In the last few weeks I have been working on some special wax carving projects. I usually fabricate most of my jewelry from sheet, wire and various metal stock but sometimes a project calls for unusual curves or shapes so I carve a wax model to be cast in silver or gold.
I just carved a setting for the pear shaped citrine pictured above. This stone is a large gem and I wanted to have some interesting cut-away areas to allow for light to pass through the setting and brighten the stone. Faceted stones need a “seat” to sit on inside of a setting, you can see that I carved out a step down for the stone to be able to sit evenly all around. I will be adding a bail to the top of the drop so that this can be worn as a pendant.
Another project I am working on is developing a fun line of stacking rings in various textures. I’m enjoying working with geometric and repeating patterns. I will be offering these in both silver and gold in a range of sizes.
And pictured above is a one-of-a-kind wax carving for a large flat stone. My customer desires a signet style ring and I will be adding Masonic symbols that he has chosen as well as carving words on the inside of the band.
Carving waxes taps into a free-form sculptural style. Fabrication with metal is also sculptural but more architectural in its approach, building blocks put together with connecting angles.
Wyoming is a great place to experience a true winter and the end of December through the beginning of January always proves to be a deep dark and extremely cold time. Last week we had a spell of 20 below zero weather. But already I can tell the days are just getting a wee bit longer; it’s been two weeks since the solstice.
After Christmas, I took the week off of work to enjoy the bottom of the year merging to the beginning of a new year. Usually my husband and I travel to visit family for the holidays but this year we stayed put and I was able to have some quality lying-on-the-couch time mixed with daily cross country skiing and plenty of festivities in between. There is a very large lake just outside of Pinedale, Fremont Lake, and we skied along its banks a few of those days. We witnessed it freezing over. At first there was ice gathering along the shore and a wind was keeping it chopped up but then, just a mere three days later, the entire lake had a sheet of ice covering the surface. Soon enough it’ll be thick enough to ski on but I’m not trying it yet.
I’ve returned to my shop and studio to dig into work once again and I hope to realize some of the many designs I have in my head and catch up on last year’s paperwork. It’s a nice time of year during this dead of winter, the short days make for longer star gazing and the cold weather makes for more coziness inside.
Fremont Lake, Pinedale, Wyoming, on the verge of freezing over, late December.
I recently had the opportunity to make a wedding ring for a customer who wanted to combine a ring from her family and the groom’s family. She wanted to have them melted together to become one ring for her fiance. The two gold rings were her mother’s diamond engagement ring and his father’s wedding ring.
First I cut off the diamond cluster setting (and later reused that for her necklace) and put both rings into a crucible and melted them together.
Once they were a molten ball of gold, I carefully poured them into an ingot mold. The gold ingot cooled quickly in the mold because the thick cast iron of the mold pulls the heat out. I further quenched the ingot and cleaned it.
After it was clean, I began to roll it out in my rolling mill tool. I cranked the ingot through the rolling mill many times until it was about 1.5mm thick.
Once it was an even strip, I trimmed the ends to be flush right angles and began to bend the strip so the ends would meet. It always takes adjusting and filing to get the ends to meet perfectly across the entire length of the seam. Once they were lined up just right I soldered the seam with my torch and cleaned the ring.
Once I’ve joined the seam I slide the ring onto a ring mandrel and hammer it with a rawhide hammer until it is round. Then it is filed, sanded and polished to a smooth high polish finish.
With the diamond cluster, my customer wanted to repurpose that to become her necklace. I connected it to a long 14K gold chain that she will wear on her wedding day.
November is here and I’m starting to ramp up for the holiday season which means building up my inventory in the shop. I’ve been using some beautiful Wyoming sourced jade. In the center of the state there is a nephrite jade deposit and the colors range from an apple green to black with all shades of green in between. One of the unique specimans to Wyoming is the “snowflake” green which has little white crystals mixed into the green. The rock hounds find it in the center of the state, in the sagebrush desert between Lander and Casper; it is usually above ground so they walk all over with their eyes glued to the ground looking for the rocks and hoping for the big million dollar boulder. A lot of people are unaware that gemstone quality jade is found in Wyoming.
I bought some Wyoming jade from a local guy this past summer and have begun using it in my jewelry. And since jade is the toughest gemstone available, it makes for a great jewelry stone and can be worn with confidence in rings.
(This is my husband looking over the rough although we bought all cut stones. We hope to learn the art of lapidary someday.)
Some of the stones show a whole different color when they are held up to a light, for example the pendant below shows a mossy medium green when held up to a light and is a forest green when held against my hand.
The pendants above show the variety of greens found in Wyoming jade, from an apple green to a dark forest green and even a grey-green.
I am super excited to have a localy sourced gemstone available for everyone and will be offerening more designs as quickly as I can get them made and uploaded to the website.
Summer is fast approaching. Life in Pinedale, Wyoming goes from winter to summer in an instant, it was snowing 2 weeks ago and now it’s in the 70’s, the grass is getting green and already needs to be cut. Our corner of the USA is heaven on Earth in the summertime, wilderness and wildlife abound and the sky is huge and blue.
I always look forward to chatting with tourists on road-trips that stop by my shop and backpackers heading into the Wind River Range for an exciting trip. This past weekend we camped out for the first time this season and then floated the Green River for 13 miles in our canoe with friends. The river is covered with birds this time of year since they are all migrating north. What an amazing place.