I’m a Very Dirty Girl…

26 05 2010

But luckily, there’s always ways to get clean! As anyone who makes jewelry knows, working with metal is dirty work! Soldering, etching, fabrication – all of these make my hands look like they’ve been playing around inside a car engine, and most soaps can’t get them clean. And the ones that CAN clean them up always leave me feeling like sandpaper….

Grease Monkey Soap by Soap Scentsations

And then there’s Grease Monkey! I got this soap from a fellow Etsian – Soap Sensations (I always like to support the handmade community!), and the soap works great. Specifically made to clean you up after you’re doing your messiest, Grease Monkey is a cold processed soap made with natural ingredients, which leaves your skin soft, and has a clean minty scent (nothing wussy here!). And i to make my point, I thought I’d embarrass myself by showing you what I look like when working:

Where Have These Hands Been??

Just a little soldering, a little fabrication, a dip in Liver of Sulpher (LOS – for antiquing), and a bit of metal cleaning with some very fine steel wool – and my hands get pretty nasty looking. Wow – look at those nails… they look so much worse in a close-up!!

And After the Grease Monkey!

But a little Grease Monkey, a little scrubbing with a nail brush, and everything is pink and new! So I guess I clean up pretty good… huh?

So what was I working on that got me so messy? One of my favorite projects – an Initial Pendant, for a friend who is moving, and will be missed…

Bye, Bye Susan...





DIY at Maker Faire

23 05 2010

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at Maker Faire (see my post last week), a DIY event, focusing on the “build it yourself” mind set, with an eco-friendly emphasis. I was a volunteer at the Metal Art Association of Silicon Valley (MAASV) table – we were there to let folks know what the MAASV was about, and to offer up a simple “make and take” project.

Make & Take Project

Our project was an easy charm/pendant – we provided copper discs and some simple tools, and showed folks how to add texture to metal. It was best a fun kids project, but quite a few adults took the time to make one up too.

Being a “crafty maker” I was interested in all the crafty DIY and vendors – there were informal demos on felting, sewing, knitting, paper crafts, glass bead making, etc. Here’s a few of the crafty vendors I liked:

Sugar Skulls Rock!

Isn’t this adorable? Cute kids and “Day of the Dead” – what a great combo! My favorite items though from the Frogs & Chicks table… the “iPee” caps and “iPoo” onsies!

Knit Geek Pets!

I also liked the “knit geekery” – these knit pets by MisterFunky are perfect for folks who can’t remember to feed or walk the real thing!

Not Your Kids Scooter!

The techno geekery was really amazing – handmade vehicles, rockets, steampunk, musical instruments, electronics projects with lights and sound, and a lot more – something for all, no matter how big (or small) a geek

There were alot of demos and activities for both adults and kids that really give you some different ways of looking at things… if a Maker Fair comes to your neighborhood, I suggest you go and enjoy the day!





I’m Hooked on Wire…

20 05 2010

…And you can be too! Hooked on Wire (aka: HOW) is an annual wire retreat held in the San Fransisco Bay Area – imagine what you can learn by spending three days (Sept 10-12), with some of the top wirework artists in the country!! This year, Lisa Niven Kelly, Dallas Lovett, and Barb Switzer are the fabulous workshop instructors, and I’m thrilled to be joining HOW this year as one of the evening instructors! My project will be a little bit of a break from all the wire working done during the day – you’ll get a chance to play with some metal and create a fun “FAN-tastic” pendant :

What a "FAN-tastic" Pendant!!!

Hooked on Wire is a wonderful opportunity  to expand your skills, meet great people, and have a whole lotta fun! So check out the website for more info on projects and tickets, and plan a mini vacation – you deserve a few days for yourself! This is the 7th year for HOW, and it just gets better and better…!!





“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!