Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seagull Pendant.

Titanium Seagull Enamel Pendant

I finished this painted enamel pendant the other day.

I like the porthole look.

I hot forged the titanium into a circle and the filed the hell out of it.


Seagull Ocean Spray

Here is a closer view.

Eventually I tilted the rocks upward. I thought it gave more a feeling of speed.


I pierced the seagull out and soldered a locating pin to it.


Then I drilled a hole in the pendant with a diamond drill.


A little while ago Vasillie and his partner walked into our shop.

He was asking if I had any setting work for him.

We got talking and it turns out he is a Russian master setter and when he showed me samples of his work I was blown out the water.

So then when he saw my gem cutting machines we made an agreement.

He will teach me advanced setting and I will in turn teach him gem cutting.


Being a setter already, he has the ‘touch’ in his hands, so he picks up the techniques without destroying the stone very quickly.


With his partner Olga.

He was trained using traditional setting techniques and then he had to relearn  to  change over to microscopes and the graver max power machine.

So once and for all he was able to set up my equipment properly.

I was taught the basics of setting by Shane, my journeyman, and everything after that I self taught.

So it’s very cool to be taught by a dinkum honest to goodness pro setter.

I have learn’t a LOT of finer techniques so far.


We even went for a tjop and dop in the park one afternoon.

You got to figure:

Between the four of us we speak six languages and we had trouble communicating, with German being our base language.

You can never speak enough languages.



A couple of Sundays ago Anne and I went for a 60 kilo cycle to a swamp area around Dusseldorf.

I was a rare beautiful day, no wind and mild temperatures.


We got all our ducks in a row, too.


The Germans were out in force playing  Pétanque, which is like grown up marbles with steel goons.

They take this shit seriously here and an entire weekend is wasted dedicated to it several times a year.

What really freaks me out is that youngsters play it as well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Enamel Painting. The Learning Curve.



So this was my photo shop clean up.

I then shrink it to fit the size I am going to enamel.


I make three.

Now before, I made the paper black with pencil lead at the back and then traced out the design from the front.

It works OK, sort of.

But I had not tried  the “traditional” way.

That is using a pin or needle to prick the design through tracing paper.

This took a couple of attempts and even then, the next one will be better---unless I figure out another way.

Because this way is a serious mission.

Far to much PT.


Then I cut out some tracing paper the right size.

It’s quite a heavy type and I stuck it to some paper.


So it can hinge up.

At the back is a pencil that I inserted a cut off needle in, to prick through the tracing paper.


And then I stuck this to a small piece of glass, to stop the needle at an exact distance in.

At first I just did it on another piece of paper, but then the needle goes in to deep and the holes become to big


The needle make tiny little holes through the tracing paper, all equal size.


After the tracing paper had the design pricked in, I stuck it to the enamel.


Then I made some lamp black oil.


Once the soot from the candle is scraped together, oil is added until it’s like printing ink, kind of thick.


This was my third attempt and it was just workable to accurately get the outline down.

In the instruction I read from -----  they say that if the first attempt to force ink through doesn’t work, just realign and do it again.

But my holes close up, so I probably am using a wrong tracing paper maybe.



This is a simple design.

For a complicated one, there has got to be a better way.


Then I found one.


I took some lamp black, made it into a powder and then rubbed it onto the back of the transfer paper.

I stuck the front to a Post it note so that the transfer wouldn’t move around.


Ta daa--- I signed my name on the front and it worked perfectly.

I am going still do some experiments with actual carbon paper, see  if it burns out.

(Later). Yep, burnt out completely.

Anyway, this is the twin of the first blank that bubbled.


I re-fired this enamel blank before I started the actual painting.

Just to make sure that the two layers were homogeneous.


This time I left the background last, what with the yellow colour change over many firings.


This one was much more orange before firing and the brown was not nearly so pronounced.


About halfway and then I decided this project had gone far enough and I scrapped it.



I received some clear enamel from a supplier in the UK and I  tried it out on my dragon and I also simultaneously made a gold star and drilled a hole in it and fused the whole caboodle together.

Worked too, no mean bean bubbles came up but it is still a reject, so it is thrown on the rubble mountain of Hans’ failed attempts.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tool Making


I made this nifty ring clamp for myself after I saw a similar clamp being used by a Russian master setter.

I have got the proper GRS inside ring clam but it only expands from one side .

I don’t like that much because it puts expanding pressure on only one side of the ring.

And anyway, there is absolutely nothing I like more than making gizmo’s and tools.



The center is a black nylon bush that has a cone on both sides.

The two brass cone shaped washers that force the nylon open when the two stainless steel screws are tightened.

This stuff all turned out on my cheepo Grizzly lathe.



Then, once you got the ring tightened up nicely the setting ball gets tightened and the whole gizmo tightens vas.

This is great for setting eternity bands, because once the ring is tightened, turning the ring around is a matter of loosening the setting ball, not the ring clamp, as in the original GRS equipment.

As with a large part of the jewellery industry, the bar is constantly raised by new techniques and methods that are developed.

The GRS system, a microscope and the Gravermax or Lindsay Air  assisted power engraver have become the accepted norm for those craftsmen working on that level.

In the old days, I had a ring clamp, some gravers and a Optivisor and that was good enough.

These days the retailer wants stones set so that at 30 X magnification the job is flawless.

That is  not possible with an Optivisor.

Simply put, if you not at the setting skill level with that equipment , you get no work.



Here is another cool little tool I made myself.


A tiny isty teeni saw.

For azure work and OCD corner cutting.


I made the frame out of brass and the screws and nuts out of steel.

The threads are 2 mm M2 standard.


One of those tools you like making and then only need it twice every eighteen years.



Tjilip,( I’m the BOSS) ,  doing his thing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making a Ring out of Titanium Plate.



A customer sent me a 2 mm thick titanium plate.

He wanted to have me make a wedding ring for himself.

I had enough material for two attempts.


So drilled a hole.


I knew the about size of the hole to start with, because I tested it on a couple of washers before.

The one on the left was a bit small and the one on the right went off my triblet.

Got it.


I cut it out with a hacksaw.

A hacksaw blade is quickly in-sy- moer in if you don’t oil it.

I use SAE 30 – best oil around.



Then I saw the corners off and anneal it, and then I take a vise grip and grind it to a rough round.

The  reason I anneal it only now is because I don’t know what alloy this is.

And sometimes unknown alloys screw up big time after annealing.

So rather a small washer than the whole plate.


One does not just ‘dome’ a 2mm thick washer with a smack or two.

Anne held the flame, and I heated up the washer and when it was good and hot, I dropped it into the doming block and then smacked it with the punch and hammer.

When titanium is red hot, as in pale orange, it’s about as malleable to me as iron is at that temp as well.


The shape of the washer after doming.

I only use the doming to start the triblet part.


One does not just  ‘ bash’ a titanium washer up and flat.

Anne holds the torch, I cook and bash.

It looks bad on the triblet, but I cool it often under water.


That colour is malleable.

You can forget hitting this alloy up in a civilized manner it it’s not red hot.


Eventually it gets to here.

Then I use the bench grinder to true it up

And I also hammer it further until I get it  to the right size.

The center start hole size will determine the sweet spot.

That is where the ring hits 90º and is the right size.

The washer before gave me a good estimate.




Center matt, polished bevel edged and comfort fit on the inside.

Other than the hardness factor it worked as per.

Cool or what?



Two more titanium and gold and silver pendants I made.



Emerald, ruby and diamond.



Diamond in gold, white gold and copper.


This one looks simple enough but it is actually very tricky to make.