I’m Happy, Hope You’re Happy Too

Last weekend I decided to finally work out a pendant idea I had for a long time. It’s not done–I’ve encountered a problem I haven’t figured out how to solve yet–but I did get an unexpected bonus out of it.

bowiesawing

Here I am sawing the world’s tiniest David Bowie tribute out of the back of it for fun. The resulting hole wasn’t anything special, but I DID like the tiny tiny lightning bolt cutout, which I immediately decided needed to be sweat soldered onto a bit of silver and made into a pendant.

The sweat soldering went just awesomely. I’ve gotten better at figuring out how much solder to use, and how to chase it around the edge of the top piece when it’s flowing to ensure the proper bond all around. So that made me happy.

bowieshinyShiny is nice, but is it interesting?

Next I installed and closed a jump ring, then polished up the silver disc as much as I could with 3M wheels, and then came the black max.

bowitribute

The black max with ground-off stars (I used a tiny ball bur) is something I confess I saw on Pinterest somewhere. It’s an interesting idea I wanted to try in person. In truth, it’s not the greatest surface treatment: it doesn’t provide a true black, but comes off rather like when you try to cover a white piece of paper with a slightly dried-out old marker (at least on smooth metal; I bet a sandpaper texture from the rolling mill would do better.) It also looks a bit lighter where there’s solder. I like it well enough for this project, which I definitely wanted a little rough, you know, but in future I think this kind of thing really does work best in small, recessed areas where the light won’t really hit–as it was intended for. And indeed, I have earring ideas . . . but for another day.

In the end, the stars are not perfect. They’re not spaced quite as I’d have liked. But they’re random and chaotic. And I love the whole damn thing.

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Casting teaser #2: well, here it is out of the casting machine . . .

4castings

 

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Earrings!

Here’s my collection of tinies so far.

tinies

I’ve talked about the first two pairs before, and the last ones, with the copper tops, were made the first night of class this year. Well, sort of. When I got home and polished them up, one of the posts came off. So I got it back on the second night of class, polished it up, gave both posts a bit of adjustment/straightening, and . . . the second one came off. This is basically happening because I couldn’t find the damn round bur bits in class, because everything got moved around again, so I had to use some diamond-plated bits to try and grind off a small divot on the back for post and solder to go. I could tell right off it wasn’t going to work well, but went with it anyway. This is one of my biggest faults in the studio, and here’s hoping I’ve learned my lesson–do it right to begin with, dammit.

In other earring news, I made some protypes with some (badly) riveted pieces I made for practice months ago.

leafpracticerivetingRemember me?

And here they are, in a style I think I’d like to do develop further in silver.

padlock

There are some flaws and mistakes here, but I know what they are and how I’d avoid them next time, so I’m calling this project a success.

Coming next week: What is this abomination I have created?

castings

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The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men . . .

So, yeah, about that vow to get to work and finish up some old projects.

First there were the holidays, and all the attendant travel and fuss.

Then the ubiquitous post-holiday cold that comes from playing with nieces and nephews.

And then the work situation that has me putting in extra hours.

But I did manage this.

scrapbraceletwithpatina

This patina seems to be about the best I can do with liver of sulfur, for some reason. It’s pale, and hard to photograph. Maybe the piece needs a bit of really good cleaning and I can try again. It doesn’t help that the pattern isn’t very deep, but I’m sure there’s a way to make it pop that I just haven’t figured out yet.

The other project I finished is this pair of earrings:

solderinlayearrings

I’ve been wondering for some time about how to do a decent solder inlay, and my recent experiments with scrap copper and nail punches have given me an idea. What you really need is a simple impression, deep and easy to fill. So in class a couple weeks ago, I cut some discs, stamped them with nail punches of various sizes, and used tiny bits of wire solder (and a selective application of flux where I wanted it to flow) to make these earrings happen. I also played around with a few other scraps and found that you can run inlay pieces through the mill when you’re done to flatten them out again–but be prepared for a bit of distortion (i.e. your circles will become ovals.) So anyway, I cleaned these domes up, drilled ’em, sprayed ’em, and added some prefab hooks because why not.

And now I have class again in a few days and am not even prepared to think about what I want to make next–but it’s the weekend, hooray, and maybe I can get some things ready before (ugh) work again on Monday.

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Filed under bracelet, earrings, experiment, metals, practice, soldering

Last Sock of the Year

lastsocksoftheyear

And so the Year of the Sock draws to a close. I made 10 pairs, not the hoped-for 12, and actually I only have 9 because the pair above was a do-over because this pair never did fit quite right:

indiansummersox2

I still have a few skeins of sock yarn in my stash, and could keep going–I do have some intriguing patterns that I haven’t tried yet–but for now I want to get back to my “crazy quilt” knitted stashbushter. I started it probably two years ago and set it aside with maybe five or six squares done.

sampler squares

twiningtreesAnd these appear to be all the photographs I have of them right now.

So, onward! There’s a particular intarsia square I’d like to make, but it’ll probably take me forever . . .

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Finish It! or, The Winter 2015 Challenge

I’ve got a lot of crap on my bench.

challenge1tableA lot of crap.

Unfinished, barely started, abandoned, set aside . . . you name it. And there’s more in the drawers under the bench. Not to mention all the beads I’ve bought over the past three years . . . so. I’ve got just under a month before metals class starts up again, so why not take this time to do something about it? One project at a time, just get it done. Or, at least get it done enough to get it ready for soldering or some other operation I don’t have the equipment for at home (yet!)

I started the other day with some rings I made in class out of bits of copper rod I found in the scrap bin. I had rolled them out in the rolling mill, stamped, annealed, cut, soldered, cleaned up the join, all that good stuff. And then I took them home and got out the stinky old liver of sulfur.

challenge3rings

The colors were a bit more vibrant, but then I went and sealed the rings with some spray enamel, which always dulls things a bit (goodbye, fugitive blues and violets!) Still, they’re done now.

And I’m on the next thing, also composed of scrap bin finds:

challenge2bracelet

I drew that wire myself, getting it through the draw plate properly for the first time, hooray! The oval is from a scrap of patterned metal that I guess someone ran through the mill and then didn’t want. Who are these people who don’t keep things? Who can’t think of a thing to do with a neat piece of metal like that? I don’t understand. Oh well, their loss and my gain. It’s going to hook on to the wire and serve as a clasp as well as a focal.

My intent is to work every night, even if it’s just a little. And I’ll be going back to posting more frequently, whether the project is done or not yet. That should keep me motivated. Let’s see what I can do!

 

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Teeny tinies!

You might remember that a year ago, I made earrings for my Mom’s birthday. They weren’t huge, but they did look best with those plastic disc earnuts in back to keep them upright.

opalearrings1

Well, the size wasn’t really a problem, but the weight was. My mom wore them a few times to be polite, then gave them back. She’s used to small post earrings, so I thought I’d try to make some for her for Christmas. And here they are:

postearringsTiny enough for ya, Ma?

I melted down some scrap to make balls, hammered them a bit flat, with rough, nuggety edges which I like a lot–but my mom probably won’t. Then I stamped them, drilled off just a little divot on the backs with a bur bit like so:

postbacksAccidental trefoil motif courtesy of the honeycomb fire brick I melted these down on.

. . . soldered the posts on, put black max on the designs, and polished the crap out of them. I like both pairs. A lot. And I don’t think my mother will, so maybe I’ll just keep them.

But wait. I remembered something she wanted.

Some time ago, at her request, I ordered her some gold filled earnuts because she’d lost a few of her own over the years. She was using them with her inherited diamond earrings–and by diamond earrings, I mean these tiny 1/8 carat total weight studs that are so small they were in danger of passing through my grandmother’s ear holes and were once mounted on screwback posts until I had them reset (also as  a Christmas present.) Now they’re a little fancier, but my mom really liked how they looked against the flowery earnut back. Could I, she wondered, find a piece like that to use as an optional enhancer, or make one from another pair of backs?

Certainly.

earnutstoyou

I still had a few pairs in the pack of earnuts* I’d bought, so I trimmed off the two curly parts and cleaned up the edges as best I could. You can see how they’ll look with a stud on the right, there. So, at least I got some kind of jewelry project done for her.

And now class is over until mid-January. I think I’ll spend the time wading through the Land of Unfinished and Forgotten Projects. Can’t wait to see what I finally get off my work bench.

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*”Pack of earnuts” really needs to become a common insult.

 

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Firework (Ooh! Aaaah!) Obsidian

Another one done.

fireobsfront

The stone is a “firework obsidian,” and I bought it a couple months ago at a gem/mineral show hosted by a local rockhound group which I am now a member of. (Shall I learn lapidary art? Perhaps!)

Here’s the back.

fireobsback

The holes were useful for fitting the stone, as I was afraid it might get stuck. I also wanted to start getting clever with the backs of things. So, while not that fantabulous, this was a fun thing to do.

I didn’t take a lot of progress shots. Didn’t even think about it, really. I had a lot of ideas for how to make this a special and interesting piece, but nothing really worked out so I went with the typical bezel–flat back–triangular bail setup. It’s not bad or anything, and has a certain masculinity that makes me think about making mens jewelry, but . . . I want to get better at design, do something unique! It’s one of my goals for next year.

My other goal for next year: get my sh. . . . tuff together by June. Rock the whole student metalsmith thing for six more months, making whatever I feel like, working my part time day job and buying up tools and equipment, and then finally get to work on a business plan by summer. I’m at the point where I can do as well as most of the artists I see in the local shows and co-op shops; now I just need to take some new steps.

I am both scared and relieved to have decided this.

But mostly excited.

fireobssunlight

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