My first efforts at polishing, aligning, and setting a star garnet is finished. Not only is silver difficult to get a good picture of, but photographing the star in a star garnet is difficult as well, so here are two pictures; the first shows off the silver work; the second is the best I could get of the weak, six rayed star in this garnet.
My solder joint on the trim didn't turn out as nice as I'd hoped, but it looks better in person than in the photo. I still have to get the hang of using a jewelers saw. It seems that if I get within about a foot of a jewelers saw, blades just start breakin'! I broke one blade on the club's jewelers saw, and two finer blades on the saw of our instructor Ed. Finally, in an effort to save his blades, Ed ended up trimming off the extra silver on the backing plate. Even though he has only been doing this for about a year, he made it seem easy. He seemed to think I was using too much force, but I was only using enough to get the blade through the metal. I guess it's another skill you just have to get the feel for. I used my tiny little rat-tail file to scallop out the backing plate to match the trim. Soldering on the bale proved tricky too. The first two pieces of solder slid up on top of the bale instead of between the bale and backing plate. After filing that solder off, I sandwiched a couple of pieces of solder between the bale and backing plate and it worked. Even though the pendant isn't perfect, Litha still seems pleased.
Our silversmithing classes are moving from once a week to twice a month now, but I'm just a short grocery list away from being able to do this at home.
Thanks again to Dean Welter for his generosity in sending me these stones. This has given me some great experience. I even used a faceting machine for the first time to make the base.
I've got Rob Townsend's garnet partly polished. I'm doing this one the right way, polishing it into a basic sphere and looking for the best star, in the best location on the stone. It shouldn't be more than a couple of weeks and this one will be done.
I found another great website on star garnets, and here's the link.
Star Garnet Cabochons
Thanks for looking!
Hey Jim - Now that's purty! You'll be way ahead in your Christmas shopping if you keep up the jewelry making! HA!
Jim your silversmithing looks fine to me. I have polished my Idaho star garnets in a vibratory tumbler to find the stars then go from there. Most of mine didn't have stars.
Dean D. Welter
Great job Jim, you have done very well on your first star stone and the pendant looks great as well! I'm sure your wife will treasure that pendant. I'm honored to have been able to send you some of the stones.
Learning to use a jewelers saw is a bit of a challenge. Use lots of bees wax for lube and as light a touch as you can. I try to grip my saw very "loosely" and just sort of guide it up and let gravity do most of the work on the down-stroke. It's slow but sure keeps the blades in action a lot longer. Those blades are just not made to have much pressure put on them. Also picking the proper size blade makes a difference.
Again, awesome job Jim, thank you very much for sharing it with us!
Jim, it turned out very nice! With sawing, you do have to practice the pressure. Too much and the blade breaks because they are so fine or it catches too deeply on the metal. It's kind of like grating cheese - if you push too hard, it crumbles and there's too much catch. It works best if you just brush the edge of the saw along the metal, gently abrading away the metal. It can help if you wax the blade.
Jim, you did a good job on your pendant. I was going to give you some pointers on using the saw but Dean pretty much covered it. I will say that paraffin wax is a little better for lube than bee's wax and easier to come by. To practice your saw skills try doing coin cut outs just drill a hole in a coin and thread your saw blade through and cut away the fields of the coin leaving just the design. remember to hold the saw loosely and just guide it through the cut don't be afraid to work slowly good saw work means less clean up.On your solder work use smaller amounts of solder and just enough flux to cover the solder joint also try to heat the thicker of the two parts being soldered a little more. The thinner piece will heat faster and draw the solder away from the joint.
Dean has already sent me the garnet crystal and it is fantastic. You can take your time with the cab you're making for me. I will be out of town for the next 4 weeks or so and hopefully will have an update for my "on the road again part II" post.
Let me know if I can help with your silver smithing in any way.
All the tips are very helpful. Junesse's description of 'gentle abrading' should help. Rob's paraffin tip was a good one too. I was wondering where I might find some bee's wax, but found paraffin at the local supermarket yesterday.
I bought my own jewelers saw this weekend on eBay, so soon I'll be able to practice my technique at my own expense.
That sure looks great. I have some Idaho Garnets that are facet grade. The ones that will star are real small.
KOR Carl in WI
I've never seen a faceted star garnet. Since the shape of the stone has a lot to do with the shape of the star, I wonder how that would turn out. We're going to try to get out Petoskey stone hunting soon. Hopefully the coming rain will melt most of the remaining snow. Winter's been trying to hang on this year.
Hi Jim these are clear Garnets that will facet. I should check them for stars first. Maybe they will star too.
KOR Carl in WI
Dean D. Welter
Carl, it might well be worth your time to check those stones if they came from Emerald Cr.. Translucent stones from there that star are not very common but they do occur. I've cut a few myself.
I wonder if we could cab one to get the star and then facet the edges. It would be neat to see what the effect would be.
Or better yet facet the garnet completely but leave the table round instead of flat so as to show the star.HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMm
Carl does this whet your apatite?
Hi Dean yea I thought of doing just that and to what Rob says I have thought of trying that too. I have five of them to play with LOL. Oh I lost both of your e-mails when I redid my computer for the second time. I thought I had saved to the right file but it turned out I didn't. Gerr darn computers anyway. LOL
KOF Carl in WI with 36' of solid ice on the lakes up here yet. I'll be fishing on them Wednesday.
Jim, that is an impressive and beautiful piece of work!! I look forward to seeing your next one!
I'm not sure what the next project will be. We've been tossing around the idea of doing some 'lost wax' casting, but we'll see. Maybe I should try to make a straight ring.
Isn't a "straight ring" an oxymoron? How does one wear it on a finger?
... and Don,
How do you do "lost wax" if it's lost!?
Hmmmmm . . . Good question?
Howdy ho! Got some questions for you gentlemen. I've got over 50 raw Idaho star garnets. The largest is about 2 inches x 1.5 inches. I got them at Emerald Creek. A fellow geologist took me there when I lived in North Idaho. I've been carrying them around for 8 years. Guess I should have done something when them while I was in Idaho, but I didn't.
I don't have a tumbler or anything other than sandpaper. I haven't the faintest idea what to do with them. Realizing the probability of a star is low, I don't know if it would be worth sending them to someone to polish and cut. Any opinions?
I also have about 2 dozen agates about the size of a lima bean to the size of a pecan. Someone in my family tree collected them decades ago. I have no idea where they came from. The collector was at least the generation of my great grandfather.