Friday, October 25, 2013

Setting Faceted Stones

Learning and teaching is so important at a young age.  It paves the way to understanding for a foundation for later life experiences.  Now that later life is here, learning and teaching continues to be an integral part of my life.  At this time I am in both teaching and learning mode.  It has offered a great amount of growth experiences. 

Card made by my mother of me in my younger "learning" years.

Recently I signed up for an online Craft University class where Ann Cahoon, a gold-smith from Massachusetts, demonstrates how to bezel set with tubes, prong setting and flush setting.  Ann is smart, concise and a great teacher.  After reviewing the class content the student does homework assignments and then submits them to Ann for critique.  This process is time sensitive and ends in a couple of weeks.  It truly is like taking a University class. 

I began this process with reviewing the content for all three modalities of faceted setting.  I found that at this time of my life, I am not interested in the complexities of flush settings.  I also wonder about the integrity of the flush setting.  While I enjoy the prong setting process, it is the bezel setting with tubing that most excites me.  So, the two classes that I focused on were the bezel and the prong setting. 

Bezel setting with tubes, I have learned, is not acurately called tube settings.  I had always called it this and find it hard to change my ways, so for now I will call it bezel setting with tubes.  I had thought that bezel settings were for cabochons.  I first started bezel setting cabochons about four years ago.  

The faceted stone has "parts" like an ant has parts.  I remember learning ant parts in high school:  Ant thorax, mandible and legs.  The parts of a gemstone are: table, crown, girdle, pavilion and culet.  Before this class I called those parts: flat top, faceted part, widest part, slopey part and point.  In this instance, progress come in the form of correct terminology. 

I am being brave in sharing my first examples on my blog as my technique is not yet ready for public display, but if I share them now I can then share other examples and the progress of the process will be documented. Perhaps someone reading this blog one day can find some comfort that they are not alone in faceted stone setting inadequacies. 

In my untouched photos I have numbered the copper plates.  Those numbers indicate the chronological order of attempts to the technique.

Prong setting side view

The stones used for the settings are purple cz.  These stones are used because they have similar qualities to diamonds. 

Prong setting top view

The problems that I had with bezel setting with the tube was sawing the tube perfectly straight for soldering onto the copper plate and then getting the top of the tube level to the table of the stone. I commiserated with my fellow students and found that I was not alone in this technique.  In addition to getting the tube completely square, I seem to have difficulty with getting my "seat" drilled with the bur bit level.  In attempting to get it level my stone would fall far below the top of the bezel.

Front view of bezel settings.  1=unlevel table  4=drilled too deeply

Top View of bezel setting

At this time I await the teacher to critique these examples.  It only goes UP from here.  Stay tuned for progress photos and hopefully a finished pendant with a bezel setting. 

Namaste, Susan

Sunday, October 20, 2013

San Diego and Encinitas

It has been a while since my last post, but today is a free day and I am wanting to get caught up, chronologically, with events that have touched my life over the last few months. 

Communicating has been a challenge lately with a slower than slow computer that is bogged down and moves at the pace of a turtle in the middle of winter.  I finally got a new computer and now everything seems to be moving along at Mach speed making me want to click my heels together. 

 Lotus Petal Fringe Earring Tutorial in Progress
True to form, I have spent months working on two new tutorials.  One is for a friend to whom I promised many moons ago.  That one I will unveil closer to the finish date.  The other is a fringe lotus petal earring.  The latter uses a fun technique playing with circles and fringe.  Fringe!!  It is all about the swing of a fringe.  Perhaps my passion for swing and sway came at an early age when I was in awe of Cher's famous hair finger flip.  She would be singing her famous duet, "I Got You Babe" and then would look at Sonny, smile and would flip her raven silk head mop from the front to the back.  Then there was leather fringe jackets and purses, as well as beaded fringe on clothing and jewelry.  The fringe and the lotus combined in my mind to create this design.

Encinitas and San Diego
After over a decade, my husband encouraged me to get on a plane to visit Encinitas and San Diego at the end of September.  I had felt disturbed about the thought of flying since the fall of the Twin Towers.  Flying wasn't anything that I wanted to do.  We got on our plane in Chicago bound for San Diego and I suddenly thought, what is all the fuss about.  A wise friend told me, "Susan, the pilot is in charge of the plane and you are in charge of you."  That became my mantra.  Between that mantra and a sprinkling of self induced confidence in the pilot, things went pretty smoothly.  In fact, I was in awe as we flew over the Rocky Mountains.  What I thought would be lush green mountain ranges were dry delightfully colorful ridges and valleys with rivers swirling with silt deposits.

Once in San Diego we stayed at Paradise Point where I spent hours with my camera capturing the frolic of the birds gathering on a small bay sandbar just outside of our hotel room.  This pelican seemed to me to be a conductor leading his flock in a symphony.   

The next day we went to Encinitas, California where we witnessed the most awesome Pacific ocean cliffs that merged with sandy beaches and ocean waves. Encinitas is a town filled with spirit, beach vibe, vegetarianism and lots of pretty and fit people.  It is my new utopia. Visiting this with my loving husband was intensely romantic. 

While in Encinitas we visited Self Realization Fellowship where Paramahansa Yogananda wrote his well known book Autobiography of a Yogi.  The meditation gardens were stunning.  While in the gardens we saw this lotus symbol that overlooks the vast Pacific ocean.  While the lotus flower is a beautiful flower, there is something deep and endearing about the symbolism of the lotus.

While on the way out of town we saw the sun setting over the golden lotus finials of the SRF temple and witnessed three ladies practicing beautiful yoga poses on top of a tall Winebago parked at the top of the beach cliff.  I wanted to grasp Encinitas in my heart and hug and take it all with me. 

We spent the next day visiting downtown San Diego with our main focus on the Maritime Museum.  Of note was the Bob Hope statue with piped in monolog and the HMS Surprise ship where Johnny Depp filmed The Pirates of the Caribbean.  We went on a self guided tour of all the ships.  Yeah, I got a little hammy at the wheel where most likely Mr. Depp twirled a time or two.

During our time in San Diego my husband attended a national conference for college advancement and I spent a little time photographing a classroom lesson in our hotel room, that is, in addition to photographing the herbaceous foliage and water birds. 

Harper College Wire Weaving Class
Yesterday I held my first official wire weaving class at Harper at Studio V. The class was 3 hours long and held adjacent to Studio V in a large room.  I was able to use an overhead projector to skim through the step by step photos of the process of creating the entire pendant.  The two students in the class were beginners and had no jewelry experience.  The three of us stood side by side and created beautiful works of woven wire art. They blew me away with their immediate command of the jewelry tools, concepts and verbiage of the wire creating trade.  The photo is of Laura who discovered that wire weaves have a rhythm to them and that while there may be explicit instructions, following intuition and heart is what creates the best work of art. 

On Turning 50
This week I enter the realm of the mid-century mark. When you turn 50 years the doctors talk about tests that involve terrible probes and needles.  The 50 and older local clubs send you postcards asking you to join their bus outings (I call this "instant friends").  And as if on cue, the body gets a little slower and chubbier in the caboose area.  While I don't subscribe to all of that, I rather look at my maturation as a gift of experience.  With the support of my loving parents and my dear husband, I have been able to make more self and artistic discoveries the last decade than any other.  And with the guidance of my wise HSP guru I have journeyed though layers of deep self understanding and self actualization. It is still a work in progress.  The bottom line is, I may have 50 candles on the cake, but I feel like life is just getting started!!

I end this posting with a photo of a cement plaque located at the Martin Luther King Park in San Diego.