The End of an Era

I am, at last, heartily sick of socks. Why, I’m almost not excited about finishing these bad boys.

1985

Almost.

This is the Mystic Spiral sock (which I’ve done before) in some special yarn indeed. It’s hand-dyed from String Theory Colorworks and the colorway is Luciferin, which I fell in love with the second I saw it a good year or so ago and knew I had to do something crazy with it. And this pattern definitely fit that bill. I was pleased to find that after posting these on Ravelry, Caitlin from STC herself came across them and posted them on her patterns and ideas page.

And now I’ve had more than enough to do with socks, and will be returning to some other knitting projects. Maybe. I might go easy on the knitting for a while; I’ve been getting some pain in my left thumb that I can’t quite explain, except that knitting, metalsmithing, and moving 10-pound files around at work all day probably had a lot to do with it.

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That Thing I Was Agonizing Over

purplejade

This thing. It’s done. Currently, it’s sitting in a case at the Illinois State Fair. Which went well, by the way.

purplejadeISF

I got beat out by a couple of (admittedly fantastic) woodworkers, because the division is simply “crafts,” not “jewelry” or “wood” or “textiles” or “ceramics” or anything. As awesome and ego-boosting as my third place win was, I’m left wanting a more meaningful competition. Perhaps it’s time to look into jewelry magazines (if any of them are left), juried shows, I don’t know. Maybe just start preparing to go into business. That’s competition enough.

Anyway. Here are some progress shots. I did everything metal–the setting, the end caps, the chain. And I even braided the cord. The hardest part was figuring out how to get the side and bottom bars on. Overlap them? Cut them? Inlay one into the other? In the end, I cut off the ends of the bottom bar and soldered them on to the sides using the world’s tiniest mortise and tenon joint. Whee!

 

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The sketch.

 purplejadepiecesThe plan.

 

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The soldering.

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The swearing!

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The sawing.

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The caps–two sets, just in case.

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The cord.

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The whole shebang.

Coming soon: socks. Because yes, I still knit sometimes.

 

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johnsworksinprogress

A couple months ago, my husband, a former art major, was feeling a bit sad that he hasn’t cast anything since college.

You know, like . . .

bronzeskulland

johnsdragonaluminum

. . . big guys cast in a forge. Not stuff you can do at home any time. But still, it made me wonder . . . dude . . . where do you think I GO every Thursday night?

castingclass

And what does my teacher do there with a torch and a furnace and a casting machine and a vacuum casting table?

So I got him to sign up for a round. His goal was to carve a wax dinosaur and cast it–but there are size limitations in a jewelry studio with only a small furnace. Bob advised him to try a few small practice pieces first. And by small, I mean, still the biggest things ever cast in that studio, but . . .

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And here’s how they turned out, one in brass .  .  .

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And one in white bronze . . .

brassfroggieA frog? Totally my idea, of course.

The dinosaur is still a lump of wax in progress. We’ll see how that goes.

And meanwhile, I have finished my pendant for the State Fair, dropped it off yesterday, and now I suppose I should write about it but I’m not ready. Soon.

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Another One Off the Bench

copper domes leaf

I’ve been playing around with this one for a while. How long is a while? Well . . .

textures

I made those domes over a year ago, but couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I still have a few more, in various sizes, made from copper that was passed through the rolling mill with a sheet of cardstock that had leaf shapes punched out of it.

Playing around with them a couple months ago, I discovered I liked the look of one dome inside a larger dome, a little off-center . . . but how to join them? I almost went for riveting, but I didn’t want a rivet head sticking up out of the top, messing up the pattern. Then I thought of prongs. So I drilled some holes in one of the large domes I had, and soldered in some wires . . . crookedly.

copper domes oops

Yeah, that’s not going to work for what I had in mind. If I ever have a cabochon that’s just the right size, however, I may revisit this.

So that leaves soldering. And because soldering two things together with an air pocket between in the presence of wet flux can cause the world’s tiniest scary explosion (it’s true), I learned a fancy way of incorporating little steam release holes.

copper domes practice

I used a triangular file to carve out some nicks on the edge of this practice dome, then applied the same idea to the real one.

And then the soldering, which I have no picture of. For the most part, I soldered evenly with only a few blorps (the trick is to keep that bottom dome hot so the solder doesn’t creep upward too much), and then I was able to solder the bail on with a minimum of fuss, although it’s not 100% the design I had in mind–another day, another project, perhaps. It’s adequate, and I like it. Now to copper-plate the telltale silver traces by throwing the piece in the pickle with a bit of iron binding wire. Ha ha, the miracles of science!

That left me with a really dull orangey surface. I cleaned it up a bit with some radial bristle discs, and dumped the pieced in some liver of sulfur in the hopes of getting a vibrant patina.

I dipped once. I dipped twice. I left it in there a while. And . . . well . . . meh. The next day, I took a power stripper to it. Seriously. Bob tipped me off to this one. You get a heat gun like the kind you get at the hardware store to take the tiles off your basement floor (gee, sounds like something I have experience in . . . ) and blow it at your piece until you get a cool patina. And cool I got–I didn’t expect a sort of iridescent purple, but that’s what I ended up with.

And now I have less than a week to finish up my State Fair project before turning it in. Plus I have to write a bio. Ugh. Maybe I’ll go procrastinate some more . . .

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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:

kumihimo2

Someday there will be some chunky beads on that.

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

kumihimo1

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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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.’

kc

(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.

filler

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?

lightboxcloud

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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