Monday, March 30, 2015


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


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. 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


"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.