Monday, January 30, 2012

Members" News for February

It's time again for the monthly members' news. Those of you who are regular blog readers may have noticed I was remiss in posting the January news. Yep, my bad. Please forgive me and enjoy the news for this month-

Corliss Rose of 2Roses has been elected Vice President of the International Polymer Clay Association. Congrats Corliss!!

Danielle Miller-Gilliam has been awarded the South Carolina Arts Commission's "2012 Artists' Ventures Initiative Grant".
This award is a $5000 grant given to encourage and enable the creation of new artist-driven, arts-based business ventures that will provide career satisfaction and sustainability for South Carolina artists. Danielle's proposal is to focus on "Make your own Wedding Band workshops" in her Greenville, SC studio. Click on the link for more information.

Michele Grady's rose necklace has been photographed on author Rachel McClellan. This photograph will be used on all of her dust jackets for her upcoming books and the necklace also is to be incorporated in one of the books for a character to wear.
Michele will also be teaching a new business workshop at Creative Genius Art Gallery in Medford, NJ on Feb 11 titled "Fine Crafts 101: The business of Selling Your Creations"

LSueSzabo is one of the featured artists at Riverhouse Art Gallery in their show Gems, Jewels, and Curiosities. The show opened 12/9 and runs through mid- Feb. 2012.

Su of quercussilver was commissioned to make some pieces to support an installation by the sculptor George Meyrick at The Exhange Gallery in Penzance, England. The exhibition runs from January 28th until April 14th 2012. His work is strongly geometric, colourful, minimalist and on a human scale.

Su's work for this exhibition

Shannon Conrad will be selling at Bargain Hunting on 2/5. Bargain Hunting is an "Indie Clearance Sale", held twice a year. Click the link for more info.

Shae Freeman has a solo sculpture exhibition opening Feb. 4th at d.o.c.s. gallery in New Orleans.
The title of the show is 'macrocosm/microcosm' and will run from Feb 4th to April 4th.

2Roses will be speaking at the Bowers Museum, Santa Ana CA Feb 4th, and featured in an exhibition of masks at the Yuma Symposium Feb 23-25 Yuma Arizona.

House of Fifty Magazine
Featured Nina Gibson's Herb Garden Markers in their Winter/Spring 2012 issue

Jenny, of GeckoJ, will be participating in the 4th annual Student & Instructors Jewelry Market at the Spruill Center for the Arts on Feb 26th.

Hope some of you can check out some of these newsworthy events and items. Til, next month,

Ask Auntie EM

By now I would hope you all had heard about the new weekly blog post here on the EtsyMetal blog. Ann Hartley of Hartleystudio and, Sue Szabo of lsueszabo , will be answering YOUR questions in a weekly post we are calling "Ask Auntie EM". EtsyMetal has over 100 members with vast amounts of knowledge and far reaching interests and capabilities. We figured if we couldn't answer your questions...someone on the team could! "What can we ask?" Great question! Ask anything! Metalsmithing, enameling, raising, stone setting, cooking, childcare, got a question, we probably have an answer! To ask a question, email it to Who knows, you may get it answered next week!

This week's question comes from Pamela-
Do you know of any texturing wheel or tumbling media that can achieve a sandblasted look?
I recently purchased the small benchtop pencil beadblaster from Rio Grande. So far, I am not happy with the results and my purchase as I was initially oblivious to the fact that I also needed an air compressor. Now, having used this new machine, I am having second thoughts about keeping it. It's loud and pretty toxic as far as having those tiny particles (aluminum oxide or silica) out and about, they find their way out. The beadblaster and air compressor take up room and now I need for someone to either talk me into or out of it. Any thoughts?

Why yes Pamela, turns out I do.

First let me say that I love my sandblaster. I use it for lots of things besides a final finish on metal. It can be used to prep and clean metal for other processes, like coloring with prismacolor pencils, paints, and gesso. It can be used to blast off enamel on a piece that was ruined in the kiln or didn't come out the way you'd hoped.

Yes, the air compressor can be loud but so are many things that go on in a metals studio- I'd advise you to use a set of good ear plugs if it bothers you. Your beadblaster should not be leaving much silica or aluminum oxide around your studio. Have you check for air leaks?- the lid and the holes where the gloves go in are prime areas for small leaks. How do you do this? The same way you check for leaks on your tank- mix a dilute dish soap and water solution and take a paint brush and wipe it around all the openings. Turn the machine on and watch for any bubbles- if you see them, you've found the leak. You really should not be seeing much of the blasting medium outside the machine, if you are, I'd contact Rio and ask them what to do about it. I don't think I've ever had to sweep the counter where my blaster is. If you really like a sandblasted finish, don't give up! There is truly no other way to get a sandblasted finish. Having said that, I've got some ways to fake it that you might like.....

Here is an example of my work which is a true sandblasted finish-

I went to our team and asked others for ideas for getting a faux sandblasted finish. I got a lot of good suggestions.

Shannon, from rubygirl uses these low grit 3M radial discs to achieve a sandblasted look.

Here is her result-

Shirlee, of shirleegrund, also uses this same technique and offers this as an example of her work-

Laney, of silentgoddess had a great idea- she runs her metal through her rolling mill with different grits of sandpaper to achieve a faux sandblasted finish. Remember though that you will need to put your solder on the inside of the seam or use a cold connection. You cannot file or sand on this surface without destroying it so plan accordingly if you plan to use this technique.

Danielle, of daniellemillerjewelry, uses a "vibro-graver" to get this finish-

Inbar, of inbarbareket, uses a
texturizing wheel for this finish. Rio Grande sells a similar one. Get the one with the bent steel brushes.

Want something low-tech? How about this suggestion from Sarah, of jujubysarah, uses a 3M scotchbrite pad by hand. While not a true sandblasted finish, it makes an awfully nice brushed one. I use this as well.

Finally Konstanze, of Nodeform, suggest this- "If I want an even matte surface finish without any directional lines I sometimes drop a piece after polishing with steel shot into the barrel with the abrasive plastic pyramids for half an hour. It is not really exactly looking like sandblasted but close."

Well Pamela, I personally would not give up on your sand blaster! My guess is you will find other uses for it as time goes on and I think if you fiddle with it a bit you can get it to run cleaner. If you want to return the beadblaster, well, you now have some suggestions from some of our team members on how to achieve a similar finish without one.

Hope that helps. Until next week, keep those questions coming and happy metalsmithing.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

“What’s New”–this week in our shops

Hello my friends,
Here we are again with new jewelry made with lot of love from EtsyMetal team members.

iacua                                                          e5jewelry
simplymega                                              nova of sweden
 hartleystudio                                         fluxplay
lsueszabo                                                 Michele Grady Designs
Erin Austin                                                2Roses
NodeformWeddings                             betsybensen
 Quercus Silver                                       SCJ Jewelry Design
 Rebecca Bogan                                      Cosmo's Moon Jewelry

Stunning pieces!


I will be here next Saturday with more new jewelry.
In the mean time,
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Charm Swap Update

I am typing this week with a wrist brace on my right hand so I will keep my own words to the bare minimum.

I do have some really cool progress photos to share from Victoria with Experimetal. She is DONE with her charms!!! I want some suspense to build however, so I am only going to show you a couple of pictures this week:

Victoria says she has been a little addicted to working with leather lately. Wait until you see the finished charms. They are phenomenal!

There has been quite a bit more chatter regarding charms going on with swap participants lately. I can't wait to see more progress photos and share them with you next week.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ask Auntie EM - This week we tackle the BIG G!!

By now I would hope you all had heard about the new weekly blog post here on the EtsyMetal blog. Ann Hartley of Hartleystudio and, Sue Szabo of lsueszabo , will be answering YOUR questions in a weekly post we are calling "Ask Auntie EM". EtsyMetal has over 100 members with vast amounts of knowledge and far reaching interests and capabilities. We figured if we couldn't answer your questions...someone on the team could! "What can we ask?" Great question! Ask anything! Metalsmithing, enameling, raising, stone setting, cooking, childcare, got a question, we probably have an answer! To ask a question, email it to Who knows, you may get it answered next week!

This week's question made me snort out loud! We are going to refer to the asker this week as Ms. E to keep her identity a secret because she is asking what we have ALL wondered about from time to time, the dreaded G word...glue. Here is her email.

Questions from a learning Metalsmith..... I am a little scared to ask Auntie what her opinions are on.....well....the dreaded G word. Glue.

I have always been taught that epoxy and other permanent glues are a last resort for fine art jewelry when setting stones, parts and pieces. Lately, I've been having trouble getting my cabochons to sit "just so" inside my bezel, and they tend to rock around just a bit when pushed in the right places, and I've considered the G-word as a fix for this problem..... What's your opinion on glue? Where does it belong in the wide world of fine art Jewelry? Is it cheating, poor craftsmanship? Or is it just common sense and I'm being a silly stuck-in-my-ways purist?

Auntie EM has some very strong opinions on glue and I'm gonna share them with you. Most of the time when you mention the word glue, people make this face:

But that really isn't necessary. Glue has it's limited place and, once you learn to solve the problems glue solves, you will head your need for it off at the pass.

Most likely, there are two reasons your stones are rocking in their bezels. The first is fixable the second is more complicated. The first thing you want to look at is your stone. Is it flat on the bottom? when you set it on your bench block does it rock around or does it sit nice and flat? If it sets nice and flat, hang with me here...if it rocks you have a problem. Poorly cut stones are the bane of the setter's existence. Wonky girdles and big bellies on faceted stones and non flat backs on cabochons make stones REALLY hard to set, even for an experienced setter. My first piece of advice is to buy only good quality stones. Don't learn to set garbage, you will never learn properly and you will frustrate yourself until you give up. So, if your cabochon has a wavy or uneven back, you can try packing the bezel with sawdust to even everything out and then set your stone. A cabochon without a flat back will never stay tight in a mounting and it's not ok to use glue. Do you want me to say that again? It's not ok to glue it in, ever. Now, I know that some humongous big wigs in the jewelry industry use a dab of glue here and there. How does Auntie know this? Because she has had to unseat those stones and there it is, bold as brass. BUT, it was there purely as insurance, not as the primary means of holding the stone tight. Your bezel or prongs should ALWAYS hold the stone tight, never the glue.

Now, if your stone is of a good make and it's still rocking in the setting, I'd bet you have a little ball of solder inside the bezel that needs to be ground out of there. If that's not the case, the bezel is too tight and you need to grind some material out of there.

It is never ok to glue together components when you could solder them or rivet them. Ever. Never. Glue is poor design, poor craftspersonship and the easy way out. There are more ways to cold connect than I can count. There is an excellent book here with lots of information and ideas to avoid the G word.

So, if it's not ok to use glue to set a stone or hold a piece together, when is it ok to use glue? Pearls. Pearls should always have a dab of glue. You should use a 2 part 5 minute epoxy because it stays flexible and doesn't get hard, brittle and yellow over time. Even if you're bezel setting the pearl, use a dab of glue. You'll thank me. What if you glue that pearl onto that post and now you need to get it off? There is a product called Attack epoxy solvent that will dissolve the epoxy and not damage the pearl. It's horrible stuff so vent well and don't leave the container open. It will evaporate in 15 minutes. Another place where you could use glue is bezel setting a VERY tall bullet cabochon...this is the place for some extra insurance. Bezel setting a stone with a very steep pitch will require some extra holding power and glue is ok here as well. I have also personally glued leather cord into sterling end caps back in the day, that's ok too.

Since we are talking about glue here...I'd also like to add that super glue is an EXCELLENT tool to have on your bench. Super glue burns off clean so you can glue two pieces of sheet together and pierce both at the same time, you can glue pieces together and then bind them for soldering. The glue will burn away cleanly before the solder flows. It's also bad for brain cells so make sure to ventilate well.

I hope this answers your question Ms. E. Sorry, I think it's not the answer you wanted but Auntie EM has to be honest! Next week, Auntie EM will tackle sandblasting so head on back here next week. Do you have a question!!??? Email it to and we will try to answer your questions in the weeks to come. Until them, happy metalsmithing from Ann and Sue! See you next week!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

“What’s New “ in our shops

Happy Saturday everybody.
I am very happy to show you our new entries for this week.

simplymega                                              Rebecca Bogan
victoria takahashi/experimetal       SCJ Jewelry Design
 lichen and lychee                                   lsueszabo
QuercusSilver                                           Michele Grady Designs
LivelyHood                                                2Roses
iacua                                                              betsybensen

We'll meet you here again next Saturday.
Have a great weekend !

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Charm Swap Update

Time marches on and this means our charm swap deadline is getting closer and closer!

Ruby from iacua posted this update this week:

"I finally finished my design for Etsymetal's charm swap 9! A simple twig with buds."

And a quick little teaser from Virginie of VirginieMartinStudio:

"For my first charm swap, you'll all get a Fleur de Lys which represents Qu├ębec... I haven't finish my prototype but it is getting clearer in my mind... keep posted"

We all have just over two months to get our charms designed, created and mailed off. I am excited for the upcoming weeks as I am sure we will be seeing more and more hints, updates and completed charms from the swap participants.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making a collet mount with punches and block.

This is very much like the rub-over bezel mount with an open back that I showed you here, but with an elegant taper for faceted stones only and produced with the help of a collet block. 

What's a collet block? is a steel block with tapered cone-shaped depressions and a matching punch, for stretching tube sections into cone shapes for your mounts, or as in this case for tidying up a pre-fabricated cone shaped setting. These blocks come in different shapes for a variety of mount styles, such as oval.

So, first I made my template and then I marked that onto my metal. I used aabout 0.9mm thick metal, which is quite thick, but you will see why that is, later. How did I get the template right? There are lots of methods listed in so many books on how to do this and they all differ. Here is the way I do it, which you can see in my sketch below;

You can see that I have drawn the width of the stone as it actually is, which in this case was 5mm. The two lines which I then brought down (that long "V" down to a point) define the taper of the mount, so a shorter fatter V gives a squat mount and a longer V gives a more tapered, cone. It's helpful after you have drawn the arc, to also add the thickness of the metal you're using, onto that too, so that the final template you cut out is the whole of the shaded section  and the extra bit up to where it's marked number 4. This technique works for me every time.

Next, I sawed out the shape and made sure that edges were neat. I used my round nose pliers to bend the shape for my mount around, until the edges met perfectly. Once you have a good flush join, solder it closed with Hard solder. After pickling, you get to put your mount into the collet block and use your punch to true up the form. Which hole do you use though?....well, which one does your stone sit in nicely that leaves the table of the stone a couple of mm below the surface of the block?....choose the next size of hole up from that one.

Now make sure the stone fits the mount. You need a couple of mm proud of the stone table (the "table" is the top, flat surface of the stone). The mount is then soldered into the jewellery item, again with Hard solder.

Now you need to grind away a seat for the stone to sit on, just like we did for this mount.  Here in the above photo' you can see that I have coloured in the inside of the mount with black felt-tip pen, so that I can easily see the mark that I have scribed with my dividers which indicates where I will be cutting the seat.

I used both these burrs to grind out the seat. You may find that just one suits you better than the other. Because I have Carpal Tunnel syndrome in my wrists, I find this procedure quite difficult and a little painful, so I tend to grind out a little too much in my quest and for that reason, I prefer to solder a constructed seat into my settings, as in this setting. In this case, I might make another cone to a slightly smaller template and solder it inside. Then I would thin down the top edge of the outer cone, so that it is thin enough to rub over, but for the purpose of this tutorial, I will carry on cutting!....

Further shaping was achieved by using a medium sized, fine flat file, to take the height of the mount down until it is lower than the table but above the girdle (the "girdle" is the widest edge of the stone) so that I have enough metal to rub over. You can see here that the edge of the mount is now nice and thin from having the seat ground down. At this stage in the photo, I still have to take the height down a bit, as there is too much metal to push over.

You can see the ring is now held firmly in the Ring Clamp and I am pushing the edge over from opposite points with my pusher, bit by bit until the edge is snug against the stone all around. Only then do I push any visible lip down against the stone in a downwards push, before finally rubbing around in one direction with my burnisher....just as we did at the end for this setting. 

In case you're not sure, this gizmo above, is a ring clamp and makes holding rings while you set stones a much easier job than simply holding the ring with your hand.

So here is the mount after pushing, but before burnishing and below you can see the mount after burnishing.

Job done. Do remember that this is just one way of making this mount, there are variations. Every jeweller has a different way of doing it and has tips to share...good luck!
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