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.