Saturday, December 14, 2013

Color Charts and some etcetera

Seasons Greetings All!

A new follower has joined and thank you for your interest in this on again off again blog.  It is, I'm willing to admit, not the best blog in the world, so I'm always glad to see someone take interest.

Christmas is just around the corner and we are expecting company.  I may not be able to submit anything until after Jan 1, 2014.  With company coming, it means curious little fingers, and everything has to be put away and secured.  Some of my stuff, actually a lot of stuff is situated in the living room and has to find a temporary home elsewhere in the house.

The above poorly photographed color charts is what I've been doing.  These three are only a partial representation of the charts I've made so far.  My wife and I both have a myriad of different colors at out disposal, inks, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, chalks, color pencils, metallic pencils and pens, rubber stamp pads, etc., etc., some brands which are no longer available.  I decided to make color charts so that I would know better what we have as some things are stored here and there in the house.  It is easy to forget what you have without some kind of reference.

The upper left chart are new colors.  Inka Gold Metallic Rub top and on the bottom, Viva Precious Metal Colour paint. Yep, that's how it's spelled. I intend to make another chart of these two on black paper to see how they look.  I especially like the Metallic Rub. Not all colors are represented, by the way. That is really going to make things pop when applied to a textured surface.  I think better than Rub 'n Buff .  Yep, got that, too.  But it is an o.k. product.

On the right, Alcohol Inks by Ranger.  You have already seen results of these when I colored some Faux Bone.  Some colors are pretty weak and you have to be careful how you use them.

The bottom chart are some colors of a product called Radiant Pearls produced years ago by Angelwing Enterprises.  I may be in error, but I believe this product may have been picked up by another company and has been repackaged and colors partially renamed to Twinkling H2O's.  The one drawback I found with Radiant Pearls was that they would not dry on a non-porous surface.  Even on a porous surface they took awhile to dry.  But once dry they are beautiful and vibrant.  Another nice thing about them, a little goes a loooong way.  This is true of a number of metallic or pearlescent paints and look better on darker backgrounds.  

The interference pigments you find in Twinkling H2O's, Pearl-Ex, and Perfect Pearls, and Golden acrylics for example,  also look better on darker backgrounds, allowing the reds, greens and violets to come to life.  Speaking of Perfect Pearls, I am not a big fan of this product.  I would not have had them except I won four sets as a prize in a mini-book contest years ago when they first came out.

Well, that's all for now.  I hope to get another entry in before company comes.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Another brief post

Thought I'd better post something so the world would know i haven't fallen of the edge.  Just when I thought I could get going again, several things got in the way.  One was doing some jewelry repair for a neighbor lady,  I don't like doing that sort of work, but she's a nice neighbor and, well, I don't like saying no to her.  She doesn't get around very well and I'm always glad to do what I can for her.  Anyway, that's done and out of the way.  Now, I hope I can start working again.

The things I'll be posting in the future will be quite different than what I've done in the recent past.  I'm sort of going back to my old roots, doing more artistic type jewelry and mini-books.  I have purchased quite a lot of new supplies and I will have to do some experimenting with them.

Anyway, look for something different coming soon.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Plastic Tubing, Artistic Wire and Alcohol Ink

I took some 1/8 inch diameter plastic tubing, cut to 3/4 inch and 1 inch lengths and colored the inside with alcohol ink.  The outside is not colored. They sort of look like some electrical fuses.The red and purple colors worked better than some others.  Then I threaded the artistic wire through and made wrapped loops on each end.  The result looked like it needed something extra, so I cut some 1/8 inch long pieces of brass tubing and added them to the ends of the plastic.  That looked better, I think.  It is a work in progress  I'll add 2 or 3 of them to the steampunk necklace which is another work in progress.
These might look kind of neat placed on some kind of psuedo circuit board.  I'll have to play around with that.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steampunk Reversible Pendant

Another stab at doing some Steampunk jewelry.   

Sunday, September 22, 2013

More Steampunk

Components for a necklace element.  Compass disc from Tim Holtz "idea-ology" line. The disc heated with hot air gun and while warm, Swellegant Blood Red Dye-oxide daubed onto the surface. The part on the right is a textured brass strip, drilled for the brass screw, heated and Swellegant Darkening Patina daubed on and then relieved with sanding block.  Bent to fit the disc.  Copper wire balled.  A watch crown added to the brass strip. The wire will be inserted inside the brass strip.  The ball end will allow movenent in the finished piece.

The finished element.  The Compass disc can be rotated if desired.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Investigating Steampunk

One reason for not posting sooner is that I got interested in making some Steampunk style jewelry.  It seems to me there are several categories of steampunk style.  There is what I would classify as Classical where the maker is using found objects and re-purposing them into not only jewelry, but also into fashion clothing and accessories, wall art and sculpture.  On another level, the maker is using cast or stamped (not found) objects and either using them as is, or altering them in some fashion.

I'm starting on the low end of steam punk style jewelry and hopefully work my way into a better grade of steampunk.

Below, are shown some gears and wheels, beginning and after, of the "not found" variety which have been altered from their factory finish.

The far left gear and the bottom right and far right wheels were sanded to remove some of the factory finish.  These were heated using a heat gun, then both Swellegant Darkening Patina and Blood Red Dye-Oxide dabbed on using a small water color brush.  I like to think these look better that way.  More steampunky.

Here's the colorant.

You could use the product without heat but it would take much, much longer to work.  

Anyway, it's a beginning.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Brief Posting

Very brief posting this time.  Company's gone and I can begin doing some work after I sort things out.  Had to put my sprawl of projects in various states of completion away to keep curious little fingers from getting into them.  Now I have to sort them all out again.

Gave my daughter in law and her mother (who refers to herself as the "outlaw"), a couple thousand or more beads from my stash.  Daughter in law makes both beaded and steam punk masks which she sells at some of the specialized conventions she attends.  The "outlaw" does Native American type beadwork, so they both went away happy. I would have like for them to take a couple thousand more beads then I might have more room.

I did manage to sell a couple Faux Bone pieces, the leaf ones with alcohol ink coloring.  So, I am happy about that.

I will gradually begin to make some minor changes in this blog over the next few weeks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Applicators and Sanders

Shown, some of the things I use to apply alcohol ink to Faux Bone.  On the left are tiny little applicators that Micro Mark sells.  They weren't specifically made for applying ink, but I adapted them to the job.  Next, the ubiquitous Q-tips, but notice one end has been clipped off.  The resulting stub end becomes another applicator!  Amazing how this works.  Then there is the make up eye shadow applicator, used without modification.

On the right, the familiar salon sanding boards.  These are really great for curves, inside and outside, nicely conforming to them, and for edges as well.

I recently made an expensive mistake.  People have been saying how great the Tronex cutters are.  Well, certainly, they are well made.  No doubt about that.  But do they really make a better cut on wire than other brands?  In my own tests of the razor cut Tronex, it did not cut the wire any better than the Xuron cutters I've been using.  Expensive is not always better.

No production next week.  Company coming in for a visit and the wrist is still hurting.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ring Pendant

This piece went through a lot of different modifications before I settled on this version.  Faux Bone, Swarovski Crystal Pearl cabochon twenty gauge copper wire, balled and wrapped, alcohol ink.

I've done something to my dominate hand and wrist so I don't know if I can complete anything by next weekend.  When you get old things happen that you don't have a clue as to how they happened, they just do.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Black and Gold

Egg shaped Faux Bone, black alcohol ink and gold leaf (imitation), not quite finished yet.  Needs a bit more work on the coloration.  The usual tube bail on the reverse.

I seethe blog has a new follower.  Welcome!

Sorry, little bit of a hurry to get this posted.  Maybe have a meatier blog entry next week.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Faux Bone Leaves

Pictured, leaf forms made from 1/16" Faux Bone with half-drilled Swarovski crystal pearls.  Colored with Ranger Adirondack alcohol inks.  I used five different ink colors, plus tiny, random dabs of gold mixative.  Applied with the generally used standard dauber for this brand of ink.  According to conventional wisdom, one should not reuse the dauber.  I found this to not be true, at least in applying
ink on these and several leaves which are in the process of completion.  The same application of ink is used on the reverse side.  One leaf is made as a pendant, the other as a brooch.

Next post, more Faux Bone, new project.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Segmented Faux Bone Pendant and a Bail

This pendant presented a host of problems.  There were some trial and error pieces before the above came about.

I put two pieces of Faux Bone together with double-sided tape and sanded the top side and bottom to remove the shiny surface,  (the top is 1/16" and the bottom is 1/8"). I turned the bottom side up and using a circle template, and a 5 mm lead pencil, I drew the outer circle and then the inner one, making a washer shape. Then I roughly divided the washer into uneven thirds.  I wanted the end result to have three segments of unequal size in length.

To keep from smearing the drawing during sawing, I sprayed it with PYM II.

I sawed out the outer circle, filed away the saw marks, keeping the sides straight up and down, and then separated the two pieces.

I drilled an access hole for the saw blade into the inner circle and sawed this out.  Then I sawed out the segments.  I wanted a gap between each segment, so these had to have a bit sawn off one end.  Then removed the saw marks and sanded the top of the segments. I roughly reassembled the segments and colored them with different colored alcohol inks.  The inner edges were colored gold using a gold leaf pen.  I also colored the inside of the bottom disc and drilled a hole in the center with a No.67 drill bit for the 20 gauge wire which will form the post for the half-drilled Swarovski pearl.

The bail.  Previously, I had to figure out how to make a bail for the pendant.  After fiddling around with this and that,  here is what I came up with:

A short, bent piece of 1/8" outside diameter copper tube held by two 20 gauge wire staples, ends riveted on the other side.

Now to assemble the pendant.  Each segment piece was attached, one at time, with 20 gauge wire rivets, done on at a time.  To hold a segment in place while drilling and riveting, I used the Speetog plier/clamp.  These can be hard to find, but anyone can make a serviceable plier by purchasing a mini vise-grip or similar plier and padding the jaws with strips of leather held on with super glue.

Once the segments were attached, the pearl was placed on its post with one small drop of super glue.  Oops!  I'm not supposed to say "g__e." I'm supposed to say something like "Industrial Strength Adhesive."

Then, lastly the outer edge was colored as the inner edges were.

Something a little different coming next weekend.  Still more Faux Bone and Alcohol inks and half-drilled Swarovski pearls.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Faux Bone Pendant

A Faux Bone pendant.  The purple field looked pretty good a first, but I decided that it needed some help.  I put a half-drilled  Swarovski cabochon pearl in the field and that improved the appearance.  I also added a few brush strokes of pearl.  Whether that was a good idea, I don't know.  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Lighting conditions certainly not the same.

I don't know why, but I sort of like the half-drilled pearls.  Of course, these are not real pearls.  They only have the appearance of a pearl.  And, they come in a variety of colors.  Hard to find, though.

 I use this method to fasten the pearl.  First, I ball the end of a short piece of 20 gauge copper wire. I don't bother to pickle or remove any fire scale.  It's all going to be hidden anyway, except on the backside of the piece and that will be taken care of later.

Next, I insert the wire into a riveting block, that funny looking hexagonal steel block with different sized holes and slots, and hammer down the balled end, flattening it into a nail head rivet.

After removing the rivet from the block, I file the head to make it thinner, and it brightens up the end.

Then, drill a hole in the Faux Bone where the pearl will go, and chamfer the outside part of the hole with the point of a triangular scraper.  This because under the rivet head there will most likely be a tapered portion, left over from the original ball. Chamfering make a tapered opening and the rivet will sit flat against the back.

I file the other end of the rivet to remove any bur and actually file a bit of a sharp point so the wire will easily go through the hole, place the piece on the bench block and tap the rivet head flat on the back.

Having previously tested the hole depth in the pearl (1/8"),  I clip the wire to that length, file the end a bit, and put one tiny drop of Zap-a-Gap adhesive on the wire and quickly pop the pearl on wire, and let dry.  Although this adhesive sets up very quickly, I let it dry for 24 hours before continuing to work on the piece.  

Next week's blog entry will detail the process of making a bail for the stringing and a different sort of pendant, my magnificent (ha ha) segmented pendant!  I just know you can't bear to wait for it.  Chuckle, chuckle.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Alcohol Ink and Faux Bone

Shown are a few alcohol inked tiles of Faux Bone.  There are innumerable ways to apply ink to Faux Bone and the above barely scratch the surface.

The procedure I use for the pendants-in-progress shown in the previous post, is to draw a free-form shape and cut it out, saving the cut out piece.  If this piece is too ragged, I use it to redraw it on another piece of paper and cut that out.  The open piece is moved around on the tile to find an attractive or interesting area.  Then, I tape it in place with one piece of tape.  The other form is place inside the other and it is taped in place.  The open form is untaped and removed.

Next, I saw around the taped on form, moving or removing tape pieces as needed.

Why do all this?  I don't know!  It's just my method.  By doing all this, shapes can be repeated again and again if I want to do that.  Call me crazy, I don't care.  But don't call me late to dinner!

Next post, I will be experimenting again with a different coloring process on Faux Bone with the usual free form shapes.

Until then be well and for American followers, have a Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What I've been doing, etc.

Hello folks, back again with a long overdue post.  A cordial welcome to new followers who apparently found some interest in the blog.

I decided to go back to experimenting with Faux Bone.  One of the experiments resulted in a request for a tutorial, which I wrote, but is hanging in limbo in a "hold and review file.  The way my luck goes it may linger there for an eternity.  I may get paid and again I may not.  I've written another tutorial, but this one, no pay.  Notoriety, maybe.  That I can do without.

My experiments incorporated the use of alcohol inks, trying different ways of application.  Some, but not all are shown below.

And again below, the reverse side of the above.

These free form shapes are cut from 1/16" Faux Bone, and will become reversible pendants.

As shown, they are not finished.  I will drill a jump ring hole, insert an eyelet, and jump ring, then string them.

I've also, experimented with some other types of pendants that I can't show or tell about as these have tutorials written.  When and if either get published, then you can go to the sources and view them.

Anyway, hope you like these as there's some others in the works and I won't bother and maybe waste my time doing tutorials.

Hope to see you soon.

Monday, April 22, 2013

For Your Information

There's been some changes in my life lately and the result of all this means that I probably will not be posting anything for the next several weeks.  No time table.  All jewelry work is on hold.  The Five Tool Challenge entry had to go on hold and won't be sent in as planned.  Too bad.  Wasn't that good anyway.

Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jewelry Tools, What will happen to them later in life?

It suddenly occurred to me the other day that no one in the family would know what to do with all my tools, supplies and equipment, if tomorrow I died.  I also wondered if those who follow this blog have any plans for such an occurrence.  Your heirs, if they have no knowledge of what you have invested in either your business or hobby, could easily lose a considerable amount of money that should rightfully be theirs.

What should one do?  This is what I've come up with:

Make a inventory of everything related to your jewelry making.  How much you paid for each item and its source.  If you have kept all your invoices, that will help if you don't know.  I have a handful of old and somewhat scarce tools which, if an heir did not know that, may let them go for a song instead of what they are worth.  As an example, and I'm not bragging, I have two parallel action round nose pliers made by Schollhorn.  How often do you find those floating around?  To the right person they are worth more than the couple of dollars an heir might realize at a yard or garage sale.  

With the inventory, indicate the general location of the items on the list.  For example:  MY rolling mills are in the garage, covered up and maintained so they are in excellent condition. So their location is listed on the inventory as: garage, on end of bench.  I have a photograph of them to help an heir identify them.

Leave suggestions for heirs on possible ways for them to dispose of your tools, etc.  Sell them on Ebay or Etsy.  A local bead shop may allow putting up an advertisement.  Maybe you have friends that would bid on your things.  I don't know, I'm just sort of braainstorming here.

Anyway, it is something to think about, and I am certainly open to suggestions, as I've only scratched the surface on this subject.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Olio 11

Weather can't make up it's mind.  I guess it wants to try being a Yo Yo.  Up temperature one day, down the next.

Well anyway, here is another oldie for your viewing pleasure.  This one is sold.

Various Blue stones and sterling silver. 

Still fiddling with the Five Tool Challenge.  Very slowly.  Someday, I will post something more interesting.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Personal family matters have taken a toll on my jewelry making time.  I've tried to keep the personal stuff out og the blog, but I think I should just let folks know what we're dealing with.  My wife and I are caretakers for her aged mother.  She requires a lot of care and while we do have people coming in to help, out time to do other things is limited.  So now you know.

Here's and old piece I made some time ago.  Just so you folks will have something to look at.

I call it Misty Morning Sunrise.  Never had a chance to put it out for sale.  The wife glommed on to it

immediately, and said "That one's mine!"

Mostly agates and freshwater pearl and some carnelian.

I'll how another oldie next week, as I won't be able to get anything new done for awhile.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

5 Tool Challenge

I thought, "O.K. too cold to work in the second studio, so why not putter around with Jewelry Artist 5 Tool Challenge and see what happens.

First:  Figure out a design.  I happen to like form organic looking stuff, so after trying this and that, I came up with this rough drawing. The advantage to free form is you can make a slight boo-boo and nobody will know the difference!  Notice the odd number of segments.  I think it is best in a design like this, or similar, is to work with odd numbers, 3's, 5's, 9's, etc.

The grayness is not graphite smudge, just my poor lighting.  Got to do something about that some day.

Not too bad for freehand drawing.  Not that kind of artist.  Next, the drawing was refined and then put on some tracing paper.  To keep from smudging the drawing, I sprayed it with PYM II.  This is good stuff.  Dries waterproof and smudge proof.  Kinda smelly, tho.  Best to spray outdoors, I think.  I put a layer of double-stick tape on the metal, and placed the drawing on top of that.

Then drill holes for piercing with jeweler's saw.  A part of the challenge is to figure out how to drill clean holes in the metal without using a center punch or any other pointy tool.  Well, there is a way which I'll reveal in a later post, after I've sent in my entry.  Pop quiz.  How do you know when you are drilling at the right speed?  Answer below at the end of this blog entry.

The metal is 20 gauge brass.  This is not as easy to saw as copper for me at least.  My sawing hand gets tired and hurting very quickly these days. I get a little erratic, but I didn't break too many blades during the sawing.  I used 3/0 size blades as these seemed to work better. But, I persevered, and below is what I done so far.  I cleaned up the edges with various files and now I'm in the process of sanding the surface of the piece. 


Still a long way to go.  I don't think it looks too bad at this stage.  I"m going to stop work on the piece and do some more experimenting with textures on some scrap.  My plan is to have each segment a different texture.  Or, maybe multiple kinds of texture on a segment.. The rule is that you have to transition from texture to highly polished, so I'm thinking that I will have both on each segment.  We'll see how it goes.

Pop quiz answer.  You are drilling at the right speed when you see little curls of metal coming up.  And always use lubricant.  I use liquid Bur Life which I keep in a little jar, about 1/8th inch deep. Dip the tip of the drill bit in the lube, tap off any excess and drill.  Clean off the bit end and the piece with a brush and repeat as needed.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Sorry, nothing to show this post, maybe next week.  It has been too cold to work in the auxiliary studio, otherwise known as the garage.

I wasn't satisfied with the color results I have been getting with the enameling, so I ordered some additional colors and when the weather warms up enough, I'll give it another shot.

if you aren't a member of Ganoksin, you might consider joining.  Doesn't cost anything, and there is a wealth of information on jewelry making to be accessed there.  And besides, for a donation of $35.00 you can be eligible for prizes in the annual giveaway.  You get a chance at a $10,000 gift card from
Rio Grande.  Wow!  You can be like a kid in a candy store!

Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine is running a 5 Tool Challenge for jewelry makers.  Interesting, and I just may give it a shot.  There's no prize except that you might get your entry published for all the world to see.  Anyway, you're limited to five tools and no more.  Of course, if you have a flex shaft, there are a plethora of burs, etc. that can be used.  You are also challenged to drill clean holes without using a center punch.  Hah! No problem!  Easy as pie!  I'll show you how in a post here, after the contest deadline, May 1, 2013.

All for now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Molluscan Inspiration Part 2

Above, my first attempt at emulating the coloration of the Beautiful Little Cowry.  Several things are not right with it.  Too much scattering of enamel, and two, color is off.  Pretty clumsy effort.

Above, a second attempt.  Color is way off.  Diluted the original color too much.  And, I didn't quite cover the edges on this one.  It is fixable, I think.  I'll try adding a little more color to darken the splotch.

There is also another difference between the two examples.  The second is domed and I added some opalescent enamel to see if I could get it too look more like the natural glossiness of the cowry.  Enameling is at first all about experimentation until you get the results you want.  One thing about enameling is that you can add more color if you want.  I'll have to decide if it's worth it or not.

I used Thompson enamel, 80 mesh, Foundation White for the base, Mocha Brown, Chamois Brown, and A3 Holding Agent.

These examples are torch fired, using a propane fueled torch.  You can use a small butane torch if your piece is not too big. Pieces were placed on a wire mesh on a tripod, with the torch held underneath, about 3 inches below, and moved around.  You have to watch that you don't over-fire the piece.  One drawback of firing from underneath is fire scale on the back.  You wait for the piece to cool and then pickle it to remove the fire scale.  You can remove fire scale with PennyBrite and elbow grease, but pickle is better.  If I were to follow a different method of firing, I could eliminate the fire scale altogether.

We have just had our first real winter storm here, and tomorrow is supposed to be cold, so I may not do anymore enameling.  I do that out in the unheated garage.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I see new followers have signed on.  Welcome and thanks for your interest!

I am sorry to report that my good intentions to have something to show for you did not materialize.  Too many other's personal things got in the way and took up a lot of time.  I should have, however, something to show next week, so stay tuned for that.

Returning to my last post, I suddenly realized I had committed a faux pas by omitting the author's name after the scientific name for the two cowries, and a misidentification on one.  The specimen on the left was named by the great Swedish naturalist/scientist Karl von Linne who named himself Linnaeus, and named the shell in 1758.  For many years cowries were genus Cypraea.  Since then, they've been divided into many different genera and subspecies.  This cowry (the common name), also has other names, Stolid, Dull, and Fool's.  Don't like any of them.

The specimen on the right, I mistakenly put it into the wrong genera.  It should have been Contradusta pulchella pulchella (Swainson, W.A. 1823) Common name Pretty, Beautiful, (Little).  So, Pretty Little Cowry, etc.  O.K., that's done and enough of that.  Apologies for boring you with scientific nomenclature mumbo jumbo.  If you are still here, a couple of notes to bring this blog back jewelry making.

New book out which may be of interest to you ladies who like flowers (what lady doesn't?), and may want to try your hand at doing some metal work.  It's Mellissa Cable's  "Metal Jewelry in Bloom," published by Klambach Books.  Nice book.

Want to improve your jewelry making skills?  Hah! Who doesn't among us amateurs?  Now, let's not get huffy, I didn't say YOU were an amateur!  O.K., bring up YouTube on your confuser, oops!, sorry, computer and in the search box, type the name Soham Harrison.  Spelling is correct!  Mr. Harrison has over one hundred videos on various aspects of jewelry making.  Included also, are some cooking videos.  There's lots and lots of good, basic information here.  Highly recommended. Excellent teacher. I'm sure you'll like him, very down to earth.

And lastly,  check out John de Rosier's blog, The Jewelers Files.  John is starting a new series on some of the tools he uses to make his beautiful jewelry.  I will bet that you may be surprised by what he has chosen to start with.

As to the so-called molluscan inspiration, I have made the oval copper blanks, drilled the holes for jump rings, cleaned up the rough edges, sanded them, and cleaned, cleaned and cleaned them, so there's no oil, grease, fingerprints on them, and they are ready for torch firing enamel.  Can I do it?  Ah, now there's a mystery!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Molluscan Inspiration

Pictured, two cowry shells.  The one on the left is Bistolida stolida stolida, measuring about an inch in length, and on the right is Erronea pulhella pulchella,  provided that the names have changed.  Ah, shoot!  If I'm to be scientific here, the measurement is 3 cms! the right specimen is 4cm. Cowries went through a wholesale scientific name changes a few years ago.  Enough of the mumbo jumbo.

Why am I posting this?  Two reasons.  One, I like cowries.  I find the patterns and coloration amazing that an organism such as a mollusc can produce so much variation.  How do they accomplish this and why?  Most of the time the shell is covered by the mantle, the organ that secretes the material to build and color the shell, so patterns and colors are mostly not visible.  Second, I recently purchased some enamels and want to try to use the colors and patterns as a design basis.  Not to try and copy nature, but to use it as inspiration.  I have no idea how things will turn out.  Just have to wait and see.  I won't try to imitate the shape of the shell.  I'll start with flat disks of copper with a hole for a jump ring and try with a combination of torch firing and kiln firing.  I think the weather will be cooperative and it will be warm enough to work in the garage (the second studio), where the hot stuff is used.

Also, got in some of the Sellegant brand of metal coloring agent and I may try that for the above.  Lots of experimental things to try.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013


When I remarked I was going to redesign the bench, I had forgotten how it was assembled after I got it.  An examination of the bench revealed a redesign would be impractical.  So, as a result, I have decided to wait for warmer weather and build a new bench favoring my own style of work.  Below is a stick drawing of the front view of the proposed bench, subject to change.

Here's a run down of what is currently intended:  Upper right are two drawers.  Already, I am making a change.  Yep, I'm a bit on the nutty side.  The larger drawer is for burs, buffs, sanding discs, drills, etc.  It will go on top, the smaller drawer, below that. That drawer holds nothing on a permanent basis.  It is extra spaces to put pieces of a project in progress, and maybe, some tools being used on the project.

Below the drawers, the two long, vertical openings, two pull-out racks, on which will placed pliers, cutters, snips, saws, hammers, and files that I use the most.

The drawers and pull-out racks are supported by drawer slides, heavy duty ones for the racks.  Maybe I should call them panels instead of racks.  The idea comes from examining the photos of John de Rosier's studio and bench. The man is a genius when it comes to organizing tools.  The little box at the bottom is only for support.  

The large horizontal opening to the left of the panels is in a state of flux.  I have not decided how to handle this area.  There will be some kind of catch tray, and a soldering tray.  Light duty butane torch soldering.  The big stuff is in the good old catch-all garage.

What goes on top of the bench is semi-set.  Lamp and flex-shaft stand are a certainty.  I probably will place two sets of drawers I got from Office Depot 3 years ago.  They'll take care  of other lesser used tools.

Sometime in the future, I will sell the bench now being used.

Monday, January 21, 2013


For the past several days I've done nothing but troll around on Ebay and sketch out plan after plan for improvement of the bench.

This cute little ball peen hammer is one of the Ebay finds.  Cute, yes.  Practical, not hardly.  It is more conversation piece than a useful one.  But what the hey, I may find a use for it.  I have, however, found some good stuff in my recent forays into the depths of Ebay.  I may show some of them in future entries.

As to the attempts to design and redesign the bench, everything remains in a state of flux.  I dont want to build something and then find out later on the design was flawed.  It is not as simple as it seems.

One thing is certain.  The movable double shelf over the catch drawer has got to go.  It is an abomination.  Entirely too difficult to access any tools placed there.  So, away with you!

Another problem it that the bench and I are not really friends.  We are not made for each other.  It is not a happy association.  But, we must some how learn to live with one another, and the bench is easier to change than it is for me to change, it being inanimate, while I still retain some animation.

So, how does one begin a redesign process?  (Besides facetiously stating, "Very carefully!")

One way to begin is by analyzing the processes one uses is the making of the type of jewelry one makes.  Or, in other words, asking the question, what is the flow of work from beginning of a project to the end, and the use of what tools when?  How will  tools be placed so that they are easy to find and convenient to hand?  I really don't know how some folks do what they manage to do with tools piled on top of one another in a willy nilly fashion.  But they do, and they do extraordinary work.  I've gotten so that I have a hard time seeing or finding something in plain sight right in front of me.

For storing the tools, I take a group of tools of similar nature, and lay them out on a large piece of paper and measuring with a ruler the dimensions, draw an outline around them, taking into consideration any dividing material between each tool.  Keeping in mind, of course, the space available.  I have a 36 inch wide dimension to work with, and while that seems like a lot of space, it can get used up in a hurry.  I go back and forth trying this way and that in order to gets the most bang for the buck.  That is not the end of the story.  Once I have what I think is going to work, and before building, I'll make a mock-up from foam board and try it out.  That way no good lumber will be wasted.  We'll see how it goes, but in the meantime, don't hold your collective breaths folks.  It's going to take awhile.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mandrel Tools, Rio Grande Catalog, New Books

What's This All About?

I know this is going to set someone's teeth on edge but it does work.

The small ( 4 3/4 inch long), slip joint pliers along with a short (4 1/2 inch), modified screwdriver, shown with a mandrel, are essential tools for me when tightening the mandrel screw which holds various things such as sanding discs, 3M bristle brushes, cut-off wheels, etc.  Not shown, another essential item, a small tray.  (From a candy box.)  I work over this, so when I drop the screw, the tray will catch it.  It is almost certain that I will drop it. You can bet on it.  I lost one once when I didn't use the tray and I've yet to find it.

The tip of the screwdriver blade has been modified so it fits firmly into the screw slot.  The tips of ordinary screwdrivers are notorious for not fitting screw slots correctly.Most screwdrivers are mass produced ending up with blade ends tapered. Slots cut into screw heads are square sided. Only certain screwdrivers, particularly those used by gunsmiths, actually fit the slots.  And they are more expensive.  A few specialty woodworking screwdrivers are made to fit the slots.  Not even the better quality set of jeweler's screwdrivers I bought fit the slot correctly.

The pliers help to grip the slick mandrel shank firmly enough to keep it from turning when I tighten the screw. Amazingly, the plier jaw teeth don't cause any damage to the mandrel shank.

The GIANT Rio Grande Tool catalog has arrived and I'm going through the pages making out my wish list.  Then it will be time for second thoughts.  Do I really need this?  Will I use it once I have it?  The list gets narrowed down pretty quick!

Couple of new books out that some folks might be interested in consideration of adding to their library.  Both are published by Interweave.  If you don't solder and a bit scared of trying it, consider "Simple Soldering" by Kate Ferrant Richbourg.  Includes a DVD.  Using only relatively inexpensive small butane torches, she takes you through a number of basic methods to create soldered jewelry.

The second book, "Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers" by Elizabeth Bone, goes from basic to advanced  techniques. Covers a lot of different techniques.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dimpling Pliers, Again

Explanation:  Leather cord loop end with a brass sleeve secured by placing two dimples into the sleeve.  One millimeter dimpling plier.

One of my so-called resolutions was to take better photos.  This isn't one of them.  But I think you'll get the idea for another use for a dimpling plier.

On another note,  take a look at an amazing video.  and scroll down menu to Bench Tube, click on Watch Videos.  Then click on 3 Dimensional.

And, speaking of videos,  if you would like to watch some basic jewelry making videos, take a look at Nancy L T Hamilton's videos at

She is a kind of funny lady.  I get a kick out of watching.