Techniques We Use


The Pacifik Image is a husband and wife team. Together they create all of the components used in their work.

Heather is a Lampwork Bead Maker which is to say, she makes all of their glass beads out of scrap glass rod by using a propane torch, bike spokes and bead release she makes herself. She also does all of their Wire Work, including all earwire and wire clasps.

Alone that should be enough.

But it isn't.

She has plans to start working with Precious Metal Clay in the very near future.

TL is a Lapidary which is to say he cuts gemstones from rock. He cuts cabochons and faceted stones and occasionally makes a gemstone bead or two. He does all of the smithing. He is also a metalsmith, working with gold, silver, copper, bronze, aluminum and steel. From steel he makes all of the stamping tools used in the stamping of his metal work.He makes many of the tools he uses.

Recently he has started doing more work in enamels. He torch fired work years ago, but stopped. He began again with the addition to the studio of a small kiln and a controller. He uses enamels by painting and in cloisoné.

TL also works with ceramic clay, making beads, pendants, and decorative plates and bowls. Like Enameling this outlet affords him to use his ability to paint. He has been painting since he was a child.

Now a more in depth look.

Lampwork Bead Making.

Lampwork Bead Making is the art of wrapping and shaping molten glass around a metal rod to form a bead. It differs from blowing in two ways; first, no air is used, secondly, blown beads are made quite differently by bringing together different colored glass, fusing and pulling and cutting. This produces beads of an identical nature from batch to batch. Heather makes each bead one-at-a-time where keeping things uniform is a challenge she has met very well.

Ceramic Bead and Pendant Making

Ceramic Beads are formed by hand out of clay, pierced with a wooden skewer, dried and fired in a kiln. The fired beads are then painted with glaze or underglaze and fired again. Ceramic pendants might have a nichrome wire imbedded in the clay instead of being pierced by a skewer.

Lapidary

Lapidary is the art of cutting stone. In jewelry there are two types of stones used; Faceted stones and Cabochons. Cabochons are the domed stones used for thousands of years in jewelry. They can be of any shape, but are usually oval. A stone is first discovered, cut into slabs with a diamond saw, ground into shape on a diamond wheel and smoothed and polished with abrasives until a shine is achieved. Faceted stones have been around for a few hundred years, first practiced by the French in the latter half of the 14th Century. Complex modern cuts including the Standard Round Brilliant have only been around for about a century. Diamonds are faceted as are other transparent stones.

A Quick Note on Gem Cutting and Why We Cut Our Own

Friends, relatives, and customers often ask us why we don't just buy stones from other sources. There are a few reasons for this. For one thing, TL was a cutter first, before metalsmithing. Why abandon cutting? It's cheaper to buy material cut in Asia. But here is why not to buy Asian cut material. It's cut for speed, not precision. Look closely at any stone purchased from any of the Asian suppliers. Chances are there are scratches, it's misshapen and nearly impossible to find good matches. TL cuts for precision. Cabochons will have good polish and form. Faceted stones will be cut evenly.

This is also one of the reasons why we do not purchase beads from Asia, though it would be cheaper. Often beads purchased from other sources are not annealed properly and may spontaniously break. Another reason, one becomes a slave to what is available out there in the wholesale market. This way, we are slaves only to the material we have at hand.

TL will, from time-to-time, hand cut beads from gem material.

Metal Stamping

The Stamping of metal has been around for a very long time. It is basically the same as ceramic stamping and leather stamping in which an image is impressed into the material with a patterned tool. With metal, a rod of harder metal is cut with the desired pattern and that pattern is driven in with a hammer or mallet using the rod like a chisel. TL makes his own stamps, usually out of old screw drivers. Again it's about control and not being a slave to the equipment manufacturers, using only the stamps available to the profession. He can then create whatever stamps he wants. The only exception being letter stamps and karat stamps.

Repoussé and Chasing

Repousse (re-pous-sé) is a method of creating a relief design by indenting the back of a sheet of metal to form a raised surface. Chasing is the same, but you work from the front. Combined, these two techniques allow for the deformation of metal sheet in intricate ways. A great example of this is The Statue of Liberty. This is a giant example, created from the joining of large copper panels. In jewelry, the work is done in very fine detail, requiring fine tools. The sheet is placed on a surface that can remain somewhat rigid and yet allow for deformation. Sand Bags are used for larger pieces while smaller work is generally done on Pitch. This has traditionally been made from combining pine tree resin, brick dust, and an emollient such as mineral oil or bee's wax. Tar is often substituted for pine resin. Dry Plaster of Paris is substituted for brick dust. These are combined in different proportions to produce different surface hardnesses. TL is very much into making his own pitch from collected pine resin. In addition, he makes all of his Repousse and Chasing Tools from recycled or scrap tool steel.

Chasing, when used by itself, can be used to define areas in metal, for instance delineation. Fine lines can be achieved this way that rival chemical or manual etching techniques. Further texturing can be done this way. It is similar to Stamping but is done with a lighter touch and tools are generally not predefined representational shapes. In a lot of cases liners for stamping are made of shorter metal stock and longer stock is used for chasing.

Enameling

We employ four different types of enameling techniques. One, straight-up painted on Enameling, Champlevé, Cloisoné and Boiled Enamel.

Enameling is using fine ground glass to glaze metal. It is placed on the surface with brushes. In Champlevé, the enamel is placed in depressions cut or stamped into the metal. With Cloisoné, the enamel is placed into cells made from thin wires arranged in a pattern. Boiled enamel is decorating glass with enamel.

Reticulation

When Fine Silver is melted on a Sterling Silver surface the result is a uneven surface resembling mountains and valleys. Sterling Silver and Fine Silvers can also be used this way on Copper. We sometimes use this decorative technique.

Silver Brazed Copper

Some Copper constructions we create are fused together with Fine or Sterling Silver in their initial assembly with subsequent joining made in silver solders. This is often done with Reticulation. There is also a related technique sometimes but rarely employed of flood filling depressions in copper with molten silver and filing the excess silver off creating a flush surface in which the pattern is exposed.



Heather and TL have been creating jewelry together since 1993.

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