Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Rest of The Story

Does anyone remember Paul Harvey? If you do, you are probably, like me, getting up in years. Paul used to do syndicated radio features where he would dig out little known facts behind major stories or the lives of famous people. And he always finished his segment with this line:
"And now you know the REST of the story!"
After I published my last blog post, a couple of people asked about the mechanics of the piece. It struck me that if I was calling it "process jewelry" I should show you the process. So here goes.
First, I must tell you that Vickie has several decades of experience making jewelry from polymer clay and her work is spectacular (we have some beautiful examples in our store). Moreover, she is known for her exceptional finishing- the added care that makes her pieces rise above the rest.
Second, our philosophy, especially when working with copper, is to make every piece we can. So here is the back of the piece.
As you can see, there are marks visible on the back of the copper plate. We could remove these but choose not to. These are the artist's marks and we feel that they should be left to show the "process". Here, you can also see the backs of the hand hammered eyelets and how the fastening copper wire is joined. Care is taken to tuck the ends to ensure there are no loose ends to catch on skin or clothing and, if necessary we smooth the ends by using a file or sanding using 600 grit paper.
Also, you will note that the connectors (jump rings) are hand made from copper wire. A rod is attached to a power drill and the wire is connected to the end of the rod and then wrapped using the rotation of the drill. WARNING! If you do this, be sure to use leather gloves to hold the wire as it can cut you if it gets loose. Then, a jeweler's saw is used to saw individual rings. (As the lowly apprentice, this is my job). The coils used to hold the cord are made in much the same way with sections, rather than individual rings, being cut to the desired length. The top end is pinched to secure the cord and the bottom end is opened up to accept the jump ring. Finally, the cord is cut to the desired length and a clasp is added.
Both sides of the clasp are hand made from hammered copper wire. It is important to flatten the paddle on the open piece so it can slide easily into ring on the left of the photo.
So the process starts with the shaping and finishing of the stone. Vickie decides on the shape and I do the execution. Then, Vickie comes up with a concept for the setting and we are both involved in the execution with her deciding shapes and me making all the copper findings.
The end result is a piece that is not only sturdy and beautiful in a somewhat primitive way, but also very interesting.
And now you know the REST of the story!
We hope you are having an enjoyable holiday season and look forward to seeing you at the Artist's Mark Shop in the New Year. There are some exciting changes that I will be detailing in upcoming posts as well as more examples of our process jewelry so come back and check from time to time..

Sunday, 24 December 2017

New Jewelry Line Takes Shape

Sorry for the gap in posting but both Vickie and I have been fighting problems with our sciatic nerve and just now getting back to what passes for normal around here. As some might know, my wife, Vickie, is an accomplished "Process Painter"- someone focused more on the creative process than the outcome.
For some time we have toyed with the idea of bringing this idea to our stone jewelry, meaning that while we hoped to showcase and enhance the beauty of the stone, our focus would be more on the creative process involved.
We finished our first piece yesterday and here it is.

The stone is a piece of Brazilian crazy lace jasper and it is secured by copper wire to a copper back plate covered with a piece of snake skin Vickie found in her "stash". Pretty well all of this is hand made. The stone was finished by hand as was the copper plate. All connectors and eyelets were hand made from copper. The cord is leather and it is about 4.5 cm. high.
We felt it looked somewhat like a bird so we called it Rufous after the State Bird of Brazil which has a similar colouring.
Our objective is to create jewelry that, while being beautiful, is also interesting and we hope to have a few dozen pieces in the store by the spring.
I have to confess that we had a ball working out the logistics and it doesn't hurt that Vickie appears to have one of  everything!
So let us know how we did and if you get the chance, stop by to see it in person as I can honestly say that the photo doesn't really do it justice.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

More Great Lapidary Weather

As mentioned yesterday, the current weather on The Neck is perfect for working in the VT Rock Lab. And overnight, it got even better (worse?). Today, we are experiencing the perfect trifecta- monsoon rains, 50 mph winds from the south and king tides.
Here are some of the results (I apologize in advance for the quality of the pics. I'm much better with rock).

This is the pier across the street- pretty much totally submerged and it isn't even max high tide yet! You also get to see a portion of the "boat graveyard" that seems to fascinate tourists of all ages.
Normally, we have a small marsh just to the east of our property but today, it's a regular Lake Okeechobee- swollen to several times normal!

Honestly, I've never seen the marsh this large- probably because of the combination of tides and wind direction. But there has been a third result.

The piece in the center is local but the other two are "imports". The depth in the patterning is truly amazing and someone is going to really treasure one of these if I can pry them from Vickie's tenacious grasp!
With the look of things outside, I'll probably have a few more to show tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

More Beautiful Stones

With the shifting seasons, things change on The Neck. We are currently getting King Tides because of the Supermoon and the pier across the street is totally under water at the highest point. The weather has been cold and grey- perfect for doing lapidary!
Here are a few stones I have worked on over the last few days.

The piece on the left is a beautiful bit of banded jasper (found right here on The Neck) with a little bit of glitter- amethyst crystals- at the centre right. The two in the middle are from my stash of crazy lace "jagate" from either Brazil or Mexico. And the one on the right, which, unfortunately is a little out of focus, is a beautiful botryoidal jasper from here on The Neck.
I'm getting an even better polish now that daughter Sandra has given me a Norwex cloth used to cleaning glass. If you know someone who sells Norwex and you want to get a superior polish on your stones, try to get your hands on one of these cloths! These pieces are so smooth it is literally almost impossible to hold them without them slipping out of your grasp.
In the days ahead, these will become unique pieces of jewelry that will definitely be available in the shop and might even be selling on line in the new year.
So the lapidary machines are humming in the rock lab and I'll be posting more beauties in the days ahead.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Some "Semi-Finished" Jewelry

As most of you know, we have amazing agate, jasper and other rocks here on Digby Neck and most of the work I do is with local stone. Here are a couple of pretty nice examples:
Above is a nice piece of (very hard) plume agate that I have managed to polish to a glass like finish.
A gorgeous piece of vein fortification agate which I have also been able to polish to a glass- like finish. It is much more spectacular in person.
Also, I got my new supply of diamond bits and have been perfecting my drilling technique.While it is still a little (maybe more than a little) rough and I will cop to a couple of broken bits, here are a couple of local stones ready to become pendants.
I think it is banded jasper on the left and a pretty cool moss agate on the right.They are drilled slightly off centre to get the spot where they will hang perfectly vertically.
Recently, I came into possession of a beautiful piece of crazy lace from "out of town". I can't really say if it comes from Brazil or Mexico but it is beautiful stuff and takes a great polish.
Some people call this jasper and some call it agate but either way I just love the patterning in these stones and especially the druzy in the one on the left but I have a real problem.
When they look this amazing on the back, I don't want to cover them up with a silver backing. Any suggestions? One way or another, all these guys will be in the shop shortly so if you are looking for a truly unique gift or just want to see some amazing rock, come on by! At this time of the year, it is best to call or email to ensure we are open.