Category Archives: supplies

Heart of the Matter

As promised, I did a little comparison of patinated (with liver of sulfur) hardware store wire and shiny craft store wire from the hobby shop.  The idea was to make a frame for my copper heart which, if you remember, looked like this.

greenbrokeheartMy frame choices, as of yesterday:

twodreamcatchersWhile I kinda like the down-and-dirty, irregular wire on the left, just winding that 24 gauge stuff around a mandrel blackened my fingers and made me wonder about wearing something like this on a hot, sweaty day.  The brown craft wire version on the right is pretty sweet; I like that the wire is perfectly round and I can see why 26 gauge wire is a common choice for wrapping/weaving projects.   And while I chose to go with the craft wire version, I’m still meh on the whole project idea, which I may not finish after all.

heartdraftI feel like there’s just too much going on here.  All the parts are shiny, nothing stands out, and the red wire I used for stitching the two halves looks like an afterthought (I’d like to do it again, forming the ends more gracefully, but I’m out of this wire and am not crazy about any other options in my toolbox.) So . . . let’s just put that back on the shelf for now.

The good news, for the rejected frame, is that I bought some automotive enamel yesterday, some clear glossy stuff made by Rustoleum.  I sprayed the frame and a few test pieces, including the ammonia-made blue copper I did some months ago.  The results were promising, and much better than the matte Krylon I tried before.  It did dull the color on my salt-and-vinegar piece (which wasn’t so great to begin with), but that’s to be expected.  I should also mention that Renaissance Wax dulled the blues in that fold-formed leaf I posted about the other day.  There isn’t anything better that I know of–please let me know if you do.

And while I was at the hardware store (Harbor Freight) I finally bought a doming set (dapping block and punches).  I’m very excited about being able to do this at home, because it’ll make it easier to produce things I can sell.  I’d also love to have a disc cutter, but Harbor Freight’s low-cost model is . . . is . . . I can’t remember exactly what my teacher said about it, but it was unkind.  The thing has one steel plate and one plastic, if that says anything to you.  The wonderful, high quality Rio Grande model is a couple hundred dollars, though, so I might as well start saving my pennies.  Sigh.




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Filed under experiment, metals, necklace, supplies

Back to Skool

Class is in again, and it’s a small one!  How funny that I wanted to register as early as possible, thinking an afternoon summer class would fill as quickly as the evening spring one did.  There were five students Monday, and maybe one or two registered who didn’t show.  And I never thought I’d get to say this again, but I am the youngest student in class.  It’s all retirees, which is fun!  A couple of them (a married couple, I mean) overwinter in Tucson, Arizona, and have access to some rock shops and classes and things there.  They also know where to get some good stuff locally, but I’ll get to that.

I got to show off most of the stuff I’ve been working at over the past month.  My teacher calls me “The Prolific One” and seems amazed that I’m cranking out all these projects after one introductory class.  I think she has no idea what it’s like to sit on a dream for twenty years.  She had her jewelry business up and running practically before she ditched grad school.  Perhaps I can learn something of the business end from her.  Meanwhile, since this is an “open” class with no set syllabus, we got to decide some of the things we’d like to learn how to do.  Looks like we’ll be learning filigree, anticlastic and synclastic forming, prong setting, and maybe some basic chasing and repousse.

So I worked on this pendant idea I’ve had for a while.  It was going to be a bit of a Zen joke, based on Dogen’s admonition to not mistake the moon for the finger pointing at the moon (i.e. there’s no substitute for direct experience (and don’t I know it!)) It was going to have a copper hand pointing at a bezel-set moonstone in a cloudy sky.  I decided to ditch the hand and just play it straight.  It was going really well until I had trouble getting the bail to solder on in the right place.  I was going to saw it off, but was told that it’d be better to just clamp it in the third hand, heat it up again, and let it fall off.  It worked–but alas I lingered, overheated the piece, and now it’s . . . kind of weird:

moonstoneandcloudsI don’t know if the tumbler will polish out my sins.  (And my second attempt at the bail was also a failure!)  I’m not even sure what the hell happened to the bezel–the metal got wrinkly on the outside.  Did I just accidentally reticulate it?

I’ll see if it’s worth continuing work on next week.  If nothing else, I’ll keep at it just to try putting pitch in the setting, to bring out the color of the moonstone.  Apparently, I can just put a tiny dab of it inside the circle, heat it enough so it spreads out, and then stick the stone in there.  It’s supposed to be a really good technique for opals, too, as they are fragile and the pitch makes a nice cushion if the stone ever gets whanged against something.

The other thing I did was to put a piece of manila folder, cut out with a leaf-shaped punch, through the rolling mill.  I had it tight enough that it embossed the copper and both brass plates, which I rather like.  I need to use both metals together in one piece somehow.



So, as I said, I got a good tip on where to buy locally (or locally enough, a couple towns away).  For the past month or so, I’ve been checking Ebay and Etsy for the perfect piece of “Fordite,” which is the cute name given to automotive paint overspray buildup from auto plants in the mid-twentieth century.  The stuff would get all over the rails on the assembly line, where it would be baked on over and over and over.  Result:  a hard slag that had to be chipped off regularly and was often brought home by plant workers with an eye for unusual, pretty things.  Tumble the stuff up and you get something like this:

forditeflowerbasketThe kicker:  the bead shop sold me three pieces for less than what one piece of a comparable size would have cost online.  There were other things with good prices, too.  Too bad it takes an hour to drive there–or maybe it’s best I can’t go spending there too often.  I bought a lot of shit, including, well, shit:

coproliteNow the yarn shop next door . . . I’ll get to that next time.





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Filed under pendant, soldering, stones/gems, supplies

Hey Boss

Got my shipment of cabochons and setting tools today.  I also ordered, for the second time in the past couple years, a mystery grab bag offered by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.  It’s called the Bosses’ Bead Bag, and it’s a one-pound sack of odds and ends.  Sorted out, it looks something like this:

bossesbeadAdmittedly, a lot of this stuff is junk, or at least unusable for making professional-quality jewelry to sell.  There are a lot of misshapen glass and stone beads, single earwires with no mates, and some chintzy plastic and wood things.  I really don’t care, because these bags are fun to pick and sort through, and the only reason I even took this picture and posted about it is that sitting there, I realized I’m still the same as I was when I was a dumb kid combing through my tacky treasures and wanting to make jewelry. It is SO much fun.

My favorite things this time around are: that crazy giant glass bead in the upper left (I’m thinking garden ornament for that one); the three chain adjustable-necklace-makers  in the middle; the crazy plastic flat beads center right; and, as usual, most of the metal findings that will probably come in handy when I need a miscellaneous jump ring or two in the future. There are also a few circular halves of toggle clasps that will make good stitch markers for my knitting, and a lot of necklace/bracelet end pieces in styles I’ve never tried before.  Let the experiments begin!


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Filed under beads, supplies