Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Making Jewelry Storybook--Black Onyx Bracelet


Black Onyx Bracelet

Black onyx bracelet with filigree wires

To start the bracelet, several wires are soldered together. A setting is made and placed between the wires and soldered into place.

 The setting for the stone is inserted

The filigree wires are made by twisting two round wires together, then flattening them on two sides. This gives the appearance of scallops. The wires are soldered into place. Boy, it's time to clean the schmutz off my soldering block!

The filigree wires are inserted

The bracelet is formed into its final shape. The ends are rounded and the file work is done. It's ready for a prepolish and setting the stone.

The bracelet is bent into a cuff shape
This is another view of the finished piece on the back side. You notice that the back plate of the stone setting has hearts embossed on it?

The back side of the bracelet 

Here's a snowflake obsidian bracelet that's similar, but with more filigree wires.
Snowflake obsidian bracelet


Side view

This is the back side of the obsidian bracelet, where I've cut out a spray of flowers. Just a special little touch known to the owner.

The back side of the snowflake obsidian bracelet
Black stones always go very well with silver because of the high contrast between the silver and the black. Silver is considered to be one of the whitest precious metals.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Semi-finalist in National Competiton

"Majesty" bracelet a semi-finalist in The Crafts Report Magazine Cover Contest

My entry for the "Majesty" bracelet has been chosen to be one of the 32 semi-finalists out of hundreds of entries for the Cover Contest in The Crafts Report. That's a big achievement! It doesn't hurt that my daughter was the photographer, because she's really good.

"Majesty" bracelet by Katherine Palochak, photo credit Andrea Palochak
The bracelet is made from sterling silver, torch textured to give it a pebbly surface. The gold is 24 kt., fused to the silver using an ancient Korean technique called keum-boo. The stone is 8+ carats of royal purple amethyst (oh, it's a beautiful stone!) in a gallery setting. The color on the metal comes from an iridescent patina that ranges in color from gold, fuchsia, purple and blue.

I could use a little love to advance to the next stage of the contest, though. If you're a Facebook user, just click on the link below, and when you get to the photo, click "Like." When you click the "Like" button, it's a vote for my entry. This is only good for the day of June 12, 2013.

Thank you in advance for your support!


Thanks to everyone who had a hand in helping me out! I was one of the semi-finalists in the Crafts Report Magazine Cover Contest for the second year in a row. I'm on page 26 of the October 2013 issue.

Let me tell you, the competition was fierce this year! There were so many excellent entries, I felt I was very lucky to have even been chosen for the competition. The craftsmanship and the quality of the entries were superb.

The entry that won the Cover Competition was a gourd inset with turquoise and fetishes. It was phenomenal! I never knew carved gourds could be so decorative. It is worth taking a look at it, so here's the link:

Now I have to figure out what I want to enter for next year! Hmmm...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Making Jewelry Storybook--Pearl Tiara

I've been making tiaras lately, for no particular reason other than it seemed like a fun thing to do. It's a nice brain break. So here's the first tiara, made with South Sea shell pearls and sterling silver.

Make the base

The base wire is twisted and attachments are added at each end for a keeper chain. It also lets a veil be attached and can be used as anchor points with hair pins.

Add the pearl posts

Soldering the pearl posts on

Drill the pearls

Drilling the shell pearls. Steady hands needed!

Finished tiara

Shell pearls on graduated posts, everything polished to a high shine

This is what I call a half-crown tiara. It looks fabulous on someone's head! I'm waiting for one of my daughters to come visit so I can take a photo of it on a head. I tried photographing it on my head, but between trying to keep it balanced on my head (got a little problem with my hair falling out right now), holding the camera and trying to locate the shutter button, the result was that I looked like the village idiot.

This tiara might still be available for sale in my Etsy shop here:
Plus (bonus!) you get to see more pictures of it.

If you liked reading about how this piece was made, you can see other pieces being made in my other blog postings of Making Jewelry Storybook.

Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Bench

These are just a couple of recent commissions of custom jewelry that I really liked.

Elk tooth earrings view 1
Elk tooth earrings view 2

This snowflake obsidian bracelet combined with filigree was particularly pretty, I thought.
Snowflake obsidian bracelet front view
Snowflake obsidian bracelet side view
Snowflake obsidian bracelet reverse view



Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Clean Really Dirty Greasy Grimy Hands

Jewelry makers have awful looking fingers. We take off skin with deburring wheels, have scars from where the gravers slipped, cracked fingertips from water, fingernails (what fingernails?) that have been smashed, cut, rippled, etc. I have to laugh when someone says they make jewelry and they have these soft hands with perfectly manicured nails.

However, the bane all metalsmiths have is polishing compound!

Polishing compound is in a grease base. There are usually at least 3 different compounds used per piece--bobbing, tripoli and rouge. Each compound has to be washed off before going to the next compound, to avoid cross-contamination. Sometimes we have to show up with presentable hands.

I've tried just about everything, and the result was cleaner. Clean happened after doing dishes, taking a shower and washing my hair. But one day I ran across my old Masters soap, and it was an "Aha!" moment.

Here's the best proof:

Before--just one compound for one pair of earrings

After--squeaky clean!

The Recipe:

1 bar The Master's soap, available online or from art supply store
1 soft nylong bristle brush (surgical scrub), available from Lee Valley Tools
Warm water
Just to forewarn you, the Master's soap is black colored, but has lots of emollients in it to keep your hands from getting dried out.

If you liked this tip and want to see other tricks of the trade, find the postings labeled "For the Metalheads!"

Monday, March 4, 2013

On the Bench

I like to show people what I'm working on occasionally, so I'll show what's on my bench in the process of being worked on.

This one is getting close to getting set. It has a large titanium coated drusy with checkerboard garnets. It'll be done as a bead enhancer, which means you can take it off beads to wear as a pendant on a chain. This one will be set on a garnet bead strand.

Titanium drusy crystal with checkerboard cut garnets being fitted for a bead enhancer pendant

 OK, I work on a bunch of things consecutively, so it doesn't seem like I'm doing anything, then all of a sudden there's a bunch of pieces done. These really pretty pieces have complex executions, so it takes awhile to complete them. This one will have a Storybook on how I made it too.

This particular piece began as just sheet. I hand etched the Celtic pattern into it, cut it out, made the hinges, did the hinge pin catch assembly and set it with amethysts on both the top and the bottom of the catch assembly.

Everybody who got a sneak peak preview at the opening of the jewelry show was fascinated with the catch. (Thank you Jean Stark for teaching me that catch--elegant.) They were pulling the catch pin up, unfastening, putting it on, fastening the thing. Repeat. All the extra tight hinge allowances have now loosened to their proper tension.

Celtic key pattern hinged panel bracelet with amethysts
I'll show better pictures of it when I do more photo shoots.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ta-Daaah! New Studio!

Woo-hoo! I'm so excited about my new studio! My awesome husband is still putting the finishing touches on it, but I couldn't wait any longer to move in.

I'm in love with it. It's bright, cheery, has a view, enough space for me to more around in, and warm in the winter. So, check it out.

New studio view 1

On the left is my big heavy work table that has all my big equipment on it: scroll saw, bench polisher, hydraulic press, shear and brake, and a vise. The thing under the towel is my rolling mill. My work bench is next to the windows, and between the work bench and the work table is my map chest that holds my stones, findings and small hand tools.

New studio view 2

And, over to the left further, you see my big storage rack that holds a lot of my reference materials, some of my equipment, display cases, and various solutions and chemicals.

New studio view 3

Now notice my rolling carts. Is that cool, or what? If I have to have something closer to the bench, or somewhere else in the studio, I just roll it over. Also, dust bunnies and skittering stones can't hide out under them anymore.
Oh, and I went a little crazy with the label maker, because everything was reorganized, so I put labels on everything in hope I'd be able to figure out where I put something.
Expecting some good stuff to come out of here soon!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wind Generator and Eagle Co-Exist

There has been controversy about wind generators killing raptors (birds that hunt), but I think the bunnies are in more jeopardy than the eagle in this case!

Golden eagle on our wind generator

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sayonara WordPress!

People kept telling me I had to do my blog on WordPress, so I migrated it over there. Now for months, I've been trying to post things onto it. Mostly it won't let me sign in, or else once I do get in and halfway through the upload, it crashes.

So I'm back to Blogger and happy to be here!

New posts about new things will be up soon!