Tag Archives: wire

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

Finished Business

As 2016 winds down, I’ve been making strides in finishing up some projects and ideas that I had set aside for . . . oh . . . two years or so? Three? I’ll start with the one I’m most excited about:

copperwashernecklace

This little everyday-wearable copper beauty is made of washers. Hardware store washers! I hammered and stamped and domed and drilled them back in summer class my first year of real jewelry making:

coppercirclesnecklace

And now that I finally have a chain I like, and the patience to make some jump rings, well, it’s all done now. Three years later.

Here’s another thing from that era, me playing around with links made with some lovely glass beads from my local bead shop:

glassbeadsandwire

They are finally necklace material now.

glassbeadschain

And while this, technically, isn’t something I started and stopped years ago, I have been meaning to do it for some time.

glassbeadsaluminumchain

The (aluminum!) chain is Sam’s Chain from Spotlight on Wire, something I’ve done before and wanted to revisit in larger link form. The beads . . . well, I’d hoped to wire-wrap them back in the day, but meh.

And now back to new things, as summer 2016 draws to a close and I need to clean up some silver pieces I made in class.

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Filed under beads, necklace

Cloudy with a Chance of Solder

cloud

Well, this was one unfinished object from a long time ago!

ufo3

Here’s the cloud shape from back in 2014. I made it for fun and, as I recall, to experiment with copper solder, but then I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.

filler

I had an idea about raindrop danglies, but couldn’t quite get it to my liking, so I put it aside and, of course, forgot about it . . . until very recently. I decided to fill the shape with wire curlicues in a filigree sort of way. This took several soldering operations, so I used silver solder in medium and easy. It blorped around, of course, and initially I planned to grind off the excess and/or copper plate the whole thing when I was done, but . . . but . . . the silver kind of looked cool in this case. Why hide it if you can flaunt it?

So, I made some danglies and deliberately melted a speck of solder on each to make a raindrop. I drilled holes in the frame, attached the drops with jump rings, and soldered the rings shut with super easy solder (so much fun! Just touch a little bit to the heated metal with a pick and it practically does the work itself!)

I hadn’t meant for the whole thing to have a hammered texture, but everything was off just enough that it would look better hammered. More deliberate. That was a tip from Bob, by the way. He also would have domed it slightly before adding the danglies, and I see his point. Regardless, I’m happy with how this one turned out. It was worth the wait.

Oh! And you know how I used to always go on about learning to take better pictures?

lightboxcloud

I’ve finally started experimenting with a light box. (A very, very homemade light box.) This was really good for getting the copper color and the silver; without it, the shiny metals were just getting washed out. I’ve also learned not to wear bright colors when photographing jewelry, because the reflection will pick up. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought twice about photography, but I’m making the attempt again.

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Filed under experiment, pendant, soldering, wire

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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Filed under earrings, metals, practice, riveting, 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

Makeover!

So, remember this little experiment from a couple months ago?

cylinders1

It wasn’t quite all I hoped it would be, so I took it apart and tried again. My main goal was to have the ability to spin the cylinder beads, because they remind me of prayer wheels, and that’s kind of cool. Tight rivets made that impossible, and the bead holes are too small for tubing that would make it work better. So, after about a week of sketching ideas at work during the receptionist’s lunch hour (when they make me watch the phone), I came up with a more horizontal idea using balled headpins. And it worked!

prayerwheelspendant

Everything here is just wiggly enough that the beads can be turned. Setting the middle bead presented a challenge, because I couldn’t take a torch to the top end of the wire (or could I have? I don’t think the beads would have liked the heat. Also, the wire is 18 gauge, so . . . a lot of heat to ball it up.) I made it a flat rivet, which looks all right. The bars were scraps I found in the classroom bin, cut down, cleaned up, and hammered with a screwdriver and nail punches for a little texture. I was going for something a bit irregular and ancient-looking, rather than the perfectly thin and straight side bars in my first design. So yeah, I think this one’s a keeper.

One last class tonight for the year, and I may have some things to post after the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under beads, necklace, wire

A New Thing

In my efforts to destash beads and think of new ideas, I came up with something that would utilize more than one bead, which is kind of a rarity for me.

cylinders1

Here’s how that went.

Planish two 14 g wires like so.

cylinders3

Ream the beads a bit with a diamond-plated drill bit so a bit of tubing can actually fit in there (grumble, grumble.)

cylinders2

Mark drill holes on planished wires as carefully as you can. Start the holes by grinding them just a bit with a tiny bur bit.

cylinders4

Cut tubing for each bead. I made mine just a touch longer than the beads . . . and learned the beads aren’t all exactly the same size (or perfect shape, either.) Perhaps they weren’t the best choice for something I wanted to look uniform.

Curl the non-drilled ends of the planished wires over to make bails. (Note they should be planished in the opposite direction of the other ends.)

Put the tubing in the beads, run a close-fitting wire through the planished wire, tubing with bead, and other planished wire. Cut and rivet. (My tubing fit a 22 gauge wire.) Do the other two. Yes, this will be fiddly and annoying and won’t come out as nicely as you’d hoped (if you’re me.)

My aim was for the beads to spin freely on the tubing, like prayer wheels or something. They do turn, but not smoothly. I think if I had had a second, slightly larger tubing to go over the first, I could have accomplished this. Obviously, if I try again, I’ll need beads with bigger holes. And there were some at the local bead shop . . . hmmm . . .

So, not bad for a first draft. And I am impressed by the teeny tiny rivets, if I do say so myself. If I do such a thing again with slightly organic, imperfect beads, I’ll maybe make it look a bit rough on purpose: hammer texture the wires, stuff like that.

Next up: macrame, revisited.

 

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Filed under beads, experiment, pendant, practice, wire