Category Archives: riveting

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

Metal Beads!


Well, this was fun. My teacher let me borrow this book on making metal beads, so I tried my hand at a couple basic tutorials.


Little round lefty over there has a lot of silver solder on it, and I’m not sure how that’s going to look as the patina sets in. I’m hoping for awesome, but I’m not sure. In future, I suppose I’ll have to get better at soldering a seam like this neatly. As for the square on the right, well, that was pretty awesome, but I wish I’d chosen a larger tube, because I had to flatten the bead a bit more than I’d have liked to secure it. Live and learn, though.

So last weekend I finished up a copper box I’d been putting off for nearly three years. This was partly because it required a ton of riveting, and partly because I’d lost some enthusiasm as it was not my original design, and I wanted to focus on my own things. The box was something I’d seen in 500 Pendants and Lockets and thought was supercool and I wanted to learn from it. Well, learn I did, and I had a big long post about it, but I ended up deleting it. Again, it’s not my design, and maybe posting a step-by-step of how to copy it was a dick move. I don’t know. But I did get it done–so many mistakes and all—and learned a ton about how to make my own hinged box.  So, onward.

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Filed under beads, riveting, soldering

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.


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.


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?


I did this.


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.


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

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


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


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.)


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!


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.


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


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

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


Here’s my collection of tinies so far.


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.


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?


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Filed under earrings, metals, practice, riveting, soldering

What’s Going On

button3It’s my first shank button!

But before we get to that, well, this round of classes has been canceled because Bob is having some serious health issues I won’t get into here, and he’s going into surgery soon. (Hope he’ll be OK!)

Apparently, though, there’s going to be an open studio situation, so I’ll have to figure out what I want to do. Actually, there is one thing I have to do: my sister-in-law requested a dragon pendant, something like this sketch I made that’s a bit like something she showed me (but not too much):


This is going to require a lot of sawing, with a few interior cuts I’m not sure I’m good enough to handle. So last night I worked on some scrap silver, just trying to make different squiggles and shapes:

button1This disc was going to be something else entirely, but I never got around to it (you can see I made seven cuts along the edge; it wasn’t as interesting as I thought it might be.)

So, after cutting that up, drilling some holes, cleaning and polishing, I had a weird bit of silver I didn’t know what to do with. As I also have a ton of base metal discs I also don’t know what to do with . . . hey, why not put them together?


I kind of liked it with a brass disc I once textured with a very coarse grinding wheel, and a big copper piece with some random hammering around the edges. I realized two of the holes in the silver disc were close enough to make a sort of slightly-off centered button. I drilled everything carefully to accommodate a piece of 14-gauge scrap copper wire (U-shaped, to look like rivets on the front and a shank on the back) and sandwiched it all together. Wedged a bunch of rods in the shank for support, and clamped it in a vise to do the riveting. That went a bit easier than I thought it would. The only thing I wish I had thought to do was to maybe hammer the shank a little flat, so there would be absolutely no give, no layers slipping down (the copper one moves just enough to annoy me.) Also, I’m tempted to put a brass tubing rivet in the remaining hole, because on the big screen it just looks empty and dumb.

Eventually I’m going to make a cowl or something with some green/blue yarn handspun by my friend Kristi, but until then, the button has no home.

And speaking of sawing:

lotus1The lotus is a holdover from my sandpaper-copper-rolling mill days, a faint impression in the protective brass sheet that I wanted to do something with. Unfortunately, the lotus impression was just a bit too faint to make sense, so I cut out the shapes and did my best to sand and polish without losing the sandpaper texture. It’s going to be a pendant soon.

And of course, the other thing up there is daruma. I cut him from the backing and now I need to make the oval a bit better, as well as a lot more grinding and polishing to make everything smooth and shiny. It’s like that never ends, and I never get it right in the end anyway. Suppose I’ll learn.

Edit: Now I’m sure I’ll learn! I found this video from that’s a pretty thorough explanation of different polishing bits and how to use them properly. Let’s put it this way: any time the narrator says “I see my students do this all the time,” well, that’s me.




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Filed under metals, riveting