go back to JFF

19 July 2010

Archives October 2009 : Question and Answer

Q: Why does silver tarnish?

A: Tarnish is a thin layer or film that forms over copper, brass, silver, aluminum and other semi-reactive metals as their outermost surface undergoes a chemical reaction. While silver is almost completely resistant to oxygen, other chemicals in the air, such as sulfur, creates a chemical reaction forming Silver Sulfide on the surface. The reaction occurs slowly, first with a thin sulfide layer causing the surface to yellow. As time proceeds, the layer will turn a dull gray or black.

Tarnish will also appear when sterling objects are in direct contact with skin. While everyone's body chemistry varies. Sulfur is found in skin oils and also in many cosmetics causing the rate of tarnish to increase dramatically.

How do I prevent tarnish?
The only sure fire way is to exclude sulfur from reacting from the surface of the metal, which would include keeping the metal piece in an air tight case filled with an inert gas which is virtually impossible! But here are some more reasonable options:

Rhodium Plating: through an electrolytic process a thin layer of rhodium (an expensive member of the platinum family) is applied to the surface of the silver. This layer is super hard and super white in color, resembling chrome. The downsides to rhodium plating are:
1. The color difference. The rich, warm white color of silver is replaced by the cold blue-white color of rhodium.
2. The plating layer is very thin and will wear with time.
3. Besides the cost of equipment for plating, rhodium is an expensive solution.

Coating the surface with Lacquer or Wax: Using a Lacquer or wax to seal the polished metal surface from exposure to air is a reasonable option if the piece will not be worn or used. However, in cases of wear or use, the areas of exposure to the skin or abrasion will quickly rub off the protective layer.

Periodic Cleaning: I sell my jewelry and I offer purchase of a polishing cloth to keep jewelry clean. The polishing cloth has a polishing chemical imbedded in the fabric. Assuming the wearer uses the cloth on a consistent basis (ie weekly), tarnish will be prevented or the slight effects (yellowing) will be removed. However, if the cloth is washed, the chemical is removed from the fabric and is no longer useful. Other possibilities are gels with brushes; small, home ultrasonic machines and steam cleaners; polishing on buffing machines.

Tarnish Removers: These are chemicals that the jewelry can be dipped into to instantly remove the tarnish. While these work almost instantly, the way the chemical works is that it eats away at the surface, removing the tarnish. So keeping this in mind, the surface of the metal is being eaten away, so if the metal is left in too long, it will eventually ruin or disintegrate the piece. Keeping this in mind, any polishing compounds on the surface of the metal preventing tarnish are now removed and the silver will tarnish at a higher rate (sometimes within hours) if not polished with a polishing cloth or on a buff shortly thereafter.

Using Argentium Silver: Argentium Silver is a new sterling silver alloy made with germanium. Germanium oxidizes preferentially to the silver and copper in Argentium Silver, to form a transparent germanium oxide surface layer. The alloy is not completely resistant to tarnish, but will slow the process of tarnish. Germanium causes the silver to react differently than normal sterling silver; so if you choose to use this, make sure you do your research! (At this time JFF does not carry Argentium)

16 July 2010

Archives October 2009 : Jeweler of the Month

Jeweler of the Month:
Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show Artists

To keep you on your toes, this month we're doing this section a little different. Usually we focus only on one jeweler. But, this weekend is the Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show and because we have all this great talent coming to Atlanta, we thought it would be a great opportunity to focus on the jewelers in the show!

*this event has already past, however, the 4th anual ACJS show will be November 5 & 6, 2010

The Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show - fostering an understanding and appreciation of artist designed and made contemporary fine craft jewelry in Atlanta through the presentation of work by the country's most accomplished jewelry artists.

Founded in 2007 by jewelry artists Leigh Griffin and Debra Lynn Gold, the 3rd Annual Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show presents 25 world renown jewelry artists and their masterful works on November 6th and 7th at the Defoor Centre. Each artist is selected for their creations of unique, wearable art jewelry representing a wide range of styles, materials, and techniques. The work ranges from elegantly traditional to edgy, sculptural, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Don't miss this opportunity to attend the show and meet these artists from across the country here for two days ~ at one incredible show.

A Meet the Artists Wine Reception hosted by the Spruill Center for the Arts takes place Friday evening from 6 PM to 9 PM - included with admission.

Please visit the website for more information about the show and about each one of this years participating artists

Location: The Defoor Centre, 1710 Defoor Avenue NW, Atlanta,
GA. 30318
Hours: Friday, November 6th 10 AM to 9 PM
(Meet the artists at a wine reception from 6 PM to 9 PM sponsored by Spruill Center for the Arts)
Saturday, November 7th 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Tickets: $5.00 at the door

15 July 2010

Archives October 2009 : Tool of the Month

Tool of the Month:
Bench Block

A steel bench block, I must say is not the most exciting tool on the surface. No pun intended. The bench block is smooth, flat, usually square hunk of steel commonly used to hammer on. However, this little block can be a SUPER time saver. But before I share some of my time-saving secrets, let me tell you a little about steel blocks in general.

The traditional bench block or bench anvil, should have at least one polished surface and one crisp edge. It is useful to have one rounded edge, for projects not requiring a sharp angle. Basic tasks include flattening wire, bending, riveting, and general hammering. In proper use, the hammer never strikes the block directly, which would make a dent. If a blemish occurs, the block should be sanded a polished to its original state. (Which I must say is not a lot of fun!)

The steel quality of your bench block is very important. Tool steel is well-suited to be made into tools, as it has a distinctive hardness, resistance to abrasion, and its ability to hold a cutting edge. While tool steel is susceptible to rust, the hardness can't be beat! Stainless steel is a good alternative as it does not stain, corrode or rust as easily as ordinary steel (it stains less, but is not stain-proof). However, stainless steel is a softer steel alloy than tool steel and your standard silversmithing hammers. Meaning if the hammer slips and hits the bench block, you have a larger, more significant dent to remove in your bench block! To inhibit rust, store your bench block covered with a cloth soaked in a little oil.

JFF carries two styles of bench blocks.
The Utility Anvil is made of stainless steel on one side and has a nylon block on the opposite side. The steel side has a mirror finish. It has a rubber base to "soften" the hammer blow sound. These bench blocks are round and come in two different sizes:
  • 2" diameter is $22.80
  • 3 1/2" diameter is $34.45
The Steel Bench Blocks are made of case-hardened tool steel. They are ground flat with all edges being sharp. These blocks are square and come in four sizes:
  • 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" block is $12.95
  • 4" x 4" block is $20.00
  • 6" x 4" block is $27.00
  • 6" x 6" block is $32.80
I know you have been waiting to hear my secret uses:
  • Have you ever been trying to sand something flat and you just cant get it perfect? Place the sand paper on top of the bench block, grit surface facing up, and sand away.
  • The flat surface is a great place to layout your work.
  • Many times I have a couple projects going on at the same time on my bench. To keep organized I section off my bench block to keep the components separated but easily accessible.
  • Are you trying to see if the edge you are filing is flat? Place the edge perpendicular to the block and look for any light between the metal and the block. If you see light, time to break back out the file!
  • While I'm setting stones, I keep a small bench block with my stones on it. If I'm bezel setting, I have a flat surface to wrap my bezel around the stone. If I'm setting faceted stones, I keep them table side down and I can easily measure & remeasure my stones. As an extra bonus the raised surface keeps me from accidentally knocking the stones into my sweeps drawer.
  • Do you have another useful tip for using your bench block? Please leave comments on our blog to share your bench block tips and tricks!
* please note prices are subject to change without notice

14 July 2010

Archives September 2009 : New Item

JFF New Item

The tube wringer is an odd sort of tool that has recently stumbled into the jewelry industry. Designed to work on any tube, this tool will squeeze out the last drop of paint, caulk, glue, caviar, anchovy paste, resin, make-up, or tooth paste. If it comes in a tube, a tube wringer will get it out.

"Ok, so why is this at JFF Jeweler Supply?" you ask. Well, this is also great for creating corrugated sheet metal. The popularity of corrugated accents on jewelry has grown recently, and this makes it super easy to do! It works best with thin copper and sterling silver sheet, 24-30 gauge works best. The most obvious benefit of corrugating metal is the great texture; however, it also makes light-weight metal more structurally sound. The tube wringer/metal corrugator is $22.95.

The corrugator is really easy to use. Just lay your metal between the two rollers and turn the crank. Depending on how hard you clamp down will determine how deep the corrugation will go.

To get the cross-hatched corrugated texture pictured to the right. Just pass the metal through one direction and then pass through a second time at a slight angle and with a lighter hold. Voila!

13 July 2010

Archives September 2009 : Jeweler of the Month

Jeweler of the Month:
Amy Rowe

Amy graduated from Auburn University in 1992, and put her Aerospace Engineering degree to good use at McDonnell Douglas. She was a diligent worker, but Amy soon discovered her passion was creating things, not calculating coefficients. After leaving the aerospace field, Amy began her own custom home building company at 22. As a top builder in the Atlanta market, she honed her creative skills while helping her clients express their personalities through the design of their living spaces.

While searching for additional ways to nourish her creative spirit, Amy discovered silversmithing, a medium that combines problem solving and artistic expression. Her first class was at Spruill Center for the Arts with Helen Blythe-Hart. Amy doesn't sketch or plan out her designs before she fires up her torch. Instead, she lets the materials guide her in the creation of each piece. This spontaneous and organic approach results in very special designs that are never repetitive.

The signature rolled edge of an EllaKay piece is only one way in which Amy's work is unique. Her use of a variety of metals and stones ensures that each and every item she creates is more than just striking jewelry.

What was your first piece?
Her first piece of jewelry was a ring with purple glass that she still keeps and wears often.

What is your creative process?
I start with a stone and make a bezel with burned edges. There may be a total of 50 bezels made up with stones and from there I put them together to make large statement necklaces, pendants, cuffs or rings. I really enjoy working with sterling silver and have added bronze,copper and gold to some designs because of the warmth that it adds to the piece. My favorite part of jewelry making is putting the pieces together and coming up with a harmonious design. When the colors come together and they flow this is most exciting.

What is your favorite part of making jewelry?
The most favorite part of my jewelry are the juicy Nancy Antley Creation's stones. She has the most beautiful, bright, bold unusual stones.

Who are your jewelry heroes?
My jewelry hero is Helen Blythe-Hart because of her boldness in design and her attention to detail.

What is on your bench now?
What is on my bench now is a gorgeous necklace with bubble gum pink stones mixed with these crazy brownish pink graphic stones. I am anxiously awaiting an order of hot pink topaz to put with this piece.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from travel and shapes and colors in nature and architecture. One of my favorite architects is Gaudi from Spain and much inspiration was drawn from a 2 week trip with a girlfriend to Spain. Also, I enjoy the Southwest and the beach as well. After arriving home from a trip I go straight to my studio and start punching out ideas that have come from the awakening of the spirit that the trip has evoked.

What is your most indispensable tool?
The most indispensable tool is a difficult question as these tools are all so wonderful and every time I go to JFF Dallas introduces something that is even better than the last. I would have to say that I love the mini torch though. It is so fun and liberating to fire it up and start sculpting.

12 July 2010

Archives September 2009 : Tool of the Month

Tool of the Month:
Escapement Files

I have always loved cute, teeny, tiny, miniature things. Ever since I was a child, I would collect little trinkets that really had no use in life. Now that I'm a so-called adult, while I still love miniatures my mind always asks..."can you really use this?" And I attempt to resist, but I always end up with a lot of tiny things with no practical use. But when I saw the teeny-tiny size of escapement files, I had a million uses for them almost immediately. As soon as I brought them home I was using the small shapes and angles on anything and everything that I couldn't get a standard or needle file into.

Escapement files are generally narrower and shorter than standard needle files but follow the same fineness grading as needle and hand files. They were originally created for use in clock and watchmaking when forming the escapement, a part of a watch that controls the motion of the wheel-work and other parts. These files are used for the most delicate and precise filing requirements.

Escapement files have a square handle and are always 5-1/2" (14cm) long, from the file tip to handle end. Several types of escapement files are available in different cut lengths, for example, you can order a barrette escapement file in 40mm or 55mm. For escapement files, the mm measurement always refers to the cut length, not the tip to tip length. The image below displays the various file shapes that are available. (please note any files with an * are special order only, and are not kept in stock at JFF)

The files are available individually or in 12 piece sets, in either a #2 or #4 cut. Individually prices range from approximately $12 to $22 (price is dependent on the shape and cut of the file). The sets are approximately $170.

* please note: prices are subject to change without notice

09 July 2010

Archives July/August 2009 : Question and Answer

Q: How do you read a Vernier Caliper?

A: One of the most difficult parts of using a Vernier Caliper is reading it accurately. Before I explain how to do this, let me go over the parts of the Caliper first.

1. Outside jaws: used to measure external diameter or width of an object
2. Inside jaws: used to measure internal diameter of an object
3. Depth probe: used to measure depths of an object or a hole
4. Main scale: gives measurements of up to one decimal place(in cm).
5. Main scale: gives measurements in fraction(in inch)
6. Vernier gives measurements up to two decimal places(in cm)
7. Vernier gives measurements in fraction(in inch)
8. Retainer: used to block movable part to allow the easy transferring a measurement

Ok, now you know the parts of the caliper...so how do I use it?!

First, find open the caliper and close down the outside jaws onto the item to be measured. Make sure the item side are on the same plane as the caliper, if it lays in wonky your measurement will be off.

Second, look for where the 0 mark of the sliding vernier scale lines up on the fixed main scale. In this case, it is before the 2.4 cm mark. So, the first reading is 2.4

Next, find the mark on the vernier scale that most closely lines up with one of the marks on the main scale. Here, 6.5 and 7.5 are very close, but 9.0 lines up exactly with one of the marks on the fixed scale. This value is the number of
hundredths of centimeters (or tenths of millimeters). So, the second reading is 0.070 cm.

Finally, add the two values together to get the total reading: 2.4 cm + 0.070 cm = 2.470 cm.

08 July 2010

Archives July/August : New Items

JFF New Items

Liver of Sulfur Gel

$14.95 - 4oz jar
So my excitement about this new form of Liver of Sulfur might compare to someone from an infomercial selling Sham-Wow or Oxi-Clean.

How many times have to gone to use your dry form liver of sulfur and its gone bad? Dry liver of sulfur is very unstable and degrades with exposure to light and air, so sensitive that the instant you leave the lid off for too long or if you don't have a completely air tight container, it's no longer usable. Liver of sulfur in liquid form is even more unstable and loses potency by the second.

Many people have switched to Jax Silver Blackener, a liquid that has been formulated to blacken silver. While it is easy to use, as it is already mixed, and reusable, Jax Silver Black does not leave a true black patina. Also, Jax Silver Blackener is flammable and cannot be shipped without hazardous shipping fees.

Recently, a new product has been released on the market, a Liver of Sulfur Gel. It is a stabilized form that does not degrade in light and air. Even if the lid has been left open, it will remain fresh and usable. It can be used either in its concentrated gel form with a paint brush or mix a small droplet into water for a weaker solution. The Liver of Sulfur Gel also allows for color patinas to occur on silver also, like dry liver of sulfur. This gel is also non-flammable and safe for shipping anywhere!

I have gone back and forth between using Jax Silver Blackener and Dry Liver of Sulfur, my preference switching all along. I have been very stringent with keeping my Dry Liver of Sulfur sealed tight away from light and air, so I have been lucky to never had a problem with my liver of sulfur going bad. However, when I read all the hype about the Liver of Sulfur gel I had to try it. It is so easy to use. If I am wanting a small section of a surface super black, I just dip my paint brush in the gel and glob some on, instantly it turns black. If I am trying to get an all over patina, I heat up a cup of water and mix in 2-3 drops of the gel into the solution and drop my project in the solution. I have yet to try the gel with getting the colored patinas, but in my research, I have heard that it does work.

07 July 2010

Jeweler of the Month:
Heather Trundle

In April of 2001, a fateful trip to the Georgia Renaissance Festival awakened a creative fire that has been burning ever since....

My name is Heather Trundle and I am a wire jewelry artist. I grew up an Army Brat and have spent my life traveling from place to place...living in different states and different countries. I have always been creative, but focusing mainly on threadwork and yarns. Seven years ago, a trip to the Georgia Renaissance Festival ended with a trip to a craft store for my first set of pliers and a coil of cheap aluminum wire. I soon found out that wire is an extension of thread and yarn and the ability to create a beautiful piece of wearable art came naturally.

During the day, I wear a lab coat and am the Senior Research and Development Chemist for Plaid Enterprises, Inc. During the evening, after the children are in bed and night has fallen, I am a wire jewelry artist. I learned my art through videos, books, and trial and error with a lot of scrap wire. After one year of creating jewelry, I realized that I need to stop making jewelry or start selling it...Moonlight Creations was born. In 2009 I decided I needed a facelift and re-branded myself as Moonlight Wrapture - Expressing Your Wrapture in Style.

I design unique wire sculpted jewelry using Sterling Silver and 14kt Gold filled wire. My creations incorporate stone cabochons, faceted gemstone, pearls, shells, and any other item that I believe can be fashioned into a unique piece of jewelry. I create pendants, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more.

Not only do I have the pleasure of creating and selling my wearable art; but for the last three years, I have had the satisfaction of teaching my art to others.

What was your first piece?
The first piece I ever created was a pair of earrings from the cheap gold colored aluminum wire that I bought with my first set of round nose pliers.

What is your creative process?
The muse hits me at all times and places. My ideas come from every aspect of my life and the world around me. I have an accordian file full of personal drawings and pictures. If I ever get blocked...I just rifle through my creative file and new ideas come to mind. I was at a stop light the other day and there was a white truck in front of me with black scroll work designs on the tail gate. I loved the look and quickly sketched out a similar pattern that should look great in wire...maybe for earrings or part of a necklace.

There are times that I can sit down with a stone cabochon and see the finished piece in my head. Then there are times that I just get some wire out and start wrapping the piece and am usually delighted what starts to take shape.

What is your favorite part of making jewelry?
I have two parts...

The moment a piece is polished and shines for the first time. There are still times that I look at a piece and can't believe that I just created that beautiful piece of jewelry.

The second favorite part is when I client puts on a piece and their eyes shine with delight. When I know that specific creation has just found a loving home with someone who will appreciate and wear it.

Who are your jewelry heroes?
I have to give a big thanks to Preston Reuther...he started me on this path eight years ago with his videos. But there are many artists who I have admired and learned from...Betty Baxter, Dale Armstrong, and Jessie Donnan to name a few.

What is on your bench now?
A lot of Red, White and Blue! I am finishing some work for the Museum of Patriotism in downtown Atlanta for 4th of July weekend. I am collaborating with a glass artist friend in creating one of a kind jewelry pieces for my "Freedom Collection".

What is your most indispensable tool?
My chain nose pliers. Though I am a tool junkie....I have to have on of my two favorite pairs of chain nose pliers with me on the bench whenever I start a new piece!

06 July 2010

Archives July/August 2009 : Tool of the Month

Tool of the Month:
Vernier Caliper

Many times customers will purchase wire and sheet and ask how will they know what gauge the metal is, if it were to get mixed up. While the Browne & Sharpe Gauge (also known as the "gauge gauge") is made especially for measuring the thickness of wire and sheet, vernier calipers are a great alternative. While most are a bit more pricey than the B&S gauge, they are much more versatile.

Calipers are a basic measuring tool used in MANY different fields, from a machinists precision tool to a device used to measure body fat in a doctor's office. Calipers are a kind of device used to measure the distance between two opposing sides. The tips of the caliper are adjusted to fit across the points to be measured, the caliper is then removed and the distance read by measuring between the tips with a measuring tool, such as a ruler.

Vernier calipers are a specialized type of caliper that includes not only the measuring tool built into the caliper but a vernier scale for a more precise measurement. A vernier scale is a sliding secondary scale that is used to indicate where the measurement lies when it is in between two of the marks on the main scale.

Brass Sliding Caliper
The most basic vernier caliper used in jewelry is the brass sliding gauge. This brass caliper measures external dimensions in metric only (millimeters), and is slightly less precise than a proper vernier caliper. But it is inexpensive and quick to use, therefore handy for general use and great for your first caliper. It also can be used to check for rightness of an angle. The brass millimeter gauge has a small knob on the main sliding scale for easy sliding when measuring. They come in two different lengths, 60mm and 80mm, priced at $9.40 and $11.50, respectively.

Vernier Caliper
Other than measuring external dimensions, the standard vernier caliper has a few more measuring capabilities than the brass sliding gauge. They have an upper jaw to measure internal dimensions (like the inside diameter of tubing) and a slender depth probe, attached to the moveable head and slides along the center of the body of the caliper, that will measure deep groves and areas that would prove difficult to measure otherwise. The standard vernier caliper also includes both metric and inch measurements on the upper and lower part of the scale. It also has a locking feature to easily set your measurement and then scribe a measured line onto your project. The Vernier Caliper that JFF carries is a steel bodied caliper with a smooth track, made in Poland. It is priced at $69.75.

Dial Caliper
An improvement to the Vernier Caliper is a Dial Caliper. The dial measures in small increments for precision measuring. Usually only in one scale, inch or metric. However, the dial is much easier to read and has the same measuring capabilities as the Vernier Caliper. The Dial Caliper has a hard plastic body and is made in Switzerland, priced at $38.70. This caliper in particular does not have a locking mechanism, as the hard plastic body is not enough to leave a scribe line.

Digital Caliper
The easiest to read, and most accurate caliper is the Digital Caliper. This caliper has replaced most all other measuring tools in my jewelry studio (except of course a ruler). The Digital Caliper is the bees knees and the "Rolls Royce" of calipers. While it has a large digital screen for reading the measurement, it also has the capability to switch from inches to millimeters with the press of a button. The Digital Caliper has all the same measuring and locking features at the Vernier Calipers, but takes out the guess work of accurate measuring. The Mitutoyo Digital Caliper is made in Japan with a steel body and measures to the 0.01mm and 0.0005", making this the most precise Caliper. The Mitutoyo comes in two different sizes, 4" (100mm) and 6" (150mm), priced at $129 and $139, respectively.

02 July 2010

Archives June 2009 : Question and Answer

Q: How to find center of a circle?

A: Finding the center of a circle or disc you have punched out can be quite a task. However, using your divider is an easy way to tackle this challenge.

Begin with your circle and your divider. Just eyeballing it, find the approximate center of the circle with your divider. Set your divider to that distance and bracing against the outside of the circle with one leg, draw three intersecting lines using the other leg. If the three lines intersect at a point, you have found exact center! Otherwise, the lines will create a triangle, and some point in the middle of the triangle is your center. Continue making adjustments and drawing lines until you have the exact center.

Please note: the black sharpie mark is not necessary for this process, it is only used for purposes of photography.

01 July 2010

Archives June 2009 : New Items


Hoop Mandrel
Ring mandrels, bezel mandrels, bracelet mandrels...at this point you think you have mandrels coming out of your ears! But this little treasure is great for those in-between jobs that are between the largest diameter of the ring mandrel (7/8”) and the smallest diameter of the bracelet mandrel (1 1/2”).

Made of cast steel, this mandrel is 11 3/4” tall and ranges in diameter from 3/8” at the smallest point to 2”. The hoop mandrel is great for making hoop earrings, large jump rings, baby bracelets, etc..