Recent Work: Cuff Bracelets

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

DSCF2363  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.

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What I’m Doing this Summer

Last month I went to a Fleisher Art Memorial Sanctuary Series lecture called Jewelry Design with Hratch Babikian.    And that’s how ended up registering for a Pendant making class at Fleisher Art Memorial.  After seeing examples of  Babikian’s work

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including his deftly-formed chains and exquisite clasps, I think this class is one I should not miss.

The class will  cover making jump rings and connections, design, forming and forging. For a full description of the class and registration information, press here.  To see more examples of Babikan’s work, press here and here.

That’s not all that’s happening.   Fleisher has a new jewelry studio  with a custom-made table with eight jewelry stations.

 

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Fleisher is also offering a cold connections jewelry class this Summer.  For a description and registration  information, press here.   And they will be adding more equipment to the jewelry studio in the future and offering more  metal and jewelry classes.  

But wait, there’s more.  If you’ve always wanted to learn Shibori dying, the Japanese technique where you fold, twist, stitch and dye fabric with indigo,  Fleisher is offering a class this summer with fiber artist Marie Elcin.   

 

 

And be sure to check out Fleisher’s web page for information on classes like kiln-fired glass,  Art Quilting and many others.

What’s Cooking at the Hacienda

 

 

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I am currently living the good life at Hacienda Mosaico in Puerto Vallarta, taking a class with Richard and Jane Salley. In addition to the class and the beautiful surroundings, the Hacienda serves up some delicious meals. All of which facilitate learning and relaxation.

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Bohemian Style Bracelets

 

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I learn more stuff from blogging than I ever would have guessed.  Case in point: I am obsessed with the trendy bohemian style.  I know that the region known as Bohemia is in Central Europe.  I know that people labeled “bohemian” in this country are supposed to be individualistic, eccentric, artsy-fartsy and have a flamboyant sense of style.

 

BohoB (5)What I did not know is that the hippy, beatnik bohemians got the name from the French who associated with this type of personality and style with Gypsies to wit, the “roving Romani people they called “bohemians” because they were believed to have arrived from Bohemia.” (Think La boheme). We don’t know there the Romani people originated, but medieval French referred to the Romanies as Egyptiens from which we get the English word Gypsy.

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So, to recap, a real Bohemian is likely to be Czech.  An individualistic, eccentric, artsy-fartsy person with a  flamboyant sense of style is a bohemian and would have probably been known as a romani (small “r” because not referring to an ethnic group)if people had been more familiar with geography.  But hey!  There have been periods in European history where people went to bed in one country and woke up in another. (If they were lucky enough to wake up.  Watch this video to see what I mean.)

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I am fascinated with bohemian-style jewelry and the opportunities it gives for layering chains and ribbon and cloth and metal with charms, beads and Milagros.  For these bracelets I have pulled out some ceramic beads I made years ago and have combined them with lamp worked and polymer beads and other components I have had lying around waiting to be used.

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You can add as much or as little wire work as your like and make custom clasps that integrate nicely with the designs. For a tutorial on making the clasps you see in these bracelets press here.

And last but not least, two links to share:  my favorite blog for all things bohemian style, ThatBohemianGirl.  And here’s a find!  Watch Lynne Merchant demonstrate how to make a perfect wire spiral here. 

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