A broken record. That’s what I’m starting to sound like when the time comes to explain my reasons on why I’m not delivering on my blogs. I’ve had this blog ready to be written for a month now but I’ve been too busy with the whole Christmas period of the jewelry world that my blog was put in the back burner and I neglected it. Better late than never. Fear not, it’s back and hopefully with a bang. They say 2012 is a year of risks, so what better way to start my blog then to get controversial.

Part of me wants to support the whole movement of ‘Occupy Wallstreet’ and part of me wants to tell these people to get a job. I honestly don’t know where I stand on this topic and it’s such a sensitive one to voice your opinion on. I believe in the notion of ‘fighting for your rights’ and protesting for what you believe in. The protests have focused on social and economic inequalities, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption, and the undue influence of corporations – particularly that of the financial sector of the government. Very commendable. However, this is a jewelry blog and the annoyance that I dealt with with the daily traffic because of the “Occupy’ movement was unforgivably horrendous.

 

In the end, it is what it is, and you all got kicked out of your occupied areas as it became a health hazard. Maybe fight your causes in different manners by using the given social media tools to your disposal. Petitioning seems to work but then again, what the hell do I know? I have a job that I bust my ass off for and with these difficult times, I’ve learned to adapt. There’s always room for improvement. I don’t want to come off as insensitive, but if plan A isn’t working out for you, always have a plan B. Am I making sense? Who knows. But what I do know is that this isn’t a political blog and I wish the ‘Occupy’ people luck with what they’re trying to accomplish.

Fast forward to today and this is how Occupy Los Angeles looks like. I tried my best to take some good shots and some are drive-by style shots while waiting for the light to turn green but you get the feel of it.

Anyway, as of late, I’ve been working with these beads  for a bunch of Shamballa bracelets I’m in the process of making. Here’s a little teaser of some of the material I’ve been working with.

You got yourself some Howlite and Coral beads which are perfect for making Shamballa style bracelets. I’ll get into more detail in another blog when I have my custom pieces finished for a new Shamballa line that I’ll be coming out with.

I just love this. The wild wild west but in modern times. This is how they roll in Downtown LA these days, assuring your safety in the jewelry district. Thought I’d share this image to get a little chuckle out you folks.

So I get a request to cut two matching Rudilated Quartz, pear shapes for some designer. Here’s the catch. The table isn’t your ordinary flat table. I had to have the table cut in a concave style cut. What is a concave cut? I’m glad you asked for those who do not know. A concave cut is curved rather than a flat facets, resulting in a more brilliant gem.

You got yourself here a matching pair concave cut rudilated quartz.

I tried to give you the best possible angle so you can see the curvature of the table.

Those lines you see in the quartz is called a rutile. It’s made up of titanium dioxide and it often appears as needles of included color. Who says you don’t learn anything from reading this blog?

Yes, those are sleeping beauty turquoise sitting in a tray. I specialize in manufacturing turquoise to calibrated sizes and fancy, special order style cuts, depending on what that designer in you wants to create. In that tray, you’ll notice I’ve made a bunch of matching pairs for earrings and pendants.

The cleanest G shock customized face I’ve seen in the market. Don’t mind the arm hairs (and don’t mind the date, I haven’t adjusted it). It comes from those Armenian roots I’ve inherited which isn’t a bad thing and it sometimes has it’s perks. We have an iron chef Geoffrey Zakarian to claim now which is amazing. Anyway…

I made some more Lena Wald rings for an order over the Christmas period. You got yourself some size 7 finger size, Turquoise and Ruby cigar band rings with a smooth surface which are about 18mm wide with silver linings.

Talk about a nightmare job…

This custom ring turned out to be a headache job. I don’t know if you can see in the image itself but the open corners with no sapphires in them are supposed to be cut into millimeter perfect tapered cuts, which I specialize in.

I laid out the princess cut square sapphires for you so you can see how many I needed to cut into tapered cuts.

Here’s another look at it.

If you were wondering what that smudge was on the top corner of the ring is, I applied wax to the tapered cut sapphires so the setter can know where each stone goes

The empty rows are meant for pave set diamonds and the center is for a big diamond that’s going to be sitting in the middle of this hexagon shaped ring. Gotta love custom work sometimes.

Here you got this eternity style band that has a twist shape to it. You’ve got some round black diamonds set on one section with milgrain work and bezel set round white diamonds set in a 14k ring.

And that should do it for this particular blog entry. I just want to wish you all a successful and better 2012 and hopefully the Mayan’s are wrong. Till next time… (next week hopefully)

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As promised, part 2 of the blog I wrote last week, https://cicadajewelrydesign.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/greek-for-evil-eye%e2%80%9d-part-1/. (this blog could of been released yesterday if the internet server at coffee bean not crash on me…)

‘It’s like ‘rolling a joint,’ as our green friendly readers would say. This is the best way and technique to round out the lapis to that bead shape that I am aiming for….’

I added a small video clips to see how the process is done.

Next, I need some white mother of pearl. I find some white mother of pearl shells that I can cut material out of. I use my saw again to complete this process. I prep that part out and here comes the most difficult part. I need to pick three sections around this lapis where I need to fit free-formed, eye shaped white MOP’s. I carefully map out my spots and I get on my bench. I use a hand-drill and start opening a slot to where I can inlay this MOP. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I need to include a 3mm thick hole that goes through from one end to the other. That should be the first step in the process before creating inlay slots for the white MOP. When drilling into anything, water is your best friend. Friction and heat will cause things to break or crack. Keep that in mind when drilling gemstones. Anyway, after a few hours of creating inlay slots for me to inlay the mother of pearl; I check the whole stone to see if there are any cracks or inclusions that would break this thing. Everything panned out fine and on to the pre-forming machine. I get the white MOP close enough to ‘exact fit’ and move to the bench. With the hand-drill I slowly start shaving off the walls and see how and where I need this thing to fit into the lapis. It’s sort of a ‘trial and error process till you get it fitting completely. Once I’ve fitted all three white MOP’s into the lapis. I start the epoxy process, aka, glue.

I apply the epoxy to the walls of the mother of pearl and inside the free-formed slots and gently fit it into the inlayed area. Once you’ve finished the epoxy process, let it sit for a couple of hours till it hardens and sets. This part is pretty crucial. I need to drill a 2mm hole so I can inlay onyx into the white mother of pearls. I have an old school ashtray filled with water and a piece of graded rubber pad, all in the ashtray. I place the lapis bead on top of the rubber pad till its level with the water. I’ve changed the drill bit on the hand-drill to a 2mm sized bit and with one hand, I hold the bead, in the water and use my hand-drill with the other hand and I slowly puncture a hole into the middle of the white MOP. Success! Now I have another two to go, plus another evil eye bead! Hurray! (Yeah right… if something small goes wrong, I’d have to start all over again.)

Once I get my freshly drilled holes in place, time to insert 2mm sized onyx’s to fit for my pupils… Before I continue, I was having my coffee at the local coffee shop here in downtown Los Angeles and one of my coffee buddies was telling me a story about some Armenian liquor store guy. He had a giant evil eye hanging on the wall and he asked him, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with the big ol’ eye hanging behind you?’ The man grabbed an old, 8×10 photo and replied, ‘this is a picture of me when I was a child and I was told that I was a beautiful child at the time of the photo was taken.” The man then pointed at himself and said, “Do you see what happened to me after someone told me that I was a beautiful child? This is why I have the eye hanging behind me.” I thought I’d share that. I found it ironic and funny at the same time because I’m blogging about the evil eye. Anyway, I was just talking about how I needed to fit 2mm sized onyx into the slots I just made. I inlay them into each whole and add a bit of epoxy into the hole and stick the onyx in them and wait for them to dry. Take a look at the images to get a better idea on what I’m talking about.

I’ve reached the point where I see the finish line in the horizon and it’s time to shape these two beads with my cabochon machine and give it a nice shine. Once I’ve given the beads a nice rounded edge on both sides, I start the polishing process to give it that flush and smooth surface this ‘Apotropaic’ deserves. Done! I hope it was this blog was a good read and fed you information about different cultural beliefs and their practices and how a simple charm or jewelry could be found hanging on your rear view mirror. Till next time!

Let me start off by explaining the title of my new blog. ‘Apotropaic’ or ‘Prophylactic,’ is Greek for ‘protective.’ The latest edition to my blog is all about the ‘evil eye.’ Don’t worry, I won’t be casting an eye on my readers but I will be explaining the history that haunts many from the Mediterranean cultures and others around the world that believe in the concept of the “evil eye.” On top of my blog’s main page, I’m sure you noticed different angles of this ‘bead’ which represents the ‘evil eye’ of course! I had one of my customers call me up asking me to cut him two pieces about 12mm in length and 8mm thick with inlay white mother of pearl for the ‘whites’ of the eye and a small round onyx acting as the pupil. I’ll get to that a bit later. Ok so where was I??? Ahh yes, so pretty much you have a bunch of cultures around the world, that find the evil eye a bit worrying. Why? I’m glad you asked. The evil eye is a look that is superstitiously believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or cast bad luck at whom it is directed for different reasons like envy or dislike. How it works? Say your friend gets a new car and you become envious in the idea of your friend that just purchased that new car. That envy is powerful enough to cause bad luck to you and or your car. Anyway, the idea expressed by the evil eye causes many cultures to pursue protective measures against it. This love affair dates back all the way to the early translations of the Old Testament. The belief was widely passed down from Mediterranean tribes, to Egyptians, who later passed it down to the Greeks who later passed it to the Romans. Pretty much a big domino effect in the making.

There are many protective ‘cures’ or ‘prophylactics’ depending on which culture you want me to go through. Asians painted their faces black. Ancient Greeks used to use healers that recited prayers. Assyrians and Armenians used to wear a turquoise bead necklace around their necks or pinch their butts to keep them safe from the evil eye. Romans believe in charms and also used spoken word to keep the eye away. The Mediterranean’s used to make disks or balls, consisting of concentric blue and white circles (usually, from inside to outside, dark blue, light blue, white, dark blue) representing an evil eye are common ‘Apotropaic’ talismans in the Middle East, found on the prows of Mediterranean boats and elsewhere; in some forms of the folklore, the staring eyes are supposed to bend the malicious gaze back to the sorcerer.

 

I can go on and on, and I would love to, but it would defeat the purpose of the layouts of my blogs. Gem cutting and inlay lapidary!

So I get this call that a customer of mine wants 12mm in length with an 8mm thickness, evil eye made out of lapis. I suggested to him that we use white mother of pearl for the white area of the eye and onyx acting as a pupil. So I started to go through all my rough of lapis. The key here is to try to find a piece of rough that’s about 14mm in length and 10mm in thickness so I have room to play with here when it comes time to pre-form this evil sucker. I find 2 pieces of rectangular shaped lapis and I start the sawing process. I turn on my saw, dip a sponge in water and just wet the saw. This will cool the cutting/sawing process by limiting the friction/heat when the piece of lapis or any other stone comes into contact with a high-powered saw. I get the two pieces that I need and I move to the pre-forming process. Using both thumbs and index fingers, hold the piece of lapis and make contact with the disk while rotating the lapis. It’s like ‘rolling a joint,’ as our green friendly readers would say. This is the best way and technique to round out the lapis to that bead shape that I am aiming for.

Next week, I’ll add a ‘part 2’ and finale of this blog post (it was too long so I decided to break it down into 2 parts.) . I’ll add more images and video of the process to show some of the processes of completing this job.. Till next week…

“Masha’Allah” to ward off the evil eye which it literally means in arabic “It is as God has willed”.