Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

More goodies… October 15, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:10 am

First up, some etched copper earrings…

all with handmade ear wires and head pins.



I love these little Czech glass leaves from Lima Beads…

you’ll see them sprinkled here and there in my new pieces.



And more long chain necklaces with tassels…

I’ve made so many that I have to get creative and think of a way to display and show them off properly.

I’ll definitely be wearing one during the shows.












Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!




Grateful… October 13, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:47 pm

I’ve written here that this summer has been a dry season…literally and figuratively for me.  We are in the middle of a multi-year drought in my part of the country. Scary as we head into another Santa Ana time of the year.

And I’ve barely made any jewelry since June…a couple of things, but not much…not nearly enough for a craft market or the holidays.  A dry season.  I am so happy to report that the juices are flowing again.  In fact, this week has been awesome in that department.  Here’s a look at some pieces…These first ones are a riff on an Anthropologie necklace that they no longer carry, but it fired up my imagination.  I think of them as my vertebrae collection.  So much movement and flexibility…just like I used to have 15 years ago.








Using up bits and pieces of chain

with a large rose quartz stone


First of twelve chandelier crystals in a box…

I tinned this one. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of these.


Love this bracelet bar and it’s sentiment!


Brass with fresh water pearls and chalcedony


Brass with Czech glass leaves and bird nest


Double strand of fresh water pearls and sterling silver


I also made four pair of earrings with some new etched copper components…

But that’s for another time.

Happy and exhausted.



Another sad story… October 7, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 10:10 am

I wish I could say there was a happy ending to my first lost wax casting experience.  Sadly, there was another epic fail on Tuesday night.  Teacher Pam had some theories, but couldn’t say for sure what happened.  Most likely the leaf bent over during the investment step and the silver couldn’t get a straight shot into the mold???

Recap…I was trying to cast a Mexican Sage leaf from our garden with the intent to create a wrap around ring…


Here’s what I got…



While it’s no-go, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with the casting’s detailed leaf texture.  Sigh…it would have been such a lovely ring.  I’m pretty sure that’s the rest of the leaf puddled at the bottom of the sprue.

Since I have nothing else to share with you regarding my project, thought I’d share some photos from class.  First up is a picture of my metal-cased investment of plaster.


The investment gets 5-6 hours of kiln time to burn out the wax or natural materials.


While the canister is still hot, it’s locked into the casting wheel.  You can see it turned on it’s side.

See the black knob on the right??  The wheel was turned three times and locked with the knob/latch.  Then, it’s time to melt all the sterling casting grains in the crucible (I’ll steal a glassblowing term and call it the glory hole!)

These are from another student’s casting…




Wish I could have gotten some shots when the knob is released and sends the wheel spinning…using centrifugal force to send the liquid silver shooting into the mold.  Not a good idea to get in way at that moment!

Am I sad?  Yes.  After 8 classes, I have one small sand dollar charm. But I am also amazed that at my age, I am still excited to try new things, even if I fail.  And as always, there were wonderful conversations and sharing with the other classmates.  There were other disappointing castings to be sure, but sharing these experiences together is a joy in itself.


A hot mess… September 28, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:17 pm

I’m not really fond of this popular saying.  A hot mess.  What does this mean, exactly.  But this is the only title that seems appropriate to share my experience last night casting my first lost wax project.

Have say it was rather exciting to don the full-on face shield, heavy leather mitts that went up to my elbows, and leather apron.  And then fire up an acetylene torch.  Made me feel rather fierce. Like I was preparing for something huge, like entering a mouth of a volcano or a dragon’s lair.

And it was exciting to melt all those shiny sterling silver beads to pure liquid in the crucible and watch the teacher release the centrifical force lever.  As exhilarating as this was to do, it was just as disappointing to wash away the plaster around the pieces to see only one out of the three survive.  Especially the ginkgo leaf pendant I had hand carved.

Here’s the lone survivor…





And here’s the hot mess of tortured sterling silver…or what is left of my other two projects. The good news is that this is still reusable in other casting projects.  It’s in the pickle pot right now.



Sadly I have no photos of my gingko leaf, but here’s a look at the glitter covered plastic buttons I used in this project.

The upper piece is the sterling silver cast of the sand dollar button after it’s been cleaned up and tumbled. I will certainly use it in a necklace design someday.  I do like that fine pebble texture that the glitter gave to this. Totally unexpected!


The intrepid jewelry adventurer in me is not giving up so easily!  After last night’s disappointment, I moved on to another idea…casting this Mexican Sage leaf for a wrap around ring. I coated the back of a leaf with red wax. And then, invested it in a plaster mold.


Next Tuesday…success or another hot mess?

Stay tuned.



Sparkle plenty… September 27, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:55 pm

I’ve been wanting to play with more sparkle in designs. And just received an order of a box of a dozen crystal chandelier pieces in the mail…so here’s my chance!  They are 1 and 1/2 inches in length and come with octagonal crystal accents, which easily come apart to use separately. They would make great earring-sized components.






The first thing I wanted to try was to tin solder the edge to give the crystal a more vintage flavor. Easier than I thought.  However, when I tried to apply  LOS to antique the edge even more, to my great surprise, it didn’t take.  Still shiny silver. I assumed that since there is some silver in the solder, it would oxidize just fine.  Apparently not.  I’ll have to have a think about this and investigate other options.  Any experience out there to share?

Another cool thing about these inexpensive crystals is that the back is flat…perfect for adding pieces of scrap book or decorative papers.  I’m going to try that very soon.

Next up is to use it in a construction project.  I think of this part of my work as piecing together interesting components to make a design…The beautiful bits of purple are from a gifted pair of broken earring pieces. Same with the marcasite heart…so thankful for generous friends!






Last constructed piece was to use up bits and pieces of chain into a long tassel necklace…adding a nice subtle bit of color with a large rose quartz stone.




Now that I see this chain tassel design in photos, I’d wear this one often!


A little bit of work… September 21, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 8:02 pm

Since it’s officially Fall tomorrow, it’s about time I got some jewelry made for a couple of holiday markets coming way too soon.  As I have been a real slacker this summer, I’m trying not to hyperventilate about my lack of new jewelry to show…

Thought I’d start out easy with a session of making sterling silver ear wires. And add one new pair of earrings my skimpy box of jewelry.  Love these faceted opalite briolettes I bought on a recent trip up the California coast. Very sad the shop only had these two.






I tried out a bit of a different style of ear wire with these flattened ball headpins I made from 20 gauge round wire.  Like them a lot!





Oh, I forgot to add that I’m trying out some new wire for these…I’ve always used 20 gauge dead soft sterling silver.  After forming I would light hammer with a rawhide mallet, tumble at least 30 minutes to work harden the ear wires so they would maintain their “springiness” and not become distorted in shape with use.

I recently read a article by a metal smith who stated that contrary to what I’ve always been told that a tumbler does not work harden sterling metal. REALLY???  They highly recommended using half hard wire for ear wires.  So I bought a troy ounce from Rio Grande to try this out.  Have to say that it’s been great to skip that extra step. The wire is noticeably stiffer to work with and naturally springy.  While I would not use the half hard wire for wire wrapping projects, I think it’s a really good choice for ear wires.


On another note…I am wildly excited and nervous about moving forward with a lost wax casting project in my jewelry class this session.  I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels for weeks with nothing to show for my efforts. Scrapped several pieces that I just wasn’t happy with. But last night, I completed adding three pieces to the sprues and investing with the plaster.  Aren’t you impressed that I can throw around some fancy new terminology?  Next Tuesday, I assist the teacher in casting the pieces in silver…and hopefully, I’ll have something to show you very soon!




Gifts from the Sea… September 10, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:54 pm

For a few days this summer, we hosted a missionary family of four from Kyrgyzstan…home for the summer and enjoying everything Southern California has to offer a family with preteens.  They took off camping for a few weeks and borrowed some of our gear for their trip.  What a lovely surprise was tucked inside the backpack when the gear was returned! A large baggie of shells and beach goodies.

With some drilling help from the Mr., I put together these two necklaces and a pair of earrings with a few of these gifts from the sea…


With sponge coral coins, jasper tubes, and silver beads…

              (Love the color of those sponge coral beads!)





With mother of pearl, Czech glass, and wood chips…






With sponge coral coins, silver beads,

and mother of pearl…



Mother Nature is the best jewelry supplier, isn’t she?  

Do you have any gifts from Mother Nature you use in your jewelry designs?