Sunday, 18 February 2018

Drill Baby Drill

I belong to several groups dedicated to lapidary and the making of rock jewelry and there are some amazingly talented people when it comes to wire wrapping stones to create pendants and earrings. An alternative technique to creating such jewelry relies on drilling the stone. While in many ways simpler, this can produce some pretty neat stuff.

Here's a beautiful piece of local agate on grey basalt that I made into a pendant- simple but nice.
I started by shaping and finishing the stone but you will notice that I didn't go for a high gloss finish because I find the lines and shapes show better if I take it to just this stage without using any polishing compound.

Drilling Rocks:
I often have people write or come to the shop asking how to drill rocks- often after they have tried unsuccessfully to do it themselves. So here's how it is done. First, you need the right drill bit.

This is a 1 mm. diamond drill bit made by Drilax. It's true length is 4.5 cm. and I buy them in boxes of 30 at a web site called Wish. They will break (hence the box of 30!) but I like them because on a relative basis they are cheap and the thicker shaft makes it easier to set the bit perfectly vertical in your drill. And speaking of drills, while I know of people who drill rocks with a Dremel, I can't. It is vital that you eliminate as much bit "chatter" as possible because when the bit is wobbly, it creates much more heat and heat is a big problem! So my suggestion is to use a drill press. Going back to heat for a moment, it is important (mostly for the stone) that the operation stay as cool as possible since too much heat can cause the rock to shatter. Some people drip water on the bit, I do it totally underwater. Here's my set-up.

Sorry for the wrong bit- I was doing some wood working and was too lazy to change it. This is a plastic container with a piece of quarter inch wood at the bottom. It is there to stop the bit from putting a hole in the plastic since when I am drilling, the plastic container is filled with water to cover the stone. I will drill stones up to a cm. thick but regardless of the thickness or type of rock, I have found that even using all the patience I can muster, I have a tendency to blow out the back of the stone when the bit exits the finished hole.
To solve this, here's what I do. First, I decide where I want the hole. It should be centered relative to the geometric mass center for the piece. If it is an abstract piece, you may have to hold it lightly to see how it will hang because believe me, gravity always wins! You don't want the hole right on the edge to minimize the chance of fracture but you want it close enough so you can attach your bale and leave room for the chain. Start the hole on one side and drill about 75% of the way through. Then, take the stone out and use calipers to see where the exit point will be. Mark it with a water resistant pen and restart the drilling on that side at that point so the holes meet in the middle. Throughout the process, the stone has to be held absolutely still. Some prefer to clamp the stone using a C-clamp but I prefer to hold it by hand. Drilling should be done slowly with the bit being partly removed from time to time to let water get to the area of the stone where the bit is working.
And that's all there is to it!
Then, when the stone is cool and dry, I attach the bale. In this case it was a 925 silver antiqued bale with two prongs. I buy them and all my other wire and findings from Fire Mountain and if you can put together an order of 100 pieces or more with some friends, you can get some really decent prices (about 60% of the unit price).
The glue I use is FPC Surebonder 9000. It comes in a clear plastic tube and there is no mixing required. I use it to bond all kinds of metal to rocks and have never had one give way, even when I am gluing bell caps. Fill the hole with glue using a thin wire to get the glue in the hole and then warm up the silver bale in your hand. This is necessary to make it a bit more pliable because you then need to open it up to go over the stone and get the prongs on both sides into the hole. Then you have to pinch the bale back together, put some kind of weight on it and let it cure for 24 hours. Make sure that there is no excess glue that can be seen on the bale or stone.
In the case of the above piece, I added a sterling silver 16 inch chain and now it's ready to go in the shop.
If you have questions or want to learn more, just make a comment on the blog or send me an email.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Polymer Clay Jewelry- Part 2

Yesterday, I showed you beautiful jewelry made from polymer clay. Many of the pieces contained striking geometric patterns and we are often asked how this is achieved so today, we're going to show you how it is done.

We start by mixing up the desired colours: (and by we, I mean Vickie)

These colours are then assembled into various patterns and shapes:

These shapes are then assembled into what is called a "cane" and reduced to about 1.5 square inches. This reduction process creates a cane about 10 inches long and this is then cut into two or more (in this case 4) sections each 2.5 inches long. The blade needed to produce these cuts is a tissue blade and is EXTREMELY sharp!

Two of these sections are then cut on the diagonal through the length, cutting opposite corners on each of the two. This yields 4 differently patterned triangle canes, each of which can yield 3 different patterns for a total of 12 potentially.

Each triangle is cut into two equal segments and the two pieces are picked up and placed face-to-face.

This is further reduced to about a half inch square which produces a length of about 4-6 inches. This cane is then cut into 4 sections:

Each piece is arranged in one of the three possible double mirrored arrangements ( called a tessellation).

Then this final arrangement becomes the new cane and can be wrapped in complimentary colours and then slices can be taken and used to  cure and produce the final beads.

Pretty easy, huh?

Actually, you can see that this takes a lot of skill and practice as well as an artistic sense to choose the most desirable options and colours.
So now that you know the process, we hope that you find this jewelry even more special!

P.S. Thought you might like to see a shot of what we woke up to this morning and what makes this place so special. Enjoy!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Polymer Clay Jewelry- Part 1

In the last while, I've been showing you some of our rock jewelry but we have a whole other line of beautiful polymer clay pieces in the shop that I want you to know about.
About 30 years ago, Vickie started working with this material and soon became a recognized expert and teacher. Over the years, she has developed many proprietary techniques and her tutorial on making faux bone has been seen over 11,000 times on You Tube! In fact, she has become so good at faking stone (jade, fossilized bone, amber) that I tell people "I find it- she fakes it!"
A downside to rock jewelry is weight but here's a carved fake jade piece that is much lighter. It's important to note that this isn't plastic. These pieces are museum quality- in fact, polymer clay jewelry is sold at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and is often worn in top fashion shows- especially in Paris and Milan. It is as durable as it is beautiful.

We have an great selection of bracelets with some incredibly intricate patterning.
Everything Vickie does is top quality and spacers include Swarovski crystals, rock beads and sterling silver beads and clasps.
Here's a pic of a beautiful necklace.
And a close up of just one of the beads.
These beads are not painted but Vickie can produce almost any colour she wants. Here's a necklace with beads shaped like shark's teeth.
And a close up of a couple of the "teeth" (note the real red coral and sterling silver spacer chips).

The ability to create patterns with this stuff is nothing short of amazing!
Vickie has also been at the forefront of combining polymer clay with found materials to create fascinating "steam punk" pieces.
Check out the detail on the focal bead.
And that belt isn't leather- it's polymer clay!
Lastly, our daughter Sandra has taken this same material in a different direction, creating whimsical characters and scenes.

Pretty impressive, huh? All these pieces are available in our shop but if you want to see more of Vickie's work, just google "vickie turner polymer clay".
Many visitors ask how these patterns can be formed so in my next post tomorrow, I'll take you through the development of a piece. You will be truly amazed!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Latest Piece of Jewelry

Sometimes you are faced with a real dilemma if a stone looks really good on both sides. In this case we were working with a beautiful piece of banded/ fortification agate that had beautiful patterning on both the flat (back) and domed (front) surface.
We decided to set it with half hard, 26 gauge sterling silver wire and here's how it turned out.

The stone is about 3 cms high and we will sell it in the shop with a sterling silver chain for $35- another steal

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Shop Revamp Now Complete

We are in the midst of a rather fierce Nor'easter with winds gusting to 100 KPH and snow and freezing rain. On Digby Neck we call such a day Tuesday.
So with the weather being what it is, I have the time to do a blog post to show you some more of the changes to the shop.
Because of an even larger hand dyed yarn inventory (is there no end Lisa??) we had to install another set of pine shelves and I took the opportunity to add some small shelves to the end to display stuff.

Additionally, we added some wall boxes sourced from Ikea to showcase the totally unique work of our daughter, Sandra and the fabulous creations of John Hood. Sorry for the lighting.

So after that was completed I figured that these boxes were pretty simple to make- especially since I had pine paneling. Here's my effort.

The net result of all these changes is that we are going to have a lot more display space to show off unique, hand made treasures such as this.

Here is a gorgeous (the pic doesn't do it justice) piece of local chalcedony that's shaped a little like The Neck and tab set in hand hammered copper with hand made copper findings and a premium leather cord. Vickie came up with the idea and I did the execution and it will sell in the shop for $40- a total steal!
By the spring, we are going to have many more beautiful pieces featuring local stones and others spectacular specimens from around the world, all finished in our VT Rock Lab and totally hand fashioned. So if you have visited before, come on back and see us again!

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Shop Revamp Continues

As is normal for Digby Neck, the weather has been very abnormal. Temperatures have been going up and down like a toilet seat and virtually all the snow is gone. The bay is filled with sea ice stacked up by the wind and we have intense ground fog when the warm air hits it.

 It is very mild right now but in the next 36 hours we are supposed to experience rain (LOTS of rain!), sleet, freezing rain and snow- all the while accompanied by winds gusting to well over 100 kilometres per hour. So it's a perfect time to work on the changes to the shop.
One of the big changes is the new set of shelves that will enable us to display more knitted goods and jewelry.

Another is the installation of our wall boxes from Ikea.

This has enabled us to set up specific displays for our featured artists such as John Hood and Sandra Mitchell. It has also freed up display space for our Northern Treasures- gorgeous fur pompoms from Iqaluit in Canada's far north.

Of course, we will continue to display a lot of beautiful, hand dyed yarn.

And while the shelves are a little bare now, we are expecting a large shipment of new inventory in the next few days.

Of course, we still have lots of beautiful rock and by moving a lot of it into the adjoining room, we have even more display space.

The bottom line is that by next spring, the shop will be absolutely full of interesting things for you to see. So if your plans call for you to be in this area, come on by and say hi. Don't forget, every visitor gets a free polished local stone!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

New Year- New Weather- New Shop!

I guess things are getting back to normal in the outside world but the big topic here is the weather! Ordinarily, we get a lot of wind on The Neck but we are now in our 5th day of dead calm. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your desires) the calm has been accompanied by non-stop (and I do mean non-stop!) light snow. In fact, we have received about 2 feet here and that has made for some pretty spectacular scenery.

This is our deck and what is unusual is that when it snows, that deck is usually bare because of the wind.
 Unfortunately, the lack of wind has produced some not so pretty sights as well.

You really don't want to be around when these come down!
So the scene has shifted indoors and the wood stove is getting a real workout.

Don't worry, we have another cord stacked up outside!
So because of all this, we figured it was a perfect time to change things around a bit in the shop. If you have been here, you know we have a really small space so the challenge is to set things up to maximize display space. To accomplish this, the inevitable has occurred and we have moved some of the rock specimens into my office area.
Additionally, during a recent trip to the new Ikea in Halifax, we found something that works perfectly!
These small pine boxes fit the decor perfectly and really expand our shelf space!
The beauty of it is that we can fit these things in in really small spaces where a shelf might have looked a little silly. Another big plus is that we can stock an even broader selection of our beautiful hand dyed Seawall Fibres yarn.

So if you have been in the store before, you will notice a big change. And if you are yet to visit, even more interesting treasures await your arrival so make plans now to enjoy our beautiful, scenic Digby Neck, a great family destination. And if you do, plan a whale watching excursion- it will be a memory of a lifetime!