Friday, March 30, 2012

Silver Scrap

Does your scrap silver look kinda like this? Just thrown in a vessel until it's time to send it in? Or, maybe like me, you tried to separate out the pieces you can still use. That tall bottle has the bigger silver scraps that I could use on another project. The fat bottle has useless scraps.

There's one big problem with those bottles. I never go through them to use the scraps. I have all intentions of doing it with each project, but I don't. That would mean spilling out the contents and going through them to figure out which wire is which gauge. It's too time consuming.

I started doing something different. All I can say is, I wish I had been doing it all along. Maybe, some of you already do this, but my slow self just started about 6 months ago.

Here's what I do- As I use the silver, I have the baggies out that contain the right wire that I want to use. Instead of scraping up the scraps after a project and dumping them in a bottle, I put the usable wires right back in the bag it came out of. That way, I can always see the scraps that might be appropriate for the project at hand. I have been using a lot more of my bigger scraps since I started doing this. As for the smaller pieces, well, I need to start another bottle for it because that's the only one I've been filling.

Oh, and another benny of this is I never mix up my sterling and argentium anymore.

How do you store your scraps?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tuxedo Agate or Brazilian Agate? Slab or Cab?

After being in overdrive, my muse has dropped down a few mph. I haven't made a piece in two days. Well, I did make a piece yesterday, but it was an idea who's time was just not ready and I had to scrap it. This tuxedo agate is the last finished piece I did.

When I saw this stone, I got a cold sweat and had to have it! Yeah, I'm weird like that. Sometimes, I get overly excited about a rock. But, that pattern!! Who wouldn't get excited?

I thought mother nature made this just for me. Alas, I was disappointed in two respects. First, it didn't come out of the ground like this. I did some research and asked some questions only to find out that this is a Brazilian Agate that has been treated with sugar, yes sugar, to make the black standout. There's more to it than that, but basically you soak it in sugar water, then cook it in acid. It's the same basic process as for black andamooka matrix opal. I like to use natural stones, but it's such a knock out stone that I forgive it. :)

I was in such a hurry to get this that I didn't notice the shape of it. It is more like a slab or slice than a cab. That makes it a bit more difficult to finish. It is pretty thick, too. I was left with a lot of wire at the the top. However, having decided from the beginning to do something similar to what you see, it ended up working out ok. It's not my best work, but the stone steals the show anyway. :)

Black & White Tuxedo Agate Handmade Sterling Silver Pendant
Clicking this image will take you off site.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Opal, Why Are You So Difficult?

I love opals. Who doesn't, right? Well, I guess somebody doesn't like them, but I haven't met that person, yet.

I have a lot of opals and I decided to do something with them. I picked this one for the pure ostentatiousness of it. I was feeling opulent. :) It seems like a million years ago that I bought this rough and had it cut into three stones.

This is a Mintabie opal from Australia. It is solid through and through. It is a whopper, too. 11.7 ct and 24 x 12.5 x 6.16mm. Yes, it is that big. But, it isn't just big. It is really bright and colorful, making it a valuable opal. Problem is I don't know how valuable. I bought the rough, not the stone. So, I did some research on valuing opals. I found lots of interesting sites. One is a site for another wire wrapper. It is essentially what I found everywhere else, but was pulled together into a real concise and informative manner. Here's an opal store Down Under. And, here is one presented by the Australian government. After my mind started glazing over, I realized that none of that did me any good if I couldn't get a decent picture of it, which brings me to the real point of this post. How the heck do you get a decent picture of opal. Let's explore that, shall  we?? (You may begin to sense my frustration.)

Let's look at a couple of less than flattering pictures in the light tent. Keep in mind that when I look at the opal with my eyes, it's bright as a peacock, but as soon as the camera tries to see it, it thinks it's blind or something. However, notice how pretty the silver looks.

Not very impressive is it? I tried to use an led "sparkler" bulb which brings gemstones to life. Here's that picture.

Wow, that didn't help!!

Ok, how about the halogen bulbs in my dining room/work room ...

MUCH better! But, what happened to the pretty silver???? It looks horrible!

As good as the overhead halogens make this look, it is soooo much better in person. The cab is real thick and shot through with color. The depth just doesn't show. This is oriented real well for a pendant. The chain has teeny tiny pearls in it which are just perfect with it. I really love this and would love for you to see how pretty it really is, but alas, I can not, as hard as I try, get a truly representative picture. I won't give up though! Next stop- the backyard on an overcast day.

I keep telling myself that I need good pictures to sell this online. But, truth be told, it may never leave my hands. Maybe, I just have a subconscious desire to take bad pictures of it. 

Do you know how to get a good picture of opal in silver? (I do have a few more, after all.  :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Taken A Long Time, But I Did It

You might remember seeing this stone in my series, "What I Look For in a Stone". This Succor Creek Jasper has a very geometric pattern that begged to be wrapped just like this.

I knew from the first time that I saw it that I was going to do this. The problem is that I tried faaaar too many times to get it right. It looks simple, but it turned out not to be. I gave up on it so many times and threw it back in the box, just to retrieve it again. I knew I could do it, I just had to try one more time (a few times).

Yet again, persistence paid off. I'm still not entirely happy with this, but I know that I was going in the right direction. I may take it apart and do a couple things a little differently. If I do I'll let you know. :)

Have you ever had a project that you just couldn't let go of and eventually succeeded in finishing?


 Edit:  Ok, It's been an hour since I wrote that and I already changed something. That bottom piece was getting on my nerves. When I designed it, I thought I needed it, structurally, but I didn't. I like it better now. :)

Masculine Succor Creek Jasper Fabulous Graphical Pattern Necklace UNISEX
This image will open off site.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Willard Wigan: Close Work

Right around 40 years old, right on cue, my reliable 20/20 vision started going. I had to wear readers. Then, for jewelry work, even that wasn't enough. My DH felt bad for me and got me some optivisors since he knew I was too stubborn to buy them and to admit how bad my eyes had gotten. A soon as I got them, I sat down and made this. The fabulous color doesn't show in the picture, but you get the idea of the size. But, I've told this story before and it's not really the point of this blog.

My DH sent me a link last week featuring a fabulous artist named Willard Wigan. I went to his website and read a little about him. His story was so inspiring. Talk about lemonade from lemons!!

I emailed him and asked for permission to use a few images to introduce a link to him and ... well... he never got back to me. I don't hold a grudge, though. Here's a link to his bio. It's short- read that first. Then go here. Feast your eyes on what the term "close work" really means. I was amazed and I'm sure you will be, too.

Do you have to wear a vision aid when you work??

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cherry Creek Jasper

I had put off getting any Cherry Creek Jasper because I had heard some negative reviews of it. I had heard that it was real soft from several people. After talking to my "neighborhood" lapidary friend, I found out that is soft because it is silicated mud. Lots of the stones we use are, that doesn't bother me. That's also why it doesn't take a glossy hard shine. I suspect that a lot of it is found with a coating. I asked my friend if he had any and he did, so I had to go ahead and get some and check it out. :)

Modern Abstract Red & Green Cherry Creek Jasper Designer Pendant
This image will open off site.

Nice pattern, huh? :) My grandaughter said it looked like it was painted. She's right, it does.

I used my beaded wrap for this and tweaked it a bit. The bail is hammered 14g and very strong. All in all, I am very pleased with this and with Cherry Creek Jasper.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A long time ago, I did a wrap that was really crazy unusual. I picked up another stone to work on and again thought of that wrap. It would so suit the stone. That new stone is a rare, Tabu Tabu, red brecciated jasper from Africa. I'm a huge fan of red jasper- any red stone really, especially since they are so hard to come by. This red is not the muddy red you so often see. It is more like a bright brick red without the muddy look. It looks like someone smashed a brand new red brick and cemented it back together- LOVE IT! My understanding is that the true Tabu jasper is getting real difficult to find. I think what sets this apart from other brecciated jasper is the chunky look and red color. This cab, although it doesn't look it, is perfectly smooth with a glassy finish.

Here is the first wrap. I had sold this piece only to realize before mailing it that it was cracked. I had never noticed the crack before then. It may have been a sealed fracture that I had previously missed, which would have been fine, but I didn't want to take that chance. I gave the purchaser her choice of an item worth 20.00 more than she paid, just to compensate for her trouble and disappointment. I don't know who felt worse, actually. In the end, she was happy with the replacement and I was happy I caught the problem before mailing it.

Here is the new one. This stone is much larger. It is 30x40mm. Another good thing about this wrap, on this stone, is that it breaks up the large oval, which, as you know, I'm not too fond of. As you see, the wrap is essentially the same. I don't duplicate wraps very often, but this needed to be done. I like how the wrap continues the brecciated, irregular look.

Rare Red African Tabu Tabu Jasper Handmade Designer Unique Necklace
Clicking this picture will take you off site.

Can you think of any more red stones? Other than ammolite, I'm drawing blanks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two Tones of Fun

A few weeks ago, someone asked me if I had done any 2 tone pieces. I hadn't. This stone presented itself today and became a great chance to use silver with copper.

This ocean jasper has pronounced small, white bubbles, with orange rings around them, on a background of mottled green and yellow. I hate to say this about jewelry but it looks to me like alien eggs or frog eggs. Sounds icky but it is really cool looking. I took the opportunity of adding some very small silver balls to one side witch echo back to the white bubbles in the stone.

Unfortunately, this is not very photogenic. It's very nice in person whith the small bits of silver being more pronounced against the copper than the gray background I used. But, it's late, I'm tired, and I don't feel like taking the pictures again.

Green White Orange Orbs in Ocean Jasper Handmade 18-20
Clicking this image will take you off site.

I'm feeling a little better. I think I am just going to have the crud for awhile. Man, it sure tires me out! I have seen online, from folks all over the country, that I'm not the only person with this. Seems to be making it's rounds.

Have you been sick lately??

update:  Here's a couple of better pictures:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Show and Tell

Chances are that if you are reading this the day it came out, then I'm in bed. My husband was sick and he was kind enough to share. :(  I'm scheduling this blog post and staying in bed as long as I can.

I had a nerve wracking wire day yesterday (Thursday). I had those silver moments- you know- when you work it out in copper and it's perfect, but you touch the silver and everything goes wrong? Those kinds of moments. I didn't panic, though. I kept my cool and saved the piece. YAY! Then... I sliced my finger pretty good with my micro pliers. Thank goodness the sharp ends went across my cuticle instead of into it! I was using way too much pressure and they slipped, slicing my pointer cuticle pretty good. I bandaged it up and finished the piece. Nothing can stop me when I am on a roll. LOL!

I just finished up this Gaspeite piece. This was one of Bill's stones. I just got it in the mail today, along with some other goodies. I've never had one before. I like.

Gaspeite in sterling

The bail is off a little, but hey, the bandage was totally in the way! :)

I finished this yesterday (Wednesday). Another of Bill's stones. This is by far the juiciest, most bestest, awesome stone that I have ever seen. Sugilite and ritchertite.... what a combination. I could look at this all day. I wanted to do the best wrap that I ever did, but only managed this. I, actually, was quite disappointed when I was done, but I don't think I could ever have done it justice.

Sugilite and ritchertite in argentium

Before I cut my finger.

Rare Large Flowering Purple Sugilite Richterite Argentium Sterling Silver Pendant
Clicking this image will open my store.

And here's another recent piece. This is one of Bill's stones, too. A rare gemmy form of rhodonite. I guess, you could call it, raspberry rhodonite or royal rhodonite. It's a very saturated color. ((OOOOPS! I have to edit it this- I just noticed that I said rhodonite, but it is, in fact, THULITE! I must have had a fever when I wrote that.))

I got some new stones from my "neighbor", too. I wrapped one up as soon as I got them. I have been wanting some noreena jasper for awhile. The noreena, like the rare gaspeite are from Australia. That's a great cut, don't you think? I used stainless steel. The color was a good choice, not too bright and not too dark. It is 20g and was tough to use.

Noreena Jasper in 20g stainless steel- ouch!
Noreena Jasper Orange Red Handmade Pendant Stainless Steel
Clicking this image will open my store.

That "wraps" up my show and tell. Have a great weekend. Hopefully, I'll be better soon and able to enjoy the awesome weather. :)

It's Spring here, at least temporarily. All my Spring bulbs are in bloom. Has Spring arrived at your house, yet?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And the Winner Is.... All of You!

 Update 1: I am getting someone at Punchtab to look into why the contest hasn't ended. In the meantime, you can still enter. I hope this will be resolved quickly. :) Sorry...

Update 2: Issue resolved! WE HAVE A WINNER!!! Joyce, you are the lucky winner! You had far and beyond the most entries! Thank you, EVERYONE for playing! It has been fun!

By noon we will have a winner to the contest. But, today you are all winners on my blog, because I have a special post for you:  An interview with one of my cab sources. He's also a wirewrapper, himself. I'm sure you will find him as interesting as I do. This is a long blog, but one I think you'll enjoy and do give his store a look, too. He sells on Artfire and has 204 sales, so you know he is doing something right. I think you'll be very happy with any business you do with him. :) Be sure to contact him through Artfire for your discount on multiple items.

Neon Blue Apatite (available at Bill's store)

I've gotten three large lots of stones from Bill- enough to know he has some good stuff. He also has good prices and offers deals on multiple stone purchases. I asked him if he wanted to do an interview. I found out that Bill is the real deal, old time rock hound.

Talk about going to the source! He lived in the Rocky Mountains for 25 years and spent a lot of time rock hunting. He was even a guide for other rock hunters. Bill spent the last year in the mountains living in a yurt 14 miles to the nearest town, chopping wood and carrying his own water. His favorite area to rock hunt was a place where 32 million year sedimentary rock came into contact with billion year old granite.

Ritchertite and Sugilite (available- if I don't get it first!)

Bill began his love affair with rocks on a surveying crew. When he wasn't busy working, he was checking out the rocks around him. At that time, he was looking at petrified wood, but he later learned it was Leaverite- or, what old timers call what you leave in the field 'cause it really ain't worth the trouble to haul. :)

Rutilated Quartz (available in Bill's store)

Around 1980, Bill was in Wyoming where he says his rock collecting really took off. Local shop owners took him under their wings and freely taught him all about his new hobby. Bill saw most of his old friends slowly die off from cancer, cancer that he suspects was the result of all the rock cutting without masks. These old friends taught him more about just rocks, though. They taught him the old school tradition of giving something for free or marking down a price for stones and jewelry. Kinda like the "paying it forward" that we talk about now.

By 1990, Bill was working in a music store where the owner allowed him to sell his rocks and the jewelry he was, by now, making. He calls his style of wire wrapping "old school or minimalist". He taught himself how to do it after buying a pendant and studying it. The job also allowed him more time to pursue his hobby. He made friends with some local ranchers along the Oregon Trail who allowed him to rock hunt on their land. Bill has panned for gold, dug quartz crystals and found artifacts (legally)- some as old as 14,000 years, as well as found rocks.

Watermelon Tourmaline Slice (available)

As his health began to decline he had to give up his rock hunting hobby. Even being on the computer is painful for him. Today he is selling his personal collection of cabochons, gem crystals, spheres, pyramids, geodes, obelisks and more. However, Bill has been able to continue making jewelry, though, which he is thankful for. He enjoys doing craft shows but he enjoys doing private shows more as he gets to spend more time with the people one on one to discuss the properties of the stones they are attracted to. He has lots of repeat customers and always gives them little gifts that they appreciate, like crystals. He says, "those who know me, know I let the cab tell me how it wants to be wrapped." A man after my own heart. :)

A private show setup

I asked Bill about his jewelry and the ladies in his life. Needless to say, they are all fans and have lots of nice jewelry. He taught a few of them how to make jewelry and a nephew, too. Bill knows that women are his best customers and always keeps them in mind.

A custom pendant Bill made for his daughter- Victoria Stone and color change Amethyst.

After getting to know Bill a little more, I asked him these questions:

Q: What is the coolest rock you ever found?

Oh this is a hard question to answer so I'll give you a couple answers. 1. The day I found where to dig quartz crystals, just walking up the slope littered with crystals sparking in the sun light. As I heard the honk from the 4x4 letting me know we were headed back to camp, I swear my feet were not touching the ground. It felt like I was walking 3 feet above the ground. Part of the reason is it had taken me 5 years and 50 miles (as the Raven flies) to find where the first crystal came from. 2. The day I found the back piece of a Clovis point (at least 12,000 years old) One of the things I was rock hunting for was a Mammoth kill site and with finding that Clovis piece I knew I was in the right area. I never did find that kill site but I am planning a trip back to Wyoming this summer so ya just never know.

Q: What is your favorite type of stone to cut?

Gem Silica or old stock Sugilite

Rare Ray Mine Gem Silica (available- price negotiable)

Q: What's the biggest rock you had to haul by yourself and was it worth it?

That would have to be a large (35lbs) conglomerate of solid black Tourmaline crystals, it was from a large outcroping of all black Tourmaline (a pegmatie dike) but the sad part is someone had dynamited it and shattered it all. This seems to have been common practice by people looking for gold, they miss the beauty right in front of the cause they are focused on the gold.

Q: Did you ever find much gold?
No we never did, it was the hardest physical labor I've ever done rock hunting. But we did find some.

Q: Did you ever find faceting material?

As in gemstone crystals?? Yes, but the gemstones were locked in Billion year old granite and there was no way to get them out without shattering them. Someone, once again, had used dynamite and shattered a bunch of gemstone and granite.

Q: Did you dig alone?

One of the rock hunting rules was NEVER hunt alone. I had a group of friends that loved rock hunting and camping, too. If one did not respect the high desert and mountains, one could get in serious trouble quickly!!!  Plus we always let somebody know where we planned on going. We did have to walk out to a paved road twice after the 4X4 SUV got stuck, a 12 mile hike both times. One had to be aware because we ran into rattlesnakes almost everywhere we rock hunted, nothing killed a rock hunt faster than rattlesnakes. Another rule was that we NEVER EVER dug for artifacts, surface hunting only!

Q: What do you think of all the new styles of wirewrapping- coiling, weaving, etc?

I am amazed by all the new styles and the amount of work that goes into them. In my humble opinion, there are some that loose sight that it's about the stone.

Q: Which metal do you prefer to work with?
Right now, my favorite is 14k white gold filled but this can change without a moments notice.

Q: Did you cab with wirewrapping in mind?


Q: What's your favorite cut?

I think its called a modified kite

The kite style Bill likes so much + old stock Sugilite (available)

I hope my readers got a little insight into what it takes to get the rocks we use. And, as I have said before, try to do business locally. These people are independent artists, too. :) More of Bill's rocks and his jewelry can be found at Artfire, under his username Stonefanatic.

 Today's question:  What is your favorite stone?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Earth to Tela: Ruby in Fuchsite

Today is the last full day of the contest! It will end at 12 noon EST tomorrow, March 15. Thank you all for playing! Good luck and may the best person win!

Ok, this is a bizarre wrap. (Hey, at least, I know it!) In my defense, it was inspired by this awesome stone. It reminds me of planets. My first impression was of Jupiter.

This is a really cool ruby in fuchsite. Yes, the pink is ruby, as in corundum, the gemstone. The ruby has a crystal structure that captures the light beautifully. I've used them before, but I like this one best.

Ruby in Fuschite Red & Green Handcrafted Artisan Unique Sci Fi Pendant Silver
Clicking this image will open this in my store.

Speaking of stones... I alluded to doing a blog post concerning the question I am most asked. Well, as a few have guessed, I am most often asked, "Where do you get your stones??" So, Thursday (tomorrow), I'll be talking about one of the people I get my stones from. Not only does he have great stones, but he's a real interesting guy. :) I made several recent pieces with stones that I got from him. There was this ruby in fuschite, and these incredible stones, too- tiffany stone and dumorturite, ocean jasper, maw sit sit and pink opal. So, be sure to stop in tomorrow and find out where I got these great stones. :)

I have really enjoyed the questions and your comments. It's been great getting some insight into how others think and feel about issues. So, today's question is:  Would you like to see the questions continued on a regular basis?

Also, be sure to tune in tomorrow, I'll announce the winner after she/he is notified. :)

Indian Paint Stone

I got a stone on eBay recently and found out that the man I bought it from lives very close to me. We struck up a conversation. I learned about the local rock club, which I haven't been to in a long while. It used to be quite a ways from me, but has relocated very close to my neighborhood. So, I am going to start going. :) YAY! GO ME! I get to hang out with other rock junkies :)

I found out that Randy has tons of rough in his backyard. He asked me what do I want. Are you kidding me??? Let's just say there is some nice ocean jasper and noreena jasper coming my way. He'll even cut to my specifications. I got to see the slabs, too. I told him to surprise me on the cuts. He does very nice work, in fact, below is the piece I got on eBay.

This is a real rare stone called, Indian Paint Brush and it comes from Death Valley, CA, USA. I have always wanted one. The stone is gorgeous. The black has a slight metallic look, like hematite. Very interesting. The cut is unusual, too. I have never seen it before, so I had to do something different.

Today's question:  Do you buy stones online or local? (Log in before you answer.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Beautiful Ocean Jasper Quandry

From the moment that I got this Ocean Jasper, I was itching to set it. The colors are so intense and beautiful and it's a triangle, which I love.

I had a helluva time setting this stone because it is so insanely polished and slippery. But, I certainly can't complain about a great polish! It has a glossy, mirror finish- one of the finest I've seen.

This is an experimental design. I finished half of it, put it away for about a week, then I was inspired to finish it. It was pretty tricky to do, but worth the results. I had planned to los it, but the raw copper is perfect with the colors of the stone. I wish I had done it with coated copper!


I'm probably not going to sell this and I'll tell you why and ask your opinion. The wires that come down the sides are 18 gauge. They are hammered hard, too. However, they can snag and bend if pulled too hard. I'm really finicky about that. I would wear this myself because I constructed it and know how to handle it, but the average person may not be so understanding of the design. In future re-designs, I tend to address this issue.

As you all know, I don't do swirly work. I have not a thing against swirly work, it's just not my style. Of course, I have done it before, but I was always worried about snags and pulls. So, my questions are for those of you that have done swirly, curly work or do it now. Do you worry about the hazards of the design? Do you advise clients of the proper care of the piece and potential problems? Do you find that the recipient just understands and accepts the nature of that style wirework? Part of the allure of wirework is the delicateness, but how delicate is too delicate? I have always wondered about these things. These issues would be the same for a piece similar to my ocean jasper piece, so I am very interested in your opinions.

Clear Cord

Sometime back, I blogged about some cord I use. I finally ran out of the big roll I had and had to get more. While searching for some online, I ran across someone who had clear. The only place I could find it was on eBay, but if you are interested, you might find it local. It is the same brand that I mentioned in the post, Greenhead, also called GHG. I got some. I wasn't too sure what to expect. I thought it would be frosted, but no, it is clear, very clear. I'm lovin' it!

I know extruded pvc cord doesn't sound very appealing, but I really like this stuff. :) It looks especially nice with silver.

Tomorrow, Sunday, there will be no entry, but you can keep earning points.

The sale ends Monday, so if you've been waiting, don't wait  too long! 20% off is a pretty good sale. :)

Next week, I will have a special post. It concerns the question I most often get. :)

The new question is- and I am really interested in what you have to say because this is something that has always puzzled me- what size necklaces do you wear? I like 20" for most things. It's my go to size. I'm not a small person, so 20" is not too long, not too short. 16" would be a tight choker for me. I don't typically wear real long necklaces, but I have a few.