Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

What a day… May 25, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:00 pm

Yesterday was one of those days you never hope to repeat. Yet, here we are again. How many times will children lay down their lives to “protect” someone else’s right to buy and use assault rifles and guns? God forgive us.

Not always, but sometimes, I turn to creating things as an act against evil and destruction. Yes, it is a small thing and maybe inconsequential to the bigger problem, but it can change my attitude and focus my attention on positive actions. These makings of mine are not substitutes for participation in making the changes needed in gun safety and laws. It does not get rid of what causes the mortal wounds and pain, but it puts a bit of temporary balm on the grief and horror for me.

Color has always lifted my mood and today I went looking in my bead stash for something that would do just that. And fell in love all over again with these vibrant green pressed glass beads. Czech glass has a quality unlike any other glass beads. The tiny leaves also wanted to play along.

This apple green and copper look so good together.

The matte finish and translucency are what make these beads so special.


Late afternoon… May 20, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 6:16 pm

It wasn’t until 3:30 today that I finally sat down to tackle these gorgeous amethyst slice stones. I purchased them in a sale that Deryn Mentock had for the students in her prong setting class. I was saving these til I got more at ease with the process. I decided to oxidized the silver to create a nice contrast with the stone’s color.

I’ve often called my camera The Third Eye. I can now see that I need to do a light touch up with the file or sander to get rid of some blemishes in the metal on the left earring.

Very sparkly!

P.S. Deryn just had a second sale the other night and I bought more gem slices!!


Anyway you slice it… May 17, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:51 pm

Previously, I posted a photo of some gem slices I purchased through the class I took with Deryn Mentock. She has someone she deals directly with and they are gorgeous!

My husband is on the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile pilgrimage in Spain at the moment, so I have some extra time on my hands. But surprisingly not as much as I thought I would. Huh. Today, however, I picked up the pale aquamarine slices. My initial thought was to set them like a watermelon slice, but Deryn had some examples in the class that were set the long way…or I think of it as “sideways”. Thought I give that one a try this time.

After some misfires (melting a jump ring) and prongs that fell off, I finally got the job done. This is not a relaxing project for me. It’s stressful… right up until I push that last prong down to secure the stone. But, it’s a good stress with lots of opportunity to problem solve along the way and perfect my skills. I’m getting much better at eyeballing the length to cut each prong.

Pretty happy with how these turned out.


Two new makings… April 21, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 3:42 pm

Just photos today. The first pair have peach moonstones with chocolate freshwater pearls.

This next pair have Dendritic Agates, with a gorgeous snowy landscapes, and oxidized sterling.

Love, love these stones!

And a view of the back.

P.S. This last pair gave me fits. Two prongs wouldn’t solder the first time. Then, one broke in half when I was setting the stone. Had to cut off the rest of the prong, sand down the stump, and try it again.

The joys of learning!


A New Stone… April 10, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:35 am

I’ve never worked with rutilated quartz before and was excited to try out a prong setting with it because it is so translucent. With an open back, the sunlight can work its magic. These have these dark lines shooting through the light gray stone. Here’s what wikipedia says: Rutilated quartz is a variety of quartz which contains acicular (needle-like) inclusions of rutile. It is used for gemstones. These inclusions mostly look golden, but they also can look silver, copper red or deep black.

The tricky part of this project for me was forming the wire frames. Squarish, but with rounded corners. Slight differences in the stones also meant I had to really pay attention to which frame went with which stone and the directionality of the stone. I finally made small marks one edge the stones with a fine sharpie to help me with this. These were removed with alcohol once I had them set into their individual settings.

The next photo shows a recent purchase of dendritic quartz (just look at those tiny snowy landscapes!), aquamarine, amethyst, and hessonite garnet. I am excited and terrified to get started on prong settings for these beauties. But I think I have enough experience to get started in the process, knowing that they will also have something new to teach me.


Surviving the fire… April 5, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 5:27 pm

Here’s a quick look at my next prong setting project. When I went shopping on line for some cabs to practice with, I got totally lost in the gorgeous color of these rubies (labeled corundum). And forgot to check on the size before purchasing them. What a shock when they arrived in the mail to see that they were only 5x10mm. Tiny little things. Try as I might, I could not fit an 18 gauge wire around the gem with a good enough fit. So I took a shot with 20 gauge wire, knowing that I’d probably melt the thinner wire into a puddle. I did use my smaller micro torch on this project. A cheapie from Harbor Freight. “The right tool for the right job.” I’m thinking this must be rule number one in jewelry making.

The torch gods must have been smiling yesterday, as all went very smoothly to make this frames and solder on the prongs and jump rings, too. Yeah, me! I added some honey colored chalcedony, and African turquoise beads to bring some bright contrasting colors.

The beauty of this prong setting is that it lets the light shine through opaque stones and sets them on fire!

Coloring my world!

These beauties are already going to a new home. A bit sad to see them go.

Just received an new shipment of gem stones that I am so excited to work with…

They are beyond gorgeous! And the right size too!


New Learnings… March 28, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:41 pm

I have long been an admirer of Deryn Mentock’s work. She is an amazing designer and also teaches classes in person and on line. I follow her on Facebook and when she announced a chance to win a spot in her newest class, Gem Stone Slice Earrings, I jumped at the chance. Two days later, she notified me that I was the lucky winner of the spot! Lucky winner, indeed!

The class consists of over 50 videos and detailed written lessons. The major technique is to learn how to prong set cabochons. I haven’t picked up my torch in over two years, so that was a major relearning as well. Her instruction is so clear and full of helpful hints and encouragements. A fun addition is a closed Facebook group where the students can show their work and/or ask questions. So helpful!

I am sharing my few projects that I’ve made so far…but I still have some more pairs of cabs to work with and refine my skills.

These frames were made with 18 gauge sterling silver wire.

So happy I didn’t melt anything!

The left blue sapphire set just fine. However, I cut a couple of the prongs too short for the other stone. A donation into the scrap bin and made another frame.

Success! However, the next time I will attempt to get a much closer fit around the stones.

Substantial look, but very light weight design.

The next project was with two pink sapphire cabs, however one of the stones had a crack and broke before I could attempt to set it. Sooo…I decided to make a prong set pendant. Pretty in Pink!

A couple of thoughts so far…

Deryn suggested using a liquid flux that I put into a small spray bottle. The process is to spray on the flux and use the torch to dry it before soldering. Love that! The bubbling of the flux doesn’t make the tiny pieces of solder jump around. Also, she recommends the technique of pick soldering, of which I am becoming a huge fan. Again, much more accurate placement of the solder and the torch doesn’t blow the tiny solder bits off target. Love it!

You might check out Deryn’s awesome Something Sublime jewelry, or check out her classes.


Well, it’s a beginning… December 1, 2021

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:00 pm

Maybe that’s what we’re meant to do. Begin again. Many times, throughout our life. And if we’ve made a little progress since the last beginning, we won’t begin again from where we started the last time. We will start a little further along on our journey.

Wow, am I getting too philosophical, here? In the positive, we are given many fresh starts as we can handle in this journey.

After almost ten months, I am going to try rebooting my blog with this small post. I really did think that with all the “forced” slow down of life with the pandemic, I would jump at the opportunity to get in there and create great pieces of jewelry. The ones, you know, “if only I had the time”. Well, that didn’t happen.

And I gained 12 pounds.

While I did do some bits and bobs, I have nothing to share except these two simple palomas I made today. Painting some brass stamped butterflies and adding another hole to let tiny Swarovski crystals dangle down below. Finished with an 18 inch chain and another sweet crystal. This is all I can manage right now. More complicated makings get me in a tizzy.

One other reboot last month…my first holiday market in two years. Boy, did I forget how much work it is to prep for one. And schlepping two car loads of set up! Seriously reconsidering whether I want to do any more for a while.

How about you? Have you made any new beginnings? Reboots? Mind blowing thoughts?

I’m listening…


Fresh Gifts February 27, 2021

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:51 am

This week I received a small bag of broken, unwanted jewelry from a friend. With a “Here, I thought you could do something nice with these.” It was really a bag of inspiration! I’m sure many of you jewelry makers have been the recipients of these mixed bags of treasure. Some bits and pieces were disassembled and sorted for later, but a broken necklace of smooth amethyst flat rounds jumped out at me…

I made a wire wrapped chain and added a sand dollar charm focal. Simple, and letting the stones take center stage.

And then, added some earrings to go-with…

Can’t wait to see what pops out of the bag next!


New Year Update January 11, 2021

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 3:31 pm

My first New Year’s posts tend to be full of hope and felicity for all the good things to come. Goals, possibilities, plans, and dreams. I have to admit that I am struggling to see more that ten feet in front of my face these days. Perhaps because that’s about the length of the rooms in our home, which I rarely leave. I have never seen myself as a Pollyana, nor a Debbie Downer, but someone pretty even tempered, searching for the reality, and trusting God’s guidance in leading me through circumstances. My trust in God is not shaken, but recent events of the past few months have surely shaken my faith and assumptions of the strength of our democracy to stand. Anxiety is a frequent companion these days. Forgive me if this is not what you stopped by to read in my blog. This is a record of sorts about my journey as a jewelry maker. What I see, feel, hear, touch, and think affects this. That is all.

I currently have the attention span of a flea, but have managed to make some simple things. These offer some welcome distraction and pleasure, for which I am grateful. Here’s a look.

Sterling silver hoops with a touch of gold

Sterling silver with chubby fluorite stones.

Brass chain and painted cross.

Silver wire frame with freshwater pearls.

Sterling silver frames and small beads.

Mixed metal earrings with Amazonite.

Gold hoops with chunky silver nuggets.

My new favs… Rough, raw garnets with feathers!

Crystal rosary chain with fun flower charm.

Sincerely wishing you and yours a peaceful and healthier New Year. God help us.