Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgoodness for Experiments

After the big dinner, laughter and hugs, I had a quiet night to sit and work out a technique I have been playing with. I like how it worked out. The piece is nothing special, but it was just an experiment to see if I could do it. And, it worked better than I thought it would. This is pretty long because of the bail I chose. It's 3 1/4 inches long, but the rhodochrosite was pretty long to start with.
-----------------------------
At long last, I have some more silver on the way. I love copper, but some of my stones call for silver. I'm really excited to be able to do a nice silver piece and not worry about running out. Now, I just have to decide which I want to do first. :)
-----------------------------
For the challenge at jMf I am going to be sampling some musical favorites today and waiting for something to start wrapping wire for me. :) If I am lucky, that's just what will happen. I love being inspired, it makes the work so much more fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

For those that celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday. For everyone else, I hope you all have a great weekend, too!

I've been working tirelessly to open my store. I never would have guessed that this would take so long and be so much work! I'm close enough to take a break and work on the late last part of my stone series this holiday weekend. I'll be too full tomorrow and I'll be giving thanks for the many blessings I've had through the year.

Gone to a new home.


Here's a piece I found when getting my things ready for the store. I made it awhile ago and had to change it up a bit. I like the improvement a lot better. This is petrified wood.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ecwid

Ok, I can take a breather now and give you all a heads up on what I am doing.

I was reading a thread posted at jMf where Laura mentioned this cool way to put a store on your blog. We began to discuss it on another thread. Basically, a company called Ecwid has a store platform that is FREE. (For up to 100 items.) You can even sell downloadables, like tutes. The beauty of it is you can set it up anywhere you want to (just about); on blogs, Facebook, websites, etc. It is nothing but code that you put on a page. The code directs all the inner workings of the store to the Ecwid website. 

I am using this blog to grow my store and see it work. I have about 54 items done, the categories and shipping done. Next, I need to set up the payment platform. It should be as easy as the rest. It has a whole slew of payment options that the seller can choose from.

Other than an emergency home repair, that is what I've been doing. At first, it was slow going, but now that I know the ropes, it is moving along nicely.

Why am I boring you with this??? Because it's so easy to do, you can do it, too. Why not? Even if this is just a hobby for you, if you have a blog, put your things on it. The store is indexed by search engines, so you have nothing to lose and potential sales to win. :)

(And, no, I haven't forgotten that I am late on the last installment of the stone series.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SORRY! If you had weird some emails from the blog, just ignore them

As you may have noticed, I have been working on my store. Right now, it is hosted on the blog, where I am learning how it works. But, it is completely portable and I'll be moving it around to other sites when I am done.

I intend to share more about this when I am done. But, for the time being, I am working diligently to get the store up. The stores platform has been pretty easy to use. It was my error in posting new categories to a post rather than a page, which is why you may have been notified of a new post. Sorry, to be so annoying. :(

More later.....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some Updates

First, let me thank everyone who has come over to visit and register with the new forum- Jewelry Makers Forum or as we like to call it, JMF. I see lots of familiar "faces" and some new ones, too. It's a great beginning!!

I have been sharing some Gimp and Photoshop instructions and Susan is working on a tute for the rolling mill. As some of you may have noticed, there isn't much to be found about mill work online. I am really looking forward to her instructions. A mill isn't a purchase in my near future, but I am anxious to see how it works. I admire so much mill work! :) Speaking of which, pop over to see Susan's new piece, it's ssssssssensational! It really goes to show what you can do with a mill and wire.
-------------------------------------

As much as I hate to do it, I am going to start selling my jewelry. With a full house now, I spend my hobby money on necessities- at least for the time being- so, if I want to keep splurging on my passions, I'll have to support my habit in other ways, like by selling my jewelry.  It'll be real hard to part with some of them :( I'm looking to selling online. Doing shows and home parties is not practicable for me. For days now, I have been trying to get all my pieces organized, photographed and edited with my new font. I haven't made a single piece of jewelry and I'm jonesing to do some. I'll probably need the break soon because after about 105 pieces of jewelry and 50 or so left, not counting rings and earrings, I'm loosing my mind.
---------------------------------------

When I began the series "What I look for in a stone" I envisioned 6 installments. Five are now completed, there is one left- Cost. I'll be working on that this week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What I Look for in a Stone: Part 5, Durability

Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

This post will be a little different. Instead of a bunch of pictures, I'm going to discuss durability and include a few (test) videos that I made with my camera. Sadly, my actual video camera is terrible for close up.

How a stone will hold up to a certain wrap is a big consideration. Not only do I not want to damage a stone, I also don't want all that time and work gone to waste. A good example would be of a stone I recently set. It is a Candy Stripe opal or Bacon opal (yeah, I know, dumb name). Here is the stone before I wrapped it.


Here is the stone after a simple wrap.


OUCH! I had never worked with this kind of stone before and had never had problems with any kinds of opal before, so I wasn't as careful as I could have been. However, the way the corner just crumbled, I think it is more a matter of the stone being very soft, than my being too rough. 

Deciding which kind of wrap to use, is also a consideration. With the opal, if I had done a loose type of sculpture versus a tight border wrap, it may have held up. One has to also consider whether or not it is going to be a wrap which has lots of sharp ends. If so, one had better file those ends, because some stones can't go in the tumbler- namely malachite. The polish on a malachite usually suffers from being in the tumbler. I have been told by a few reputable sources that ZAM polish works to bring back the shine, though I haven't tried it, yet, myself.

In a previous post, I mentioned rainbow hematite. It has been, hands down, the most delicate stone I have used to date. There are only a few ways it could be wrapped. It is a type of druzy, though one like you rarely see. Most aren't even suitable for jewelry. Another great, natural druzy is the green garnet, uvarovite. Druzy or drusy stones take a lot of care in setting and wearing. I approach every one on a case by case basis. The video below is of the stone in the picture that I linked to. It is so bright that it is hard to see the color in the video. Just imagine that all the sparkles encompass the color of a rainbow, hence the name.



Then there are the stones like mystic topaz that have an easily scratched surface coating. Likewise, the titanium coated druzies scratch real easy. Honestly, I don't even use these stones, because, although beautiful when new, they can look pretty bad, real quick, if not taken very good care of. But, that's just my opinion.

Some stones do not take a good polish. Some lapidaries put an epoxy coating, like Opticon, on them to produce a shine. These stones are often soft, too, and the surface may have minute pits that needs to be sealed with the epoxy. I have seen this treatment on serraphinite and on my newest stone purchase of rare, Russian fuschite. It is also on my astrophyllite (see videos) With this treatment, the stone is coated, to produce shine and to seal. These stones, I won't usually tumble, though some of them I will, like ammolite. Natural ammolite are often given a coating of Opticon to protect it.



(This is the first video I have done for the web and it was one helluva challenge! I deliberately made this dark and light because I couldn't decide which looked better for the sparkles. :)  I should have done this for the last part of the series!!)



There are stones like turquoise and variscite that are soft, too, but because most are treated to produce a more durable cutting material and cab, I don't have a problem with them. However, many of the stones have a soft matrix that can be tumbled out of them. This creates an undercutting of the matrix, resulting in an uneven surface. (or worse)

Some stones are backed. A backing, often of quartz or basalt, can be added to a thin or delicate stone to produce a more durable cab. These stones are like doublets- only backwards. With a doublet, a top is added instead of a bottom. Usually clear quartz or created spinel is used. The clear top also magnifies the colors in the stone. This is one reason why you often see them on opals and ammolite. I've never had a problem with a doublet or backed stone, so long as they were made correctly. If you purchase a doublet, check with a loupe or magnifying glass for tiny bubbles. There should be none, or, at least, very few. Bubbles can eventually destroy the stone because as the top gradually loosens, it often takes a layer of the stone with it. I have only seen this happen twice, though. (Both on ammolites!)

The question that I have most often been asked is, "Do you tumble opals?" My answer? A resounding, "Yes!"  If you take a look at what an opal is made of and the vast variety of them, you can get an idea that it is pretty hard. (keyword being silicate) I can't make any blanket statements about opals in general, but for the precious opal that we most often think of- the colorful, white ones and the crystal ones- they take a great polish and are hard enough to tumble. Koroit, boulder or matrix opals are hard, too, but I take a good look at the overall stone before I tumble, making sure that the matrix can take it. There is no science to it, I just eyeball it and rely on experience. As for wrapping, I would use any wrap on any opal- except candy stripe opal. So far, that has been MY experience and I offer no guarantee or warranty on it. :) I think people are worried about opals because they appear so delicate. Now, as a caveat, I have to say- don't bother wrapping a cracked or crazed opal. If you have seen one, then you know what I mean. The words are perfect descriptions. Don't use them. They will not hold up to either time or a wrap.

In closing, I reiterate that there are few stones that I won't wrap. However, there are some that take special care like druzy, soft stones and coated stones. If you ever have a question about a stone's hardness, go to Mindat.org for all the info you ever wanted and more. The hardness of stones is listed right at the top of each stone's page. If I have left something out that you wanted to know, specifically, leave it in the comment section :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A New Place to Meet


I have been so busy! And, I am really excited about it! A few jewelry artist friends, Renate and myself have set up a new forum dedicated not just to jewelry, but to creativity and inspiration, too.

We hope to build a place that you can visit for new ideas- inspiration. A place to visit when your muse has left you and for when you can't keep up with her. Share you jubilation or find a shoulder for your sorrow- we all know what it is like to have a fickle muse.

We will have challenges to get your creative minds going and we invite you to submit your own. These are not contests, there are no prizes, but everyone is a winner.

It will be a place of mutual respect and sharing. Come for friendly critiques or show off your latest accomplishment.

Come and share your experiments, ask your questions or just wax poetic about the different aspects of creativity and what it means to you.

Come to learn from fellow artists. (There is already one free tute in the making.) Come and post your own tips and tricks. Maybe you'd like to share your own mini tute?

Our forum will be moderated, so you needn't worry about trolls and after an initial "grand opening" we will close certain areas to members only so as to protect some of your sensitive content. 

We are using a free host- Proboards. We aren't making any money on this, we just wanted a place of our own to go to that had an emphasis on creativity and inspiration.

Come and check us out!

Register and join in, we'd love to see you there :)


For Whichever Direction Your Muse Takes You