Thursday, December 30, 2010

How it is made: A custom wedding ring for an old engagement ring. Part 3.

The last part.

The benchpin is probably the most ingenious and usable tool in a jewelry studio. I discover a new use for it everyday. This time I realized that I can use it to hold the freshly attached sprue upside down, squeezed into the benchpin's slot and work on the other end, until the wax at the ring shank completely solidifies. The shank affixed to the sprue, then can be united with the head. After smoothing the welding area , I removed the little bridge between the two shanks, that helped me to prevent breaking the delicate wax structure.. Holding the wax against a light source, allows me to judge the thickness and evenness of the whole contraption, last time before casting, and make some last minute adjustments if needed.

The wax model is then completed with sprues, that will allow the molten metal fill the mold. The models are attached to a rubber base and the whole "tree' is embedded into a plaster like material, called investment. The investment is placed into a furnace to make the plaster hard and melt the encased wax out of it; hence the name of "lost wax casting" . The wax leaves a cavity system inside the hardened investment and provides a mold for the molten metal. After about 8 hours of firing , all residues of the wax are burned out of the mold and it is ready for casting. After casting the rings, the investment material is removed (white stuff on the picture )  and the the result becomes visible. This is the moment of truth. This is the moment, when it turns out whether or not the work of many hours is resulted in a good casting, or have to be started over.

The rest of the process is only briefly summarized here: After the castings were cut off the tree, the engagement ring was fitted and soldered to the guard/wedding ring. The surfaces were filed and  sanded and polished until they took on the desired final finish. Then I set the raw diamond cubes and made some final touch up on the surfaces. The ring is  finished and ready to be shipped. In this setting , the weak parts of the old ring are fortified and the diamond is protected from the majority of blows, that are also the most dangerous : the sideways hits.

The finished wedding suit. I used a similar process for the groom's wedding band.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How it is made: A custom wedding ring for an old engagement ring. Part 2.

I used the lost wax casting process to create the ring guard/wedding ring for the bride.

First I choose a wax blank, in this case a Matt's purple for no particular reason other than, that I had this piece that was the perfect thickness.
Next I marked every possible dimensions of the design on the blank, using dividers and scrapers, carbide pencils, knives... whatever. Since some of the marks will be carved away, I either redraw them as I proceed or extend the markings onto areas, that will not be last . This is most important for the crucial dimensions that determine the symmetry, centers and borders, that will be pretty hard to establish again when the simple geometry of the blank will transform into the more complex geometry of the design.
For rough shaping I used a handpiece extension, that allows me to position and hold the cylindrical bit in fixed angle ( 90 degrees in this case).
End of the roughing up, onto the more delicate free hand shaping.

I carefully traced the measurements and outlines of the design and fitted the green top part , that I previously carved, to the forming shank.
Then , using a jewelers saw, I cut out the tapered profile shape.
More sawing: to remove the middle part of the shank and shape the tiny columns that will support the top part.

Using jeweler's saw, blades, files and abrasive papers drill bits and whoknowswhat I shaped the shank and fitted it to the top part. Then I smoothed the surface to a decent finish . Here are my favorite abrasives: 3M microfinish films, an old shirt and nylon stockings. The interesting thing is the sudden color change of the model, no miracle, here is what happened: I finished it and the casting went wrong. Although not very often, this kind of things happen . So I had to remake the model. At some point I decided, that  I would continue the process explanation using the new model, that I made from a green colored wax blank.

To be continued>>>

Monday, December 27, 2010

How it is made: A custom wedding ring for an old engagement ring. Part 1.

This series is to offer you a sneak peak to the  behind the scenes events that lead to the creation of a custom piece of jewelry.

This story starts with an engagement: the young man  proposed to her lady with his grandmother's ring. The ring is a diamond solitaire, from the early 19's , made by the famous Jabel company. The ring shows the impact of time , but held up nicely during the nearly 100 years, undoubtedly due to extremely high quality and the die pressing fabrication process that Jabel developed. Nonetheless, the metal is thinned and weakened, as well as the diamond has a large number of chips and abrasions. It would not have been prudent to just make a simple band to fit this ring, because the old diamond solitaire was at a point , where it could easily snap , or the diamond may break without warning at any time.

In situations like this , we usually suggest a complete overhaul of the ring and the diamond: The thin parts - in this case the head and the bottom of the shank would need to be re-built or fortified and the prongs re-tipped. The diamond would have to be re-cut - if possible - or replaced. The customers did not want to alter the original ring, which can be easily understood given the sentimental value of the original ring. Re-cutting this size of diamond would have probably resulted in a very small stone. 

Therefore I proposed a design, where the engagement ring would be built around with the wedding ring , similar to a ring guard, but of course more organically united. They also wanted me to create  the grooms band in a manner that they would be different, but refer to each other at the same time. To make matters a bit more complicated the lady also bought an engagement ring for her fiance  from me . This ring featured a raw diamond crystal. 

We agreed that the common reference would be the use of raw diamond crystals in both wedding rings.

In the next parts I will show how these ideas were turned into a beautiful  wedding suit.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kaleidoscope: Thomasin Durgin a.k.a. Metalriot stretching the boundaries

      Thomasin Durgin's latest installations dealing with the current oil disaster in the Mexican gulf raised the old questions in me : Where is the border between art and jewelry, or is there any? Is art in general functional? Is jewelry in particular functional? What if a piece of art is manifested as a piece of jewelry? Can it be functional without being wearable? As I was writing this post, I discovered  the latest entry of Thomasin's blog where she is asking similar questions. This is not only interesting, but  it also shows how extremely well she communicates every aspects of her thoughts to the viewer.

    In short, I think (art)jewelry and art in general is functional: They always carry a message. Jewelry in particular can be used to make this message particularly significant and personal. After all you could put that thing inside your personal space, making a very intimate connection.  But then sometimes an artist have such an important message, that overrides the wearability requirement and uses the (possible) attachment of the object to the body as an additional layer of meaning.

    Well, without any further blahbla, here it is through examples from Metalriot:

The first one would be a  perfectly wearable  ring with a pleasing look, if it was not for the "spill" ! I personally would love to wear it and feel frustrated that I don't even have a chance. Do I need to explain any further ( I will be happy to, just leave a comment)? Did you know that the epoxy used for the ring is entirely made of mineral oil?

© Metalriot  Ring a Day 151/365

You can wear this one, or even create one for yourself as a powerful demonstration of your commitment to save our planet, important natural resources (we live in a plastic world, that is made from oil!) and  future generations of Homo "sapiens" . I think this is the one that perfectly fits the category ( Oh , I hate categories) of conceptual jewelry -(What the hell is THAT?).

© Metalriot Use no oil -  Ring a Day 155/365 

Another conceptual piece , that can be wearable - IMHO not as much as to convey your identification with the cause, but as a reminder, how deeply we depend on oil and how  far behind we are with the technology to use it wisely. I think every CEO, shareholder and owner  of every drilling Co, refinery and automobile factory should carry one 24/7.

 © Metalriot Ring a Day 150/365

NO, no , nope!    She is not crazy and she is more than capable of making quite beautiful and perfectly wearable items:) Visit her Flickr or her blog  to see more after these :

© Metalriot  Tintype necklace





Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Walk

Today we had a walk Downtown,...
 © Marc Osborn/The Western Front. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

                                                               Today I remember...

 my Wife and I, together.

 © Marc Osborn/The Western Front. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

History is real in this town...

                 ..................................                         times of struggle, hopeless days of darkness,...

© Photo was originally published  by lazyapple.

of romantic alleys and salty wharfs.

..................           ........................  ...          restart from scratch over and over.

© Melissa Breeland. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

It was a steamy day...

                                                          Failure walks hand by hand....

© Marc Osborn/The Western Front. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

 and we were sweating a little...

                                                                     while wandering ...

 © Joe Nienstedt. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

 .................................................................................with success on the alleys of creation.

from gallery to gallery...

© Julian Shelton. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

stuffed with works of amazing talent...

                                    I       refuse          to cast the chelae of the blue crab...

(and some horrid mishaps as well).

           ........................              in gold and set a f..king huge diamond between the pincers...

 © Melissa Breeland. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.
                                          or sell cheap copies of  M. Good's work...

to make a living.

© Joe Nienstedt. All rights reserved. Originally published on Flickr.

The mint chocolate cake was delicious...


Friday, May 28, 2010

Bedtime Stories for the Artlover: Touching a Ruby by Scott Schreiber, Two Claws Jewelry

Bed Time Stories is a regular feature on my blog. I  select and publish exceptional pieces of art with interesting stories that tie each piece into a strong context  with society, history, people and provide insight into the inner workings of the artist's mind. I hope that it will provide an understanding of art in a plain language, that is so sadly missing from many collections and publications. If you got one that you would like to share, please send me a message!

This is an old one. It's got stuck in my mind for the past two years or so, and today I understood why (sorry Scott, it took so long, I am also over that innocent age) :  We are pushing the button ( or more correctly keep pushing it even if that does not make sense), touching the button, even looking at the button, but do we see it? Do we care what we are missing while we want our instant coffee with instant love?


Touching a Ruby, originally uploaded by Two Claws Jewelry.
© Two Claws Jewelry All rights reserved. 

    In case you were wondering, this one surely passes for puclic art, provoactive art or guerilla art and a good one at that IMHO, even if it is not the spit-in-your-face kind. So here it goes:

  "This Crossing button is right outside my house. I made a custom-fit brass bezel to fit over the original one and set a cabochon Madagascar Ruby in it. It gives me pleasure every time I see little kids trying, without success, to get their moms to look at the pretty red button.  It just tickles me that people don't know they're banging away at a genuine ruby! I get a lot of foot traffic at this corner and believe me, adults just don't even glance at it....teen girls, sometimes....but many little kids (it's at eye-level for them) really scrutinize it. It always has amused me that people of all ages don't push these buttons just once....(which is all you have to do) They'll push it as many times as they can 10, 30, 50 times, until the walk sign changes.

     As far as the fitting goes....I took the measurement of the existing button and turned the cap/bezel exactly so that it was just shy of an extremely close fit. I also turned the seat for the ruby and tightened it by spinning it and pressing a vaseline covered burnisher against the edge of the bezel. Then I heated it up to just under red heat, ran out to the corner like a crazy man (at 3 AM....) and shoved it on with my fingers protected with welding gloves. It worked great and stuck fast. Then I had to rub it out with a little tripoli cloth to remove a little heat scale. The original button spun around freely, so this means that torque will be ineffective if someone wants it.....they'll have to pry it off. If that's the case...they're welcome to it."

Scott Schreiber is a great jewelry artist, a top notch goldsmith, a cat-fan with an encyclopedic knowledge about jewelry making, odd tools and insects. Please visit his Flickr album to feast your eyes! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Technorati submission - a new experience

I wrote this blog entry because Technorati , a blog directory , needed to verify that I am the author of this blog (see below). I will never get old and bored, since I am learning something completely new and totally irrelevant ( at least to my work) everyday. I wonder where we would be if our ancestors needed to be so self sufficient and well versed in every discipline of their time. I used to admire great polyhistors since they knew "everything" : math, sciences, theology, art and whatnot. Today, however we are swamped with minuscule duties to manage every day, it is a miracle that some of us still can create! 

Since I swore, that I would never publish a blog without a picture, here is one of my latest work, a custom ring for a beautiful concave brilliant TM sapphire cut by award winning gem artist Richard Homer.

May 27, 2010. Technorati will need to verify that you are an author of the blog by looking for a unique code. Please put the following short code*******  within a new blog post and publish it. Once it is published, use the "Verify Claim Token" button to tell Technorati your blog is ready for verification.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Your ultimate guide to buying and pricing handmade jewelry. Part 2.

This entry is going to put the basic definitions in  Part 1 to use as we continue to explore the intricacies of jewelry valuation.

Let's make four identical rings (see picture above): one from fine silver, one from fine ( or  pure) gold (24K), one from 14K gold and one from pure platinum. Although the rings have identical geometry, their weight will be very different due to the difference in  the density of the four metals. (The following table contains simplifications to make it easier to follow). Every ring has a volume of 0.576 cc.

                    The     silver   (Density:10.5 gr/cc) ring will weight :   6.1 gr or 3.92 dwt
                    The     24K    (Density:19.3 gr/cc) ring will weight : 11.1 gr or 7.13 dwt
                    The     14K    (Density:12.9 gr/cc) ring will weight :   7.4 gr or 4.76 dwt
                    The Platinum  (Density:21.4 gr/cc) ring will weight : 12.3 gr or 7.91 dwt

Here comes the tricky question: What is the weighth of the precious metal in each of the above rings. You could say - Hey, it ain't tricky, we just calculated that !

Or did we?
The silver   ring is pure silver, and it will have                                        3.92 dwt of silver content
The  24K   ring is pure gold, consequently it will have                                         7.13 dwt of gold content
The 14K   ring contains only 58.33% (by weighth) gold, consequently it will have 2.77 dwt gold content
The Plat  ring  is pure platinum, consequently it will have                                      7.91 dwt plat. content

Only one task left for today, and that is to  calculate how much money we need to spend on the precious
metals market if we want to make these rings.

Note: this is only one part of the PRODUCTION COSTS as you will see next time when we dig even deeper into the dark realities of life!

At the moment of writing this, the NY spot stands at (remember 1 TO=20 dwt):
                              Gold  : $1202.20/TO
                              Silver : $17.97/TO
                              Plat    : $1523.00/TO

From here it is just easy math:

The silver ring will cost    $ 3.52
The  24K   ring will cost  $ 428.58
The 14K   ring will cost   $ 166.50
The Plat  ring will cost     $ 602.35

One more interesting thing: If we could go back in time and purchased the metals fo rthis project in 2005, we could get away with the following costs:

The silver ring   $ 1.39
The  24K         $ 149.00
The 14K          $ 57.89
The Plat           $ 340.00

See you next time!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

CAD to finish

Here are some photos of  custom designs I made with the help of CAD and the finished pieces side by side. CAD is very useful in designing jewelry as well as presenting the design to the customer. The pieces are then created by the most appropriate and cost efficient method: sometimes the CAD files are sent to a company to produce a wax model on a rapid prototyping machine or on a CNC mill. Alternatively I can hand carve a model from wax . In either case the model is used in the lost wax casting process to produce a metal object that is then finished by hand. In some cases when it is economically feasible and technically possible I fabricate the piece directly from sheet metal and other basic components according to the blue print made in the CAD software.

© Pal Gooz All rights reserved. 
Wedding ring : Rubelite tourmaline Torusring TM by Glenn Lehrer ,  Lehrer Designs Inc. . Diamonds
Designed in CAD, hand carved, cast in platinum 950 and 18K YG

© Pal Gooz All rights reserved. 
 Euroshank wedding band: canary diamond.
Designed in CAD, handcarved, cast in PD 950

© Pal Gooz All rights reserved.   
 Palladium ring, natural light yellow sapphire, Oval Concave Brilliant TM cut by Richard Homer of concavegems .
  Designed in CAD, rapid prototyped, cast in PD950


 © Pal Gooz All rights reserved.
Engagement ring, Aquamarine Square Cushion Concave Apex TM cut by Richard Homer of concavegems , diamonds 
Designed in CAD, hand  fabricated from palladium 950 and 18K royal yellow gold


Friday, May 21, 2010

Bedtime stories for the Artlover (Part 1): Secret in the Forest Box by 2Roses

Bed Time Stories will be a regular feature on my blog. I will select and publish exceptional pieces of art with interesting stories that tie each piece into a strong context  with society, history, people and provide insight into inner workings of the artists mind. I hope that it will provide an understanding of art in a plain language, that is so sadly missing from many collections and publications. If you got one that you would like to share, please send me a message!

So here it about an old house, two ferocious artists and an urban gang by 2Roses jewelry    :

Secret in the Forest Box, originally uploaded by 2Roses Jewelry. Media: Plum boughs, Honduran mahogany. Lined with California redwood. The box also features a secret compartment.Size: 9.5”L x 4”W x 6”H.
 © 2Roses Jewelry All rights reserved.

"  Lots of things came together to make this box. The plum wood was harvested from a tree on our property. As I was trimming the tree, the red color of the bark was just too pretty to trash.
    The mahogany was salvaged from a historical Southern California home slated for demolition due to urban renewal. The home was built in 1895 by a wealthy industrialist and featured many luxuries and technological advancements for the time, including the first alarm system installed in a home. The home was featured in the first issue of Architectural Digest in 1920.
   The curator of the local Historical Society obtained permission from the City Council for 2Roses to reclaim the wood just hours before the entire house was bulldozed. We received that permission in a phone call at 10:30 pm. The bulldozers were scheduled to start the teardown at 7 am the next morning. 
   By the time we got our tools together and rushed to the house, two gangs of thieves were already at work striping the copper plumbing out of the walls. Things got pretty confrontive when we showed up. The thieves were from different local hispanic gangs and they had already worked out a truce to strip the house. They saw us a rival gang trying to intrude on their turf and they were ready to throw down to defend it.
  We eventually convinced them that we were from the historical society and really didn't care about the copper pipes, that we were after the woodwork. The gangbangers thought this was hilarious that the "blancos" would come out in the middle of the night to steal old wood. They actually ended up helping us a bit. "

About 2Roses Jewelry :

"2 Roses is artistic collaboration between jewelry designers Corliss Rose, and John Rose. The studio is driven by the principles of exploration and experimentation. 2 Roses have made their mark on American Art Jewelry with a individualistic style that has combined a dizzying array of highly unorthodox materials and techniques ranging from the medieval to the space-age."
 " 2Roses world-class inventory management system ensures our Just-In-Time manufacturing process meets global demand for stuff. "
 © 2Roses Jewelry All rights reserved.

Corliss and John are truly eclectic, imaginative and very creative people buzzing with life and humor. Their art simply cannot fit any box as they are ready to play with anything that crosses their path. 
The following is a little sample, randomly selected from their extensive body of work.

  © 2Roses Jewelry All rights reserved.
  © 2Roses Jewelry All rights reserved.