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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Art Nouveau Inspired Ginkgo Crown

Recently, I've been obsessed with Art Nouveau- particularly the jewelry made by RenĂ© Lalique.  Art nouveau takes inspiration from nature and curves, and Lalique's pieces are the epitome of that idea.  His work is often over-the-top but incredibly imaginative.  Another factor that drew me into Art Nouveau is that jewelers during this time period used semi precious gemstones more and more as opposed to precious stones like diamond and emerald.  Here are a couple head ornaments by Lalique that inspired me to make one of my own:

Tortoise Shell and Moonstones
Peacock hair brooch with opals
While being able to cast portions of the crown would have been wonderful, I figured I could make a version of my design with simple metalworking techniques.  Ginkgo leaves were the inspiration for my tiara:

A lot of redrawing/sanding/filing is involved in achieving just the right shape of ginkgo leaf.

Hand cut and engraved...

These pieces soldered on pretty easily, but I had trouble getting the smaller pieces to adhere to the base:

Please excuse my gross soldering block...

I finally decided on two simpler pieces so that I could solder bezel cups to the front.  Here's how it turned out after oxidizing and steel wool-ing:

Not so bad!  It's much simpler than my inspiration, but simplicity is sometimes a good thing.  I used a rainbow moonstone in the middle and a labradorite cabochon on either side.  Feldspar minerals are my favorite, and they go so well with earth toned copper.  

I'll keep this one for myself as a display piece, but I might consider selling some similar pieces in the future.

Keep on the lookout for new jewelry soon at Lithic Design!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Making Viking Knit End Caps From Scratch

For a while now I've been wanting to try my hand at making end caps for viking knit chains.  I had the perfect custom order to try it out with, so I decided to have a go at making some plain caps.

The first step was to cut out a strip of sterling silver from 24 gauge sheet metal.  I don't own a stepped mandrel small enough to round out the caps, so I used an empty paint roller handle.  It was just the right size!

 After the seams were as even as I could make them, I hard soldered them shut.

 I let them pickle while I cut out two circles for the tops.  These were soldered on with medium solder- almost like attaching a bezel to its backing.  At this point it felt more like I was making silver bullet casings.

 After filing off the excess silver, I drilled a hole in the top of each.

 Using various flex shaft attachments, I cleaned, sanded, and polished the caps to a shine.

The bracelet turned out really well when I finally put everything together.  Fabricating end caps from scratch was definitely a good experience, but in all honesty, it's too time consuming to do on a regular basis unless I have a special project for them.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunstone and Sterling Silver Ring Process Post

This started off as a normal post about my shop process, but as with most things in life, the outcome was a little unpredictable.  In all honesty, I think I'm happy with how the ring turned out, even if it isn't what I originally wanted.  Here's a little look inside my small workshop, and the process by which I make one of my sterling silver and gemstone rings.  I go into a bit of metalsmithing terminology, but I hope it will be easy enough to follow for anyone.

Sometime last week, I made a sketch of a ring for the Oregon Sunstone I ordered.  Since the stone is a rounded square (cushion) shape, I wanted to make something that reflected the shape, while still playing into the "sun" motif of the gemstone.

The first part of my soldering process for the day was cutting out two identical squares and filing the corners so that they were slightly rounded.  With one of the squares, I brought two pieces of hard solder to their melting point and removed the flame before they hit the flow point.

 That piece was thrown in the pickle, and the other square was stamped on my anvil with my Lithic Design maker's mark:

 Once the first square came out of the pickle, I layered the two squares on top of one another and sweat soldered them together before throwing them back into the pickle.

 The next step was to cut a bezel strip that would be just the right size for my sunstone.  I was out of 3mm bezel, so I cut a 5mm strip down instead.

Once cut and shaped to fit the stone perfectly, I soldered the bezel together using another pallion of hard solder.

Between this step and the next, I made four little silver spheres by heating pieces of wire to their melting point until they formed a ball.  Balling these on my soldering board helps create a flat back which is perfect for making spheres that are going to be attached to a sheet of silver.  For perfectly spherical granules you can use a ball bur to make a little round divot in a block of charcoal and melt a piece of metal in that.

The bezel I soldered was set on the two pieces of sweat soldered metal from before.  Very carefully, I placed four pieces of medium solder on the outside of all four corners of the bezel.  After the solder began to flow underneath all of the sides, I turned my flame off, re-fluxed, and placed a sphere on each corner of the top square.  I knew that I had just enough medium solder from the previous step to melt under all of the spheres.

Next up was to form the ring band.

I've been using precut strip for any plain ring bands I make.  It saves sooo much time. The last step was to solder the band to the back of the setting with easy solder.

After a pickling, I did some bristle clean up, filing, etc.-

Then the ring was finally ready to oxidize!

For my patinas, I use liver of sulfur in nugget form.  I decided to oxidize before setting the stone so that I could polish the metal under the stone.

It's a bit hard to tell in the picture, but it became apparent that one of the four spheres was yellow toned, even after washing the ring and brushing the oxidation off with steel wool.  I set the stone before re-evaluating the yellowish sphere, assuming that I could just polish the top layer off to a silver shine, mirroring the other three spheres. Unfortunately I couldn't, and I became increasingly frustrated with my futile efforts.

The only option I could think of was to oxidize the ring again and leave all of the spheres dark so they would match.  There was no hope in removing the stone.  To my dismay, everything turned black except for the one yellow sphere.  At that point, it became evident that the sphere wasn't silver.  I thought back to weeks ago when I was experimenting with the melting point of brass.  I must have picked up one of the spheres from that day without thinking.

At that point I was totally stuck, but after calming down a bit, I realized that it actually looked pretty interesting.  The contrasting brass and oxidized silver created an unexpected element to the ring that directly related to my geometric sun motif!

In the end, the ring wasn't what I wanted, but it was something unexpected and even beautiful in a way.

If you are interested in purchasing it, the ring is for sale on my Etsy.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mineral Finds in Maine

I just got home from a vacation in Maine, where I learned that mineral mining is huge.  It’s one of only two places in the US where tourmaline is mined.  The other is southern California.  With that being said, I sort of went a little crazy at the local rock shops...  Not all of these were mined in Maine, but the quartz, amethyst, beryl, and tourmaline specimen definitely were.  
Amethyst Druzy, Maine Tourmaline, Boulder Opal, Maine Blue Beryl (Aquamarine), Quartz Crystal Points, Amethyst and Citrine Crystal Points, Fluorite Octahedron Crystals, Agate Slice, and a Pyrite Sun (sometimes called a Pyrite Sand Dollar).
 Most of the crystal points will be cage set, but some of these will be placed in my curiosity cabinet.  I visited just about every mineral store I came across (there were SO many), and learned about mineral mining in Maine from the shop owners.  Most Maine tourmaline was mined during a couple of years in the 70's, and I believe during the early 1900's.

Fluorite Octahedron Crystals

Fluorite under ultraviolet light displaying fluorescence 
There are many, many mountains and quarries to mine in. Some are free and some can only be accessed with a group or with permission.  I found that most of the tourmaline specimens I saw in the shops were from Mt. Mica.  Mica is EVERYWHERE in south west Maine, I swear.  I've never seen so much of it in one place.

 Mt. Apatite is free to mine in, so I took a day trip there, but I was too exhausted to really do any mining once I reached the quarries.  I think if I had more energy, I would have been able to find something interesting, but I did collect quite a few chunks of quartz that might be used as photography backdrops or garden stones.

Chunks of Quartz from Mt. Apatite
If you're interested in trying it for yourself, I recommend doing quite a bit of research about the different places to mine.  Most people I talked to had the most success digging through the excess material dumped in quarries.

Munchin' Moose Enjoying his Breakfast
And hey, I got to see this little guy too!  He was much smaller than the moose I saw in Utah years ago.  I'm guessing he was only a year or two.

Keep on the lookout for jewelry made from these stones in my shop: Lithic Design.  I have a 10% off coupon up right now through the 23d which is SUMMER10.  There's a little place to type the code in when you view your cart on Etsy.