by Cathy Porter
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, June 2021
The SLRGS Club has been around an exceptionally long time. Opal M. Rickensrud was the Secretary of the Club in 1984. This a great article written by her in the Splash in April 1984. She is an entertaining writer. Makes for some fun reading.
She starts by telling how a guest speaker from the National Treasure Hunters League located in Apache Junction whose subject is Metal Detectors spoke to the Club. How metal detecting sounds like a great hobby for people “our age – not too strenuous”. Do people still do that? Sounds interesting.
And their March field trip to Deming, New Mexico. Fourteen club members had 3 “perfect” days there. Viewing mineral, rock and jewelry displays at local sites but mostly doing some “actual digging”. Hickoryite specimens were found at Candy Rock and some large, beautiful agates (moss, tube and plume) were found at Big Diggings. One of the diggers was overheard saying “Doesn’t this remind you of a large sand box and everyone busy with their pails and shovels having the time of their life? They can get as dirty as they want to, and no one will scold them for it”.
Field trips like this could resume soon. Wouldn’t it be great to go on one? One of the many good reasons for joining the club.
Discover the world of gorgeous glass at the Sun Lakes Rock Gem and Silver Club. No need for previous experience as the club offers wonderful instructions in many types of glass.
Glass has been used since Ancient Greek and Roman times. Notably stained glass to depict religious scenes in churches, etc. SLRGS offers three types of glass classes.
Stained glass is cold glass. It involves cutting and combining different colored glass and textures. Then using copper foiling and soldering techniques to bind the pieces together.
Fused glass which is warm glass involved using a kiln. The glass is fired at different temperatures depending on the results you want to achieve. SLRGS offers classes in fused glass where you can create a variety of objects from birds to bowls to wall art.
Dichroic glass is simply glass that has metal infused or coated on it, producing metallic vibrant results.
Come meet some new and interesting people. And create beautiful objects at the same time!
by Linda Shanahan
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, March 2021
The Sun Lakes Rock Gem and Silver Club is more than just Rocks, Gems and Silver. We offer classes in a variety of art forms. This month we highlight four unique classes that might be of interest to you.
PMC (METAL CLAY) is an alternative to working in lost wax or silversmithing. The metal clay is available in silver, copper and bronze. The metal clay product is rolled out, textured, molded into a piece and embellished before firing in a kiln. Once the binder is burned out in the kiln and your piece fired you have a metal work of art. The piece is then thrown into a tumbler to clean and shine. If desired you can add color to finished pieces with patinas, colored pencils and enameling. This class will be taught in the near future. Keep it in mind for next year.
FETISH BEARS is an advanced lapidary class. Once you learn use of the saws, grinders and polishers and feel comfortable forming a cabochon, you might want to move on to this class. Cutting the correct size slab with the stone pattern in the best direction is important in forming this animal. Proficiency in creating curves and angles is a must to produce one of the many fetish designs available.
DICHROIC (TWO COLORED) GLASS used in fusing incorporates two or more colors with a metallic coating. When the glass is viewed from different angles the light creates multiple rainbows of color. That makes this glass perfect for Jewelry or to give a fused glass project a bit of extra “bling”. To create these pieces the glass is cut to shape, designed, then fused in a 1400-degree kiln for several hours. When the glass comes out of the kiln it is ready for finishing touches and you have a beautiful piece of Jewelry.
MING TREES (GEM TREES) are artificial recreations of miniature bonsai trees. These are simply made with a rock base, wire, gemstones, wire cutter and glue. With a little looping, twisting and bending of the wire you form the branches, trunk and roots of the tree. The roots are then wrapped around a stone base and glued in place. Lastly the gemstones are glued on the loops at the ends of the branches. They are typically no more than 1 foot tall (like true bonsai trees) and often have branches that grow flat across the top of the tree. Despite their size, they look very old, which is part of the appeal.
by Linda Shanahan
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, February 2021
Here is what’s happening and how you can get involved. Classes are offered in a variety of skills including lapidary, lost wax, stained glass, dichroic glass, silversmithing, wire wrapping, faceting, opals, gourds and Ming trees just to mention a few. We invite you to join our club and participate in one or more of these classes. You need no background in art, just a willingness to try something new. Once you successfully complete a class you are eligible to pay a small fee and work in the open shop designated for that art form. Schedules, fees, prerequisites for advanced classes and open shop times are posted on the SLRGS website and on all shop doors. We have three shop locations: Sun Lakes 1 by the east parking lot, Cottonwood by the library and Oakwood by the patrol office. The club follows COVID 19 guidelines. To join the club and sign up for a class or open shop or for answers to questions please refer to pages on this website, or call the chairperson in charge of the different disciplines.
COME JOIN THE FUN. RELEASE YOUR INNER ARTIST!
by Linda Shanahan
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, January 2021
Creating wire wrapped jewelry can be fun and extremely rewarding.
Woven wire bracelets can be made using many kinds of wire incorporated in a multitude of designs. You can use just one specific wire or choose to mix the wire; copper, bronze, gold, or silver just to mention a few. You can use any kind of less expensive nontoxic metal wire; mixed metals are currently extremely popular. Your design can be made with thin wire such as 22 gauge or a thicker wire such as 10 to 8 gauge, the thicker the wire the lower the gauge. It is best to keep the gauge consistent to enable a tight fit when wrapping. You can choose round, half round or square wire. A word of warning: in making the bracelet be sure not to twist the wire when forming the weave or the strands. The wire can be woven which simply means weaving it (similar to braiding) or it can be in straight alignment with a perpendicular wrapped wire holding it together. With a little experience you can weave or set beads, gemstones, or cabochons within the bracelet design. Handcrafted clasps are relatively simple to make but with a little imagination even they can be an intricate art form. You can also make earrings, wire rings, and learn to wrap fused glass or cabochons to create pendants. With a little experience and confidence, you can experiment with twists and turns in wrapping a stone. There are tutorials online, but nothing beats having an expert on hand to bail you out when you get into trouble. Whether you want to learn to make wire rings, bracelets, how to wrap pendants, or how to make your own unique handcrafted clasps, Henry Huss can help you get started in the world of wire jewelry making.
by Linda Shanahan
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, November 2020
Turquoise was thought to have been sacred pieces of the sky by Persians, Tibetans and Mayans. This stone is a combination of aluminum, copper, phosphorous, water and other local ingredients responsible for changing the color or adding matrix. The most rare and valuable stones are found right here, in the Southwest. There are about twenty mines in the Southwest United States that supply or have supplied gem quality turquoise. The most common mines are found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Most of these mines have been mined out with the exception of Nevada and a few in Arizona. Turquoise stones set in silver from Navajo artisans have become an icon of this part of the country. The silversmithing aspect dates back to 1828 when the Spanish occupied the Southwest region and shared this skill with the tribe.
When purchasing turquoise be aware that there are many different grades of stones. Stabilized stones are soft low-grade turquoise that has gone through a special process that enhances its color and hardness. This process involves putting the stone under pressure so that it absorbs a type of clear filler made of epoxy or plastic. The process makes the stone harder making it easier to manipulate and cut. There are also reconstituted or chalk stones. These are actually fragments of stone that are crushed into a powder and mixed with epoxy. This results in harder blocks that can be cut into slabs or stone shapes. Lastly, there are imitation (dyed plastic) stones on the market made to look like turquoise. Make sure you know what you are buying. High grade turquoise is worth three times the value of Gold because it truly is that rare. If it is inexpensive, it is not good turquoise. If you are purchasing a silver piece look for a “925” or a “STERLING” stamp somewhere on the back. This will assure you are not getting silver plate or some other metal.
As a healing stone, Turquoise is among the crystal healing master stones. According to followers of the New Age, the healing powers of Turquoise can benefit the whole body, with special strengths in healing ailments of the immune, respiratory, waste and skeletal systems.
Regardless of what attracts you to this stone, natural gem quality turquoise is one of the rarest and most collectable stones in our world today.
by Linda Shanahan
Appeared in the Sun Lakes “Splash”, October 2020
The lost wax casting process is widely used as it offers asymmetrical casting with very fine details to be manufactured relatively inexpensively. The process involves producing a metal casting using a refractory mold made from a wax replica pattern.
Steps involved in the process of lost wax casting are:
- Create a wax pattern of your piece. Pre-made wax patterns are available in our shops.
- Sprue the wax pattern.
- Mix Investment material, add to can with the wax pattern. Set to harden.
- Eliminate the wax pattern by melting it (inside the furnace or in hot water). This will create a new mold (a negative impression of your wax pattern).
- Using the acetylene/oxygen torch, heat the metal in a crucible and spin to allow the liquid metal to flow into the negative impression.
- Clean the cast of investment debris.
- Remove sprue from the cast.
- Finish and polish the casting on the die.
One of the more interesting classes being offered through Sun Lakes Rock Gem and Silver class is Precious Metal Clay (PMC). No special tools are required and the results are only restricted only by the imagination of the students to transform a clay-like substance into any shape they desire. Under the tutelage of an instructor they learn to mold, texture and form the clay into jewelry and other small objects of decor.
Once they are satisfied with the form, it is dried under heat to a leather-like texture. Then it is cleaned, trimmed and rough edges removed for the final firing. It is then placed into a Kiln where high temperatures burn off the clay leaving only the pure silver, copper or bronze metal.
The first four classes consist of using a silver medium, crafting pieces that are catching to the eye, for instance a filigree of fine texture over a Quail egg. Once fired the pieces of the egg that are left are broken into smaller pieces that can be removed through a hole leaving the form that is then finished by cleaning and polishing.
The nearly finished form is shown in one of the pictures. One picture shows a student using gold ink to cover a textured design that is then buffed leaving the gold with silver highlights.
Once the students complete the silver class, they may then advance on to classes using copper and brass mediums. The beauty of these class offerings is the opportunity to use stones they may have polished in the final process, creating pieces of jewelry or decor they can be proud to display or wear. There is nothing more appreciated than a piece of custom made jewelry or stone art.
Article by Joe Evelyn Schwab