Monday, March 30, 2015

HYDRAULIC PRESS PROJECT UPDATE ..... CUFFS AND EARRINGS

Wow ... after much agony, I have something to show. Did you ever have a day where nothing goes right? Yesterday was such a day. It started with my cuffs. As you saw in my previous post, I had cut out two bracelet pieces with my feather pancake die and now wanted to solder a wire going down the center of each. I wanted it to have a bit of a curve ... not be straight like my first cuff that had a folded line down the center.

I cut a piece of 12 gauge sterling silver wire and 12 gauge copper wire, curved them a bit to fit the cut feather pieces. I started soldering the sterling silver wire to the copper. Everything seemed to be going along all right, when to my dismay and horror, a piece of the silver wire broke off .... obviously it had melted through. I couldn't believe it. Well, actually I could since I was so out of practice, having not soldered for months and months. I pickled and cleaned the piece, filed the ends of the wire, and attempted to solder them together. The patch didn't look too bad until later .... when I started curving the piece on the bracelet mandrel and the wires separated again! Time to put that piece aside and look at the other one.

The other one is another story! The day didn't get better. Look at the photo below. The piece on the left. I soldered the copper wire without a problem .... until I took it out of the cooling water and saw the wire was WAY OFF CENTER. WTF?!!!! Nothing I could do at that point. I decided to punch some holes down the middle. Maybe no one would notice my mistake? HA. Actually it didn't turn out too badly.

I decided to do the same for the other piece with the silver wire. I used a heavy duty punch and punched a hole right where the wire had separated. Perfect! Then continued to punch a few more holes. Here's a photo of that piece ... it looks pretty good!

And the cuff with the copper wire and added holes ...

If you remember my earrings done with the pancake die, they were rather lifeless. I reshaped them a bit, domed them slightly and added a wire-wrapped bail ... and now they look much better!

The next step is to patina all the pieces and give them a polish. More to come ....

Friday, March 27, 2015

REVISITING THE HYDRAULIC PRESS

I've had my hydraulic press for several years, and recently the pancake dies from Potter U.S.A. sparked my interest. I ordered two of them, a small feather die for earrings and a larger feather die for bracelets.

Here is the bracelet pancake die to make the feather cuff. I folded a piece of 22 gauge copper sheet lengthwise and textured the top edge with a riveting hammer.



I annealed the piece, opened and flattened it and cut it using the die and hydraulic press.


This is the video using the small feather pancake die that caught my interest.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaqmLepANks I followed the instructions in the video, and cut each metal piece in half so I would have two sets of earrings. I have yet to drill holes in the earrings and finish wire wrapping.


Photos of the earrings and cuff after texturing and cutting with the die. When I started forming the cuff on a bracelet mandrel, it was too long for a medium-sized wrist. The cuff measured 7 inches. I cut off almost 3/4 inch and it was so much better.


Here are photos of the formed cuff. I'm so pleased with it! It will be finished with liver of sulphur patina later ... once all the other pieces are ready.




Next I cut two more cuffs from 20 gauge copper without fold forming the center. I'm going to solder a copper or sterling silver wire down the center and add feather texturing lines. I'll finish these and show them to you in my next post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BEER BOTTLE CAP BEADS

"What next?" did you just ask yourself! Ha. It all started while I was cleaning out my garage and ran across a box of beer bottle caps. I'm not a beer drinker, but the caps manage to find a home with me.

Each cap has a plastic seal inside. The first thing you have to do is remove the seal. One article I had said to use an electric skillet or mug warmer and it would take 8 to 9 seconds to warm the seal so it could be pried off. Another said to boil the caps. Since I couldn't find my mug warmer, I boiled the caps. It took a few minutes of boiling to be able to pull the seal off. I used a knife to get under the seal and small jewelry pliers to pull it off. Let me tell you, it was not easy. I was too stupid and too stubborn to stop and get a pair of gardening gloves ... holding the caps so tightly cut into my fingers and the knife kept slipping and stabbing me. I'll have to wait until my cuts heal before starting another batch of caps!

Here are a few photos of my process. The bottle caps and the seals removed.

After the painful part of removing the seals ... once the bleeding had stopped ... the caps were domed.

Here are a few domed Corona Light caps. A few on the left side were domed and the edges flattened. I want to rivet them to a copper or brass backing.

The next step was to take two domed caps (or one domed and one flat), hold them together and wrap copper foil around them. Hey, they instantly became beer bottle cap beads!! It's important to burnish the foil so it adheres to the caps. Next, using unleaded solder, I soldered the foil around each bead. I also made a bunch of 18 gauge copper wire jump rings, cut them in half, reshaped them slightly and soldered them to the beads. I soldered two rings to some. I soldered only one ring to a few of the flat-backed beads. What are the beads with the R? By googling, I found they were Redd's Apple Ale by Miller Brewing Company.

Here are a few close-up shots.



Here is a roly-poly bead. You can see a few scars in these photos.

Here is one with a flat back:

A fun project so far. I haven't found a good way to prop or hold the hot beads. I remember seeing a gadget someone sold years ago I should have purchased. It was a pair of pliers that had two domed caps welded to the ends. It would hold these hot beads perfectly.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FINISHED COPPER CUFFS

Here are the finished copper cuffs I promised to show you. They were treated with liver of sulfur patina, then sprayed with enamel to protect the metal surface.



Friday, February 13, 2015

My Latest Project -- COPPER CUFFS

I first saw these copper cuffs in Art Jewelry magazine (September 2014), and only yesterday did I gather all my supplies and attempt to make a few. The article was written by Eva Sherman, a very well-known jewelry artist. She had taken a class taught by Charles Lewton-Brain, author of the wonderful book, Foldforming. She asked him -- if she created a brand new foldforming technique, could it be named after her. Yes, he said. Hence, the Sherman Fold.

The Sherman Fold is created using round nose pliers, twisting the edge of your metal piece until you like it. Twisting, annealing, twisting, annealing, twisting ......

I started with a piece of 30 gauge copper, 2" wide x 8" long, and twisted the metal around the entire piece.


You can see in the photo I twisted with my pliers pointing straight. After you anneal the metal, you twist with your pliers pointing to the right and go around the whole piece. Anneal. Then you twist with the pliers going to the left. Anneal. Repeat these three steps. You need to lightly hammer the metal with a rawhide mallet after each of these steps to flatten it so it's manageable.

Remember ... You are having fun. Here's how your piece looks. What??!!!


Eventually, you will put your piece in the pickle pot, brush and rinse it, and it becomes something really nice.

In the meantime, you prepare your base piece, which is 20 gauge copper, 1-1/2" wide and 6" long. Of course, the length depends on the size of your wrist. You cut your 30 gauge piece 1-1/4" wide by 6" long (the same length as the 20 gauge).

You can see by this photo that I have cut the two pieces ... and have the leftovers to make other projects! I stamped the two hearts to appear in the inside of the cuff.


Next, trim the sharp corners and round them with a file or sandpaper. Now it's time to shape the two pieces. You need to work harden the 20 gauge piece on a bracelet mandrel(or baseball bat or whatever you have). Then lightly shape the 30 gauge piece and center it on the base piece. You can use painters' tape to hold it in place. The two pieces get riveted together, so you need to drill or punch two holes on each end, keeping 1/8" from the edge. I used copper nail head rivets that I inserted from the inside of the cuff, trimmed to a credit card length and then secured the rivet on the top side of the cuff.


Here's the Sherman Fold cuff put together. It will get a patina treatment with liver of sulfur later. I'll be sure to post a photo of the finished piece.


With the leftover piece that was cut off, I made a narrower 1" wide cuff.


Here's the third cuff I made using the Sizzix BIGkick machine and an embossing folder. I love it too!






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

VALENTINE'S DAY LISTINGS

Hoping to make a few sales for Valentine's Day, I've listed a few more pieces in my Etsy shop.

Here's a necklace with an etched heart and a beautiful patina finish. I've added my own lampwork beads. The length of the necklace with its wire wrapping and chain is 27", and it fits over the head without unfastening the clasp. I love it.


Another heart lampwork bead necklace.

Monday, January 19, 2015

And Still More Enameling ....

These earrings are favorites of mine. They were kiln fired last week, and I got them listed today on ETSY.

Here is a black and white pair.

This is a small fused glass dichroic pendant that is so cute.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

MORE ENAMELING

I did another enameling session this week and was very happy with the results. Here are two pieces I have listed in my Etsy shop.



Sunday, January 4, 2015

ENAMELING

My friend and I spent several afternoons last week enameling. This time it was a completely new experience, as we used a small Paragon kiln instead of the torch. What sparked our interest, you might ask? Have you ever seen the work of Angela Gerhard? Enough said!

While we didn't know what we were doing, we had an idea. We made plenty of mistakes, most of them fixable. There were two ways of drawing patterns in enamels, that we knew of. You can first counter-enamel the back of your piece, then enamel a base coat on the front. Brush Klyr-Fire to the front and sift on a contrasting color. Then using a small brush or pointed scribing tool, draw your design in the enamel. When the piece is dry, carefully place it on a trivet and firing rack, then load into the kiln, which has been waiting at 1500 deg. F.

Here's what we did last week. We counter-enameled the back by putting on a fairly thick coat. Then added a thinner base coat to the front and fired again. Instead of using Klyr-Fire and a coat of enamel powder, we mixed a small portion of white liquid enamel with distilled water until it was a thin yogurt consistency. We brushed this mixture over the top of the piece, sifted a coat of enamel on top, and immediately started the drawing process. A very tricky business! You need to have a plan and work fast. If you make a mistake, it can be fixed by using some of the enamel mixture and sifted enamel ... sometimes. But most of the time it didn't work and you had to clean the piece and start over.

The enamels we used are from Thompson Enamel. The white liquid enamel was BC-1070.

Our worst mistake was on the first day. After we counter enameled the back of the piece, we didn't like it. So we added more enamel to try cover it. Remember, we had already given the back a heavier coat. What happened next was that most of the pieces cracked and the enamel fell off the back. Duh. The next day we were able to save those pieces by chipping off the excess enamel, adding a thin coat and quickly adding a coat to the top. It was a matter of surface tension.

I can't count the number of times we dropped the piece we were working on or it fell sideways off the trivet. The third day was an improvement. We had several nice pieces. I'll share a few here. I think what kept us going into the third day was my friend's piece. It had just been removed from the kiln and was gorgeous! The black dots are very small black glass beads!

Here are her earrings from the third day:

I had my successes too. I enameled a number of hearts and a few rectangular pieces.

So much to learn, but we felt we were successful in our first attempt. I want to try scribing zentangle patterns next.