Friday, 22 April 2016

Mother's Day - May 8

A Plan For Vancouver Moms

If you live in or near Greater Vancouver, here is a terrific plan for Mother's Day.

First, take a tour of Vancouver's beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden on Oak Street <http://vandusengarden.org/> then grab a snack at Truffles Café or enjoy a delicious lunch at Shaughnessy Restaurant.

Finish your outing with a visit to the Artisan Jewellery Show & Sale in the BMO Great Hall. Admission to the event is free, as is browsing the demonstrations and displays of exquisite handcrafted jewellery. It's almost certain that you can find a perfect gift for Mom here, too.




Thursday, 14 April 2016

Kyanite Ovals

Back to the Bench

I really enjoyed prowling the displays of stones and finished jewelry at the BC Gem show last weekend. It's a fun event. Of course, because a jeweler can never have too many stones, I did buy a few. I'd love to say I have plans for all of them, but I really bought them because they caught my eye. On future blogs you may meet some of them.

I did, however, have some lovely blue Kyanite cabs that were purchased with a definite purpose in mind; oval studs. With a few days of cooler, damp weather, I had "time off" from the garden chores so headed to my bench with some sterling sheet and wire — and the stones.

How Tall Should That Wire Be?



Getting bezels to fit stones is not only a matter of getting the length of wire just right to wrap the gem, but also getting a height that allows you to fold the wire over the edge of the stone enough to grip but not to smother it.

Here you can see that the bezel wire stands well above the point where it grips the stone. I have one of the Kyanites sitting in its bezel and I have marked where the top should be. If I was a real master of the jeweler's saw, I might try to cut it but, with the delicacy of fine silver bezel wire, I am going to play it safe and take it down by sanding. And sanding. And sanding. Better more work than a crumpled bezel!

Ready to Set


Here, I have soldered both the bezel and the earring post in position. As usual, I have cut away part of the back plate to let more light through the stone — and to create an earring light enough for all day wear.

Two tasks to go; polish the silver and set the stone. The photo below shows the earring atop a piece of leather (scratch protection) with the tools needed to close the bezel over the edge of the cabochon. Top: a bezel rocker. Its curved top surface lets me rock the silver onto the stone. Below it: a steel burnisher which I use to smooth and polish the top of the bezel once it is shaped onto the stone. With a slightly fragile stone such as Kyanite, I use both with great care.




Tap, Tap, Tap = Tough



Last steps include a final polish and — very important — placing the earring post on the steel anvil, holding the earring along the side of it, and gently tapping on the post while rotating it. Why? Well, the post is soldered in place. To solder, you heat the metal — a lot. Heat anneals (softens) silver. Nobody needs a soft, pliable ear post. The tapping work hardens the metal so it won't bend as you it on your ear.

Pretty Blue Stones, Ready for Someone's Ears








Monday, 11 April 2016

BC Gem Show 2016

Quick Update

Every April, the BC Lapidary Society hosts the BC Gem Show. Each year, the Creative Jewellers Guild of BC invites its members to create a piece (or two) of jewellery on a theme. For 2016, our theme was Botony and the members came through with some wonderful items.

Our Theme Case



Metalwork, beading and stone carving— very impressive. Congratulations to all.



Saturday, 9 April 2016

April's Work

April = More Garden and Less Bench

Written with apologies to those still in a snowbank!

By late March, in this part of the world, spring is well established — and this year it came early. Crocuses are a distant memory and the daffodils are done. We are still seeing cherry blossoms, magnolias and tulips and I noticed a dogwood preparing to bloom very soon. I find there is less shop time because the grass is growing fast enough to need its second mowing of the year, the weeds are taking over flower and veggie beds and I need to start planting things for summer color. I did, however, take advantage of a recent rainy afternoon to complete an agate brooch.

Pieces & Tools

Here are the parts for the project. Because the stone is fairly thick, I decided to create a sterling silver (instead of fine silver) bezel for it. The 20 gauge sterling is much tougher than bezel wire so it took quite a bit of "persuasion" to get it shaped around the stone. Great time to employ hammers and pliers.

Back & Bezel


I cut a series of curved lines into the back plate to echo the pattern in the pretty grey agate before soldering the bezel to the back.


Here is the setting freshly soldered and ready to pickle. Once it is given a pre-polish, I can set the stone.



Perfect Fit


Last fitting, with bezel soldered in place. It would be hard to make changes now, but still possible should the fit not be right. The dental floss is to aid in lifting the stone out so I can polish the setting. There is no end to the stuff a jeweler can use on the bench, is there?


Final Steps


Right: the stone in place awaiting the persistent tapping of a hammer on the bezel. The bit of leather protects the back of the setting from bench scratches. This shot shows off the lovely earth tone pattern of curved lines. I think this agate resembles Polish flint — one of my favorite stones, but a fair bit more expensive than agate.





All done. Nothing left to do but burnish the top of that bold bezel and give the whole piece a final high polish.


Then off to take photos and list it for sale at <www.etsy.shop/DixSterling>