Gemmology, Germination, Jewellery and Germ-Warfare

Well, that last bit sounds dramatic doesn’t it? Frankly, it only tenuously describes what I’m on about, and is All About the Alliteration.

Two weeks or so down the line, and we’re plodding nicely on through the lockdown – the poor dog thinks he’s been grounded, but we are getting quite a lot of gardening done. I’ve also been doing some metal-bashing, and getting my teeth properly into the gemmology course. First up, the germ warfare – which is really Viral Avoidance and Obstruction, but that doesn’t scan as well…

A couple of weeks ago, I answered a facebook post for 3D printing help – printing visor headbands for healthcare workers, care workers, GP surgeries, ambulance crews…anyone who needed them, basically. My 3D printer is a pretty old model, but can make about one headband an hour, and has been running almost non-stop ever since. It’s making some very odd noises now, poor thing. Anyway, there are a huge number of people out there doing the same or similar things – and it seems the originally huge demand for ad hoc PPE is beginning to subside. This can only be good news.

Meanwhile, I’ve been moving forward on the jewellery front. Level 2 of the Apprenticeship programme is more about skills development than making jewellery, but I did get one wearable piece made.

To start with, I had several goes at a riveting project – a ring consisting of several layers of brass, riveted together. The intention is to finish the ring so that the rivets are invisible. This I singularly failed to do – so I abandoned that project and moved swiftly on to other things. Riveting is going to have to wait.

Ahem. Oh well. Next up is a thing called a Ring Drawing Frame – it’s designed to be a 3D aid to drawing and illustrating rings with set stones. It looks more like a clock part, and is quite a good exercise in accurate marking out, alignment and soldering. Looks quite cool too.

It was a lot of fun to make, because the tolerances are all quite close, so it was my kind of fiddly.

At last – I get to do some silver work! The next two projects go together – a bracelet and catch.
The bracelet is composed of short sections of tube connected with jump rings. It’s an exercise designed as an introduction to repeated processes – marking, drilling and cutting the chenier, making and soldering the jump rings – very satisfying!

The catch is an opposed pair of hooks hinged at the base with a piece of tubing loosely riveted (!) through. Mine turned out to be a bit less than loose… not to worry. It still passed muster.

So that’s my efforts for Level 2 – I submitted them for assessment, and received a shiny certificate by return. Onward to Level 3, which is all about making rings! In silver! With stones in!

Speaking of stones…
The gemmology course is progressing. I must admit it does feel quite slow. I think it’s because it’s an online, distance learning thing, and under normal (not locked down) circumstances, I’d have a lot less time to work on it. We are, however, getting in to crystal structure, and how gemstones actually go together, which is meatier. Also, starting to learn about typical inclusions (things you find inside gem material), and what they say about the material itself. This is really interesting. No, really – it is.
Check my pics for examples – these are various inclusions inside garnets. They aren’t very good pics, but I shot them on my phone, through a loupe, so they’re pretty good for that. Stay tuned for more, and better, pics as I sort myself and my camera out – and I might even be able to tell you something about them!

And lastly, we’ve been doing quite a bit in the garden. Ridley discovered daffodils, and sky-raisins.

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