Friday, September 28, 2012

Work-in-Progress: sneak peak

Just a little sneak peak at one of my current projects.  Sterling silver and Aventurine hand-made, open-back cabochon prong setting.  This is part of a new bracelet that I am working on that will combine silver-smithing and chainmaille. 

Right now, I'm working on two bracelets, and designing/planning five other projects all at the same time.  The one problem with working on so many projects at the same time is that it then seems to take longer to finish any one of them.

One setting down, four more to go! 

Gemstone of the Week: Eosphorite

(Eosphorite image found on

Eosphorite,  a beautiful and little-known collectors gem.  Eosphorite was discovered in 1878 and was given its name by George J. Brush and Edward S. Dana.  The name comes from the Greek έωσφορος (or: heōsphoros) meaning "dawn-bearer."  It was given this name due to its colour. Eosphorite may be rose pink, red, pale brown, golden brown, medium to dark brown, light pink, light yellow, or colourless.  It has a hardness of 5 which is comparable to Apatite. Eosphorite is generally a secondary mineral found in phosphate bearing granitic pegmatites. It may be transparent to translucent and have a vitreous, sub-viterous, or resinous luster. Eosphorite may be found in: Russia; Sweden; Finland; Germany; Portugal; Afghanistan; Pakistan; Rwanda; Mozambique; Brazil; Argentina;  Australia; the Yukon Territory in Canada; and the states of Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Connecticut, North Carolina, Arizona, and California. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gemstone of the Week: Narsarsukite

(Narsarsukite image found on

Narsarsukite was discovered in 1900 in Narsarsuk, Greenland.  It may be found in pegmatite dikes in: Mongolia; Kazakhstan; New Zealand; Russia; Germany; Greenland; Namibia, the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Labrador, and Newfoundland; and the states of Arkansas and New Mexico. Narsarsukite may be brown, brownish gray, colourless, green, or honey yellow. It is a transparent to translucent gemstone with a vitreous luster and has a hardness of 7. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

My new gems!

I've been debating for quite some time now whether to start adding in some faceted gemstones (ratehr than just beads) into my work.  Soooo, last week I decided to bite the bullet and just bought some on E-bay.  I found a really nice (and really low priced) mixed gemstone wholesale lot of about 100+ carats on E-bay.  They just got here on Saturday and I can't wait to start using them!!! Here's what I ended up getting.

One Peridot roughly .75 carats.

Two Garnets; one is roughly .75 carats and one is about 2.0 carats.

Seven Amethysts; roughly: 11.5 carats, 3.0, carats, 4.0 carats, 5.0 carats, 4.5 carats, 2.0 carats, and 2.0 carats.

Three Golden Topaz; roughly: 7.5 carats, 5.5 carats, and 4.0 carats.

One Rose Quartz; roughly: 21.0 carats.

One Smokey Quartz; roughly: 19.0 carats.

Four Clear Quartz, although two (the two on the left) seem different (denser and different luster) and may actually be Topaz; roughly: 2.5 carats, 3.0 carats, 2.0 carats, and 1.5 carats.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Preventing tarnish on copper

("Paaie" by Handmaden Designs LLC)
 For anyone that has ever used copper (especially for jewelry), there has always been one issue with it: the tarnish.  Copper tarnishing very quickly, and often that tarnish will wear off onto the wearer's skin green. (This is worst, when the copper is still in the process of darkening; once it is fully tarnished, it doesn't seem to be quite as bad for turning one's skin green.) While some people like this darker-toned copper, many prefer it to remain as bright an shinny as a new penny.

Now, if you work in wire (with no soldering) you can get wire that is pre-coated with a non-tarnish finish, but if you work with sheet, soldered wire-work, or want to retain some of the tarnished look without the issue of skin turning green who will need to coat the copper yourself.

How?  Well, there are actually many different options.  If you have the extra money to spend, you could go with Renaissance Wax.  This is a common sealant used on jewelry to prevent tarnish, or the wearing off of patinas. Unfortunately, Renaissance Wax tends to be a bit on the pricey side.  It is, however, not the only option available.  I've heard of people using clear nail varnish to coat metal.  While this will work for a while, it does tend to chip and eventually wear off.

I've been experimenting with this issue, and so far I have had great success with using a Fixative spray.  Most often, Fixative is what artist's use to prevent their drawings from wearing off and fading (particularly charcoal or pastels).  However, it can also be used on other surfaces.

I've used in an multiple pieces, and it's worked very well.  On some pieces, I even left some of the tarnish on so I'd have the gorgeous affect of both the darkened copper and areas of bright copper on the same piece.  I coated those pieces months ago, and they look just the same now.

Their are other products out there that are similar to Fixative that would likely work as well, this is just the one I had on hand and it has, thus far, been a very good inexpensive, alternative to Renaissance Wax.  When using Fixative make sure to have a great deal of ventilation or wear some form of a respirator/mask (I used it outside, can't get better ventilation than that), as with any similar product, you do not want to breath in its fumes.

Spray the copper after all forming or soldering has taken place, but before adding any stones or beads.  I would not recommend it be used on anything with moving parts, unless they are all sprayed separately and assembled afterwards.  Also, it cannot be used with chainmaille (for the same reason as any articulated piece) as the fixative will cause it to stiffen, losing all movement and ability to bend.  So with chainmaille, either be prepared to keep the tarnish, or use pre-coated wire from suppliers like Parawire.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gemstone of the Week: Sturmanite

("Sturmanite image found on

Sturmanite is yet another of the under-known and under-appreciated gemstones.  It is a rare collector gem and was discovered in 1981 and is named in honour of Canadian mineralogist, Bozar Darko Sturman. Sturmanite is a Hydrated Calcium Iron Aluminum Manganese Sulfate Tetrahydroxoborate Hydroxide and related to the Ettringite group of minerals. It will generally form as dipyramidal tabular crystals or elongated hexagonal crystals and can be possibly be twinned.  It's hardness is only a 2.5, so great care needs to be taken so as not to damage it. Sturmanite may be pale or bright yellow, greenish yellow, or (if altered) brownish orange.  Sturmanite is found in South Africa.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hannele v.11

("Hannele v.11" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Byzantine weave based design with hand-made twisted wire rings. This bracelet is made of copper and enameled copper and is just under 7.5 inches long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hannele v10

("Hannele v.10" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Byzantine weave based design using hand-made twisted rings.  This bracelet is made of copper and enameled copper, and is 7.5 inches long.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

So excited! I bought a new torch!

Well, after torturing myself about it; flip-flopping back and forth between buying it this year or waiting until next year, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and bought a new butane torch from Rio Grande (along with two re-fueling tanks, a long-life hard charcoal block, third-hand w/tweezers, 18ga 6" x 12" copper sheet, and two 20ga 6" x 12" copper sheets). Originally, I was going to wait until next year, but I'm so eager to try some new things that I couldn't wait any longer, especially since my previous torch has become unsafe to use.  I don't dare turn it on as pretty soon it starts making popping sounds (think Fireswamp from The Princess Bride) and then shoots flames out the side of the torch, exactly in the spot where my hand is.  I'm so excited to start trying some new things and can't wait until the torch gets here!!  I also want to get some gesso and Prismacolor pencils to experiment with colouring the copper sheet.  I wonder what would happen if I took a torch to it? Hmmm, something to try out!  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gemstone of the Week: Kämmererite

(Kämmererite image found on

 Kämmererite is the red to purple variety of Clinochore (an ordinarily green gemstone). This beautiful gemstone was discovered in 1851 and is named after the A. Kämmer (the mining direct at St. Petersburg).  It has a hardness of 2-2.5 so it's use is somewhat limited and great care must be taken with it. Its colour may be bright purple to a deep crimson red.  Often, it will be found in chromite deposits along with Clinochlore and Uvarovite (a type of green Garnet).   Kämmererite is a very rare gemstone and may be found in Turkey.