Friday, September 30, 2011


 Finally I've found myself between projects, and with a quantity of tools still unpacked after recent workshops, I decided the time was right to shift my jewellery workspace to my new bench.  I can't believe it took me so long, but I like to be organized when I settle in somewhere new, so I've put it off until now.  
There's still more stuff to shift, but I'm pretty happy with my new setup.  The new bench will take some getting used to though, having worked at a desk of conventional height so far, whereas a jeweller's bench is designed so the bench pin/working surface is around the height of my breastbone.  I have to keep reminding myself to relax my shoulders!
Not pictured is another small desk I've set up behind my bench so I have a place for my vise, my drill, as well as doing metal clay and design work. 

This space is also handier to the front door, so when customers visit they don't have to wander through so much of our home space.

Although I'm missing the view out the window in my old space, I'm loving this fresh new start.  Hopefully fresh new ideas will follow too!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crossing disciplines

Pictured above is a Brummel Hook, a connecting device originally used in the marine industry.  At left is Cutlers Rivet, used in the making of knives.  While neither was intended as a jewellery component, they both have migrated into this industry.  I love learning about things like this!  It's such a valid reminder of how knowledge can cross disciplines and add variety and value to the final product.  The brummel hook was introduced to me by Don Stuart at the workshops and artist talk he gave this week at the Anna Templeton Centre.  I learned about the cutlers rivet on a DVD by Tim McCreight.  I find that whatever discipline is currently absorbing my creativity, I'm always looking for ways of integrating other interesting techniques into that creative process.

Last weekend I attended the Anna Templeton Centre's annual Craft Retreat.  This wonderful event offers an eclectic range of workshops, this year at the beautiful Brother Brennan Environmental Centre.  This year the workshops I took were spinning, tatting, and an iris fabric folding technique that resulted in a greeting card.  Spinning I took just for a bit of practice.  Tatting I'd thought might lend itself to interesting jewellery using fiber, but wow, that is a VERY tedious technique, it would take a lifetime to make a necklace or anything substantial.  The iris folding technique (referring to the iris of a camera lens, not the flower) lends itself to many possibilities, multiple irises, off-center irises, etc.  It would be interesting to apply to metal, but the issue of bulk would have to be addressed somehow, even with the fabric, the puffiness accumulates.

New design ideas are everywhere, they sometimes just need a little translation to be applied to jewellery.  I find it helps me from getting stuck in a rut to look for these possibilities.  And it's so fun to keep learning new things - no matter the material.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Some frame of reference

Took a day off in the studio to go daytripping in search of blueberries.  It seems we're a bit early.  The plants are easing into fall, though the summer's been so short I think they're a little confused.
This lovely fat caterpillar was happily munching on an alder.  I wish him (her?) many, many alder loving offspring.  Indian pipe are so enticing in their ghostly garb and they posed so demurely for their photo.

I have been puttering away in my studio, but there's nothing really to show and tell, so I'd thought I'd post some useful jewellery links I've found.
Recently I was getting a bit of metal sheared and discovered I was speaking a different language than the guy behind the counter with regards to the thickness of copper.  He was talking ounces, and I was confused.  Here's a helpful chart I found that cleared things up:

Another conversion I find I am often making is between grams and troy ounces.  This quick link gives you an instant answer:

For the hardness of gems, a rudimentary chart can be found here:

International ring sizing methods vary considerably!  This is a very useful link to help determine what size you're looking for, or convert from a size you know you have:

If I encounter technical roadblocks when I'm fabricating jewellery, there are two sources I tend to check first.  Most jewelers are familiar with Ganoksin, their "Tips from the Jeweler's Bench" archive is great for getting lost in:

I also find the folks on the Starving Jewelry Artists forum very helpful:

One more resource that is probably very helpful, but I just haven't checked often is Rio's (newish?) blog: The Studio:

Hopefully you'll find these to be of some use.  If you have useful links you'd like to pass along, please feel free!