Mar 172010

What do blinking eyes, felt, and faux bone have in common?

Just wait until you see!

I have been an enormous fan of  Vicky Hunt ever since we stumbled into one another on the internet. 

Her work is whimsical and fresh and completely unique. And there is SO much to look at in every piece she creates.

I finally took the time to send Vicky some questions so I could SPOTLIGHT! her here and she was gracious and quick in her response!

READ ON………….


Vicky Hunt - GingaSquid

Vicky Hunt - The Original GingaSquid!

What drew you to jewelry making? How long have you been at it ?

 I was living in South Africa and had been banned from doing any more paintings by my other half (we were out of wall space). SA is full of people selling beautiful and intricate beadwork on the sides of the roads and it really interested me. So I bought some seed beads, some clear fishing thread and a beading book and got started. Also, as I had my first newborn at that time, it was an easy hobby to pick up and put down. So I got started in 2005 and things progressed from there.

If you could go back to the beginning and do one thing differently, what would it be?

 I would have studied medicine at university instead of engineering.

If you mean about jewellery making – I wouldn’t do anything different. Its the fact that I haven’t been able to do a formal metalsmithing course or experiment with soldering equipment and torches at home that has taken me on my journey so far – using wool, cold connections etc.

Having said that, I would love to have soldering equipment at home now though as there are lots of things I’m itching to be able to do and learn.
How do you deal with periods of “creative block” or low creativity?

 I don’t fight it. I’m in one at the moment. I just do something else that doesn’t require any creativity. Right now I’m knitting a jumper by following a pattern in a magazine – no thought required!

Who are some of your favorite artists and crafters?

 I have heaps of favourite arists & crafters, but my current top 3 are:

Natalya Pinchuk

Jillian Moore

Jacey Boggs (Insubordiknit)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received related to your craft/busine

 To spend time trying to get my photos better. As I mainly try to sell my work online, photos are so important. My photos still are not as good as I would like, but I cringe when I think of how badly they sucked when I first started my website!
What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?

 Go with the flow of what interests you. You may have an idea of say, wanting to learn wirewrapping but halfway down the road something else takes your fancy – just go with it. Don’t be afraid to change direction. I also reckon you cannot have too many books.
What do you do when you aren’t working on jewelry ?

I’m a mum to 2 kiddies (ages 2 years and 5 years) so they take up most of my daytime activities. I also love to spin art yarns and knit and crochet.

At the moment most of my time is spent trying to find a ‘proper’ job which will pay me a wage that I can live on! But I just keep getting rejections, hence I am in a completely pissed off, uncreative mood.
Define ‘success’ for us……..what does it mean to you?
‘Success’ to me would be being able to support my family on earnings from my craft/jewelry creating activities. So as yet I’m ‘unsuccessful’!

What would we be surprised to find out about you?

Hmmmm. I’ve led quite a varied life. I have a Masters Degree in Engineering from Oxford University (UK), am a Chartered Accountant & Tax Accountant, was in the Army for a while, taught scuba diving in Thailand and also worked on big motor yachts for a couple of years around the Pacific/Carribean.

I was born in the UK but have lived and worked all over the world, currently living in New Zealand. Land of the sheep.

I also have a full back tattoo of an octopus and am a Ginga. That is where my shop/artist name ‘Ginga Squid’ comes from (‘Ginga Octopus’ just didn’t sound right).

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

 I would like be living and working on my own pearl farm in Tahiti (or Oz). I think it would be cool as I could combine my business skills with jewelry and scuba. And I don’t like to eat oysters, so my investement would be safe.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I don’t think I would be at this stage in my jewellery-making life without the friendships, positive attitudes and help that I have found on this Forum. Its really awesome.


For more about Vicky and her work, please visit her website:



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Rockin’ it out

 Uncategorized  5 Responses »
Mar 162010

I love rockin’ it out when I’m working at my bench. With my little teeny tiny, oh-so-cute, purple ipod.

But that isn’t exactly what I have in mind with today’s post.

I am thinking about rockin’ it out with cabs.

Beautiful CRDesigns Idaho


CRDesigns Idaho




designer cut




Hidden under our feet…..overlooked.

Dug from out of the earth.

And turned into something beautiful by talented lapidary artists.

 Who knew that I’d ever go this gaga over rocks?

Life never ceases to amaze me. 😉


 EDIT: All cabs shown in this post are available
from Ric of 
CR Designs Idaho. He’s a great guy to buy from!

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Mar 122010


Lisa Weber


What is annealing, and why is it important?

When metal is hammered, bent, stressed, or otherwise “worked”, the molecules of the metal are pressed more closely together, causing it to lose flexibility. This is known as work-hardening. While we hammer our metal for jewelry, the metal will become progressively harder. If we do not stop to soften, or anneal, the metal, it will crack or split. Pieces may snap off. Stay aware of your metal, and anneal frequently when working.

How will you know when it’s time to anneal?

  • Listen to the sound when you are hammering. Soft metal makes a duller thud than hard metal, which makes a higher pitched, more ringing sound.
  • Feel subtle differences in how your hammer reacts to the metal. The hammer sinks into softer metal, and bounces sharply off of hard metal
  • Watch the shape of the metal change. Soft metal changes shape, becoming flatter or longer, responding to the pressure of the hammer. Hard metal will keep its shape and resist changing.
  • Test the metal by trying to bend it when you notice the above signs of work hardening. If the metal is hard, springy or difficult to bend, STOP hammering and ANNEAL the metal.

Setting Up an Annealing Area

On your work bench or table, create a fire resistant surface.

Some ideas are: several large ceramic floor tiles, sheet metal (try to be sure not to use zinc-plated sheet metal, this can be hazardous to your health when heated), masonite, cement board, etc.

On this surface, set up your area with:

  • a fire brick, soldering pad, or other safe, heat-reflecting surface
  • insulated tweezers (cross-locks are a good choice)
  • A bowl of water
  • Torch (a high quality butane torch is fine, as long as your metal is small enough, no more than  about 1” x 1”)

How to Anneal

1. Mark your metal with a permanent marker (such as a Sharpie) or a dab of jewelry flux (Handy flux and Dandix are common brands).

2. Place hardened metal on your chosen surface (fire brick, etc).

3. Light torch according to manufacturer’s directions. If your torch uses both fuel and oxygen tanks, you can adjust the flame so that it is soft & bushy rather than sharp and hissing.

4. Begin by warming the metal gently across entire surface.

5. Bring flame in closer until the point of the blue cone is about ¼ inch from the metal. This is the hottest part of the flame.

6. Continue to move the flame constantly across the entire piece, evenly raising the temperature of the entire piece. Don’t stop the flame on any one area.

7. When the marks you made disappear or the flux turns first white, then clear, you are near annealing temperature. Watch for changes in color that indicate annealing temperature has been reached. This is a difficult state to describe. If you have not annealed metal before, I suggest you turn off the lights and watch the metal as you heat it. When it begins to glow pink, you have generally achieved annealing temperature for sterling silver. If you can get someone to turn the lights back on at this moment, you will see that the glow is not quite visible. There is, however, a particular look to the silver at this time. With practice, you will be able to “see” this internal glow and recognize the changes in color that indicate that annealing has probably occurred. Sterling silver should not get much hotter than this temperature or you will risk melting it. Copper and brass (or bronze or Nugold) should be heated until their glow is visible with the lights on. Copper should glow gently, while Nugold should be made to glow brightly to anneal well.

When you have reached annealing temperature, back the flame away from the metal somewhat, but continue to heat it gently, maintaining annealing temperature for about 60 seconds to fully anneal the metal. If sterling starts to glow so that it is visible in normal room light, you have usually exceeded the normal annealing temp, so pull the flame back and heat more gently for 60 sec. Brass needs to be annealed for longer than copper or silver, so keep it glowing for 60 -120 sec.

  • Things to be aware of: Wire will heat and anneal very quickly, and it is safer to coil the wire to protect it from overheating.  Sheet will take longer than wire. The thickness of the metal (gauge) and the size of the sheet or wire will make a significant difference in the annealing time.
  • What happens if I heat too much?

With copper and brass, there is rarely a problem. Both are difficult to melt, and it’s nearly impossible with a butane torch. Overheating will cause more oxidation (discoloring), and drive it deeper into the metal, that is usually the worst that will happen.

With silver, both oxidation and melting are potential problems. Before silver melts, it begins to get a shiny, liquid silver look to the surface. If you begin to see this, you have raised the temperature of the silver well beyond the annealing point, which may create unwanted textures and brittleness.  I strongly recommend melting a piece of scrap silver and carefully noting the changes prior to melting. Once you have seen them, you will begin to recognize the signs, and may avoid damaging a piece you hope to complete.

  • If noting color changes just doesn’t work for you, just watch the sharpie disappear or the flux turn clear. Increase heat a bit more, then pull the torch back a little to keep the heat at annealing temperature for 60 or more seconds. Cool and quench.

8. Once the metal is annealed, remove the heat and turn off the torch.

9. Allow it a few seconds to cool a bit, carefully pick up the metal with your insulated tweezers, cross locks, or tongs, and quench it by dipping it fully into the bowl of water. Don’t be alarmed if it hisses as it quickly cools, this is normal.

10. Remove the metal from the water (it is cool enough to touch almost immediately) and dry. Wet metal on your steel tools is a quick road to rust, so be sure to dry well.

11. Check for softness by gently bending the piece. If fully annealed, it should now bend easily*. If not, anneal again, allowing the metal to get slightly hotter and hold for a longer period of time.

Congratulations, you have just successfully annealed your metal!

(*EDITOR’s NOTE: “bend easily”  can be a relative term depending on the gauge (thickness) of your metal – keep that in mind!)