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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Inspiration Translation Creation Making Your Own Statement

I was inspired by a piece of jewelry created from older religious charms to investigate the concept of Milagros or miracle charms. In the process I saw this picture of a decorated cross. It would be easy to copy the work  but I prefer to use that as inspiration and translate that sense of design to become my own creation. Taking the central cue of the heart and working from there on copper with a fine point sharpie I made this design.
I trimmed the metal close to the edge of the design and backed the piece with plastic shipping tape. Covering the entire back to prevent etching chemicals from reaching there was the next step. The piece was placed into the etchant for about 2 hours. The metal was checked and when it was apparent that the texture was deep enough I neutralized the chemicals and washed the piece.
Next I chose to use heat from my torch to add color. This I do by heating the back side of the copper with the flame and watching for color changes as the heat is removed.
This is what that stage looked like. To maintain the color near to what it showed the piece was set on my anvil to cool instead of quenching.
This is the cooled result . It is now ready to be further enhanced With beads, gems or colored dyes and patinas. The central heart was traced from an open heart charm and the rest was drawn free hand.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tab Setting for Faceted Stones

This simple folded copper disk is to be adorned with two round faceted stones, one blue and one gold representing the double star in Cygnus called Albireo. To stay true to the primitive form I added the stones with a cut tab setting. First punch a center hole and cut six or eight radiating lines out from the center.
The right side shows how the tabs or prongs are bent up and down alternating. The downward bent ones hold the bottom of the stone while the top are the prongs.
You can see the points are bent up to match the bottom of the stone.
Here it stone is set in place and the tabs are cut across the tips to shorten them so they don't extend over the table of the stone.
Repeating the process for the second stone readies the piece .
The tabs tips are squared off and pushed over the edge of the stone.
From behind you can see I have pushed those tabs up while pushing down from above to lock in the stones.
I added a long leather cord for a necklace. It runs through a tube soldered to the back .
Finally here is Albireo The necklace representing Beta Cygni a double star.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Disc Cutter Simply Useful Maybe Essential Tool

 The simple disc cutter is a handy tool for making a variety of shapes in sheet metal. It consists of a block with holes through and a set of punches. The punches have a flat end that cuts the metal. And they have a beveled end to strike with a hammer.  This should be used on top of a bench block, sturdy bench or my preference on the anvil.
This one has 5 different sizes from 3/8 to one inch. To use you place the metal sheet into the block through a slot on the side.
Place the desired size punch into the correct hole.
And apply your hammer with a mighty stroke. Smack that sucker hard and maybe two or three hits. No place for delicate hammers, use the biggest one you have. This will cut through most metals in the non ferrous category, bronze, brass, copper, aluminum, silver and gold. When you purchase the tool it will specify the range of thicknesses that will work. Annealing the metal first is always recommended.
The result is a crisply cut disc.
Partial cuts are possible as well. I chose to make a set of crescents by offsetting the same size punch.
I cut out copper discs for the backing and bronze for the crescent. These were sanded around the edges and filed to smooth the sides. Then they were sweat soldered together on a solder block. After that they were pickled, textured with a rotary diamond tool and hand finished to a worn look.
Further smoothing in the tumbler and finally hand sanding on the bronze and rubbing with a Sunshine Cloth gave a smooth side to contrast with the copper texture.
Holes were punched and ear wires in bronze were added. This is just one of thousands of ways to use the discs you can make with this tool.
Here is a link to one such tool http://www.jewelrytools.com/eurotool/dapping-tools/Small-Disc-Cutter-7-Pieces.html

here is a link to a fabulous one http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Swanstrom-Round-Disc-Cutter-Set/112509?Pos=1

Mine cost about $35 from Ebay
Get one it will make cutting circles easy and quick.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Resin and metal bezels can create wonderful little worlds.

Most suppliers have this type of decorative bezel available to fill with your treasures. You can fill with many things like color and texture and of course 3-d objects. Used plain like this they are a good base.
I noticed this open back bezel in my stash and it is a close, though slightly loose fit over the bezel.
This seems to me to add a porthole look to the piece. Like a decorative frame.
Of the many products we can use under Ice Resin this Shattered Fire Opal is one I adore. The color is like a fine broad flash opal when sealed in resin. I applied some of the medium and filled the bezel. Then allowed it to dry while I was warming the Ice resin to slightly above room temperature about 85 degrees. I mixed the resin in the prescribed manner and set it to rest for 10 minutes on a warm spot. This rest allows all the bubbles to dissipate.
Next I looked for a subject to put inside on top of the resin. This fellow was a possible fit.
As is this tumbling baby. Both of these and hundreds more are available through my Etsy shop.

I chose this cherub or angel. The brass bezel was glued down to the decorative one with E-6000 and allowed to cure for five minutes. When that was secure I poured the resin and  filled the bezel to secure the cherub and cover the opal glitter in the back. I put this in a covered plastic food box and set it in a warm place on a cable TV box to cure. Two days later I trimmed some small leakage and now it is ready to add the finishing touches, a necklace and a pearl drop or a crystal.

To me this is a bit like making a high rise cameo. It is easy and by selecting a single focal point we have a strong design.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Finished Meteorite and Dinosaur bone necklace

Here is the completed piece. I had to add a few extra wires to secure the stone.
It is for sale in my ETSY shop.

Thinking about jewelry.

Jewelry can take many forms. Almost any materials can be used.  We give labels to jewelry based on materials and techniques. Often very biased judgements are made about those materials and styles based on purely arbitrary standards. Think of fine jewelry, costume jewelry, art jewelry, or assemblage as examples. Present day artists often use what ever catches their attention or sparks the imagination. In art (my background is fine arts) we call using found objects or ready made pieces "modern art". In jewelry we often see people using the same exact components from one or more sources to create new combinations that echo or mimic a style from the past.

I am returning to a foundation form this time with the use of rare, unusual materials. Historically this was how jewelry developed from the use of the more exciting, less common, or hard to find materials. The picture above has on the left a piece of an iron meteorite from the prehistoric Gibeon fall. This was one time an asteroid hit the earth in prehistoric times and was so large it persists today. The main mass is listed as 26 tons. Following is a blurb from Wikipedia.
Name: Gibeon
     This is an OFFICIAL meteorite name.
Abbreviation: There is no official abbreviation for this meteorite.
Observed fall: No
Year found: 1836
Country: Namibia
Mass:help 26 t
My little slice is from an exported fragment from the fall. It shows the internal structures of the crystal matrix of meteoric iron. This pattern is called the Widmanstatten pattern. Below that are beads made from fossilized dinosaur bone. 

I traced the slice of iron and using a pen drew a possible form for wire wrapping to include the bits of dinosaur bone in what I hope will be a pleasing combination.

In olden times this would have been called a talisman. Something to evoke the power of the animal or the sight of a shooting star that brought the metal to earth. Now I call it ornament, jewelry or personal decoration. I embodies both the animal and what some think is the end of all of the dinosaurs.
Later I will post the finished piece.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Book report of a sort.

I often buy books to learn more techniques. This book was suggested by someone and it turned out to be well written and had an interesting group of projects within its pages. My way of testing a books value is to follow one of the projects and see how easy or hard that project goes together. I saw a pearl ball described and what follows is how I created my own take on that design.
The basic materials are ball pins and two sizes of beads. I also used a looping pliers to create each element. To complete this I made 24 elements and a large jump ring.
Place the beads on the ball pin with the larger on second.
Pass The ball pin through the hole in the looping pliers and begin to squeeze the handle.
Complete the squeeze and the excess wire is clipped off leaving a tight loop
I left some room on the wire for the beads to move which makes following steps easier.
Make up as many elements as you wish . I used 24. You could use other methods to make a loop and wrap to hold the beads.
Fine flexible beading wire makes a strong base for the construction. I used about 6 inches.
To create a bail a length of half round copper wire was soldered together. The beading wire is passed through.
Next all the segments were added on both sides of the ring.
Pass both ends of the beading wire  through a round crimp of your choice. One wire through each direction.
Then pull the ends of both wires to close up the structure. Next when you have the structure somewhat tight crimp with the appropriate tool and trim the ends of the fine wire close to the crimp. I applied a tiny drop of superglue on each end of the crimp.
This is the result. This project was designed by Kate Mckinnon.  I added my own style by choosing Spectra beads from B'sueboutiques and Rollo chain with a copper hook closure. Try the project or buy the book you will be happy with both.