Monday, September 17, 2018

09.17.18 One woman's trash - Inlay Jewelry, Part 1

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

-- Leonard Cohen

This is the chorus of Leonard Cohen's song, Anthem. I've thought about these words a lot over the past few months. When something cracks we often think of it as broken, rather than as simply presenting a new opportunity...and I'm trying to think differently, and more positively, in what seem often to be dark and trying times.

I was really upset when I cracked this spectrolite cabochon. I had ordered it for a custom project, made the bezel, and it broke when I was just about to set it.  I didn't really know what to do with it - I talked to my client, got another stone and finished the piece. I put the broken halves away and didn't think about them again for quite a while.

Almost exactly a year later - while making another custom pendant - I cracked a piece of Kingman turquoise. Same story - new stone, finished, and moved on. opportunity to take advantage of the broken pieces presented itself.  Creative Side Jewelry Academy posted their list of master classes for 2018, and it included inlay setting with Steve Kriechbaum.

I've taken classes with Steve before, and he is a great teacher. So, I signed up and decided I'd take my broken cabochons and see what he could help me do with them.

Inlay is an ancient technique - used with wood, metal and stone - that dates back to the third or forth century BC.  Inlay jewelry is made with either crushed or solid stone.

Photo credit: Hoel's Indian Shop
Native Americans, especially those from the Navajo Nation, are famous for their inlay jewelry using turquoise and coral.  The techniques Steve taught us similar to those used by Navajo jewelers.

In my previous work setting cabochons, the size and shape of the stone dictated the metalwork.  When making inlay jewelry, the reverse is true. The first task in inlay is to fabricate the metal setting, then the stones are cut to fit.

For my class projects, I opted to make earrings...for a couple of reasons...first, I love earrings, and second, the pieces of my broken stones were relatively small which made them ideal candidates for long, narrow settings.

The fabrication of the metal was not significantly different than for a bezel setting. I made rectangular channels  which I would then solder (along with small jump rings for earwires) to backplates, and finish.

Then it was time learn how to use the lapidary equipment.

More about that in the second post about my class.

Until next time.