May 31, 2008

Tons of news.

There is a lot going on behind the curtains right now.  The custom rings are almost finished with lots of pictures to show.  The dragonfly wing castings just arrived and looks awesome, and a handful of mokume pieces are almost finished as well... I also have some nice pictures of a recent hike we took too.  All in due time.

On top of all that, the Dragonfly was on the front page the other day and in a featured buyer Storque article on Etsy as well, written by none other the John F from They Might Be Giants.  How cool is that??

I did have a major setback the other day, and I have a very helpful tip for any jewelers who run into this same issue.  While drilling out the connection holes for the two bezels on one of the custom rings, the tiny (.5 mm) bit head snapped off inside the bezel.  This is not cool.  In a good situation you can do one of the following,

1.) grab the chunk that is sticking out with pliers and twist it out.
2.) drill out the bit from the other side of the hole.
3.) remake the piece it's stuck in.

In this situation none of those were a feasible option, but I did remember something my jeweler friend Neil had mentioned before about corroding the bit out.  His recommendation was using regular a household alum, mix it with water and keep it warm, and let the culprit soak for 24-48 hours.  If you have an ultrasonic, put a lid on the container with the alum and piece and rest it in the ultrasonic solution, the vibrations will help loosen the bit.

Essentially the alum solution eats away and disintegrates the steel alloy.  This saved me from having to do a ton of extra work.  So I find this is by far the second best way to cure broken drill bits, the first being not breaking them to start with!!

May 28, 2008

The Booklets are here!

I'm ultra excited with how these came out, plus the accordion style makes them fun to play around with!  Click on the little picture on the side to see the listing---------------->>>>

May 23, 2008

Not so ugly ducklings

When we got home yesterday there was a happy family of Canadian geese hanging out in the pond by our house!  Looks like seven little ones altogether, and one super overprotective father, right after this picture he attacked a passing Mallard Duck family... back yard drama.

May 22, 2008

Custom Ring, part 7

Today was clean up day, smoothing down most the rough edges and getting the initial shapes together. The first step is to saw off all the mokume edges that overhang on the shank, getting close enough to the inner frame to make clean up easy, but not too close as to nick it with the saw.

Once the edges are trimmed down I aggressively sand the flat profile on 220 grit sandpaper. This ensures that the flatness stays crisp and with the finish it leaves, it's easy to tell if there are spots that still need sanding.

I then do the same thing with the bezel, cutting off the extra silver on the bottom of the bezel. I then sand the bottom flat as well. Now that the shank and bezel are fully formed, the next part will be making the 14kt top plate and connecting it to the the ring

Here are all the ring parts ready for assembly. These are going to be wild once they are done!!

May 21, 2008

New Designs

I just listed a new set of copper and silver pieces. I have another set, with two contrasting textures that'll be up in a week or so as well!

May 20, 2008

Custom Ring, part 6

Today's task was building the bezels, three in total.  The first image shows just the strips of metal for the outer bezel and the seat.  I am using the .5mm mokume on the outside and 1mm Argentium stock on the inside.    

Using a mix of round and oval bezel mandrels, I form the outer sleeve, constantly checking it against the stone to make sure the shape and size are correct.  I then form the inner sleeve and trim it until it just barely sneaks inside the mokume sleeve.

Here are the two pieces formed and soldered, the next step is using the stone to gauge the height.  I want to make sure I leave enough, but not too much, room because the stone will sit lower once I scoop out a rounded seat for the stone.

Once I have measured where I want the stone to sit, I prepare the two sleeves to be soldered together.  I drip a tiny bit of soldering flux between the two, where I want to solder to flow, and paint the yellow ochre on the outside, where I definitely don't want the solder to go, or the previous seems from opening.  If you are really careful and mindful of how you are heating the piece, you probably don't need the yellow orche, but I err on the side of caution most the time... "Jesse Danger, man of caution"... oh the irony!

Time to melt things! I hold the little bits of solder right to the seem where the two sleeves meet, once the piece is heated enough that little solder bit will flow and seal the seam.  I repeat this bunch of times until the solder has filled all the way around.

May 17, 2008

In a land far far away...

...Well actually not that far away, about a 15 hour car ride to be exact. Kaitlin and I have finally managed to take a vacation, something we have been trying to do for years. We wanted to go last year after we got married but the timing just didn't work. So this summer, on our one year anniversary, this will be our home from July 3rd-July 10th.

We've rented a nice little cottage right on the ocean in Prince Edward Island Canada. It's going to be more fun than I think I can handle, with a grill and canoes and seal watching and dunes and ocean and more! Here is the view off our front porch...

The thing is we have never taken a trip together, besides a quick drive to upstate New York and down to Mass to visit her family. It'll be a fantastic adventure, and hopefully give us a chance to unwind before the fall and winter madness begins. In the meantime we'll leave the shop assistant Olive in charge of everything...

May 16, 2008

New shop assistant needed

The shop assistant trying to open the door to my studio to inform me that our Ocean Whitefish supplies are running low... She does NOT like the door being shut so she can't come in, but alas it's too dangerous for a cat to be in here. It's for your own good kitty!

Custom Ring, part 5

This step is a big one, adding the mokume to the outside. I cut and shape these pieces the same way as the main sections of the frame. The mokume I'm using is only .5mm thick, so it's more of a laminate than a structural element; there are two advantages to this, though.

The first advantage is that thick mokume is very, very hard to make and shape properly, and having thick corners would distort the pattern at the seams on the bottom. By building the frame and overlaying the mokume it creates an almost seamless look; I'll be able to portray this better with the finished piece.

The second big factor is I can heat treat the Argentium to be many times stronger than Sterling, copper or mokume could ever be--this has been a huge factor in me using this metal. It has changed the way I design things as well.

I make the panels about .75mm wider than the ring frame itself, you can see the overhang in the image below. This gives me a good edge to feed the solder into, and minimizes the risk of solder getting on the mokume finish...which I also cover in yellow ochre, to prevent any chance of unwanted solder flow. Cleaning solder off the mokume could straight out ruin it, tricky tricky.

I was too into soldering to stop and try and get pictures, it's a very tricky process with the panels, but here is the piece with all the panels soldered on. The heat has colored the outside to look close to the finished patina, it's looking sharp! But it's still in its "ugly phase" as I say, with rough edges and yellow ochre stains on the inside.

Here's an image with the bezel resting in place (the stone isn't set into the bezel yet though). It's starting to look like a finished ring!

Custom Ring, part 4

Now that the frame is solid, I'm going to add the connecting bracket across the top, this will also serve as the anchor for the bezel and top plate. It's a little tricky get this piece to sit just right, usually takes a lot of filing and checking and filing and checking. It is mainly sitting in their with tension, as I have not devised an easy way to hold it in place.

Again, a little blurry... Notice the orange brown spots in the corners, this is yellow ochre painted over the previously soldered joints. This keeps previously soldered areas from melting again and having everything fall apart!! Due to the heat conductivity of Argentium silver, this is not too big of an issue on this piece, but with traditional sterling silver it is a must. The yellow ochre acts as controlled dirt, and solder will not flow if the metal is not perfectly clean, regardless of temperature.

Custom Ring, part 3

The next step once the frame parts were finished is to solder them together.  The bottom section will be soldered to the longer side pieces, this will make things easier to clean up, not having to get into the concave section. the solder should be applied to the outside of the shank, again making clean up easier.  The soldering photo is a little blurry, it's a little tricky to take a good picture and solder at the same time!

Once the sides are connected the extensions need to be removed, using a fine I blade cut right next to the base out, trying to keep the same angle that the bottom has.
The last step in the this section is to file down the part that has just been removed for a smooth transition.

May 11, 2008


The Dragonfly hit 20,000 views on Etsy today! Actually it had 5200 before the counter was reset, so it's really had about 25,000, but seeing that 20,000 in the view counter is pretty cool!

Thanks to anyone and everyone who checked it out.

May 9, 2008

Nimli and Amazon

Recently I was invited to list some pieces on, a website that sells Eco-Friendly items and rates and lists each item's Eco-factors. I had not heard of them until I was contacted, so I was a little unsure of what kind of traffic and sales I could expect. None the less, I had my first sale off their site yesterday! They are a much different online retailer then Etsy, but I'm excited about the possiblities... I am even more thrilled that they list everything on!

So if you search for Jesse Danger on Amazon you get my Eco-Silver Satin and Lemongrass pieces!!! How wild is that? (Right now Amazon is being a little glitchy, so it says you can't buy them directly off Amazon, but you could earlier today!)

May 7, 2008

Industrial Decay

Here's another little teaser of more copper/silver pieces in the works, rings this time around. I love all the gritty finishes copper has.

Custom Ring, part 2

Today I started to get the shanks of the rings together and formed. Neil, who works in the shop as well, had an amazing new tool that made making these so much easier than the last version I built. He was nice enough to let me borrow it for the night to photograph...and drool over.

Here are the pieces for the funky shaped ring, all shaped and ready to be soldered, this one formed very nicely. The top piece is the support bracket that will be soldered in after the three main sections are soldered and sized properly.

This is the two stone ring. This one is super fun to make! The curves are all hand formed and there are two separate pieces, one that slides into the other, then they are both soldered and fused together. The long pieces on the top are just there to ease the bending process, they will be trimmed back to fit the stone bezels once the two sleeves are soldered together. To create this ring a used just a ring mandrel and a mallet.

Jesse vs. Photography, 1-1

Photography and I are 1 to 1 now, it kicked my ass Sunday, but I kicked it back last night! All the photos came out awesome, here's another page of the booklet with a new close up.

I also managed to get some great video clips as well, these are slated to go online at in the not too distant future. For anyone who wanted to know how the mechanisms work, here is a glimpse of the tiny little "engine" doing it's thing.

So Wednesdays are my days to crank through projects in the shop, so expect to see a lot of progress photos for the end of the week. Today is also the day for printing up the booklets, then It's on to making a ton of book, I've recruited Kaitlin to help out with them, actually she kinda volunteered.

Alright! Time to build stuff!

May 4, 2008

Lights, camera... darkness?

So I spent most of today working of new photos for the dragonfly, as well as a video to show it's gears in motion for possible inclusion in an upcoming magazine . The pictures just weren't coming out the way I wanted, I was trying to get too fancy and by the time I started to get somewhere, all my photo-bulbs blew out. So tomorrow I'll restock my blown bulbs and give it another shot, if all else fails I'll just call up a local studio photographer!

Because nothing really came out, I don't have anything to show tonight.

May 2, 2008

Custom Ring, part 1

Here is an image of the very awesome metal to be used in a custom ring I am creating. The metals are Argentium Silver (the long bar), 14k Rose Gold (the shorter bar), and Silver/Shakudo mokume (the swirly sheet). The mokume is truly stunning, yet hard to capture with an image. It's has a random pattern woodgrain look that is rosy and silver, but will finish to a silver and almost black pattern. (I added some images below of the other metals and the gems!)

For those who are not familiar with mokume, it is an old asian metalsmithing practice where many layers of fine metal, in this case about 27, are fused into a single sheet. Holes and patterns are then cut into this thick sheet, and then it is rolled very thin, creating this unique pattern. The Shakudo used is a mix of 4% pure gold and 96% pure copper.

This first drawing is the design that all this metal will
soon become. I forgot to include an image of the Malaia garnet that is going into the ring, but I will eventually.

This is another custom ring, with some of the same metals, that I will be building at the same time, also using Malaia garnets.

Dragonfly Book

As promised here are a few images for the inner pages of the dragonfly book.  Still in the beginning stages, but these look 1000 times better rough than the first draft.  I'm trying to make it more artsy than just informative.

May 1, 2008

It's May!

So today is the first official day of this blog, and I will try to keep a post going at least every other day.  All the silver and gold I ordered is slated to arrive today, then I can take pictures and show everyone what I'm building.  

The page layouts for the dragonfly books are headed to the printing press next week so expect to see images from those by this weekend!

More tonight!