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Monday, July 21, 2008

Did you miss me?

Of course you did. :-)

Well, I am pleased to report that my time away last week was indeed well spent. I couldn't be happier with the class I took at the Mendocino Art Center (a truly magical place!) - our instructor, Jim Dailing, was awesome, as were all of my classmates. I can't say enough how much I loved it all, and I am already plotting ways to go back sometime for another class.

The workshop was called 'The Magic of Stone Setting', and it fulfilled my expectations and then some. As you probably know, I've been doing a lot of stone setting over the past year, but only with bezel set cabochons (i.e. stones that are flat on the back and domed on the front). My goal with this class was to learn some options for setting faceted stones (i.e. stones that are faceted on the front and faceted/pointy on the back) so that I can broaden my skills and possibly begin to start doing some work with higher end stones and precious metals like gold.

The first thing we learned was a technique called bead setting, where small faceted stones are set flush with the surface of the metal, and secured with tiny beads of metal around the perimeter of the stone. This can be done with as few as two 'beads', or as many as will fit around the perimeter. On my practice piece, I went all out and beaded the whole way around each stone. Good thing I used cubic zirconia because I broke a few stones!

Sterling silver band with eight bead set 2mm cubic zirconias

Next we learned how to set stones flush with the surface of the metal without the little metal 'beads', which gives a nice clean, contemporary feel.

Sterling silver band with eight 1.75mm pink sapphires

Working with those teeny-tiny stones was a big change for me since I am used to making such bing chunky rings most of the time, but I really like the look of the tiny stones set in the band, and of course if I used a wider band, I could set slightly larger stones using this same technique.

The next project was tapered tube settings. I love these! A slightly tapered tube setting is integrated into the design of the ring - sunk down right into the band - and it supports a faceted stone.

Tourmaline solitaire ring, sterling silver

rear view

on my hand

I didn't spend too much effort making the metal all pretty and shiny since I wanted to focus my limited time on mastering the actual fabrication techniques - but I actually kind of like the non-shiny finish on that last one.

Jim taught us one other setting, but my practice piece got kind of messed up and I need to give that one another try at home. Stay tuned...

So - now that I've dished out the money for the class (well worth it, obviously), paid for a hotel and gas, sacrificed the productivity that I would have spent here at the studio during the time I was away, and oh yes - purchased an incredible garden sculpture that I really couldn't afford from the art center gallery - this morning I went and spent a bunch more money ordering new tools for my studio so I can start working on these settings here at home. I got some very exciting stuff - a flex shaft (finally!), a benchmate (heaven!), and tons of little burs, punches, files, etc. Once I recover from all of those expenses, which will take a while, I'm hoping to start investing in at least some small amounts of gold to begin integrating into some of my pieces (all recycled, of course, just like the silver I use).

So, that's that! I'm feeling rested and creatively invigorated, but also stressed by the backlog of orders and emails that I need to take care of ASAP. If you're waiting for something from me, please be patient - I'm doing my very best! I have more to post about but it's going to have to wait...


Vegan Girl said...

Now that you shown all your new techniques your orders are going to go thru the roof I bet!!

I love all of them but I think I agree with you and love the last one the best.

Anonymous said...

Great work Tamara, they look stunning!!!

maryeb said...

Sounds like you had great fun and learned a lot! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your new designs.

maryeb said...

Oh, and I like the new 'banner' running along the top of your blog.

√Āngela said...

How exciting!! I really love that ring with the pink sapphires, it's really modern. The last one is just lovely, and for some reason it reminds me of a tiny cup of tea... all that's missing is a teensy handle. I'm so glad that you can learn all these awesome techniques. :D

Sirpale said...

I really love that pink tourmaline ring!! Can't wait to order one :)
And the last one is nice too. You are getting quite good with this.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Looks like a fun class Tamara! And I love the new techniques you learned. Can't wait to see them in your store!

jarsofheaven said...

I love the last one!!