Monday, October 1, 2018
10.01.18 Becomes her treasure - Inlay Jewelry - Part 2
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 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.