Wish you a bubbly New Year!

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It's amazing how fast 2011 went by. It was an year with lot's of exciting changes. The customer response has been overwhelming in the last year. I am proud to have been a part in the life of so many newly weds and recently engaged clients by creating their custom rings that will stay with them for many years to come.

I finally made my Nodeform business a full time gig in 2011. It has been so much fun the last couple month working for myself. In September I went on a 6 month leave from my day job as an Architect to try to concentrate on really kicking this into the next gear. It took a while but the Holiday season finally paid off . I think it could be possible to be doing what I love and be able to support myself.  Tax season will show me if I am right or just an illusionist.

RAW52 #26 & #30 gold and silver Bubble rings rendered in Brazil for Rhino
Modeled in Tsplines and Rhino. Freeform bubbles.

I learned a lot of new thinks and developed my skills. The Ring a Week (RAW) challenge was a great experience in trying to learn 3D modeling software. I did not make 52 designs in the end but it still helped me coming back to it from time to time and try something new. I will continue in the next year developing this a bit further and eventually even incorporate it into my ring production and custom designs.

3D print in stainless steel of RAW26/52 model. Printed by Shapeways.

3D print in stainless steel and Frosted Ultra Detail of RAW26/52 model. Printed by Shapeways.

I also started playing with rendering software in the last couple days. It's could be a nice way to be able to post new designs and material options without actually having to produce them in expensive precious metals and gem stones. This could keep my money, usually tied up in inventory stock, in my pockets until I actually get a order in. Well, I have to get better with the software until I can produce convince able images of how the finished piece will look.

RAW52/31 Palladium Bubble ring with Diamond rendered in Brazil for Rhino
RAW52/33 Gold Bubble ring with Diamond rendered in Brazil for Rhino

RAW52/32 Silver Bubble ring with Sapphire rendered in Brazil for Rhino

To see all my submissions for this challenge go to Flickr.

With that  I thank all of my friends, fans and clients for your interest and support in my adventures. I wish you all a Happy New Year! Enjoy some bubbly treat tonight to celebrate New Eears Eve.


RAW52 #25 & #29 Wavy Ring

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I recently got a few of my latest RAW submissions printed in different materials. I send this wavy ring design off to Ponoko and Shapeways to test service and printing quality.

Wave ring printed in Stainless Steel
I have to say I am way more impressed by Shapeways. Their material choices are greater and the prints came out cleaner. Their Frosted Ultra Detail prints are impressively detailed with only very fine printing lines. I still have to try casting one of those in silver to see how they burn out in the lost wax process.

3D prints of RAW25/52 model in Stainless Steel, Black Detail and White Detail plastic and Frosted Ultra Detail. Printed by Shapeways.
 The stainless steel rings are always great with an interesting texture. It took 2 weeks to get models delivered from Ponoko and 3 weeks from Shapeways. Ponoko has trouble with printing lot's of my designs as they seem to small for them. Not an issue with Shapeways, especially the ultra detail material allows very thin parts in the model. Uploading models and organizing it for printing is easier on Shapeways.  So I guess I stay with Shapeways.

A couple shots of the stainless steel print.

The model was done using T-splines for Rhino 4. The smooth wave was laid out flat and then bend into a ring shape.  I also tried lofting curves and 2 rail sweeps directly in Rhino without t-splines but it got some wonky areas. The edges are sharper with this approach seen in the images below.

Rhino4 render image

I did start playing with a trial version of Brazil for Rhino to render some designs more realistically looking. I am still a bit confused with all those settings that need to get adjusted to get an image. Easy to spend hours on this.

Rendering in Brazil with gold material settings

Holiday Previews

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New month, new topic for Etsymetal team bloggers. We are entering the busiest time of the year.
The Holidays are fast approaching! Give us a preview of what you are working on for this special time of year.

The Holiday season is apparently also the time for people to propose to their big love. The last couple weeks I already started gearing up with new engagement rings listed to my new wedding shop. There are still some on the bench that need some cleanup and stone setting. But oterwise the engagement season is already in full gear and should continue till Valentines Day.

For my other main Nodeform shop I have a few special one off rings to finish for the Holidays. Here a preview of what is still on the bench.

This is a rough casting that still needs lots of work. Its a wide armor type ring with an Aquamarine cabochon. The carved texture is inspired by rain drops falling on water, creating concentric ripples. I might also set a couple small blue diamonds into some of the ripples for some added sparkle. 

I am also using some of the earth colored rough diamond cubes. When I sell my rough diamond wedding rings everyone ask for light gray cubes. With this ring I want to show off the beauty of rough diamonds with those wonderful warm hues. Four cubes will be set in a 18k gold setting that sits off center on this wide silver ring. The ring here is still only half finished and still needs soldering and applying the brushed texture on the silver that will get intensified by a dark oxidation.

I also played with some other textures as shown on the left ring. I am still contemplating if I set some of those beautiful cognac colored diamonds in the silver band next to the roughs. It would really accentuate the difference between rough and faceted diamonds.

Other than that I will go through my inventory and see if I can list some of those sample and prototype rings. My made to order rings usually have a 2 to 3 weeks turn around time and I will probably stop taking Holiday orders for rings I don't have in stock in the first week of December.  Ready to ship rings can still make it into someone's stockings if ordered only a few days before the Holidays. I am also clearing out some designs I won't continue making in the new year and I am listing those sample rings in my sale section.

Please see what other Etsymetal Team members have planned for the holiday season.

Michele Grady Designs: www.michelegradydesigns.blogspot.com
Rebecca Bogan: http://www.AdobeSol.com/blog
Panicmama Jewelry: http://panicmama.blogspot.com
kate jones: http://katejonesdesign.blogspot.com
Evelyn Markasky http://markasky.blogspot.com/
Beth Cyr http://bcyrjewelry.blogspot.com
Erin Austin: www.metalmusing.blogspot.com
Cynthia Del Giudice: http://cynthiadelgiudice.blogspot.com
2Roses: http://www.jewelrytutorial.blogspot.com

Rain and a Chalcedony Ring

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Rain season seems to be slowly rolling into LA. Today was one of those rare rainy days after weeks or month without any rain. I love those wet days since I know tomorrow there will be sun again. Next day the air is clean and one can see the mountains clear and bright without all that usual smog. It's a great day to get comfortable with a cup of hot tea and be productive in the studio, while listening to the drops on the metal roof overhang.

To this rainy occasion I finally finished a ring I had carved in wax over a year ago. It was hanging out on my bench for month and month. From time to time it was picked up, rotated around, messed up a bit and put back to the other unfinished projects again.

I had set the Chalcedony in the silver setting a while ago but then decided it needed some flush set sapphires on the sides. And those took me a while to finish in between other jobs. Flush setting is not really my specialty.

Finanly photographed it a couple days ago and listed it last night. Today it already sold!!!!! Yeah!!!
I think that is a new record. Love it. Would be nice to sell always things that fast even if they sometimes take a while to get finished. So this baby will travel to it's new home tomorrow.


Beach Break

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Nice to be your own boss when it allows to go on a break in the middle of a weekday and take a ride along the beach. That's one of those nice changes of taking a leave of absence from my day job and doing jewelry full time. I love being able to control my own schedule. Unfortunatly I don't do these breaks often enough. Somehow I always get carried away in my daily studio tasks. Yesterday was such a beautiful day with a sunny clear sky and temperatures in the seventies that I just had to leave the studio for a while. So I took the bike and went down the couple miles to the Dockweiler beach.

Empty beach bike path and Santa Monica mountains in LA smog.

Tire tracks in sand.

 No life guards on duty today.

 Seagulls and foot steps.

 Beach volleyball fields are unusually empty.

 Someone gets ready for a kite flight.

  Back along the Baloona Creek.

 and trough Marina Del Rey back home.

Hope to do that in a couple of days again. It's so nice to see the beach deserted. Maybe I take my inline skates out again.


Etsymetal Blogcarnival: Food

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Topic: "Lets Talk About Food!"
I love to eat and to cook. Usually my favorite cooking is more on the simple side. I don't like to spend an entire day in the kitchen to get something ready for one meal. I prefer recipes that take less than an hour to make. Especially after a long day at work nothing is more soothing than cooking something for dinner. Cooking relaxes me. I usually don't follow recipes to the point, I use them more as an inspiration and then change them up. Creating yummy dishes out of whatever one finds in their fridge is a very creative task.

One of my favorite dishes to make are quiches. Those open faced pies can be filled with whatever is on hand, like vegetables, meats, cheeses, or even fruits with a twist. The most famous quiche is probably quiche lorraine which is a bacon and egg filling in a pastry crust. But anything goes when it comes to a quiche.

I often buy premade pie pastry from the freezer aisle and keep those in my freezer until I feel like making a quiche. Further below are also some typical dough recipies which take a bit more time. I love to make multiple smaller quiches in those little 4.5" Creme Brulee forms that I have. They are perfect for one person meals. Mini quiches can easily be stored in the freezer and warmed up quickly during the week. Other options would be using cup cake forms for 2 bite appetizer sized mini quiches or the typical 8 to 9" forms. The fillings consist of whatever I find in my fridge or have in the garden. Often it's just some mini tomatoes, fresh herbs and then topped with a mix of eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sprinkled with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 375F and voila, a yummy dinner is ready.

This week I made a quiche with some salami, a few last tomatoes from my garden, blue cheese and mini basil from my hanging herb garden.

The form was laid out with premade dough, slices of salami as the bottom layer, chopped tomatoes and sprinkled with some blue cheese and basil. The batter I usually use is a bit lighter than the typical cream-egg-quiche batter. I just mix an egg with some low fat milk, salt, fresh ground pepper and always add nutmeg. The cheese can be the classical gruyere, or any other shredded or crumbled cheese like parmesan,  mozzarella or even blue cheese, feta or goat cheese for some different twist.

Some suggestions for unusual quiches:
Sauerkraut quiche recipe. Mix it up by adding some chili into the filling for some spice.
Pear and Gorgonzola quiche
Spinach, Olive and sun dried Tomato Quiche

The classic pastry is usually made from:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water if required
Put flour into large bowl, mix butter with salt and egg. Add mix to flour and knead to a moist clump, add a bit of water if required. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until dough comes together (about 4 turns). Form into ball then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour. Dough can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Butter a 9 inch round tart pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 12 inches round. Transfer the dough to the tart pan. Press onto the bottom and up sides of pan. Trim any excess dough. Chill 1 hour.

An easier and faster version would be:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup ice water
Mix the flour and salt with a fork. Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken. Pour into flour and mix with fork. Press into 9″ buttered pie pan. Trim the excess dough.
Fill with whatever quiche mixture is used and bake at 400F until done (around 30 to 40 minutes).

Happy quiche making!

Please check out other food suggestions for Etsymetal Team members:

Inbar Bareket  http://www.inbarbareket.info/blog  
Cynthia Del Giudice  http://cynthiadelgiudice.blogspot.com
kate jones  http://www.katejonesdesign.blogspot.com
nova of sweden  http://www.nova-designs.blogspot.com/
Beth Cyr  http://bcyrjewelry.blogspot.com
Rebecca Bogan  http://www.AdobeSol.com/blog
Panicmama Jewelry  http://panicmama.blogspot.com
Evelyn Markasky http://markasky.blogspot.com/
2Roses  http://www.jewelrytutorial.blogspot.com
Jenny Baughman (Gecko J)  http://ridgeschool.blogspot.com/


Bold Porcupine

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Almost 2 years ago I found some Aragonite crystals that so intrigued me to eventually make some rings out of them.

I finally made the first one into a ring and I am in love with the outcome.  The spiky crystal cluster in it's reddish brown color almost looks like a porcupine. A nice contrast to the sleek brushed sterling silver band and organic shaped setting.

Unfortunately the silver ring band has a little flaw on one side just below the setting that somehow did not want to get fixed by all my repair attempts. Can't sell it this way. So I will have to make a new ring band. This will allow me to offer the ring to be made in any custom ring size.

The crystal is 25 x 23mm (approx. 1") , height above the finger will be 23 mm. The freeform sterling silver ring band varies between 3 to 6 mm.

Aragonite is a Calcium Carbonate. If one believes into  crystal healing powers it is an excellent stone to have around in stressful times as it is believed to reduce anger and to enhance patience and acceptance under stressful conditions. It is a fairly soft stone with a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on a Moh's scale, which slightly harder than a pearl. This is not a ring for everyday wear but definitely a bold statement ring for special occasions.

I also found some Amethyst crystal clusters at the last gem show that I will attempt to make into rings. Working with these crystal clusters is so much fun.


Pretty Splurges

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Last weekend a gem show was in town. I was contemplating for days if I even would go or not. I know I spend some serious money there. On Sunday I finally could not resist anymore and dove into the fun of hunting for little precious things. Here my newest gem stone splurges:

Found some new cushion cut square quartz again with beautiful tourmaline needle inclusions. Both stones are already listed in my shop for custom "Fold" rings.

The best treasure I got are a total of 10 Tanzanite gem stones in various shapes and sizes ranging from 0.6 to 1 carat.  The best thing is they are natural, unheated stones which is pretty rare for Tanzanites. I love those blue sparkling stones with a slight purple hint. They will be used for some unique engagement ring designs.

I also got these natural unheated princess cut sapphires in shades of white, yellow, pink and light blue.  So pretty! They range from 3.2 to 4.5 mm. Watch out for some new engagement rings.

I noticed a lot more rose cut gem stones from different suppliers in the trade only section. It's nice to be able to get more varity now for these still pretty rare and unusual cuts. It's so much better to be able to handselect each stone and compare them to each other than having to rely on photos from online sellers. I always like the freeform cuts the best for my rings.  

Beautiful rose cut rutilated quartz with very fine golden needle inclusions.  

This freeform rutilated quartz has gorgeous fine coppery red inclusions and will look great in a "Pebble" ring design.

 Two free form rose cut blue topaz and in the back a rose cut Aquamarine. 

 Rose cut sapphires. The small blue gem is 8 x 10mm, the pink stone 10 x 13mm.

 Free form rose cut Labradorite about 16 x 11 mm.

All those rose cut gems will be set in my "Pebble" ring designs. 

Now a have a lot of new treasure to work with and can't wait to have these set in new rings.

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