Spooky Inspirations!

Bat EarringsIts that spooky time of year again! With Halloween just around the corner, we at Seattle Findings wanted to give your haunted-side a jolt of inspiration! With these great ideas you can create jewelry, augment costumes and create tasty treats for Halloween!
These fun bat earrings are fun and simple to make! You can cut out bats from sheet metal or use a stiff acrylic or thick paper. Then, cut two pieces of chain for each earring, varying different lengths. Attach with jump rings and add a few faceted beads for extra fun!

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Top 5: Facts of Gold

Black and Yellow Gold BraceletAt Seattle Findings we are often asked about the various karats of gold. Here are the answers to our top 5 most frequently asked questions about gold!

1. What is the difference between white gold and yellow gold? The metal composition determines the color of gold. Gold is such a soft metal and so valuable, that it is most often alloyed with less valuable metals. The percentage of pure gold determines what karat the gold is marked as. Tri Colored Gold RingsRed or pink shades of gold are formed when there are high copper contents alloyed with gold. White gold is created when the alloyed metals are white metals, such as: silver, nickel, zinc. To achieve a bright white finish, white gold is often plated with rhodium. Gold is a very versatile metal, since it can be alloyed to appear pink, red, yellow, green, white, and even black! No other metal is alloyed to create such a diverse palette.

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Upcycle Your Life

Upcycle your lifeFor many, school is starting, which means that Fall is almost upon us! I’ve always felt that each school year brings new beginnings and new goals to strive for. Starting this Fall, strive to be greener! One of the most enjoyable ways to start this Earth-loving habit is to practice Upcycling!
What IS Upcycling you say? Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

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Color, Texture & Casting

Color, Texture & Casting for JewelersHave you ever gotten stuck when designing jewelry? Feel like you have hit a rut with your design techniques and or style? Design freeze happens to everyone! At many points in one’s life, career, and year, inspiration is going to run dry. One of the best ways to get your inspiration back in full force is to increase your exposure to new experiences.

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Building Facèré

Karen LoreneWe were thrilled to interview the talented owner of the acclaimed Facèré Antique & Art Jewelry Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Karen Lorene has owned and operated her own business for over 40 years now! In addition, she is an accomplished and published writer of 4 books and a quarterly magazine. Karen is deeply involved in the Society of North American Goldsmiths and well known for her knowledge of antique and modern jewelry. Karen is a delightful person and tactful gallery owner and operator. Learn more about Karen and her beloved Facèré in the following interview.

When and how did Facèré begin and what is the story behind the name?
We started North Country Fair, an antique store on Pier 70. We opened Vanity Fair to focus on fine antiques and jewelry. When we were looking to move uptown we decided to change our name to fit the upscale new Sheraton Hotel. We needed a new identification. We figured if Häagen-Dazs could make up a word – then we could too! We opened the dictionary, and came across a Latin derivative – facre – to make as in manufacture. Then, to our name we added French accents and Italianized the pronunciation. We became Facèré [pronounced Fah-cherry]. The name fit! To this day we represent studio jewelers – jewelry artists who make their own jewelry.

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The Magic of PMC

PMC Necklace by Susan Shahinian DesignsAre you looking for something more to add to your work and your repertoire of skills? You may want to give Precious Metal Clay (PMC) a whirl! Precious Metal Clay, most often shortened to PMC is a powdered metal that has been mixed with an organic binder to form a clay-like material.
PMC can be molded, shaped, and formed, the same way that you would handle clay. Once you have formed the clay to its final state, and all the moisture has evaporated from it (or been removed with a gentle heat gun), you can fire the piece in a kiln or with a torch. Firing the piece will burn off the organic clay binder, and leave only metal in the exact form you created!

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Wax On – Wax Off!

Wax Carving KitAt Seattle Findings, we get a great deal of customers who are self-taught. Some techniques are not as easily learned on one’s own, and some require more or less instruction. Wax carving is one such skill, that once you have mastered the basics, you can potentially create anything you can dream, if you only you have enough time and enough wax!

For those of you, who are beginning to explore casting and wax carving, try out these tips and watch your carving skills improve!

Wax Rings1. The most important thing to start out with is a drawing (or several) and a clear idea of what you intend to make.
Bracelet Wax2. Once you have a good idea of what you’d like to carve, it is time to pick out your wax! The softness and pliability of wax is marked by its color. Blue is the softest, purple is medium soft, and green is the hardest. If you haven’t carved before, it is easiest to begin with the hardest wax (green). If you plan to carve small delicate parts, such as prongs, green is too brittle, blue will be too soft, purple should work out well.

3. Cut any stable shapes first. For instance, when carving a ring, be sure to size the ring tube to the desired ring size before you begin any design carving! It is easiest to size a wax ring with a ring wax sizer, instead of trying to use a hand tool or flexshaft to carve the inside away. A ring wax sizer will carve quickly and evenly.

Divider4. Measure out and mark where you should begin carving. Just like carving anything else, it will speed up the time and effort you spend if you can remove any large unnecessary chunks from your wax first. To measure how much you need to remove, a sharp compass or divider is very handy. You can dig into the wax to mark it, or use any type of permanent pen.

Spiral Wax Blades5. The easiest way to remove large chunks of wax is with a coping saw and a wax blade. The twisted tooth of the wax blade allows the blade to cut through the wax without getting stuck. Once you’ve cut the large chunks off, you can start carving with a flexshaft and wax burs, or by hand.

6. The final touches and details can be done with hand tools or a flexshaft. It may be helpful to sharpen, shorten, or thin out your hand carving tools to better fit the needs of your design. It is always better to adjust your tools to your design, rather than adjust your design to the tools you have.

Wax Kleen7. When you have your design completely carved, try buffing it with 300, 400, or 600 grit sandpaper to smooth any rough areas. Personally, I like to buff with a soft paper towel after 600 grit. I’ve found the extra buffing takes out any small scratches in the surface of the wax that the 600 grit didn’t get. Wiping your wax down with alcohol & or Wax Kleen also will help to reduce remaining scratches or mars in the wax.

* The more finishing you can do before casting, will save you time once your design is cast!
Working with a wax pen has many aditional wax applications and many other techniques. Wax pens can be used in conjunction with carving, or by themselves to smooth or create various textures. The best advice for any wax carver working with any method is to practice trial & error, then document your results! Keeping a journal or notebook of your discoveries will allow you to recreate happy accidents and help to decrease your errors. Happy carving!

-Amelia Upton

Check back later this week for Tips & Tricks from Leah

The 4 C’s & CZs

Wedding RingWedding season is in mid-swing. In honor of this festive season of diamonds, we gathered some key concepts on diamonds & CZs! Diamond grading is based around the 4 C’s, remember these 4 simple characteristics and you will be more informed as a buyer or a seller.

•Cut is a diamond’s most important characteristic since it has the greatest influence on a diamond’s appearance.

•It has the greatest overall influence on a diamond’s beauty.

•A diamond’s cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond’s light performance, or, what we generally think of as sparkle or glitter.

Hair Piece

•Color refers to a diamond’s lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond.

•A color grade of D is the highest possible, while Z is the lowest.

(It follows the alphabet without A,B or C)

Color manifests itself in a diamond as a pale yellow. This is why a diamond’s color grade is based on its lack of color. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade. Diamonds can also be other colors, such as black, pink, green or blue, but they are uncommon or manufactured.

Diamond ChartClarity:

•Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds.

•Many of these imperfections are microscopic, and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way.

Clarity simply refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that occur in all but the finest diamonds. Diamonds with the least and smallest imperfections receive the highest clarity grades.

CZsCarat Weight:

•Carat is specifically a measure of a diamond’s weight, and by itself may not accurately reflect a diamond’s size.

•We tend to evaluate diamond size by viewing it from the top because that is how diamonds are presented to us when set in a ring.

•To understand diamond size, carat weight should be considered in conjunction with two other criteria: Distance in millimeters across the top of the diamond & cut grade.

Here are a few bonus pointers to augment your new knowledge!
Bridal Necklace~There are 10 standard diamond shapes: Round, Oval, Emerald, Princess or Square, Marquise, Pear, Heart, Cushion, Radiant, & Asscher
~Round is sometimes referred to as brilliant, since one of the most common cuts for a round diamond is a brilliant cut. The brilliant cut is thought to offer the greatest amount of sparkle.
~Cubic Zirconia or CZs are lab created stones that look like diamonds, but are worth less since they are synthetic. They are ideal for children’s jewelry, pave setting, or as a beautiful alternative in any piece!
~Moissanite stones have the same chemical composition as naturally occurring diamonds, but are in fact lab created. Because of their chemical composition, they fool many into thinking they are real diamonds.

CZs Assorted~Moissanites have a faint green color when heated, real diamonds do not!

~The easiest way to tell a diamond from any other stone is with a diamond tester. Without one, you either need to invest in gemology courses or visit your local gemologist. If you don’t know of one, your jeweler will certainly know at least a few to recommend!

Still craving more information on diamonds and other stones? Check out GIA (Gemological Institute of America) the most trusted stone grading & education center in the world.

-Amelia Upton

Tune in later this week for more tips & tricks from Seattle Findings!

Exploring New Media!

Found Object PiecesNew Media. Contemporary Media. Mixed Media. What all these and many more terms are trying to describe, is jewelry design that encompasses materials other than metal. As the markets continue to soar, everyone’s pockets seem to get smaller by the day. The state of our economy is making it harder and harder to work in precious metals, so what’s next?
Metal SheetLike so many other jewelry designers and metalsmiths, you should consider trying your hand at different media. Metal is a unique material, with a variety of properties that are unlike any other material. Yet, adornment is not limited to metal, nor does your work have to be! Instead of letting the rising market get you down, think of the high price of metal as a kick start for your creativity. Your materials are now unlimited!
Some of the “new” or mixed media that has been gaining momentum includes (but not limited to!): resins, glass, wood, found objects, paper, and various textiles. To help fuel your ideas, we have pulled some project ideas to get you started!
Resin EarringsResins & Epoxy. Both epoxy and resin can be used to fill a space. The exciting part about these 2 part polymers is that you can put almost anything in them! You can suspend small objects, paint, oils, and colored powders, almost anything! Epoxy, resin, and epoxy resins all work in the same way. Some popular kinds are DeVcon Epoxy, Cast N’Craft Resin, and Marine grade resins. The main variations in epoxy or resin are the curing and setting times and their mixing ratios. I have found that working with a 1:1 part epoxy is the easiest to measure, but you may find that you prefer different resins and epoxies for different projects.
Razor Blade Resin BanglesPictured up to the right are earrings that were made from candy molds. The resin was mixed with glitter and food dye. Here on the left are a few cuffs that have dye and objects in them. The resin was poured into a mold and the rough edges were sanded with 300 Grit sandpaper.
Seattle is a hub for glass of all sorts! Pratt Fine Arts Center is among many of the excellent educational institutions where glass blowing classes and many others are available. Lamp working and enameling are more traditional techniques that can be easily combined with metal for stunning effects! Here are a few examples:
Lamp Worked Beads
Fabric NecklacePaper & Textiles are wonderful materials to work with since they can be folded, molded, cut and more. Paper and fabric can be found in a variety of shops. Stamping and screen printing techniques can be used to replicate images cost effectively. Check out these projects: Paper Necklace
Embossed Paper Earrings
Textile Necklaces Wow!!!
Mixed Metal ManiaAll the above materials can be used in combination with metal and with each other. Mixed Metal Mania by Kim St. Jean has an excellent assortment of projects and project ideas to get you started expanding on your techniques and materials. Kim St. Jean is well known for her experimental media and excellent teaching skills. Her book is a must read!
Wishing you happy experimenting! Check back later this week for more tips and tricks from Seattle Findings!

-Amelia Upton

More than Metal: Interview with Tim McCreight (Part II)

What is your favorite metal to work in and why?
Metal SheetsWhen I can get my hands on it, high karat gold, it is just beautiful. I spend a lot of time testing metal clay. And I work a lot with ingots, hammering and rolling them down. About 10 years ago, when I started working with fine silver ingots, I just fell in love with it – it’s just – yummy! Fine silver is really quite yummy. (But I would not say so if the other metals could hear!)
What projects are you working on currently?
PMCA new PMC book by Hadi Sanderson, just finishing up the final proofing and designing of the cover. It’s very exciting, it will be sent out today. I am also working on 2 more in house books. And in the next year, I’d like to do another video. I just outlined it this weekend. Workshops, I’ll be forging at Bead & Button and I’m a chairman at the PMC Conference coming up.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years?
I am delighted where I am. I don’t have any plans or desire to change things. I’m not a big future planner. 30 years ago, I didn’t come up with a master plan that put me where I am today. Although, I probably will be cutting back on workshops, with all the travel and the bad food, and nights in hotels, it’s time to step aside for the next generation.
MetalDo you have any advice for beginners to the field?
Someone invented everything. It is efficient to pursue education, but there was no one there to teach the first graver how to engrave. Curiosity is the best tool! Sentences that begin with I wonder – Be Inventive! Trust the process! And don’t over intellectualize. Metalsmithing is logical and there are often 12 or more different processes that will be done to the metal, saw, drill, punch, hammer, solder something on, wrap. When you don’t give yourself the time to explore where a piece could go, or you have too rigidly defined the end result you set yourself up for disappointment and you miss opportunities.
SolderingDo you have any words of advice or encouragement for those of us who are not new to the field, but are continuing on?
Follow your bliss! To do your best to find the arrangement that is most satisfying – there is no one path. There is no hierarchy of craft or material. Find your relationship – – let me focus on the metal the way I like it – – for who you are and where you are. Don’t listen to anyone else, and it’s NOT all good. Don’t fall into the misleading hierarchy. The value is personal reward. Find the mix of paying your bills and creating what is satisfying to you. Don’t be clouded by assumption.
When I asked Tim to comment on his fame and the enormity of his career, he told what a few strangers have told to him at conferences and lectures: “We’ve never met, but you are my teacher.”
Tim’s work will no doubt continue to inspire and teach the metalsmiths and jewelers of tomorrow. This concludes our interview with Tim McCreight. We look forward to our next Spotlight Interview!

-Amelia Upton