May 28, 2009

I heart my tumbler

One of the last things I do with almost everything I make is to tumble them. Jewelry is placed in a tumbler with water, shot, and a burnishing agent and it comes out harder and shinier and gives your pieces a nice "finished" look (if that makes sense). I have a single barrel Lortone.

And I use 2 pounds of stainless steel shot that has a mixture of shapes. I think the little pin shapes are important for getting into tight spaces, but some people say they leave little marks on flat pieces (I've never had that problem). Stainless steel is good so that it doesn't become a rusty mess, and I think the easiest way to store it is in water.

So I pour my shot into a sieve and then pour it into the tumbler barrel. Put your jewelry pieces in and add water so that it just covers the shot.

Make sure that the lip of the barrel is completely dry.

Everyone has their own favorite burnishing agent. Dawn is popular, but I think you have to use the original Dawn, which is really hard to find. You can also purchase burnishing compound. I personally like to use flakes of Ivory soap. I just use a cheese grater to shred it into a container so I have it on hand. I put in probably something around 1-2 tablespoons of shavings.

Now making sure that the lip of the barrel is dry, fit the inner lid so that it sits snugly into the barrel. If the area where these two pieces touch is wet, you're not going to get a good seal, and you'll most likely have leaking.

Fit the outer lid on, making sure it's pressed all the way down.

The washer goes on next, and then twist the little nut on. Not too loose, or it will work its way off, but not too tight or it will distort the inner lid and break the seal.

That's it! You can tumble for any length of time, depending on what you're tumbling and what you're trying to accomplish. I tumble almost everything overnight. Then you just drain your shot and admire your jewelry!

So here's an earring that's done. It's hardened the ear wire portion so that it's still flexible but not flimsy, and gives the whole piece a nice polished, smooth look. It's especially nice for my hand-sawn pieces so that the edges are perfectly smooth.

Tumbling is NOT a final step and is not going to do major finishing work or take out scratches. It WILL harden your pieces, give them a nice shiny glow, and make your jewelry look better. After tumbling, I do my final finish on the piece. I use progressively finer grits to sand them and then progressively finer polishes. If the final piece is to be shiny, then I'm done. If I want to do a matte, satin, or brushed finish, that actually happens after I bring the piece to a decent polish to be sure that there are no scratches. Just because a piece is brushed doesn't mean I want a scratch lurking in there!

Definitely a must-have for any jewelry studio. :)

May 26, 2009

The FURminator, Part II

Last week I posted a review of the FURminator after using it on Lars. I was shocked at how much fur came off of him, since he's not usually the one who sheds. That would be Wilson. He apparently has been genetically-engineered to propel hair up to 12 feet in order to make sure I arrive at work with some on me, despite my best efforts to avoid him in the morning.

He's also a little high-strung, often ornery, sometimes elusive, and always defiant. And he hates to be brushed. So I decided to introduce him gradually and used the FURminator on him for just a couple minutes each day. A week later, I have a pile of hair and a surprisingly tolerant Wilson.

And he's not only tolerating it, but I think he's also liking it!

Lars had to examine my haul. 

So, to sum it up...

Removes a lot of hair
Gentle, well-tolerated
Quality, heavy-duty

Potential for bald spots if you're not careful

I'm pretty picky and generally unimpressed by most products, but this is one that got by me. :)  I'd definitely recommend it!

May 25, 2009


I started on a new earring design the other day and thought I would try to take some photos of the process. Some of them turned out better than others. :)

So first I draw my design on the sterling silver sheet. In this case the outer shape was pretty simple, so I just wanted to get them both cut out first without worrying too much about the design.

Using the first one I had cut out, I traced the outline for doing a second one. Using a jeweler's saw, I cut that one out as well.

So now that I have both earring blanks, I cut out the portion of both to create the posts of the earrings.

Now it's time to drill the holes. In each space that needs to be removed, I use a flexshaft to pierce a tiny hole. I like to tape the piece down on a scrap piece of wood to keep it stable. I usually dip my bit into the pro-cut in the photo, which helps maintain the life of your bit, lubricates, and makes the hole easier to pierce.

So now that I have my holes drilled, I remove the blade of my saw from the upper portion of the saw frame and thread the blade through the hole.

After re-fastening the blade to the frame, I saw out the portion that needs to be removed. You might notice I changed my design from what I had drawn at the beginning. :)

I repeat the process to pierce out all of the pieces of the design. I then draw the design on the second piece and do it again.

Here I have both cut out. You maybe can't tell, but the one on the left has had some initial sanding done. You can see that the edges don't look quite as raw and sharp as the one on the right.

Here's my helper, Lars. Stay tuned for their trip to the tumbler.

May 19, 2009

Lars vs the FURminator

As promised, I'm letting you all know what I think of my new FURminator. For those of you who don't know, this is a "de-shedding tool" that is supposed to REALLY get rid of a lot of hair on your cat or dog so that shedding is reduced. This is good, because we do not have carpeting in our house, and so hair tumbleweeds are extremely obvious on our wood floors.  The stairs is where it really seems to accumulate--I think we may be cultivating new species there.

Anyway, Lars is not the primary suspect in all this, but he is more easy-going than Wilson and likes to be brushed, so he was the first test subject.  You can see from the pix below that he liked being brushed with it, and it removed a lot of hair. Too much, in fact. My vet had warned me not to brush too long in one place, and there's something about that in the instructions too, but I guess I wasn't balancing my brushing time well enough. So poor Lars has a little spot on his shoulder that's pretty sparse, reminding me a little of a sickly possum. But overall, he feels thinner, he looks thinner, and his coat is softer and shinier.  

Now the real challenge will be Wilson. Stay tuned...

May 16, 2009

Scones, Morels, and Picture of the Day

The farmer's market in Madison, Wisconsin, is a great place to people-watch. It's always fun to see someone going the wrong way, probably swearing to themselves about how rude people are. I wonder how long it takes them to realize that they're the only person walking clockwise.

My first stop is usually Sugar River Country Bakery for one of their almond scones. I swear I remember them being 50 cents, and now they're a dollar. Saying that makes me feel old, as in "In my day, a hamburger was a nickel" old (I'm not that old). But they're my weakness; had to have one.

Someone was passing out warm donut type things with powdered sugar on them to advertise a new New Orleans bar/restaurant. Then I topped that off with half of a bison jerky stick. 

There were a lot of morels, and they actually looked pretty good -- not the old dried-out ones you usually see. We are lucky enough to have a free source, which is good since according to farmer's market prices we've consumed hundreds of dollars worth of them in the last week.

Dogs aren't allowed to join the zombie march around the square, except if they're not really a dog.......they're a bundle of cuteness with aviator glasses. Not sure who this guy is, or if he realizes he has an unusual growth, but he didn't mind me taking his picture.

May 15, 2009

Live Every Day

I love this Etsy Shop, and I think you'll like it too!
Like me, Bonnie says that she's always felt a strong connection to animals and nature. She enjoys capturing their beauty in everyday surroundings--often what you can see if you take a minute to just stop and look around.  And she doesn't digitally alter her images--what you see is what she saw. I feel at home in her Shop!
Bonnie enjoys helping other people, using her talents to make their lives easier in some way. In addition to her inspiring photography, she also provides creative and technical services like website design, quality reviews, custom photography, and project assistance. You can learn more about her at

All digital images and photo prints copyright Bonnie Boden.

May 11, 2009


With the sale of our house pending, we may soon be moving into a much smaller space. Having two cats, my husband recommended shaving them or getting a FURminator.

Well I just got an Amazon rewards certificate in the mail today (for using my credit card), so I thought I'd use it to buy a FURminator before I come home to "naked" cats one of these days.

So has anyone ever used one of these things? I hope they work!

May 5, 2009

What if we just took the paneling down?

Awhile back I posted some photos of what our kitchen looked like when we bought our house eight years ago.

It was sold "as is" so this is actually what it looked like when we moved in.

We had no intention of doing anything but painting the paneling and cabinets and doing something about the floor. But the countertop (what little there was) and tile backsplash had a little bit of a retro feel that we could live with.

Fast forward to the remodeling we did on the rest of our house. We had removed paneling from a bedroom and that went pretty well, so my husband thought he would do the same in the kitchen. Yeah....that didn't go so well. So as we stood there staring at the exposed lathe and chunks of plaster falling off, we went over our options. Spend a bunch of money fixing the damage we'd done. Or spend a little bit more and get a new kitchen.

So here's what we ended up with.

Five years later, we are trying to sell our house and I'm glad we re-did the kitchen since now I know what I will want and not want when we do the kitchen in our new house.

May 4, 2009

Wild West

My most recent pierced work......a custom request.
Using my jeweler's saw, I cut the pendant from 18 gauge sterling silver sheet. I then soldered a small piece of sterling silver tubing to the back for the hidden bail.

I did a lot of sanding around the edges to remove any saw tooth marks and to smooth over the sharp points.  I then tumbled it overnight to further smooth the edge.

I used Liver of Sulfur to create a dark patina, and then removed most of it while applying a matte, scratched finish. 

I was really happy with the end result -- what do you think? 

May 1, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

And the winner of
the sterling silver
stacking rings


who liked my sterling silver MOONDANCE necklace. :)

Thank you to all who entered! I'd like to offer all of you FREE shipping on your first order from my shop. Just convo me so I know to refund the cost.

Angela, I didn't see a way to contact you--please e-mail me to claim your prize!