Archive for March, 2010

pearls and excuses

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Tahitian, South Sea, and Chinese Pearls; 18K white gold ring with Tahitian pearl

A few things. One: We went on vacation (!!) to San Francisco & Napa to visit old friends, drink a lot of wine, visit about twelve different parks (the toddler loves parks), and buy some pearls. Two: I got slammed with The Wedding Season. I am thrilled but also a little freaked; this is my first big rush. Yeeee! Three: True Blood. We just watched the final episode of the first season so I think I can get on with my life—well, at least until I get my hands on season two. Not having a TV for the past 20 years, and not having full access to one before that, has left me woefully unprepared for that most frustrating of plot devices: the cliffhanger. My brain pretty much sucks into a tight bead of anxiety and I am forced to start the next episode right now immediately ohMYGOD they just killed Graaaaannnn!

Anyway, ahem. I bought a few new pearls while in San Francisco, because I was just at the gem show and desperately needed more more more. Behold:

Chinese freshwater pearls and South Sea pearl

Yum. The two on the left are Chinese freshwater pearls and the one on the right is a South Sea pearl (from Australia).

Tahitian pearls and peachy Chinese freshwater pearl

Here are some more. All are Tahitian pearls except from the bright peachy pink (natural color too, by the way) Chinese freshwater pearl. They range in size from 9.5-11mm approximately.

I posted two new pearl rings on the Etsy site: here and here. I also have two new designs coming. One spare and modern and the other featuring (you will NEVER guess): roses. My oh my.

wax injector, revisited

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

I finally got my wax injector and am using it and it works great and pink waxes have populated all the ledges of my studio like weird little fairies. But it wasn’t as easy as that.

Of course I had to put off my grand purchase until the new year because of (blah) taxes. So as soon as the supply company got back in the office after the holiday, I got them on the phone and ordered the thing. It came a week later packed in a box crammed solid with shredded cardboard worms. I applaud the repurposing of old boxes but I have to say that that shit is disgusting. They went everywhere as I tried to scoop them into another box; a hazy dust cloud formed over me like some sort of plague. I’m not kidding when I say that I had thoughts of all sorts of evil creepy airborne particles, namely anthrax. I’ve never seen it but I imagine it probably looks like gray vaporous cardboard. Eventually the machine itself was unearthed in all that packing material. I pulled it out, releasing another cloud of cardboard dust and splattering a new batch of dry worms all over the floor. Curiously, the amount of shredded cardboard that came out of the one box now filled two boxes.

But the wax injector. Oh yes: it had dials, it had toggle switches. It had stylish screw-down knobs on the top. I opened it up and peered inside to find … grossness. Greasy casting sand was packed into the crevices. And I do mean crevices; where there presumably should have been the neat edges of a cylindrical aluminum canister were tool marks and bottomless cracks packed with sand. I was, um, irritated.

inside Arbe wax injector

[This is after I spent a good deal of time cleaning out the sand with a pick and washcloth. Also those dark areas on the bottom where the grinder missed are deep, and packed with sand.]

inside Arbe wax injector

[Greasy casting sand. Ick.]

It looked to me that it was simply a casting job gone poorly (I know a thing or two about casting jobs—especially the gone poorly variety). Then someone went in with a grinder and halfheartedly tried to smooth out the sides but really only made it worse. I got some paper towels to try to clean out the sand. Then I got some cloth towels. The paper towels shredded and the cloth towels snagged up on the sides. It was an ugly scene and I was rather bent out of shape over it. I wanted to use it already. My concerns (aside from the fact that it’s not preeeettttyyy) were that the sand would clog the nozzle or simply exist in my waxes, which frankly, would not do. I do a considerable amount of carving on my injected waxes and having sand in them is stupid. Not to mention, it could mess with the burnout and casting. My conclusions: Sand = Bad (and icky).

I contacted both the place I ordered the thing from and Arbe (the manufacturer) itself with my hypothesis. Arbe was the one to get back to me (promptly), except they told me that it was normal to have some sand in the canister and just wipe it out. If it doesn’t come out, don’t worry because it burns out clean!(?)* Basically, they told me I was being a pussy; a little sand in an ugly-looking canister was NOT going to affect the performance of the unit. I sent back an email all: you have GOT to be kidding me. And the reply was, no, not kidding, but if I’m going to be That Way, they would send me a new unit to replace it. AND, the guy who was writing the emails would PERSONALLY clean out any sand that may be in my new unit before sending it. What a sweetheart. I told him, “You’re ON!” They shipped it out the next day.

So, I had to wait another week or so to get the new unit, which of course was packed in another radioactive haze of packing cardboard (it took me weeks to work up the gumption to lug all those boxes of crap home for recycling); I packed up the old one and they had the UPS guy come to my house to pick it up.

The new one is fine. It is clean, it is normal. It’s perfect. It heats wax and squirts it out a nozzle! I’m very happy.

* Seriously? If the casting sand burnt out clean in the kiln during wax burn-out, why didn’t it vaporize when MOLTEN LAVA (I mean, melted aluminum) was poured into the mold? Am I missing some crucial point here? Because it makes no sense to me.