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gin and jewelry

Updated: Jan 29, 2018

A journal of a jewelry maker and creator of craft cocktails


The jeweler's bench can be a pretty intense work space. Small tiny things are born of dreams, forged, dropped, lost, forgotten and reclaimed. All happening within the span of time I give myself to the studio on any given day. This is my work. Sometimes messy and unorganized, mind creating faster than fingers can work, other times slow and mechanical, I robot. After a day of making, the studio is dark, I switch the off button. Feet up, the cats are swarming (Purina One, Tuna Recipe?), today I made something with my hands. The feeling of a good day's work and the reward of sipping something lovely.

Today I will make a pair of fish earrings out of jeweler's brass and sterling silver. The reward will be a Ginger Cosmo, or as I call it, The Pink Sapphire, recipe to follow. The inspiration for the earrings came from a pair I saw while I was working a trunk show at the Bell Street Gallery on Madeline Island. A customer was wearing them, made from sterling, and I quickly sketched what I remembered. The inspiration for the cocktail comes from the lovely Spoonriver restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the earrings I first drew a pattern from my sketch of the earring, then traced the pattern onto brass sheet. I used 24 gauge for the body and 20 gauge for the ear wire. My customers prefer a lighter earring and I find 24 gauge works great if you build strength with forging and forming.

Using a jewelers saw, I cut the pieces, filed the edges smooth and sanded them. For greater strength, I wanted the ear wire to be attached to the base along an inside curve . I cut 3.5 inches of my 20 gauge round sterling for each ear wire and finger formed a small portion to fit the inside curves. I then slightly flattened this area with my Fretz planishing hammer.

The sterling wire was soldered to the fish body using easy solder and my double second hand to hold the pieces together.

I have a pretty small stash of stamping tools but I found a few that would work to mark the fish eyes and scales. I knew I would use those letter stamps one day. I suppose you could stamp first before soldering but sterling to brass soldering has the potential for solder flow in places where you don't want it and clean up is easier if your not trying to get solder out of recessed areas. Quench, pickle and then I place the soldered earrings into a bowl of super pickle (ammonia and warm pickle solution) until the rosey pink copper layer has disappeared. On my bench steel I stamp the surface of each earring and form the earring from the backside using a wood dapping block and ball peen hammer. With a flat nose plier, I straighten that portion of the earring which is attached to the ear wire so the earring hangs better on the ear. Rub with a wet green scrubby and soap, bend ear wire, burr out the ear wire ends and I'm done. These little beauties will go to The Wild Child Gallery in Matlacha Florida.


My first cocktail recipe will be a Pink Sapphire, my version of a ginger cosmo. I have two ways to make these, the more difficult way and the impatient way.

The more difficult way starts out by making both a ginger infused simple syrup, which I use in place of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, and a cucumber infused vodka. Both wonderful things to have on hand. Add a bit of soda water to the ginger syrup, serve over ice and you have ginger ale. Or pour a little on ice cream or fresh sliced fruit. Drink directly from the container, no, wait, that's just me. In place of Grand Marnier commonly used in the Cosmopolitan, I use instead my ginger syrup or as in the second drink, fresh squeezed oranges. It gives the necessary sweetness. Also, when shaken, you're looking for effervescence when you pour, shake vigorously so when pouring the top of the drink is covered with tiny popping bubbles, not just lying flat and sad.

Ginger Simple Syrup #gingersimplesyrup

4 cups water

2 cups sugar

8 oz fresh peeled ginger root, cut into rough chunks

Dissolve, sugar into water over medium flame, add ginger chunks and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes until syrup is reduce to 2/3. Cool, remove ginger chunks, decant into jar though a fine mesh strainer or sieve. Once chunks are removed you should have about 8 oz of syrup.

You can, as I have, use ginger that has simply been washed, not peeled. It will save time and make a somewhat darker syrup.

Store in refrigerator.

Cucumber infused Vodka

Wash and cut one cucumber into chunks

decant 1 Bottle (any size) vodka into glass container containing cucumber chunks

let steep overnight in refrigerator

Store in refrigerator

Pink Sapphire (Ginger Cosmo) (labor intensive) for 2

Good quality cranberry juice (Simply Juice or Knudson Farm) Please do not use diet cranberry juice. Low calorie Ocean Spray is fine if you need to, but diet leaves a nasty metallic taste

Cucumber Infused Vodka

Fresh Limes

Lemon Peel

Ginger Syrup

Fresh Orange

In a shaker pour a two to one (scant) ratio of Vodka to Cranberry juice. Add about 1 - 2 tbls of ginger syrup (according to taste and sweetness desired), and the juice one whole key lime and the juice of 1/2 orange. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into martini glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Pink Sapphire (Ginger Cosmo) (in a hurry for that drink version) for 2

One knob of fresh ginger

Prairie Cucumber vodka (or any cucumber vodka of your liking)

Micro grater

Fine mesh sieve or strainer

one fresh orange

key lime

Lemon peel


Pour a two to one (scant) ratio of vodka to cranberry juice onto a shaker. Take ginger knob and grate on micro grater about 1/2 tbls, scrape into shaker. Squeeze 1 fresh orange , and 1 key lime into shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously. Pour contents through a fine mesh sieve into martini glass, add lemon twist.

Pro Tip: Thrift stores are excellent places to score pristine martini glasses and extra shakers. It seems people aquire these things and then never use them. weird.

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