I’ve been busy house painting (more on that later) and have taken a brief vacation from metalsmithing. Here are some cuff bracelets I made last spring.
Brass and copper riveted, roller printed, porcelain shard.
Turquoise donut, fold formed brass, copper backplate riveted to cuff
Fold formed copper cuff with Jasper, etched brass, and sterling bezel, Everything is riveted to the cuff including the backplate holding the stone.
Tab set porcelain shard, roller printed brass. The porcelain pieces are made from colored clay and are unglazed.
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.
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.
I start off with 18 gauge silver
And measure very carefully.
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.
I cut my bezel.
I straighten my bezel
I wrap the metal around the coin, cut to fit
I planned to cut tabs on both sides of the bezel for fold over tabs
Soldering on the jump ring
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.
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!
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.
Quick, what’s the difference between synclastic and anticlastic? You’ll find the answer to this question and more in Andrea Harvin-Kennington’s video Shell Forming for Jewelry Making. She possess an encyclopedic knowledge of metal forming techniques gleaned from years of education and studio time and is a fabulous teacher. I found myself absolutely mesmerized watching her demonstrate how to form metal using hammers and stakes, explaining every step in the process. She has also developed her own line of micro metal forming tools. I am definitely going to explore these techniques on my own when I have more time. Kennington also teaches occasionally. I have the feeling that a class with her would be well worth the time and money.
I don’t ever see myself making my own mokume gane. That being said, I recommend that anyone interested in metal smithing take the time to watch Interweave’s mokume gane videos with the engaging and expert Chris Ploof. In addition to his informative commentary on the process, Ploof is bursting with helpful information on metal, tools, safety which he shares throughout the videos. The process of fabricating mokume gane is fascinating to watch and Ploof’s explanations are illuminating and entertaining. The Bracelet and Hollow Pendant videos do not delve into the mokume gane fabrication process but they are excellent jewelry making tutorials by themselves.
My last new favorites are Susan Lenart Kazmer’s enameling videos from Interweave, Explorations in Jewelry Enameling which covers torch and kiln enameling and Further Explorations which focuses on liquid enamels and kiln firing. OK, I admit it. I wanted to eat everything she makes. I love her primitive sense of style and her bold and dramatic use of color. I’ve been hooked ever since I took a course with her a few years ago.
Kazmer has been accused in the past of being a bit loosey goosey about studio safety and I am not going to address that here except to say that she covers safety practices and ergonomics in both videos. And she certainly has put her own spin on enameling with her distinctive sense of design. She gives thorough explanations of how she shapes the metal and prepares it for enameling. Her “on the fly” style of working might seem deceptively simple, but just watching her work made me want to experiment using her techniques. That’s one thing I love about her: she gives her students the tools to develop their individuality. And she makes it look like so much fun! Kazmer covers the basics of torch and kiln enameling. But even though she is a wonderfully clear and generous teacher, I do not recommend these videos for rank enameling beginners who want to learn the process, because there is a lot of information about tools and materials that Kazmer does not cover. The videos are explorations into enameling techniques and geared toward those who have some knowledge of enameling and want to push their creative envelopes.
Speaking of creativity and people whose work I admire, I was lucky enough to meet Nikia Angel, at Beadfest this weekend. She is one of my all-time favorite bead designers ever since I discovered Sparkly Wheels and, as it turned out, a lovely person with fascinating stories to tell. Nikia has patterns for some of her stunning designs on her Etsy page, here.