Monday, August 8, 2016

08.08.16 Ain't nothin' sweeter...

Summer - Alice Gordon and Vincent Virga
...than a watermelon dream
'Cept sittin on the front porch eatin' that peach ice cream
When life is really sweeter than it seems
That's what you've got to call a watermelon dream.

- Guy Clark

Nothing, and I mean nothing, says "summer" to me like watermelon.  I bought this book - a collection of essays and illustrations about the season - more than 25 years ago based solely on the cover (it's actually a wonderful book).

Like its namesake fruit, the colors of the watermelon tourmaline make me think of long, warm, lazy days.  So, it's not surprising that when I saw this magnificent 8.5 carat emerald cut beauty in Yvonne Raley's Etsy store, I wanted it!

I didn't buy it right away - in fact - I hemmed and hawed about it for a very long time.  Fortunately, no one else wanted it more than me - and when she had a gemstone sale (and I knew I was getting ready to take a class on casting for stone setting) - I bought it!

It is far and away the most expensive piece I've purchased to work with myself - but it turned out to be the perfect choice for Steve Kriechbaum's wax wire class.

As is the Creative Side way, everything was set up and ready for us on our benches when we arrived on Friday morning for the start of the three day class.

Our instructor, master goldsmith Steve Kriechbaum began by demonstrating how to use wax wire (which is just what it sounds like, wax that is thin and narrow and comes in gauges that correspond to metal wire).  To make a ring or pendant, you begin by constructing a basket to fit the underside of the stone, then add embellishments and prongs before preparing the wax for casting.

Steve worked quickly - and made it look easy - but for me it was a real challenge.  While the approach to assembling the piece is somewhat analogous to fabrication - working with wax is nothing like working with metal.  The wax is soft, and delicate - and far less forgiving than metal wire - so my pendant came together pretty slowly.

I began by creating two rectangles - the same size - to create the basket to hold the stone.  Then I "welded" the pieces together using a wax pen (a pen sized wand with a heating element on the end to melt the wax).

It took all day to get the setting assembled - far longer than working in metal would have taken me; but when I was done, it really was beginning to look like a pendant...and I had learned a lot on our first day.

This was just the beginning, so stay tuned.

Until next time.

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