Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Experimenting with Enamels

After learning how to enamel using a torch just about a year ago, I've done mostly conventional things with the enamels. I started another conventional enameling session a few days ago and quickly got bored. Time for experiments!

This is how it started. I love this long shape, but it's tricky because it doesn't fit well on the trivets that are required to hold the pieces in place. As a result, I had to do a third coat and that's when the black spots appeared. They give the earrings a rustic look, but that was not my original intent.

Next up were these circles that I cut using two different sized circle cutters. Nice, but not so exciting. Love the colors I selected though! I still have the tiny circles that were cut from the center and I'm trying to decide what to do with them. 

On these next pieces, I enameled with a solid color and then sprinkled on a contrasting color.

I also experimented with counter enamels. I discovered that black works best for me, as it does not discolor when firing the top color. The flame is applied from below and most lighter colors will show some sort of effect from that. While black works, it's also a bit boring, so I did this next on the backs of a few pieces. I brushed Klyr-Fire (holding agent) on a tiny rubber stamp, stamped it on the copper, dusted it with black enamel, then covered the entire piece with clear. Then I fired it. I think a second firing with another coat of clear would have been a good idea, but I did not do that. Next time.

The last experiment was with two shades of brown enamel and some seed beads. A small Post-It note helped me get a clean line between the two colors (3 separate firings). The seed beads were placed during the third firing and I wasn't sure that they were secure enough. So, I followed with a coat of clear, sprinkled over the entire surface, included the beads. I really like the effect. Or maybe I like that they remind me of Hostess cupcakes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Triangles and Wire

Sometimes the simplest jewelry designs are the most enduring. Back in November I did a blog post about resurrecting an old style of earrings that I got tired of making. In that post I proclaimed that I would work on those earrings the very next week. HA! Three months later, I finally did it. I need to remember to NOT commit to such tight time frames any more.

Back to the earrings. They really are very simple. I start with a length of 20 ga wire and make a tight spiral. Hammer (or roll) to flatten, form in and around the triangle glass bead, make the hook part and finish. It took me a bit (2 pairs)  to remember some of the finer points of the forming. But then it went rather quickly.

There are 22 pairs in the photo above. Some are done with sterling silver wire and some are with gold filled. Some are larger triangles (12 mm) and some are small triangles (7 mm). Some are transparent, some are opaque and some have a matte finish. There are a couple of pairs with a metallic finish and a couple of pairs where the glass has graphic patterns.

Cobalt blue, transparent, large, sterling silver

In the center: red, transparent, small, gold filled
In the foreground: bronze metallic, opaque, small, gold filled
In the background: amber, transparent, large, gold filled

Cobalt blue, opaque (matte finish), large, gold filled

Teal, translucent, large, sterling silver

I'm not sure which pairs will end up in my etsy shop. It will depend on which ones photograph well and which ones I can recreate, based on how many glass triangles I have in stock in any particular color. The sterling ones will be $25 and the gold filled will be $28.
If you see a pair that you would like to have, let me know!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tucson Gem Purchases IV

 This is my final gemstone-sharing post. There are plenty more stones, but I didn't photograph them before cutting the strands. You will see them in finished products over the next few months.

For now, here are some cushion cut peridot briolettes. I am partial to this shape and will usually buy whatever gemstone I can get with it. Below that strand is the Major Splurge of this gem buying trip. These are gorgeous pink tourmaline that will make some very special earrings and necklaces.

Here are lovely green turquoise heart shaped brios that look suspiciously like some gaspeite I have. I'm pretty sure it is turquoise, as you just don't see gaspeite much, especially in briolette form. The middle strand is something I had not seen before. I was told it is blue opal from South Africa. Again, I am skeptical, but it is quite pretty, so I bought it anyway.  The bottom strand are some teeny tiny pyrite briolettes. Yum.

This last photo, top to bottom: moss aquamarine pear briolettes, amethysts (a staple gemstone, if you ask me!) and carnelian cube beads.

That's it for now, fellow gem lovers!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tucson Gem Purchases III

And yes, there are more gems photos to share with you.

Here are some really pretty faceted garnets, intriguing moss amethyst (these brios are much smaller than any moss amethysts I've had in the past and I like this size much better) and gorgeous pear shaped emerald briolettes.

This next photo is of 3 strands of green rutilated quartz. It may have another name when it's green, but if so, I do not know it. This type of stone is so hard to "make pairs" with. That's why I bought all 3 strands that the vendor had. The chance of making pairs is much greater when you have more specimens to work with. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I have 3 more photos to share, but will save them for my next post. Thanks for tuning in!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tucson Gem Show Purchases II

One of the most fun things we did while on our Arizona odyssey was to visit the relatively new Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale. When I say that it was the most wonderful museum I have visited in a very long time, I am not exaggerating. We spent over 5 hours there and could have spent 2 days! If you find yourselves anywhere near the place, it is a must see.

Now, back to gemstones!  These fabulous marquis shaped labradorite briolettes have amazing flash and are a really nice size at 27 -29 mm long. The strand (only one) had one broken stone, which netted me a very nice discount.

On a much brighter note, this collection features 2 strands of chalcedony embracing a strand of nicely faceted citrines. The vendor that had these stones had the most extensive selection of chalcedony I've ever seen. They dye it in the rough and then cut into stones. Sounds impressive, but for all I know, that's the way all chalcedony is handled. However it's done, I usually care most about the pretty factor.

More to come in the next few days ... thanks for sticking with me!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tucson Gem Show Purchases I

Our fabulous tour of Arizona ended with 5 days in Tucson for the Gem Shows. In all honesty, that was a bit too much time given the budget I have. I spent a little more than I should have, but that's ok. It was great fun as usual.

Now it's time to share some of the gemmy goodness I found there.

Top to bottom: faceted black spinel, bronzite (or bronze agate -- couldn't really understand what the guy said) and the exact moonstone briolettes I was looking for!

Next up: smooth carnelian, marquis shaped little amethysts, beautifully faceted citrines

And: sweet little lapis cubes ( I really like this shape) and lapis blocks, drilled across the top, to be used as pendants

I have more photos that I plan to spread out over several blog posts, so stay tuned!