Tag Archives: jewelry

Well. My goodness.

12 Jan

Darlings, I must start writing again.  With the five children and the career and the husband and the life swirling around me, my concentration is not good.  I’m very much doing that whole young family thing all over again, but now I’m old enough to know how well my head can work when all these wonderful, beloved people aren’t constantly around me.  I’ve been waiting for my ability to concentrate to come back,  but I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon, and I miss blogging.  I miss life outside of this new house and studio, I miss Karen, and I miss the way that writing centers and clears my head.  I want something back that’s always been and always will be mine. I’ve been waiting until I get my feet under me, but I am constantly finding and losing my feet again and again in this new life of mine. It might not be grammatically correct or even make sense half the time, but post I will.   Seriously, it’s like my brain is like a puzzle that has a different piece missing everyday.  Yesterday’s missing piece might be back, but SURPRISE! A new one is gone!  So ok, I promise it won’t be grammatically correct or make sense half the time; that should be exciting.  You can rate my ability to think on a one-out-of-ten scale in the comments. First, I’d love to show you what I’ve worked on lately, ok? Ok.

Initial pendant.  I wanted a heavy, rich, medieval feel, and I am really tired of stamped initial pendants. I wanted something more personal.

Initial pendant. I wanted a heavy, rich, medieval feel, and I am really tired of stamped initial pendants. I wanted something more personal.

Moonstone in 18k.  Did I show you this already? Hmm.  This already sold, but I'm making more in this style: the buff top cabochon, the lip, the jumpring.

Moonstone in 18k. Did I show you this already? Hmm. This already sold, but I’m making more in this style: the buff top cabochon, the lip, the jumpring.

This was a custom engagement ring.  I went through a lot of garnets before we found one that didn't go dark in the bezel setting she wanted.

This was a custom engagement ring. I went through a lot of garnets before we found one that didn’t go dark in the bezel setting she wanted.

Moons!  I have made an awful lot of these!  14k, 18k, silver, different quality and sizes of diamonds.  Each is a completely unique mold and cast, and I'm glad people are buying them because I love making them.  I want to say this is about 15mm, 18k.  It's over on Etsy.

Moons! I have made an awful lot of these! 14k, 18k, silver, different quality and sizes of diamonds. Each is a completely unique mold and cast, and I’m glad people are buying them because I love making them. I want to say this is about 15mm, 18k. It’s over on Etsy.

'Nother 18k moon. This is a big one with larger stones.

‘Nother 18k moon. This is a big one with larger stones.

Big honkin' ruby ring.  One of the few treated gems I will use.  Only a few mines are producing rubies right now, and those produced tend to be highly fissured.  Those that are not fissured are thousands per carat.  This is a fissure filled...5 carats, I think?  Check the Etsy listing for details.  Really beautiful, and today's fissure filled holds up as well or better than  untreated stones.

Big honkin’ ruby ring. One of the few treated gems I will use. Only a few mines are producing rubies right now, and those produced tend to be highly fissured. Those that are not fissured are thousands per carat. This is a fissure filled…5 carats, I think? Check the Etsy listing for details. Really beautiful, and today’s fissure filled holds up as well or better than untreated stones.

Lat for the day, and then I must get into the studio.  A pretty pink tourmaline in an 18k setting.

Lat for the day, and then I must get into the studio. A pretty pink tourmaline in an 18k setting.

Back to work! But, if any of my old readers are out there?  I would love to hear from you!

Blue Sapphire Ring

1 Jul

There is so much I want to tell you.  I want to tell you all about sapphires, and I want to respond to Crystal’s comment saying that she’d like to hear more about my new blended family, and I want to tell you all about what I am doing in the studio.  But I am working like a crazy woman to get Vaka rolling again, and I am cooked.  I kinda love this working so hard I fall into bed at the end of the day thing, though, so I’m not complaining. It feels so good to be working again!

So here is a ring I finished today (are you sick of looking at jewelry yet?).  It is a lovely 5 x 7mm cornflower blue sapphire set in 18k.  And, as usual, I am fickle and so this is now my favorite piece. 

Look!  Look!  Are you looking?

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I love emeralds

28 Jun

To view beautiful emeralds is to fall in love.

If someone said to me, “Katie, if you could make for yourself ANY piece of jewelry –regardless of cost– what would it be?”

Go on, ask me.

I would, my inquisitive friends,  make myself a big ole’ emerald ring.  I’d get an enormous emerald-cut stone (big enough to be truly vulgar. As big as a baby’s head.  A really big fat baby.), and I’d set it in 20k.

In the meantime, while I wait for a baby-head sized emerald to fall at my feet, I made this!

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This stone is 5mm, and I don’t think I’ve ever set a 5mm stone that pops the way this does.  The 18k certainly plays up the green, but emeralds have a vibrancy and luster no other gem does.  So full of life and joy; how can anyone be sad wearing an emerald?

Today I also touched up the bezel on the granulated garnet ring from yesterday.  Take a close look, and see if you notice the difference.

And with that, my darlings, I think it’s time to get my weekend on.  I hope you all have nothing but the best of weekends!

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A day’s work

26 Jun

Hello, my darlings!  How was everyone’s day, today?

I had a wonderful day, because I now have air conditioning in my studio!  It was lovely and cool in my fortress of solitude, and the new air conditioner emits a slight hum which blocks the sound of the children’s voices.  I did NOT die of heat stroke, and I also did not have to listen to most of today’s heated sibling debate: who would most own the dog we are not getting.  They were arguing about a THEORETICAL dog, while our perfectly good real dog lay nearby, ignored. I really love them.

And while I was in the cool, quiet studio, I made this: 

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I’ll finish up the setting and set the garnet tomorrow morning, and then I will show you the finished piece!

Fancy Shmancy Diamond Earrings

25 Jun

Earrings!  Let’s talk about these, shall we? We’re going to learn, and learning is FUN!

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

I cast these earrings using cuttlefish bones.

“But Katie,” you might say, “However did you get the cuttlefish to hold still and help you make these lovely earrings?”

You crazy kids, the cuttlefish were DEAD!  They had ceased to be; they were no more.  They were EX-CUTTLEFISH, so don’t be daft.

Cuttlefish are in the same family as octopi and squid. Unlike octopi and squid, the cuttlefish possess a soft, porous internal structure which helps regulate their buoyancy: a cuttlefish bone or cuttlebone.  Cuttlefish bones often wash up on beaches, and are also harvested when cuttlefish are caught for their meat.

These bones have been used as a tool by metalsmiths for thousands of years;we saw them in half, carve them to make molds, and pour molten metal into them. The cooled metal retains the texture of the cuttlefish bone, which looks a bit like wood grain.  That texture can be played up or down, and for these earrings I played it up.

And because diamonds can take the heat of molten gold, I cast these champagne diamonds in place.  Stuck them right into the cavity I had created, and doused them with gold.

TBI and hand forging don’t go well together, and so I experimented with casting while Riley was sick.  The cuttlefish bone technique is a keeper.

Hey!  Here are some pictures of Matt using cuttlefish bone to cast a piece of silver.  He forged a spoon from this piece.

Carved cuttlefish bone

Carved cuttlefish bone

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity.  Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity. Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Pretty cool, huh?  I think so.

And now for some new pretties

18 Jun

But, before we get to the pretties, I suppose I need to tie up loose ends. Ready? 

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OK. We good? Alright then, do you want to see the new pretties?  I’ve tried to keep things simple while I let my hands and brain remember their jobs.  I’ve also made some SILVER pieces!  I should get a sticker for being such a good sport and making a new friend of silver. 

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Starting over is scary and happy and exciting.  Well, it was more scary than exciting until I sold that ruby ring within a week of listing it.  Now it is much less scary.  

I was foolish when I stopped working 2+ years ago, and shut down the Etsy site.  Sadly, I couldn’t get the name back.  You’ll find me under Vakastudio on Etsy, and these will soon be listed on my regular site: Vakadesign.com.

And now I must stop uploading images and go make dinner. 

Cinderelly, Cinderelly!

Make the jewelry, Cinderelly!

Feed the children, Cinderelly!

Dutch friends, new bling

24 Jan

 

Aquamarine and sapphire pendant, about 1 1/4 x 7/8 inches

My mom loves the Netherlands.  She loves the wide-open green flatness, the canals, the skinny city houses,  the Noordzee, and the spring flowers.  But most of all, she loves the Dutch.  There was never a Friday when she left the office without her Dutch coworkers making sure she had plans, never a moment when she didn’t feel welcomed and included.  While she’s enjoyed the people most everywhere she’s worked around the world, the Dutch became family.

After years spent living and working in The Hague,  my mom has come home for a job in San Diego.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make.  While there were many compelling reasons to move back to the States, it was so very hard for her to leave her friends; her Dutch family.

As my mom readied herself for the move to San Diego, her beautiful friend Susanne emailed–on behalf of all the Dutch friends– to ask me for ideas for a parting gift.  I suggested they take her for a tattoo, but the Dutch are way classier than me: they opted for jewelry, and ordered my Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant.

aquamarine and moonstone Waterfall Pendant

And that would have worked out just fine, if my mother wasn’t so damn full of damn opinions.  Luckily, her Dutch friends know that she’s a veritable opinion piñata.

Mom asked that I use a stone she already had  instead of the aquamarine cabochon (above) my design called for.  Her stone was a big, gorgeous, faceted aquamarine she had purchased from a British friend in The Hague  shortly before he died (we’re going to call that the new aquamarine from here on).

The challenges? The new aquamarine wasn’t interchangeable with the stone in my design, and a new design was needed to account for the stone’s unique attributes.  I did, however, need to keep with the two-stone look of the pendant I had been asked to make.

Where the original aquamarine cab in the design was all about watery relaxation, the faceted aquamarine was all sparkle and glamour, and just didn’t work well with the laid-back moonstone cabochon of the original pairing.  I opted to pair the new aquamarine with a gorgeous cornflower blue, flower-cut sapphire.

Another challenge was the cut of the new aquamarine: the stone was incredibly deep--half as deep as it was wide– and I needed my design to creatively account for that depth; to allow the face of the sapphire to be on the same plane as the face of the aqua, without looking awkward.

My  solution: A medieval-looking b0x setting,  stones set with prongs to keep them open and airy.

I hope all of my mother’s Dutch friends love what I came up with, I’m really pleased with my design, and my mom loved it.  After gasping, she declared, “I’m going to get mugged wearing this!”

And that is high praise from the Bling Jedi Master.

*Thanks Mom, for the image!

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Jewelry Axis of Evil: new member

12 Nov

Blogosphere, the Jewelry Axis of Evil has a new member.  Today, opals join silver, my camera, and white gold on the list of Stuff I Really Hate.  White gold moves up a spot on the list, because I was using it in combination with the opal.  My camera jumps two spots, because it’s very frustrating to be unable to show you a quality image of that which deeply offends me.

I’m pretty sure that the opal would have behaved nicely if not for the bad influence of the white gold.  Similar to my stance on teenagers, I expect white gold to behave like white gold; it is what it is, and it can’t help its nature. Foolishly, I expected better of the opal.  If only I had listened to the rumors about opals and their sluttish ethics, I never would have left the two alone together.

Opals, white gold, and my camera: dead to me.

This morning, as I sat polishing up this pretty opal ring, I mentally wrote a very different post; a post extolling the virtues of opals and expounding upon my new, improved relationship with white gold.  Then,  I noticed the bezel was a speck loose, on the left.  Back in the vice it went, one gentle press on the bezel’s edge, and CLICK: the unmistakable sound of an expensive stone fracturing.   A unique stone, a match for which will be difficult to find.  CLICK: the sound of yesterday’s work, wasted.

Now I have nothing nice to say about opals and white gold. Not. One. Thing.

www.vakadesign.com

Isn’t that pretty?

6 Aug

Blogosphere, where is my camera?

I need it.   I have something pretty to show you today.  Something silver, if you can believe it.

Here. I’ll describe it, which is almost as good as a photograph, but not really.

A chunky silver ring, set with a beautiful, glowy piece of lime-green Maine seaglass.  At the base of the bezel, I’ve left a heavy lip of textured silver.  I’ve oxidized the setting, and then rubbed it back to a satiny finish.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

Why don’t I keep looking for that camera, eh?

ADHD in the studio

20 May

I discovered long ago that the key to living with ADHD is to just keep moving.  Lists?  Oh please.  A list will not keep me on task unless that list is equipped with excellent managerial skills and a whip, and is dangling a cup of tea like a carrot in front of my face.  The key, for me, has always been this: don’t sit down.  If I just keep moving then my attention will fall, eventually, upon all that needs to be done.

This worked well for years.  Out of the house– at school, at a job –forward motion and the presence of someone else to answer to for my productivity was enough for success.  At home, I didn’t need to be in forward motion, but just in motion generally, and everything eventually got done.

But now work is home, and I am the presence I answer to for my productivity.  I’ve said it before: I should not be the boss of me.

This is how my day goes after I get the boys off to school:

I need to get that silver pendant polished and shipped today (head to studio) → Sit down, notice half-made bezel, and OH LOOK!  I needed to get this diamond ring finished (begin to work on ring) → What size does it need to be? (head to computer to check order) → See email from Matt’s teacher.  She needs times and dates for the class project → Pull up the computer calendar → Oh! Is it the 15th?  The soccer tournament is this weekend, and I need to make hotel reservations! (go find purse to get credit card for reservations) → Find purse…..oh, there’s my lipstick!  I love this lipstick.  Is it too dark for summer? (head to bathroom to check seasonal appropriateness of lipstick) → Notice the pickle container by the bathroom sink, and OH LOOK! A ring shank is still in the pickle, and OH, THE PENDANT! (head to studio)→ Pendant…WHERE is the spool of cord I use for this pendant? I should get that out while I’m thinking of it (head to supply cabinet) → Hear cat meowing to come in, let cat in, and OH!  I never walked the dog! → Walk dog.  It is so pretty outside!  I haven’t walked in days.  I need to walk, and it will only take 30 minutes and I need to take care of myself. I’ll go put on my sneakers and then walk.→ (Head upstairs to bedroom to get sneakers) Good heavens, what is that SMELL?  Do those children not understand that the toilet FLUSHES? Must we ferment the pee? (Head to boys’ bathroom) → Flush toilet. They should pick up their own laundry, but I’m here, so I might as well…. → La la la. Head downstairs to start load of ——

AND DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM, BLOGOSPHERE?  Do you?  Because, I think we’d all agree there’s a problem here, wouldn’t we?  My ability to focus is similar to that of a three year old on crack.

I can say with certainty that I’m really good at what I do.  I make beautiful jewelry, and I’ve never had anything but raves for the quality and value of my work.  And with an equal amount of certainty I can tell you that my inability to stay on task makes me THE WORST BUSINESS WOMAN IN THE WORLD.  And that wouldn’t bother me, except that I want purchasing something from me to be a good experience from start to finish.  My work might be beautiful, but when I’m disorganized and late on orders it taints everyone’s satisfaction with their purchase, and that upsets me.   I want to feel good about all the hard work I’m doing, but everything is flavored with a touch of guilt and the feeling that I’ve partially failed: I’m so glad you love your new ring, but I’m so sorry it was later than expected.

I worry that my clients’ experience is like being given a gorgeous, delicious cake….but knowing there is the tiniest bit of poo mixed in with the icing, and so the whole thing adds up to…. Poo Cake.  I want better for my clients than Poo Cake. I want better for me.

Enter Jill: the boss of me.

Jill has helped me before, but only as needed.  My mother has pointed out, repeatedly, that Jill is needed all the time if I want to run a profitable business.  She’s right.  Karen has pointed out that my disorganization causes me to spend huge sums on rush shipping when all my orders are late, and if I were better organized the money I’d save in shipping could easily cover Jill’s salary.  She’s right.  Jill has pointed out that she’s offended by being paid because she’s my friend, but I’m not listening to Jill about that.

I’ve put off having Jill help because,  in the same way that people feel the need to clean their houses before the cleaning lady arrives,  I’ve wanted to get everything in order before she starts.  I don’t want Jill to see how disorganized I am; I don’t want my friend to think badly of me, or to think I’m irresponsible or have a bad work ethic.

Let’s be honest, though: will I ever be organized enough for help without help?  Three year old on crack. So,  I’ve sucked it up and invited Jill into my organizational black hole.  She starts today.

It will be Jill who is organizing things around here from now on.  This means orders will be shipped to the right places at the right times. Emails will be answered  in a timely manner.  I’ll be gently but firmly shooed back to work when I wander.  My work will be prioritized.  I’ll do more of what I do best, and less of what I do badly.

What a relief.  No more Poo Cake!

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