February 29, 2008

Tumbler, part 6

Posted in Tumbler tagged , , , at 12:02 pm by jewelrybyleyla

I’ve been thinking about this update since yesterday. It feels like some sort of milestone, although in reality, that will be next week. The weather has been nice and I’ve been itching to get out and see how my rocks are doing.

So… how are they? Great! First off, I checked the small tumbler, last week I started the rocks on the fine grit, or prepolish. Today, they’ll be started on the polish stage. Will be? Why haven’t I started them yet, because first they have to go through a washing stage. I washed off the rocks and the plastic pellets, and washed out the tumbler. The rocks and the pellets went back into the tumbler, with a bit of Borax to wash them up. They’ll tumble for a few hours… anywhere from 5-12 hours (I usually aim for 5-6). This afternoon I’ll rinse off the soap, and put in AO polish (Aluminum Oxide). There isn’t any visual change in the rocks today, as the last two stages are working on the surface of the rocks at a very fine level. You’d have to use a microscope to see most of the changes.

On to the 15 lb tumbler…. Many of the rocks that I’ve put into the coarse grit the last 2-3 weeks have been very rough. There are pits and holes, which take a much longer time to even out, than to wear down a square corner. This means that many of the rocks are not done yet. I pulled out the ones which have been nicely rounded and smoothed out. And the rest went back in for a few more weeks, perhaps. I do have a few photos from the stage 1 batch. As usual, the first photo is the rocks that are done with the stage, and the second is the rocks that are going back in.

Stage 1 done Not quite done

The friend of any rock enthusiast is the Flat Rate Box from the USPS. For under $10 you can send as much as the box will hold. On the right forums, or bulletin boards, people sell their rock odds and ends for a few bucks plus shipping, or just for shipping… I purchased one, and quite a few of the rocks in the stage 1 picks have been from the box. It came from a woman who, as near as I can tell, cut open a rock, maybe made a cab out of one half, and tossed the ends into the box. A few of these ends, I looked at them, thought their color was good, but wasn’t sure what would happen when I tumbled them. I found one of these ends today, and was totally impressed by the results.

Its not quite ready for the next stage, as the backside is still kind of rough. But I had to take a picture…. the first is how I saw it when I pulled it out… the second picture is backlit to really show its uniqueness.

normal backlit

With any luck, the polish stage will be done next friday, maybe the following monday. And I’ll have the end result of the past 7 weeks. Of course, its not the true end, as then I can make all the treasures into jewelry, and I have several more pounds of rocks that are done with stage 1 and are ready for stage 2.

As always, check out my Etsy shop to see what I’ve done with some of the previous batches…and check back next week to see what’s new.


February 28, 2008

I’m addicted….

Posted in etsy, New Jewelry tagged , , , , at 10:32 am by jewelrybyleyla

Ok, I knew that 15-ish yrs ago when I worked in a bead store. Back then, I did a ton of seed bead work, and just a little bit of stringing beads. Since then, the focus has changed, I’ve mostly strung or restrung (repaired) things. Necklaces, bracelets, anklets. Simple earrings that didn’t involve weaving or stitching.

But sitting here looking at my stash of seed beads with vials that are maybe 1/5 full. There’s not enough for any major project, but too many to just ignore. I’ve gotten back into seed bead work. (see the last couple of posts…) And again, I’m addicted. And I wish I worked in a beadstore again. I started a bracelet yesterday, but was unhappy with the color choices, I want to just go over to the wall and pick up the color I want. Rather than, drive to the nearest store to see what they have… or go online to guess if their pictures are accurate.

So anyway, after starting and undoing a number of projects… I finished a bracelet yesterday… It’ll be up on Etsy soon.


February 26, 2008

Beaded Jewelry

Posted in New Jewelry tagged , , , , , , at 11:31 am by jewelrybyleyla

I posted the blue and white bracelet that I made last week.  But I couldn’t stop there… I made earrings and a ring to go with it.  Ok, so there’s not always a call for a set…but this is an odd set, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to sell these, but I might (in other words… if you tell me you just *have* to have it, I’ll sell it to ya).

My goal has been to use up some of the odds and ends of seed beads that I’ve accumulated with various projects.  Upon the completion of the ring, I’m out of the blue, for all intensive purposes.

I love the feeling of the beaded jewelry… the way the beads roll around, its feels slinky and svelte.  I’m definitely going to be making more of these…

Beaded set

February 22, 2008

Tumbler, part 5

Posted in Tumbler tagged , , at 5:21 pm by jewelrybyleyla

I went through the tumblers today. Lots of progress and fun stuff.

The small tumbler, to recap, has a batch of rocks in it that has gone through a minimum of 2 weeks and up to 3-4 weeks. Then they spent 2 weeks in a medium grit. Today, I took them out of the medium grit, washed them up in borax for a few hours. Now they are rolling in a fine grit (Step 3). From here, often the ‘recipe’ of how to tumble rocks changes. Some people use a 500 grit, then a 1000 grit pre-polish, and then finally a polish with grains that are finer than 1000 grit. Additionally, there’s a couple of different pre-polishing compounds, and 3-4 different polishing compounds available on the market. Assuming that you don’t rush the first steps or two, and use care not to cross contaminate the coarser grits with the finer ones, its possible to get a great polish with just a fine (500 grit) and a polish (1000 grit). So that’s the process I’m going to be using. Here’s a picture before they were washed up.

Finished w. step 2

The larger tumbler has been running a coarse grit (Step 1) since it started tumbling. Each week, I go through it, and take out the rocks that are nicely shaped and have no nicks or cracks. As the rocks tumble, roll, and shape a fair amount of material is broken down into smaller particles, whether they are sand grain sized, or finer (clay), or just into smaller chunks. All this constitutes as material loss, so if you start with a softball sized hunk of material, you might come back with only enough material for a baseball (or less). Last week, I decided not to do a full inspection, but because of the material loss, I did add some more rocks. When I opened up the tumbler today, I was met with quite a mess. Something I put in last week had a ton of fractures or was generally softer than the agates and jaspers that are currently in the tumbler. There was a small handful of chips of rock. And while you need all sorts of sizes in order to get the best tumbling action, the mixture I pulled out today was just insane. So I sorted through the rocks, and pulled out the ones that have been rounded to my satisfaction. And I restarted the tumbler on the course stage with more rocks. Hopefully this week there won’t be so many shattered bits. And now for the pictures….The finished rocks has a bunch of Sodalite in it. The Sodalite was in the smaller tumbler, up until two weeks ago when I moved things around to start some rocks in the second stage. So they tumbled for a couple of weeks in the small tumbler in coarse grit, and then another week in the large tumbler to finish up stage 1. They will be in the next batch going into stage 2 whether its the small tumbler or the big one, as they’re for a custom order. One is a bit fuzzy due to the weather clouding up and it being a bit cold and my hands shaking. But you get the idea.

Finished stage 1 back for more

Each time I add new rocks to the tumbler, I think “I should take a picture of the rough rocks to give y’all an idea of what I start with.” And why exactly it takes 2-4 weeks to get rounded rocks… Today I still had my camera with me outside when I went to break up more rocks (usually I take it back inside as soon as I’m done sorting). So here’s a picture of what the rocks look like after I beat them to death with my rock hammer. Many folks do this step with a saw (a trim saw for rocks, or a tile saw with a diamond blade), and they can get some cool shapes or just round some of the corners off so they don’t have to spend as long in the tumbler to become rounded. That’s a frozen OJ concentrate container in the corner for scale. Most of these rocks started out about fist sized before they were broken up.

rough rock

As always, check back next week to see the progress that’s been made. And check my Etsy store to see what I’ve made from previous batches.

February 20, 2008

New bracelets

Posted in Misc, New Jewelry tagged , , at 12:02 pm by jewelrybyleyla

I had my second chain maille class last night.  I got off to a rough start, adding too many rings in the wrong order and completely confusing myself.  Eventually, I managed to get back onto the right track, and get the bracelet into good working order.  Finished in under an hour today.

Roosa Bracelet   detail

In addition to the chain maille bracelet, I’ve been collecting patterns and Ideas for seed beads.  I have half a dozen or more tubes with just enough beads to look like a significant amount.   But not enough beads to do any major project.   I started making a project out of the most recent Bead and Button magazine.  About 1/3 of the way through, I decided I didn’t like it, and took it out.   I made some changes, and restarted it, and after several hours of beading, a bracelet emerged.  There are a few changes I’m going to make before I offer this, or something similar, up for sale… But I like the pattern.

beaded bracelet   detail

February 18, 2008

New Stuff

Posted in etsy, Misc, New Jewelry tagged , , at 3:13 pm by jewelrybyleyla

So, as mentioned last week, I’m in the process of making a couple of changes in the shop. I took a whole bunch of new photos yesterday, and edited them today. In the next week, they’ll be making their way into the shop.

For now, check out my new necklace, Amethyst Dreams, which coordinates great with my Passionately Purple earrings that debuted last month.

I’m creating separate listing for some of the items that I’ve listed as “take your pick”.  Currently, this Quartz Beach Pebble necklace has its own listing, and its rounder buddy will be listed on its own tomorrow. Check back!

February 15, 2008

Tumblers, part 4

Posted in Tumbler tagged , at 10:49 am by jewelrybyleyla

Wow, week four already. By the general formula, I should have happy polished rocks now. But I’m not one to follow the norm. A four week process can give you a nice shine…but a longer process will make the perfectionist in everyone happy.

So, since I haven’t done a real update on the blog in a couple of days, I wanted to do this one early. There’s no pictures, because there’s not much to show this week.

Here’s what we have: The large tumbler I’ve pulled out most of the well rounded finished rocks, so when I opened it up this week, the rocks are still in various shapes of square. A number of pointy edges, cracks and crevices greeted me. So they all went back in for another week. I also added a few more rocks, to add some bulk to the barrel.

In the smaller tumbler, I started a small batch of rocks on stage two last week. They are shaping up nicely, but I am leaving them in stage two for another week, to finish smoothing them out for stage three.

So check back next week, to see the progress… In the meantime, check out Etsy to see what I’ve done with past batches.

February 13, 2008

Thanks everyone

Posted in Misc tagged at 7:05 pm by jewelrybyleyla

Yesterday was the best day ever. My blog is slowly growing, and I just want to thank everyone who has taken a moment to read and/or leave a comment. There have been over 1,000 views, and 60 visitors yesterday. I’m so happy! Its the little things like this that make me happy. So thanks! And, check back tomorrow… I have lots of pictures that I need to take, and some upcoming changes to my Etsy shop, all in the hopes of making your time browsing and buying easier and friendlier.

Blog Stats

Total Views: 1,027

Best Day Ever: 60 — Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 12, 2008

Because we need a little bit of spring

Posted in New Jewelry tagged , at 11:35 am by jewelrybyleyla

Supposedly there’s another 6 weeks of winter, if you believe Phil the groundhog. But, we need a bit of spring, some flowers and bright colors. I’ve been playing with this design in my head for a few days, and I’m finally happy with the results. So if you’re tired of winter and snow, check out these bouquets of flowers for your ears.


February 10, 2008

Tumblers Part 3

Posted in Tumbler at 3:45 pm by jewelrybyleyla

As promised, although a little behind schedule.

I checked the tumblers today, and began the weekly sorting. I decided that some of the ones that have already been pulled out, will be moved on to the next stage. So I washed out the small tumbler a million and a half times, to make sure all the grit from the first stage had been removed, and I restarted it. It now contains a full load of rocks that passed inspection, and soap in order to clean them. In a few hours I’ll go open that one up, and rinse off the rocks and put in Stage 2 grit, 120/220. They’ll spend 1-2 weeks in Stage 2.

There are still a number of rocks going in Stage 1, and every week I add a few more to replace the ones that I’ve removed. So it’s a never ending process. Well, eventually I’ll end up with 15 lbs of rocks that are ready for stage 2 all at the same time, and then I may clean out the big tumbler and run it for stage 2.

And now for the pictures…

rough done

As always… please check back next week for the next installment. And check out my Etsy store to see what I’ve done with past batches.

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