Adjustable Bangle (with Dangle!)

Adjustable Bangle with Dangle

This is a story of how I designed a new bracelet that are intended to be gifts. I love bangles and sizing is always an issue.  I know that the intended recipients are relatively small women but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to guess their hand sizes and make conventional bangles.  I decided to make something that could accommodate different sizes.

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I started out with thick brass  wire forms that I  purchased at Wolf Myrow  a few years ago.  I had originally thought they were tubes.  In fact, they were solid wire maybe 8 gauge.  I like the look of square wire so I annealed them and  squared the wire in my rolling mill.Stages of wire

This picture shows the same wire in three stages.  The top shows how it started out, the middle is after bending and the bottom is after a few passes in the rolling mill.  The wire gets  thinner and longer.  You have to be careful not to reduce it too fast or you will distort the edges.  And you also have to make sure the wire is properly annealed.  Brass wire is hard.

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After I squared the wire,  I annealed it again and shaped it around a bracelet mandrel.  I hadn’t yet decided what to do with the ends.  I ended up sawing off a few inches,

Formed Wires

Here are three bracelets with the ends sawed off.

Design Consideratons

I was considering soldering some bronze metal clay medallions that I had made earlier onto one of the ends or the middle of the bracelets, but I thought it would look wonky.  Plus if the medallion was in the middle of the bracelet, the solder would get wear from the bracelet flexing when it was put on and taken off.  So why not try making a dangle from a medallion? The brass is so hard that I made a mock up in copper to see how I liked the idea.

Copper detailI drilled a hole in a copper bracelet and fashioned a dangle from a copper metal clay medallion.  I like the bracelet and the medallion-just not together.  For one thing, the dangle didn’t move the way I liked.   I was limited in the side of the jump rings I could use because the hole in the bracelet could only accommodate 20 gauge wire.  And the medallion only had one interesting side.  That would work for a pendant, but not for a focal dangle on this bracelet.

holes drilled in center of bangles

Speaking of hole drilling,  did I mention that brass is a hard metal?  Still I was able to drill a hole in each bangle pretty easily, with patience, the right tools, and some safety precautions.

Drilling

When you drill a piece of metal, you need to tape it  securely to a sturdy piece of wood with masking tape.  As you drill, the metal and drill bit get so hot that the wood smokes.  See the  dark spots?  Those are burn marks from prior drillings. You remove metal when you drill and it scatters like dust.  I like to wear safety glasses and a dust mask when I drill like this.

Bdangle detail

I finally settled on dangles made from brass shapes I originally made for a necklace clasp I designed.  I drilled holes in them, added porcelain beads I made many years ago, and attached then to the bracelet with a jump ring that I soldered for added security.B2

The bangles have enough give to open wider when you put them on and you can close them a bit when they are around the wrist.  I rounded off the ends with a file and sanded them smooth to make the putting on and taking off as comfortable as possible.

By the time you read this,  I will be on my way to deliver them to the recipients.  Of course, I had to make one for myself, too!

The Quilts They Are Finished!!!

I started making these quilts in 2011 right after I made Nathan’s baby quilt which was my first quilt. (I am not a quilter, so I decided I should start out with something small.) Ok, ok, it only took me four years to finish these, but I didn’t work on them continuously.

quilts

I started with sewing scraps of fabric together just to get a quilting mojo thing going.  Then I started buying old clothes at thrift stores and taking them apart for the fabric.  Some friends gave me fabric.  Someone across the street threw out boxes and boxes of great fabric!  I bought fabric sample books
on eBay and a box of scraps from a quilt maker on  Etsy.

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Gradually, I settled on  Log Cabin Pattern.  Since the idea of making the blocks all the same made me want to stick a needle in my eye, I decided to make them all different and had fun with each one.  The only rule was that the colors had to work.  Oh,  and I settled on a size of 12 inches square for each finished block.  I taught myself to chain piece and I became a quilt block berserker for a while.

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The quilts are 6 blocks across and eight blocks long

Headboard

 Years  ago, I painted a headboard  on my wall.  Makes it hard to rearrange the furniture!

Nightstand

My husband said he quit drinking in case he woke up one day and looked at his night stand.  This is from my painted furniture phase.

Quilt Back

I made my own binding, machine sewed it to the front of the quilts and hand sewed it to the back.  Here’s a good quilt binding tutorial.

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I used fleece blankets as the filling and flannel sheets on the back.  I machine quilted by stitching in the ditch around the  blocks.  It wasn’t that difficult with a walking foot.

mirror

The view through the mirror on the wall.  This is the companion piece to the nightstand.

I don’t have plans to make another quilt although I do have a third quilt top left over.  It could happen!

Beads of a Different Stripe

I have been busy trying  lamp working techniques this summer.  Striped beads are made differently than I would have thought.  Instead of drawing stripes on the bead with a stringer you  lay down dots, put on a layer of  clear glass and melt it slowly.  This serves to magnify the dots underneath which appear as stripes!  How cool is that?  Here are the basic steps:

Base bead

Make a base bead

First dotsAdd some dots.  Don’t melt in.

dotsAdd dots on top of dots.  Don’t melt in.

 Clear wound aroundAdd a couple layers of clear over the dots only.  Think of a shape like the planet Saturn with its rings.

 wind

 Begin to heat the clear glass.  Slowly so the glass doesn’t pop or crack.

 wrapsBring up the heat to melt the clear glass.  This magnifies the dots underneath

TorchingPick it up a bit and keep the mandrel turning.

heatingWhy?

Stripes taking shape2Because you don’t want your bead to sag.

Stripes taking shape

Let the bead cool slowly and keep it turning to maintain the shape

coolerAlmost finished.

Beads2   And here are the finished beads.  This could get addicting!

Don’t forget Bead Fest this weekend!

    

Home Decorating or How to Hide Your Television Set.

Our ongoing home renovations that would probably take other people maybe 6 -8 months are nearly over.  The floors are down.  The tiny kitchen is done.  Since we moved the white behemoth of an entertainment center down to the basement for my workshop and got a cool mid-century modern credenza to replace it, I have been trying to decide what to do with a now-exposed living room wall and the TV.   First, I  found  someone who was not reduced to tears by horizontal studs (this is an old house)  to hang the TV on the wall.  Then I cobbled together a sound system from used and discontinued electronics, hooked it up and mounted the speakers on the wall.
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I wanted the “media” wall to be relaxing and not too busy with all the electronics.  I remember there was a time in my live when the more wires and gizmos I had, the better, but now I like simple. And I didn’t want the living room to be a shrine to the TV.

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Here’s how I solved the design dilemma.  I love gold frames and over the years had found a few on the street.  They got a cleaning and some repair if needed.

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Some got a paint touch up.  The I went to my local paint store and picked out a nice dark color with a greenish undertone to it .  I am happy to say that it covered the Martha Stewart stencils ( from another life) in one coat (helped by a first coat of Kilz. Who ever invented that stuff deserves a medal)1

The object on the TV screen is a Dali-esque clock.

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And here’s how it looks.  The Le Mutts are thrilled.

I have some more unconventional decorating in my house.  You can see some pictures here.

The Big (Blog Hop) Reveal

It’s time for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal! Here is what I made from the beads my parter Marta Grabalowska sent me. Her blogs are http://galeriakota.blogspot.com/ and http://wilkmademe.tumblr.com/.

My bead soup was not my typical color palate and I consider that a good thing! I realized that I had some pink seed beads in my stash that I thought I would never use. They were almost identical to the ones  in the soup. I mixed them with  beige and tan beads of a similar value  and threw in some turquoise  beads to make a bead crochet pattern. I used the remaining beads as embellishment.

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The copper clasp holds the rope closed. I beaded around the focal cameo and went for an asymmetrical look. I am very happy with the result. Thank you Marta!!!

Here are some more pictures.

Thank you Lori Anderson for making another great beading experience possible!! You can find a list of all the participants on Lori’s blog.

My Bead Soup Arrived!!!

My partner is Marta Grabalowska who recently moved from Krakow to the US!
Her blogs are  http://galeriakota.blogspot.com/ (in Polish) and http://wilkmademe.tumblr.com/ (English version). Marta’s work is different from mine. For one thing, she makes  Soutache jewelry and I have never tried the technique. She sent me some pretty soutache cord and a lovely pair of soutach earrings along with lots of pretty beads.  I’m looking forward to digging in; here are some pictures  of what she sent me.  The first one is the focal and clasp.

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Here are a couple of pictures of what I sent Marta. I etched some copper for the focal and made the clasp too. I included some of my lamp worked beads and had a good time rooting around my stash for the rest of the beads.    I can’t wait to see what my partner makes with them.

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MyBeadsa

Hats for Little Boys

I was in Denmark last month and saw a wonderful exhibit at  National Museum of Denmark called Vikings.  The Danes seemed so orderly and socially responsible that I found it hard to believe they had ever been Vikings. But a thousand years, give or take a century, will change the culture of a group of people.  Today the descendants of Vikings are peace loving individuals known more for their incredible design sense and self-assembly furniture than for carnage and pillage.

Now I find that history duplicates itself in odd ways and patterns emerge that seems to repeat down through the centuries.  Hitler and Napoleon’s invasions of Russia come to mind.  Another example is my step son Maxwell who was a Berserker as a child.  When he grew up and left home,  Max calmed down a bit and  married a lovely woman who taught him to eat with a fork.  They went on to  have two sons who are apparently carrying on the Berserker tradition: hell bent on  toddler destruction, mayhem, refusing to share along with occasional biting  and kicking one another under the table when they think Dad is not looking.  But Maxwell, being an ex-Berserker (or maybe just a closet Berserker) is rarely  fooled.   Mom is never fooled even though from what I understand she was not a Berserker or even a member of the Women’s Auxiliary.  But I digress.

I do not want to encourage such barbaric behavior and yet I think that little boys need to get down with their inner Norsemen.  So I made a Viking helmet and a crown for them so  they can reenact the Battle of Edington until they leave for college.  You don’t need to thank me Max. Their precious smiles are all the thanks I need.

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I made the helmet out of a wool sweater I felted in the washing machine.  The horns are purchased felt stuffed with fiber fill.

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I used recycled sweaters in the crown too.  The yellow felt is purchased.  I added pom poms for jewels.

9 6The cap is half blue and half purple

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I didn’t have a pattern for either hat.  The helmet was not too difficult to plan but I had to study  pictures of crowns  too figure out how they were put together before starting the felt crown,

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I stitched the horns on the sewing machine and then turned them out, stuffed them and sewed them to the sides of the helmetnIMG_20131201_132641~2~2

I had to hand sew the helmet because the wool was so thick.
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Now if you ever wondered what those strange Ikea names mean, press here.  Press here for a list of movies about Vikings.

Memories and Thanks Reveal

So here’s the necklace I made with the beads I had been holding onto for such a long time. I prefer to keep the name of the recipient private, but I will make my gratitude public.  You’re the best!   I hope you  wear this necklace in good health and for a long time.

Necklace

Previous Memories and Thanks Blog Hop posts

Beads: Place Keepers in the Book of Memory

Every Bead Has a Story

Memories and Thanks Blog Hop Participants.

Hostess, Lori Anderson       Pretty Things

Adlinah Kamsir                   Dream Struck Designs
Aimee Biondolillo               Aimee’s Jewelry Treasures
 Alicia Marinache                 All the Pretty Things
Andra Marasteanu               Handmade by Indra Marasteanu
Andrea Trank                      Heaven Lane Creations
April Grinaway                   Brooklyn Bead Goddess
Barb Solem                         Vivi Magoo Presents
Becky Pancake                    Becky Pancake Bead Designs
Beth Emery                         Stories by Indigo Heart
Birgit Klughardt                  Gites Beads
Bonnie Coursolle                Jasper’s Gems
Cassi Paslick                       Beads: Rolling Downhill
Catherine King                    Catherine’s Musings
Cece Cormier                      The Beading Yogini
Chandra Leitz                     Juniper Goods
Charissa Nesler                   FireStorm Designs
Charlie Jacka                       Clay Space
Christina Hickman              Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Murrow               Charis Designs Jewelry
Christine Stonefield            Sweet Girl Design
Chrizette Bayman               Bead Soup Mix
Cindy Wilson                      It’s My Sea of Dreams
CJ Bauschka                       4 His Glory Creations by CJ
Crystal Thain                      Here Bead Dragons
Cyndi Lavin                        Beading Arts
Debbie Rasmussen             A little of this, a little of that
Denielle Hagerman             Some Beads… and other things I like
Diana Gonzalez                  Arte y Poemas
Diane Hawkey                    diane hawkey
Dita Basu                            ankarshilpa
Donetta Farrington             Simply Gorgeous
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell     Deeliteful Jewelry Creations
Elena Adams                      ~~TBA~~
Emma Todd                        A Polymer Penchant
Erin Kenny                         beadiful therapy
Erin Prais-Hintz                  Treasures Found
Gina Hockett                      Freestyle Elements
Gloria Allen                        Innovative Dreams Jewelry
Heather Marston                 CSW Designs
Inge von Roos                    Inge’s Blog
Iveth Caruso                       Creative Atelier
Jacqueline Marchant          Fiddledeedee Jewelry
Jami Shipp                         Celebrating Life!
Jean Yates                          Snap Out of it Jean, There’s Beading to Do!
Jennifer Reno                     Musings of a Crafty Jenny
Jenny Robledo                   Peppa’s Dream
Jennifer VanBenschoten    Jewelry, Art and Life
Jessica Klaaren                  Cellar Door Jewelry
Jessica Murray                   Whimsical Monkey
Joan Williams                     lilruby jewelry
Jo-Ann Woolverton            It’s a Beadiful Creation
Joanne Browne                   josjewels1
Jodie Marshall                    Jodie Marshall Lampwork Beads Wearable Art
Johanna Rhodes                 Fire Phoenix Creations
John Rasmussen                 Rasumussen Gems and Jewelry LLC
JuLee Wolfe                       The Polymer Penguin
Julie Bean                           Blue Pig Blog
Karen Mitchell                   Over the Moon Designs
Karin King                         The Sparklie Things Blog
Karin Slaton                       Backstory Beads
Kat Douglas                       Washoe Kat’s
Kay Bolton                        Toodles and Binks
Kayla Potega                     The Eclectic Element
Kelly Hosford Patterson     The Traveling SideShow
Kim Ballor                          Vitamin C … A Daily Does of Creativity
Kim Dworak                       CianciBlue
Kim Houston                       The Pink Martini
Kym Hunter                         Kym Hunter Designs
Laren Dee Barton                Laren Dee Designs
Lea Avroch                          LA Jewelry Designs
Leanne Loftus                      First Impression Design
Liddy McLaughlin               Liddy McLaughlin Art
Linda Florian                       Lily’s of the Valley Jewelry & Creative Creations
Linda Inhelder                     Must-Haves Jewelry
Lisa Hamilton                      Simply Irresistable Jewelry
Lisa Suver                            Fancee That
Lori Bowring Michaud        Artfully Ornamental
Lori Poppe                           Adventures in Creativity with Lorillijean
LouAnn Elwell                    Southpass Beads
Mallory Hoffman                 For the Love of Beads
Mandi Effron                       Craft-o-licious
Marcia DeCoster                 MadDesigns
Marcia Dunne                     The Alternative Foundry
Marcy Lamberson              ~Studio Marcy~
Marie Covert                      Creating Interest
Marjorie Savill Linthwaite     bennubirdrising
Marlene Cupo                        Amazing Designs by Marlene
Martha Aleo                           Ornamento
Marti Conrad                          Marti’s Buttons -n- Beads
Mary Ellen Parker                  BeeTree by m.e.
Mary Govaars                        MLH Jewelry Designs
Mary Lindell                          Mary Lindell Artisan Jewelry
Maureen Connolly                 Mrs Beadsley’s Workshop
Maybeline Tay                       The Jewelry Larder
Melissa Elgin                         The Addicted Beader
Melissa Mesara                      one-eared pig beads
Menka Gupta                         Menka’s Jewelry
Michaela Pabeschitz              la mar de bonita
Mischelle Fanucchi               Micheladas Musings
Mona Rae Baroody               Who Does She Bead She Is?
Nan Emmett                          Spirit Rattles — Spirited Earth
Nancy Pedersen                    Something Heartfelt by Nancy
Natalie Davidson                  NorthShore Days
Nikki Douglas                      Bead It and Weep
Pam Farren                           re-maker
Pam, the Crazier Sister        The Crazy Creative Corner
Pam Traub                            Klassy Joolz
Priya Krish                           Hellopalz
Rebecca Anderson               Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag                 Becca’s Place
Robin Kae Reed                   Artistry HCBD
Rochelle Brisson                  a creative chelle
Rosa Maria Cuevas              Helena de Troya
Sabine Dittrich                     perlendschungel
Sandi Volpe                          Sandi Volpe
Sandra McGriff                    Creative Chaos
Sarah Goode                         Pookledo
Sarah Singer                         String a Song of Sixpence
Serena Trent                         All Things Made Jewelry
Shai Williams                       Shaiha’s Ramblings
Sharon Palac                        Sharon’s Jewelry Garden
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson    Sharyl’s Jewelry & Reflections
Sheila Davis                         Stone Designs
Shelley Graham Turner        Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey                       Knot Just Macrame
Sherry Baun                         Unicorns Jewels
Skylar Bre’z                         Brising Beads
Stephanie Haussler              Pixybug Designs
Tania Spivey                        Moobie Grace Designs
Terri G.                                Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter                         Tapping Flamingo
Terry Matuszyk                    Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry
Toltec Jewels                       Jewel School Friends
Tracy Kruse                         Goldkisses Art
Tracy Martin                        Nutkitten’s Jewelry
Zia Parks                              Anzi~Panzi’s Work Shoppe
Zoe Marcin                          Beads, Tea and Sweets

For the Bezel Challenged

My friend Sherman claims to be bezel challenged.    That got me thinking.   Who hasn’t had a cool stone or glass cab that would look great in a metal setting?  And while you can  always wire wrap or make a tab setting (here’s a link to a great  tutorial from Jewelry Making Daily on making tab settings)  maybe you are ready for something a little more advanced’

     So, here is a setting idea for the bezel challenged.  Are you listening Sherman?.

 I took 14 gauge copper wire, cleaned it and made a shape.  I filed the wire ends flat  for a butt join and soldered the join with medium solder.
 

After pickling and rinsing, I laid three 18 gauge wires with balls on both ends on top of  the shape and  soldered them on, again with medium solder.    I also  soldered  the bail on during this step. (It has a little tab of metal I slipped under the 14 gauge wire and gravity held everything in place).  You might prefer to solder on the bail in a different step.    The beauty here is that you don’t have to worry about fit because the wires you’re soldering together already touch each other.  The soldering goes very quickly.  If you solder in three stages you might consider using easy solder for the last step.


  Here I am making a bail from a strip of 18 gauge copper and bail making pliers.

Here’s  another shape cleaned up.  You can see that I was too generous with the solder on one of the wires.  But there is an easy solution.  Toss a steel nail and your copper piece back in the pickle.  I don’t heat my pickle so I leave it for maybe five hours.  The steel makes the copper that is floating around in the pickle coat the copper piece.   If you have any silver or brass pieces in the pickle, they will become copper coated too, so leave them out.    At the end of the period, fish out the nail and it will be slimy with copper  (and your pickle will be cleaner!) The silver solder on the copper piece will no longer be visible.  You can still sand and file it off,  so don’t be any more vigorous than you have to be with the finishing.  And yes, it is durable.

The final step is to bend the prongs front and back to hold the cab in place.  You can also use your pliers to make interesting shapes with the prongs.    You can make the prongs long and coil them into spirals if you like.  You need to make at least three prongs to hold the cab securely.

With this technique,  you don’t have to measure your stone or cab as accurately as you need to when you make a bezel.    I just eyeballed the pieces in this post.  Another advantage of this technique is that you can see both sides of the item you are setting unlike a bezel where you only see the front.    The backs of fused cabs are usually not that interesting but stones are another story.

This technique lends itself to playing with the metal too.  For the piece below, I soldered a bunch of copper rings together and then added a smaller circle with the soldered prongs.

If you are using a micro torch, be sure it’s hot enough; not all  micro torches are created equal.  A good choice  is the Blazer GB2100.  Also, you need a soldering surface that will work with you and not against you.  I prefer a refractory block.   A  Solderite soldering board is another option.

I am not sure how I am going to use this yet.  If I had to do over,  I would have balled the wire that holds the cab from the back.  It doesn’t look bad the way it is, but it could have looked better.

Even though I  “discovered” this technique while playing around,  I  am sure it’s been around for years because it’s so intuitive.  I am  interested in seeing what  other people have made with it.  If you know about anything, send it my way.

Meanwhile in my Workshop

I’ve been a little scattered these past months last through months  jumping from   beading to  quilting to casting glass to polymer clay and crocheting without much focus.   I’ve also been practicing my soldering  and playing “let’s put that through the rolling mill and see what happens.” Or arranged components in different combinations to see how they look. The picture below  shows a copper spiral I put through the rolling mill,  some bent wire, and an enameled metal scrap.  I don’t think  the pieces go together, but you don’t know until you try.

Here are some  ceramic shards from my pottery days.

I used high fire white porcelain  with mason stains to color the clay.  I had previously  tumbled the the with cheap cleanser  until the surfaces were a buttery matte. A couple of years ago I took the same shards and tumbled then with the polish meant to be used in the last stage of rock tumbling. Boy was I surprised-they got glossy shiny. 
Some shards were finely crazed on the surface and I rubbed ink and shoe dye into a lot of these. I have made pendants out of some of them; you can drill holes in them the same way you drill glass.

 

Here’s my box of  of metal scraps. I should call it my magic box because whenever a need a certain piece of metal, I can find it in there. The brass pieces in the left compartment of the middle shelf are these cool fixtures of a chest of drawers. I am going to use them upside down as focal pieces in necklaces. I am still thinking about the design

Here are some bezels. The one in the foreground holds a bullseye glass cab I fused awhile ago. The curl of copper in the back (left)  is what remained when I cut a thin sheet of copper with metal shears. The metal curls up and looks so interesting. I still have to think of a way to use these.

Fold forming and patina experiments.  I think the verdigris needs to be toned down  or eliminated.  This might make for an interesting pendant.

Here I am trying to hold a piece steady for in order to solder one little thing to it.  When you solder, anything  you use to clip or bind pieces together draws the heat from your torch and makes the process more difficult.   
Bead caps are easy to make.  Just take a disc (bought or cut  with a disc cutter) make a hole in the center with a hole punch, and shape  with a dapping die and punch.
More components looking for  a home.  The white bead is polymer clay.
You enamel the bead caps after you make them.    You don’t have to use them as bead caps.  The above dangle could be an earring or an embellishment.
More enameled scraps
A few years ago, Theresa Mowery of Patina Studio suggested Miracle Gro plant food after reading one of my posts on patina experiments. It works great! But I live in an urban area where my own garden is a weed growing out of a crack in my front steps. So I got liquid plant food that has similar ingredients to Miracle Gro ( just compare the labels) so I would not have to buy a large box of plant food and mix it up. The liquid plant food even comes with an eye dropper.
Here are some finished copper pendants tucked into my patina jar that’s filled with Kosher salt. I screwed the lid on and will check it after a few days to see how the patina is developing.
Here’s  some other pieces.  I put on the patina and am leaving them in the open air to see what happens.
The pictures below show the front and back of a pendant in progress.  I etched a piece of brass and patinated it with the ammonia and salt method.  Then I  cut out the shape, made a hole and shaped it in a swage block.
I filed the edges smooth and added a ring, washer and dangle with  enameled ends.    I think this pendant will undergo some more changes before I’m happy with it.

 Once it’s the way I want it, I will finish the pendant with a coat of Renaissance Wax to protect the patina.
If you’re in Philadelphia this weekend, don’t miss the Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar Saturday, May 12th & Sunday, May 13th, 11-6pm at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, which is along Columbus Blvd, between Walnut & Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA