Category Archives: pin

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

A Tale of Two Leafies


Remember these? It’s okay if you don’t. Last time I posted, they looked quite different.

leafcastsmoldAll waxed up . . . 


. . . and ready to go!

At the beginning of this round of classes, I got around to cleaning up the oak leaf and soldering a small, flattish bail on the back of the stem: unobtrusive yet large enough to pass a chain end. I think. Then I cleaned it up and dipped it in some liver of sulfur (yuck) a couple times until I got a nice tarnish patina.


It’s a bit wrinkly near the bottom, but there’s not much I can do about it. It’s a totally natural leaf, after all, and it did what it did.

Now this guy. This guy.


This one gave me some grief, because I decided it was time I learned how to solder a pin stem mechanism thingy on there. A commercial one. I mean, I could have soldered the ends of a long wire back there, snipped it, curled one end under for a catch and put a coil on the other end and work hardened the remainder for a pin, but how secure is that? This thing is a bit heavy. So I ordered something commercial–actually, three somethings. The hinge end, the catch end, and pin stems, all sold separately. And because I’m stubborn and value security over looks, I ordered a (shudder) nickel pin stem rather than sterling. I understand that in a show or contest I’d get dinged for this. But this is no juried show, this is me learning–thank goodness, because it didn’t go very well.

leaf soldering

This is what fear looks like, to me. Yet, I pulled it off, and got both ends on in the correct places, correct orientation, no melting, no solder blorps. I thought I might be home free at this point, even though the catch was stuck in place when I took the piece out of the pickle. Oops.

Now, the pack of catches (they sell ’em in groups of 10!) came with instructions that advised washing the catch in a boiling solution of ammonia and dishwashing soap, which I found brilliant. I may do this all the time in future, to neutralize any remaining pickle residue, if nothing else.* This did not solve my problem, though. Having none of the recommended floor wax or silicone lubricant on hand, I shot some WD40 in the mechanism and it worked. So there.

New problem: pin stem won’t fit in the catch. Like, it’s too thick all of a sudden. What the hell? I tried filing it down a bit thinner (tip: order the longest pin stems available and always cut them exactly to size) but it became obvious that wasn’t the problem. What happened was, somehow the C-shaped bit that spins around became distorted, or it annealed and drooped, or something. In the fully open position, it was overhanging a bit. I tried futzing at it with nails and pins and things, and ultimately in desperation ground that bit down ever so slightly with a polishing pin (thanks, Dedeco!) It worked enough.

Okay. Working catch: check. Right size pin stem: check. Now fold the hinge up over the pin stem rivet.


One side folds up accurately. The other? I don’t know. I just can’t get the hole to line up. (Here’s a handy guide to what I’m talking about, which I wish I’d researched before I ever began.) Now I’ve folded and fussed it so much I don’t think I can open it back up enough to take out the pin stem. It works, actually, and it’s pretty secure (for now?) but it’s not smooth, it’s not professional looking, and it irks me. But I’ve been plenty irked already with this project, and just can’t deal with it right now. Perhaps I’ll practice making more pins and come back to this one when I’m ready. It’s my first, and I learned a lot.

pin wonkThe bad side: the rivet isn’t quite in that hole, but somehow it isn’t falling out or anything.

Update: fixed it! I fussed with the hinge so much (using teeny tiny screwdrivers for fixing eyeglasses with) that the rivet came loose–very bad news, as this type of rivet isn’t really designed to be hammered/flared at the ends, only to sit inside the holes. So I took it out, dug up a bit of 18 gauge wire, and threaded it through a hole, the pin stem, and the other hole. Cut and hammered it, and voila! It’s not perfect, it’s not great, but it’s secure and it works.

And next time I’ll do better all around, I’m sure. I think. I hope.


*Got a slightly greenish tarnish on your sterling jewelry? Pickling acid residue! I’ve encountered it recently, myself. And so I shall become a better washer of things.

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Filed under casting, metals, pendant, pin, riveting, soldering