Archive for 2010

caty and justin’s rings

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

I got a recent commission for a matching pair of wedding bands with perhaps a fish theme (the owners had a sweet story about a minnow). I did a couple of sketches of minnows wrapped around a band. Then it came up that the peacock feather was the design theme of their wedding. Maybe we could work that into the ring…

A fish and a feather. Ooh!

[I may not know how to spell “lacy” but I do know my feather anatomy!]

I really had a fun time carving these rings. A while back I sketched a design for a big ol’ peacock ring (peacocktail ring?) but never got around to actually carving it. Maybe I’ll dig it back out now because I love how the feather motif worked on the ring.

I start out evenly: cut waxes, cut out basic shape with file, scratch in design with something scratchy… Then I go to town. I try to keep continuity by carving on both rings, not getting ahead too far on one or the other, but inevitably at some point I lose myself and focus on one ring until I’m essentially finished.

As usual, I carved the first ring (hers) and looked at my rough scratches on the second ring (his) and said to myself: “Oh bother; how can I make this one as good as the first?” This happens every time. And every time the same thing happens.

I carve the second ring… and I like it even better than the first.

Then I feel bad for the first ring.

But after a short time my feelings equalize and I really find in the end that I don’t know which one turned out “best.”

Because they both turned out perfectly.

pheigi’s ring (wax carving process)

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

18K gold hand-carved rose and ginkgo leaf ring

18K gold custom rose and ginkgo ring. This is a recent custom order I finished for a woman in Japan.

First I sketched a potential design. Once this was okayed, I could start in with the wax carving.

To start with, I hacked off a slice of carving wax the width of the proposed ring. I bored out the inside to the proper ring size, filed the sides parallel, and filed down the top to an even thickness. This step used to take me a ridiculously long time but now I’m pretty good at it and can brute out a general ring shape in no time. I typically carve a thick ring; rings feel better to me when there is some substance to them. I start with 2.5mm thickness generally and whittle down from there. The final ring will usually be around 2.25 thickness.

I measured out my three rose groupings so they would be even and balanced. Then I started to sketch out my design by scratching it onto the wax with a dental tool. I often have to adjust my design once actually laid out onto the wax since it always fits differently than it does on a piece of notebook paper.

Here I’ve bored out the holes between the ginkgo leaves and cut away excess wax. I use a regular twist drill and exacto knife to do this.

Neatening the openwork and starting to shape a little. Once I get the shape right, I start carving contour with a dental tool. I have a number of dental tools but I really only use one, which I’m absurdly dependent upon. I got it from my dentist years ago and sharpened a new, pointier point onto it. I broke one end of it off a few years back and I’ll be severely irritated if I ever break off the remaining end, which has thee perfect angled tip and the perfect amount of springiness and flexibility.

Here I’ve roughed out the shape on the leaves and started to form the roses. I’m going for a lot of movement on this ring, high relief.

The wax carving is almost complete. I go over and over the piece to neaten up edges, clean up my scratch marks, and make sure the continuity is nice between the outside carving to the smooth inside edge of the band. I often use 1200-grit sandpaper in this step, which is pretty much crazy time, but I always thank myself later when I don’t have to sand irritating scratches out of metal.

Once I’m finished with the basic carving, I do the finishing texture and details. Here I’ve done a bit more work on the rose petals and added the ginkgo leaf texture. The wax model is complete.

final wax for 18K ginkgo and rose ring

The glamour shots. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the ring when it is purple wax… I’ve been experimenting with removing the color, etc. I can’t decide if it really helps though.

final wax for 18K ginkgo and rose ring

I’m still working on getting the lighting just right in the new studio. I took the finished gold photo before I got my diffuser working right. Unfortunately, it’s the only one that really worked and I didn’t get any others of different angles of the ring, showing more of the roses. Oh well.

18K gold hand-carved rose and ginkgo leaf ring

EDITED: You can see a photo spread of Pheigi & Kiichiro’s amazing Scottish/Japanese/Steampunk style wedding here.

art nouveau and mistletoe rings

Friday, May 21st, 2010

It’s kind of ridiculous how long it took me to carve these rings.

18K white gold handcarved mistletoe ring

[18K white gold mistletoe ring.]

18K gold handcarved art nouveau ring

[18K gold art nouveau ring.]

I based the art nouveau ring design on a photograph of an embroidery by Swiss designer Hermann Obrist (1890s). The image was in an art nouveau book I saw once and I just fell in love with it.

[Hermann Obrist, “Whiplash” embroidery of cyclamen.]

I finally got molds made of these two rings. Even so, there is still a lot that needs to be done to prepare the waxes for casting (not even counting sizing…) in that they are just very complicated designs. Both are really awesome though; a couple of my favorites.

Both the Mistletoe ring and the Art Nouveau ring have been listed in my etsy shop.

alisha’s ring

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

18K gold and diamond wedding set

This is the wedding set I carved for my (old—sniff!) studiomate Alisha. It’s the most low-key ring I think I’ve ever carved (fat diamond notwithstanding…). She had a very specific idea in mind and wanted it to be something that could definitely take a beating. In fact, by the time I got around to actually photographing the ring, she had been wearing it nonstop, the past weekend while demo-ing a pidgeon coop and garage interior at her new house. I think the dings and scratches rather become it really. I wasn’t comfortable setting diamonds yet when I made it and so she took it to a professional setter. It turned out pretty damned awesome!

18K gold and diamond wedding set

18K gold and diamond wedding set

18K gold and diamond with carved rosebud band wedding set

Here I’ve paired her solitaire with one of my carved bands (the rosebud band). Sweetness!

new studio!

Friday, May 14th, 2010

From this:

jewelry studio mess

And this:

jewelry studio mess


New jewelry studio

The first five boxes always get packed flush with essentials in no time. The following three boxes are somewhat less organized. Things get plucked from here and there and packed together out of convenience so that there aren’t any voids in the box. Then you survey the surroundings and there is still always like seven boxes’ worth of crap stacked all around and you don’t really need it but it’s still Useful Stuff and you can’t really just throw it out. I hate those last seven boxes.

The last time I had to pack up my studio, it was a bleeding nightmare. Not only did I have all seven boxes of utter crap I felt obligated to cart around to my Next Destination, it was all oblong, breakable, and awkward crap. I hate that awkward crap. Plus I had a humongous table (among other large items) to get rid of. Nobody was biting on Craigslist and in the end, I believe we cut it in quarters with a saws-all and balanced it precariously on top of the overloaded dumpster. Tragic really. When all was loaded and done, we came back to the house to discover that our car had been sideswiped (and totaled, it was later determined) by a drunk tow-truck driver (who later refused to ‘fess up). Although it was annoying, we weren’t really torn up over it. We were done with that car.

This time it went smoothly. I only had two boxes of crap and one I was able to pack back up again and hide away for the next move. If I’m lucky the closet fairies will steal it away and I won’t have to ever deal with it ever again.

Behold! More gratuitous jewelry studio shots!

New jewelry studio

[Main work table, the “Tall Cosa” with tiny drawers of all my tools and bits..]

New jewelry studio

[The Soldering Shelf. This new space has about fifty berjillion outlets in it. Everywhere you turn. In fact none of my furniture fits against the walls because of all the outlets sticking out. I think I’ve done a fair job populating them with a wide variety of electrical devices. Before, I played musical chairs with the two outlets I had.]

New jewelry studio

[The computer desk and project table. It’s relatively neat and tidy now but in no time this will be taken over with all my miscellaneous bits and half-finished pieces.]

Anyway, I’m ready for action! I have a number of new pieces ready to post to the etsy shop. All very exciting!! (if, uh, you are into that sort of thing 🙂

jeff’s ring

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

'The Wave' turquoise man's ring

Jeff is my father in law. He spends a large portion of his life at sea. When my husband was a kid, Jeff spent nearly 10 years building a large trimaran sailboat (a Jim Brown 40) on the Oregon coast, then sailed it to Texas. He now has a Condor 40, a racing tri which he recently got from a salvage. He also works at sea; half of the year he spends on a massive ocean-going tug hauling loads across the Indian Ocean, the North Pacific, Southeast Asia, between Northern Siberia and Japan, off the west coast of Africa. Lately he has been working between Kuwait and Iraq and Durban, Africa, a tricky section of ocean notorious for piracy.

'The Wave' Turquoise Man's Ring

The turquoise came from his mother; he sent me the piece and asked if I could make something with it. I decided to carve something ‘oceany’ and this is what I came up with. I’ve always loved the Hokusai print.

'The Wave' turquoise man's ring

Anyone who has been at sea long enough encounters waves like this (minus Hokusai’s excellent visibility perhaps..). About five years ago Jeff went through a typhoon off Japan. He was in port at the docks when it was coming but the port officials told them they had to get out because they were afraid the large boats and barges would tear up the port when the typhoon hit. He and two other tugs motored out to sea and for twelve hours, they pointed into the wind and bashed into the hurricane seas at half throttle. They made time backwards at something like 12 knots, their tows thrashing around in the sea one kilometer behind them at the end of a huge tether.

'The Wave' turquoise man's ring

melissa’s ring

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

18K white gold and Tahitian pearl ring by Cheyenne Weil

This delicious pearl hails from the warm and balmy South Pacific islands. I bet it’s beautiful there.

18K white gold and Tahitian pearl ring by Cheyenne Weil

18K white gold and Tahitian pearl ring by Cheyenne Weil

palladium pearl ring

Monday, April 19th, 2010

palladium and tahitian pearl ring - cheyenne weil

I found a place that can cast palladium and I’m terribly psyched. Here’s what I made! I’m loving it and have been wearing it every day.

palladium and tahitian pearl ring - cheyenne weil

palladium and tahitian pearl ring - cheyenne weil

That awesome 10.5mm Tahitian pearl was sent to me by my good friend Antonia who sailed her sailboat with her husband across the Pacific, stopped at a small atoll where thar be pearls me mateys, and traded a bottle of scotch and some cash for a bunch of ’em. I was hugely jealous—and also hugely pregnant at the time—but her stories of the never-ending sea/morning-sickness she suffered while crossing the big bad ocean helped me to suck it up a little.

I about died when I opened the package and saw this lil’ beauty! It took me long enough to make The Ring for it but here it is.

palladium and tahitian pearl ring - cheyenne weil

palladium and tahitian pearl ring - cheyenne weil

I just listed it in my Etsy shop (a custom version, that is, with a pearl of your choice—this one is mine)!

Palladium is in the same elemental family as platinum and looks very similar; maybe a tiny bit ‘whiter’ than platinum. It’s much lighter in weight however, more similar to 14K gold perhaps. Happily, it wears more like platinum, with the curious trait of ‘displacing’ metal with wear rather than rubbing off, which is what gold and silver do. (I wonder if the tendency to displace metal as it wears is because the atomic bond between the palladium 950 alloy is so much stronger than the bonds in gold alloys?) It is very hard to finish, harder than 14K or 18K gold, and the casting plaster leaves a very rough texture, therefore requiring a lot of filing, sanding through the grit strengths, polishing with different grit wheels, then working my way through the buffing compounds… whew. I wish I had a buffing machine at times like these. But it takes an amazing polish, mirror finish really. I’m a glutton for punishment I guess because I’m definitely looking forward to making more pieces with the metal.

jewelry artist: shinji nakaba

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Shinji Nakaba ring

This is my current favorite jewelry artist. Everything the guy makes pretty much blows me away. I LOVE the classical carvings and the use of unconventional materials (PVC pipe, epoxy, steel mesh, pet bottles, beer cans, the man makes a kick-ass brooch out of a plastic Asahi beer cap). I don’t see a whole lot of carving in jewelry.

Shinji Nakaba ring

[Agate, 18K gold] This was a ring that got chipped and returned for repair. The gold part is the repair. How awesome is it that the repair makes the ring even better than it was originally.

Shinji Nakaba Ring

[Stainless Steel Wire Mesh, epoxy , coral]

Shinji Nakaba Ring
Seashell, 18K gold (carved body ring)

When I was a kid I used to have these weird half-awake sensory dreams. Usually there was something impossibly massive in magnitude competing with something supernaturally calm or smooth. This translated into many different scenarios in my childish mind: A massive freight train screaming and clanging so loud about to blast through the wall of my room. Galaxies of unidentified hugeness trying to force its way through a hole the size of a pinhead. When I was young, the dreams really frightened me but as I grew older, I gained control of them and sort of had fun tripping out on them. They grew less frequent in my late teens and I had my last one my second year of college. I missed them at first but of course have grown used to not having them. Every now and then, something I see will remind me of the dreams, the weird feelings I had from them. Some of this guy’s carvings remind me of them but I really can’t say why or how.

Shinji Nakaba Ring

Here’s a brooch that he carved out of a bit of pvc pipe:

Shinji Nakaba carved pvc brooch

I can’t stop posting images! Look at these pieces he made out of aluminum beer cans:

Shinji Nakaba aluminum

Shinji Nakaba aluminum

Shinji Nakaba aluminum

Ahhhhh, the rose ring. Sigh.

studio woes

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

cheyenne's jewelry studio

[Current studio. My IKEA ‘workbench’ with benchpin clamped on, my stone-setting vise, and elderly laptop for Important Studio Internetting, i.e., streaming This American Life.]

cheyenne's jewelry studio

[Other corner with shelves o crap and my soldering station.]

My studio situation is melting down. Studiomate #1 just bought a real live house of her very own that has an adorable little garage about to be converted into her very own studio with french doors and perhaps a skylight. I’m not jealous. Or bitter. Our current landlord has chapped the hide of studiomate #2 one too many times (or perhaps once was enough) and so we decided to give the place up. So… My options are thus:

1) Find an awesome little place, not too big, not too small, nice light, roommates or none, secure, comfortable, internet-capable, walking or biking distance from my house. And cheaper than the place I rent now. Is this really too much to ask? Craigslist seems to think so.

2) All of the above with room for two and split it with studiomate #2. Again, Craig is not being very helpful.

studio plan

[Studio design I cooked up in a fever of builder’s excitement. Siding would be corrugated metal and salvage cedar siding or palette wood. I know the roof is thin; I hadn’t decided what to use yet.]

3) Build a studio in my backyard (see above). With all of my free time. The fact that we rent our place sort of puts a soggy damper on this idea. It would be difficult to move anything we built out of our backyard without removing a tree, squashing half the garden, and dismantling the fence. Not to mention it would probably be a little heavy.

studio plan

[Interior layout.]

3) Modify a prefab shed, shipping container, build on a trailer (like a thing you pull behind a truck, not a camper) into a studio. The same issues with the fence dismantling, garden squashing, and tree killing still stand. It would be less work but a lot less pretty than my adorable little design above.

4) Buy a boat, put all our stuff in storage, and sail to Mexico. (Don’t laugh—I’ve done it before.)