Friday, November 19, 2010

phoenix finished!

I finished both the phoenix pendant and a pair of earrings for a friend yesterday. Feels good to keep moving forward. Since I have been caring for my mom full time the last 3 years it seems like I get slower and slower in my jewelry work each year.

"Dare to Rise Up from the Ash" - sterling, copper, brass, simulated sapphire, enamel on fine silver, garnet and amber, and "Angel" earrings - sterling and garnet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

phoenix progress #2

I finished the four enamel shield shapes for the phoenix last week and Chelsea choose #3:

I'll probably use the others someday in other pendants. I have made enough progress on the phoenix that I'm soldering down the bezels, the silver balls and the cut out copper wings today. The little sticks of solder laying on the neck will melt and then I can attach balls there too:

I love looking at the roughness of everything at his stage, on the burnt surface of the soldering block. When it is finished it will be so totally different.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

cutting, stamping, doming

Last Friday I wrote that I would get started on enameling the phoenix over the weekend - here it is Thursday and I'm just now at the point where I can start to enamel (things seem to take longer and longer all the time!). Today I finished cutting out, stamping and doming the copper and silver shapes that I will soon (I always say that) be able to start enameling. 

 The shield shapes are going to be potential phoenix bodies and the oval shapes with BE HERE NOW stamped on them are going to be potential rings. The circle on the far left is going to be a pendant for my sister. Generally I like to make multiples of enamels for a major piece so the customer can have a choice which would be their favorite.

Friday, October 15, 2010

phoenix progress

Today we have decided on the final shape of the phoenix pendant and where the bails will go on the back. I'll get started this weekend enameling the "body".

 I really do love the day and age we are living in now. With digital cameras and email it only takes a minute or two to get a photo of a sketch ready to send for approval. The customer can stay home and so can I. Seems too good!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

a look at the design process

Here is a photo of an artwork that Chelsea wanted me to use as a design jumping off point for a phoenix pendant - her hope was that it would have purple/blue colors and red/pink colors like the painting along with warm brown/orange colors so she can wear it with both warm and cool colors:


First step - start making sketches - even if I don't really like the first ones they are part of the process to find out what works:

 Pick out and play around with colors:


 Then put them together to show the client to see what she thinks:

Chelsea got back to me and did like the design but would like me to adjust the top of the wings. I'll try to keep this journal updated with it's progress!

Friday, September 24, 2010

completed and ready to go!

Friday - "Precious Gift" with garnets, "Perfect" with simulated opals, "Sun Circle" with amber, "Peace" with simulated blue zircon, and "Inner Vision 8" with ceramic faces and glass beads. It took me a little longer than Wednesday to get finished but they are ready to go now!

Monday, September 20, 2010

earrings assembly

Right now I'm working on 5 pairs of earrings - in a batch. It's easier to get all the bezels made at the same time, all the silver cut out and filed at the same time and do each stage's work as if I'm my own little assembly line. Where I'm at today:
Hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday I will have everything soldered together and perhaps even the stones set and everything polished...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've been a little lax with posting progress here so I thought I'd do an update on how that little black onyx ring turned out with the special stone I made to fit it. I ended up putting a small sterling back-plate inside the bezel to stabilize the stone and make everything more secure. I was very pleased with how it all turned out and my customer was too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

a little about polishing stones

Just for interest - photos of a project I'm doing - creating a stone to fit in this ring setting. The original stone broke and was lost and the customer asked me to create a new stone and reset it. Shown with it's future setting and with the size of stone I started with. An 8 by 10mm oval seemed like a good starting point to grind down to the 4 by 8.5mm oblong size I need for the setting:

The little black onyx stone on it's dop stick - I spent yesterday grinding it to this shape with 120 diamond grit. The dop stick is basically just a wooden dowel with dopping wax melted on the end. The dopping wax is very sticky when hot and pliable so it can be attached to the stone but at room temperature it gets hard and can hold the stone while you work on it. When I'm all done I will put it in the freezer and the stone should pop off easily:

This is the spool polisher I will use today to get a nice polish on the little stone. Those syringes in back hold grades of diamond cream which correspond to the different areas on the spool that I will apply the cream to. I will work the stone from 350 grit up through 50,000 grit to a high shine: 

I will need to do some adjustments to the silver ring setting too. I think the original stone broke and fell out because it needed a more stable base for the stone so I will be adding a sterling plate to make a solid bottom for the setting. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

glazing fun

I've been having lots of fun lately glazing my little faces in as many colors and textures as possible. I feel like I FINALLY have enough!

So now I am busy making earrings from my little friends. Click on a photo of earrings below to go to my etsy shop and read more about them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

ceramic faces




Last month I got a new kiln - the Paragon Quickfire 6 and ever since I have been working at creating more ceramic faces to use in jewelry making. 

It's just a small kiln - 6" by 6" interior but that is perfect for my jewelry making - easy to fill for a firing so I can fire more often and it is FAST - 1 hour and 40 minutes for a bisque fire and less than 30 minutes for a glaze fire. I'm excited about making many, many, MANY pairs of faces of all colors and glaze textures to use in earrings. What I think is so neat is that even though I am trying to make the faces come out of my push mold as uniform as possible still they each end up being individuals - one is more oriental, one more negroid, one more caucasian, one happy, one sad, one more introspective, one very serious, one old, one a child, one might even be a man, another definitely a beautiful woman. It is so much fun to play with the different glazes - some aren't turning out how I imagined from the photos in the catalogs but I am getting many happy accidents.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

preparing to enamel

I spent the morning cleaning up my enameling table in my studio. It has been months since I enameled anything and the table had become the catchall for the room. Too bad I didn't take a "before" photo - the change would really have been impressive .

The cake pans contain the plastic spoons that I use to hold my enamel powders for washing with distilled water and then mixing with a little enameling adhesive. They need to be protected from dust when I'm not using them and I found disposable aluminum cake pans with plastic lids are perfect for the job.

Here's a close up of the samples that I made for my enamel colors. They all are fired onto a copper base with the enamel color then applied either directly over the copper, over copper with a clear flux base, over white, directly over silver foil, over silver foil with clear flux base or over gold foil. The colors sometimes react to the metals in odd ways so it is good to make samples first to see what they will look like.
Soon I hope to post about how I torch fire the enamels...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

working methods

Right now I'm trying to finish up some of the things I have had on the back burner for years. I start things - design things, maybe cut out some of the parts and make the bezels for the stones but then quit - I get a commission or just lose interest and never get back to them. The parts end up in ice cube trays so I can keep things separate and (hopefully) work on them later. They just keep building up and building up! So today I'm going to get into them and see what appeals to me to finish. Plus I have a commission to make a pendant for my friend Paula and I like to work on a couple things at a time - so I don't have to get my hands dirty polishing on just one thing...

Monday, January 11, 2010


I worked most of the day on setting the stones in these, doing a final polish (and photographing them). Isn't that almandine garnet (the red stone) beautiful? I love that deep red!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I finished constructing 11 band style rings and 3 pairs of earrings today that I have been working on the last few days, oxidized them and then did the pre-polish. I love the look of the jewelry at this stage nearly as much as when I'm totally finished. I like this dark, non-shiny look. I think I see it as sculpture more than as jewelry at this point, before the stones are set. At the top you can see my flex shaft machine with a small cotton buff coated with the tripoli pre-polish. It's a dirty job but someone has to do it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

3 earrings and 2 rings started

I have 5 things lined up that I'm making right now. 3 earrings and 2 rings. I'm about 1/4 the way done at this point. I have the bezels that go around the stones made and I have the base pieces cut out and filed. Now it is time to sand everything.

Friday, January 1, 2010

blue skimmer

Remember those dragonfly earrings with the bluish patina I last showed on Dec 28th? Well, after polishing them most of the patina is gone now - just a little left around the bezels and bails - not enough to really show as blue anymore. In the future I plan to do some designs where there are more crevasses to save the beautiful blue colors in. I'm calling this my "skimmer" earring design and hope to do more with other stones and other colors.  This pair of earrings is called "Blue Skimmer". Because the tail is all beads and the wings are light gauge sheet (24 gauge) they are nice and light in weight. I have them listed in my marybird etsyshop now.