Saturday, April 24, 2010

Custom Pendant Design Update

Hello Jewelry Aficionados!

Here are some photos showing the process I used to create the pendant I designed in the last post.

This first one shows the pattern cut out of paper and laid on the silver sheet. I then used a fine point Sharpie Marker to transfer the design. Then, so the design wouldn't be lost with finger smudges, I took an awl and scored along the line, making a permanent mark in the sterling.

I then carefully cut out the shape using a jeweler's saw. I'm always surprised by how quickly this process actually takes. One would think that it would take lots of time and several saw blades, not to mention sore hands, but since sterling is relatively soft, it cuts right through.

The piece as soon as it is free. You can see where I started each of the cuts. Try to keep these to a minimum, as you can see there is extra metal that now has to be filed away (and wasted) at each of those points (the bottom especially).

After using my handpiece with green stones and white rubber wheels along with a variety of different files, here is the smoothed piece, ready to be knocked around a bit with my hammer. Right now it is very 2-D, and the design calls for a more 3-D shape, so I need to not only hammer in the texture, but I need to form it into a rather complicated curve.

I say complicated curve because each one of the arms is curved and domed, as is the piece as a whole. I ended up hammering on my former models as well as an old 2x4, working to end up with the *PERFECT* shape.

The next step involved soldering on all the settings for the stones. I used premade settings. There are three sizes of bezel cups, and 3 snap settings for 4mm CZ's. The trick was to set them successfully without melting the cups. Since the pendant base is large and relatively thick, it acts as a pretty significan heat sink, so it has to be heated thoroughly before any flame is directed onto the settings, or they will melt in no time.

After a couple of hours in the pickle pot, the oxidation from the soldering process is gone, leaving a matte finish . It's now ready to set the stones.

The onyx cabochons are set in their cups waiting to be set. The edges of the bezel cups had to be shortened somewhat so that there wouldn't be a lot of metal showing. Also, since I used high-domed cabochons, they were pretty steep, which would have made it difficult to bend/fold over that much metal without it creasing on itself and looking unsightly.

After a nervewracking afternoon of cutting, setting, and a whole lot of polishing (I heard somewhere that the amount of time spent on polishing usually ends up being equal to the amount of time spend on everything else. I agree.), the pendant ended up a success. Next step? The earrings.
Stay tuned.

Peace! Pastel Guy

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jewelry Commission Part I - Design

Untitled Pendant Design

Coordinating Earrings

About a month ago, I was approached by a woman in town looking for a unique gift. "Make it big and bold," she said. "Can you do that?" Are you kidding? I LOVE making big and bold. My opinion is that if you're going to bother wearing jewelry, then WEAR it! FLAUNT it! Don't be shy and put on something that no one is ever going to notice. The whole point of wearing jewelry, of collecting jewelry, of making jewelry, is for people to notice it; otherwise, why bother?

But I digress.

The first part of a creative project is to find inspiration. This time, inspiration came during my son's haircut. I had just told the stylist to take a #2 up the back and sides and scissor the top so he could still spike it. Then I noticed her earrings. Big. Bold. (And nothing like the design, above.) All of a sudden, I saw this design in my head. This is it! All those partial, foggy ideas which had been popping in and out of my head suddenly coalesced into this design. It was one of those weird, creative epiphanies you read about but seldom experience.

Next, I drew the piece to size. The pendant measures about 2.25 inches (5.5 cm) in diameter, and the earrings are as big as a US quarter dollar. It's sterling silver, formed to give it some depth, and hammered at the ends to give it some texture. Then it will be set with 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm onyx cabachons (since black is 'her color'), and 4mm CZs (since real diamonds are not even an option).

I plan to put an inscription on the back, too, but I can't tell you what it is, yet, as the recipient might guess, and that would be bad.

The earrings are pretty much the same, except the piece with the post will be a 12mm cabachon onyx. I'm thinking I may start with 12 guage wire rather than cutting out sterling sheet, too.

The shape is meant to symbolize protection, nurturing, and caring. The arms could be human arms protecting children, the walls of a pod protecting its seeds, or the petals of a flower protecting the stamens.

I'm excited to start contructing this piece, and I plan to keep posting photos as I progress, so stay tuned!

Pastel (and Jewelry) Guy

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where Am I..?

Wow. No new art to share. Sorry.

I haven't even been making any jewelry! There are several factors on which I would like to place blame (after all, it's only human to place the blame elsewhere besides yourself!).

First, Facebook. That is an evil, evil place. When I left home all those years ago, I RAN as fast as I could. Now I've reconnected with high school and college friends, and it's been really comforting to learn that our lives are a lot different, yet we are still friends after decades of not talking.

Second, New Job. Being an Assistant Principal has a steep learning curve, one that I'm trying my best not to fall off. The take home work isn't so bad, but the extra time a school sure is!

Third, Lack of Desire. I just haven't been motivated. I think it may be that I'm actually happy with my job now, and not trying to start a second career while still in my first.

I do have a Plan, however. It involves a solo canoe trip this summer. Just me, the wilderness, and some art supplies for a week. It's not a fully formed plan, but I'm thinking a journal of some sort. Pastels may not be practical, so I may dust off my watercolors...

If anyone has some good ideas, please let me know!