Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Sentiments on Titanium Jewellery

As a qualified and experienced goldsmith, I get to see and deal with all kinds of jewellery on a daily basis. I was trained in the forging or precious metals, particularly 18K gold. As a goldsmith I am also able to forge other metals such as silver, platinum, palladium and various alloys of each of these metals. It is a skilled profession which takes years to master, for those who are able to do so. 

Every so often I get a request for a an estimate to make a titanium wedding band. Or perhaps a tungsten band. These rings started becoming popular and widely available in the 1990's. There are many different grades and alloys of titanium, depending on the industrial use of the metal. There are many "benefits" of titanium rings, one of the most important being cost. They are very cheap in comparison to traditional metals used in creating wedding bands. Personally, I am quite intrigued by the metal seeing as it is used in so many every day applications that our world would be a lot less convenient if it didn't exist. 

Unfortunately though, titanium is not a practical metal for use in hand forging and thus jewellers creation. Usually, these rings are cut from stock tube or blocks or sheet, by sophisticated computer driven milling machines. Certain grades of titanium are able to be filed with traditional files, but sizing is impossible. This is not a metal that we can solder on. In taking into account that a wedding ring is supposed to be worn for life, the inability to size these rings is a major drawback. Most people with need to have their wedding bands sized at least once during the course of marriage. This means getting a replacement ring. I have personally experienced this happening. 

Alternative metal jewellery certainly does have it's place in the market. It can be transformed in vibrant colours and many designs are possible. However, as a goldsmith, I am not able to create the type of sophisticated designs in titanium, as I am able to create using traditional precious metals. Furthermore, to hand create a ring using metal as cheap as titanium if it was possible(or silver for matter) would take the same amount of time and effort to create and clients would not want to pay for such a service. Most designs available out there are mass produced to make it economically viable. And these rings all made by machines. There are probably a handful of craftsmen that produce titanium rings, but their scope for design diversity is very limited. 

I have associates in the industry who allow me to supply titanium rings, but these rings always come with a higher price tag, as I have to design the ring on my CAD software, then submit it, have the ring machined, have it returned to me where I will adorn the ring with any precious metals or accents that are required. They also come with a warning that they can't be sized. 

Examples of a ring created using CAD

These are sample renderings of the CAD design I have created for a client of mine. It is a Portuguese cross which is very symbolic in their culture. In preparing a CAD design, the client is able to get a look at the design and decide if there are any modifications or changes that he may want. It is a lot easier to modify a design at this stage, than it is to remake a piece. In this way I am able to be more flexible with clients. The process also allows a mutual reassurance that the end product will be created correctly. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Completed Skull Ring

Here is the skull ring which is now complete. You may remember the previous post where I showed you a few of the steps involved in the creation of the ring.

With the helmet on, the ring weighs over 40 grams. In the first pictures you can see the ring as it looks without the "helmet". Excuse my chubby fingers, but I wanted you to see the scale of this monster. It is indeed a large solid ring. Some would call it a weapon. I see it more as a piece of art. Hand sculpted and manufactured. I admit, this is not my usual style of work. I had a lot of fun making it though.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My son Camden is currently into anything Japanese and a few select other generally Asian things. He is very into the Yin and Yang symbolism  So he asked me to make him anything to do with the symbol. I hope he likes it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Timelapse video of wax model carving

We refer to it as wax, but it is more like a plastic polymer which allows us to file, cut and carve it. There is a variation in hardness available. Green is my favourite. I like that is is a little more brittle and it carves very well. This model will be cast in gold after I am happy with the general shape. Then I file, sandpaper, finesse it, set the stones, and then put a final polish on it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creating a custom skull ring SLIDES ONLY

I'm busy creating a video with actual footage and narration. It will feature here soon. This video is of slide already pictured in the blog of the wax model carving of the skull ring, the helmet, and the cast pieces ready for assembly.

Skull Ring Part 3 - Carving the helmet

The challenge here is to carve a set of wings which are basically symmetrical and the same mirror image of each other, but it helps that due to the natural organic aspect of the design, I allow myself to make slight differences in each. 

The pictures explain themselves, but here is the rundown:

  • draw a rough outline of the shape and size of the wings
  • place the sketch on the wax
  • transcribe the outline using a sharp tool to create a dotted line
  • remove the sketch which is now useless and full of holes!
  • begin carving the rough outline
  • start adding finer carved details
  • separate the winds and smooth out the carving, tweaking the details as necessary
  • align the wings and the shield roughly and melt together underneath to create a basic helmet
  • time to cast the basic design in silver
Part 4 to follow: tweaking and fitting the helmet to the skull.

Skull Ring Development Part 2

This is the skull ring without it's helmet which is to follow. This is just after the ring has been cast in silver. It is now time to clean it up. This means tweaking the shape, finessing any lines that need to be sharpened up and finally it will be time for polishing.

Before final polishing there are a few more steps. I will need to create the "helmet" which is made up of a pair of wings which come together to hold a shield on the forehead. So instead of wasting time polishing the ring now, I will prepare it to the point of being ready for polishing, but I am going to be modelling the helmet to fit. This process of carving the helmet will be featured in part 3. 

I also need to make a mold of the ring. It took quite a few hours of carving, and I would like to make a copy of the ring so as to make the process worth my while. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The McCaffrey Wedding Bands

Towards the end of 2012 I was approached by David and Christina to design and manufacture their wedding bands. This was indeed an honour for me, since David is the owner of  McCaffrey Haute Couture situated on Sussex Drive in the Byward Market area of Ottawa. 

David and Christina could have chosen any one of many designers and goldsmiths in Ottawa or rather in North America. Wherever they deal with the bridal industry. Taking this into account, I felt as if I had one a design award to receive the recognition of being chosen by the couple. 

The wedding bands both feature 18K yellow and 19K white gold. Christina's ring is accented with green and blue diamonds arranged around the band. Although different in dimensions of size and width, they are designed to mimic each. 

David and Christina were great to work with. It was a very positive experience. 

These are the bands as mentioned in the Ottawa Citizen on January 31, 2013. 

Eyeglass Repair Service

As part of my range of services, I am offering repairs to metal framed eyeglasses. I use a laser welder to perform these repairs, so that the visibility of the weld and thus the repair are minimal. Most optometrists in Ottawa will send your glasses out to Toronto or Montreal to have them repaired. This ends up costing you a turnaround time of a week usually, which is is unfortunate when you need your glasses for daily life.

Prices vary from repair to repair, depending on the complexity. A typical range is from $40 to $60 depending on the break. All the work is guaranteed, so if they break in the same place again, I will repair them in a more aggressive way, but at no charge. I repair any metal frames. Titanium included. 

I already have certain optometric clinics in the Ottawa area that are using my service, or simply referring clients to me. If you know of someone that needs a pair of glasses fixed, please send them my way.  

Mother holding infant angel in heart

I was commissioned to make this pendant of a mother holding an infant angel after my client's personal loss. This one is hand carved and set with three small diamonds. It is also available in any metal of your choice. If you are interested in this keepsake or if you know of anyone who may like to own one, please contact me. 

Mother and Baby Angel Pendant

Developing a large skull ring

I am currently developing a huge skull ring for a client in Australia who found me via my website. I am happy to be creating something for someone who has put his trust and money into me from half way round the world. 

This is the first installment of the production. I decided a bit too late to start taking pictures, so the description starts where the actual skull is near completion. The process starts of with a solid piece of wax tube with a hole in it which I carve to the right size of the client's finger. In this case it is a large one- size 12! In this set of photos you can see the skull taking shape, and the horns are one. I am now starting to decoratively carve the shank with a feather motif.

Stage two of the process will be to carve the feathers helmet which will sit on the skull. I want to create the skull to the correct shape and dimensions before fitting the helmet. I also want the skull to be perfectly cleaned up and polished before fitting the helmet. I don't want it to be a one  piece carving, for accuracy and cleanliness. 

Skull taking shape \
Front on skull
Skull ring front
Skull ring finger
Skull ring finger 
Carving skull ring shank