Category Archives: bracelet

I Still Exist!

And I’m still making things!

I won’t linger over the details anymore, but I’ve been busy in the metals lab since I stopped keeping up with this blog. Here are a few things I’ve completed.


This is a labradorite bead riveted into a silver frame. I like the look of these riveted projects but I’ve become tired of trying to find long beads that are drilled through cleanly and without chips around the ends (which can cause the rivet to bend and distort.) I had to really ream this one out–but it was so worth it.

 

 

Ah, I finally found something to do with the copper “crazy quilt” disc I made a couple years ago when I was experimenting with copper solder. I really like how this turned out (and I also recently made a bead with nine little texture samples on each side like this, but don’t have a picture.)

 

Here’s a bit of fun made with some scraps. I got the color with a power stripper.

 

Malachite is always good for some drama, I think.

 

Inevitably, when you get a reputation for making jewelry, friends and coworkers come up to you with broken jewelry, hoping you can fix it. This piece is pretty much a copy of a cheap, plated bypass ring that someone I work with wore for years until the band snapped at the point where it adjusts to size. She’d hoped I could fix it–nope. But I thought about it, and made a band that night with a piece of sterling wire and a hammer and a mandrel. From there, I got the OK to recreate the ring (tip: get the shell bits out by heating the back with an alcohol lamp until the epoxy weakens and they fall right out.) She was really pleased with it, and I am too. It was a good learning experience (and I made the band thicker so it won’t break this time!)

 

After I finished the above piece, I still had bypass rings on my mind, so I hammered out one for myself and tried out different stones until I fell in love with the look of this red agate. Soldering was tricky, but I’m getting better all the time.

 

I bought this stone a few years ago and made a few failed attempts to design a pendant and set it (remember?):

 

Well, here she is now! That brass framework was a real . . . challenge. I bought my own solderite board to bring to the studio–perfectly flat, and with grooves carved into it to hold those pieces exactly where I needed them. The end result comes close to what I had in mind all this time. Still waiting for the chain to tarnish a bit, though. I randomly melted some silver solder around for an old, industrial look (note the solder around the joined areas) but it doesn’t quite show up on the links yet.

 

Here’s a fun scrap piece I made with some wire bits I melted together some time ago but never knew what to do with. At one point last spring I was making a simple ring with this stone (and, for the first time, adding a jump ring inside the bezel to make the stone stand taller) when I held it up next to the scrappy bit and thought, “Wow! Perfect!” And that’s how this happened.

 

Remember these old dudes I hammered out back in the day? The two on top became earrings, and I hung onto the big piece for a long time, trying to think up a good necklace idea. A little extra piece and a little crochet later:

I rather wish I hadn’t punched holes in the corners, but I did, and that made what I ultimately came up with a bit more difficult than if, say, I had soldered loops on the back. Still, I’m loving the simplicity of this one. I’m glad I waited on it.

 

I sketched this out last October, hoping to make use of this neat sardonyx cabochon I’d been holding on to. This piece turned out a bit difficult due to its size (and trying to solder on square copper wire bits without silver solder blorps everywhere!) The back has a pin mechanism that was a bit tough–the pieces are so tiny and need to be placed exactly, and you have to be sure not to clog up or fuse the catch during the process . . . but I pulled it off. I even made a pin/pendant converter with a piece of tubing and wire.

 

My teacher, Bob, was recently given a huge box full of jewelry supplies, casting stuff, sterling silver, you name it, from a donor who had retired from jewelry making and didn’t want the stuff anymore. Among the treasures was a spool of 30 gauge argentium which he had no idea what to do with–but knew that I would, as a knitter/crocheter. I ended up buying it off him (with proceeds going back to the studio) and made this crochet cuff with some beads and a sterling frame I made myself. It’s got a bit of beginner’s wonk to it, and I ought to have practiced more before making the real thing because one side of the strip is looser and sloppier than the other, when I started really getting the hang of it. But this was interesting–and I’m in the middle of using the remainder to make a kind of mesh amulet bag from instructions I found in an old Lapidary Journal from the 90s.

And last but so, so not least. Remember when I started futzing around with wax to carve rings?

I finally got these both finished after months of inactivity, messing up one and doing it over, and just generally worrying about doing something wrong and ruining all that work. Last week, they were cast in silver.

They’re still not done (clearly), but man, is it a relief to have gotten this far! They are heavy as hell–I wish I’d carved away more wax on the interior but the wax was getting delicate and I was nervous about breakage. I shouldn’t have been, though. The thing on the left, if you’re wondering, was a slice of ring wax that I’d carved into with a new set of wax working tools as a kind of technical exercise. I figured if I made the design well enough, I’d cast it. And so I did–with a different design on each side. It’ll be a reversible pendant when I’m done.

And that’s about where I am on the jewelry front. As for knitting, I haven’t bothered all that much. I’ve got two pairs of socks made with crazy rainbow yarn I tried to dilute with solid colors, and a clone of my cat.

Pattern: SlipStripe Spiral

 

Pattern: Ugly Duckling Socks

 

Pattern: The Parlor Cat

And that is . . . probably . . . all for now! I’m sure I’ll catch up again in a few months. Until then, keep crafting!

 

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Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, casting, crochet, knitting, metals, necklace, pendant, pin, ring, riveting, socks, soldering, stones/gems, wax carving, yak yak yak

Season’s Greetings!

Well, my husband is sick and family Christmas time is postponed, so here I am blogging about some little gifts I made for my niece and nephew, respectively.

melbracelet

I think this will fit a six-year-old. Well, I hope so. I made this with a super cheap and crappy set of alphabet stamps I got from a big box craft store with a 50% off coupon, so they were like 8 bucks. Mind you, a good set could run at least 75 dollars or more. I’m not terribly happy with them, but I knew what I was getting into, and they’ll be good for marking things and experimenting, anyway.

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My nephew is into sea creatures these days, so I dug around in my Ravelry favorites until I spotted this sweet Little Blue Lobster pattern. I’d have liked to use blue yarn, but I actually don’t have any since I’ve been working on a scrapghan. Fortunately, I did have just the right amount of scrap bulky red with a charming fleck in it–and ah, sadness, I think I got it from my knit night friend who has just moved away as her husband has a new job in Chicago. So he turned out super cute and the pattern was easy, fast, and enjoyable.

And just because I’m too lazy to write a separate post:

2ndclasp

Here’s a bracelet I (finally) just finished up. I don’t think I ever talked about it or took progress shots, but I’ve been working on that box clasp since last fall. Actually, I finished that a while ago. I found it easier and more enjoyable than stringing up beads and putting crimps on (I don’t even know how I got the tongue end of the clasp on backwards, but I did on my first attempt.) I might get those little c-shaped crimp covers you put over them and squeeze down with pliers, but we’ll see. Anyway, I’ve had those red creek jasper beads for nearly two years now and I’m glad I finally did this–and I have four beads to spare, so there might be some fun with them in the coming year.

And so it’s not been the best year, but it’s been a creative one, and I can’t complain. See you in January!

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Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, crochet, metals, presents

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.

kumihimo3

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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Filed under bracelet, experiment, necklace

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.

orthocerasbezel

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:

ovalring1

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.

orthocerasfinish

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

If You Like it Then You Shoulda Put a Frog on It

brassfrogredux

Last time we saw this, I was having trouble figuring out how to make it interesting.

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If the pattern had been roll-printed harder, it might have been cool just like this, but it was just too faint, and oxidizing didn’t help as much as I’d hoped. (I didn’t make this pattern; it was from a scrap I found in the studio junk bin, along with the stub of copper rod that I turned into the twisty wire band.)

challenge2bracelet

I toyed with the idea of riveting various copper and brass discs onto it, and then I picked up my little brass frog mascot (which you see in progress in the banner of this blog.) Cool, but just a touch too big!

brassfrog

I could do another . . . still had some green acrylic cat-eye “stones” lying around . . . and so I did, although I didn’t take any progress pictures. I had a lot of trouble riveting the new, smaller guy onto the copper (it really should have been done at an earlier stage) but I worked it out. It’s not perfect, but it is a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, I dug into the ol’ bead stash (which I like to do when I’m between classes anyway) and crocheted a multi-strand hippie bracelet out of macrame twine.

hippiebracelet

The button closure was from last year, when I made a couple of them in class.

textures

Okay, the copper star-printed sheet isn’t in here, but I think that brass in the upper left was the back plate when I rolled it through. I don’t seem to have any other progress shots, but I made three discs, domed them, and soldered a jump ring inside each to make buttons. The one in the bracelet is the most successful of the three.

I’ve been trying out a new (well, new to me) idea this week: taking one photo every day of what I’m working on. It started out as a picture of my bench every day, but I don’t work there every day. Sometimes I just knit, or do something else. I don’t know if I’ll upload them somewhere; frankly I’m sure they’re of no interest to anybody but me. For a long time I’ve been thinking about creating an art journal, but I’m not convinced it’s the best use of my craft time. Someday that may change–but right now this is my focus, and I could use a little focus, because lately my attention seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once!

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Filed under beads, bracelet, metals, riveting

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

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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Filed under bracelet, ring, wire