Craftsman of the Month
The craftsman of the month for December, has taken a variety of loves (jade, cooking, lapidary work) and come up with a very special Christmas present for his significant other, Joyce. Dan Schwartzler, of Eagle Rock, California, a plumber by trade, has a secret love, which doesn't bother Joyce in the slightest...because it's jade! He collects it whenever and wherever he can and works with the finer specimens to create objects of simple, understated, yet breathtaking, beauty. Here's how he tells the story of the pendant shown:
"I made a 'cookie cutter' out of gold the size and shape of the pendant I had in mind. (This project would work for any basic shape, though the stone must be sound and [there must be] either silver or gold to frame it. For this pendant and earrings set I chose British Colombian nephrite and 22-gauge 14k gold in a half-inch ribbon. I then bent and soldered the flat gold ribbon into a heart that would really make cute little cookies. Now I sprinkle a little flour on wax paper and fill the cookie cutter with the 'dough' (Spackle(R)--no raisins). Once it had dried I scribed a center reference mark around the frame."
"Next, with my Dremel and a carbide tool, I carved the frame in a wavy style toward, but not quite to, the center mark. I was surprised at the control and ease of carving that the hardened Spackle in the frame gave me. (I hope I invented this!) I completed all the cleanup and polish of the gold before removing the 'cookie'--this done with the same carbine I used for carving the gold, by cutting the cookie in half so that it fell out of the frame."
"I ground the stone to fit the frame snugly and almost to a knife's edge, domed in the center for an optimum polish, making sure that the finished stone looked like a traditional heart."
"I won't go in to how I polish jade, as we haven't been properly introduced, but there was good advice in the June 1998 issue of Rock & Gem and, besides my own 'secret sauce' I use a lot of M-F Fast Deep Shine(R) by Johnson Lapidary, P.O. Box 4528, Sparks, NV 89432."
"Next I carved a V-shaped groove in a hardwood block to fit the edge of the stone, cut a plain block the same size and made both to fit my bench vise. I put a couple of drops of Crazy Glue(R) on the edge of the heart-in-frame, to old it while I placed in on edge in my special homemade press and began gently closing and opening the vise, while forcing the gold and stone into the groove, turning the piece, folding the gold over the stone a little at a time. (This will also work with one of those old wooden, two-screw carpenter's clamps if you're willing to cut a grove in one tongue of an antique.)"
"As the frame took shape, I added a thin piece of leather over the groove and finished pressing just hard enough to flatten the gold over the edge of the pendant. This is why I chose a sound piece of stone, free of any cracks. Nephrite jade, for all its orneriness, is a perfect candidate. With the stone now framed, I used an abrasive rubber wheel to smooth of the 'sweater snags,' then polished the frame. For the bail I used the same-gauge gold as the frame, soldered on a couple of gold earring posts, drilled the heart near the top of the cleavage, and folded the bail while inserting the posts."
"I will always come back to nephrite--to me, the original and true jade. I love it for its reliability in carving, its stubbornness, and for its soothing feel when polished. My hat's off to the Chinese carvers of old...no electricity, no diamond tools, only crushed garnet, sand and such for abrasives to work--with foot-treadle power--what is our toughest semiprecious stone."
Craftsman of the Month Index
Table of Contents
Bob Keller ©Copyright Rock&Gem Magazine All Rights Reserved