“Will Write Tutorial For Tools….”

5 05 2010

Fun with Forming Block!!

Last month, I was thrilled to be selected as a “tools for tutorial” match… basically, a great vendor on Etsy who sells tools (Evie’s Tool Emporium) was looking for someone to show folks how to use one of their new tools by writing up a brief tutorial. A wonderful blog called Totally Tutorials acts as the go-between, and I am pleased to now post this “Simple Formed Pendant” tutorial using a very cool metal mini-forming steel block. I tried to keep the project simple so that if you are unfamiliar with metalworking, you’ll find this to be a fun to make, but even experienced metalsmiths will enjoy using the forming block, and adding this technique to their skillset.

Project Tools

These are the tools I used: sponge block and green scrubbie (to clean the disc), a spring-loaded center punch, the forming block, a twist hole punch, a hammer and a mallet, and some punches (shown are a transfer punch, a nail, and a doming punch). You will also need a metal disc for the pendant – for this project I am using a 15/16 inch diameter circle in 24g copper. Please note that 24g – 26g works well with this tool!

Pendent Disc on Forming Block

Clean the disc with the sanding block or green scrubbie, and place it over one of the valleys in the forming block, laying a punch over it. I am using a doming punch, but if you don’t have one, you can use a regular steel nail, as long as it fits easily into the valley.

Hammering a Fold into the Disc

Hold the punch firmly in place, and hammer it on the disc, into the valley, forming the metal (repeat to get a good crease).

Flattening the Disc Edges

Remove the punch, and flatten the disc edges using a wood or rawhide mallet. If you don’t have a mallet, lay a piece of leather over the disc, and use the hammer.

Formed Disc - See How Easy!!

Making the Hole for the Bail

Make a hole in the disc using a twist hole puncher or a drill. If you don’t have a hole puncher of a drill, you can lay the disc on a block of wood, and hammer a sharp nail into the disc. This can cause the disc to warp, so you will need to flatten it out.

Adding some Texture

Lay the disc onto the forming block, laying the crease into a valley, as shown. Use the center punch to create a pattern (you can mark the pattern on the disc with a Sharpie, like I did). I like to file the tip of my punch, and punch on the BACK, so that the pattern is in relief on the front, but you can create a pattern however you like! If you don’t have a spring-loaded center punch, you can hammer the pattern with a regular center punch or nail

Adding the Finishing Touches

Add a bail (I used a simple jumpring), and antique/buff to highlight the details, and voila! You have a cool metal formed pendant!

Another Pendent - This One in Silver

After I made a few in copper, I decided to make one in silver, using the same basic steps. You can also add some other techniques, such as stamping in a word or design, or adding some beads or dangles. It takes a little practice, but just have fun with it!





Ear Wires Anyone??

24 04 2010

I am a hard core tool junkie… it’s hard for me to imagine any jewelry making tool that I wouldn’t want to own! Hammers, and pliers, and drill bits, oh my! But a few years ago, I started seeing some new jigs in magazines that were specifically made for creating ear wires, and couldn’t help thinking…. WHY???

Creating ear wires is easy, needs no special tools, and is a skill that anyone making jewelry should be able to do. I have a one page handout that I made for my students, but you don’t need to take a class with me – I’m posting the “how-to” right here!

STEP 1: Cut a piece of 20g wire between 1.5- 2 inches. File both ends of the wire, and make a single loop on one side. You should always make pairs together, one step at a time, so they are consistent.

STEP 2: Using a pen as a mandrel (the “ridged” type pen works very nicely), bend the wire around the pen – keep the loop as shown, don’t let the loop turn to the side. Pull both sides of wire down around the pen barrel, then PUSH the loop under the barrel until ear wire shape is seen. Pushing the loop under the pen gives you a “swoop” in the wire.

STEP 3: For a nice professional touch, use pliers to create slight bend at the end of the wire. Hammer the curves, or tumble to harden.

Have fun, and experiment! You can make larger ear wires by cutting longer wire, and using a pen with a larger barrel than shown. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll bee creating all different wonderful styles to go with your designs.