Category Archives: Cindy

Alternative Metalsmithing: Steel


photo source: The Why Files

Best known for its use in things like surgical tools, building supports, electrical appliances, and hot water heaters, steel is often used to create objects where strength and safety are of utmost importance. However, despite its industrial reputation, it can also be used to create delicate and intricate jewelry.


There are several types of steel used in jewelry-making, the two most popular being stainless steel and mild steel. Stainless steel is an alloy of steel that contains at least 10% chromium, which combines with oxygen to create a thin, invisible layer of chrome-containing oxide. This protective layer is what makes it “stainless”, however despite its title, stainless steel is not actually “stainless” but just extremely resistant to corrosion. Mild steel, or “carbon steel” is an alloy of steel that has no more than 2% carbon and no other appreciable alloying element, it differs from stainless steel because it is not resistant to corrosion and is more easily weldable.

Steel can be a great alternative to non- ferrous metals in jewelry making, as it is relatively inexpensive and lightweight. It is extremely strong and resilient and though it takes a little more strength than other base metals to bend and form, steel will retain its shape and durability much longer. Stainless steel can be an excellent alternative to metals that can cause sensitivities and allergies such as copper and brass as it is considered hypoallergenic. Carbon steel exhibits ferromagnetism (meaning its magnetic), which can make for some interesting jewelry design solutions. Because of its low price tag and lightweight and durable qualities, steel is also a great medium for larger scale pieces.


steel, plastic, and silver jewelry by artist Brice Garrett.

According to the Worth Global Style Network, this modest metal is gaining in popularity, through industrial and urban-inspired trends and is appearing more and more in both fashion and jewelry. Looking to jump on the steel jewelry bandwagon? We have an upcoming Steel Fabrication class that explores the many possibilities that this metal has to offer. Check it out and join us for a fun, informative six week course!CIMG9703

Brooch by instructor Brice Garrett

Filigree Workshop

We had a great time this weekend at our Filigree workshop. It was so much fun and the students created some really amazing work.







Michelle Chong’s elegant earrings.Erica_FfolliettErica Ffolliett created this gorgeous ring. Love the center set stone!Deirdre-Bialo-PadinWe love these stunning earrings by Dierdre Padin. Amazing and intricate detail work!

Check out some of our upcoming Weekend Workshops, including Flush Setting, Wire Crochet, and Tube Setting, and get the chance to make a unique and original piece of your own!

Natural Patina: Egg Yolks

Using oxidation to bring out the design of a piece of jewelry is a very common practice in the jewelry world. However, many of these finishes are achieved with chemical patinas, whose safety is often questionable. If you’re looking for an alternative and natural way to oxidize your  pieces, look no further! You can use egg yolks to achieve a darkened finish on your silver jewelry. (Note: this technique does NOT work on fine silver but is effective on sterling silver, copper and bronze).


1. Boil an Egg. Use two if you are working with alot of metal.

2. Put the yellows (yolks) into a plastic food storage container, or into a bowl that can be easily sealed. Break them up a bit.

3. Put a wire rack over the egg yolks to hold your jewelry above the eggs. If you don’t have a wire rack, use some paper toweling to keep the egg from touching the silver. Anywhere egg touches, it will oxidize faster, and unevenly.

4. Put your jewelry in the container and seal it. Leave it for a day, then check it If not dark enough, leave it for another day or two.

5. Remove the jewelry and wash it with a gentle soap.

6. Use a buffing cloth to bring the high points on the piece back to a bright shine. Cheap, quick and easy!

Source: WikiHow

Multiples: Mold Making

Have you ever wanted to make several versions of a jewelry piece? Perhaps to give as gifts or to start your own collection? Or maybe you’ve discovered an interesting natural object- a shell or a piece of tree bark and wanted to turn it into a unique piece of jewelry. These types of practices are achieved by mold making- the technique of using a model to creative a negative space with in a form. That negative space is filled with a molten wax which is then cast into metal, creating an exact replica of the model.



Mold making is what drives the production aspect of jewelry world. It creates an easy way to make multiple versions of your pieces and even opens up new ways to create jewelry. A common way to use molds for jewelry making is to cast natural objects into metal. Bones, shells, wood, teeth, even sea creatures can be used as models- there is literally a whole world of things that can be molded and made into jewelry pieces.

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Are you interesting in learning more about creating multiples and mold making? Check out our Mold Making Workshop on August 10th and 11th. We’ll be learning about different types of molds and casting multiples of our student’s choosing. Come experiment with us and discover the various possibilities that mold making has to offer!

In the Studio: Handmade Custom Ring Design

Liloveve designer, Caroline Glemann, recently created this gorgeous handmade custom engagement ring in the studio for a client. The ring is white gold with a center set labradorite and pavé set surrounding diamonds.

Here’s a quick peek into her process.

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The finished piece. Gorgeous!

Studio Visit: Daniel Baez from Taba Casting

A few weeks ago in our Intermediate Wax Carving class we were lucky enough to get a visit from Daniel Baez, the owner of Taba Casting in the Jewelry District.

Daniel gave our students a lesson in mold making- the practice of using a model to create negative space within a rubber form. Molds are essentially what makes the jewelry production world go ’round. Knowing how the process works is essential to anyone interested in producing their pieces on a large scale.

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Molds can be made from any number of things- anywhere from a finished piece of metal jewelry, to natural forms like tree bark or animal bones. Basically anything than can withstand the heat of melted rubber can be used to make a mold.

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In order to create a rubber mold, the model is covered in layers of raw rubber and placed inside a vulcanization machine. This machine heats the rubber up to 375 degrees and melts the layers around the model to create a solid mold. Once the rubber is melted around the model, it is cut open to reveal the negative space inside, which is an exact replica of the original piece. Here Daniel cuts open a silicon mold.


After the mold is cut, a special type of wax is injected into the mold to create a wax version of the original model. This process can be repeated over and over to create any number of wax models which are then cast into metal to create multiples.

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There are so many kinds of molds! Interested in learning more about mold making creating multiples of your pieces? Check out our upcoming Mold Making workshop on August 10th and 11th!

How to Alter your Hammers to Create Custom Texture

If you’ve ever used hammers to texture your jewelry pieces, you know that any scratch or mark left on a hammer will, most often frustratingly, be left in the metal. While this theory does often lead to cursing and hair pulling, it can also be used to your advantage. You can deliberately roughen your hammer faces and even cut deep grooves and patterns into it, in order to make your own custom texture hammers. All you need are a few simple tools- a flex shaft, files, and sandpaper.

hammer1      flexshaft

photo source: Art Jewelry Magazine

1. Saw, file, or grind a pattern on the hammer face. Most texture hammers have flat faces with a subtle or complex pattern. You use these almost like a stamp, bringing the face straight down on the metal, avoiding overlapping strikes. You can transform a flat mild steel hammer into a texture hammer by using coarse (#2-8) saw blades, files, drill bits, or separation disks to make patterns on your hammer’s face.

Mount one separating disk on a screw mandrel with a washer below the disk. Tighten the mandrel in your flex shaft, and use a medium-to-high speed to carve a line in your hammer face. Once you carve one line you can carve more- parallel lines, perpendicular lines, checkerboard patterns, short and long lines to make random patterns, or try dipping the disk into the steel repeatedly to form a fur-like texture.

hammer4   hammer3   hammer2

photo source: Art Jewelry Magazine

NOTE: Make sure that your carving or cutting doesn’t wear down one side of the hammer face more than the other, this will create unclear textures.

2. Sand the texture. If you choose to create a more defined pattern, you’ll want to sand the high points with a 600 grit sandpaper, so that your hammer will burnish your metal at those points as you hammer. Load a split mandrel with sandpaper strips, and sand the face until even.

3. Buff the texture. Though this step is optional, the more you polish your hammer, the more your hammer will burnish your metal. Charge a felt buff with polishing compound and and buff to a smooth polish. Now you have your own custom-made texture hammer which you can use to create your own textured pieces.


Want to learn to make your own textured bangles? Check out one of our upcoming Bangle Bracelet workshops!

A Glimpse behind the Bench.

Liloveve Designer, Caroline Glemann, recently created this gorgeous custom engagement ring. The piece is a vintage-inspired platinum ring with a beautiful center-set saphire stone and mill grain detailing.

Here is a quick portrait of her design process, from start to finish.

Vladimir sketch

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She begins with a sketch, which she then translates into a components that are hand sawed and fabricated in silver.

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gem and setting

Each silver component is cast in platinum and then assembled.

measuring before weld


cut work

Finally, once the platinum piece is completed, the mill grain detailing is applied and the saphire stone is set.

finished ring view side

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The stunning finished piece.