Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Season Greetings

Happy Holidays to all
and to all
a great, happy, healthy 2014.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Making a List

December 20 - Getting Ready

The Vancouver area got a pre-Christmas snowfall last night. The quality of the snow in this part of the world is kinda pathetic - wet and heavy. Driving or walking on it is a bit like trying to negotiate a large bowl of porridge -- but it is sort of pretty!


Brrrrrrrrrrr

What a huge change from the photo of this garden last summer (May 17 post).

I had already made plans for a day of Christmas baking, so no need to venture out among the drivers trying it with summer tires!


Welcome to my home

Front door is just there on the right. Come in from the cold and join in the fun.

The kitchen is all set up and ready to go. Today, we will be making sugar-dusted pecan balls, shortbread, Swedish pastry balls (I do not know if they are of Swedish origin or not but they are yummy) and carrot pudding. These are all things from my childhood and I really enjoy making them.

The new kitchen is such a pleasure to work in - lots of light and space. Much as I loved our floating home, I admit the galley was a bit on the small side!


Pecan balls



Butter ready for creaming; sugar, flour and chopped pecans standing by. These are easy to make and husband-tested for taste.


Mix it all up then get a bit messy shaping the dough into small balls.

Ready for the oven


All lined up (well, one is making a break for it) and ready to bake.

About 13 - 15 minutes at 350 gets them done. While they are still warm, you roll them in confectioners sugar (carefully; they are very delicate before they cool). After they cool, you roll them again (no wonder my husband likes them!).


Here is the finished product. That pound of butter behind is about to become shortbread.


Mission Accomplished


Late afternoon: two kinds of cookies cooling on the counter, batch of shortbread in the oven and the carrot puddings steaming on my wonderful new stove.

Now I think we should pour ourselves some coffee and maybe even sample a cookie.

Thanks for coming by. I hope you had as much fun as I did.



Saturday, 14 December 2013

December 14

Wee Heart Project


I finally got to work on the tiny heart pendant a few days ago. My plan was for something very simple and I think I have achieved that.

As always, I started by annealing the metal to make it workable. I also stamped my mark into the back.

Photo: Face of Pendant

I filed and sanded the edges, then burnished them smooth. Next, I hammered the heart into a slight dome and used the round end of a small ball peen hammer to create a subtle pattern drifting across the face from upper right to lower left.


With the shaping done, I soldered a ring to the back. I set it on one of the lobes to allow the heart to ride at a slight angle.  I have tried it out on several chains and have found that, the longer the chain, the more the heart wants to flip over. Bothersome. I wonder if hanging it from silk ribbon would eliminate that problem. Before I list it for sale, I may try that -- oh, oh; back to Michaels!


I was really pleased with how this project turned out. It is a dainty item and, while anyone could wear it, I think it would be especially suitable for a young girl. The little heart is 5/8 inches across and about 1/2 inch high.

I am thinking that it would be great for a flower girl, on a ribbon to match the bridesmaids dresses.  Could make larger versions for the bridesmaids, too? Hmmm. Planning for 2014 now.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a very happy or merry whatever-you-may-celebrate in December and a really wonderful 2014.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Decmber 7

Back to the Bench

With the kitchen finished at last, I got back to the shop and went to work on the other moonstone ring. Because I had set the moonstone, I could not solder the silver ball back on. Prying the stone out of that dainty setting was way too risky. Although lovely, moonstones are somewhat delicate and it is easy to scratch or chip them. First step was to make another ring for the client -- I finished that a few days ago and it is winging its way to her.
Seeking a way to rescue the damaged ring, I went back to my original sketches (above). Although the one at the lower left featured a round stone, I felt the layout would work equally well with an oval stone. All I had to do was pull the remaining silver ball off (a bit tricky, but pulling and twisitng it with pliers worked) then drill pilot holes and use very small files to create the triangular shapes I wanted to frame the stone.


New Version

This photo shows the finished ring. I photographed it on a candle to get it to face the camera for its close-up ;-)

I am quite pleased with how this came out (especially as I did not want to have to toss the silver and the stone!)

Variation on the old saying: I suppose this is a jeweler's way of making lemonade, isn't it?

Next Up

I was so pleased with the ring that I immediately went back to work on one of the Open Heart designs. This one was for a mixed metal pendant.
I sweat-soldered the copper and sterling hearts together some time ago. Yesterday, to complete this design, I soldered on a tube setting for a 3 mm amethyst and drilled the other side of the heart to accommodate a ring of square sterling wire. Now it's all ready to thread on a chain and decorate someone's dress or sweater.

I have a small sterling heart still sitting on the bench. There will be news of it sometime next week.









Friday, 6 December 2013

New Kitchen

Ready for Christmas Cooking Now

The blog has been pretty silent but for a very good reason. We finally got around to finishing the kitchen renovations.

Before

Here is the kitchen as it looked when we bought the house in July 2012. I found this very dated and a bit stark. Also feared possible death of frridge and stove (both dated from early 1980s).

Before we even moved in, I did a multi-coat refinishing of the cabinets, making the look much warmer. We also removed the bi-fold doors on the laundry area (they did not even open wide enough to let you get the dryer door fully open!) and painted the walls. A set of baskets to hold laundry and cleaning supplies eliminated any visual need for those doors.

After that, we waited for our previous home to sell, freeing up funds. This fall, we invested in new fridge and stove so the cook (me) is much happier now. Even more recently, we found someone to re-surface counters with new laminate, hiding forever that never-quite-clean orange.

After

Same room today. Really love cooking here now, so traditional Christmas Eve party will be a happier event for me this year.




Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ring Complete!

December 1

Spent the morning in my shop working on that moonstone ring. I had completed one but, while burnishing the bezel onto the stone, I knocked off one of the tiny silver balls. Blast! No way to re-solder it without removing the stone (a very dicey proposition at that stage). I opted to pull off the other ball (took a bit of effort). I will re-work that into another of my design ideas soon.

I finally got the replacement ring set up. Silver balls soldered on? Check. Bezel setting secured? Check. Ring blank ends joined? Check. Ready to round it up? Check.

Making It Round

To round up a ring, you position it on a tapered metal mandrel and hammer it with a rawhide mallet (which will not damage your silver). When you are making a simple band, this is pretty easy. You can just whack at it! Can be very theraputic!

In this case, because I had soldered the bezel and silver balls on first, I had to whack at it with considerable care. It would be pretty easy for a sloppy blow to flatten that bezel and send me back to square one.

As you can see, the rounding happens before the polishing. In the photo above, the ring still has the chalky look left by the final pickle bath.

Rounded!

Here it is a bit later, rounded up to a size 6 1/2.


One Moonstone Ring Done

The photo on the right shows the ring, stone in place, setting burnished on, fully polished and ready for the patient woman who ordered it (provided she is happy with it, of course!).

I find I really like the soft look of a moonstone in a silver setting. All nice and glowy -- sort of like moonlight on a frozen lake.