Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tucson 2017

I was in Tucson for the gem shows this past week.  I had not been there since 2004, when I still lived in San Diego and could just drive there.

I have a friend in the Phoenix/Mesa area so I also wanted to see him while I was there.  I flew to Mesa Monday, and hung out with my friend for a while then drove to Tucson.  Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the AGTA show and GJX show, which are the ones I really go there to see. Both of these shows are open to the trade only.  They are primarily gem shows, but there is also some finished jewelry, rough stones, and tools.

2017 AGTA show at the Tucson Convention Center
AGTA show 
GJX show, right across the street from the AGTA show
I wanted to buy 1 or 2 nice stones and some South Sea pearls.  On Tuesday I bought a tourmaline cut by John Dyer.  It was actually more than I had planned to spend on a single stone, but his stones are really well cut and that tourmaline had great color and that was just the kind of thing I was looking for.  The next day I went back and bought a small garnet from him.

Afghani Tourmaline 3.64 ct
I also bought three white South Sea pearls.  My mom asked me to get her some pearls for a pair of earrings, I also got one for myself.

White South Sea pearls, 12.4 mm (x2) & 13 mm, next to some Tahitian pearls I bought years ago.  
Thursday I went to JCK Tucson.  My reason for going there was to check out the Form 2 3D printer. GRS was there so I also spent some time at their booth looking at some new tools.  Other than that I mostly felt JCK Tucson was a waste of time.

Formlabs Form 2, only $3500
After that I drove to Mesa and met my friend and his wife for dinner, and flew back to Iowa Friday morning.

It was good to go to Tucson again and good to visit the Southwest.  I really like it there, and that makes it so hard to go back to Iowa.

Arriving at the Phoenix - Mesa Gateway Airport

Not sure how long In-N-Out has been in AZ, but I'm glad it's there. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Working in my studio again

I came back to Iowa last night.  I spent most of my time in Illinois cleaning and organizing my stuff, meeting friends and working in the studio.

I finished 3 wood handle lockpicks.  I've been thinking about doing some aluminum handle picks after I get my anodizing stuff set up, but since I can only work on those when I'm in Illinois, I think I would rather spend my time on something else.

I tried some repousse with my new pitch bowls.  I just put a piece of 20 ga copper in and started hammering without much of a plan just to see how it feels.  It was fun.  I'll work on my practice piece some more to get used to it while I think of what I want to try to make.

I worked till 3-4am a few days.  It felt good to work that late again.  I really enjoy working late at night much more than I do during the day.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Cleaning up the studio

Now that Christmas is over I'm taking the week off to do some of the things I didn't have time for when I got back from my trip last month, like getting my stuff out that had been packed up at my parents' house, cleaning my studio, and working on some things I can't really work on at the store where I work.

I tried to work on some half finished lockpicks, but it was frustrating to have to keep searching for tools that had been misplaced years ago and decided I needed to get organized before I started working again.

I also had to clean.  Before I went to Korea I sprayed most of my steel tools with  LPS 3 Premier Rust Inhibitor.  I had used it before and it seemed good.  You spray it on and it dries to sort of a sticky grease.  They claim it will protect metal for up to 2 years indoors.  I was in Korea 4 years and it worked great, though I never had problems with rust in my studio before.

The stuff can be removed with mineral spirits.  Hammer heads and the rolling mill didn't take long, but my lathe took a while to clean.  I didn't finish everything, but I did enough for now.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I need more time

I had been worried about my skills coming back, but the real problem turned out to be what to work on first now that I have a studio again.  While I was away I had a lot of things I wanted to do, designs I wanted to make, and techniques I wanted to improve.  And here I am with limited time to work on my own things, plus spending time trying to keep up my Korean and Japanese language study, and I just don't know where to start.  So far I have just been practicing nunome zogan and flush setting. There aren't enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

pitch bowl

I want to try repousse so I got a pitch bowl and some pitch recently.  I've never done it before, except to play around with it a little in grad school.  I never had much interest in it before and the pitch looked messy and I didn't want to deal with it.

I saw some pieces in Japan that I really liked and the kind of got me interested in trying it.  I am also looking to go in a new direction with my work.  After being away from the studio and not making anything for about 5 years I didn't want to go right back to making the same things I had been making before I went to Korea.

This is the 6 3/4" pitch bowl from Rio.  I melted about 4 or 5 lbs of lead in the bottom of it to give it some weight before adding the pitch.  The pitch is from Northwest Pitchworks.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Class at the GRS Training Center

I'm taking the Refined Stone Setting class at the GRS Training Center this summer in Emporia, Kansas.  I have been wanting to take this class for a long time.  I took a basic engraving class there in summer 2006 and enjoyed it.  I heard classes there are really popular and this stone setting class is only offered once a year, so I called to register right at 8am on the day registration started to be sure I could get in.  I checked their website a few hours later and the class was full.  I'm looking forward to this class.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

back at the bench

I've been back at the bench for the past week.  After the first awkward day things came back to me pretty quickly.  Soldering seems to be coming back rather slowly though.  I was gone over 5 years total but it has been even longer since I did many jewelry repairs with the torch since every place I have worked since 2004 has had a laser welder.  There is a laser welder at my new job, but still the torch is better for some things.

The only stone setting I have done so far has been prong setting two round faceted stones and bezel setting a faceted stone.

The prong setting felt very awkward.  Felt like I was doing it for the first time.  I just couldn't remember how I used to bur a level seat for the stones. In the end they were set ok.

I didn't do the entire bezel setting.  My boss started it and had the bezel partially hammered down before he had to do something else and I took over.  I finished hammering it and cleaned it up.  The bezel setting felt ok, aside from being a bit nervous cause the stone was a tanzanite.

I am going to try to make 2017 about learning and improving.  Especially my bench jeweler skills.  I am hoping to improve my stone setting beyond where I was before I went to Korea.  I could do most settings well enough, but some I was not confident with, especially channel setting and pave.  I had learned how to do both of them but I never had much practice.