Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Turquoise & Sterling

There are new things to be learned each time I make a ring.
I added a piece of 14 gauge sterling wire around the bezel in this one.

Soldering the bezel onto the back piece

It seems I got in a bit of a hurry and didn't have a snug enough
fit for the wire...never the less, it turned out pretty much okay.

The Parts
Soldering the shank in place
A trick I learned at the silversmithing class.....
Use dental floss under the stone when testing the fit.

Testing the fit of the stone

The stone has been set into place....

New photography setup

I used to have my big light box on a card table for
shooting jewelry (when I did it inside.) But I'm working on
this smaller version using poster board & think it's going to work out great.
It only requires choosing the correct white balance
for your lighting. The top and bottom shots were in the tent.
I'll be playing with lighting next time. 

Onward and upward!

carpe diem!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

1st Foray into Precious Metal Clay: PMC3

Foray: a brief excursion or attempt especially outside one's accustomed sphere.
You got that right, Webster!

Spoils of the Foray

Precious? That all depends. Talking about the price? Then, Yes!
I've worked with BronzClay before, but when I ordered
my first PMC3 (fine silver) - a 25 gram package was $51.85
and that was the best price I could find at the time. I ordered it from Cool Tools.

Right now, that same teeny, tiny package is up to $63.13 at Cool Tools.
Rio Grande is selling the same package for $71.43. Sometimes I really 
like the prices at RioGrande (and I order a lot from them) - however  in cases like this, 
I just don't understand such a huge price difference. It really pays (pun $ intended) to price shop.
But I digress.

I ordered this package back in July and just now got the courage to use it.
I was a wreck. Plus, I  mostly created a wreck. 
There was something about knowing how expensive it is that made me crazy.
And I went into it with no real plan about what I was making. I just
knew I didn't want it to be a cliche. So I focused on making a few
components with half of the package.  I found some tiny 'sticks' outside to use for some texture.
On other pieces, I used shells for texture.  When I finished, I knew that
Kathy Van Kleeck's work had made a big influence on my pieces. 
But her pieces are gorgeous...mine were the result of terror. 

Prior to 1st Firing - half of the package

I did a lot of research prior to ordering this clay. And I did a lot of research
before I got up the nerve to open the package. However, what I missed
along the line somewhere was that when fired, this was going
to be 99.9% pure silver. ie: it will not be stiff if it is a long, thin piece.
After firing for 3 hours - (one hour to ramp to 1650°) and two hours held at 1650°
I could bend the long piece with my hands.  I had let the pieces
cool down in the kiln.  I tumbled the pieces
and used a leather mallet on the long one and it helped a lot.

LOS patina and brush texture added
The small pieces were quite hard (sintered) and apparently the long one was too.
But as an experiment, I re-fired & took the pieces out immediately after the firing finished.
It  had the same results. The small pieces were hard, just as the first time...the long one could
be bent with my hands...easily. Perhaps I just have super human strength as
suggested by my lovely daughter. :)

Instead of letting the rest of the clay get hard in the package, I made
more components - made them round & larger & used a large portion of
the clay to make a ring. Online directions told me to make the ring 2 sizes larger
than what I wanted. So I did. And allowing for the shrinkage rate (12-15%)
I made the ring wider than I wanted it. Another lesson learned. The ring
did shrink in ring size, but the width of the band did not. So the ring is
really wide. 

I used part of an old shell for texture on the ring and added
three tiny balls to represent sand. Also, it shrunk more than I thought it 
would in ring size.
but I did manage to increase that with a ring mandrel and leather mallet.
It fits me now. I may end up using it as a component anyway....instead of a ring.

25 Grams of PMC3 and one Penny

So there you have it.
25 Grams = 1 Long Pendant (2.5 inches), 11 Component Disks and 1 Ring

I'm glad I tried PMC3, but it'll have to come down a LOT in price
before I try it again. 

Big thanks go out to the people who answered my emails
about PMC3:

Bottom line: PMC3 is Fine Silver and will fire soft if it is too thin.
Some say that's part of its charm. I say maybe Sterling Silver Clay next time. ;)

Carpe Diem!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Crusty Copper Cuff & Some Other Stuff

Crusty Copper Form Folded Cuff with *RIVETS*  

That's right, people. I tried my hand at rivets again. These were going pretty good
until I used a leather mallet on it - on the bracelet mandrel....and one rivet went flying off.
I found it by backing the 4Runner out of the garage & sweeping the floor.

Back to the drawing board...I then attempted to solder it back in place and burned allllll the patina off.
By the way...the verdigris patina is achieved with JAX Green Patina.
I love that stuff. Can you tell?
Then I punted. I started over. 
In the end, I'm pretty happy with it. There's form folding in there. And there's some
etching (the swirly pattern.) Plus, can you see the punches? One thing I like
about the verdigris patina is that it looks pretty cool with turquoise rings

Just for the record: The second time on the mandrel, I used my hands to form the cuff. 

The cuff has a couple coats of sealer 
and a final coat of Dorland's wax medium to seal and buff.

Earrings! I declared them not ugly. So they can stay. 

Domed & textured Vintaj brass disks, Mother of Pearl Beads &
hand formed copper sticks.

A little background about all these earrings --- I picked up the
Mother of Pearl stick beads in a shop in
Corpus Christi, TX. When I took them out of the bag later, I noticed that
the young lady in the shop had labeled them "Coral."  Close.  ;)

The colors in them are a sort of taupe
and light coffee cream. They're really gorgeous.

This pair has Vintaj paddles hung behind the Mother of Pearl beads.

And the second pair has the same mother of pearl beads
and are hung from some copper disks that have been domed, 
textured and have liver of sulfur patina added....AND been sealed with 2 coats of sealer.

Yet another XO pendant
In keeping with the XO theme from the last post, here's a teeny, tiny version.
This one is made from BronzClay. The pendant is smaller
than a penny and hung on a tiny antiqued bead chain.

Upcycled Components
These three tiny, silver beads may be silver plated instead of sterling. I'm not sure.
They were rescued from an old bracelet. I only know that they really
came to life when I threw them in the tumbler for an hour or so. 
They're on a sterling chain which has some light patina added for depth.

Carpe Diem!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Copper Etching

XO stamped with vintage wooden stamps & StazOn Ink.

Vintage Wooden Stamps

The gritty, earthy textures are what draw me back to etching. 

Gritty Details

Radio Shack PCB Etchant Solution & Liver of Sulfur do amazing things to copper.

Warmer Light - Shallow depth of field

Details & Size reference - The pendant is 1.5" X 2.5"

The unique, small, vintage key adds more earthy warmth.

Add the components to a 36" antiqued copper chain & you're done.
The End.

I need to order some bulk solid copper bead chain.
Ebay has some good options for it....
Anyone know where the best supplier is?

carpe diem!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mammoth Ivory; Patina; Silver and Turquoise

Mammoth Ivory and Bone Ankh
Mammoth Ivory? Yup. That's right. Found it at a Gem and Mineral show.
How cool is that? I really like how it goes with the Ankh made of bone
and the sand cast African trade beads. 

The Mammoth and The Ankh
Sounds like a movie title, eh? 

Copper form folding and patina.
Now if only I could figure out what I'm going to do with it
because I like how it turned out!

[there used to be three pair of earrings here. they were ugly. redacted.]

Hand made sterling ear wires with turquoise & silver beads.

And again.....

Hand made wires with turquoise, silver and coral.

Repeat.I rather like how they look on that shell. Note to self. Use the shell more.

Carpe Diem, People!