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.