Monday, November 30, 2009

Etsy and other "artists"

So, ever since I joined etsy there has been this other jeweler (actually 3 other jewelers), that seemed to be picking up ideas from my website. Ideas like jewelry designs. I let it go and tried not to let it bother me until I found this:

Let me give you a side by side comparison (the two below are mine and predate the picture above):

I realize that there is nothing that I can do about this. But it makes me really really really angry, since I had never seen anything like my pebble rings when I started making them. Now this guy on etsy thinks he can just lift whatever he wants from my shop and use it in his own. And you know what!? He can. It almost makes me want to leave Etsy and just sell to stores. I wonder what he you think he stops by every month or so looking for new designs? Perhaps I should just make it easier for and send him my design sketch book. That way he could be ahead of the game.

Ok, I'm done being petulant. But really, I sort of wonder why he didn't just save himself the trouble of photographing and just download the pictures from my etsy site.

The worst part about this sort of stuff is that it really takes the joy out of what I do. It really just saps me of all my creative energy and joy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Setting and Polishing!

FIRE! Okay, fire doesn't have anything to do with setting stones, but I'm involved in a passionate (and reckless) love affair with my torch. Which is a meco midget. For all of you jewelry people out there, this torch IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MINI TORCH. You can find it here.

What happens to wood if you drop something hot on it.

Ok, here is a picture of a ring after I have cut a seat for the stone that I am working with. I use what is called a bud bur (you can use a ball bur as well) in my flex shaft.

In this picture I have already inserted the stone and moved some metal down over the girdle.


Jewelry people! These are magic! Magic! Highly recommended. Shofu polishing wheel, knife edge. You can get them here. I like both the brownie and the greenie. Won't hurt most hard stones, but keep them off of peridot and amethyst.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Casting Excruciation

Not exactly what I was hoping for. I did something wrong, obviously. Or many things wrong, perhaps. I was aiming for something more like this:

This is what I think happened:


1) Casting flask temperature was too cool. 900ºf was not hot enough for this particular alloy. After a long chat with Jeff Hoover at Hoover and Strong today, I now realize that I need to increase the flask temperature to 1150º.

2) Sprue was too large and long. Slightly shorter sprue, smaller diameter.

3) Sprue location was wrong. I'm not quite sure how to sprue towards the setting though. I'll have to experiment. Perhaps not in gold, though. :-|

4) I did try to do two casting last night, with my lovely assistant, who was instrumental in drying my tears after the second try didn't turn out:

(award winning flask mover in chief, executive kiln-programmer SME)

The first one was even less successful than the second, if you can believe it. This was due to my premature, over-eager metal pour. Seriously felt stupid on this one, when the metal just plugged up the hole because it wasn't even properly liquid. Silly. Mental note, count to 2 mississippi after the metal has reached liquidus. Also heat the beejesus out of the crucible before adding metal. Think red hot. HOT!

4) Take more care with wax carving. I'm fairly new to the wax carving scene and I totally used the wrong kind of wax on my first carving (see above). It was too sticky and hard to work with. The second carving was much, much better, but was lost in the first disastrous casting attempt.

I was so disappointed last night that not even a Hagen Daaz bar and two episodes of Battle Star Galactica could ease my anguish. But at least nothing exploded. (Besides my head, that is.)

Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!

New holiday shop banner. I think I like the way it looks cold and stormy. Just the like the sky here in Oregon. :-)

More on the debacle that was my first attempt at casting yesterday later......

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Big Day

Dearest singleB readers, if you have been following my blog you will know that I am the proud owner of a new casting set up. I purchased said set up forever ago and have yet to really use it. But that is all going to change today. As I type this, I have two molds in the kiln, steadily burning away the wax carvings inside. Everything is prepared for casting at around 5pm tonight. I'm incredibly nervous, and I don't know why. The worst thing that will happen is that they won't cast all the way, or that the mold will blow out (which I don't think will happen since I was very careful to make the end of mold pretty thick). But I am using an alloy that melts at the very margin of what the investment (plaster of paris like stuff that forms the mold) specifications can handle. So I'm a tad nervous about that. That darn palladium white gold that everyone loves. I think I might get some special investment for high temp. metals if this doesn't work out. I would also be incredibly disappointed and would have to tell the two customers whose projects they are that I will have to delay further. Which would be bad business...I hate to delay things even further.

Wax carving area. Messy with tools.

Sharp pokey and scrapey things to carve with.

Little wax detailers. Like little saw blades/files with a handle

Electric wax pen. That little metal tip can be heated to different temperatures by turning that dial on the blue box. The tips can be changed as well.

Carving on sprue in casting flask.

Investment in mixing bowl.

Two molds that have been poured and are drying out.

Okay, I will let you know how it goes later today. Nervous nervous nervous!

And because I like pretty pictures:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I love custom



Preferences, anyone? I'm torn. At first I really liked the plain, but then I added the sapphires in the bands and wasn't so sure anymore.

I never use photoshop on my photos, sometimes good lighting does all the work for you. You really can't beat natural light, which here in the NW is a little scarce during the winter. I'm not quite sure what to do on cloudy days...sometimes I can't wait for the sun to come out to take a photo of a piece. Suggestions?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vacuum Update

Ok, so I switched on the vacuum table for the first time today. And after causing it to make a loud popping sound and shoot something out of the side of the machine, I switched it off and consulted the pamphlet that came with it. Turns out you need to unscrew the top of the investment table to get to this pump thing inside it. So that meant I needed a screw driver. Which, you would think I have, but I don't. Sue me. Luckily enough, my studiomate had one. Ok, top off, pump accessed. Well, because of my ill judged switch on of the machine, I'm not quite sure what popped off (I'm not sure what it is called anyway) or where it is. But I found three separate pieces and assembled them and put them back in to the best of my ability. They looked like a little plastic window, and a rubber gasket along with a marker for where the oil level is. That brings me to the oil. So this monstrosity was shipped with a big bottle of oil (I think it was even labeled "vacuum oil" would never guess that I have a relatively high IQ and speak Chinese fluently. I got an A in calculus in college, I swear it). So this oil needs to go into the vacuum pump before you turn it on....or bad things happen. Like loud noises that scare the bejeesus out of a person. Luckily enough, I didn't break my new expensive toy before I had a chance to use it. I poured the oil in and reassembled and: voila! Room temperature water boiling in a vacuum. Yay!

And it's a Go!!!

Dearest readers, after much frustration and terrible ineptitude on the part of a witless comcast flunky this morning (poor man, had no idea what he was doing. 2.5hrs!), I finally have my own internet and no longer have to steal it from one of my neighbors. Coffee, pugs, and etsy emails. Ah, Monday.

This week is the big week (and not just dinner with the boyfriend's parents...wish me luck). I am determined to get my casting stuff up and going. It's a terrible shame that I've let it go so long. So I've taken a few pictures to illustrate just what I'm up against.

Kiln! Please note the open manual just in front of it. Programmable, but only if you are a crusty old goldsmithing man with a large white beard.

Crucible. I had debated about getting a metal melting furnace, but I decided to try a casting torch first.

It may say EZ, but I'm not sure it will be. Maybe after I've put it through it's paces a couple of times I will figure it all out. I think I will need to get a helper for the actual casting part since I'm not sure I should be melting metal while I get the mold out of the kiln. I might start something on fire.

Crazy fine dust stuff that is sort of like plaster of paris, but much more dangerous to your health. I have to wear a crazy respirator when I use. I mix it up with water and then pour it over my wax models. When it hardens and the wax is burned out, I then have a mold to pour the metal in.

Ok, no design Monday today. Too much stuff to do and I didn't feel creative with the comcast guy here all morning. But maybe next week...

Next post, holiday banner!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And we are live in 5,4,3,2,.....

Well, sort of. Yesterday was epically bad for me. Everything seemed to be going wrong, and I was walking around in a fog. Fedex, which normally delivers at my house like clockwork right at 11-11:30 decided to deliver my new computer (!!!!) at 10am instead. So I missed the delivery. Which then necessitated a trip to BFE, otherwise known as the far reaches of NE Portland, past the airport. Right during rush hour. Then I had to endure this huge strip mall development (really, why would you build all of this stuff out in the middle of nowhere? Seriously!) to buy a wireless router at Bestbuy (another place I despise! But it was right next door to a Petsmart (of course) so I did get the pugs their favorite toy, which is a rubber ball thing in the shape of a cat). But then, upon my return home, I discovered that the pugs had made it into my bedroom and the littlest pug had peed on my floor, and someone, I'm not pointing fingers (Dieter), had puked on my pillow. Yes. It was disgusting.

Ok, so I was all ready to not let that ruin my night. I unpacked my gorgeous new Mac (people, I've been limping along with the computer that I purchased for grad school a million years ago), and set it up where I wanted it, when it occurred to me that my living room only has two outlets, very inconveniently situated. Again I was like, no problem! I will just get out the extension cords I got the other day (Smart me! Thinking ahead!) and use them. Alas, these two extension cords only had two prong inlets. Sweet! As we all know, computer plugs are three pronged, of course. Then, I also realized that the plug thing for the cable modem was across the room was nowhere near an electrical outlet. And modems tend to need to be plugged in. All during this, the littlest pug is just going crazy. Jumping and running and harassing Gunter, who is having ear problems and just wants to lay in front of the fire. It was just too much. But I rallied. I talked to my best friend on the phone and whined about all that had gone wrong and that seemed to help. Then I drove to Fred Meyer at 9pm-ish to buy a cord and a coaxial cable to string across the living room. Yay! Well, it also turns out that I probably didn't need 50ft of the cable. Who knew?

Ok, so at this point I just want to have the computer plugged in and turned on. Well, I underestimated the distance to the electrical outlet behind the couch that I wanted to reach. It worked, but barely, and not in the best or safest way. 50ft of coaxial cable later, I have the modem plugged in and the wireless router up and running. Computer turned on, searching for internet. Nothing! Nothing! (I had already called Comcast and had it all set up for a switch on yesterday.) So I called Comcast. Of course nothing worked and they couldn't send someone for a thousand years and when they do schedule a time I will have to stick around the house all freaking day. Which, really people, I can't do at this moment. Seriously. I'm about to explode with all the work I have to do. And then I'm going to visit my sister this week and taking Friday off. Which just isn't helping. I want to see my niece though. I digress. At this point, with the computer balanced precariously on the edge of my little table and cord everywhere and packing material all over the place I just throw in the towel and go to bed.

Ok, so that was my bad day. I'm sure that it is pretty mild in the way of bad days (except, of course, for puke on my pillow). It was just a series of unfortunate events that cumulatively added up to a very frustrating day.

But I have a new computer! At home now! So I can now answer emails while I drink my coffee and the pugs play at my feet. I love having a studio, but having the computer there has really affected the quality of my communication with customers and my blogging. At 5pm, the last thing I want to do is stick around the studio and answer emails and blog.

I'm pretty excited! I have plans for the holidays. I want to create a new holiday shop banner and do some more blogging about specific items and maybe do some more process photos.

Casting Update:

So, all of the equipment that I purchased last month has just been sitting in my studio unused and sending me reproachful glares when my back is turned. "I know kiln and vacuum table! I see you there and I want to use you! I do! I'm just so busy that I can't get to you!"

I'm also a little bit nervous about going it alone. Whenever I've cast before it's been under the guidance of someone more experienced. You know? So, technically, I know what to do. But I'm nervous to do it alone. I'm afraid the kiln might explode. I haven't even turned either thing on. But I'm going to. Because the thought of hand fabricating another pebble ring or three stone ring is completely unacceptable to me. And I have BIG ideas! BIG plans!

Ok, sorry that the majority of this post was about my epically bad day. I feel better though!