Monthly Archives: April 2010

Tool Time Tuesday – Knew Concepts Saw Review

Well, I almost didn’t even make it on Wednesday. What a busy day. As soon as this post is done, I am going to bed.

Today’s TTT isn’t exactly a tutorial. It is more a tool review and my thoughts on a saw. Not just any saw, but a really cool looking jewelers saw. I have heard so much about this saw from many of my colleagues. So when my friend Jeanette started to carry it in her shop , I figured I would give it a try.

Things I have heard about this saw include how much nicer it is to cut straight lines, load the blade, the stiffness of the frame and the most unexpected one, is how light it is.

The frame is made with aluminum and is RED! Apparently the red helps with focusing on the line and keeping your blade going where you really want it.

I love to pierce metal. It is one of those things that once you get going, you just keep going…. especially if you can do it without breaking too many blades. I have gotten fairly decent with my sawing and don’t break as many blades as I used to. But I have to admit, I still go through quite a few.

So here are some pictures and commentary.

You can see the simple design I decided to cut out and my metal that will be pierced. The loading of this saw is very interesting and I have yet to get used to it. Instead of collapsing the mouth of the saw frame to create the tension on your blade, you put the blade into the holders, tighten them up (at this point your blade is so loose it actually bows) then you twist the little knob above the top blade holder to tighten the blade tension. I will have to get a better picture of this. The saw frame itself is rigid and does not flex.

Here is a neat little trick, if you didn’t know it already. When I place an image or design to be cut out onto my metal, I paint both the back of the image and the metal with rubber cement. Then LET THEM DRY completely. Once both surfaces are dry, place your image. You only have one shot at this though as the dried rubber cement sticks immediately and doesn’t move.

I remember my first pierced piece, I painted the surface of my metal with rubber cement and immediately placed the image onto it. Then I began to cut. GAH! What a nightmare. The image kept moving around. Even though I had actually let it sit for about 20 minutes or more trying to let the glue dry. Well, of course the oxygen couldn’t get to it to dry it out and it never did. So this little trick has really saved me when piercing.

It was about this time that Kate stood in the doorway of my studio and asked me to take a picture of her. So I did. This is typical Kate, we have about 5 or 6 princess dresses and they are well worn.

This is what it looks like when i get my image onto the metal. Now, I take my drill bit in my flexshaft and drill holes into the black areas as that is the part I will be cutting out.

Here is the cut out design. This is before any clean up. I have to agree that the straight lines are certainly much straighter. There was far less drifting during the cutting, even on the curved areas. There are some irregularities, but that was all operator error.


Here is the pendant that is in progress. It is three layers, acrylic, copper, acrylic. I still have a bit of clean up work to do on this one, but you get the idea. The blue is one of my favorite pieces of acrylic as it is transparent. I only have just a small piece of it left too. I guess I will have to go out and find more.

Here is my next piece. I have already begun working on it and two little sections are cut out.

Oh, one thing I had heard about this saw is that you cannot use really fine saw blades in it. I found that to be quite untrue indeed. For this last pendant I am using an 8/0 saw blade. It is like cutting metal with a hair. But it is working wonderfully and I haven’t broken that little blade yet. I am sure in a piece like this I might break a couple, but so far the blade is in tact.

Upcoming class projects

First of all, I know it is Tuesday, but I am running behind. So Tool Time Tuesday, is going to be Tool Time Wednesday this week. Sorry. Hopefully it will still be a good one and worth the wait.

In the meantime, here is what I have been feverishly working on. The following images are class project proposals. I will be teaching them here at my studio in Norton as well as a few of the shop locations. I am trying to get my schedule together as fast as possible. I am also working on June, so hopefully we will be able to have a forward plan.

Let me know what you think.

I love this pendant. I did it in the wee hours of the morning (like around 2:00 am) As you can see from the top picture it is actually 3-D. There is a layer after layer on this pendant. First, The silver design is actually a button I got from my local craft store. It is riveted onto the copper flower petal which is then riveted onto the plexi glass. Then the plexi glass is then connected to the copper with brass hexhead bolts and screws. There is a little silver bead acting as a spacer between the acrylic and copper. The leather is a beautiful navy blue Greek leather. I love how supple this stuff is. And it smells great!

This is another tab setting. I am teaching this on Thursday night here at my studio and still have 2openings if anyone is interested. It is a fun one and you will get REALLY good with a jewelers saw.


This is a pair of earrings I made while teaching the telescoping rivets during my riveting class last week.

This is what I call a turtle setting. I will be teaching this one on Tuesday, May 4th at my studio in Norton. It is a soldering project. It is a great alternative to wire wrapping or bezel setting your stones. There is another variation of this that is done without soldering and I will be teaching that one as well.

So between that and counting and sorting all those stupid copper pieces, you now know why I am not prepared for today’s Tool Time Tuesday. I would do it later tonight, and I still might, but I am teaching a tube setting class. It starts at 5:30 if anyone wants to join us. We still have an opening.

Oh, and also, we need less than 20 people to subscribe to my design journal and I will do my Celebration Prize give-away. So continue to spread the word to those who might enjoy learning about various tools and techniques.

Kilns, Enamels, and Copper…… OH MY!!!!!

A few weeks ago one of the shops that I teach at was told about an opportunity for an enameling studio. A local lady used  to do enameling and had a shop and taught lasses and everything. Well, she passed away last October due to cancer. Her children have been cleaning out the house and as any true artist can attest to, she had EVERYTHING under the sun. Well, my friend knew she wouldn’t be able to buy all of it and asked if I would like to check it out as well. I went to check it out and my jaw dropped. There were copper pieces, copper dishes, copper bowls, copper switch plates, copper, copper, copper! Then there were also a few kilns. That kind of excited me. Don’t k now if any of them work, but one was still in its shipping crate. Then…… there were enamels, hundreds of packets of enamels. HUNDREDS!!!!!

We talked a little about the price she wanted and whatnot. She wanted it all gone at once. So it was a “take it all, or not at all.” type of deal. Well, what in the world am I going to do with all this enamel and copper? But in the end, I did purchase it…. much to  my hubby’s and bank account’s dismay.

I finished picking up the load today (no, I couldn’t get it all in one trip.) Thankfully my good friend Katie , brought her truck up today or I would have had to make yet another trip.

In the end there are three good sized Kilns, one of which desperately needs new coils. I don’t know about the other one yet, but I am hopeful it won’t need much as I really did wipe out a couple of my bank accounts getting all of this.  *Now you know my motivation for getting some tutorials out.* HA!

To give you an idea of what I now have and will be selling shortly, I have taken a few pictures.


These are the sample boards. The enamels on the left are opaque, and the ones on the right are transparent. Some of the samples fell off during the trip, so I need to figure out where they go and put them back on. The middle board shows just a sample of the copper shapes I have. In some cases I have HUNDREDS of a particular shape. CRAZY!

1964  1965

1967  1966

This is what it looks like when you set out most of the copper shapes. SEE???? HUNDREDS, THOUSANDS. And I have to sort and count them. I was going to clean them all, but I am about to give that idea up. Riley and I worked for 6 hours last night, and we got 6 trays done and I have VERY green fingernails. This isn’t even all of it. See those two little boxes at the end of the table with the drawers? Well, they also have a lot of copper pieces in them. Oh, and for a reference, my tables are about 10 feet long.


Then there are the boxes that have the dishes, switch plate covers, candle stick holders, creamers, etc. It doesn’t end…. These boxes have quite a few larger pieces of copper. My favorites are the large square platters. There are two of them. Now I only have to decide if I want to keep them copper or enamel them.


You can see the Paragon kiln tucked away in the back. I really wanted to keep this one as it has never been used and is the most likely to actually work. It isn’t digital, but I do have a pyrometer for it, so it was a fairly decent buy. The big kiln (blue one) in the front is one that I picked up today. It is 110v, so if it works, I just may end up keeping this one and selling the other. The paragon is 220v and I don’t have a 220v available here in my current studio.


Here you can see the big blue kiln a little better. There is also another kiln on the right bottom of the picture. That rusted little box is a small kiln. This is the one that needs new coils. I will have to figure out what type of kiln this is and do some research. The inside is probably 8 – 10″ wide by about 4 – 6″ tall. Enough to do smaller jewelry type pieces easily. The boxs on top of and in between the two kilns are filled with…. what else??? Copper!

enamels3  enamels2  enamels

So these show the enamels, not very well, but there are hundreds if not more than a thousand packets of enamels. 6 gallons of Klyr fire, tools, more enamels, glass rods, stringers, more enamels, glass chunks, and even more enamels.

Oh, and there is a small trinket Kiln for scrolling. I am not exactly sure what that is yet, as I haven’t done any of that. There is also another small kiln that almost looks like a beehive kiln and it is perfect for smaller jewelry sized pieces.

So, now you know why there is a sudden jump in copper jewelry from me. And as soon as I can figure out if the kilns work and where to put it if it does, you will begin to see a whole new line of work and workshops from me. YAY! I have always wanted to do more enameling, I just never expected to get this type of thing.

I will be selling the enamels and copper as soon as I get everything inventoried and cataloged. Hopefully it won’t be long. But there is a LOT of work in this. I don’t know about all of the enamels, I know there are a lot of leaded enamels, and I am really hoping that there are a bunch of lead free as well. We will just have to see. In the meantime, I am of to get some sifters and a respirator mask for Riley so she can play with me.

Oh So Riveting

I have been playing in the studio again today trying to get some more sample pieces done for when I teach my riveting class tomorrow. We will be doing three types of rivets; wire rivets, tube rivets, and telescoping rivets (a type of tube rivet.) I actually have one opening in my class tomorrow night if anyone is interested.

Also, the Tube Setting classes are so popular, I have changed the schedule for the 27th and we will be doing tube rivets one more time. I have at least one opening in that class. Class will go from 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

Here is what I did today. The beautiful beads are by my really good friend Laura Crtichfield of Chestnut Ridge Designs .




The cord is made with the finest Greek Leather. Metals used are sterling silver and copper. The necklace measures 19″ long.

Busy Night in the Studio

It seems that I have not been in the studio to make jewelry for the sake of making jewelry. I love the Tool Time Tuesday posts because I knew they would make me post on my blog and get into the studio at least once a week. I am glad that people are enjoying them as well. My readership has increased about 25% too, so that is great. Thank you to those that have subscribed and regularly visit and feel that what I have to say is worth reading.

Last night and again tonight I was able to get into the studio to play with some new components and tools. Yes, I have even more new tools. I think I have an illness. I wonder if there is a 12 step program for tool-a-holics.

This is a picture of the piece I featured on my Tool Time Tuesday post . Copper, sterling silver and 6mm cz.

This bracelet is made with etch pieces that I did tonight using my new Electro-Etching kit by Sherri Haab. I will be writing a Tool Time Tuesday post on this coming up pretty quickly.

These earrings have been textured with my Raw Silk hammer and the sterling swirls have been forged. I hand made all the ear wires.

Again, textured with my Raw Silk hammer and forged silver.

This is probably my favorite pair. I call them English Ivy. The leaves have been textured with Raw Silk, forged swirls and stamped circles.

I used one of my texture hammers on this pair of earrings.

This is a fun little pendant I thought I would offer as mother’s pendants. The ring, is actually pretty small. I made this one for Kate, and Riley will be helping me to make hers later this week.

I have come into a great deal of copper lately, so you can expect to see a LOT of copper and mixed metal pieces from me pretty soon. I have begun to populate my Etsy shop once again and will be adding things to my website as well.

Thank you to those of you that have purchased my Angel Tutorial. I would love to hear any feedback (good or bad) that you might have to help me make future tutorials even better.

Also, I thought it would be kind of fun to do a give away. I now have over 100 blog subscribers. Once I hit 150 I will do a give away of some sort. Not sure what I will give away yet. It could be a piece of jewelry, a tool, or tutorial, but it will be pretty cool whatever the prize. So spread the word.

Tool Time Tuesday – Bezel Setting Punches

This weeks Tool Time Tuesday goes along with the past few, Tube Cutting Jig and the Miter Cutting Jig . This week I will demonstrate a set of tools called Bezel Setting Punches. I like to use these when I am doing tube settings on round stones.

There are a number of sets that can be purchased and just like any other tool, there is a wide range in prices. The set I have is an economy set, but still runs about $50 for the 18 piece set. I do have one of these here if anyone is interested in buying it. If you are, just let me know.


Here you will see that I have completed the construction of my pendant and all the clean up work before setting any stones. When I do a tube set stone, I use thick walled tubing. Then I take a setting bur that is roughly the same diameter as my stone and cut a seat into the end of the tubing. Here I am using a 6mm cz. The tubing is 6.5mm OD.


The stone should sit so the girdle of the stone is below the upper edge of the tubing. You don’t want to go too low or your tubing will cover too much of the stone when you push the outer edges over to hold it into place.


The set of setting punches I have come in this nice little box. It makes it easy to keep everything together and I don’t have to go hunting for tools.


I am not even sure how small t he smallest is as I don’t have stones that small. I do use the smaller punches for adding texture to my metal. This set has 18 punches, the largest of them is 6mm which is perfect for my stone. I don’t typically tube set stones larger than 6mm anyway.


Here you see the setting punch and the handle.


Just insert the setting punch and tighten the collet and we are ready to go.


The inside of each punch is concave so it won’t hurt your stone when it comes down and presses the tubing wall over the edges of the stone.


Place your punch so that it sits straight up and down over your tubing. The straight part is VERY important because you want to come down evenly when setting the stone.


Using a rawhide mallet, gently tap to fold the edges of the tubing down. You don’t need to do this with much force.


If necessary, use your bezel pusher to touch up any areas that may need to be straightened out or didn’t go down quite evenly with the punch. This might be necessary if you have a portion of your tubing wall that is slightly thicker than other ares of the wall.


Being careful not to nick your back plate, run the tip of the burnisher around the top edge of your tubing to give it a nice high polish. You can also use the punch for this. Just place the punch back onto the tube, hold it firmly against the stone and twist.

The finished result is a beautiful tube set stone. This is an alternative to making a bezel for smaller stones.

The bezel setting punches can also be used to set prongs on round stones. You would follow the exact same process as above. Be sure not to hit your punch too hard with the hammer  so as to not distort the prongs.

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Angel Tutorial

Ever since I started making angels people have asked if I would write a tutorial for them. I had a very hard time teaching them at first because they were so special to me. Most of you already know about Kelsi . Kelsi is my 2nd daughter. She was born 16 weeks early when I developed Severe Preeclampsia. I am very lucky to be alive today and sadly, she did not survive. She passed away in my hands just 2 1/2 short days after she was born.

I developed the angels as a way to honor her and her short little life. She has been an amazing little girl, even though she hasn’t been in our world for quite a few years now. Because of what I had gone through with her, I became involved in the Preeclampsia foundation. I was a grief and loss moderator on their forums for 2 1/2 years where I was able to help other parents as they walked that path of sadness. I have shared my story with thousands of people and I know we are directly responsible for saving the lives of at least 4 people. These angels have brought comfort and love to many people that are living in this world without their children. They have brought smiles to those who receive them as gifts for graduation, mother’s day, birthdays, etc. The list just goes on. I have used them a number of times to raise funds and awareness for the Preeclampsia Foundation to help further research and education. They truly carry a part of my heart.

A friend encouraged me to share these angels through teaching classes. But it still took another 1 1/2 years before I was ready to write the tutorial and share the design and process with others.

While the angels are relatively simple in design and once you make a few, they go together rather quickly, the tutorial was not quite so quick. As most of you are already aware from my previous tutorial posts in the Tool Time Tuesday’s, I tend to be quite thorough. This tutorial is 27 pages long with more than 80 photos showing every aspect of the design and construction.

I have written articles for Art Jewelry magazine and several projects for various books. However, this is my first tutorial that I am offering for sale on my site. And as a way to say thank you to all of my blog readers and those that have encouraged me to write it, I am offering 20% off for the next two weeks (until May 3rd.) Just use the coupon code: AngelTut when checking out. This will make the cost of the tutorial only $8.

I am working on other tutorials ad hope to have one a week for the next little while. Until Tool Time Tuesday tomorrow, have a great day.

Melissa Muir - Wire Angel JewelryYou can find this tutorial in my online store:

Be sure to enter the coupon code AngelTut to receive 20% off the price until May 3rd.

The tutorial is in PDF form and you will need acrobat reader to view it. It is an electronic download and you should receive it just as soon as you are done with the ordering process.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, if you have suggestions or requests for other tutorials based on my work, please let me know.

Tool Time Tuesday – File it Flush – Miter Cutting Jig

Well, it is a day late, but here it is nonetheless.

This Tool Time Tuesday is a tool that I have come to depend on, especially when I need something filed ultra flush, either at a 90 degree angle or even a 45 degree angle. It is called a Miter Cutting Vice/Jig. When I first heard about them, it somewhat piqued my interest, but when I found out the cost, I figured I could use something else… and I did. But I have since bought one of these tools and I use it every time I do a tube set piece. You might recall from the TTT post on Tube Cutting Jigs , that you don’t always end up with a straight cut. Once I have cut my tube, I move it into this handy little tool and file it flush.

There are a number of these available. They vary in size and by price. The one I am using here is the least expensive and works great for me. If you need help locating this tool, just let me know. I may even have one on hand here at my studio.

Miter Vise

The tool itself isn’t large at all. I will show other uses for this tool in later editions of Tool Time Tuesday, but today we will focus on that little tube in the right hand corner.

The above shot shows the 45 Degree slot. You would insert your metal (sheet, wire, tube, etc) into the slot and twist the top knobs down to secure your metal in place.


This picture shows the slot I will be using for this exercise, the 90 degree slot.

I have just cut a piece of tubing so I can set a 5mm round stone (part of next weeks Tool Time Tuesday.) The cut is a nice one, however, it is cut at a slight angle. I need both sides to be perfectly flush.


I have now inserted the tubing and lined it up with the face of the jig. The tubing sticks out just slightly further than the face of the tool. This is important, because this is the surface that will be filed away. Once the tubing is in place, I can secure it by twisting the knobs down to hold the tube. You don’t have to do it very hard, I just need it enough that when I start to file the tubing will not be pushed back below the surface.


In this image, you can see a little bit better that the face of the tube is slightly above the surface of the tool.


Using my file, I will stroke the tubing until the high spots have been removed and it is perfectly flush with the face of the jig. The jig is made with hardened steel and the file will not scratch, mar or dent  the jig.


I file in all directions to be sure that I got all of the high spots. Once I have finished one side, I do the other. This way I can ensure that the no matter which side I drill a seat for my stone, it will be even.


I now have a perfectly level tube ready to be soldered to my piece.

Next week I am going to talk about a great set of tools I use when making tube settings. They are called bezel setting punches.

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If you enjoy these tutorials and tips, please spread the word to others who might enjoy them as well.

Running Late

Well, It is almost 10:00 pm here at my house and I don’t have my Tool Time Tuesday post quite ready yet. So, you will just have to be a bit patient and I will get it posted tomorrow, hopefully early.

In the meantime, I did finally get one of my other projects photographed. This is a class that is being offered towards the end of the month. This piece actually shows more than what we will have time to cover in class, but it gets you thinking about the possibilities. The class on the 29th is Tab setting. It is a cold connection technique used to hold other objects securely in place. It is a lot of fun. This piece also shows weaving in the bail and the wire that runs across the stone is done with a staple. I am going to be offering a series of classes called Hot and Cold. In the series we will cover all sorts of good cold connection techniques as well as many of my beloved soldering techniques. Watch for future updates and class schedules starting in May.

Melissa Muir - Jewelry

See you all tomorrow.

April Teaching Schedule

Hey everyone. I know I am totally late in getting my April schedule out, but here it is. Spring break ends this week for my kids and I will be hitting the studio hard next week trying to come up with some new projects.

I don’t have the pictures for all the classes offered for this month yet, so if you have questions please let me know and I will do my best to get the pictures up as soon as possible. Class descriptions and pictures can be found on my website:

April 2010 Schedule

Location Date Time Class Cost
6:00 – 9:30pm
Stacking Rings –*Limited
to 4 people*
6:00 – 9:30 pm
Tube Setting – *Limited
to 4 people*
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Image Transfer Pendant
6:00 – 9:00pm
Earrings & Pendant
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Wire Wave Cuff Bracelet
10:00am – 4:00 pm
Bezel Set Ring
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Knotted Bracelet and Ring
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Filigree Pendant
6:00 – 10:00pm
Tab Setting – *Limited
to 4 people*

* Some materials not
included. Please see the class description or shop for details.

Payment must be received in full
to guarantee your space. All materials and use of tools are included in
the class fee, unless otherwise noted.

Custom classes available by
request. Contact me at: