Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On the Construction of a Copper Armillary Sphere

Apart from making jewelry for Lithic Design, I have found over the past couple years that I really love making art objects.  Astronomical and nautical instruments have always fascinated me, so I figured an armillary sphere might be the perfect Summer project. 

Armillary spheres are representations of the celestial circles around the Earth.  For instance, these spheres usually have rings like an equatorial colura (measured in degrees with rotation around the North and South axes), an equatorial (measured in degrees with rotation around the East and West axes), and an ecliptic (a western zodiac symbol ring with a 23.4 -degree offset to match the earth's tilt).  

If that all sounds like gibberish to you, you're not alone.  It took a lot of research to figure out what these things symbolized and how they moved.  In the end I still don't really have a firm grasp on most of it.  After hours of researching and sketching, I decided that art value was more important than scientific, mechanical, and historical accuracy for this piece.  I would love to continue learning about these instruments and make a functioning sphere one day, but for now I'm quite happy with how this endeavor turned out.

Here's a look into how my armillary was constructed:

Sketches of the Rings and Sphere Setting

A much fancier stand than I actually created!  Maybe I'll swap it out in the future. 
Hand drawn details for the etching process
holes drilled, all resist applied before etching in ferric chloride
Looking back at this, I really could have just used the thermos body that came with the top...It sure does keep out particles though! 
Soldered eye pins
Rings soldered together and pins starting to be soldered in place
Salt and vinegar bath to clean up the base and rings 

I honestly regret not getting a picture of the riveting process for the body and base.  It was a ridiculous two-person act.

Finally finished up after more cleaning, a patina, and final polishing.

What's next?  I'm have astrolabes and nocturnals on the mind, so either of those might be in the queue.  

- Kaley

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lapis Lazuli and Amber Earrings

Handcrafted Lapis and Amber Earrings

These two pairs of earrings are brand new in the shop!   Here's a little look at some of the stages of production:

I apologize for not having any pictures before this point, but this is the first set of components I crafted from sterling silver (and part of their original sketch).

Here are the amber settings again with ear wires added + the settings for the lapis studs.

Cleaning up the bottom components for the amber earrings.  These were tricky to solder the twisted wire border on, but it worked out in the end!

If you're interested in either of these pairs of earrings, check them out in the Lithic Design Etsy shop:

Click here for the Lapis Lazuli Pair

Click here for the Baltic Amber Pair

Friday, April 17, 2015

I got bees. But the good news is- I want bees!

Etched Copper Honeybee Earrings with Honey Opal

It's been a LONG time since I've posted anything here, so I decided to write a little process post about the earrings I just completed!  I'm really in love with them, but unfortunately I don't have pierced ears anymore (ironic, I know).  Hopefully they'll go to a great home.

Please note, this is not a DIY tutorial of any sort- it's just a visual of the steps involved in creating my pieces:

The first step, after a quick bee sketch, is to draw a pair of bees in sharpie directly on my copper sheet metal.  This involves hoping and praying that I don't mess up on making them as even as possible and have to start all over again!  After this, the etching process begins.  This takes a good couple hours of waiting for the etchant to nibble away at all of the copper not protected by the sharpie.

At last, they come out of their chemical bath and are neutralized and thoroughly cleaned.

Here they are after being cut out with a jeweler's saw.

Little holes are drilled for the lever back earrings to attach to.  The opal cabochons are ready to have settings created for them!

After soldering the settings and polishing by hand, they take an hour in the tumbler to clean and polish up a bit more.

The lever backs are attached, then they are oxidized, polished again, and set with the honey opals!  Finally they are ready for their photo shoot.

Are you interested in these earrings?  They are for sale in my shop: Lithic Design!  

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look Back at 2014

About a year ago I started the process of rebranding my business from "Odds and Ends by Kaley" to "Lithic Design".  I couldn't be happier with that decision.  When I first started selling on Etsy in 2010, I had no idea how much I would grow as an artist, and it's nice to finally have a name that fits so well for my store.  For those who aren't familiar with the term "Lithic," it refers to anything related to rock or stone. Fitting, no?

To back up even further, I'll add that I never expected anything to come out of my metals fabrication class five years ago.  Never would I have believed that I would have the workshop I do today.  2014 really brought my bench to life with the addition of some much needed improvements and additions, like a nicer torch, fume hood, and other various tools.  I can't really convey the pride I have in my bench setup or the fact that I was able to make it happen.

I am so incredibly grateful for all of my customers, friends, and family who have encouraged me over these years.  Without you, none of this would be a possibility.  Looking into 2015, I hope to create more beautiful pieces with settings that reflect the stones they feature.

I post very infrequently on here, but there are other ways to keep track of my new work, sales, and behind the scenes pictures:

Store: Lithic Design on Etsy (


Instagram: ShopLithic

A huge thanks to all of you, and a Happy New Year!

- Kaley

Various Finishing Tools

Part of my craft show setup (though I only did one this year)

Packaging Station

Polishing. Forearm game is strong.

A messy bench shot

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why I Like to Buy Handmade for the Holidays

Every year, the holiday season seems to creep up sooner and sooner.  Choosing the right gift can be a real challenge- especially for that one difficult person in the family.

For the past three years or so, I've been trying to find great gifts from small businesses, handmade artisans, and independent stores.  Yes, it can be pricier to buy handmade, but the value is much, much greater than anything you could find in a chain store. When you purchase a handmade item, you know that a real person poured their heart into making it, and you know that they loved it as much as you will.

Here are three of my favorite purchases and gifts from Etsy:

 This Mezzaluna from Living Iron Forge was a gift from my sister.  These are sometimes called "demi luna" cutters and are used by rocking the knife back and forth.  Being an herb gardener and cook, I find this tool much more useful than any knife I've owned when it comes to chopping herbs.  Living Iron Forge has other really great hand forged items to check out too, including some sporks I'm really digging!

These three felted Christmas ornaments came from Best Day Ever Design.  After a lot of searching for unique ornaments, I was so happy to have found these.  I have to say, the deer is my favorite, but the squirrel and bird are adorable too!  Best Day Ever Design carries these, as well as other ornaments and garlands, but they also have some awesome cake toppers including this bride and groom fox set.

This last item from Grah-Toe Studio was actually a gift to myself.  I'd been eyeing this hair fork for some time and eventually decided I had to have it.  This hair ornament was hand carved from a shed antler tine and works perfectly in my extra long hair!  It's always been a hassle to put my hair in a bun, but this makes it really easy.  Grah-Toe Studio has lots of exotic wood and antler hair accessories, and they were very helpful in figuring out the right sized fork I needed for my hair.

These are just some of the great finds I've made on Etsy.  Hopefully they'll make you consider buying handmade for the holidays too!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

God of the Forest Necklace- Copper Antler and Stone

"God of the Forest" Necklace- Chrysocolla, Copper, and Silver

Sketching, Making a Stencil, and Drawing the Shape to be Cut Out by Hand
Chrysocolla-  This Stone Looks very similar to Malachite with its Banding

After Sawing out the Outline of the Antlers

All Finished- Textured, Bezel Soldered, Tumbled, Stone Set, Oxidized and Polished
 Interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind necklace?  It's for sale at Lithic Design on Etsy!

The holidays are coming up before you know it!  Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in a custom piece.  I'll have Christmas shipping deadlines posted to my main page in my shop announcement as we get closer to the 25th of December.

- Kaley from Lithic Design

Friday, September 19, 2014

None of Your Beeswax

To take care of your drill bits, saw blades, and other tools, lubrication isn't a bad idea.  I've been using synthetic beeswax, which is incredibly cheap and seems to work just fine, but a friend of mine started beekeeping this year.  Why wouldn't take advantage of that?  I'm the sort of person who wants to try everything just for the experience, whether or not it makes sense to "DIY" time-wise.

His hive is brand new, so he gave me a big chunk of virgin honeycomb.

Chopped up honeycomb and water- kind of gross, I'll admit

Once the wax cools and the water is drained out, there's all of this junk to scrape off

The wax after a second time through on the filtration.  I'm not being too picky since I'm not using this for cosmetics.

I ended up heating the wax in the microwave and putting it in a dixie cup for the shape.

Pretty fun all in all.  It works really well too!