Happy New Year

31 12 2010

Welcome 2011!

My New Years wish for you is that you step confidently along the path of your life, in good health, strong spirit, and clear mind.

Happy New Year, and Best wishes to you and your family!





Five Days To Go…

27 12 2010

Or… 2010, Tying up Loose Ends at StudioDax!

Well… it’s the end of the December, and no matter how I plan for the end of the year, it always seems to sneak up on me.¬† I like to spend a little time thinking about what I’ve done over the past 12 months – the pieces I’ve created, the classes I’ve taught, and the techniques I learned. Taking stock of the past helps me decide the direction I want to go in the future.

Bead Crochet Starter Jig - Patent Pending!

In 2010, I also made a real effort to finesse the design and tutorial for my Bead Crochet Jig (which I sell in my Etsy store), and in April, I filed the papers starting the process for a patent. I’ve been teaching classes with it, selling it online and at shows, and I’ve started wholesaling it to stores. This has been a great learning exercise, and I am looking forward to expanding my wholesale to more stores and distributors.

Like other artisan jewelers, 2010 has been a real wake up call to factors that we can’t control. I’ve been watching the silver market, and getting anxious about how I’ll be able to continue working with quality materials when the prices keep spiraling. Since I buy my sheet and wire in bulk 2-3x a year, it hasn’t had a great impact on me yet, but my next purchase will probably be double what I paid for it last time around.

About 2 Years of Scraps!

The only upside to the rising silver cost – it’s time to turn in the scraps! I usually turn it in when I get about a pound, and this shows a little more than that. So at least I’ll have the ability to buy some more without feeling the pain so much…

My final “end of year” activity is always the same – it’s clean up time in the Studio! I get very accustomed to working in my own chaos, and this year is waaaaaay worse than any previous years, so it will take me a lot longer to organize, clean, and trash my work closet. Usually my workspace isn’t nearly so bad , but take a look at what I need to get thru this week!

What a Mess!

There is absolutely NO surface space at all – I have to remove storage items and plates with works in progress in order to make room to work…. very much a PITA! I can’t even think of doing any soldering with spending 20 minutes to remove the piles first….

The mess at the back - Part I!

The pickle pot is totally surrounded by bits and pieces of silver and copper. Small things I’ve played around with and put down, not quite sure if they should be discarded or left for future play.

The mess at the back - Part II!

I seem to always have plastic ziplock bags with a few things in them – beads, and threads, and things from the hardware store…. fun things that have no home yet. I pile them onto plates, then pile the plates up, to make it easy to move them around. And sometimes when I start a project, I put all the pieces on one plate, so that I can stack it up instead of trying to put the pieces back…. it’s gonna take a real¬† long time to make this space usable again!

Within a week – this should be nice and clean, ready to start the New Year off with space that will inspire – rather than hinder – creativity. I promise to post a few pics once it’s done!

And until then – have a great New Year!

 

 

 

 





Mistakes Happen

13 12 2010

I enjoy doing custom work – but I hate when I mess it up! A few months ago, I made a simple heart pendant with the name of a friends daughter stamped into the surface. I started in the middle to center the name, and worked outward, but unfortunately, I messed up the next to last letter by stamping it too far away, and not leaving me room for the last letter – so poor “MERCEDES” wound up “ERCEDES” on my first try!

Almost MERCEDES!

I eventually created another one (which came out just fine!), and just threw this into my recycle pile. But I’d much rather reuse, than recycle, so in the back of my mind, I had the idea to rework it with a copper heart, but I wasn’t too sure what to do.

Heart on Heart...

The first thing I realized is that I had to reshape the copper heart to be closer to the shape of the silver one. So I traced the heart, and did a bit of grinding and sanding to make the heart more rounded, like the silver shape.

Shaping My Heart

You can see how I reshaped the bottom to make the sides a bit rounder, and I filed the separation at the top, to exaggerate the shape a little. Once I got the copper done, I needed to do something to the silver, and I decided to do a simple texture using a polished ball pien hammer, working on the back, Once the texture looked good, I laid it on the copper heart, to see how I wanted to proceed.

Two Hearts are Better than One

Not bad…! I really like how the copper base highlights the textured silver, and although I originally thought I’d drill some holes on each side and add jumprings, instead, I think I’ll make a bail in the center. I was also going to rivet the 2 hearts with some brass rod, but I like the solid look of the silver, so I’m going to just solder it up instead.

My Messy Heart!

I did a simple sweat solder join between the 2 pieces by just soldering the back of the silver heart, then laying it over the copper heart, and reheating. Unfortunately, I was concerned that I wasn’t making contact across the whole disk, and I reheated it a bit too much – you can see how the solder flowed out the edges on the sides (sorry I didn’t take a photo before I antiqued it!). I also curved the hearts before soldering them together, so that I didn’t warp the top silver disc, and added a center bail. Then I did a little clean up, oxidized the pendant, and buffed it up with a satin finish.

The Back Counts Too...

When possible, I try to keep the back clean and in the same style as the front – this shows the curve, the patina, and the clean solder of the bail. I only wish the silver heart was as cleanly soldered onto the copper as the bail!

My Heart Belongs to..... Me?

Well… this is not sell quality, but I love the look. So I’m not sure if it’s mine (feels a little strange giving myself a heart!), or if I’ll gift it to a friend. And lucky for me, I’ve got another mis-stamped silver heart in my recycle bin, so I can make another one, which I hope will come out a bit better!!





Getting Hammered…. Again!

4 12 2010

A few months back, I wrote a post about hammering, showing the differences between hammers and mallets (read post HERE). Today’s post is provide more detail about chasing hammers, and the two distinct purposes they have: to “chase” a tool into metal (such as stamping, or repousse work), or, to flatten wire. They are lightweight hammers made with a springy wood, which reduces hand fatigue whed doing repetitive striking. Personally, I like a heavier hammer for stamping, but it is an excellent hammer for repousse (a technique sorta like embossing on thin metal), which requires a lighter touch.

Domed Face vs. Flat Face Chasing Hammers

Chasing hammers are also a great shape/weight for hammering wire… which is how many jewelry artisans use them. The faces come in two different “flavors” – the domed face, and the flat face. In the photo above, you can clearly see how they different as they rest on a steel block… but do you know when to use each one??

Domed Face vs. Flat Face: Hammering Wire

Look at how the hammers are positioned above, on a piece of wire. The domed face hammer (left) strikes the wire with only the center part of the face, but the edges don’t strike the wire at all. The flat face hammer (right) strikes the wire with more surface, but the sharp edge of the hammer can easily mar the wire.

"Not so Pretty" vs. "Pretty Nice"

On the left, you can see the markes made from repeated strikes when the edge of the flat face hammer hits the wire.. On the right, the wire is paddled flat and is mar free – no sharp edges hit the wire when properly using a domed face hammer. In addition, the force is focused at the center, rather than across the entire face, so you have more power when striking.

Tapered Hammered Link

This link is a great example of how useful a domed face hammer is – you can see how it was possible to hammer just the bottom part of the link, to taper the wire on each side, providing an even, gradual change from round to flat. If I tried to use the flat face hammer on this link, it would be very difficult to create this smooth transition. and it would be difficult to avoid hitting the top of the link, where the wire is doubled over.

Round and round we go....

Although I loooove my domed face hammer, and it is my favorite hammer to use with wire, the flat face hammer has it’s place too! In the photo above, you can see how the domed face hammer leaves the surface of Spiral “A” a bit less consistent than the surface of Spiral “B,” which was hit with the flat face. Because the domed face has a curve, the hammer strikes with a bit more force at the exact center, which can leave slight differences in the pressure placed on the surface. A flat face hammer is a good choice when flattening an item that is smaller than it’s face diameter, because the force is displaced evenly across the head.

This week, I decided to start selling my favorite domed face hammer in my Etsy shop. I looked around at the other hammers being offered, and realized that there was no info being posted on using the hammers, which is why I decided to write this post. Hopefully, it will be helpful – for someone new to hammering, a flat face hammer can be very very frustrating, because it is so difficult to obtain mar-free results!