorn off, he looks like a little puppy again!

Although he definitely felt the entire process was an ordeal, it seems as though he's really enjoying his new haircut.  He's been running around more than ever, playing and chasing after his toys. 

He's so full of joy and seems to be pleased with himself and with everything around him.  Oh, except for one thing. 

After all the trauma I put him through, I'm persona non grata - he's pretty much avoided me for the past few days. 

But I think it was worth it.






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I spent about 6 hours making/finishing pendants on Saturday and even with all the time I spent, I didn't complete a single project.  What you can see above are pendants in varying stages of completion, as well as earrings/earring components.  Several pendants only need chains, but I still need to make/attach them, decide upon what kind of clasps I want and then make them.  And I know its going to take longer that I really want it to. 

In case you're wondering what kind of stones these are, going clockwise starting at the upper left: a blue/green chrysocolla, a bird's eye rhyolyte, a Prudent Man Agate, and a Flower Jasper.

I wonder if other metalworkers are as slow as I am?  Lots of times I don't have the entire completed piece in my mind, but I'll create it as it develops.  So I'll often be at a loss as to what to do next.  This means that a half-completed piece will go on my shelf, waiting for inspiration to hit me.

I'm feeling a little bit of frustration and it may be time to take a break from soldering.  I have a couple of wirework commissions and maybe I'll focus on that area for a while.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

This past weekend Indianapolis featured  annual Mutt Strut  which  benefits the Humane Society.   You get to walk your dogs on the Indianapolis 500 Speedway.


These photos are from our local paper.  And even though it was raining, it looks like the participants, both 2 legged and 4 legged, had a great time.


I missed out this year.  But  next year, MooShu and Indy will definitely need to participate.


And yes, there is nothing "so ugly I'm cute"  than a Chinese Crested Hairless.  Except maybe one decked out in rain gear.  






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