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Moose Nugget Jewelry

Moose Nugget Earrings at Alaska Handmade JewelryBeing in Alaska and making jewelry can lead to some strange bedfellows. We have Moose and we have jewelry. The two together make some interesting topics of conversation. Yes, Moose and jewelry go together!

At Alaska Handmade Jewelry, Moose nuggets and jewelry are now a reality. The nuggets are 100% Alaskan made. The surrounding shinny sparkles are not. Click here to view our latest Moose Nugget creations.

The original source of our nuggets are the local Anchorage Moose. Spring is the best time to find these clusters of sawdust. Each individually processed to Nature’s perfection.

Our task is to take these items of perfection and process in a most human way. They are dried, coated and drilled. Depending on the finish, the results can vary from dark brown to just brown. Alaska Handmade Moose Jewelry uses a matt/satin finish to avoid the shinny tourist trinket look.

These products of nature are light in weight and have no smell. Try one of our handmade in Alaska gifts of Nature. It is the perfect gift for that special someone who needs a little surprise in their life.

Boro Glass Rod Storage

Boro glass rod storage at Alaska Handmade JewelryBoro (borosilicate) rod storage is always an issue with lampwork bead makers. Just having rod lay around and collect dust is not a good idea. The best plan is some form of organization. In this case, Alaska Handmade Jewelry chose a rather traditional storage form for boro colored and clear glass rod and tube.

The boro cabinet consists of 12 rows of 12 tubes each of schedule 40 two inch PVC tube cut into 19.5 inch lengths. This provides 144 tubes to store each individual color. Each tube is large enough to hold about two pounds of boro glass.

The Northstar glass that is on hand, uses up 55 of these slots. As Northstar glass colors are expanded or more is ordered, the remaining 89 slots will come into use. At this point, Northstar boro glass does not use any numbers above 133.

The top row uses 3 inch plastic drain pipe and is 9 tubes wide. This area is for clear Simax boro rod and tube.

The interesting part is that at both Lowes and Home Depot the two inch PVC is priced at $5.25 per ten foot length here in Anchorage. The four inch drain is $5.31 with the three inch drain at $8.44 per ten foot length.

Boro Lampworking

Northstar boro glass Amber/Purple striking colors at Alaska Handmade JewelryAlaska Handmade jewelry will be using a number of designs created with lampwork glass beads. These future designs will be created with Northstar Glassworks of Tigard, Oregon boro (Borosilicate) glass. The Northstar palette, for the present, consists of 55 colors of Northstar's most popular colors.

These colors are not only transparent and opaque but also include striking. The striking colors react differently in the flame and produce a variety of interesting color combinations.

Some of the handmade lampwork beads will be encased with clear boro rod made by Simax. The Simax clear rod and tube will also be used to perfect a number of different flame work techniques as the cost per pound is significantly less than colored rod.

The glasswork studio will also make available its selection of clear and colored boro rod to other local lampwork artists. This new website is under construction and will provide a listing of boro rod/tube for local Anchorage availability.

Completed Kiln

Completed kiln at Alaska Handmade JewelryIt has taken most of the Alaskan summer, but the kiln is now completed. The plans for the door have changed. The original idea was to have a swing door with two hinges on the left. That migrated into a guillotine door that opens bottom to top. A good idea but much harder to implement.

Door springs are hard to find in Anchorage, but the local building center had standard household door replacement Kiln with door open at Alaska Handmade Jewelry, Anchorage Alaskasprings that were adequate. One spring, on each side, was planned to offset the weight of the door (16 lbs). However, one set of springs were not strong enough for the task, so two on each side were used. The door opens easy and will either stay completely closed or fully open.

The planned annealing temperature for borosilicate glass is in the range of 1050 to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. With the built in Fuji temperature controller it is just a matter of setting the proper ramp and hold times for boro glass.

The supporting kiln structure is made from 1/2 inch square steel tube. This is welded together using a Millermatic 200 wire welder. The bricks are IFB (Insulated Fire Brick) obtained from E.J. Bartells, located on Whitney Road here in Anchorage. They also carry the one inch thick ceramic blanket that is used for added insulation.

The next kiln task will be to calibrate the Fuji controller, move the kiln into the studio and start making lampwork boro beads.

Kiln Fabrication

Kiln with base at Alaska Handmade JewelryThe kiln is progressing nicely. The support cage is complete with bricks installed along with the heating element. Remaining is the installation of electrical boxes for power connections and a switch. Plus mounting brackets for the door hinge.

Powered the kiln up and it does get hot as expected. The element is at 11.8 ohms. Thus at 117 VAC, the kiln is rated at 1160 watts which will work well for annealing beads.Kiln electrical connection for heating element at Alaska Handmade Jewelry, Anchorage Alaska

Once the door is installed, it will be time to check the rise time to 1050 F degrees for annealing Boro (Borosilicate) beads. Installing the controller, testing and making sample beads are some of the next steps.

For door hinges it is planned to use a small pillow block. However, local bearing firms do not carry pillow blocks that have a small footprint. The overall width should in the range of 2 inches. Looks like a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s to see what is in their hinge department. Maybe something in the cabinet hinge line would work, but again maybe not!

It would be nice to use either ball bearings or a brass bushing for the hinges. Temperature should not be an issue as the kiln is externally lined with ceramic cloth to provide additional insulation. At 1050 F (internal) it is anticipated that the external temperature should be in the range of 100 to 150 F after 2 hours of use.

Borosilicate Beads

It was about time to try something new. Found a person by the name of John, here in town, that was using Boro to make his art glass. He also had a torch (GTT Cricket) and the best part, an oxygen concentrator. i.e. no more need to head off to the welding gas store!

Up to this point, had been using soft glass namely Effetre with a COE of 104. Boro has a COE of 33 and is used to make Pyrex which is found in glass kitchen baking pans.

Boro does melt at the higher temperature of 1510 degrees F. And if using a stainless steel 1/16 inch mandrel that will also melt unless one is very careful. There is a big difference in how the glass feels. Effetre is like molasses on a hot day, while Boro plays thick on a cold winter day.

No need to preheat the Boro rod. Of course if that is not done with Effetre, you end up with glass breaking off and ending up someplace in your studio. Cost is also a factor. Soft glass is less costly. But clear Boro rod is even less costly and in the range of $4.00 per pound. (a lot of science labs use clear to make their in house glassware) However, colors can range from $30 to $70 per pound. That is why Boro beads command a higher price than soft glass.

First pair of Boro beads at Alaska Handmade JewelryHere is what the first Boro beads look like. Not perfect, but in time they will get better. The blue bead is mostly clear with a hint of red and blue – marble like! It is made on a .096 mandrel - .451 length and .454 diameter. The dark bead used a .125 mandrel - .562 length - .495 diameter. Both have to be annealed, but it is not as critical as it is with soft glass. That is where the homemade kiln will come in handy.

Now to try a tungsten mandrel, with and without bead release, to see if it will work in the smaller sizes without melting. Just another experiment or a trip to the lampwork beaders forum.

Kiln Progress

Kiln making progress at Alaska Handmade JewelryThe lampwork annealing kiln is beginning to take shape. The kiln parts have been in storage all winter. Now that the weather is nice, it is time to use the garage as a convenient workshop.

The bricks are IFB, lightweight and easy to cut using woodworking tools. The issue is how to hold the bricks together. Some wrap the entire assembly with a stainless steel sheet metal shroud. That would work, but would require the use of a local steel fabricator and extra cost.

In this case, kiln brick support was devised using a removable steel cage. All of the major sections are removable and held together with 5/16 inch machine screws. This is in case there is a need to remove and replace any bricks or the heating element.

The cage is made of 1/2 inch .0625 thin wall square steel tubing. The ends are fitted with 5/16 inch nuts which are welded in place using a MIG wire feed welder.

MIG works well, but is a bit difficult to use when the steel is 1/2 square material. i.e. not much room for error! A better choice may be to use oxygen/acetylene gas welding torch for more control. It is slower, but less costly than purchasing a TIG machine to perform the same basic function. i.e. however, in a production shop TIG would be a necessity.

The entire kin, with the excision of the front door, will be wrapped with one inch ceramic blanket. This serves two purposes, 1) to cushion the bricks and 2) Side view of handmade kiln at Alaska Handmade Jewelry, Anchorage Alaskato add additional insulation. In the image, the top is missing a piece of blanket which will be installed after testing.

This front loading kiln has a useable opening of 8” H x 11” W x 13” D. The heating element is placed high to avoid the possibility of hitting an energized element with a bead mandrel.

An additional production step is to add two center supports on the left/right sides to hold the blanket against these sides. Plus adding a removable blanket holding grid to the back of the kiln is another part of the project.

Then it will be the design of the front door and its supporting members. And it is not finished yet, as a six inch stand will be welded up to support the kiln. And so on and so on with the project.

And gee, I thought that forty feet of steel tubing would do the job. Guess again and buy another stick!

Open Chain Necklace

Open Chain German Silver necklace at Alaska Handmade JewelryOne of the current looks is large open chain necklaces. The thing about that is, often they are heavy and huge with a capitol "H". So, how does one wear the style and move freely?

Here is my answer, handmade big bold links out of the correct gauge of wire. The design is open and allows for lots of movement. Some sparkle is added with Swarovski crystals accenting Turquoise Magnesite.

Often another thing that comes into consideration of larger styled necklaces, or any necklace worn when working or relaxing, is the clasp. The clasp on this necklace is the same as the links on the chain but smaller and hooks into the chain itself.

My wire creations are being previewed on this blog. Many of these creations will be offered a limited time and then go on to a gallery showing. And not made available other than through the gallery. So by following this blog you get dibs.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about this or any of my creations.

Thanks for stopping by.
Sally

Alaska Charm Bracelet

Alaskan Charm Bracelet German Silver at Alaska Handmade JewelryThree Alaskan charms are featured on this handmade silver tone charm bracelet. They are a 7/8 inch oval imprinted with Alaska, a 1 1/8 inch wide nicely colored moose (got to have a moose on an Alaska charm bracelet) and an approximately inch long Alaska state flag.

The hand made wire sculpture bracelet consists of a four leafed clover shape (yes, for good luck). Joined by a swirl that symbolizes the Northern lights. The bracelet is 7 3/4 inches long (be sure to add a little extra in length for hand made wire jewelry).

Thank you,
Sally

Alaskan Whale Necklace

Whale Wirewrap Necklace German Silver at Alaska Handmade JewelryAnimals are very special beings. With that in mind, there is quite a lot of thought that has gone into this Alaska Whale necklace. It features a whale with lots of symbolic wire sculpture. The following description will explain the symbolism of the placement of the wire.

This necklace features a carved three inch long swimming whale brings to mind the whales we enjoy in Alaska. When wire wraping the whale I wanted this beautiful creature left free in its elements of water and time. With this in mind, coils under the whale symbolize it passage through time. The twisting wire leading over the whale is water. The three loops that join the bail are for the three times: past, present and future. The bail is reminiscent of swirling water. The whale can be easily removed from the bail--this preserves the whale's freedom.

This creation is very dear to me and hopefully you enjoy seeing it. This is truly a one of a kind creation.

Sally

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