What’s On My Desk Right Now

As I try to improve and hone my wax carving skills, I find myself adding more and more pieces to my “creative graveyard” as I like to call it. I’ve always had a creative graveyard, for my drawings, arts and crafts attempts, and writing pieces. I even have one in  my head for ideas.

I guess now a big factor in the increasing graveyard is the cost for each cast. This is why I’m glad I took the mould making workshop because I can cast some pieces in brass and if I decide to reproduce them I can just make a mould and I have the wax model again.

Then again, I’m thinking of just making tons of wax pieces and casting them in my dad’s studio in Israel when I get there. This way I at least save the casting fee that goes with every piece I cast here.

I keep reading that the more pieces on your Etsy store the better (the better for Etsy’s revenue I’m sure), but maybe I’ll just add tons of pieces once I’m back home and can do my own casts.

Anyway, so these are the three pieces I just finished and am trying to polish before I take them in for casting (the lighter fluid and stocking technique works really well. Thank you Google!)

The goddess pendant is going to be set with a moonstone (hopefully), and I’m thinking of making a mould of it later on so I can make it as a brooch as well. Of course I’ll need soldering equipment for that so again, I’ll have to wait till I’m back home. I think it might look really nice in brass so maybe I’ll try it. I can always make a mould and cast it in silver some other time if I want to…

I realize that I need to put up some rings in my store, just to draw in more traffic. I didn’t want to get into making rings until I had soldering equipment, but I guess I’ll just make one size and have it there for show. I just made this small ring which I will try and set with a moonstone as well. If it turns out nice I’ll post it to my Etsy shop.

I’ve realized that I have an obsession with spirals, waves and leaves. I was bored the other day, uninspired (it’s getting cold in Sydney which is killing my creativity and my spirit in general, lol) so I began free-carving a piece of wax while watching “Lost”. I did feel lost and had to file down the piece a couple of times, when eventually this pendant came into existence – it’s sort of a vine made of spirals, or a cluster of vines or tendrils. I’m not sure but it’s coming out very delicate and nice, and I’m thinking of making a mould out of it and making it into a set of earrings and a pendant. Of course I will need some soldering equipment for the earrings so I’ll have to wait with that, but I can still make the mould.DSC03479

This is it for now.

Peace

Silicone Mould Making Workshop

This Saturday I was extremely excited about participating in a silicone mould making workshop in Marrickville.

The studio, SquarePeg Studios, is a beautiful commercial style building that’s been divided into sections with different workshops and artist spaces who work there as residents.

We were seven people in total which was great because the instructor could really advise each participant on their pieces and moulds and we got to ask questions (and boy did I have plenty).

I used a shell and a silver pendant I made a while ago for the moulds.

The shell was pretty straight forward, easy to spruce and cut out. The two gray bumps at its top are spruce made of Klean Klay, which is non-hardening clay and is great for making prototypes and using in the mould making process.

The pendant was a bit more tricky since I needed to spruce it all along one side of it so when I later pour wax into the mould it would flow easily and reach all parts of the mould. Since it had so many holes it was hard to cut out and remove from the mould, but I did it slowly and gently and it worked. (The blue pieces are wax that I poured into the mould)

In the future I’m going to use pinkysil moulds (non-toxic silicone) to make earrings, replicate pieces that I like and maybe make moulds of basic wax pieces before I modify them. The pinkysil moulds are suitable for working with wax, pewter and resin.

I love learning new things and new techniques. It gets my creative juices flowing and inspires me to try new things.

Peace.

 

Polishing the Charms

Just finished polishing these little fellas, four-leaf clover, sea turtle and mushroom, getting them smooth and shiny before they go up on my Etsy store.

I might take one or two of them with me this Saturday to SquarePeg Studios at Marrickville where I will be attending a one day intensive silicone mould making workshop.

The adventure continues!

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Completing the New Pendants

I finally finished stringing the beads in all three pendants. I tried different variations, playing around with the beads and even trying to see how they looked with some round, faceted ruby beads I have.

I decided to go with the lemon quartz bead with the “Fairy Vine” pendant, because I figured the green color went well with the natural plant theme of it.

The “Fairy Whistle” pendant and the spiral pendant I strung with these bluish-greenish topaz briolettes I’ve had for years. They are delicate, beautifully polished and change colors at every angle.

I had a couple of small pendants/beads that I made a couple of months ago and I decided to string them on this thin black leather cord that I have and list them on my Etsy shop as pieces intended also for men.

Now I just need to list all these new items and begin working on the three charms…

Peace.

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My tool bag…

Polishing and Making the Tourmaline Pendant

I had many things to do today and barely managed to finish filing and polishing the four new pendants. I decided to get them done first and then move on to the charms. However, I sawed off all the spruces’ remains and filed them off from all the pieces first.

The sawing is usually the most laborious task, which requires a lot of patience and concentration. I’m proud to say I did not break even one saw blade! I usually go through two to five every time I saw new pieces.

The filing is pretty straight forward and I just tried using my smaller Dick files (not joking) which I purchased from Rio Grande so I will not damage the pieces too much. It takes a little more time but it is safer.

After that comes the most tedious yet rewarding part – polishing. I use eight different grades of sandpaper, ranging from 400 to 8000, which means I have to polish every piece eight times until it reaches the smoothness I desire. I have to admit, this process takes a very long time, and I take many breaks in between grades to stretch my body and wash my hands. Even though my fingers are always blistered by the end, it is so rewarding to see the silver come to life with every grade of polishing. It is like there is moonlight hiding in it and you just need to polish it enough to get it to shine through. Man, I love silver.

 

Once I finished polishing them and blistering my fingers, I decided I still had time to at least complete the simpler looking pendant out of the four. I intended to string some tourmaline beads inside the groove on a metal string and secure them with some silver crimps. It was actually easier than I thought it would be and it came out lovely. I think it is one of the simplest, most minimalist pieces I have made so far (and probably the last lol).

Peace.

New Charms and Pendants

Two days ago I went to the casting house to drop off some wax models for casting in sterling silver.

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The models are of three small charm pendants, one of a sea turtle, one of my favorite animals of which I have a tattoo, a lucky four leaf clover, and a mushroom. I love mushrooms and I intend on incorporating them into more of my work in the future.

The pendants are four long  cylinders. Three of them I will set with briolette beads and one with tourmaline beads.

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I have began to saw off the spruce remains from them and filing them off, and will probably spend another day polishing them before I can set the stones.

I will post some of the process next and then the finished pieces.

 

 

TBT: The First Piece of Jewelry I Ever Made

Back in 2007, when I was living in New York, I took a short silver-smithing night class in The School of Visual Arts.

I just found some old pictures of the ring and two pendants I made on my computer, and since it’s Thursday already here in Australia I decided to share them.

The first piece all of the students had to make was a ring with a bezel set with a cabochon stone of their choice. I used an emerald cabochon I had purchased on ebay. I insisted on adding some spirals at the sides of the bezel, which my instructor was not happy about since she said it was too advanced. She allowed me to try and do it as long as I assumed any responsibility for ruining/damaging the ring. Of course I agreed and it came out pretty awesome.

The second piece was of our choice and I wanted to make a large, magical pendant using some large moonstone cabochons I bought. Again, My instructor said it was a bit too ambitious and complicated for a beginner, but once I agreed again to take all responsibility she agreed.

The moonstones are set in fine silver bezels, with silver granules connecting them, and a large bail for the chain to go through. My younger sister wears it till this day.

On the last class I could do whatever I wanted since I had already finished my piece so I made myself a very simple pendant using the leftover silver from the ring. I made two bezels and set them with a rainbow moonstone and garnet cabochons, and I still wear it sometimes.

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My instructor was quite impressed that I finished it in 3 hours and I was left with the taste for more.

Now I can’t wait to have my own equipment and some fire to play with again. For now I’ll have to settle for carving wax and using my spirit lamp…

Three Stone Garnet Ring – Carving Bezels

So, like I probably mentioned before, I am obsessed with stones and gems.

I used to be (still am a bit) addicted to ebay and managed to accumulate a large collection of stones.

I took a night silver-smithing course in SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York over ten years ago and I knew how to make a bezel from fine silver, but for that I would need a full studio equipment to do the soldering.

I looked for tutorials on carving bezels out of wax but couldn’t find any. I found this one http://nodeform.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/carving-bezel-setting-in-wax.html which is great but I’m not very good with adding molten wax, it just comes out flaky and brittle.

So I decided to try my own method again. I saw in many videos how you just drill a hole in a piece of metal/ring, put the stone in, and then press around it with a burnisher (or a similar tool) and create a “flush” setting. Since I don’t have a drill, I made the holes for two stones, a faceted natural emerald and a lab-created faceted tanzanite- in the wax model itself. I made a simple ring with two carefully measured holes for the stones. I figured if I failed I could at least try my “push it in and it will stay” technique.

I failed miserably. Sterling silver is really hard and as mush as I tried pushing around the edges of the holes, nothing happened and the stones did not stay. I tried pushing them in, filing the holes a bit larger, but I ended cracking the tanzanite and cutting my finger. I admitted defeat and added the ring to my wax models/silver casts graveyard on my printer. Hopefully once I have a studio I will melt it and recycle the silver. Who knows, maybe by then I’ll learn how to set faceted stones…

However, I was still obsessed with making a ring with some kind of stones, and since I knew how a bezel should look like and how to close it, I decided to try and carve it from wax.

Sadly I can’t find a picture of the wax model before I sent it off for casting, but I do remember how thin the walls of the bezels I carved were – so thin they seemed translucent – and still it was quite hard pushing them onto the garnet cabochons.

I like the ring that came out although I still want the bezel to fit tighter and smoother around the stones. I’m not sure if I should make any rings for my Etsy shop since I can’t re-size rings I’ve made without a studio, and I’m not sure how practical making a ring to order would be… I’ll have to give it some more thought.

Here are some pictures of the three-stone garnet ring and my hairy knuckles. Enjoy.

 

The New “Cocoons”

So excited! I just finished posting the new “Cocoon” pendants on my Etsy shop.

They came out beautifully but photographing them took forever! It’s hard to show these little creatures’ true beauty in a picture.

I used lemon quartz, citrine, amethyst and topaz briolette beads which I strung on a beading cable, put through a tiny hole I drilled in the wax models before casting, and fastened it with a silver crimp.

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