Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Project Cab

Fellow jeweler and talented friend, Susan, of Wired Lotus, and I were chatting when she brought up a project she was working on for a book. One thing lead to another and I found myself happily agreeing to make a cab for one of her book projects. I asked her what she wanted. Sonora Sunrise. Wise choice. The color stands up to just about anything and really, and... who doesn't love Sonora Sunrise?

It just so happened that I got in some primo 2007 Sonora Sunrise a couple days before. It was discovered in 2006, so this is old dig. From everything I am hearing, it is all mined out except for a very small amount still coming out of the mine. It doesn't hold a candle to the original, though. The colors in my old slabs are eye popping! The material takes a nice polish, too, which is not usually the case.



I picked out the nicest slab and thought it would be cool to let Susan pick the area where she wanted the cab to come from. She wanted a small round cab. I sent her pictures of the slab and asked her if she wanted to mark it out. Absolutely, she did. She was tickled to death and really felt like she was part of the process for the stone in her big project. She sent back an image with the circled area.


I usually use templates to mark out my cabs. I typically will find the sweetest spot or two and mark those out. The rest of the slab, IF it is nice enough, gets marked out after. Sometimes, I just freeform the stone around the lines. And, as I warned Susan, sometimes... ok, often... the slab will break while it is being cut into preforms/precabs. If that is the case, I free form the pieces that are left.

My circle template had a good size for her, so I marked it out and sent the image for approval. "Perfect!" she says.



I said a quick prayer and hoped for the best as the preform was cut out. The cab is in the middle of the slab, so a break could ruin the whole thing. But, that wasn't to be the case. The round came out just fine. I had a nice large piece left to make one or two more. Two little pieces broke off the end, but I can cab those. In fact, one is done already.





The round was then attached to the dop stick with hard dop wax. It's not really a wax, per say, it is a combination of hard wax and shellac. It holds the stone securely, so long as it isn't cold. To get it off the stone, you place it in the freezer. I generally have about 50 dopped up at a time. It was very important to have the dopstick centered.



Susan had very specific needs for her cab. I was so nervous cabbing it! Number one, I'm not real great at doing rounds. Some people will use a hollow core, round, diamond bit to cut out a round and others will spin the cab against the grinding wheel with a drill. Me, I just try to get it right. Number 2, the material can be hard to work with. Because it is so soft, it is very unforgiving. Blink at the wrong time, while you are on a coarse wheel, and BAM! you just dug a hole in your cab! And, number 3, I wanted it to be perfect the project. Which made me even more nervous.

I took my time and checked measurements as I went. It went really well and  it took a really good shine. Then I stopped to admire it and noticed that it was slightly off round. The human eye can discern tiny discrepancies. And, mine did. But, when I measured it, it was actually only a half mm off. I resigned myself to imperfection and wrote to Susan about her cab. I sent her pictures of the completed cab. I offered to cab another if she needed it. Thankfully, though, it will work fine for her project and she loves it. :)



   


Susan is going to keep me in pictures of her project. I'll do an update when the project is finished. I can't wait to see it! I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for her that her book project pans out nicely. :)


  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Adularescence

Adularescence

Schiller

Chatoyancy

Labradorescence

Opalescence

Aventurescence

Iridescence

What do these words mean? I have confused them on many occasions. Let's sort it out.

According to Wiki adularescence is "As an optical phenomenon, adularescence exists only in the presence of light; it is a product of the interaction between light and the internal microstructures of the mineral and not a property of the mineral itself."

The Shiller Effect is what the rolling flow of color in a stone is called. You can think of it as the same as adularescence only easier to say and remember.

Moonstone has pure adularescence, that is, it has a milky to blue sheen of color on the face when the light is right.

Rainbow Moonstone Adularescence or Shiller


Other stones have shiller, too. When impurities or inclusions are present, the light is scattered differently. That is why you see different colors in other flashy stones.

When the shiller exists as a single line in the stone, it is said to be chatoyant, or exhibiting a cat's eye as in chrysoberyl and, rarely, jade.

Russian Cat's Eye Jade with Chatoyancy or a Chatoyant Effect.
 

Labradorescence is the type of adularescence that one sees in labradorite and spectrolite, for example. Those stones have a strong and colorful shiller effect.

Spectrolite with Labradorescence or a Labradorescent Effect


Opalescence is the type of beautiful shiller that one sees in opal.

Australian Opal with Opalescence or an Opalescent Effect

Aventurescence is another type of shiller which is found in adventurine, muscovite and fuschite. These stones have tiny inclusions which the light plays on to produce twinkles of light.

Raspberry Aventurine with Aventurescence or an Aventurescent Effect

For iridescence, I go to Miriam Webster. "... a lustrous rainbowlike play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves (as from an oil slick, soap bubble, or fish scales) that tends to change as the angle of view changes" Iridescence can be seen in stones like ammolite and rainbow obsidian, but also in fine pearls.

Ammolite with Iridescence or an Iridescent Effect


So, adularescence is interchangable with shiller, or, schiller as it sometimes spelled. Chatoyancy, labradorescence, opalescence, aventurescence all describe the type of shiller in different stones. And, iridescence describes a colorful oil on water type sheen. It is seen ON the stone and not IN the stone, as in adularescence.

I don't know about any of you, but I have used these wrong quite a few times. I shouldn't make that mistake again. Now I know which beautiful word to use. :)

Thanks for reading and enjoy the day.



Friday, October 28, 2016

To Patina or Not to Patina?

As you can see by the frequency of my blog posts, my blog muse has come back to me.

I am going to say something personal here before I get to the patina bit in the hopes that it benefits someone out there reading.

I have a terrible form of arthritis, called psoriatic arthritis (similar to rheumatoid arthritis). For a very long time, almost 2 years, I was nearly bedridden by it. The pain has been excruciating. My feeble attempts at walking any distance ended with huge setbacks and more debilitating pain.

I have been very fortunate in that my hands have been spared the arthritis, so far. It's my larger joints, tendons and bursas that tend to be terribly inflamed. I am also fortunate that there are so many new medicines available now. You may have seen ads for Enbrel and Humira. I tried them both. Neither worked for me very well or for very long. But, the last one I've tried, Otezla, has been working fantastically! It's like a miracle! And, unlike the others, it's a 2x daily pill and not a bi weekly shot. Yay!

If you suffer from a chronic ailment, like an autoimmune disease, and you have given up hope- know that there IS something out there that will help you or will be. It may take a while to find, but you WILL find it. Medicines have gotten so good in the last 10 years and advances still keep marching on. Don't give up hope. I did. I was miserable- hence my lack of blogging for the past year. I just had no enthusiasm for much of anything. But, now I feel I have a new lease on life. :) I had to share that because I know of a lot of people who have taken up jewelry making as a hobby because of an illness or physical limitation. My hope is that any of you reading find the right treatment for yourself.

Now, back to jewelry... You know that once you add a patina to copper or silver, you are pretty much stuck with it. I am one who happens to really like shiny silver. It is true that it is harder to care for, but storing properly and using a good polishing cloth, like a Sunshine cloth, go a long way towards keeping your silver nice and sparkly. Sometimes, though, a piece really calls for a patina, especially if there is weaving involved because it does such a great job bringing out the detail and texture.

I just finished a piece in silver and had a dilemma. I love the clean silver look with the beautiful, icy labradorescence of blue kyanite. But, I also love a patina on woven bails. I really didn't want the frame to have a patina. So, I figured that I would just dip the bail of the piece in liver of sulfur. If I didn't like it, I could always dip the rest and do the whole thing.

I added hot water to a bowl and dipped in the bail to measure the correct height for the patina solution. Once I got it right, I added the gel and did the patina. I am so glad that I did it. The difference, to me, is striking. Here's a few quick pictures to show you the before and after...



Speaking of patinas. Are you still using steel wool to remove the excess patina? Are you using the 3M "spider" wheels to do it? I have done both, preferring the old fashioned, messy steel wool. But, now, I almost exclusively use a soft brass brush. It not only removes just the right amount of patina, but it also leaves a beautiful satin finish. If you don't like the finish, just go over it with a polishing cloth. Also, it gets into really small spots very nicely, like in between the weaving wires. I remember reading about this on Mary Tucker's blog when I bought my first brush. I used it on copper all the time, but just switched to using it on silver, as well. In fact, I have two brushes- one for silver and one for copper- which I recommend you do, too.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Over the Moon- Weaving with a Moonstone

I love moonstones. I love the beautiful blue color flash. I love the movement of color in the stone. What I don't love is the cut that you usually find on moonstones. Like labradorites, they usually have a rounded over, thick girdle. That cut is not the best for traditional wrapping.

I took me awhile, but I finally found some really nice large rainbow moonstones. They came from a seller in India, so they had that thick cut. They also came with a thick price tag. I feel they are worth it, though.

What to do about a wrap? I couldn't do my usual traditional wrap. So, I went in search of a wrap that would work for it. That search took to me to youtube where I found a weave which would work. Youtube is a great place to find wire wrapping tutorials. I felt a little guilty using it because I seem to remember when the woman who developed a very similar wrap came out with a tutorial for it. If you remember who that was, let me know in the comments. I have also done something similar, but the weave was a bit different.

I gathered copious amounts of fine wire and began my project. My stone is 44 mm tall, so I settled in for a long haul of weaving. The first thing I noticed was that the clamp used in the video was not going to work for me. The outside wire kept shifting around on me. So, I devised another way to hold the wires which also gave me a comfortable way to hold the work.

The space that I needed between my base wires was about as thick as a Popsicle stick. I took the stick, placed my base wires on the outside and bound them together with some 18g copper half round.


Weaving is not my forte. Not because I can't do it, but because it really hurts my hands and I find the repetitive motion boring. However, one must sacrifice for beauty, so I got to it.

My improvised tool made starting with the correct distance between the wires easy. Keeping it even was the challenge. If I weren't experienced with handling wire, it would have been much more difficult. That is where the clamp had an advantage, you could move it. I managed, though, and after a very long time with many hand breaks, I was finished with the first weaving portion of the wrap.

I could tell that I would be doing the top differently. I am a stickler for tight wraps. The way that was done in the video didn't seem to join the two woven ends very tightly. I ended up doing it my way. I brought the 4 base wires together. I then bent the back wires down to join the front wires and used a weave wire to fasten the 2 back edges of weave together. Next, I bent the now forward facing wires up next to the front wires and wrapped them. Now, all four wires were tight together. I turned down the middle wires to form two spirals and finished off the bail, attaching it to the back with weave wires. It was finished.

Even though I did it a bit differently, it still ended up looking about the same. The challenge now was to photograph the moonstone. These are a lot like opal to photograph. In other words.... difficult. After taking many pictures in my light tent, I settled on these. You can bet, though, the moonstone is 100 times more bright and beautiful in person. The color covers the full face of the stone.







I took a couple quickie pictures at the kitchen table that show the stone a little better.




And that, folks, is the most weaving that I will be doing for a long while. :) Weaving is beautiful, but not something for these old hands.

Thanks for reading and be happy.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Cut My First Tooth!!!

I cut my first tooth! Tooth shaped cab, that is.

I had one small slab of really beautiful, old stock Burro Creek agate (AZ). This material is no longer being collected because a fence went up around it. You can still get the pale, pastel variety, but this Royal Purple is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Anyway, the slab was roughly the shape of a tooth, so I just finished it off like that, with one long inside curve. The cab itself topped off at 51x31mm.

After I was finished with the cab, I immediately had an idea of how I wanted to wrap it. The idea wouldn't let go of me. It percolated for 3 days. I finally just had to finish it to get it out of my head. I had no real idea whether or not I could actually pull it off.

The idea was to start the wrap in the middle of the stone leaving the bottom unwrapped and open. It's a hard stone, so it is perfectly safe to do so. I wanted to have an element on the front to hold the stone in place. I quickly sketched out a rough idea of what I wanted. I, then, got out the silver and began to cut off long lengths. There, I was committed.

As I conditioned the wire, it all came to me. All that time that the idea sat in the back of my mind paid off! I was ready to go.

I marked out the middle, which is where it all starts and began to wrap. I had my favorite internet radio station on. Time just flew and before I knew it, I was looking at my new wrap. So, here it is, my tooth shaped wrap.




  
The cab itself was a challenge. The wrap was a bit difficult, too. Let's just say that I took advantage of a few temporary bindings putting it all together. :)

Thanks for looking and be well.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

As with most people on the East Coast, we watched the slow march of Matthew up the coast. It was supposed to turn out to sea after it reached southern North Carolina, but as hurricanes do, it decided to do what it wanted to do. It crawled up the coast a bit. This put the large, wet northern bulk of the storm over us here on the Virginia coast.

We did not get slammed the way North Carolina did, but we did get hit with steady high winds, ripping gusts and torrential rainfall. We were already wet. Adding all those inches of rain just helped topple trees all over the place. Those near the shore and inland waterways got some pretty bad flooding. As for us, here with our big old oak, we survived yet another hurricane in tact. My daughter's neighbor in Norfolk had a huge tree come down on their home. That's always my worry.

Because of the storm's predicted path away from us, we sent a lot of our utility trucks south and got caught with our pants down.We lost power for three days, which was better than the five predicted. We are well prepared for losing power since it is such a common occurrence. I want to say it was almost a nice break and felt like camping in the house, but I don't want to make light of a situation that was much worse for so many.

While the power was out, I wrapped when I could. I have lights on my optivisors which is really nice. I have found them useful for cabbing and other things and now for hurricane wrapping, too.

Red Dinosaur Bone

Sonora Sunrise

Large Stick Pearl (Very colorful, though the colors don't photograph well.)

Antique Handcarved Cameo with Pearls

Mojave Turquoise
 
Charoite

Morenci Chrysocolla

Gaspeite



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Sadly, cabbing season is almost over for me. I use dop wax. It doesn't even like the hint of cold. I do cab in the house, but the slightest chill and the stone goes flying off my stick. That sort of thing can get dangerous! It happened one time when my brother was sitting across from me while I was using the outside wheel on my machine. The cab came off the stick and went flying through the air just barely missing his face. I decided then- No more cabbing come fall. 

My dop pot for the hot wax with assorted preforms ready to cab
I did spend a lot of time cabbing this Spring and Summer, though. I can't list them all, but here's a few I especially like.

Pietersite

Amazonite

Wingate Agate

Cold Mountain Thunderegg

Imperial Jasper

Kokoweef Cave Onyx

Mystery Agate

Gem Silica in Agate with Malachite and a Fortified Center

Moroccan Seam Agate

Plasma Agate

Ocean Jasper

Sonoran Plume Agate

Outback Jasper
As you can see, I have been playing with new shapes and inside curves. The inside curves are more challenging, but fun to do.

I haven't been making very much jewelry. I expect to be doing more of that now that the cabbing season is winding down. I did spend the other day making a few smaller pendants, though. I used 22g wire, which I don't usually do. However, I had a bunch of smaller cabs sitting around and decided to do something with them.

Hornitos Poppy Jasper


Nuummite with sparkly metallic fire

Argentinian Rhodochrosite Ortiz Color- almost glows

Seraphinite Angle Wings

Ocean Jasper

Afghan Lapis

I got a new program for doing my pictures- Adobe Photoshop Elements 14. Elements 15 is out now. It makes really quick work of getting everything ready. It does A LOT. I don't really need a lot, but it does the simple tasks very well. Plus, it is affordable and you actually own it. It's not leased from the Cloud the way other Adobe products are. I don't know for how long that will be true. I'm just glad that I got it while I could.

So, there you have it, I am alive and well. :)