Red, green or Christmas?
When I first heard that question at a breakfast joint in Taos, I was momentarily perplexed. By the time I left New Mexico a few days later, just after the Santa Fe Symposium, I had come to expect it. SFS always brings a plethora of new and unique experiences. The Symposium is all about the science of making jewelry but for me it is a lot more than that. It is the opportunity to meet people that are every bit as passionate about making jewelry as I am and to share and absorb that passion during every waking moment. It’s a chance to reacquaint with old friends, and meet new ones; to revisit old technologies with a new perspective, and to learn about newly emerging technologies in a non-commercial environment. And while not all of the presentations relate directly to my small custom design business, I usually come away with plenty of new information that is directly relevant to my design and manufacturing processes.
This year I was particularly interested in the papers presented by Brett Gober, “Trust but Verify: A Survey of Refining Returns,” and by Teresa Frye, “Platinum Casting Alloys in the 21st Century: A Comparative Study.” I cast platinum and have always favored the old standard, 10% iridium 90% platinum alloy for its forgiveness, recyclability, and general shop-friendliness. Teresa’s paper, which included sectional micrographs of various Pt casting alloys, seemed to confirm that this is a good choice of metal for my process of casting with a vertical centrifuge, hydrogen-oxygen torch, and high-speed dental type investment. I sacrifice some hardness with this alloy but I feel I can make that hardness up, to some degree at least, by burnishing my Pt castings.
I look forward to following up with another attendee I met at one of the dinners hosted by SFS. This fellow has a studio in Woodstock, Illinois, and we mostly shared a foodie discussion of smoked meats (and I have to get his recipe for smoked mashed potatoes!). But he also described a simple way of making hoop earrings from straight tubing that I need to get him to share in more detail. This process may become a short “At the Bench” for MJSA Journal, so stand by for that!
In the six years that I have attended The Santa Fe Symposium, this was the second time that I was not presenting a paper. To attend without the anticipation of speaking before a room full of knowledgeable people is a treat. But to get the coveted speaker’s shirt, emblazoned with the SFS logo, you have to present and I hope to be back on stage next year.
Plus, the sunsets in Albuquerque were pretty amazing and sopaipillas may be my new favorite food.