Almost Forgotten Gemstone Setting Tips for Everyone

Here are some new innovative gemstone setting tips developed from old setting methods:
◾resharpen the high-speed steel setting burr
◾create a diamond receptacle for benches and desktops
◾use the half-round burr for Cabochon bezel frames
◾ remove excess gold beside claws in engagement four-claw settings
◾clean customer’s diamonds with embedded dirt
◾place an oil receptacle permanently on your bench.

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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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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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The Myth and Lore of Seattle Findings Stones – Part I

Wire Wrapped Labradorite PendantIn the ancient world, many stone were considered as valuable as gold. The deeper you delve into stones, the more lore you can uncover. You will also find contrasting and even conflicting beliefs. There is really no single definitive power, symbolism, or quality for any type of stone.

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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

Creative Stonesetting is a Gem!

I love books, and every now and then a book comes along that steals your heart. Creative Stonesetting is such a book. The author, John Cogswell is currently a teacher at SUNY NY. He has also taught at many other metals programs and has served as a technical consultant and contributing author for several contemporary jewelry texts including; Metals Technic, Contemporary Silver and The Penland Book of Jewelry. He was also the 2006 inductee into the National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame and was the 2007 Artist of the Year for Touchstone Center for Crafts.
I have never met John, but after the book I feel like I have. He writes with humor, intelligence and personality. He explains everything you want or need to know about stone setting.
I was concerned that the book would be too advanced for me, but was very happy to see that it is a treasure for everyone from basic to advanced jewelers. Starting with a basic bezel setting, John takes you through all types of prong, bezel, flush, tube, and other settings. The book also covers both setting in a mounting you have created or one that is commercially purchased. He explains how to choose the tools and fabricate the proper setting for any stone that might be giving you a headache, with great results! The over 600 illustrations are clear and very informative, the photos lovely.
One of the things that John puts forth that really stuck with me, is the idea of finishing all surfaces. And not just finishing them from the perspective of it should look good front, back and sides, as in neat work, but more as in putting time into the design of all surfaces of your piece. To paraphrase him:You dont just slap a pinback on it , duct tape will hold it to the body just the same! In all things Design! This is not just a sit on the bookshelf looking pretty book but a true resource that will be reached for again and again over the years. A, if you will pardon the pun, gem of a book!


Check back next week for more tips & tricks from Seattle Findings’ Blog team!

A Career of Discovery

In Seattle, summer is in full bloom. Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons and baskets of colorful hanging flowers around the city have replaced bare winter branches and indoors projects. Sitting at my jeweler’s bench I can hardly wait to get outside, work in my vegetable garden, go bike riding, get in the water and fish streams I’ve thought about over winter months.Mushroom Hunting in Oregon
The jewelry business has been my profession for over 40 years. It’s been a career full of ‘new’ with adventures, discoveries, interesting friendships & continual learning. I’ve seen places I’d only read about in books during my school years, met customers who have become life long friends & shared experiences doing what I love with other people who feel the same way.
Last fall I went mushroom hunting in western Oregon with friends. Finding my first wild Chanterells was awesome. They’re great eating too! Opal PendantA few years ago I was in Australia shooting a documentary on opal mining. Our 3-month adventure in the opal fields gave me a real appreciation of how elusive success is trying to find “color.” I found a bit of “rough” myself, I keep as a memento of that ‘discovery.’ (I did not find the opal in this pendant I made but making it brought back many memories of the trip.)
On later trips to the South Pacific I got involved in Black Pearl farming. Pearls changed my focus in jewelry & re-inspired my creativity. Opening pearl oysters brings a ‘Surprise’ discovery with each shell.
Growing Pearls
From mushrooming to jewelry making to meeting new people & learning new things, each one has enriched my life and led to further discoveries. Today my focus is teaching jewelry making, consulting & passing along what I’ve been lucky to have personally experienced. Helping others learn the techniques and skills of jewelry making plus sharing some of their discoveries, as they learn, is a reward hard to describe.
We know technology makes living easier & I believe the “Joy of Discovery” helps make life ‘worth living.’ Discovery is part of all art, it’s part of learning and it’s part of growing. Getting involved in something, pursuing an interest, staying curious & asking questions… that’s a Big part of living too! What I tell students: “Invest In Yourself… Make Something New, Learn Something New, Discover Something New.”
I believe it’s what we “do” that defines us.
-Richard Paille
Tune in Next Week for more Tips & Tricks from the Seattle Findings Bloggers!