Day 31: Last Hurrah

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Oooh, I just finished up a cute thing for the last day of my July daily post challenge. This is a pendant based on a project designed by Janice Berkebile called “Copper Pocket,” which appears in the book Metal Style. This is a book I’ve had for a while but haven’t dug into much yet. Its focus is on cold join techniques (riveting, tabs, wiring), and many of the projects inside involve found objects, which I always find fascinating (if nothing else, get a look at how an antique scissor sharpener is used on the cover project.)

So, since I had made a few large, plain discs in the studio last week, I thought this was a good time to try my hand at one of my favorite things in the book. My version is a bit different, and maybe a bit simpler:

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In lieu of stamping the discs that make the body of the piece, I dug out all the little steel wire scraps (from when I made wind chimes) that I just knew I could use again someday. I arranged them on the discs, taped them down, and hammered to make an imprint. Then I used a set of three nail punches to add little dots.

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Oh, how I love this. In future I am sure I”ll make more elaborate wire designs to texture metal with.

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Drilled some holes (carefully! Front must match back!) and wired everything together as specified, although I made my danglies different and decided to forego the springy silver bail in favor of a plain, hammered handle. That was actually the most difficult part, and I regret I couldn’t get them through as neatly as I’d have liked (holes in curves can do that to you) but I’m really, really happy with the results. I even discovered that I can slip things into and out of my pocket as I choose!

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One thing, though: it seems no matter what you do, there’s going to be a little slippage and so front will not stay perfectly aligned with back. Yes, this was a cold-join project, but I’d actually like to do it again with solder (that might solve my bail problem too!)

Well, that’s that. I’m now going back to posting only once or twice a week, although I’ll be keeping up the almost-daily jewelry schedule I’ve established this past month. I think I might practice some of the riveting projects from this book, too. Whatever I work on, I’ll be posting about it soon!

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Day 30: Fold Formed Pendant

Once again, I’m hating and loving this month-long blogging challenge, because it’s forcing me to do things I’ve been putting off doing. Like making a reversible pendant from this tube bead (of sorts) I made a couple months ago: fftubebeadsThe one on the right, I mean; the one on the left is pretty rough around the edges and might be suitable for some kind of non-wearable ornament.

The challenge all this time has been how to get a chain to stay in place; I didn’t want anything sloppy or dumb hanging out the bottom, and although I tried a few things with beads, wires, and domes, nothing seemed to look quite right. Finally, I decided I’d run a wire through both sides, put some beads on the bottom (including a cute dangly I rejected from some other project) and wired that to a copper chain that is so fine, I can only use 24 gauge at most to link it to anything.

reversible1The mellow side.

reversible2The crazy flame patina side.

I am so, so happy with this now. I had a lot of difficulty getting decent pictures of it, though. I’ll be glad when August rolls around because my next 30-day challenge is definitely going to be learning all about digital photography. Perhaps by September I can post better shots of copper jewelry and other shiny things.

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Day 29: Finished that Metal Bead

In the end, I decided on a bail made of brass tubing. It goes from one side to the other, with the ends nearly meeting unseen in the center of the bead.beadwithwire

The nice thing about this, I discovered, is that hammering the tubing flat makes a nice line down center, giving it a little extra interesting detail. It’s work hardened enough that the bead won’t pop off, but it’s also loose enough that you can spin it, which is fun. In fact, it’s giving me all kinds of ideas about metal beads like this with stone beads rolling around inside. Perhaps–since I like sawing so much–I could put a filigree design on some of my discs (or just drill out patterns of holes?) and put them together with something caged inside . . . right now I am at that stage where I keep moving pieces around my workbench–will this go with this? Or with this?–so it may be a while before this comes to fruition. But I really want it to.

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Meanwhile, this is all ready to go. And now I’ve got a few pieces of unfinished business to finish up before this month of daily posting draws to a close.

 

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Day 28: Most Random One-Off Project Ever

So I mentioned a couple weeks ago we had some basement work done involving concrete. Well, what I didn’t mention was that the contractor smoothed it out, left the room for two minutes, and when he came back, he found this had happened:

print2Bad kitteh.

We’ve been working on removing some old vinyl floor tiles in the area, which involves a lot of scraping (and which is certainly giving a whole new meaning to the term “home gym,” as my flabby middle-aged triceps are getting quite the workout). Eventually we’re going to cover the prints (which the contractor left because we asked him to) with new tile, but the other day I remembered that I had a bit of Sculpey polymer clay lying around. Now clay is really not my thing, so I was excited to have something to use it up on. So I took a positive impression of kitty’s print, stuck it in the oven (on a way too high temperature; I forgot how to do it and was too lazy to look it up–DON’T BE LIKE ME!) The edges of the gold-ish colored clay turned very dark, so I painted the whole thing today with gray acrylic paint. And now I have this:

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Ha ha!  And now my Sculpey’s all gone and I’ll probably never talk about polymer clay again.

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Day 27: Secret Message Bead

As promised, I did some riveting last night! I even got it rather straight. So this:

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Became this:

beadSpot the wee spirit animals I threw in for fun.

I like the rustic, kinda primitive look of it, but I am dismayed that I can’t make a perfect large dome to save my life. Little ones, I can do no problem. I think this is because my dapping punches are not big enough to fill up the inside of the large domes, and so they wrinkle up a bit at the edges where there’s nothing to stop this from happening. I can fix them a bit by hammering them gently down against the walls of the dapping block hole, but not entirely. Maybe I need to find some tutorials on that.

So, it’s called a secret message bead because . . . well . . . there’s a secret message inside. My teacher has done this project with preteens and tweens a couple times, and she’s encouraged them to stamp their initials on the inner disc, or leave a secret or private message inside. (Preteens being preteens, more than one of them apparently professed their love for Justin Bieber. But I am not here to judge.) I got my husband to write me a teeny tiny love note on a wee scrap of paper, folded it up super small, and popped it inside before riveting. So now I can wear a secret too.

I plan to make a bail for this soon, but no rush (and anyway, if I leave it in the basement for a couple weeks, it will patina naturally and I won’t have to screw around with nasty old liver of sulfur.) What I really wanted to do after this was to saw something, because I really enjoy it, so I got to work cutting pieces from this scrap I mentioned last week:

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I don’t know exactly what I’ll do with the pieces I cut, but I did sort of come up with this, which I might solder to a piece of brass sheet for an art deco kind of look:

mixmetalpendantmaybeWith two perfectly-formed little bitty domes, I might add.

Who knows. Tonight I think I’ll do a bit of filing/sanding cleanup work on a few pieces I made recently that have a few areas a bit sharper than they should be–one of those things you don’t notice all that much until you try wearing them.

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Day 26: The Best Advice I Ever Read

Today I’ll just wrap up the chat about what I did in the studio this week. Here’s the simplest thing:

headpins1Headpins! 

Last time I wrote about making headpins, it was maybe a year ago and I was trying to make them out of 16 gauge copper.  I say “trying,” because I couldn’t get them to ball up. Turns out all I needed was to use a larger torch head. I was also advised the best way to hold them over the flame is vertically (in tweezers which are held horizontally. Heat rises, so it’s to your advantage to hold the end just above and just beyond the inner flame. The only potential trouble I noted here was that the balling-up got a little wild on one piece and the red-hot ball popped off. No harm done, but it’s something to watch out for just in case. Dunk them immediately in water, and you’re done (although I did pickle these just because there was a lot of fire scale.

Another thing I did was to use the disc cutter on some scraps of copper sheet.

domes2Ah, this business again.

I want to make a bead like the one I made way back in beginning class, only more competent.

copperbeadkeyHi, remember me? I’m off-center.

I actually tried a couple weeks ago, and got all the way to the riveting stage when I screwed up. Something about setting that rivet just made everything go off. I need to know what I did wrong, and how to prevent it, especially if I’m ever going to rivet some things that have been sitting around waiting to be joined.

So last night I domed a few of these new discs. I neglected to make any brass ones, which I want for the flat center, so I cut one out by hand . . . just to prove I can.

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I should be able to sandwich these together tonight.

And finally, here’s something I didn’t do, and that’s where the best advice ever comes in.

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I made very small jump rings for my little cloud here, because I want to be able to dangle “raindrops” from the bottom and also have a link to a chain on either side. Only trouble was, I couldn’t really get it to look the way I wanted. I thought about just soldering them on anyway, because maybe it’ll work, but .  . . no. I love this little cloud just as it is, and I don’t want to ruin it. I can easily make another one to experiment with.

In her Mixed Metal Mania, Kim St. Jean shares a quote she attributes to Robert Dancik: “If you get to a point in your piece where you look down and say, [damn] that looks good, stop there! You can never go back to that point if you continue. Stop there and start another piece to attempt your original idea. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

That is absolutely right.

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Day 25: The Accidental Bangle

Yesterday, I had some rented studio time with my fellow lab rat, Jane. With just us two in the lab (and some 80s pop on the old stereo), we spread out across the benches and did our own things in a relaxed manner for three hours. I finished up the pendant I talked about yesterday, did a few things I’ll talk about tomorrow, and had enough time left over to think about what to do with some scraps I had lying in a pocket of my tool bag for months.

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So I made this bangle out of a grotty stub of copper rod, not unlike these other stubs, which I found in the scrap bin. All I had to do was feed them through the rolling mill’s square wire holes over and over to narrow, shape, and lengthen the piece (with an occasional annealing as the resulting wire hardened.) After I had a pretty long piece, I decided to try my hand at a bangle. It’s not quite my thing, but some of my fellow classmates have made some really nice ones, so I figured out the length, cut and filed and ends neatly, and soldered them together. Used a round steel mandrel and a rawhide mallet to make the shape nice and round, and gave the face of it a few whacks on a large steel block to make it flat. Then I used a chasing/repousse tool to stamp a quick design on both sides (Test: was it thick enough that the first side would not be marred by stamping the opposite side? Yes.) Threw it in a tumbler to clean it up, then put some Renaissance Wax on before wearing. I found the whole process to be really enjoyable, so I think I might make some more in the coming months (with a little more attention to detail now.)

Just a few things I learned through research today, though, because my wire (1) didn’t seem truly square and (2) had a few cracks/grooves in it. I found out here–at Juxtamorph, which looks like a truly valuable resource I need to look through–that rolling mills don’t make truly square wire; they are actually meant to start the process, which should properly end with a draw plate with square holes (uh, oh–one more thing to get better at . . . ) I also found from an instruction sheet for Durston rolling mills that the cracks probably mean I had over-tightened the rollers. I also probably should have stopped to anneal the wire more often. I should also be sure to turn the wire 90 degrees on each pass (it can be hard to remember which side you’re on) and to hold the free end to prevent it from curling up in unwanted ways as it comes out of the machine.

And finally, this site by Hans Meevis has some really good pictures of the process and problems that I’ll link to here for future reference.

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