Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Fun of a Mismatch

A Most Unusual Pair

With the bench tidy and the solder cleaned and ready, I finally got back to my bench (boy, how I have missed working there).

Such Cool Stones

Before I hurt my back, I had a plan for stud earrings using this mismatched pair of carnelian variety agate stones I found at the B.C. Gem Show. Their translucent orange glow was irresistible and the cream inclusion on one only added to their charm.

The Plan



I wanted simple sterling silver mounts for the agates — just enough silver surround to showcase the stones. I also wanted to let light come through from the back to take advantage of the translucent glow.

Here are the stones with the sketches. By using tabs brought up from the surround, I could secure the stones while keeping the design simple.

Ready to Set


In the final photo, you can see the plan becoming reality. The silver has been annealed, the centers cut out and the tabs marked and cut. The foreground one shows the tabs bent up (I used the chain nose pliers to grip and bend them).

Anyone who sees the listing on my ArtYah shop <https://www.artyah.com/seller/sterlingbydix> will notice that the slimmer stone actually has four tabs. A check of the fit, before bending the tabs over the stones, revealed the need for one more tab. Easy fix.



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Return to the Bench

A Long Story

Near the end of May, I hurt my back. Not sure if it was a struggle with a jammed window or too much garden work, but it left me in quite a bit of pain. Sadly, one thing I couldn't do was work at my bench. Instead, I spent close to five months seeing a physio and doing endless exercises. So not fun but finally pain free, I ventured back to work the other day.

Kind of a Back to Square One Deal

As you might expect, the first thingI had to do was start from scratch in a few ways. I tidied up the bench and sorted a bunch of stones and notes for projects. Next came the solder. Soldering rule 1: Solder must be clean.

Years ago, I stumbled upon the idea of using four sections of a plastic daily pill holder to store my tiny solder papillons — a term best explained on the International Gem Society's web site as follows:
Sheet solder is cut into “papillons,” which is a French word meaning little tiny pieces of metal that fly all over the place while you’re cutting them.
The container I have been using had become scratched over the years, making it hard to clean. Dirty storage = dirty papillons. So, off to the drugstore for a new pill container. This photo shows how I prepared it by cutting two days off one end and one day off the other (so it will sit level) and using a carpenter's file to smooth the cut edges. Lastly, I label each section for the different grades of solder: H for hard, M for medium, E for easy and SE for super easy.

Let the Cleaning Begin


Over the years, I have tried various ways of cleaning the sheets of solder before cutting the papillons (it is obviously impossible to clean them after cutting). The absolute best — learned from a fellow member of the Creative Jewellers Guild of BC — is a good scrub with Bar Keepers Friend and a plastic scrubby.

Yes, dear auto correct, I know you think I should spell it jewelers, but the guild is in Canada and that's the Canadian spelling.



Tuesday, Get Solder Ready; Wednesday Get Back to Work




Above: the cleaner and scrubby sit atop a dark piece of leather with the tools to make papillons. I keep each sheet in a different, labelled, plastic box. The very sharp cutters nip the tiny pieces which I catch on the leather (so I can see them). The scoop and tweezer tool lets me pick them up and drop them into the containers. All set to get back to work.














Sunday, 23 October 2016

Darned Technology (or me)

Sunday afternoon experiment. I tried to post a video slideshow here but failed.

Check my Facebook page to see it: https://www.facebook.com/DixSterling/


Thursday, 13 October 2016

New Site = New Sales in October

The Handmade Life on ArtYah 

There was a time when I made pretty regular sales on etsy but, in the past year or so, it has become so overcrowded that it is very hard to get seen. As well, the focus on handmade is gone from etsy, and many etsy seller I know have been looking for other options. One, suggested by an etsy friend, is ArtYah so I set up a shop there a few weeks ago <https://www.artyah.com/seller/sterlingbydix>.


As with any new venture, it takes time but on Tuesday I made my first sale there.

Someone in California will soon be wearing these brilliant blue lapis lazui on sterling studs.




It was a thrill to make my first sale on a new site and I hurried to pack them up nice and pretty and get them on their way to their new home.

After I dropped this package off at the Post Office, I decided to try listing a very similar pair, this time set with turquoise, in my ArtYah shop.


Does Good Luck Come in Twos?




So, on Tuesday afternoon, I added the turquoise studs.

On Wednesday morning, I went for my morning walk. When I got back and checked my email, I found a message from ArtYah that the turquoise pair had sold. WOW!

So far, I'm really loving ArtYah.