Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Jewelry Tools

I went to Beadfest last week expecting to purchase some tools as well as a nice variety of beads. There were so many people on the floor of the trade show, that I just chose not to go through inventory of gemstones while elbow-to-elbow with others. I think that years of working by myself in my basement studio has encouraged anti-social tendencies.
I chose to focus only on tools.
I have come to appreciate the value of buying the best tools that I can afford.
I bought my hammers from T. B. Hagstoz & Sons knowing that their inventory is typically among the best that is available. I'm exploring more metal forming, and these hammers will be especially useful for the foldforming that I'm experimenting with.
The brass brush and the Cupola Punch & Die set were purchased from Metalliferous. Pepe Tools, a leader in the jewelry tool business, made the Punch & Die set.
The flush cutters were purchased from Beaducation, and I love how they really do make a nice, flush cut on silver wire up to 12 gauge.
Quality tools will cost more than others, but they will last longer and will help you to efficiently and effectively develop your skills.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Know Your Beads

I'm planning my schedule for tomorrow, looking forward to attending a large bead show where I expect to purchase both beads and tools. Over the years, I have cultivated a collection of suppliers from whom I will order via their catalogs or internet sites, but when it comes to beads, I definitely prefer to make my purchases in person.
I want to hold a string of beads in my hand to fully appreciate the color and texture and to explore various combinations that I might use in future pieces. I also appreciate being able to talk to vendors, confirming what the beads are and where they came from so that I can pass that information on to my customers.
I have learned that what I am told by some bead show vendors is not always accurate. When I have doubts, I do my own research to figure out what is what.
For instance, the above beads were purchased from a vendor who told me I was buying orange turquoise. I had my suspicions, but wanted the beads regardless of what they were. I did some internet sleuthing once I got home.
I determined that what I had bought was most likely howlite, a calcium borosilicate hydroxide that was first discovered in Nova Scotia. I don't necessarily think that the vendor was purposely trying to mislead me; he may have been repeating what he had been told.
I only know that I will tell my customers that I believe the beads are dyed howlite.
Orange turquoise or howlite.....they are beautiful beads.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Soldered Ring Part II

My recent ring project encountered some problems while I was soldering, but I was determined to try again, hoping for better results.
While the new ring is similar to my previous project, I tweaked the design.
I cut a longer piece of etched brass (different pattern) and shaped it to have a curve that mimics the ring shank.
A small brass square was again soldered to the etched brass, but I located it off-center.
When preparing to solder, I double and triple-checked the third-hand clamp to avoid any unfortunate shifting of materials. This time, everything stayed in place as the solder melting of metals that were not supposed to melt.
After the ring was pickled and cleaned, I drilled a hole through the center of the brass window and used balled sterling wire to rivet set a small, faceted peridot bead.
Such a better outcome!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Spiritual Charms

As a parent of 18 year old twins, it is so satisfying to have reached a point where conversations are often focused on issues of real substance, and I can find myself on the listening end of thoughtful observations and compelling arguments. My one son and I had an interesting discussion yesterday regarding religion and issues of spirituality. How fitting that today I found this collection of religious charms at the local thrift store.
These will soon be incorporated into long, wire-wrapped necklaces that I want to have for my upcoming show.