Tag Archives: silver

How to set Beach Glass

Glass is fragile. You drop it and it breaks, you drill it and it breaks, you hammer a metal setting around it and it breaks, you force it in to a bezel and it breaks…   No wonder that some of us would rather not work with glass!  There are however some techniques that are used extensively.  Here is a discussion of these techniques. I am sure the list is not exhaustive.

Wire wrapping techniques

Glue Glass Pendant

Blue Glass Pendant

Fine Silver Earrings with Intricate Wire wrapping

Fine Silver Earrings with Intricate Wire wrapping

These are really common.  They are easy.  You don’t need to work the glass itself.  Note that wire techniques are not specially good for rings or for jewelry that is likely to get banged around.  Some of these techniques are a bit flimsy and the piece of glass can come out of the setting.  There are numerous different wire wrapping techniques. I refer you to just one website.  There are also YouTube videos.  Just google “wirewrap beach glass”.  The “Blue Glass Pendant” shown here, was wrapped by myself with a homemade technique using fine silver wire, which is nice and soft.  The earrings were wrapped by an unknown artist in Cusco, Peru.

Wire solder technique

Light Green Beach Glass set with 18 Gauge Sterling Silver Wire

Light Green Beach Glass set with 18 Gauge Sterling Silver Wire

You can use thick wire that is not easily formed or wrapped.  I like to use gauge 18 Sterling silver. The idea is to create a “basket” with prongs, place the glass in the basket, and bend the prongs around the glass to hold it in place.  I have attached an example.  Here the prongs are the same in the front and the back so that is does not matter if the pendant flips over, as the front and the back look identical.

Blue sapphire set over light blue beach glass (pendant in Sterling silver)

Blue sapphire set over light blue beach glass (pendant in Sterling silver)

A variation of this technique allows for a smaller stone (blue sapphire in this case) to be set on one of the prongs!

Bezel setting

Bezel formed by hand with thin (gauge 32) soft silver.

Bezel formed by hand with thin (gauge 32) soft silver.

This is more serious.  You will have to cut your silver, solder it together and form a bezel that is shaped after the irregular piece of glass that you want to frame.  It has become my favorite method because the bezel protects the piece of sea glass.  If you shape the base of the bezel, you can accommodate a rounded piece of glass, such as a piece from the neck of a bottle.  Here are a few examples.

Purple glass from a bottle top with silver bezel and brass base formed to fit the inside curvature of the glass

Purple glass from a bottle top with silver bezel and brass base formed to fit the inside curvature of the glass

Drilling the Glass

If you really want to make a hole in your sea glass, you can do so.  Drill with a diamond bit, under cool water, carefully and slowly!  I found out the hard way: it is easy to crack your piece of glass.

One can insert a silver grommet in the drilled hole for added stability, as shown in the last picture. But you will have to tap the grommet with a hammer to close it.  That is tricky and can crack your piece of glass too! Best to use very soft and thin metal tubing for this purpose.  Have fun.

Drilled beach glass (heart shaped) with silver grommet

Drilled beach glass (heart shaped) with silver grommet

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Teen Jewelry

If you are a parent of a teenager, like myself, you must sometimes be wondering about the complete discrepancy in artistic tastes between your teen and yourself. I have tried to understand.  It’s as if they are a different species. They speak differently (no full sentences), they have a different vocabulary (chillaxin) , they use abbreviations that are meant to be obscure to adults (AYSOS = are you stupid or something), they don’t use telephones or even email any more.  They are considered “digital natives” by those who study societal trends and by those that are interested in marketing of on-line businesses.  I find myself asking my teen whether to sign up for Skype versus Oovoo, or whether to buy an I-phone or an Android.  In both cases it’s clearly the latter.  With such strong opinions and with tastes that differ from those that are just 5 years older, it’s clearly important to study teens because they are the customers of tomorrow. The following is a quite unscientific study of teen fashion tastes.

First,  a sense of color coordination is very pronounced it seems to me:

Blue Sweat Shirt and Matching Blue Android

Blue Sweat Shirt and Matching Blue Android

Note the bright colors, the matching blue sweat shirt and cell phone, but the contrasting red nail polish, and purple hair dye.  Note the snake ring (definitely cool) and the LOVE mood ring which changes colors depending on your mood (so they say).   Colors need to be shocking and full of contrast.

Teens sense of shocking color contrasts

Teen’s sense of shocking color contrasts

Second, jewelry accessories for piercings are BIG.IMG_1985

IMG_1992

I was referred to a website called bodycandy.com.  Although body piercing is an ancient practice in different human cultures, there is perhaps a new worldwide trend that is gaining traction. In particular the prevalence of body piercings in young teenage girls has increased and is now often over 25-50% in countries like the USA, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Australia according to numerous publications.  Is this the future?

Third, accessories that have a special or personal meaning are in.  Woven wrist bands as symbols of friendship, often handmade for someone special, are popular.  Plastic bangles reading I LOVE BOOBIES or SAVE BOOBIES are in.  They mean to increase awareness for breast cancer.  Similar bangles for different causes (or just for fun) are popular, in part because of their low cost.  Low cost is really important for teens.  Wearing a large number of bangles on the same wrist is trendy too.  While some of these accessories will no longer be popular when these teens morph in to young adults and have more money to spend, I think the principle of wearing a statement that has a special personal meaning, or a message, may remain important.  In deed, silver and gold jewelry with inscribed comments or insignia, or names of your children are already popular with young women and mothers. IMG_1986 IMG_1987

Never a dull moment with a teen in the house!

BEACH GLASS & SEA GLASS

“Do you have beach glass jewelry?”  That is a question I often get when I am exhibiting at an Arts & Crafts Fair.

So, yes, I do work with beach or sea glass, terms which are often used interchangeably (see the images in this post).  As any beachcomber knows, a nice piece of glass is a good find.  An uncommon color, a well worn piece (which is old), a recognizable lettering or name that can help date the piece, these are features we all look for.

Green Sea Glass pendent in Silver

I have learned that beach glass is very popular.  A search on the etsy.com website for “beach glass” got 12,484 hits and a search for “sea glass” got 22,050 hits.  Those are items for sale, either handmade jewelry, vintage pieces or supplies (such as bundles or bulk lots of beach glass).   Even with so many buyers and sellers, there is surprisingly little knowledge on this product.  So I tried to educate myself and researched the web on beach glass and found some interesting stuff.

Sea Glass Pendent in Silver

The Wikipedia page on “Sea Glass” is informative.  It is particularly strong on the colors that are sought after and links each color to the possible source: for example red sea glass from old Schlitz beer bottles (1900-1982).  Schlitz was a brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which became Stroh Brewery and is now Pabst Brewing Company.  As with red glass of Schlitz bottles, there are many examples where the particular color helps to date the glass.

Much of this information comes from a book written by LaMotte, who is referred to as the “Godfather of  Sea Glass”.   LaMotte together with Charles Peden founded the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA).  Their website has news about the Sea Glass Festival in October.  A very useful page compares natural (genuine) sea glass, versus “craft glass” (or artificial glass) tumbled in drums rather than by the action of waves over many years.   You can also find information on antique bottle collecting and a link to Antique Bottle Collector’s Haven!  On this site you can appraise your antique bottle and date it.

Blue Sea Glass pendent

An interesting article describes the amethyst color brought out by sunlight over the years.  It is due to manganese dioxide that was added to glass prior to the 1920s to produce colorless glass by counteracting the natural green hue from iron.  Manganese when exposed to UV light over the years turns to an amethyst color.

Green Sea Glass Pendent in Silver

A frequent query is about which beaches have sea glass.  It turns out that old dumping sites are where you need to go.  There are a few well know ones such as Glass Beach in Fort Bragg CA.   But also many others world wide.  Storms are supposed to unearth old sites of beach glass.  But I think you are better off asking locals about where the town dump used to be 50-100 years ago!  A how-to-method for walking the beach and scouring for beach glass can also be found on the web.  I have a page on the 40 Beaches of East Hampton town.  Some of these beaches contain lots of sea glass, in particular around the ‘Promised Land’!

Finally I found an interesting story about Louise Rogers who made a fortune with her hobby of collecting sea glass.  She has over a million pieces that she found personally.

For now,  take care and happy beachcombing.  David

Genie, is a dear friend.  She reminded me of this piece I made for her a few years ago.  It is a glass bottle neck with a sapphire in silver.  I had forgotten about it!  (photo courtesy of Genie Posnett)

Genie’s Sea Glass Necklace

I have also got some new sea glass pieces listed in ETSY.

Red Diamonds

Most of us do not realize that diamonds come in different colors. The typical clear and sparkling diamond is what De Beers has marketed for 100 years or so…but if you want to own something truly unique consider this.

Diamonds have an extremely rigid lattice. They can be contaminated by very few impurities. Thus the clear, colorless appearance of those diamonds designated ‘gem quality’. Small amounts of impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) will color a diamond blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), purple, pink, orange or red! ‘Plastic deformation’ is the cause of color in some brown and perhaps pink and red diamonds.

In 2008, the Wittelsbach Diamond, a 35 carat blue diamond, once belonging to the King of Spain, fetched over US$ 24 million at a Christie’s auction.

“Black” diamonds are not truly black, but rather contain numerous dark inclusions.

White dwarf stars have a core of crystallized carbon and oxygen nuclei. The largest of these found in the universe so far, BPM 37093, is located 50 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics described the 2,500-mile (4,000 km)-wide stellar core as a diamond. It was referred to as Lucy, after the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.

I was recently on ETSY, a site for handmade crafts including jewelry. I searched this huge site with about 250,000 virtual shops for ‘red diamonds‘. Click and take a look.

Gold ring with rough diamonds: 2 are yellow and 2 are red.

There are more red diamonds here.

JEWELRY FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

We recently saw an amazing documentary: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” by Werner Herzog. This film describes artwork created some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago at a time when woolly mammoths reigned. The depictions of animals, such as horses, rhinoceros, and lions, are incredibly sophisticated and the artist even employs animation methods to give the impression of movement. I take this as evidence that animals have long been a favored subject of artists, even when we were still cave dwellers.

During the Renaissance, Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528) was a master artist famous for his prints. Beautifully detailed pictures of animals (and plants) testify to his love of nature. Interestingly Albrecht’s father was a goldsmith.

Shah Jahan, famous for building the Taj Mahal, had a fabulous statue of his falcon made. It is completely covered in precious jewels. I saw this piece in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, and have previously posted on this topic. So I take it that jewelry representing your favorite pet is an age-old thing!

I have a favorite pet too. My dog Kenda, a two year old german shepherd:

Kenda

I have studied her paws and her paw prints (such as her tracks in the snow):

Paw of German Shepherd

And here is an example of jewelry depicting her paw. This one is in Sterling silver with chocolate diamonds. It is a pendent about 3/4 inches in diameter and hangs on a silver chain:

Dog paw pendent with chocolate diamonds

This is a small silver plaque with paw prints etched on it. The idea came from my fantastic dog trainer, Gail Murphy. Kenda loves Gail more than anyone. You can have the name of your dog etched or hammered on to this plaque. This pendent was recommended by our local news e-media, the patch.com, as a Christmas gift.

Dog Paw Tracks

And here is an expensive dog tag with 40 little diamonds!

Diamond Dog Tag

For the equestrian horse enthusiasts, here is a horse shoe in Sterling silver with gold caps and diamond nails!  Personal variations are quite in order.  One customer ordered this item with blue sapphires to emulate the horse shoe symbol of the Baltimore Colts football team!

Horse Shoe Pendent

Horse Shoe Pendent

I would really love to hear from you, specially all of you with pets.