I Finished The Coin Pendant!

I started the story of my attempts to make a coin pendant  with a post a couple of weeks ago.   I am happy to say that I have finally made a respectable pendant which I intend to give to a friend whose story is much more interesting my story:  Friend got married and started a family soon after high school.  She got divorced and worked at several kinds of jobs before remarrying.  When she was down sized from a job, her current husband reminded her that she had always wanted to go to college and thought that if they looked hard enough, they could find some scholarship money.   She did, they did, they did and she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.   And emerged with a Ph.D in Anthropology in 2015.   Since her dissertation was in the field of Irish Studies,  I came up with the idea of setting an older (pre-Euro) Republic of Ireland coin into a pendant  for a graduation present, and I begged some coins from her obliging husband who is a little fanatical about Irish culture himself.   I am only 2 1/2 years late.  But after I got my brilliant idea, I had to learn how to execute it.  I could not find any new instructions (not that they would have helped.)  I finally got inspiration from two YouTube videos by Online Jewelry Academy on how to make a gallery prong setting.  You can watch the videos here and here.   And I got the basic instructions on how to make the bail from a Soham Harrison video you can watch here.

 

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I milled some 14 gauge square sterling silver wire, measured and cut it and soldered it and formed it into a circle.  I wanted it to be the exact diameter as the coin so you didn’t see it from the front, and for there to be a frame on the back of the coin that did not obscure any coin markings.  I decided to have three prongs hold the coin in place and to make the prongs from 14 gauge half-round wire.  The picture above shows a notch I filed for one of the prongs.

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Checking the fit of the wire.

 

04.4SolderSetup

Here is the assembly laid on the soft brick before soldering.  The ring is already soldered. The prong bottoms are pushed into the brick to steady them.  I had a few soldering failures until I made some changes that I think helped.  First, I laid out everything and then made holes for the prongs so I could get them right into the notches and up against the circle.  Secondly, I put a pallion of solder between the prong and the circle right in the notch.  Third, I bent the prongs inward slightly to be sure they were really hugging the circle. I also soldered the ring, quenched and pickled and then tackled the prongs with a softer solder.  I didn’t try to solder all four elements at once like I had done before.  It worked! I had total soldering success! 

05.4a before trimming

Here’s the assembly before I cut the bottom of the prongs flush with the bottom of the circle. 

 

06.5ProngsTrimmed

The cleaned assembly with the prongs trimmed.  They still have to be filed and sanded so they look good and don’t catch on clothing.  

09.7Markingareatobefiled

The coin sits on the circle and the prongs are folded over, trimmed, filed and sanded.  But the inside of the prongs have to be filed to allow the coin to sit perfectly flat on the circle.  So I had to mark the thickness of the coin on the inside of the prongs and then file-very carefully-so the coin fits in without a gap. It’s fiddly work; if you file too much you’ll weaken the prongs.  Too little and the coin will sit askew.   But it’s not really difficult.  

07.6AdjustingFit

Still need to file a bit more.

08.7BendingProngs

A perfect fit!  I start to bend the prongs over gradually.

10.8SolderingBail

The bail has a prong soldered on the inside front which feeds through a hole in the back.  I altered the bail a bit so it wouldn’t open.

11.9Front

 

01.10 Back

 

And here’s the finished pendant!  Still learning, but I like the way it came out.  Finally!

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.

 

What I Made This Year

Some of the holiday gifts I made this year

imageFused glass cabochons  strung on buna with friction clasp closures.

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imageI attached pendant/pin findings on the back so the cabs can be removed from the cord and worn as brooches

    wpid-img_20141228_164559blog_wm.jpg A polymer bangle bracelet

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The beads are strung on galvanized steel wire

image with a sterling silver accent bead

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I made a necklace for Leigh who is married to Max  and the Mother of two little boys I made two sterling silver rings for the pendant which I textured and then soldered together.    I stamped the names of Leigh, Max and the boys onto the dangles that I cut from a sheet of sterling and filed into shape.  Then I made holes in them and domed them in a swage block for a more interesting shape.

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 The beads are everyone’s birthstones: opal, garnet and sapphire crystals.  I used the stones and Balinese silver beads to make wrapped loop dangles which are hung  in front of the name dangles and attached to the pendant with soldered jump rings.  I made the clasp from  sterling wire and attached it to a ready-made chain.  It fastens in the front.

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Plumpton didn’t get a present because every day is Cats’ Day.  But I made Ginger Cat cookies ( instead of gingerbread men) in his honor.

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.”


New Ideas for Making Jewelry from Spoons

A couple of years ago, I posted a tutorial on making a bracelet from old spoons that proved to be quite popular.  Here are examples of more types of jewelry you can make from old spoons.

Here’s a torch enameled spoon bowl pendant that I drilled  for a jump ring before enameling.   The copper ring is a big jump ring soldered shut, hammered flat and textured.  When my friend Terri saw it, she remarked that she would have used the concave part of the spoon bowl instead of the convex side as I did.  Which opens up a bunch of new design possibilities that I plan to explore.

Here are two pairs of earrings made from different parts of the spoon handle.  First, I cut the pieces to the proper length and filed them smooth.  I filed a gentle curve on the top pair because I think it looks more attractive than a straight edge.  Then I drilled holes and filed off the burs.  I patinated them in liver of sulfur,  and made ear wires from fine silver on which I had previously balled the ends.  After inserting the wires through the holes in the earrings I gently hammered fhe balls flat so the  wire would stay in place and the earrings would hang  properly.  Finally, I smoothed the  other end of the wires with a cup bur in a rotary tool.

I’m a Craftster Best of 2009 Winner!

Craftster Best of 2009 Winner

Here’s a picture of the winning project

Craftster  is a wonderful online  crafting community where members post thousands of tutorials and DIY projects every year on every craft you could imagine.   It’s one of the first places I go when I want to learn something about a craft.  It’s an honor and a surprize to have been named a 2009 winner.

See all the  Best of 2009 winners here and the Spoon Bracelet project here.   Here is some more information and comments.

And now I’m off to Clayathon!  Here are pictures from Clayathon 2008 and Clayathon 2009.

Make Clasps from Found Objects

I’ve been thinking a lot about jewelry made from found objects lately, probably because I have been asked to give a talk on the topic at the April meeting of the Main Line Bead Society. So this morning as I was brushing my teeth, it hit me: Why couldn’t I make a clasp from those cool copper washers I got at Harbor freight? I always get my best ideas in the morning. I had to wait until I came home from work to give it a try.

I took two washers about 18 gauge thick  and sawed a slit in one just big enough for the other one to fit through. Then I made jump rings from 18 gauge copper wire and soldered them on the washers. Then I pickled, cleaned, punched a pattern on the clasps, gave them liver of sulfur bath, and polished them up. The placement of the opening relative to the jump rings is critical; you want your necklace to stay on.  I don’t recommend this clasp for bracelets.  It has kind of an old Roman feel, don’t you think?  Here are the pictures.


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This last clasp is from an object I found on the street- a sheaf of 10 gauge copper wire encased in black electrical tubing. You can take off the tubing and use the wire. I made a clasp out of mine. Here’s that picture.

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What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

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Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

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Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

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Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

Make Your Own Clasps!

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It took a long time for this necklace to come together.  My friend Jeanne gave me the amber after her husband died.  I got the coral, turquoise and Balinese beads at an outside art show in Portland, Oregon.  I bought the red disc beads-actually made in Africa from old phonograph records-at a bead show.

The beads spoke to me one day and I put together the necklace below. I couldn’t find the right clasp to save my life, so, with some basic wire skills I learned in a glass from my Beading Yoda Jeri Schatz, I made a clasp.  And then I made more clasps.  And then I wrote an article on how to make clasps which is in the latest edition of Step By Step Wire Jewelry.     n

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Dancik with the Stars

 
 

 Dancik was Riveting

 

I mentioned last week that I took a two day class called Forming Lasting and Meaningful Attachments with Robert Dancik and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. We learned all about cold connections in jewelry making including riveting, tabbing, gluing, fold forming, and fastening with miniature hardware. We also learned about different types of resins, epoxies, alternative art materials, and how to use them.

Want to learn more about cold connections? Some of my favorite books on this topic are Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet by Mary Hettmansperger, Making Metal Jewelry by Joanna Gollberg, Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer and a book on the Godfather of cold connections, Alexander Calder, Calder Jewelry by Mark Rosenthal.

And here’s a good illustrated article on how to make rivets by Patty Fleishman.

To see more pictures from the Dancik class, go to the Philly Area Guild’s Flickr site.