afmetalsmith: (Default)
Wow. Busy these days!

I've been finishing up and sending some Valentine's Day pieces (and some of the clients kinda pushed my boundaries as to timeframe).

I am, nonetheless, mostly caught up with the requested estimates- and all the V-day deadlines were met, which is even more important.

My commission queue is growing again, and I love that. I've got a great mix of items to make! I'll need to take that into account as I estimate price and timeframe for additional work, though as i finish things, more space opens up for new work.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
No time in the studio today, unfortunately; I've been working on websire updates and various estimates for commission work.

I know I'll have studio time tomorrow, though, and I'm looking forward to it.

On a completely off-topic note, our oldest cat is not doing well right now- she's mostly just not eating (and yes, we've gone to the vet and all), so if anyone would offer a prayer or a good thought for her, I'd appreciate it. She's the sweetest cat I've ever known, and we just adore her.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
If you are commissioning a custom piece of jewelry, please remember that the person making it is another person, not a faceless conglomerate.

For example: sometimes (not always) I can "rush" a piece... but since that requires me to work extra hours, it does cost extra over my regular price, since I need to do extra work to fit it in. Similarly, sometimes I can work the materials so they are less expensive than they would ordinarily be... but this generally takes extra time to manage. And at any point, either of these may not be possible; it depends on the current circumstances.

So: trying to low-ball both the price (which I set fairly, based on what your piece would cost to make) AND the deadline is not a win. I know there's a lot of stuff being published that says that one should negotiate EVERYTHING. Sometimes, though- that's not true.

I offer excellent work for fair prices (actually, my prices are currently rather cheap based on various pricing strategies). I know this. I also know how long things take me to make, including my current queue of commissions. Trying to finess one or the other- well, it's a trade-off, and might or might not be possible; trying to finesse BOTH- no. I can't do it. Period.

If you are commissioning something from an artisan, please think about giving them credit for knowing their own work, and offering a fair price. If that price is more than fits your budget- unfortunate; I think we all understand that! Gods know I soften at the sight of some stuff I can't afford! But- I don't expect that makers of such things will discount their work to meet my budget, because I know they can't afford to- and neither can I.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Another good day in the studio. I'm finishing up a set of wedding rings, and got the 14k nickel white gold ones done but for the final rouge polishing; this is GREAT because nickel white gold is a truly unpleasant metal to work with. (It is mulish about doing what I want, and even with protective firecoats it firescales like crazy and then needs to be polished clean. I am going to start charging a surcharge for working with it- it takes that much more time and effort than other metals.) Also got the companion ring rounded and almost the right size; I'll finish it tomorrow, I think/hope.

I got some initial work done on another couple of new commissions.

And! I got my white metal color sample rings polished with rouge, and then with part of the outside given a satin finish (which helps display the metal colors). Tomorrow, when they are dry, I will get them set up for photography, and use that to update my "About Metals" info on my website.

I've been working on website updating quite a lot this week. Nonthing's live yet, but I think it'll include some definite improvements, and some nifty new stuff.

Etsy love!

Jan. 21st, 2010 07:36 pm
afmetalsmith: (Default)
I posted earlier about what looked like a Craig's List scam migrating to Etsy.

Well, I informed Etsy about it, and despite that they're saying replies take 3-4 days- they cancelled the suspicious account immediately.

I am very pleased.

I know some people dislike the $0.20 listing fee for either 3 or 4 months per item, and the 3.5% commission they take- but to me, this is a very reasonable cost of business (galleries take something like 50-60%, AND you have to give them the goods to get that! with Etsy, stuff that hasn't sold remains in MY clutches, and thus not available to a failed gallerey that migh6t choose to use my goods- unpaid-for- to pay off thier other creditors.), and the fact that they are PROACTIVE like this about dealing with scams is part of my satisfaction.

Yeah, there's a lot of competition in many areas... but there's also a ROCKIN' search engine, and I am both doing well myself AND finding insanely cool stuff for gifts for persnickety people on it.

I think it's a fabulous paradigm, well-implemented.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
This may be old news to most Etsy people, but this is the first time I've encountered it: a version of the Carig's List scam where someone sends a forged cashier's check or money order for over the amount of the total, and then the mark sends the overage on back to the sender or to someone else. And lo! when the thing is processed, it's a fake, and I've read that some of the marks have even been arrested for passing bad checks and the like.

I don't know for a fact that the exceedingly weird query I got was a scam- but it sure fits all the parameters.

So: if you're on Etsy, be aware.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
I've had a good couple of days in the studio this weekend- quite a relief, since this series of colds has really been kicking my butt lately!

I've made lots of progress on various wedding rings, and am now into the finishing process on them. I should have them finished this week.

I also finished 2 Trinket Ring orders for mailing tomorrow, and another 2 are nearing done; I'll be able to set the stones and finish the polishing tomorrow.

AND, best of all, my Mysterious Prototype Experimental Ring, v3, came out perfectly. I am so excited! Next step is to order some gold and make it in that. It's really fun- nifty conceptually, plus entertaining to play with... and that's all I'll say till the unveiling. :)
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Yikes! It's been a while here!

I've been keeping busy, at least when I have not been wiped out with the Cold From Hell. Still, progress! well, mostly.

I have made definite progress on some experimental ring designs, and am looking forward to finalizing the design- at least at this point- and posting some pictures.

Also been working on commissions.

I have 2 fairly fancy gift pieces on which I am working, and I have not had great results on either one; I think the Cold From Hell has not helped. One was almost done! but the translucent stone ended up with a dark blotch behind it after I set it- why, I do not know- and so I pulled the whole damn thing apart and am starting from scratch, mostly. I am concerned that I do not know how to avoid the blotch of doom next time, too. -And the other gift is even less progressed. Sigh.

At least I'm keeping up on the commissions and orders; I made a couple of Trinket Rings today, for example, as well as the rest of the stuff.

I would really like to get this damn cold GONE.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Today someone stopped by and picked up a ring he'd commissioned. It's one of my Trinket Rings, and he asked whether I just bought ring blanks and added the settings or motifs or whatever to them.

Um, NO! I was a bit surprised by the question!

I make my ring shanks myself. I do buy a few things- like really small cabochon settings, and sometimes tube settings for faceted gems, and jump rings... but mostly, I start from mill goods and make things myself. IU love the control that gives me over the final results.

So, no- I do NOT buy ring blanks and just gussy them up a bit- not even for my affordable stuff, like the Trinket Rings. Handmade, baby!
afmetalsmith: (Default)
A good day in the studio again today- commission progress, plus working on 4 St. Brigid's croses. I now have 2 done (one's been sold), 1 very close to done, and 1 still need the bail plus the finishing.

I didn't have time for anything fun, though yesterday I did pull the materials for a new ring idea I recently had. This one will definitely be a basic prototype; I'm since getting a better "vision" of what I want to do with the concept, and it looks like it'll involve carving wax and getting some cast... which is kinda a nuisance, since then I either need to keep castings in different metals in stock, OR take a LOT longer to get the ring made than I'd prefer...

I also tried again to raise the germanium oxide in a piece I've been working on. The first time I baked it in my kiln, and the Argentium got yellow. NOT what I had in mind! So I pickled, and debated, and finally re-polished and baked it on a glass pieplate in my home oven. Success! I'm guessing that the smaller volume and less precise heat control in the kiln caused the problems. Anyway: now I can set the stone in it and finish it- it's a big, slightly translucent stone, so I really wanted to do my best to prevent tarnish from happening under it. I will remember to raise the germanium oxide in my baking oven rather than the kiln henceforth. (No fumes are produced, and it's at a really low temp- 250F- so there's no toxins released.)
afmetalsmith: (Default)
First off: while I adore Fabio (my Durston 158mm rolling mill), I will emntion that we only a couple of days ago received the replacement lock for the one we had to drill out of their cabinet after **2** of them had non-functional locks...

but we have also not heard anything at all about their promise to "comensate us for the trouble" of buying 2 cabinets that couldn't be opened, and then having to ourselves drill out the lock on one of them to make it work. These are not cheap cabinets. I think it is entirely appropriate that they do SOMETHING to compensate us- pkus they promised to do so! Still: at this point, they have not done anything, nor contacted us to arrange or negotiate anything.

The rolling mill is fabulous and wonderful and I adore it. The company... at this point, not so much.

A good day in the studio today- good progress on commissions, plus on some other stuff. More necesary tomorrow, of course...
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Fabio is truly fabulous. I had various rollings-out to do today, and it was so EASY (11:1 gear reduction ratio FTW!)! And so precise (really good calibration!)! and it didn't give me any of the slight wonkiness my old mill did! :D

Plus- it took maybe half the time it usually does because of all this, AND put less stress on the metal. WIN!!!

I am wondering if there's a way to use the half-round rollers on Fabio to roll some stock that's at least a bit close to more antique shank stock. That tends, from the pictures I've seen, to be narrower but thicker than anything I can buy now. With the cost of gold what it is, I hate to use a purely filing technique to get this shape; I have some hopes I can get an approximation using rectangular stock, and then soften the edges. Come the new year I'll get some stock in silver and experiemnt.

Besides that, I finished 1 commission and made excellent progress on the rest. I'm batching them up a bit, and by Sunday will have quite a few progress photos to send to the various people.

Woohoo!

Dec. 11th, 2009 03:21 pm
afmetalsmith: (Default)
My Dublin Rose plique-a-jour earrings have been featrued on the Etsy Stalker blog! See the entry here: http://etsystalker.com/?p=5529 I'm flattered to be in such great company!

And now I must hie myself back to the studio because I ahve a TON of work to do today..!
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Fabio is definitely fabulous. I am SO thrilled with him (it?)!

The lingering problem is dealing with the extra cabinet we have. Rio sent us a label so we could return it, we boxed it all up again- and UPS- the outfit that delivered it- is refusing to take it. Why? because the return label says "2 pounds", and the cabineet is more like 50. Rio says that though the label says 2 pounds, it's actually good for up to 150; UPS says not.

Argh!

J is calling Rio today to explain the problem and, we hope, get a solution. Like, maybe a label that specifies the actual weight? -just a thought!

We still have most of the EXCELLENT plywood crate Fabio came in to deal with. Right now it's basically a topless box with "legs" on the bottom (the better to use a forklift to move him, I expect). J is talking about removing the legs and using the box to store hammers; I think if he's going to use it for forge tools, he might want to leave the legs on, since that'll keep the stuff above the cement floor.

Anyway- I have Fabio mostly cleaned off, and hope to use him tonight to roll out some stuff, like the wire for more St. Brigid's Crosses. This will be a good first project, since it'll help me learn how to read the calibration.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
I stand corrected. :)

Fabio is actually perfect. I was trying to read his calibration on the wrong side of him- the ZERO mark is on the output side, not the imput one.

I clearly do need to sopend some time learning to read the measurements, and making notes of how to adapt them to what I do. But Fabio himself needs no adjustment (except maybe for the ingot-rolling-out parts).

I've done some cleaning up on him- tools like this generally come bathed in lots of grease, which needs to be removed. I do need to do more.

And- I have a new wedding ring commission, and I am hoping I can use Fabio for the final smoothing of the forged stock, and get it really precise: so I need to clean him off, AND learn better how to read his settings.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
J went to heroic lengths yesterday and now Fabio* is UP! and in working condition!

Well, mostly. The calibration for the rollers is not yet accurate; the rollers now meet when the dial says they're still about 0.25mm apart. I'm not quite sure how to fix that yet, but there are so many ways to adjust it that I'm sure it's possible. Stay tuned...

Still: he is gorgeous, and very powerful, and very sturdy in his installation, and I am just itching to actually USE him. Maybe tomorrow!

We have not yet gotten the extra stand pakaged up and ready to return- J is planning on doing that next week. Also, we have not yet received a working lock for the cabinet we're keeping, or heard anything about how Durston is planning to compensate us for all the hassle. Again, stay tuned...


I have named my new, splendid rolling mill "Fabio", since i've been joking for years about it being a "studly" rolling mill, and so the name just seemed right. :)
afmetalsmith: (Default)
Still no useful Fabio. Alas. He continues to slack in his shipping crate.

Meanwhile, we (meaning J) did drill out the lock on one of the cabinets, so there is at least the potential to install him! Hey- given the comedy of errors that's been going on, I take comfort in that. (We still need to send the other cabinet back; it and its box are very inconvenient in the studio.)

We have not yet received a replacement (hopefully functional) lock, nor any "comensation for our trouble". I do plan about posting about these whn/if they happen.

Meanwhile, Fabio reclines lazily, taunting me with his many virtues and capabilitites. Argh! Maybe we can get him functional this weekend...


As far as work goes- one goes out, another comes in. I've finished several commissions, and am getting some new ones. While it'd be financially better to stay swamped and a bit overwhelmed- I'm personally glad that this isn't happening right now. I've done well this year, especially considering the economy, and am really looking forweard to a couple of months in which I do NOT need to spend all my in-studio timne on commissions; I have a whole long and growing list of Stuff I want to make, and appreciate the potential to explore at least some of this.

Plus: now that it's cold, running a kiln seems ever more attractive! and I also have various enameled things I want to finish, that I'd been neglecting over the summer...
afmetalsmith: (Default)
The poor hunk (my very-fancy and pricey rolling mill) still languishes in his shipping box.

The story thus far: we ordered a cabinet stand designed to fit him. Stand #1 arrived locked, and with no keys. Stnad #1 arrived locked, and with keys... which do not work. At first the keys only turned an eighth of the way; after lubrication with graphite, they turn all the way and yet do not actually unlock the cabinet.

Note that the cabinet needs to be OPEN for us to install Fabio on its top.

Rio Grande was very nice about sending Cabinet #2 when #1 arrived without keys. After 2 failures, though- they had the cabinet manufacturer call us. J spoke to them, and has agreed to drill out one of the locks and email them with the results. They have promised a replacement- hopefully functional- lock (maybe even with keys?), and to “compensate us for our trouble”.

I think at this point we definitely deserve compensation for our trouble. We are now over 10 days past getting the rolling mill and we still can't use it; the stands are NOT CHEAP; and one of the reaspns we bought the damn stand rather than making something (J has previously made me the World's Finest Pounding Bench!) was because we did not want to be futzing with it; we wanted plug-n-play. And yet- futzing! Lots of it! and meanwhile, no ability to use the damn rolling mill!

So: we shall see- and report on- what they think is reasonable "compensation".

Meanwhile: I cannot recommend the cabinet stand. It's a beautiful and very sturdy piece of equipment, but they seem to be cheese-paring on the locks, and that makes the whole thing a not-really-attractive sculpture rather than a useful base for, say, a ROLLING MILL.
afmetalsmith: (Default)
We haven't yet tried the graphite lube in the lock on Fabio's cabinet; maybe tonight. I thought we has somne graphite lock-lube around somewhere, but maybe not, so we'll need to acquire it.

Simple jiggling does NOT work; I have tried many varieties of that.

So: 2 weeks later: still no functional stand for poor Fabio, and it is getting past ridiculous given the prices of all these things.

Ahem. Anyway.

I am making a sort-of resolution to do at least SOME website updating on a weekly basis. We shall see how long I manage this. :P Anyway: I do have a new pic up in the home page on http://www.afmetalsmith.com, and it is also on the new page (plus, I've removed some older stuff), and it even has its own page for details.

This is an "Annular Brooch"- an ancient brooch form- decorated with birthstones for the 12 months. I'll add that this is one jeweler's idea of funny (at least conceptually- annular = annual= equals birthstones... well, you probably had to be there!).
afmetalsmith: (Default)
On the plus side: this time the cabinet arrived with keys! And the number on the keys is the same as the number on the lock!

On the minus side: the keys are not actually unlocking the cabinet; they get about halfway to unlocked and stick.

We will try some graphite-based lock lubricant and see if that helps; sometimes it's done so on other locks that have gotten balky.

Still: so frustrating!!!
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