Brand New Cabochons for Metalsmithing!

green onyx, green chalcedonyGreen onyx also known as green chalcedony have arrived today! I can't wait to list them in the bead store. They are absolutely gorgeous. They reflect light with the many facets in their cut. They measure about 7mm if I remember correctly. I can see a few pretty designs made with these!
smokey quartz cabochonSmokey quartz always seem to be a Fall/ Winter favorite. These particular stones are very very pretty. They are not so dark and reflect light with a light warm brown. I can't wait to set a few of these myself. I have a few ideas just crawling to get out of my sleeve. If only I can find the time!
I actually will be carrying these in a 6mm and 7mm size cabochon.

faceted carnelian cabochonBeautiful carnelian..what a hot color! Brings any design alive. These are some pretty faceted carnelian cabs. As if the color was not enough..we add facets and waaalaaah! They certainly catch light and remind me of a sunset every time. They are 7mm as well.

purple amethyst cabochonsI finally broke down and ordered some AAA amethyst smooth round cabs. Aren't they just beautiful? They really capture purple royalty perfectly. The color is so lively and they are really a nice color. They are not overly too dark, so once you set them you will not see sort of a black purple..NOPE, not these. They are just the right tint. I think these are 6 mm's too!

In the next week I am expecting a lot of new pink opal, whiskey quarts and lots of other beautiful cabs. Please check back for more goodies in my etsy bead shop 101 Best Beads!

Metalsmithing - learning to set a bezel story.

rhodolite garnet cabochonAs some of you may know I am just learning to expand in the craft of metalsmithing after all these years of beading. I have been making and hand forging my own earwires for dangles, but recently, I actually made some post earrings! The key here for me, is learning how to set a cabochon in a tiny 6mm sterling silver bezel .

Okay well...this is tricky folks. I will tell you that this is not exactly what I thought it was. It is really much harder then it looks. You have to apply a tremendous amount of pressure with a rolling action onto this tiny tiny set up ...without bending the earring post in half. I have been using my vise to securely clamp the earring, but I feel like I am going to break the whole thing!

It does come with a bit of practice and I finally get how to do this. But, the trick is really how the cabochon fits. Even if it fits, it maybe too tall and the bezel wall will not secure itself around the cab correctly. It really makes you think in terms of architecture and structural engineering. So the bottom line is, not all 6mm cabochons are going to work in those pre-made commercial bezels. You simply have to make your own if your gonna want to use that particular cab.

antique cushion faceted labradorite cabochonSo, I decide to try to make my own bezel. Now please don't laugh ..yet! I have no formal training and I only own one book here " The Complete MetalSmith". It took me literally four tries to make this bezel for this ring, and to me it still does not look right. Oh gosh, yes, I am so frustrated! The bezel wall is probably too high here and therefore it cinched around the stone! Although I must say, this baby is not going anywhere. That gemstone is firmly secured in this setting. ( I say this proudly, because a lot of my smaller practice settings have this tiny rock to them. It drives me crazy!)

Maybe I should have tried a more simpler round bezel, but instead since my patience is not my virtue and I assume that I can make this happen no matter what. I simply go for the harder piece in trying to set a antique cushion cut labradorite gemstone.

So, I show this thing ( the ring above) to my husband and he giggles..yes giggles. And, because I wasted so much silver and it's price is going up like crazy I really want to scream...yes scream! But instead, I just start laughing really hard! I guess its better then throwing a tantrum. Geez, have you ever felt this way? I tell you that I love a challenge, and learning to metalsmith has its moments. I hope I can do this, I do.

faceted labradorite cabochon
This ring is not complete yet. I just needed to blog about it, to relieve my stress! It actually wears really nice and it is quite pretty in its own unique way. It really appears handmade which I think is the beauty of this whole thing. I mean, why am I trying to make everything look machine made. Whats the point here?

But, back to the ring. I am contemplating if I should list this in my shop. It would make a pretty cocktail ring. The photo's of this are not that great. I am thinking of darkening the silver and polishing it after for that aged look. I will have to see after that.

prehnite cabochonAnd then I also recently made this prehnite simple ring. It will be added to one of my stacking ring sets soon. It came out nicely as planned.

Thanks for letting me share my work and ventures with metalsmithing. Any comments, advice or tips are highly appreciated. Have a great day!

Good bye Summer Vacation!

Yes, summer is slipping away here in Central Oregon. Honestly, feels like we never really get a real summer here. Just last night it was 32 degrees. Yes, freezing level. It makes me sad to see the cold weather come back so quickly. I guess I could reminisce and tell you some fun things we did this summer with the kids.

Amongst some simple boating and fishing trips..relaxing in our great lakes around here is always a winner. We never catch any fish though! We hang out and chat about nothing and eat junk food all day, but the kids like it! They might swim, not me, its way tooo cold!

We somehow pulled a trip off to Disneyland and Sea World on the California coast! Thanks to a ton of airline miles and free hotel (donated by our kind parents timeshare) ....all we had to pay for was tickets and food. This photo above is Goofy's dream home. I can relate to Goofy. I really wanted to go to D-Land just to see Goofy! Don't you think his house is just a work of art?

We literally spent 5 days at theme parks and 2 days on the beach on this trip. When we returned to Oregon we were exhausted, and guess what? We caught the flu! YES, we were all so sick for about 2 weeks. Summer July fun. Hot, we were really hot. Was this the swine flu? Well who knows..we survived and I guess now were ready for the next flu season!

I think whats most important is having some fun memorable times while the kids are young. I have two children who are ten years I really feel how fast it goes by. Being nearly 40 now I just want to enjoy them and do what I love ... Most importantly I really want the kids to have fun and be happy. Summer always brings fun times.. for me. I hate to see it go by again.

Thanks for letting me share with you. I guess I better get going and get the kids ready for school tomorrow! Back to school...

101 Best Beads Time to Stock up for Christmas SALE!

sunstone cabochon 8mm

Yes, it is time! Did you know Christmas is less than 4 months away? For all of us handcrafters, we have to think about shipping time and the time it takes to make your beautiful items! So, instead of a Labor day sale..I am having a "Stock up for Christmas Sale"...for ten days only! There are lots of goodies...check it out! All regular priced items are 20% off!

You can contact me with your order and I can create a new listing that will reflect the 20% off. OR, you can check out with Paypal and I will refund you the 20% discount. Thanks for your patience with this Etsy does not have discount codes for the check out process.

Bulk discounts do not apply during this promotional offer.

Thanks everyone...have fun making beautiful things!

MetalSmithing Adventures - What I have made so far.

Hey there blog friends! I have been pretty busy lately with new designs. I am having a blast learning metalsmithing. I am loving this! It is incredibly fun. I have made several things now and I am really getting the stacking ring thing down. With the help of a few good friends of mine who have been metalsmithing for quite some time, I am able to practice some of my techniques. I have to admit that setting these tiny stones in the bezels are NOT easy. Wow, I think my first one took nearly two hours to set. Oh my gosh..there are things to learn.

I have recently signed up for a community college course in precious metal fabrication. I can't wait. The cost is $149 for a 10 week course..not bad actually. I will tell you that if you are teachable, a lot of this can be self taught. Of course you practice practice, live and learn, waste some metal (but recycle it)start over, and try again. Well, this is how it works for me anyways!

Hand Forged Hoops with Chocolate Pearls & Copper Wire

I am proud to have made my very own soldered hoops for this design. Pretty simple yet the beads add a lot of texture and some color. They are really pretty on. My husband thinks they are "sexy"..LOL! Funny, that's the last thing I feel! I had to make several pair of these already, one for myself of course! These are in the shop right now..ready to go. I have ton's more ideas with this design floating in my head. It really is just finding the time to get to it all!

rainbow moonstone bella earrings twilight inspiredRainbow Moonstone Post or Stud Earrings

I have always always wished I could make post earrings and guess what..I now can! Setting the gemstone in this tiny bezel takes effort, but I am slowly getting the idea and techniques down. I have made several studs now..and they are looking better each time. I do not have these in the shop yet, but I wanted to show you my progress here.

A few things that I need to work on are polishing and deburring. I really want seamless joints. This comes with time and figuring out all of my grindstones and polishing mandrels..confuses me really! So for me, back to practicing. I can't wait till my classes start now.

I am planning a Giveaway for my own HelenesDreams shop in the next week, please check back!

As always you can find many great cabochons in my 101 Best Beads Shop. All gemstones seen here are listed in the bead shop.

Have a great day!