Solo Tricks of the Trade

Job Thread

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Tricks of the Trade

Postby Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:36 am

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2, Spring, 516

Seated behind the counter to one side, Maria had a small collection of jewels in front of her. With a jeweler's loupe in one eye she was helping to grade gemstones. In this case it was really her boss Otis teaching the young woman how to do the job. With tiny squares of parchment nearby, Maria was trying to estimate the value of gemstones, after which she would lay it in a small box, write the estimated value on a parchment square, then place it under the edge of the box. Later on Otis would check everything with her present. They would discuss the gems, the pricing, and he would point out any mistakes made along the way.

What Maria appreciated was the fact Otis wasn't rude, the man was actually quite calm in fact. Instead of criticizing he would show her any missteps and how to avoid them in the future. With a small topaz held in a pair of tweezers she looked it over carefully in the light of a lantern. The various facets of the stone shone brightly as Maria checked for imperfections or dark spots that might affect the value. There were a few and thinking over what Otis had told her before, she considered the stone for a moment. Taking a small piece of parchment a price was written on it using a quill, then the gem was placed in a small box.

On the table in front of Maria was a small black bag made of felt from which a collection of gemstones and colored glass were spilled out onto the worn wooden table. Next she used the tweezers to look over a small sapphire gemstone. Although Otis ran a jewelry store most people in Sunberth knew his primary business was fencing stolen items, mostly gems and gold. The store was also in Daggerhand territory and her boss always paid his protection money on time, so things were relatively calm. The local street gangs rarely bothered them, knowing Daggerhand would pay them a visit if any trouble did occur. The last thing a smart person would want to do it threaten their cash flow.

Here at Diamond in the Rough, a lot of gold was melted down and purified to a higher quality, then recast and set with gemstones. A lot of people would be surprised to learn that Otis employed few guards at his shop, and think it easy to knock over. The truth is her boss was calm and laid back, but not someone to mess with. He may have been older, but he could handle a sword with the best of them. Not to mention the gold and jewels were kept in hiding places that even Maria didn't know the location of. That combined with Otis sleeping above the shop, trying to rob the store would turn out to be more headache than it was worth.

For close to an hour Maria continued to grade and look over the jewels from the bag before it clicked in the back of her head that Otis hadn't been around for a while. She stopped and listened for a moment, then felt a gentle heat coming from the back of the shop. Almost immediately Maria knew that he was refining gold in the blast furnace. Thinking this a good chance to learn more about the process, she poured the rest of the ungraded gems back into the pouch, fastened it to her waist, then walked into the back of the shop, leaving the guard near the door to keep an eye on things.
Last edited by Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Maria Talwa
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Tricks of the Trade

Postby Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:36 am

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Opening the door to the back of the shop Maria was hit by a heatwave generated by the blast furnace. Turning her face away for a moment she walked inside seeing Otis at work. The older man had a thick white beard and mustache. At the moment he was wearing plain clothing with a cloth hat. With a pair of metal tongs in hand he was holding a crucible, which looked like a small bucket without a handle, and skimming dross off the surface of the molten gold. Next he stirred the mixture and placed it back into the furnace. Intent to learn about her job, Maria walked over next to him. Never a man of many words Otis stopped and looked at her for a moment, then nodded toward one of the tables indicating for her to follow.

Ever the eager student she walked over to the table where he had two small piles of rings from which the gems had already been removed. There he motioned to them and waited. Picking up a few of the rings Maria looked them over for a moment, then scratched her chin. “Eighteen and twenty-two?” she said, commenting on the grades.

“Fifteen and eighteen,” Otis said, reaching over he took another ring from a shelf and placed it on the table next to the piles. “That's twenty-two.” Nodding dutifully Maria watched as he scooped one pile of rings from the table and placed them into another crucible laying close by. The room itself was little more than a workshop with a dirt floor. There were a number of tables, shelves, molds, and a blast furnace without much in the way of decoration. The room was made for function rather than form.

Instead of putting the crucible into the blast furnace he removed the gloves and handed them to Maria, placing a pair of tongs on the table. At this she actually smiled a little, this was the first time that Otis had let her actually work in the shop, up to this point it had all been observation and memorization. Putting the gloves on Maria took the tongs, picked up the crucible carefully, and walked over to the blast furnace. There she carefully opened the door and placed it inside, closing the door afterward.

“How hot does the furnace need to be?” Otis said.

“Um... 1,100 if you're purifying ore and 1,950 for refined gold?” Maria said.

“Very good,” Otis said. It didn't take long for the first crucible to be ready once again. This time Maria took it out of the blast furnace and was handed the dross skimmer. The tool really looked more like a ladle with holes in it. Continuing to hold the crucible with tongs she set it down on a metal table next to the furnace, took the skimmer, then tried to carefully skim the surface. Once finished Otis took the tongs she was holding and walked off, she quickly followed.
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Maria Talwa
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Tricks of the Trade

Postby Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:37 am

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On another table there was a graphite mold with a rectangular hole cut in it. There Otis poured the gold into the mold. “Tell me, what's so important about this step?” Otis said.

“This causes other trace metals to rise to the surface?” Maria said.

“Correct, then what?” Otis said.

“After the gold cools, put it into a retort with some diluted nitric acid. Wait about half an hour, then pour the acid off, then all that's left should be pure gold?” Maria said.

“Seems you have been paying attention,” Otis said. He allowed Maria to tend the other crucible while they waited for the mold to cool, letting her skim the top, stir the gold, then place it back inside. Otis always skimmed the gold twice to get as many impurities out of it as possible. While he poured the second mold Maria poured a little water over the first mold to cool it down, then used tongs to place it in the retort. The retort looked like a bucket with a top from which a tube ran out, bent toward the ground. The top was removed and Maria placed the bar into the acid with the tongs, then placed the lid back on.

“How is the gem grading coming?” Otis said.

“I've graded most of the bag you gave me, I think there are about a dozen left,” Maria said.

“Alright, go back to grading and think about this for a while, let the information sink in,” Otis said. With a nod Maria left the back room of the shop and returned to grading the gems. This job was what paid her bills and something that could turn into a workable trade skill in the future, that was why she didn't steal from Otis. The man also had a steel trap memory for everything in his possession. He could look at a scattering of stones and know if any were missing from sight alone.

Once the stones were graded she waited for Otis knowing he would be in soon to check on her work. Thinking about something from earlier she pondered on it for a time. About a week ago she'd seen Otis without a shirt, changing it after spilling some wine, and saw that he had a number of scars faded from age. They looked like old slashes and stabs, not wounds one would receive as a jeweler. That combined with Otis' notable skill with a sword it made Maria curious.

Everything pointed to someone who had been trained to use a blade and had done so for some time. On the other hand he didn't talk much so she knew almost nothing about the man despite working for him for almost a month. She also wasn't the type to ask pressing questions of someone she had no reason to bother. Not to mention that Otis was her boss so she decided against possibly biting that hand that paid her. Those thoughts quickly evaporated when the door to the back room opened and Otis walked out.
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Maria Talwa
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Tricks of the Trade

Postby Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:38 am

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With all of the jewels graded Maria stood up and let her boss take a seat at the table. He put on a pair of glasses, adjusted them slightly, then looked down at the gems inside the boxes on the table. He quickly began to sort them out, sliding the little boxes either left or right. Those slid to the right meant the pricing was acceptable, those moved to the left were improperly priced. A little over half the gems were moved to the right, those Otis placed back in the bag which Maria handed off. After that he pulled another stool up to the table and she sat down. From there Otis began to go over the gems one by one looking them over himself.

With his own jewelers loupe the older man carefully looked at each of the gems and pointed out some smaller flaws and imperfections that were missed. Otis carefully explained each gem and showed it to her explaining where the problem was. Maria listened, looked, and carefully nodded, taking in everything that was said. After each explanation he would write down the proper price on the piece of parchment she'd used. In most cases Maria had missed an imperfection and overvalued the gem, in a few cases she undervalued them as well. “Come on, the gold should be ready by now,” Otis said.

Once again Maria followed him to the back of the shop where one of the crucibles was resting over a small fire pit in the center of the room, designed to keep the gold molten for a while outside the furnace. Although it couldn't keep the gold hot enough for long, it did slow the cooling process. On one of the tables there was a sand mold with several ring designs in it. In silence Otis walked over next to the mold and waited. Getting the message Maria walked over to the fire and put on a pair of gloves before removing the crucible with a pair of tongs. This had to be one of the most exciting day Maria had experienced in a long time.

Maria knew it would take a long time for her skills to reach a level where they were good enough to make a living from, but she was learning. Otis was finally starting to let her practice the skills needed to actually get somewhere as a jeweler. Having watched her boss do this several times Maria knew knew what came next, in theory, now it was a matter of putting it into practice. Holding the crucible over the mold she began to pour, but with her hands shaking the pouring got messy rather quickly.

“What's the matter?” Otis said.

“I'm... just a little nervous,” Maria said.

“Don't be, the gold can always be melted down again. Take your time and pour carefully,” Otis said. With a slight nod Maria once again turned her attention to the mold. This time she tried to focus on pouring the gold rather than worry about if it was right or not.
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Maria Talwa
Little Miss Vicious
 
Posts: 78
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Joined roleplay: February 28th, 2016, 7:30 am
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Tricks of the Trade

Postby Maria Talwa on March 5th, 2016, 2:38 am

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The second try at pouring the gold saw Maria steady her hands a lot more, this time it was slower than before, but some of metal still poured out of the mold. With a slight grumble she stopped and looked down at the mold. The entire thing would end up being melted down and have to be repoured. Otis patted Maria on the shoulder and nodded slightly, coming as something of a surprise she gave a weak smile and continued trying to pour the gold. This was definitely a skill that would require a lot more practice on her part to master. By the time Maria was done it looked like a golden mess.

“Well that sucked,” Maria said.

“It wasn't bad for your first time,” Otis said. “Next time pour slower and try to steady your hands more.” Once again Maria nodded and thought about what her boss said. After the gold cooled enough she used a small pair of tongs and removed the mess from the mold, after that she dropped the pieces into another crucible and placed them back into the furnace. The gold was already of 24k purity so there was no need to skim or place it back in the retort. She waited quietly by the furnace while the gold was melted down once more. From there she removed the crucible and tried to pour the gold into the mold once more. The results were slightly better this time, but it was obvious that she would still need practice.

For the rest of the work day Maria worked in the back of the shop practicing the new skills that she was being taught. From time to time Otis would check on her progress and offer advice. Maria's time was also split by manning the front counter. Each time the door opened and the bell rang she would walk to the front to help the customers that came in off the street. Since Otis didn't normally start work until about ten in the morning, it was nearly evening time when things finally began to wind down. As part of her end of shift duties Maria put all the jewelry into boxes and gave them to her boss to hide away. Then she swept the floors, cleaned the counters, and made sure everything was ready for the next day.

Today however was slightly different, instead of checking with Otis to see if she could simply go home, Maria helped in the back. She snuffed the fires, helped to put the molds away, made sure the tools were clean and put back into their proper places, and worked on general cleanup. As normal once the shop was in order, Otis looked around, then gave a small nod. That meant that things were acceptable and that Maria could go home now. For her boss that was merely a matter of going across the street.
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Maria Talwa
Little Miss Vicious
 
Posts: 78
Words: 80767
Joined roleplay: February 28th, 2016, 7:30 am
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets

Tricks of the Trade

Postby Karyk on June 17th, 2017, 8:23 pm

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Maria Talwa
Skills
Jewelrycrafting: 3
Observation: 1
Metalsmithing: 3
Lores
Metalsmithing: Temperature needed for refined gold
Metalsmithing: Removing trace impurities that float to the top
Gold can always be melted again if an error is made
Miscellaneous


 
Notes and Comments
CS Checkmarked: ✓
CS Reviewed by Me: ✓
Season Request was Submitted for Grade: Spring 517
Season of last IC post: Summer 517
Season of last Paid Seasonal Expense: Summer 517
Eligible for grade? Yes


Definitely an interesting read, I enjoy learning new things, since I have no knowledge of jewelrycrafting and metalsmithing. Please mark your post in the queue as Graded, sicne both threads indicated therein are now graded.
Follow your heart, and the plot will follow.
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Karyk
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