A quick share today with some more finished pieces. The three pendants were created in class and then finished up at home.
Charms of turquoise, pearl, mystic blue quartz, garnet, and a 14K gold filled seashell.
The stamped pendant…
After the clay was stamped with a design, I added the heart with a syringe filled with slip.
And here’s a pic of the backs of cross and the star to show how I added the bails. They were made from 18 gauge fine silver wire and soldered onto the pieces.
If you’re keeping a tally, this is five finished pieces from one 25 gram package of PMC+. And I think I have enough clay left for one more. So if you thought, like I did, that this material is too expensive for you to try, maybe have another look. If I can get six fine silver pieces from one $48 lump of clay, I’d say that’s pretty great!
Last week I posted some recent work with PMC+ material. For those who found that interesting and helpful, here’s a few more pieces. Again, my technique is pretty simple and straightforward. Roll, texture with a stamp, cut out a shape, dry, sand, and torch fire. Fun!! That said, there is a world of other techniques to explore with this clay.
This first photo shows two pieces I made a couple of years ago. Again, smaller pieces for pendants are very easy to torch fire without the use of a kiln.
And then, back to the bird’s wing pendant I made last week. This shot shows the back of the piece. If you are going to set a CZ stone, it is advisable to cut a hole first, so the stone can be seated down into the clay. ( Gotta love Starbuck’s tiny coffee straws) If you were to just push the stone down into the clay, it may ‘push’ out the clay and distort your design. The clay’s got to go somewhere!
Then to finish the pendant with a bail, I needed to solder on a fine silver jump ring. This prove to be the most stressful part of this project. Teacher Pam suggested I file a groove into the top so that the bottom of the ring could nestle down into the pendant. So I did. Then, I sweat-soldered a good amount of solder to the bottom of the jump ring, before soldering the ring to the top of the pendant. Pretty sure this helped me in the process, because I wasn’t sure how to balance all this and keep the solder exactly where I wanted it to stay. A third hand stand was very useful to keep the piece upright and still. It worked! The jump ring bail is nice and secure.
The cross in the middle of the next photo was my very first PMC creation. Again, no fancy or difficult technique. Go back and connect to your inner childhood and play-doh memories. I just rolled out teeny, tiny clay snakes and put this together. Again, a stamp was useful to add texture and interest to the design.
For final finishing, I really like to file any rough spots I might have missed before firing. Oxidizing really brings out the beauty of textured pieces. And then an hour in a tumbler or a good polishing does wonders to the finished jewelry.
So, there you have it! Easy, peasy. If you’ve been wanting to try PMC, it’s very doable at home with a simple torch, a few tools or stamps. I highly recommend watching a few how-to videos on youtube or Beaducation’s site.
I love PMC +. PMC+ Silver is just one of a variety of precious metal clay products, but this one is great for what I am currently doing in class. Easy to work with, less shrinkage, and easy to torch fire small pieces like these I am sharing today. By the way, the final product is fine silver, so no tarnish issues (at least for a long, long time).
The heart was as easy as making sugar cookies… Just rolled out the clay, gently rolled it on a rubber stamp, and used a small heart-shaped cutter (like for poly clay work). The hole was made with a thin coffee straw, like from Starbucks. After drying, the piece was lightly sanded with an emery board to smooth any rough edges or spots. After torching, the finished piece was oxidized to bring out the stamped design. Learning: it was thicker that it needed to be. Fine silver is heavy. I used 5 cards thickness for the clay, but will try 4 thick next time.
This next piece was made in class last night. This time I wanted to add a cubic zirconia stone. Most CZ stones can tolerate torch firing, so you preset the stone before that step. Pretty much the same procedure as the heart…rolled out the clay to a 4 card thickness this time. Used a rubber stamp with a beautiful bird wing, then cut around the wing design with a fine xacto knife. Set the stone using some slip in a syringe (with shaking hands!) Again, after firing, the piece was oxidized to bring out the delicate design. The last step still needs to be done. I want to solder a fine silver jump ring to the top. Teacher Pam suggested I file a groove in the top to nestle the jump ring in a bit and use more solder than I normally would. Learning: this pendant-to-be is still a little thicker than needed. Maybe my cards are thicker that normal playing cards. I’m going to use only 3 cards in my next try. Or get a new pack of cards!!
It’s been quite a while since the last post. A post full of New Year’s hope and aspirations with bezel setting some stones.
I think it’s time for an update… Some failures, a win, and still learning. Which means I’m still alive, I guess.
First up…I wanted to try setting a large oblong Labradorite for a ring with a wide band. I think this was doomed from the start because I used sterling sheet metal that was too thin for the backing and the band. I did try out adding texture to the backing in a rolling mill, but ended up sawing most of the design off because it was just too big. The rolling mill also thinned out the metal even more and it just felt sharp on your finger. The metal also made a pretty flimsy band that I thought would not harden enough to be comfortable or functional. Poor planning, I know. But I did learn some things about matching the metal thickness to the task. Also I knew the bezel band was tight on the stone and ended up being too tight to fit after it was soldered down on the back plate. Final kicker that had this project end up in the scrap heap.
In class we tried our hand at tube setting a stone…a 5mm CZ. I picked out a pretty Alexandrite CZ. The ring was made from double half round wire. I soldered the ring and then sawed down the middle channel to open up the two bands. After measuring and making the bezel tube, it was soldered to the ring. Then, I used a drill to make the ‘seat’ for the stone in the bezel. After setting the stone, it was polished well. It just so happened that I had lunch with my oldest granddaughter the next day. And it just so happened that her birthstone is Alexandrite. It just so happened to end up on her finger. A win!
Last is something I made yesterday at home. A smallish green stone…not sure exactly what it is. I was interested in making a setting that had some interesting elements, like stamping and using wire for embellishment. All was going beautifully, until I accidentally mashed the bezel wire in two places when pushing the wire wrapping down. Yikes! I tried my best to repair the damage, but it was too smashed.
Choice time…scrap this setting too or continue to use it as a learning project. I still needed to figure out how to solder down the wire wrap and I can always use more practice setting stones and polishing finished pieces. I also used a jeweler’s saw to cut out the back so that the light might penetrate the stone?? More practice with the saw is always a must for me.
Of course the bezel part of this piece looks terrible, but maybe I can think ‘rustic’ or ‘organic’ or ‘one of a kind’ to describe it. Those two bloopers just would not smooth out no matter how I worked on them. Oh, well. I do like the bezel embellishments and will definitely used those again.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy wearing this little necklace because it taught me so much! Kind of like when I was teaching, it was those students, who might give you the most challenges, that sometimes end up catching your heart the most.
I plan to continue my bezel/stone setting work this spring, but also looking forward to sharing some PMC pieces with you. We are going to be working with PMC+ Silver in class this next session. Yeah for learning !
In preparation for the class, I viewed a fantastic video on youtube from Beaducation.
Here’s the link if you are interested in watching.
Happy New Year to you all! Hope 2019 will be one of great surprises and opportunities to create in whatever medium you use or would like to start using!
I thought my first post for this year should be about these little gems of inspiration. I have been collecting some mostly stone cabs for a while, waiting for inspiration to hit. The next jewelry class session starts at the end of January and will focus again on creating settings and setting stones. I’m ready! I have this lovely collect of inspirations. And I have aspirations of continuing to hone my metal smithing and stone setting skills.
First up…I’ve had these two the longest. The one on the left is a beautiful glass cab. The one on the right…just not sure what it is, but it’s a bit uneven in height around the edges.
Isn’t this one pretty? It’s a Rhodolite Garnet. The description said that it’s a Polki Rose cut. The unusual faceting is one thing that drew me to this stone. I’m thinking of creating a ring with this.
These three are smallish. Pinkie is a very odd shaped Rhododrosite. Not sure why I even purchased this.
I’m super excited about these two! The one on the left is a Dendritic Opal. Love, love the white with contrasting black. One could almost imagine a winter scene on the surface. I’d love to use annealed steel with this or go for a really black, oxidized sterling silver.
The one next to it is a Labradorite druzy. Druzies are very popular these days, but I’ve never seen a Labradorite. It’s quite thick, so I’ll really need to think about a setting for this one.
The top three in this pic were freebies with my order of the Opal and Lab cabochons. Two more labradorite and another smaller druzy. Sweet!! The deep blue oval stone at the bottom is a Blue faceted Tourmaline. The photo just does not give this one justice. Such a deep, deep blue. I may need to cut out the back of the setting to allow in more light???
And finally, the twin of the Ammonite I prong set in sterling silver last year. I purchased the pair. I was very happy with the way the setting turned out, so I’ll probably repeat this.
If you did not see my April post about the Ammonite piece, look here.
As I write this post, I realize I have set myself quite a list of projects and probably would be wise to pick my top three cabs. Hmmm…a hard choice to be sure!
What Inspirations and Aspirations do you have for this fresh, new year?
Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 10:59 am
Looking for easy, fun holiday gifts for friends and family? So was I! These garden whimsies are not only economical, but give you another way to use those hard earned wire wrangling skills from your jewelry making.
Supplies are annealed steel wire from the hardware store…I used 16 gauge for the flower frames and 19 gauge for the birdies. The bead wrapping was with 24 gauge. Note: the 16 gauge was actually used for wrapping rebar and came in a wax paper type wrapping. The 300 plus foot roll was less than 5 bucks! That makes a whole lot of flowers!
This black annealed wire is pliable even in the thicker gauges. I did use tools to manipulate it, but also used my fingers…the best tools I have! Two things to know about this wire. First it has a black and slightly oily coating. You’ll see it on your hands for sure. Second, this coating helps protect it from rust when wet. Since I want these to be used outside in the garden, I spray the finished piece with two coats of Permalac.
These are the tools I had handy.
Notice the nippers I used…DO NOT use your jewelry wire cutters. The steel is too strong and will ruin them. Yes, I did learn this the hard way.
And you’ll need some sparklies….These are from Michael’s this week. The red labels were half price and all regularly priced jewelry supplies were 50% off! They are all about 6mm and the flowers use maybe 30 plus each. It all depends on how big your flowers are and how closely you wrap the beads.
Score for the team!
For the flowers, I spiraled the wire right off the spool. It took about 5 feet of wire to get ten wraps. Bent the wire at 90 degrees and straightened the curve out with my wire straightening tool for a stem. Then, used pliers to create the leaf. Nipped off the end to leave the stem piece about 12 inches long. The length is up to you. The total wire length for the frame was about 7 feet. The flowers ended up being 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
Using the 24 gauge wire, I wired the bottom of the flower spiral to the stem and wrapped the beads around the outer spiral. Then wire wrapped the stem to add a touch more detail and stability. Expect to use about 6 feet of this wire.
Love how these are free flowing and a bit wonky…it adds to the charm! You can also fiddle with the spirals to suit your needs. Or push them out a little so they have some dimension.
I also played around with bird designs. These are for hanging in a window or a tree branch, but I think they would also be super cute on a wire stem and perched in a potted plant as well.
If you need some inspiration or design ideas, I’ve been saving a ton of ideas on a Pinterest board named Wire Whimsy. There’s also lots of Christmas wire ornament ideas. Are 111 pins showing a bit of an obsession?
Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 10:27 am
This weekend will be the tenth FPC Holiday Market and I remember the first one…I was so nervous. It was the first time I was selling my jewelry to the public. Do you remember your first selling event? I felt like a new mother taking her precious baby out in public for the first time and wondering if people would ooh and aah and love them as much as I did. Or just stare blankly and walk on by with no reaction what so ever.
Well, it turned out pretty well and has grown into my favorite market experience. And people have been very generous and kind and encouraging of my work. I am grateful.
Today, I am excited to share this piece with you. The gorgeous sand dollar focal is by a local potter named Miki Yamamoto. I’ve gotten to know her over the past several years at this event. She’s a lovely person and amazing potter. Miki’s Pottery
I was lucky enough to snag this sand dollar (Uh, that sounds like I pilfered it. I didn’t.) She told me she thought they’d make good jewelry, but she just didn’t have time to make anything. I told her I’d try out something and have it ready for this event.
It just called out for some additional beachy, tide pool treasures to finish a necklace. Luckily, I had all these bits in my stash. Including the thick creamy Irish waxed linen cord. Abalone discs, shell buttons, mother of pearl nuggets. Plus carved stone and matte agate beads. The loose knotted cording just seemed right for this casual design.
Hope Miki likes it and thinks I did her work justice.
The first time I read this word…Kintsugi…was in a jewelry blog a couple of weeks ago. The woman who was posting shared that the stone she was attempting to bezel set mystifyingly broke in two pieces. She asked her readers to post suggestions as to how to rectify this seeming tragedy. One commenter wrote that Kintsugi might just work.
Kintsugi? What’s that? Okay, it caught my attention! And that began my happy rabbit trail into this fascinating repair technique, that expanded to its own art form, and then blossomed into a philosophy of acceptance. If you are unfamiliar with Kintsugi (also known as Kintsukuroi) I suggest you do your own on line search and see where it leads you. Meanwhile, here’s a few tantalizing tidbits…
This technique of repairing broken pottery began in the 1500’s in Japan and over time taken on the more personal life philosophy. Closely related to it’s cousin, Wabi Sabi.
Can you see how this might apply to your jewelry work? There are many places on the internet to find faux Kintsugi ‘fixes’, using two part epoxy or strong glue and gold mica powder in place of lacquer and real powdered gold or silver.
I’m inserting a link here to a very entertaining youtube video with some good info about DIY fixes, especially if you are interested in a food safe repair.
I have begun to experiment with this DIY technique. And while I had no broken pots or vases laying around, I did try to break a couple of small plates from the thrift store to practice on. Crazy, huh? Not as easy as it sounds. Giving just the right amount of whack with a hammer is iffy. I was trying for 3-4 larger pieces, but got way too many. But plenty to practice with, I guess.
Here’s a couple of early tries… First, just two pieces and the edges. The application is a bit sloppy. One blog just used a match stick to apply the colored epoxy. Messy! Had to clean up with a fine craft razor blade tool.
Then, this small piece of plate with three sea glass pieces. Still hard for me to control the application. I glued a pin fastener to the back.
Really liked the sea glass bits outlined in the gold. This one still needs more ‘clean up’ with the razor blade.
One more experiment yesterday…this time with just sea glass. While not Kintsugi pottery mending, I do like using the gold epoxy to connect and outline the sea glass. And I used a small paint brush to apply the goop…seemed to have more control.
I really would like to get my hands on some broken cabochons or stones to try this technique of repairing them. Could be really great looking! Do any of you have experience with this technique?
The first of three holiday markets is coming up next Saturday and I’m working up some pretty jewelry to tempt the customers. Just posting photos of some new makes today. Bird nests, hoops, leather cuffs, and sterling hearts. Plus my very popular bracelets made from recycled glass beads I brought home from Ghana this summer. LOVE!
Now I just have to inventory, price and tag, and store these babies til next weekend!
Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:52 am
I am five weeks into a lost wax casting class. This is my third or fourth try at it. My success rate is hovering about 50 percent in getting useful pieces for jewelry. My technique is pretty simple…stamping a design into a small lump of flattened wax or using die cutters with wax sheet. Or using plastic/resin buttons. I would love to have some castings of organic materials, like leaves…but these have been epic fails for me. Other students have done some really amazing things with bits and pieces of nature and I’m a bit jealous. And also very happy for them. Lost wax is a hard taskmaster, so we celebrate every success and commiserate each loss.
Here’s a few photos from my most recent foray…
This first one shows the incomplete cast of leaf. This is the backside where I ‘painted’ a thin coat of wax to add some stability and thickness. Also shows the sprue (base). Fortunately, I can use this solid silver piece in another casting attempt.
This small charm is from a stamped lump of sculpting wax. I realized after finishing it that it was too thick to use small jump rings. So I’m going to grind down the back to reduce the depth of the piece. I’ll try an recover the silver dust to reuse.
The back needs some more work!
Think I like this silver initial charm, but again it is so thick. It’s not only heavy, but kind of a waste of silver. Then, there is this cute butterfly…I loved it when it came out of the casting plaster. This is one that I punched out of wax sheet. A butterfly and a tiny flower. I use metal design stamps to decorate before casting and made one hole at the top.
Then, I decided to punch another hole at the bottom for a gem stone dangle and the metal was too thin and broke… Big time sad!
It’s now scrap metal.
Here’s a finished necklace with a textured heart. Hand formed from sculpting wax and stamped. Again, it’s pretty thick and weighty, but it looks great.
So the lesson to learn…not too thick and not too thin.
Just like Goldilocks, I’m searching for “just right”.
We’ll see if I can pull it off with the next batch.
Hi, My name is Lynda.
Exploring the wide world of jewelry making in my retirement from teaching. I'm grateful to be a part of this worldwide community of jewelry bloggers, where I receive encouragement, inspiration, and sometimes...a kick in the pants to take a risk!
Fresh Baked Designs jewelry is available locally in San Diego.
Just click on the link in the menu bar above.