Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ready for the kiln.

Firing tomorrow. PMC silver beads and clasps. 


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Rock Drilling 101

I get asked about this a lot, so here’s what works for me.


Put a layer of hot glue in the bottom of a shallow glass dish. Settle a third or so of the rock into the glue before it hardens. The top of the rock should sit below the top edge of the dish.


Fill dish with water. Insert diamond drill bit into flex shaft handpiece.


Start drilling slowly through the layer of water into the rock. The glue will hold the rock in place. Peck gently once you have the hole started. Moving the drill in and out of the hole so the bit cools in the water and fresh water flows into the hole. The water will start to get cloudy. If the drill is held in place for too long or the drill is too fast, the bit will overheat and the diamond pieces will start to flake off. You will know the drill is through the rock when you feel the change as the bit goes into the softer glue beneath.


Dump out cloudy water, refill, and drill the next rock. When all rocks in a dish are drilled, run the dish under hot water to loosen the glue. It is usually easier to get the whole piece of glue out of the dish. More hot water will make the glue bendable so the rocks can be worked out of their glue hole.


I find that a diamond core drill bit works better than a twist drill bit. The best advice I got about learning to drill rocks was to be patient!


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Baker Island


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What is it?


Today was a day spent off the island, doing errands and having lunch with Mom. No studio time, so here’s one of my old favorite photos. 

Here’s another clue…



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Design flaw diverted.

Had I not stopped to photograph these toggle clasps for the blog, I might have fired them first and then realized that they would not hang right. The loop on the side of the toggle needed to be moved to the underside of the toggle so the clasp would sit flat when strung.

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1st Time • New Kiln • Bronze Clay

I would have been so lost without this article by Hadar Jacobson.



I fired the disc beads in an upright position to keep them from collapsing. One of them still settled enough to change the orientation of the holes,  and collapsed in enough to prevent a needle from going through.


The post earrings are hollow, made in two pieces. A domed front attached to a flat back. They were fired face down in the charcoal, and did not collapse much at all.


Results were not consistent from piece to piece. Next time I will photograph where I place them in the pan before firing. I will also try lowering  the kiln temperature for the second phase from 1550º to 1520º.

The 1″ figure below is how I procrastinated by needle felting, before finally learning how to program my new kiln.                      Its seasonal………



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Future Necklace Pieces


I always like looking at beach rocks. Especially the ones I have already drilled.  (This means I did not try out the new kiln today.)

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Something new

Bronzclay was introduced to the public at the PMC Guild Conference at Purdue in July 2008. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since, but my 11 year old kiln was not able to be programmed for the necessary changes in temperature to fire the clay.  Scrap silver to the rescue! I collected  several years worth of silver scraps from around my studio, threw in some of my early PMC “dogs” that I never care to see again, and sent them off to Rio Grande to be refined. All 114 ounces.  I received 75% of the value in credit at Rio Grande and had more than enough to buy a new kiln. Today I entered the world of Bronzclay.

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Tomorrow I’ll try out the new kiln.


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A Photo a Day?

I am intrigued by the artists with a daily routine. Those who produce a painting a day, a short story a day, a photograph or drawing a day. There is even a jeweler who makes a necklace a day. ( While I am not inclined to make a necklace every day, I am quite interested in taking a photograph of ongoing work in my studio and posting it on my site for the discipline of spending time in the studio each day and keeping a daily blog. I begin with the return of the “finalist” necklace.




It’s one necklace with two different sides. Though I did not win first or second prize in the 2009 Saul Bell Award competition, I am still proud to be one of the 5 finalists out of 80 international entries. If I could go back and change one thing about this piece, it would be to make my own clasp. I made half of it, but the commercial lobster claw, though pretty and effective in securing the necklace,  is still a commercial clasp available to anyone. This is the one I learn from.                       More necklace information on the Gallery page.

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Mary Lyman’s Needle Felting Workshop


This was a fun workshop and my first foray into needle felting.  So relaxing. Really!


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