Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas !!!

Merry Christmas to All !!!

And to all a Good Night !!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Yeah!

We've been so busy that, among other things, I forgot to post these . . .!

I think it was last Friday, right before the snowstorm hit, that we shipped this pendant off to A. H. via UPS (his choice).

Oxidized Ridgelines Pendant,
Red Fern Agate complimented by a Garnet,
 in Sterling Silver with 14K Gold accents.

Today, after I shipped A.'s bracelet for Nancy and Norman, Pat delivered "Night Falls on the Mountain",  J. T.'s Ridgelines Pendant, and the Earrings to compliment it.

Oxidized Ridgelines Pendant,
Garnet, Maramumba
(a very special type of Australian Tiger Eye;
which is very difficult to photograph),
and Amber, in Sterling Silver with 14K Gold accents.

The Earrings are Sterling Silver with 14K Gold accents,
the stones are bezel-set Amber

Another view of J.'s Pendant.

Normally I would just delete images with so much light reflection.  But I'm glad we have this one, because it better shows the deep subtle colors of the primary stone.  (Now I'm sorry that I didn't take the time to set up my scrims and play with it more.  It's such a pretty stone, and the Hematite in it is so reflective, that I'm sorry that I didn't take the time to set up my scrims and take a proper photograph of it!)


One of the greatest and most satisfying things about being self-employed jewelers is getting to create really special pieces for really special people.  When our work is a gift for someone that is loved and cared for so much then our work becomes even more special, and more energized.  Since we both are Official Santa AElf Helpers it is a lot of Fun too!!!

We have been very busy this year, and this Winter!  And we have been snowed in for a few days (and I want to post some of the photos I took on a wonderful late night walk Saturday).  So we worked!  And I still haven't had a chance to post the in progress photos I'd taken of some very special Christmas gifts that we got to help design and then make real.  (And I am still determined to post the work shots because some of them are that cool!!!)

We shipped one of them out via FedEx today.  (Our shipper of choice!)  Nancy L. had the idea for this bracelet for one of nieces.

Since they can't share Christmas morning together, this is for Nancy and Norman so they can see what A. will see when she opens her Loving Aunt and Uncle's package Christmas morning!

Hand inscribed Christmas 2009  Bauman 14K

Her bracelet is constructed of 14 karat yellow gold.  The base of the bracelet is 6 mm wide and 1.5 mm thick, and was textured with a .5 mm burr after all of the soldering was completed.  We used twelve inches of 3 mm tall 20 gauge 14K sheet to make the individual ridges, which are individually soldered in place.  The AA Emerald is 3.5 mm wide and is set in a 14K yellow four-prong head.  All of the edges are carefully rounded and smoothed so that no part of the bracelet will snag or pull on something.

Nancy's bracelet turned out beautifully!  It is even more stunning in person.  The proportions worked out perfectly!

We hope that A. will have a Very Merry Christmas and that she will wearher bracelet for many happy years and that she will think of her Loving Aunt and Uncle when she does.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We're Really Snowed In!

I was hoping to begin catching up on our busy week with my last post.  I hope to come back to it, but I just have to jump into the sequence and say that, yes, I love DSL!  And we really are snowed in!

For those that haven't heard, the forecast was 7 - 15 inches for Asheville by tomorrow/Saturday morning . . .  This was the view out of our front door around 10 this morning . . .

See the footprints going to the steps?  I thought I just might have a chance of getting out and back safely with a new jug full of kerosene in case the forecasted power outages happened.  I made it as far as the back of the car saw the condition the road really was in and decided discretion was definitely the better part of valour!  We'll tough it out with what we have on hand.

We were as ready as you can ever be for a winter storm ~ food stocked up, propane for the grill, kerosene heater filled and ready on the porch, kerosene jug around 3/4 full.  Things that make Pat and I both feel prepared and better about the forecast.

I'm not sure why, but we both really like to be as prepared as we can be for situations like this.  Maybe because my Dad was a meteorologist?  Maybe because we both grew up watching natural disaster movies in grade school science classes?  Maybe because we were both Scouts?  I don't have a clue!  But I do know that we both feel better being prepared and we each are glad that the other feels the same way.

The view out of our front door just before 4 this afternoon . . .

Among other things, I spent a good part of the day dealing with AT&T.  It's a long story.  The short version is that I broke one of my cardinal rules and signed up for services via the phone, rather than online or in person . . .  Yep.  It was an outsourced third-party company.  When I had the chance to go online and double-check I discovered a number of things that just weren't right.

I was very fortunate to eventually be connected to Mrs. Lakisha Simpson!  She cheerfully solved each problem, double-checked every detail of our new bundled services, and made me smile and appreciate truly good customer service from someone that actually cares.  She was a joy to deal with and her help was thorough and very welcome.  Frankly this is the closest any company has ever come to the service provided by USAA ~ and that is saying something.

Thank you Mrs. Simpson!  Because of you I'm happy to stay an AT&T customer.

We both did get some work done, but the details and photos will have to wait 'til tomorrow.  I managed to get our service bundle straightened out.  When the power began flickering I remembered to bring the lamp oil and oil lamps in and to fill a couple of coolers and a bucket with water just in case.

Dinner was good and easy.  I got the DSL modem up and running, registered and so.  Then I went out to measure the snow because Pat and I have a little bet on about just how much snow we're actually going to get . . .

I measured 5 and 6 inches on the stoop where the snow had been blown off.

See the footprints???  See the slide mark?!?  That's where I measured 10", slipped and decided that discretion is the better part of valour!

The local news says over 15,000 homes were without power by 6 tonight.  There have been over 500 car wrecks reported, with more coming in literally every minute.  Interstates 40 and 26 are shut down.  So many motorists are stranded that the plows haven't been able to get through ~ and those are the folks I worry about.

We're safe and sound and warm.  And very very grateful.

Oh yeah, Mrs. Simpson discovered that our DTV/DVR installment hadn't even been scheduled!  So, even though we are snow-bound, theoretically, sometime between noon and 4 tomorrow someone will show up and take care of our installation. 

I think it's only fair to re-schedule our appointment . . .

The power just went off and then surged back on for the second time in a row!  It's time to post this and get off line.  If we have still have power tomorrow I'll continue updating the week and post photos of where we're at on some really exciting work!

A Fine Weekend

We've been working so much that I am way behind posting and keeping folks up to date.  So this one borrows Terry's title and starts with last weekend . . .  (eventually you'll see why!)

Last Saturday, the 12th, we were scheduled to be Jeannie's Visiting Artists at her gallery The Jeweler's Workbench,  The forecast was for some snow and significant ice accumulation.  We talked in the morning and all decided to be safe and just go ahead and cancel.

The very first batch of H1-N1 flu vaccine was finally available to the general public here in Buncombe County and they were doing mass inoculations at the Biltmore Square Mall.  So off we went hoping to get our swine flu shots before the storm hit.

First though we stopped at the Folk Art Center!  This is the first year the Guild has done the annual Christmas Seconds Sale over two Saturdays.  We did very well on at the first one this year, and we had a great time!  (We also loaded up on some wonderful Christmas Presents!)  The second Saturday, last weekend, was obviously just as good a day for the artists.  We had a good look around, visited with our friends.

I bought myself one of Marlow Gates wonderful cobweb brooms ~ I've been eyeing them for a couple of years and somehow just never got around to buying one.  And since it was a studio second I bought a great broom, that is badly needed, at a great price.  Check out Marlow and Diana's work at

Then off we went to get our vaccinations.  The line was so long that it was spooky!  So we grabbed a bite to eat (Chik-fila ~ terribly overpriced, sometimes decent, this time not; but it did help).  As we ate and watched, the line was shrinking quickly.

Then Alan Hollar and his family stopped to say hello!  Alan's an incredible woodturner.  (We first met through the Guild's Fair Committee; I was just starting with the Committee when he became the Committee Chair.  And he's a great at it!)  We've collected a couple of his jug-form turnings, and he and Evie have collected some of our work too.  Evie is a nurse and just flat out told us to get the shot no matter how long we had to wait.

Then David and Heidi stopped by to say hello!  They were wearing the wedding rings we had made for them and they were both smiling and all glowy.  They had had a good cruise and their rings looked great on them!

So we stood in line, spelling each other and walking around window-shopping.  I discovered an amazing sale at Dillards.  Pat checked it out too.  Then suddenly it was our turn!  It was only about an hour and a half from start to finish.

It was a little gray, but looked okay outside so we checked Dillards out.  Now, I actually like clothes.  I don't really like shopping for clothes though.  I don't know, but I'm starting to suspect shopping for "school clothes"as a kid has something to do with it . . .

They had men's shirts that were exactly the colors I really like, and that Pat likes me in.  I couldn't believe it, but the next thing I knew she had me trying on shirts and really shopping for clothes.  And I enjoyed it!  We both had a great time and I ended buying seven shirts and a new sweater that we both really like.

Between getting a late start, the wait, and shopping we ended up sending most of the day out rather than working.  And the storm never materialized!  Sunday Jeannie said everyone had stayed home anyway and she'd had a slow evening.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Goodness we've been busy!  When we've posted it's mainly been about custom work, or something unusual.  Our work life continues to be busy, and busy is good!  We have more custom work than we've documented here.  And lots happening with our own work too!

Lets see . . .  Last Saturday we were doing the Guild's annual Christmas Sale at the Folk Art Center from 10 AM until 4 PM.  The forecast was for cold and snow.  We saw the first snow flake as I was opening the car door for Pat!  It was perfect Christmas weather.  The roads were damp but safe and we had a nice snowfall until early in the afternoon.  There wasn't really any accumulation, but it sure was pretty.

The Sale itself was a lot of Fun!  (It always is.)  We stayed busy all day.  But we still had a little time to visit with some of our Guild Friends and catch up.  And we had the chance to get to know some other Guild artists better.

It was a good day.

This Saturday we'll be at The Jeweler's Workbench in Waynesville.  Jeannie has been wonderful to us and we both always look forward to being her Visiting Artists.  Pat does her repairs, and we do a lot of custom work for her too.  It'll be nice to see Jeannie and Tee.  Now, if only the weather will hold!

We have orders to fill for three galleries, and lots more custom coming along before  Christmas.  But yesterday I went outside for a minute before lunch.  Then I had to get Pat out of the studio just to see what a beautiful day it was . . .

She looked at me and sent me outside to plant the bulbs that have been waiting.  (Oh no!  Forced to be outside on a December day when it's 61 degrees out!)  I planted 74 early snow crocus and 100 more crocus in the hillside bed!  Then I planted 5 more King Alfred daffodils and 54 more of the miniature wild tulips I love so much in the long bed beside the sidewalk.

I finally got the Greek Oregano my old Friend Brad A. gave me a couple of decades ago moved.  Got the rest of the pansises and the three red mustard plants in too.  Heck I even got the long bed mulched and the fountain cleaned out and the pump put away for the Winter.  It's a good thing too, because when I went out this morning the water was frozen solid!

Back to work.  Even if I don't get them cropped and posted I did at least get photos so we'll know where everything is in the Spring.

It's going to be a Glorious Spring!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Catching Up . . .

Hmmm . . .  Somehow I've gotten behind on our postings (again)!  So to quickly recap, here are Heidi and David's Custom Gold and Sterling Wedding Rings.  So, here they are side by size, before their final buffing!

Two views of David's Wedding Ring.

A top down view of Heidi's Wedding Ring.

We meet them at the Folk Art Center.  They both love their rings.  We had a very pleasant time talking before the two pairs of us wandered through Allanstand checking out all of the wonderful work.  It turns out that Heidi collects pottery too!  I don't know if either of us will ever figure it out, but David and I both feel very strongly that we've meet somewhere, some place at some time . . .

Later that night Inky really wanted a Mom Cuddle ~ right now!  I took spme pretty funny photos of him maneuvering himself into position.  But I think this final one sums it all up best.  Pat has a good book to read, a cat to cuddle, and Inky is finally right where he belongs!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What a Beautiful Saturday!

It's been an amazing day.  It got up to 70 degrees, with clear skies and an occassional breeze.  And, I don't know what's in the air, we've been listening to great love songs again all day today!

Heidi and David's wedding rings are finished and ready for them.  If I use only one word to describe them, they are  . . .  Spectaular! 

Or, Gorgeous!

It's only fair that they get to be the first people, other than Pat and I, to see them.  So I'm going to wait until tomorrow, or maybe Monday, to post photographs of them.

Until then, here's one that I took this Spring of one of our white trilliums in full bloom.

It's been that kind of a day today!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Into the Kiln!

I really like to listen to music as I work.  Normally I'm tuned to 88.7 FM, a really good eclectic NPR station down the mountain in Spindale.  But I'm not really into an hour of Frank Zappa, so at noon I tuned to 96.5 as I was working on the waxes for Heidi and David's rings.

All I can say is they must have great 'wedding karma'!  This station has been playing great love songs all day long!  It's been amazing and Fun and really helped to keep me focused on what's really important about what Pat and I are doing!

After making the new mold I shoot fresh waxes of both rings.  Now came the tricky part . . .  I cut the Ridgeline sections that we're casting in gold from each ring.  Here they are sprued together and ready to invest.

I deliberatley over-sprued their rings, and even ran an extra sprue up to the heads to ensure they turn out perfectly.  Sorry for the blurry photo!

I don't know if I mentioned it, but I really like to cast pairs of wedding bands together.  So these two flasks went into the kiln together to share the same five hour burn out cycle.

The first hour is at 300 degrees, then the wax tray is pulled out and the temperature is raised to 700 degrees.  Then an hour at 1350 degrees.  At the third hour I turn the flask over and they spend another hour at 1350 degrees.  They spend the fifth hour cooling down to 1150 degrees.  I'll pour the gold flask first and then I'll pour the silver rings' flask.

All I can say is that these rings must want to be made!  It's a perfectly behaved burnout cycle, they've hit each time and temperature mark perfectly!

They'll be devested and spend the night in the pickle.  Then tomorrow we'll carefully de-sprue, grind and buff, solder the gold Ridgeline plaques in place and set the stones and Heidi and David's Wedding Rings will be ready!

And I'm still listening to some truly great love songs!

More Mold Making

So going back to yesterday/Thursday . . .  Checking the temperature on the vulcanizer as it pre-heats to 307 degrees while I begin packing the mold.

Because of the thickness of this ring I used my 1 inch mold frame and 10 sheets of Castaldo Gold Label Rubber.

Beginning to pack the mold.  Every nook and cranny has to be well and throughly packed and the rubber sheets have to stay in the same alignment.  Each layer requires 7 minutes in the vulcanizer.  Sorry, there aren't more photos of this stage because Pat was dealing with the car and I got involved with the intriquicies of packing the mold!

Baking the mold!  On the left and the bottom you can see the extra rubber being forced out as the pressure is increased.

Now where are my notes?!?  This is why I zerox each master and then make notes right on that sheet!  It takes a certain amount of visualization to cut the mold, but notes and illustrations sure help when it's time to start cutting!

Pat's back and all is well.  Here I'm beginning the make a parting line cutting around the outside using a #11 scalpel.

Beginning to make the keying cuts; each corner will have a pyramid shape facing in alternating directions to help ensure the mold mates up perfectly.

Swithing to my #12 curved scalpel blade cutting along the sprue former and spreading the mold as far as I can as I cut.  (Jeepers, I've put on weight!)

A closer view as I make what are called choppy wave cuts.  They'll help the mold sides align.  This is a mold cutting board that I made to fit on top of my old paperwork desk.  When I need it I clamp it in place and the weight of the desk is critical as you're using a lot of pressure when cutting a mold!  The bottle opener swivels underneath when not in use.

This mold was too thick for the pony clamp I have on an adjustable chain.  It was just more efficent and safe to use my hands to pry it open as I cut.  Here I'm using the straight scalpel to begin cutting the center plug free.

More shoppy wave cuts along the sides with the curved blade and then I was able to finish cutting the plug free.  Once the center plug is free the master can be removed and the rest of the mold cut in two.

Finally, a two-part mold!  Each cut has to be carefully planned to prevent parting lines, or flash, in the wax.  Ideally the cuts should lie along or thgough an edge.  Yes, it takes a little bit of practice.

Before I can use the mold I have to finish it by making relief cuts.  They help the mold to flex, but more importantly they make it possible to remove the wax from the mold.

Here's a view of the plug side of the mold with relief cuts under it.

This isn't a very good shot but it gives you some idea of the relief cuts on the ring side of the mold.  The four little black dots in the center are where the prongs will be; each one has its own relief cut.

That's the basics of packing and cutting molds.  It's not that hard, it's intricate and it takes time, practice, and a fiddly attention to detail.  Well, strong hands help too!

This is a good mold.  It shot the first test waxes well and I didn't have to go back and cut any extra relief lines.

Later I went back into the ofice because I realized I had forgotten to put everything away . . .  and there was Sam, ahem, "guarding" the new wax for David's ring!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quick Update

This is a view of the Ridgelines that will be gold in David's wedding ring.

The ring is sprued and polished and ready for molding!  Any blemish no matter how small or insignificant will be in the mold, so everything has to be as perfect as possible.

This is where I left off early Wednesday evening.  The weather was bad and traffic terrible, especially with all of the traffic detouring because of the I-40 closure.  So I stopped early and drove us to make our Weaverville delivery.

Today has been an adventurous day!  Pat is heading up a sub-committee of the Guild's Education Committee and is just beginning what may turn into a really neat long term project.  Their first meeting was this morning.  Unfortunately on her way home she locked her keys in the car!  And, for some reason, our home phone is acting up again.  The wait for a cab was going to be more than an hour.  So she decided to walk to the branch library and email me.

Only I was being good and wasn't online, I was working on the mold!  Fortunately one of our kind friends at Guild Crafts gave her a lift home.  So we had a late lunch, talked for a bit.  Then off she went in a cab to get the car.  Whew.  We were both off course for a good part of the day.  But all's well.

The mold came out beautifully!  Here's a view from master to wax on top of my notes for this mold.

I'm running about half a day behind where I want to be right now.  So tomorrow morning I'll be slicing and dicing waxes, spruing both rings together and the gold Ridgline sections also.  Then investing and burning both flask out.  Once they get into the kiln I'll come back and post more detailed photos of the mold making and cutting process.

Since he's on my lap right now purring and wanting a cuddle, here's a photo of Sam being a wild cave tiger early this April.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Progress

Here are some quick views of the progress on David's ring!  Fresh out of the pickle. . .

After grinding and detailing . . .

It's a handsome ring!

Next upis spruing it and a final high polish buffing session.  Then Tom gets to mold it and begin the serious work . . .