Jewellery techniques: setting faceted stones

Another fantastic course at Workspace Studios on how to set faceted stones, tutored by the fabulous Annie Collins and Vaune Mason This is going to be the perfect technique for me – if only I had known when I made this ring below.  I love it, but it could have been better with a few beautifully controlled settings.  Next time!

jemssmall1Anyhow, here’s a few pics on the process.  I’ll just say that these photos are more for my own memory than to be a good explanation of the technique.  If you want to learn how to do this yourself, my advice is to take the Workspace Studios class – Vaune is a great teacher!  If only I could explain it as well as she did during the class.


Jewellery techniques: creating claw settings for stones

I recently attended a great course at Workspace Studios on how to create claw settings, tutored by the directors Annie Collins and Vaune Mason, both talented practicing jewellers.  I’m really happy to finally know how to do this properly!

For the record, here’s some photos of the day:

Electroforming 3

Decided to give the practical aspect of this project a rest for a while.

I have been doing some reading from the excellent “Jewellery Concepts and Technology” by Oppi Untracht (Robert Hale, London, 1982), particularly Chapter 16 “Metallic Buildup – Electrolytic Molecular Creation of Surface and Form”.

It’s got about 40 pages of detailed info about all aspects of electroforming and electroplating, including this recipe:

Typical Acid Copper Plating Bath

  • Copper Sulphate (26-33 ounces per gallon)
  • Sulphuric Acid (4-10 ounces per gallon)
  • Current Density (20-40 amps/square foot)
  • Voltage (6)
  • Temperature (21-48 centigrade)
  • Anode (copper)

Experiment to be continued in November!

Electroforming 2

Regretting my lack of attention in science classes at secondary school, I am luckily able to enlist the help of my resourceful father to help me convert my old computer power supply, and set up the electroforming solution.

How great it is to have a wonderful dad who possesses not only his own soldering iron, electricity meter and electric drill, but also the electrical know-how to help me on projects where I have no idea where to start!  Thanks dad!  Here we are, hard at work:

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The day was enlivened by some stressful moments where I thought I had wrecked the entire set-up by shorting the power (Lesson: do NOT allow the coloured wires to touch each other, or the metal power case!!).

We basically followed these instructions  to convert the power supply, although we used bolts instead of plugs to connect our red, yellow and black wires.

After a good 8 hours or so of work, I discovered that I am still only at the beginning of the electroplating journey.  I ran into some strange issues with the power supply voltage, and with the electroplating of the object itself.  I’ll go into that in more detail below.  For now, here’s a gallery of the day’s events:


So, a few issues.  Here’s the message I posted to the ‘power supply conversion’ person on the Instructables website:

A question for you… my dad and I converted a power supply according to your instructions, but with the wires connected to bolts instead of to plugs (I inserted a photo). We tested the voltage with our meter. Our results for the yellow wire were:

black pole on black wire & red poll on yellow wire (would have thought it should be positive) = negative 12 volts!

black pole on yellow wire & red pole on black wire (you would have thought this would give positive 12 volts) = positive 2.85 volts! 

Neither of us understood why we got this result. Any suggestions much appreciated.

Also, now I’m using the power supply to electroform a piece of stick (coated in varnish, dried, sprayed with waterproof glue, covered with graphite powder as a conductive medium). It’s been in there for more than 24 hours, but I don’t see any plating happening (lots of bubbles though!).

If you have any thoughts as to what we could be doing wrong in either part of the procedure, they would be great to know! Thanks for your help 🙂

PS and the copper wire connecting the graphite-coated stick to the red alligator clip keeps breaking off. There is something not right here!

So as at Sunday afternoon, my new trial cathode is in the solution, and I’m waiting for a response from the forum.  

The conductive glue is waterbased, and seems to be peeling right off the cathode, so not feeling 100% positive about it!  I’ll wait and see what it does tomorrow.

I’m also looking on troubleshooting websites.  This method looks VERY simple but he’s just plating metal, not an organic object.  This was one interesting comment on the site: “It is the AMPS which assist the plating process, not the volts. The battery charger is just fine as a rugged, dependable, economical power supply“.  We didn’t actually measure the AMPS.  Something to think about.  Then maybe I’ll buy a battery charger!

Some more useful electroplating links

A troubleshooting guide:

Radiolaria, foraminifera, sessile invertebrates and more primordial soup under the sea


The forminiferal ooze!  (Here’s a full illustrated  catalogue of forminiera: )

What are Radiolaria and Foraminifera?

  •  Amoeba-like single-celled microscopic organisms
  • Produce intricate mineral shells or skeletons
  • Live in environments that contain liquid water e.g. in the ocean, inside the body
  • Usually less than 1 mm in size
  • Their structures are made of natural glass
  • Belong to the group “Rhizaria”.

There are three main groups of Rhizaria:[4]

Sessile invertebrates

These are animals without backbones that can be attached to a reef, like corals, barnacles, sponges and aenemones.

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My work is influenced by impressions of these deep sea forms.  The microworld of the sea fascinates me.  I want to invoke natural colours and forms.  I derive inspiration from marine biology, mycology. I love looking intently at the detailed morphology of lichens, fungi and microscopic marine organisms.  The more I look at their detail, the more beautiful they seem.

Here’s some of my recent explorations:

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