Monday, October 29, 2018

10.29.18 May their memory be a blessing.

Ordinarily, this would be the week that I post the latest installment of my blog.  Today this space is dedicated to all those whose lives have been taken by acts of gun violence and hate.  

The lives taken on Saturday morning were members of the American Jewish community, my community, so I share with you my collection of Judaic jewelry - from my mother, her mother and pieces I have acquired over the half century of my life.

For nearly six millennia - from the Babylonians to today's hate filled white nationalists - there have been those who would destroy us, yet we survive and flourish. 

These are the names of those who were slain while observing Shabbat at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.

Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal , 59
David Rosenthal , 54
Bernice Simon , 84
Sylvan Simon , 87
Daniel Stein , 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69

Zekher tzadik livrakha - May the memory of the righteous and holy be a blessing.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

10.15.18 Back to Beading

Like so many jewelers, I started with beading...when we went to the Outer Banks for family vacations, my sister-in-law and I would take our girls to the bead shop and let them pick out glass beads or shells to string together for souvenirs.

On one of those trips, I bought some seaglass, jump rings and earwires and made a pair of simple earrings.  Next thing I knew, I had a couple of pairs of pliers and a tackle box full of beads and findings.

It was fun for a while - I made a lot of earrings; I sold a few on Etsy and I gave them as gifts, but over time, my interest in it waned. For a long time, the beads languished in in the tackle box in my office.  Then, my friend Sarah Gish put out a call for bead donations for a project she was doing with youth in recovery I sent her pretty much everything I had and she put them to great use.
Fast forward a couple of of my pendants sold at Russell Korman, and the customer wanted a pair of coordinating earrings.  She asked for simple blue glass with a silver leverback...

...I remembered - and went looking for - these earrings, made with vintage Japanese millefiori beads (one of the few beaded pairs I kept). Turns out, they are a great match to my wildflower pendants. I decided in addition to the custom request, I'd make a few more.

After going back to some of my favorite bead sellers, I cut up a lot of 21 and 24 gauge wire to make head pins and earwires (it feels a lot more "smithy" when you make your own findings) and started putting beaded earrings together again.

Because I don't have a jewelry bench or equipment at home (and I don't want to) - I can't do metalsmithing work unless I go the studio.  The nice thing about beading is I can do it at the kitchen table...once I've taken a torch to all those little pieces of wire to ball up the ends.

So look for updates to the Etsy shop that included beaded earrings to coordinate with some of my millefiori and pressed glass wildflower pendants.

Until next time.

Monday, October 1, 2018

10.01.18 Becomes her treasure - Inlay Jewelry - Part 2

After completing the frames for both pairs of earrings, it was time to start cutting and shaping the stones to fit the finished settings.

Using the lapidary equipment was a totally new experience for me - and while I was glad for the opportunity - by the end of the weekend my fingers were pretty chewed up, so my lapidary vendors don't need to worry that I'm going to start cutting my own stones.

The first step was to take the broken pieces of stone to the saw, and cut them down so that they were close to the size of the settings

This was the first of several very messy steps...not that working with metal is particularly clean or neat, but you keep the lapidary saw lubricated with oil, which flies pretty much everywhere as you cut (those are garbage bags taped to the wall to protect them from the spray).

After the saw, I moved - with my very small pieces of stone - to the grinding wheels - which you also have to keep wet, with water - to shape the pieces more precisely so they would fit into the settings. Moving from left to right, you take away smaller and smaller amounts of stone from the surface with increasingly fine levels of grit.

It took a while to get the stones to fit - and with the first pair - I actually ground the spectrolite a little small...but inlay involves using jewelers epoxy to set the stones, so I was able to make them work.

Because the spectrolite is dark, Steve instructed me to mix some crushed charcoal into the epoxy to fill the space between the stone and the silver. I wasn't sure how I felt about this - but he assured me that I would be pleased with the result.

While waiting for the first pair of earrings to cure (it sets pretty quickly, but for the best results, we waited 24 hours to do the final grinding and polishing), we moved on to the second pair of earrings and repeated the process.

When both pairs of earrings were fully cured, it was time to go back to the wheels, grind away the excess stone, and put them on the polishing wheels.

When doing inlay, the stones are set so that they are taller than the metal frame, and they are finished by grinding down both the metal and stone.  We ground the howlite/spectrolite pair down to a flat surface to bring out the flash in the stones, but opted for a domed surface on the turquoise pair to show off as much of the matrix as possible.

Steve, of course, was right that I would be pleased with the outcome...and honestly, I was more than that, I was thrilled!

Both pairs have entered into frequent wardrobe rotation - and while I'm not sure I'll do any more inlay on my own, I definitely glad for the experience.

Until next time.