Kumihimo Summer

I was trying to think of something new, different, and crafty I could do in a self-directed “summer art camp” sort of way, just for fun. My jewelry teacher was playing around with one those kumihimo disks that started showing up in the craft stores a couple years ago (even going so far as to make a pretty cool 26g fine silver neck piece with it) so I thought I’d give it a shot. Basically you make braided cords with it, and there are lots of patterns on the internet for different color schemes and designs. Here’s my first project.

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The end cones are cheapie plated pewter, and all the wire is plated copper, so it’ll look like crap within a month–but meanwhile, it’s a cute ankle bracelet (because I overestimated how long the braid needed to be, and it turned out way too big to be a bracelet.)

Here’s a little something in progress made with nylon thread I once crocheted with, back when I had patience for such things:

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Someday there will be some chunky beads on that.

And finally, the one thing I really needed, and it’s working out:

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So you can’t really see it. But it’s all-black, synthetic silk cord. A big ol’ pendant is going to hang from it, and it will have handmade end caps and a clasp, soon.

 

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Filed under bracelet, necklace, experiment

With the Lights Out it’s Less Dangerous

kurt

Here’s something I finished recently. I crocheted this mini afghan on a car trip because I’ve been thinking that knitting in the passenger seat is probably dangerous in case of an accident and all. Don’t know if a hook is much better than a bunch of pointy sticks, but I suppose there’d be less chance of airbag trouble.

Anyway, most of knitting group was a bit too young to get what I was doing here. (That’s ok; I have absolutely no idea why that stupidass Full House reunion was such a big deal to them.) If you were of A Certain Age in 1991, there’s a special place in your Nostalgia Sack for this.

Also, you can’t beat a good pun like Kurt Crochetin.’

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(I have no idea if this is Photoshopped or not. But probably.)

Coming soon: a project for the State Fair. Which I have to finish soon. Oh God why did I agree to this.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Solder

cloud

Well, this was one unfinished object from a long time ago!

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Here’s the cloud shape from back in 2014. I made it for fun and, as I recall, to experiment with copper solder, but then I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.

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I had an idea about raindrop danglies, but couldn’t quite get it to my liking, so I put it aside and, of course, forgot about it . . . until very recently. I decided to fill the shape with wire curlicues in a filigree sort of way. This took several soldering operations, so I used silver solder in medium and easy. It blorped around, of course, and initially I planned to grind off the excess and/or copper plate the whole thing when I was done, but . . . but . . . the silver kind of looked cool in this case. Why hide it if you can flaunt it?

So, I made some danglies and deliberately melted a speck of solder on each to make a raindrop. I drilled holes in the frame, attached the drops with jump rings, and soldered the rings shut with super easy solder (so much fun! Just touch a little bit to the heated metal with a pick and it practically does the work itself!)

I hadn’t meant for the whole thing to have a hammered texture, but everything was off just enough that it would look better hammered. More deliberate. That was a tip from Bob, by the way. He also would have domed it slightly before adding the danglies, and I see his point. Regardless, I’m happy with how this one turned out. It was worth the wait.

Oh! And you know how I used to always go on about learning to take better pictures?

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I’ve finally started experimenting with a light box. (A very, very homemade light box.) This was really good for getting the copper color and the silver; without it, the shiny metals were just getting washed out. I’ve also learned not to wear bright colors when photographing jewelry, because the reflection will pick up. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought twice about photography, but I’m making the attempt again.

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Filed under experiment, pendant, soldering, wire

One Fancypants Riveting Project

darkbluestonerivetedbrass You like? It’s a design of my own invention . . . 

dkbluesketch. . . which I obviously sketched out one day at work on a piece of scrap paper.

That was back in January, I guess. I’m getting older and less able to process the passing of time. I still feel like December just happened, and it’s June. Anyway. I’ve been working on this one on and off since then. Here’s a recap.

dkbluestone

I have a dark blue cabochon from a bag of mixed stones; don’t know what it is, but could be opaque, roughly polished glass for all I know. It’s plain enough that I could do something interesting and elaborate with the setting. Now, I like dark blue with brass. Makes me think of very old art, Egyptian tombs with gold stars painted on blue ceilings, things like that. Or Islamic art with repeating patterns of gold on blue. Geometric, celestial. So I made the sketch above (one of quite a few that didn’t make the cut) as my own take on something modern but a little ancient, like it could be the whole universe in this one captured stone.

Honestly, you probably looked at the picture and thought it was a flower. That’s okay. Things change as you progress. Boy, do they change.

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Here are the main pieces, which I cut out in January. The original pattern, which you can faintly see in pencil on the white paper, didn’t quite work as I’d hoped. It was too closed up and I couldn’t bend it over the stone. If I had some kind of hydraulic press or something, I maybe could have made a neat dome with it, but alas I did not. So I set that aside for a while.

And then David Bowie died. See that back plate with the star pattern roller-printed on it?

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I did this.

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Which became this.

And later, months later, I went back to the original plate and cut out the center, so there is no lightning-shaped hole, but a nice circle just a bit smaller than the stone that now sits upon it.

And I re-shaped all the prongs on front so there is less metal and everything is easier to bend over the stone. I took care to make the curves nice, and cut some notches in the edges of both pieces with a triangular file just to make everything a little fancier. (This is my new thing I like to do.)

Now. The riveting. I screwed this up because I initially cut a set of tube spacers (for between the plates) too long, and when I hammered the rivets in, the stone was not held in well, and in fact jiggled around. Sigh. Put it aside. Come back later. Cut off those rivets. Make new ones, shorter. Tape everything together. Set them. Success? Success. No more jigglies.

And then comes the shiny-shiny polishing part, which was kind of tough to do without ruining the stone. I did get some brassy scuffs on it after succeeding in obtaining a high polish on the brass, but scrubbing it off with dishwashing soap only made the brass dull again. A round of polishing papers later, it’s all much better. I would do well to get better at this part, but for now, I waxed it up and called it done.

In any case, I think I’ve come a long way since my first attempt at such a project three years ago.

moonstarsriveted

One thing I’d like to get for future use: a set of cup burs to shape the rivet heads so they’re little circles, not irregular blobs. Can’t wait to try it!

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Filed under experiment, pendant, riveting, stones/gems

Yipes Stripes

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My days of one-month socks seem to be over. This pair took me two. That’s okay. I’ve got other things going on. Like this.

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But back to the sock. It’s Mystik Spiral in Patons Kroy (a really good sock yarn you can find in big-box craft stores). I altered the toes for slantiness, which suits me better, and used the Fish Lips Kiss heel, although maybe a different style would have looked a bit better.

stripesheel1Meh. It’s ok.

Now that I’ve tried it out, learned it, and like it, I’m ready to do this pattern again with a very special sock yarn.

A very special, neon sock yarn.

It will be . . . totally awesome. Outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous. To the max.

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Weight and Balance

Enlightenment is mistake after mistake.

                                                         –Zen saying

orthocerasdone

Well, this big boy was two years in the making. I got the stone from a flower and garden show–of all things. My oldest, dearest BFFs and I get together in Chicago almost every year for it, drink a considerable amount of wine, peruse the flowers, and buy crap we probably shouldn’t from the vendors in our lubricated state. One of my friends offered to buy me some jewelry from a lady who has a booth of handmade goods every year; as I make my own, I didn’t quite see the need, but she was selling a few loose stones on the cheap. I could see why: this one wasn’t very well cut, off-center, and the back was not quite flat, but I have a soft spot for imperfect things, and wanted to make a project of it. And so I have.

Last year, I took the back of the stone to a diamond honing block submerged in water. Flat back, easy as pie. Then I put it aside with vague ideas of what sort of cuff I’d like to make for it. Also, I needed some taller bezel wire than I had on hand, because the edge was, well, high in spots, uneven, goofy. A challenge.

This year, I decided to go for it. At some point in the winter class, I made a bezel, did my best to trim it to the correct height in every area, and got the bezel onto the backing sheet. This required a bigger torch then I generally use, just to get the solder chips to flow instead of lumping up like little jerks.

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Then there was some cleaning up and setting aside, and some consultation with Bob to figure out what kind of wire I should order, and how I might bend it to get the shape I wanted.

I think what I ended up with was 6 gauge half-round. The trick to getting a nice, even double band is to cut two pieces, solder only the ends together, shape the resulting piece on a mandrel, and then carefully pull the two wires apart: separated on top, joined underneath. I practiced first with some copper, as I wasn’t sure exactly what length I needed, and didn’t want to waste the expensive half-round sterling. I ended up thinking I had planned for a full inch too much, but now I’m not so sure . . . but more on that later.

Next I had to file down some spots on top to get the bezel box to lie flat and have good contact area for soldering. In retrospect, I ought to have remembered this little problem:

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Two years ago I gave myself fits with this ring I almost made, because a band with a big flat thing soldered on top of it doesn’t look very good from the side. How I did I forget that?

Well, it’s what I chose to do, and I got it soldered on with a minimum of fuss, so it is what it is.

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Then I finally made use of the little brillo-y wheel that puts a nice brushed finish on your metal. At least this was a happy find. I love that look much more than a mirror finish.

Now here’s what I really, really failed to consider.

orthocerasback

Do you see any weight there? Because there isn’t any. And the front side with that giant fossil stone is heavy.

So even though the band fits will, it slips to one side or the other.

And the stone tips forward when my hand is down.

And it tips back when my hand is up.

Insert bad words here. Lots of them.

However.

It may be a good thing that (1) there are a couple gaps in the bezel that I can’t close because of the roughness of the stone’s cut in some spots (and one chipped area); and (2) the opening in the cuff is a bit wider than it should have been. Maybe, when I feel ready and willing, I can pry the stone out so that I can solder some supportive bars to the cuff ends. Or figure out some other kind of decorative weight to add. I don’t know, I’ll have to ask about it.

Right now, I’m down about the whole thing. And this weekend was the major art fair, the one with the real professionals and the tons and tons of fabulous handmade jewelry. I should be inspired by it, but yesterday I checked it out and came home feeling terrible about myself.

But at least this book on Art and Fear came in the mail this week. Maybe it will help me with my mental hurdles. I want to be a pro someday, but I’m too easily frightened by all the business shit that goes with it. Meanwhile, I can’t just keep puttering like this while working part-time in what is essentially a college kid’s job, can I? Or can I?

That’s enough of that. Coming soon: four rings and a seahorse. Not starring Hugh Grant.

4ringssea

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Filed under bracelet, metals, stones/gems, yak yak yak

Bootie bootie bootie hey

charlie

Behold my latest pair of Simple Baby Booties, this time for a sort-of-coworker-in-the-main-office who just had a baby boy.  It’s a super easy and adorable pattern, and the only real mistake I made was to pop these off in the mail before making sure I had a good picture, so sorry about that.

In other news, I am borderline sick with whatever sinus-y malady that has kept my husband in bed for the past two weeks, and not up to much of anything, although I may go knit on the couch now. I hope to have some jewelry to show soon, because I dragged my headache-y self to class a couple nights ago and nearly finished up a bracelet, and cast a clump of rings.

Jeez I wish I felt better.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend.

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