Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Designing For Men

The drawing is over and the cabs are well on their way to the new owners.

Let me tell you... life has been a challenge lately. We developed a water leak under the house. Don't know how long it was there, but by the time we found it, we had a huge mess. Somehow- the phone line developed problems at the same time. Whether because of the swamp we had, I can't say for sure, but it sure is coincidental.

The phone has been real staticy and the dsl has been slow to intermittent. (Boy, you really take your connection for granted until it has problems.) Anyway, they came today to fix it, accomplished their task and I went to the zoo.

While I was gone, they came back and did something that reset my connection to a new and unsecured connection. I don't play unsecured, so I had to deal with them on the phone for over an hour.

Anyway- I thought I'd share that just in case any of you ever thought these things only happened to you. :) Oh- and to top off the day, we were drowned at the zoo by unpredicted rain. I was soaked for the whole visit. But, at least, it was below 90 something degrees F.

To the topic at hand:  Designing for Men.

As you all know, a lot of my work tends to be simple and unisex. A man was visiting my site, my blog and my Etsy store and liked what he saw, so he asked me to do some work for him. This man, who prefers to be anonymous, is pretty well known for the work he does with cabochons. I'd love to say more because he is so interesting, but I won't. I will say, I'm really flattered. :)

Ever since we exchanged emails, my mind has been racing with ideas for manly designs. Believe it or not, I have never actually stopped to think hard about it. I have made pieces that tend to be more for a man, but I didn't start out by designing it for a man. So, what would constitute a masculine design? Clean, bold, heavy lines? Simple ornamentation? Western style? Durable? Large? All of the above?

I actually laid awake at night designing in my head. I came up with lots of ideas that seemed workable until I tried them in the morning. Finally, I struck on an idea that seemed doable. My first few tries were utter failures. Ready to give up on this idea, too, I gave it one last shot.


This is the first one I've finished. I can see a few changes to make in future pieces. But, I do like this for a man. It is sturdy without seeming too heavy or utilitarian. It has very little ornamentation and what there is is functional. I think it has a Western flavor- think bull. The bail is strong and not frilly, though it does have some texture and detail. It lets the stone show, which is most important and the stone is very secure.

What do you think, manly?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Final Drawing

Good morning all :)

First- let me say THANK YOU all for following along! It has been fun. :)

I hope everyone who is getting a cab is happy with my work. Keep in mind, I'm a newbie. These are all very acceptable and I would use every one, but I'm no pro. 

My grand daughter says Congratulations! to all the winners.

The names that went into the hat:

Susan R.
Kay B.
Denise Hall
Diane F.

Congratulations Diane!!!

We're running out the door to go to my grandson's birthday party. I know I said the cabs would go out today. That was before my daughter planned the party. If I get back in time, they will go out today. If not, they will go out Monday. I'll email you and let you know. :)

Have a great Day!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Final Day Free Gemstone Cabochon Giveaway

Scroll down for Thursday's name

Today is the last day of the giveaway.

Today's stone is a fabulous, wonderful, outstanding, colorful, rarely seen, unique, big, stunning jasper agate. Was that enough adjectives?? Of course, this is a completely subjective thing, but one has to appreciate it's relative rarity (I believe) and uniqueness. This is a blue agate (*swoon*) with red jasper (*more swooning*) and to top it off, it has some green flecks of something in it. This is a big (42mmx27mm) stone. I cut it from a slice of rock, freeform style, without a template. I followed the rock. 

I saved this for last because I think it is so awesome. I'm no expert by any means, but I have seen a lot of rocks, and this one is unique. This was given to me by a man who lives near the source in Washington state. This guy does really awesome work with groove wrapping. He's the one who inspired me to do it. He doesn't have a site or anything to show you, you'll just have to trust me. :

I  have been adding to the last drawing all week. Today, I am adding another one.


Do you recognize this?? It has a super glassy polish and it's really hard. I just finished this today. I did something different just for the helluvit. I left the corner miter lines. You can make it out in the picture. This is super reflective, so the picture looks funny, but it is a really nice cab.

Here are all the extra cabs.

Today, I will draw the last name for yesterday's stone and announce it as usual. I will then put all the names that have been drawn during the week back into the hat and draw one more time for all the stones pictured above, plus the one you were drawn for. I will announce the winner tomorrow morning. I'm rotten, making you wait, I know. :)

Good luck!!


Y'all want to know a secret? I didn't know this and think it's interesting. Lapidary folks use good old crazy glue to work on rocks all the time and they aren't even ashamed of it or try to hide it. Well... it's crazy glue, but with no preservatives. It goes bad faster, but it's the same thing.

It was really weird for me to go from shunning glue like the plague as a wire wrapper, to embracing it with happiness as a lapidary. The glue is used to fill fractures, fill pits, put rocks back together after a break and used like bondo on a car to fill voids. After the glue hardens, it can be polished just like the rock.

Check this out:

This Tiffany stone was a freebie slab from and eBay seller. I was working on it and a big piece blew out of the side. I could have chucked it. It's not the greatest stone. However, I decided to practice some gluing on it instead. If you look real hard, you might see what the next pictures demonstrate.

That whole clear bubbly area that now looks like quartz or agate is thick crazy glue that I used to fill the hole from the back and on the side. You see that green in it? LOL! That was my screw up learning opportunity. I filled the void from the back while it was still on the dopstick. After I realized it, I ran to put it in the freezer to get it off. When it popped off, some of the green wax got into the wet glue. Ewww... not attractive!


Today's question- Can you name that stone I asked you about- the one I added to the big drawing? :)


And now it's time for the last name to be drawn for the chance to get the grand prize. This name will receive the Hicoryite.

These names went into the hat:

Auntie Amy
livewire (Joyce)
Watercolors by Susan Roper
Kay B.
Cindy H
daizi55 (Debi)
Denise Hall
Saturday Sequins
Vicky F
Auf Draht (Renate)
Diane F.

Congratulations Amy!!!! Yay! You get today's stone and the chance to get them all tomorrow. :)

Thank you everyone for playing! I'll have some stats for you tomorrow as well as the lucky last name. I'll go and try to catch up with all the comments now. Boy, it's been hard to keep up :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 7 Free Gemstone Cabochon Giveaway

Scroll down for Wednesday's winner

Meet Diana

I met Diana online during a wire wrapping swap called Roaming Wire at Rock Tumbling Hobby. She was before me in line, so I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful piece of jewelry she made. She went so far as to scour my posts to see if she could determine what I would like best. I was so impressed with her work and with her personal consideration for a stranger that I asked her to be a guest on my blog. Here is the piece that she made for me. The centerpiece is a gorgeous rose quartz that she was given by the person before her in line for the Roaming Wire.

I knew Diana was going to be sending me a box, but I wasn't really prepared for how delicate looking and feminine the piece would be. I had never seen this style in person- only in photographs. I had always imagined it to be in a larger, heavier scale. What I got was very light and airy and much smaller than I had thought. Her work was meticulous and impressively neat and clean.

You can read about Diana in her own words on one of her sites here. Also, visit one of her other sites to follow her on her journey with anticlastic (foldformed) jewelry and be sure to check out this site for everything else she is interested in. She is one busy, creative lady!

Diana's love of rocks began as a child when her father gave her a tumbler. That fascination with rocks stayed with her from the first barrel full of tumbled wonders till now. Years later she learned to cab and is currently a lapidary and silversmith as well as a wire jeweler. In between, Diana picked up a degree in Design at University of CA. She has dabbled in many art forms and crafts, which she still enjoys. Diana is a teacher and she is lucky enough to find herself teaching alongside her sister.

I had a few questions for her after I read her bio.

I read your about me page. It answered a lot of questions for me, specifically what got you into rocks and what got you into the style of wrapping you do.

Our styles are so different, maybe that's why your work intrigues me so much. I can't see how I would approach a project like yours. So, tell me, first off- do you cab for yourself and do you cab with specific shapes in mind for specific projects?

I mostly cab for myself. Initially, I would look at slabs, and see patterns I wanted to use as a focus for a cab, and did solely freeform "designer" cabs around them. As time went by, I began to take note of the shapes I preferred or worked best with my wraps. And now that I've begun to work with silversmithing and metal forming, I'm enjoying using templates for the first time, and cutting cabs with certain projects in mind. In the case of the anticlastic shapes, which are so organic and flowing, I find myself wanting to match them with more geometric cabochons.
Diana's new adventures in anticlastic jewelry

Your work seems so free style. Yet, so right in the final product that it seems as if meticulously planned. Do you plan a project before hand? Do any sketches or wire estimates?

I never plan. It's not that I don't try, but my method is more like holding up a lantern in the dark, and I only see what step or three I need to take next, and I never know what the final piece will look like! I've tried numerous times to sketch and plan, but the stone and wire seem to take me in the direction it wants, and I've learned to trust the process and go with it.

You use many elements in your designs. Do you pick them to fit as you work, or, do you have a design in mind before you start.

Definitely pick them to fit as I work, at least the small elements. I may pair cabochons, but beads, charms, highlight metals are added as I go or after most of it is done.

I like the combinations of gems that I've seen you use. You have a good eye for design and balance. Is this something that you think comes naturally, as it seems to, or do you think this is something you picked up at University earning your degree in Design?

This will show my age~ my focus in the Design program at the University was darkroom photography and graphics, before the computer and digital photography! I think being surrounded by art, design elements in all disciplines helps a person "see". Whether a degree is necessary, I'm not convinced. I don't look at my work for balance in color, the path the eye takes, shape, direction, texture, none of that. I do what looks "right" to me. I think of my approach as intuitive design, as a form of meditation.
I understand that you were immediately attracted to Remy Heath's work at Heath Studios. I have her tutorial and I have to say that I think you achieved your own look apart from Remy's. I think you have a softer, more coherent look. I do appreciate Remy's work, as well, but yours seems more refined. How long have you been doing this style and have you deliberately tried to develop your own style from it or did it come naturally?

I was actually attracted to the work posted on, artists like Paradigm Shift, and Ray Wiley and SoulPieces. I wanted to learn how to wrap like that. But I searched and searched and couldn't find out how to even start. Most of them are self taught, and they just tell you to "start wrapping" and don't stop! I needed a bit more than that, so I persisted in my search and finally came upon Remy's tutorial. At last! That was my starting point. My first pieces were much heavier and bigger, much like her tutorial piece. I think that was 4 years ago.

On your anticlastic site you say, "I'm a serial hobbyist." I can so relate to that and I'm sure others can, too. How do you find time for them all? No, that was rhetorical, but we're all thinking it after reading about your many hobbies and interests. Do you try to find new ways of combining different hobbies and techniques?

I like to think that's the reason for my madness of collecting hobbies. That I'll put them all together. That was my goal with taking metalsmithing, to create something being able to use metalforming, classic silversmithing, wire wrapping and of course stones. My first attempt was a disaster! So I'm just going with the flow, and I'll see where I end up.

Do you have any links you'd like to promote or anything in particular you'd like to add?

Can't think of any.

I hope you all have a look at Diana's blogs. I hope you enjoyed getting another perspective on art jewelry, as well. We take many different paths, but we are all on the same journey.


Today's stone is a large, colorful hickoryite jasper (or more properly - a rhyolite).

Hickoryite with a glassy polish


A couple cabs that I finished yesterday in which the rough was given to me:

mottled green jade form the US

Zebra Marble from Australia

...another red jasper agate- This is a wowser!


Today is the last day for the single stone giveaway. Tomorrow is the big drawing! YAY! Be sure to leave a comment today- the last chance to get a spot in the big drawing. I'm gonna throw in the Zebra marble, too. :)

Good luck everyone!


Today the grandkids are sleeping hard. They had a full day at Busch Gardens yesterday. My son agreed to draw the name for Wednesday. I cropped his face, at his request. 


Yay, Susan R.!!! You will be sent the beautiful mystery stone. You will also be in the grand prize drawing.

Remember to email me your address.

As a reminder: 

Diane F. and Denise Hall, you need to email me your addresses. My address is- tela (dot) formosa (at) gmail (dot) com

Congratulations Susan!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 6 Free Gemstone Cabochon Giveaway

 Scroll down for Tuesday's winner

Well, hello again. :) Today is a kind of mish mash day because I have no idea what kind of rock today's stone is. I fell in love with it, though. It is very unusual as you can see.

Mystery slab

What you see in the picture, is a slice of the full size of the rock. This came to me from a woman who also called it a mystery. It was given to her as a mystery. It is from Arizona and that's all I know.

After working with it, I can say it is fairly soft and it didn't take a hard polish. It's still a wonderful cab, though. Lots of stones don't take that liquid shine like most agates do.

We work with many stones that are a combination of many things. We use names for stones that make it easier to discuss them. Those general names, like jasper and agate, are merely the tip of the ice berg and only scratch the surface of identification. I won't even try to break things down for you because I don't even understand it all myself. Classifying a rock is not always an easy endeavor. I plan to spend some time investigating this one, just for the sake of curiosity and practice.

A great place to start learning how ID a rock is this informative site and specific page. I have used the Mineral Identification Key page to learn how to properly describe the characteristics of a stone when discussing a possible ID. What at first seems too daunting and maybe pointless is actually not so complicated and, when cabbing your own stones, becomes important information to know. One can learn the hardness of the rock- the Moh's hardness of it to determine how it should be handled. Would it make a good ring stone? Is it too soft to wire wrap? Is it hard enough to withstand a groove wrap? These are just a few questions answered by knowing the hardness.

To describe a rock in it's entirety and come closer to identifying it there is a whole list of characteristics to test for. Most of them we can forget about for our purposes as jewelers. For example, most of us don't have a geiger counter to test radioactivity. But, check out that page I linked to and see for yourself that are some pretty simple things we can do.


Today, I am going to do some cabbing. My son and I got some preforms done and I got some pictures for you of that process.

This is a Skilsaw wet tile saw. It has a 7" diamond tipped blade. It looks real intimidating, yet it is quite safe to use. You can get real close to the blade and even touch it or accidentally bump it and not get cut. It seems fantastical, but it's true. (However- I'm not advocating that you put your hand across the moving the blade or anything stupid like that.) The saw blade has a reservoir of water beneath it that keeps it spitting water over the wheel which cools and lubricate the stone and blade. It's fairly quick work. It's surprising what you can get cut on this thing. I have used it to make small slabs from good size chunks of rocks.

Here's the pile of preforms I'm going to tackle today. I'll probably only get 8-10 done, though.

Today's question:  I'm not sure if I have asked this before-- Do you wear jewelry? I am always surprised by the number of jewelers who don't. I actually do not wear much jewelry. I used to, until I started making it. Now, making it fulfills my desire for baubles.


Here we go again...... another day; another stone; another winner....

These are the names that went into the hat:

Mary Hicks
Watercolors by Susan Roper
Saturday Sequins
Cindy H
Auf Draht (Renate)
Kay B.
Diane F.
Vicky F
Susan S

Today is my youngest grandson's birthday. He's my helper today and quite happy about it. :)

Congratulations Kay B.!!! YAY! You will receive the stone of the day and be entered for Friday's drawing. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 5 Free Gemstone Cabochon Giveaway

Scroll down for Monday's winner

I was going through the rock that was given me, when I realized that I didn't have that many jaspers. You have to understand how odd that struck me and what a good thing that is.

I am a jasper nut. For all the years that I have been working with cabs, I've had few agates. Just a personal preference thing. However, now that I am cutting my own, I have been given (literally) a new perspective on collecting agate. Having the opportunity to work with so many agates has been really good for me and educational, too. Even doing this contest has been good in an agate kinda way. I have a whole new appreciation for the beauty of them. Working with them is great. They are super hard. I think, and I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I think that working harder stones is easier than soft ones. Agates, in general, take a super glassy polish, too.

Today's stone is a jasper, but I want to show you a couple more agates that I was given.

Burro Creek Agate

Lavender Agate from the famed Ellensburg, WA area.

The true beauty of both these stones can't be realized through a picture. The Burro Creek is a beautiful, creamy purple. The Lavender is from the same area as the rare and famous Ellensburg Blue Agate and is every bit as hard. Cutting this was like cutting diamonds.

I just had to show those to you. Both are very special. Now, onto today's stone.

36x20mm- Ignore all the reflections, this took a great polish.

Most of you probably have an idea of how much I love red jasper. This one is no exception. This was cut free style from a small piece of slab. It is much prettier in person, but does have a few very tiny pits. That isn't unusual for brecciated jasper or any stone really. It has a white line (healed fracture) filled with agate and if you look close, one end is cherry red. Very cool! I really love this. :) You do know how hard it is for me to give up red jasper, right? LOL! But, I will. It is going to the person who's name I draw.

Here's a few more jaspers that were given me. I have more that I haven't cut, though not very much.

A large Royal Sahara for a special project that I promised. 

A super beautiful mystery stone which I am going to refer to as a probable jasper agate. Much more pink in person.
And since so many of you like the marquis shape, I thought I would throw in another agate for Friday's drawing. This time it's a crazy lace agate. It's not the greatest, but it was sent to me free by an eBay seller, it is a marquis and it does have great color. :)

The question of the day:  What stone or stones do you remember being popular when you were younger? I remember malachite and rhodochrosite being in everything and being practically throw away stones. Try getting good rhodo now!


A little late this morning....

The names that went into the hat are:
Diane F.
Joyce (livewire)
Kay B
Cindy H
Mary Hicks
daizi55 (Debi)
Susan Roper
Auf Draht (Renate)
Vicky F
Saturday Sequins (Sarah)
Denise Hall

Congratulations Denise Hall!!! YAY! I will be sending you the red and green moss agate and entering you for the big drawing Friday. :)

Keep commenting :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 4 Free Gemstone Cabochon Giveaway

 Scroll down for Sundays winner

Back for more rocky conversation? :)

I was going to talk about the plume agates today, as I alluded to yesterday, but today's rock is another moss agate- I think. Let's look at it again.

Lots of clear agate and red and green moss
Reflections from the glassy polish and even a pocket of druzy on the front.
Yup, looks like Moss Agate.

Sometimes, it's hard to tell. The above images are the stone which will be drawn for today's stone. Let's look at a plume agate.

Unknown Plume Agate

Most Plume Agates come with a provenance and are known by their locality name and/or type of plume. This is clearly a colorful plume agate and a nice one to boot, but the location of it is not known, therefore, we don't know the name of this- other than pretty. But, you can clearly see the difference between the plume like inclusions and the mossy inclusions above. Sometimes, a picture says a thousand words much more effectively. This rough was given to me, as was the moss rough above it. I'm going to include this into Friday's grand drawing, as well. There is a little pocket of druzy on the top edge that you can make out, but it is on the girdle and should easily be covered.

Instead of my trying to tell you something that I haven't learned much about myself, I'm going to refer you to that really, really great agate site that I sent you to before: Agates with Inclusions. If you haven't been, do check it out. There's some killer eye candy there. I have been in touch with the owner and I'm hoping he has seen that Thistle Brush Agate that I posted about on day 2.

Today being Sunday (as I write this), I haven't cabbed or wrapped. I intended to, but took the day off instead. DH and I chilled out. Our little friend wanted to relax, too, but he wouldn't be missed. Can you say attention hound?? I think he was trying to tell us something. **Sigh** :)

So, how many days a week do you do something jewelry related? (Not counting wearing it.) Me, 5-7. Yeah, I need a life. :)


No effort has been made to redraw a name for a better shot. My poor portrait taking skills and sleepy grand daughter combined for an unflattering photo of my little beauty, but that's just how it will have to be. She's such a trooper!

Congratulations Diane!!! Your name was drawn and you will be getting Sunday's moss agate and a chance to win the grand prize! Yay!!