Tin Cup and Tea

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the close of 2010 I enjoyed making tin cup necklaces. Not too difficult, they are enjoyable to make in the morning over coffee or over tea in the evening. Even nicer…spending time with my husband or one of our kids while I make them.

For my mother, I’d created a tiger’s eye tin cup with plated gold chain. While I’m not a big fan of plating, there are places where it has merit. The tiger’s eye tin cup necklace (posting a pic tomorrow if possible) used nice sized beads. Too heavy for karat gold chain, not too heavy for 14k gold plated.

With a nod to financial recovery and tightened purse strings, we’ve decided to offer plated gold as a metal option for our customers.

Tin Cup necklaces are called that for a reason. It was a necklace form worn in the movie “Tin Cup”. I make them 18 and 20 inches roughly. Some are several strands, or single strands that can be worn together. Pearls are beautiful with the right chain, but I favor a wide variety of stones and beads. Even Swarovsky beads work well. I like gold chain for this, and I am learning to appreciate argentium sterling…it doesn’t tarnish the way typical sterling silver. Especially in our humid climate.

Let me know how you like your tin cup necklace.

And before the next semester begins I’ll be spending more time on a project or two. One is a labor of love (dino bone cab set for our 8 year old), and the other is more labor intensive…including moving parts. Here’s hoping for success!


Technical Difficulties

December 18, 2008 § 6 Comments

As a matter of course, computer problems have plagued our website…just as we posted some changes and introduced several new pieces available for sale as well as similar hand-crafted pieces. In lieu of our re-ordering I decided to share our news here (and hope we’re up and running again soon.

"Of the Earth"

"Of the Earth"

I have two new pieces available, nature themes abounding. In our Nature series we have “Of the Earth”, a cut and pierced piece in sterling silver. This piece is really from my heart an expression of our business and our role in the community.

I have learned to enjoy the simple process of creating…the act of sawing each piece with great care…it is more peaceful than I would have imagined.

There will be more pieces like this…a return to more basic pieces, solid and simple. There is more, though. I’ve been playing with dimensions as well as filligree. The filligree pieces are not available for the website or here, but one of our dimensional pieces is available and for sale. And, of course, we can design similar pieces for you.

Flower and Vine

Flower and Vine

Working in dimension is fun! I enjoyed exploring where this piece was heading. It’s fun and beautiful and I’m already working on another pendant.

I have noticed our work is heading in a particular direction. Capturing the warmth, the stability and capricious nature of the world we live in isn’t always easy. It is always rewarding.

As always, you can contact us via email. We’re  at      kim@of-the-earth.org.


Your Jewelry’s Finish

September 26, 2008 § 4 Comments

Your jewelry’s finish is probably not something you’ve spent time thinking about, though it was likely a factor in choosing the piece you did. And the more you know about the finish on your jewelry, the better you will be able to care for it.

There are several common forms of metal finishing: polishing, buffing and burnishing. Among these mechanical  finishes, there are similarities. They are applied by physical abrasion of the metal surface using a secondary media. The media may include cloth, stone, metal and plastics combined with finishing compounds to aid the process. Methods of application include wheel abrasion, hand abrasion, blasting, tumbling barrels and vibratory finishers.

Mechanical finishes can be categorized by the way the parts to be finished are handled:

  • Individually handled and finished using wheel abrasion or hand abrasion
  • Mass finishing using tumbling barrels or vibratory finishers

The highest quality mechanical metal finishes are usually obtained by individually handling the parts and using some type of wheel abrasion. Fine hardware, furniture, and motorcycle parts are typically finished using this method. These finishes include:

  • Grinding – Used to remove large amounts of metal, grinding can be used to remove large burrs (deburring), heavy scale, rust, and major metal imperfections. The resulting finish has significant grit lines and needs additional mechanical finishing prior to electroplating.
  • Polishing – Very often mistaken as a mirror bright finish, polishing is similar to grinding but uses finer grits and compounds to remove significant metal imperfections and small metal burrs. It is usually used prior to buffing in order to obtain a mirror bright finish. In some cases multiple polishing steps using progressively finer grits are needed to obtain the desired finish.
  • Buffing – Using cloth wheels combined with compounds, buffing is a final mechanical finish that results in a mirror bright to near mirror bright finish, depending upon the base metal and/or prior mechanical finishing steps. Buffing does not remove a large amount of metal.
  • Satin – Also a final mechanical finish, a satin finish is an even, fine-grain, brush-type finish. A fine grit polishing finish produces a finish similar to a satin, which can be achieved using emery paper 350 grit.

Mass mechanical finishing is usually referred to as burnishing. It is a cost effective way to remove burrs and brighten metal where a perfect mirror finish is not required. A wide variety of methods exist using different types of machinery, media, and compounds depending upon the base metal and the desired results. Burnishing is also often used for brightening parts after the plating process.

Cleaning your jewelry can affect the finish on the metal. This is particularly true if you have jewelry that is plated (this includes vermeil). Ask your jeweler how to best take care of your jewelry. Metals and gemstones each have special care requirements. Know these before you clean and you’ll be more likely to keep your jewelry looking good for years to come.

Trust: The Customer’s Dilemma

September 3, 2008 § 1 Comment

Most people are a little timid when talking jewelry with a jeweler. The language may seem the same, but there are subtle definition differences that can be confusing. And there are so many aspects of stones, gems and metals that most customers are left to trust the jeweler they’re working with to tell them what they’re looking for.

As a jewelry designer and fabricator, I want my customers (and potential customers) to be well educated. That way they know what they are looking for and because of that, they know they can trust me.

The internet has led people into the jewelery buying arena without the information they need to make good decisions. And it isn’t their fault. Jewelers, gem cutters and the like have studied the various attributes of a large variety of precious and semi-precious stones, gems and metals; they have tested samples, handled, set, or otherwise worked with samples, good and bad examples of the very pieces the customer will one day purchase.

Why am I saying this? Several reasons, really. First, I know that people can learn what they need to in order to select and purchase their jewelry. I want them to know what I’m talking about and not wonder if what I’m saying is a lot of nonsense. And as a jewelry designer I work with people to build pieces of jewelry that speak to them, that are precisely what they want. It’s much easier to do that when they ask me to purchase a stone for them. Without adequate knowledge of gems, it’s far too easy to pick up a good deal that isn’t what they thought. As a jeweler, I need to know what I’m working with in order to create the jewelry my customers want.

Periodically I will be writing up information on a precious or semi-precious stone or gem, or offering information on gemstone qualities and how to interpret them for your own knowledge and use. Previously I had written about Agate, and while that post will remain here, the longer articles will also be published at our business website, http://of-the-earth.org , where information about our jewelry and our company can be found. Look for the announcement when we get it put together.


Who Are We: Why Social Networking Isn’t Always Easy

August 9, 2008 § 1 Comment

One of the more interesting aspects of online business is socializing. Not always a priority of mine when I have some work calling to me, socializing means conforming to some sort of protocol. Someone else answers the phone when I’m at my bench working hard. But when I’m online, no matter the task, I’m at the proverbial phone. So I’m the one answering.

As a part of a social network for marketing and advertising, I’m learning some interesting things…the first of which is how to be sociable on a blog. In that spirit I’ve taken some time to share a little bit about our business and our jewelry. This latest lesson has come from my teammate Joella at Always Wired BeadLady. Where her work and style differ from mine, her attention to detail and love of creating are a match. So, at her behest…

Random Facts

It is possible to catch a porcupine and take quills from them. You must, however, hold them upside down by the tail and you cannot, I repeat, cannot, hold them there upside down for long…it will kill them.

Now I can’t say I’ve ever gotten quills for jewelry in this way…or that I’ve ever considered it…but I kindof like that someone has. It reminds me that jewelers can be brave.

No, you won’t find the jewelry we currently have for sale made of porcupine quills. Both my husband and I have, at various times, used the quills in our jewelry. His jewelry is a combination of modern influences and styles and more traditional Native American jewelry.

Not all jewelry is created equal…environmentally speaking, that is. My husband and I have spent a lot of time and effort in learning how to be as environmentally and socially responsible as we can in our jewelry business. Our metals are obtained through Hoover & Strong, and are all 100% recycled. This means we can make you something beautiful without further harm to the earth. We hope our customers feel as good about this as we do.

My favorite present from my husband was a hammer…and his friends think he’s the luckiest guy around because of it. I love making jewelry, and I love working with good tools. So when I’m learning new techniques, when I’ve worn out a tool, or just because, my husband knows he can get me something I’m sure to love AND sure to use.

I saw a picture of a silver tree that was actually grown. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. Even more beautiful than the molten lead my father used to make his sinkers for fishing. But it took starting a business to teach me more about the elements than I ever knew in highschool.

  • Ag = Silver              Au = Gold
  • Cu = Copper           Rh = Rhodium
  • Ge = Germanium   Ti = Titanium
  • Pt = Platinum         Pd = Paladium
  • Ni = Niobium          Hg = Mercury

(Which of the above should not be a part of your jewelry?)

What does Sterling Silver mean, anyway? Our first order for chains (we only make some) led me to ask a lot of questions. Within the first week or so the chains tarnished, and shouldn’t have. I cleaned them, thinking they may have been older but kept them aside regardless. And I called our supplier of chains, who was appalled and ready to ship more chains pronto. But first I wanted answers.

The answers…Nearly anything can be considered sterling silver if it contains the minimum .925 silver (92.5%). Usually the rest is copper, but it doesn’t need to be. And our supplier didn’t know what the other 7.5% could be.

Not only did we change suppliers, we changed our way of doing business. We sought out information on better grades of sterling silver and discovered Argentium Sterling Silver…which is an amazing product, replacing the copper (or whatever mix) with germanium. The result, much less tarnish and trouble.

We now use Argentium Silver…anyone who would prefer Sterling Silver can be accomodated, but I will soundly recommend Argentium.

If you’re interested, here is some information…http://www.argentiumsilver.info

Or you could always ask me.

Oh, and there are some of my teammates in marketing that I would like to introduce you to. They have, in their way, inspired me to greater work, to be seen later this month. I hope you take a look. I’m sure their inspiration and style will capture a lot of attention.

Leaves and Trailing Vines

August 5, 2008 § Leave a comment

I’ve hardly begun finishing my pieces already pictured and I have more I’m starting with. And such wonderful ideas!

On a whim I looked at Alchemy on Etsy (where some of our jewelry is available) and encountered someone who is looking for some of what I’m already making! Leaves and vines and flowers and feathers have been all I can think of these days. Perfect to find someone interested in just these things!

In very early stages of work, I am finding my way with Argentium Sterling Silver. It is much more tarnish-resistant than standard Sterling Silver and it fuses, much like Fine Silver.

The experiments are going well, if you don’t notice the unfinished pieces waiting to meet my files and polish. Photographs to come, and sketches as well. Truth be told, the sketches were thoughts, and I’ve not held too true to them. The work doesn’t suffer for it, though.

Faux Filigree and something more

July 16, 2008 § 1 Comment

It’s been a week for fiddling with wire. In the midst of the chaos I managed to find time to play and then shoot some of what I was working on. These pieces are photographed straight from the pickle and before getting tossed back in there (I use vinegar and a bit of water). Tomorrow they’ll be cleaned up and/or worked on some more. It depends on how far each piece needs to go.

So here is the first, a beginning. It’s white from being heated and in the pickle. With some work it will be more



round, finished, with more wire in it and some silver balled and fused on. (Remember, this is Argentium Sterling Silver, and as such, it fuses to itself rather than needing solder.)

Below this is the next step of this process…

This is a little more worked, with the silver ball added.

For Sasha

For Sasha

Here you can see the shaping of the silver is easy to do. The Argentium Sterling Silver is dead soft. Combined with heating, I have some play and more control over what happens.

You’ll have to wait to see this one finished, though.

Another piece I’m working on is definitely outside of my comfort zone.

Field Bouquet

Field Bouquet

Here is something I’m enjoying putting together. I’ll be adding a few more pieces and it will be a pin/pendant combination.

I hope to have these finished this weekend (busy week), and pictures up Monday. A lot of finishing up, cleaning, polishing before they’re ready for sale.


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