Pain and Soldering Revisited

 

I am making a setting to hold a coin.  Or I am trying to.   I set a coin in Richard Salley’s metalsmithing class at Hacienda Mosaico a couple of years ago.   I didn’t like the results and vowed to try again.  I had my class notes but wanted to find something a little more tailored to my capabilities.  And so I looked for a tutorial in every dog house, out house and waffle house and didn’t find anything I like.  So then I decided to improvise.  Uh oh.
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This is the coin.  A lovely specimen (from before the time the Republic  of Ireland went on the Euro)  that a friend gave me so I could make the pendant for his wife.  I would love to show you the other side, but I have lost it.   My husband says it will turn up somewhere.  Brilliant.  Maybe on one of the moons of Jupiter or the other side of the state, but not with me.

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I start off with 18 gauge silver

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And measure very carefully.

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My trusty scribe and metal cutting scissors.  By the way, these scissors are fantastic!  I forget where I read about them.  (Maybe Helen Driggs’ column in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist?)  I have a few pair of metal cutting scissors, but these are the best by far.  You can buy them from Amazon.

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I cut my bezel.

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I straighten my bezel

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I wrap the metal around the coin, cut to fit

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and solder

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I planned to cut tabs on both sides of the bezel for fold over tabs

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Soldering on the jump ring

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And phooey phooey phooey!  But his story has a happy ending!  I managed to design a coin bezel based on a basket setting.  This took several hundred many attempts.

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In the coming weeks, I will post a tutorial on  how I made it.  In the meantime,  here are two new ideas for making your own jewelry tools!

3.Hammeringmat This one is great!  Who uses phonebooks anymore?  You can also use a thick catalog or maybe stacks of magazines.  Just secure them with masking tape or duct tape.  They make a great hammering surface or a cushion for a bench block.

 

An old hammer head secured in a vise makes a great metal forming tool.

 

Retreat to Morrisburg

Tray with tiles attendees made. Auctioned and proceeds donated to http://plancanada.ca/because-i-am-a-girl

My friend Patty and I, ever the intrepid travelers,  decided to take the recommendation of our friend Sherman and drive  to the little town of Morrisburg, Ontario and join a group of polymer artists who meet once a year at the McIntosh Inn for a retreat.

We crossed the border into Canada,  pulled up to the Canadian border inspection station, and handed our passports to the border screening agent in the booth.

“Polymer clay retreat? What’s that?” the  agent wanted to know after Patty told him the purpose of our trip.  

“It’s not like a religious retreat,” Patty explained, “it’s  a bunch of artists who get together and work on their polymer clay projects.”

“Polymer clay?” the agent wasn’t buying it.

I leaned over so the agent could hear me.  “It’s like what men do when they get together with their model trains.”

“Oh!” the agent, replied, “you’re gonna throw clay at one another?”  

I had never heard of that, so I laughed as if I got the joke.  The agent handed our passports back and waved us on our way.

We had a great time, renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.  We drank Tim Horton coffee, ate Butter Tarts, wrestled with the metric system and warned our Canadian colleagues that after the U.S. election in November, we might be back to stay.  

Here are some pictures

To see more pictures, go to my Flickr site, here.

 

 

Metal, Mixed Media, and Imagination

That’s the name of the class I am teaching at the Main Line Bead Society ‘s 2014  retreat.   I plan to teach the students some methods for using metal, fabric, paint, wire and found objects ( to name a few) to make jewelry  or anything else we can dream up.  I want the class will be a guided play session for grownups,  and the students feel comfortable enough to create with wild abandonment.  I plan on bringing a ton of tools and materials and  inspiration pieces. (see pictures below).  And I hope to learn as much from the students as they learn from me.  Wish me luck!  I’ve never done this before.

Pain and Soldering

Bezel Experiments

I have a friend who’s been a goldsmith for more than forty years.  She told me told me that she learned how to solder jewelry  by working with a plumbers torch over a pumice tray and crying a lot.   Hey, soldering can be frustrating to learn.    You can’t ignore the laws of chemistry.  Metals do not all have the same properties. Different varieties of solder flow at different temperatures and the flame must be hot enough to do the job. So, sometimes a micro torch will work and sometimes it’s just not hot enough. But the size of what you’re soldering affects things too.  If you are connecting one small wire to another,  a micro torch might be fine, but if you are soldering a bezel and need to heat a larger metal mass, the micro torch might not be sufficient. Or you might have to use two micro torches at once.  (Press here for a description of this technique.)   Solder flows towards heat which means that if you point the flame at the join, the solder will go everywhere but the join.   Solder will not fill gaps; the items you are connecting must sit as flush as possible.  And fire can be scary; you must respect it and take the appropriate measures to work with it safely.

I have been practicing my soldering.  As you can see from the bezels above, I’m a little heavy handed with the solder.  I am still working on getting my bezel soldering mojo and hope to improve on that in time.  Until then, it’s lots of cleanup.  But even with my limited experience, I have a few tips.

  • Take a class.  You, need to learn about lighting a torch and basic safety, but there is another important reason: you can read about soldering all you want but until you witness the difference stages of soldering  from the initial heating to when the solder starts to flow, it won’t make sense.  It helps when you see what color the metal should be, what the solder looks like right before it flows and how long it takes to flow.
  • Does your carefully laid out solder skitter as soon as you hit the metal with the flame because the flux starts bubbling?  Pass the flame over the flux to dry it before you place the solder.  No more skittering.
  • If you try binder wires, clips and tweezers to  hold everything in place, they will act as heat sinks and draw heat away from where it needs to go to get a sturdy solder join.  Charles Lewton-Brain wrote an article on soldering tips and tricks for Ganoksin where he gives instructions for making a thingy to weigh down pieces you are trying to solder together.


    Here is an idea for another thingy from the Etsy Metal Blog 
Yet another soldering thingy.
You can purchase this one from Wholelottawhimsey.

And finally,  you need to check out Lexi Erickson‘s videos on soldering.  I met Lexi when she was a guest speaker at the Main Line Bead Society and gave an entertaining and illuminating presentation  on creativity.    I thought she might be an  academic but I was only half right because  the next thing I knew, she had moved  to Colorado and was blogging, making jewelry, teaching and writing great articles for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

She drew on her years of experience as a goldsmith and university level metalsmithing teacher to  put together two videos on soldering that are full of practical information, including an explanation of the various types of torches used in soldering, tools, solders, and several soldering techniques.  The videos are well filmed which is vital in  a video about soldering.  You  really need to see  how the materials look during each step of the process before you understand what is supposed to happen when you are soldering properly.   You can buy the  videos  from Interweave.

Lexi’s videos are extremely helpful, she would tell you that you still have to practice, practice, practice.  Like throwing pots and making lampworked beads, the  more you make, the more skilled you will become.   As Malcolm Gladwell said in Outliers, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”


Jewelry from the Trash Can

I have been exploring textile arts and learning  techniques for incorporating them into jewelry.  And making up a few of my  own.  The bracelets below are from recycled materials:  old clothing dyed, stamped, painted and shredded, cast off electrical wire stripped and straightened, scrap stained glass tumbled and drilled, some gilded twigs from the sidewalk, pieces of old jewelry, and old plastic bangles or wire forms,  There is no plan; I just start to wrap and embellish.   I hit some of the bracelets with a heat gun to see how it would affect the fabric.  Depending on the fabric, it will burn, seal the frayed edges, or melt the fabric to reveal  what’s beneath.  I got this idea from a video by  Textile  and Mixed Media Artist Maggie Ayres.  There is so much information out there.  Don’t limit yourself to what you already know or think you have to take a class (unless you are learning how to use a torch, or another technique where proper safety instruction is vital).   Don’t be afraid to try something new!

More Collage Jewelry

I am doing a demonstration on making collage jewelry for the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild this Sunday.  You can have a lot of fun making little assemblages, pendants, and memory pieces.  Press here for some how-to information and tool suggestions, and here for books I have found to be helpful and inspiring.

Mosaic Leaf Brooch Exercise

We’re still on Chapter Eight of Polymer Clay Color Explorations. looking at contrast and proportion.  The Mosaic Leaf Brooch Exercise is something I would have never tried on my own and the results I got surprised me.  I didn’t like what I thought I would like and background colors that looked blah to me perked up when I incorporated them into the brooch.

I started out making a Skinner Blend with my palette colors, cut out strips, laid them down on a sheet of mud  and  indented the strips to mimic tiles.   After baking, I grouted or back filled the pieces with randomly chosen colors of clay and added clay bezels.

For the “grout”, I chose ecru,  “sunlight” left over from the Log Cabin Pin project, black,  and light blue.  For the “bezel” colors, I chose orange, red, light green, and a darker turquoise green.

Look at the effect the background color has on the “tiles.”

The brooches on the left (see below) have essentially the same color tiles as the brooches on the right.  But they look different simply because the background colors are different.  There’s lots of information in chapter eight explaining this phenomenon and giving examples and illustrations.

The second brooch from the left reminds me of Halloween candy.  What was I thinking?  I’m not sure I like it but when I chose the colors, I was sure I’d love it!  The brooch on the far left reminds me of a fall harvest and I think it’s much more interesting.  The brooch on the far right  makes me think of a summer ear of corn (which I can’t have right now because I just had dental surgery and my mouth is packed with dressing and stitches!)    It’s amazing how altering the background  and bezel color can change feel of the piece.  Not only has this exercise showed me  how colors affect those around them; it has also  given me examples of how  one can use color to communicate.

On another note-

I mistakenly went from Chapter Seven to  Chapter Nine, a few weeks ago.  My next post on my journey through Polymer Clay Color Explorations will be on the second half of Chapter Nine which explores the effect that texture has on color.  I really enjoyed that exercise, so stay tuned.

What I made in Ellen Marshall’s class

I took a little time off from working my way through Polymer Clay Color Inspirations to take a surface design class with Ellen Marshall at the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. You can read all about it on the Guild Blog.

Ellen led us through making texture plates and gave a boatload of suggestions for clay surface treatments with a host of acrylic mediums, paints, pastels, stamps, and a secret discovery from Radio Shack. The pictures below show some of the work I did-a texture stamp make of scrap clay, and the surface-embellished clay in various stages. After texturing and coloring a sheet, I cut it in strips, rearranged them, cut them cross wise and rearranged them again. They offer some interesting project possibilities. It was an interesting, relaxing class. Thanks Ellen!

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More Metal Etching Experiments

Last week   I said that I would post some pictures of my etching experiments.  Here they are.  DSCF0267

 This is a piece of brass etched with the  Edinburgh etch  solution.  I copied the image onto a transparency and ironed it on to the metal before etching.

 

 

 

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 This is copper etched with ferric chloride.  I drew the design with a Sharpie marker.

 

 

 

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 These are pieces of a brass charger plate I cut up.  I stamped the image on the left with a rubber stamp and Stayz on Ink 

 

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 This is a black and white image I reproduced onto a sheet of label backing with a laser printer  then ironed on to copper.  I used Edinburgh etch  solution.

 

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 Here, I inked a rubber stamp with a black Sharpie pen and etched the copper with ferric chloride.

 

 

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 I made this resist pattern with a silk screen and thick acrylic paint.  It worked well, but I  found it difficult to get a paint that would not bead up on the metal.  

Try making findings, components and texture sheets for polymer clay.                  DSCF0217DSCF0261DSCF0287

        

Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild Auction

Who doesn’t like to take classes with nationally known artists? Now, imagine doing it for free. You can if you’re a member of the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild and you  come to one of our meetings where we present an artist from our Guest Artist Program.


Jana Roberts Benzon, Barbara McGuireChristie Friesen, Julie Picarello, and Dayle Doroshow are just some of the Guest Artists we have hosted at our Guild meetings.  The artist might teach a Master Class for tuition paying Guild members on the Saturday before our regular meeting in addition to demonstrating at the Sunday Guild meeting, or just come to the Guild meeting. In both cases, the Guild pays the teacher’s fees for the Sunday meeting out of money raised from member dues and  Guild fundraisers like the upcoming auction.

Can you imagine getting more bang for your buck than joining the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild?   No other guild in the country has a program like this. If you’d like to join,  go, to our web site,  and follow the instructions.  Dues are $40.00 for the coming year.

Our upcoming Art Raffle will be at our June Meeting.  You can  support this great program by bidding on wonderful items donated by local and nationally known artists.     You don’t need to be a member to attend the raffle in person.   Plus you ‘ll be able to view many of the items online May 31 and even buy and allocate your raffle tickets online if you can’t attend the meeting!   Visit our website on May 31. We hope to raise $800 to finance two Guest Artist visits with the auction. We are still accepting donations.  Please email Terri if you would like to make a donation.

Here’s what I’m donating. I’ll be bidding too!

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Same time last year Life’s Rich Fabric