Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

Redeemed Designs September 10, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:14 pm

I’ve taken on a fun, rewarding project recently…repurposing old, donated jewelry to help a non-profit in my city. I’ve been volunteering there for years, but recently the ladies who work in the clothing room have been setting aside jewelry that gets mixed in with the donations. Usually junk, or broken, or orphan pieces. They give it to me to do with what I want. Some I repair, clean, or take apart for usable components. I’ve given these back to the volunteers to take and enjoy.

The latest batch had some useful stuff that turned out to be fun to use in remakes. I added some chain, ear wires, a few beads or stones to make this collection. They will be offered for sale at my women’s Bible study in a few weeks with the profits going to purchase supplies for hygiene kits for our homeless and family clients.

Crystal components removed from a broken bracelet.
Rings and filigree from different earrings. Added a splash of paint.
Ring components from a broken earring
Wired on a beautiful stone to a plain-jane leather bracelet.
Two wood components from broken earrings.

And then there was a surprise in the bag. A heavy gold puffed anchor bracelet. Shiny and in good shape. Too large for my wrist (or an average ladies), so I cut off three links. Added a cheap blue crystal for some pizzazz. Then I noticed two tiny markings on either side of the clasp. With a very strong magnifying glass, I saw “14K” ! Really!! Is this a joke?

I took it and the pieces down to the closest jeweler’s shop. They confirmed that it was indeed the real thing. Weighed in at 10.5 grams of gold. Estimated at 500-800 dollars…depending on scrap or retail. Holy cow!

And I had cut it apart?? I am having the jeweler solder back on the links I cut off. And I contacted the non-profit’s director to let him know what I found. It’s up to him what to do with it. There are a couple of fund raising events each year, so perhaps it will go into an auction. Here’s a look at this unexpected beauty…

This is a photo of the back where you can see that there are markings on each side of the clasp.

When I get it back, you can bet I will remove that cheap crystal dangle!


Update on work… August 12, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:36 pm

First of all, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Sarah Cadwallader, of Caddy Designs… I first met Sarah at a jewelry class we were in together for several years. She is an avid learner and went on to add lapidary skills to her jewelry skill set. I immediately thought of her when I made some big boo boos on some peridot quartz stones I was setting. Making the mistake of thinking I was more skilled with the rotary polishing tool than I am, I tried to use it with the stone in place in the setting. Oops! Lots and lots of scratches and dings. When I sent photos to Sarah to ask if she thought they could be saved, she said she’d take a look. Off they went in the mail. Well, I got them back yesterday. Good as new! And you can see by the photos, super clear and unblemished. Thank you, friend! Please visit her Facebook page to see more of her wonderful work…especially her personalized, stone-set dog tags. Sweet!

These cabs are so clean that you can see the wood grain through them!

P.S. Now, if I’m going anywhere near a stone with the tool, I carefully cover it with painter’s tape. Lesson learned!

Next up, are two earring pairs with some gorgeous Larimar. My first time using this stone. The simple prong settings really let the stones shine. And this shade of blue with silver is a perfect pairing.

When photographing jewelry, I’m always thinking of my camera as “The Third Eye”. It never fails that the camera catches imperfections and whoopsies in my work that I didn’t catch. The last photo also shows a flaw in my camera skills… the camera also caught a reflection of my face in the silver disc on the right. Gotcha!


Next up… July 30, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:49 pm

I still have three sets of “watermelon slice” gem stones from my last purchase from Deryn Mentock’s sale. Amazonite and Labradorite, then these Lemon Quartz…slightly lemony yellow in tone and very clear. Lots of sparkly. A really good neutral pair of earrings for your wardrobe needs. And I added a “little swing” to the top so they have some nice movement, too.

They both need a good clean up for any tool marks or excess solder…which my camera’s third eye caught in these photos.

Back to the bench!


Working on commissions… July 22, 2022

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 9:57 am

On one hand, I love making personal jewelry from requests. It can be a fun, satisfying challenge to find the right design, and specific beads and gems. The clients are so happy when I get it right! On the other hand, it can be stressful to create the right settings and finding the right beads and gems. I do try my best to get feedback from them along the way and get their input via photos and emails to see if I’m going the right direction. This certainly helps. Occasionally, I get someone who says, ” whatever you make, I’ll love”. That’s the tricky one, in my opinion. I’d much rather have some guidance from them.

Luckily, two good friends gave their desires and wishes that served me well in creating their own unique pair of earrings.

The first one…Nancy requested the main stone to be peridot colored and she loves sparkle. After I set the stone, I sent her photos of them with different secondary choices. She loved the contrast of the cobalt blue glass daggers. I totally agree! They are off in the mail to their new mistress.

You can see how translucent they are.

For the second pair, Ginny loved the Hessonite garnet gemstone slices. Again I asked her wishes for the positioning of the setting. After the stones were set, I met with her to look at different options for a dangling stone. She loved the contrast of the Amazonite drops.

My clients really have great taste!

Happy clients, happy maker!


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!