Monday, December 17, 2012

Test Firing Metal Clay Pieces and The First Pendant

Here we are again. Today I have the results of the 2nd test firing.



Steel and copper seems to be a match made in heaven. Bronze XT seems to shrink a lot so I might have to be careful how I use it in combination with the other two metals.

I’m not sure why my copper and bronze look so similar, even after the application of Baldwin’s patina.

Anyway, this gave me the courage to try firing one of my pendants. The pendant is wavy with a base of copper and an overlay frame of Bronze XT.

Since one of the bronze test pieces was a little blistered (you can’t see that in the photo because I ground off the blisters), I decided to lower the temperature from 1700 to 1680.

Alas, that hardly mattered since I didn’t do Phase 1 completely. The areas of the pendant that point downward (remember, this is a wavy piece) and were therefore much more in the charcoal that the rest of the pendant did not get sintered.

Lesson learned… I will keep pieces like that in Phase 1 firing for additional time rather than relying solely on the end of the binder-burning smoke and the change of the pieces from brown to black.

So here’s the front of the pendant right out of the kiln after phase 2.



And here’s the back, again right out of the kiln after phase 2.



Then I took a radial disk dremel to the front.



And the back, where you can see the obvious signs of non-sintered metal clay.



Back to it tomorrow with renewed enthusiasm.

As to new listings, I did put the pair of fine silver basket weave earrings up for sale.



And here’s a custom order I did.



Oh, I don’t think I ever showed you my last two enamel pendants.




Okay, talk soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Failed Metal Clay Firing

I like to periodically check on my klin during a firing. It’s kind of like watching a pot of water you want to boil… or maybe more like waiting for Santa on Christmas morning. Although lately it’s also because I fear some malfunction may take hold of the kiln. Hey, it only takes one to set me on edge, and I did have my one earlier this year.

So about halfway through my firing yesterday I go out and check on the kiln and freak when I see that the temp is 1902. Wwwwwwwwaaaa! I guess I wasn’t focusing when I programmed it and I meant to do a full ramp to 1650 and hold for two hours. Instead, I just killed all my test pieces.

But I wanted to show you because I thought it was interesting that they didn’t die evenly.



At first when I saw the little buttons, I thought those were the inserts of the test pieces that had melted up into a ball and fallen out of the outer frame. But then I did a head count and realized that each of those pieces represent one of the twelve test pieces that entered the kiln.

The good news is (if I’m correct in my thinking) is that at least they sintered. I ran a sanding tool over several of them and saw no powdery spots.

It seems like steel can take the most damage, followed by copper, and lastly bronze. As you can see, the “copper in steel” and “steel in copper” pieces actually survived this ridiculous firing. Any “mess” you see was most likely pre-firing mess so doesn’t count (dimples, uneven areas, gaps, etc).

For the “bronze in steel”, the steel remained, but the bronze fell out and disappeared.

The rest (“copper in bronze”, “bronze in copper”, “steel in bronze”) balled up into melty dots.

As I write this, I have batch #2 in the kiln. Fingers crossed it was MY error with the kiln yesterday rather than some kiln malfunction.

I will keep you posted.

Not sure if I already mentioned that I’m working on a project to thin out my bead stash, so the items in the supplies section of my Etsy store will constantly be added to.

I really enjoy beads. I enjoy looking at them, holding them, and yes… still making things with them. So every once in a while, instead of listing some beads, I grab some beading thread and whip out a piece.

This first one sold already, but if you click on the other photos, you can get more details.










Saturday, December 15, 2012

Intensive Metal Clay Class with Hadar Jacobson

Looks like I haven’t worked with metal clay since June. That’s when I put the deposit on Hadar’s 5-day intensive.

So here I am, having at it again.

Here are the items I made in Hadar’s class (click any of the photos to see more details).

First we worked on perspective rooms made from steel with bronze and copper accents.




Then we had options for structural/architectural rings. I chose the castle.



The castle was not only a high-fire (1700°F), but was fired twice (repairs were made after the first firing). And although the CZ (the inset stone) changed from orange to purple, we were all surprised to see that it survived at all.

The next project was another choice or rings. I chose the ones that look like little hobbit houses. Here’s what I made.





I then made two other pieces in class because it was using a technique I wanted to learn, but we didn’t have time to fire them as it was the last day so I brought them home to fire here.

But first I’m running some tests. Yes, I know… I did this practically all summer, but I’d like to get a good, easy working system going.

Here are today’s test pieces. These are all high-fire. It’s various combos of steel, bronze, and copper.



I will (obviously) let you know how it goes.

As an aside, here are more Penryn photos.

Here’s about half of the deer family/herd/tribe that visit us daily.



Sometimes they just chill on the lawn.



We’ve had some lovely sunsets lately. The photographs don’t do them justice but I try.




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Soldering Experiments, Etching Supplies, and a Deer

After a few requests, I put together a partial supplies kit to go with my photo etching tutorial as well as my simple etching tutorial.

The kit contains small, sample sizes of items you may want to try out in your exploration of jewelry making, but have no desire to buy in the quantities required when ordering from large companies.

Have you ever wanted to try Renaissance Wax, polishing papers in grades from 600 to 4000, Penny Brite copper cleaner, or a pro-polishing pad? There are all here, along with a few other items used in my etching tutorials.

Speaking of etching, here’s another quote bracelet. This one is for the Tolkien fans as the quote is from The Lord of the Rings: “Not all those who wander are lost”.

And yes, I realize my period is outside my quote marks, but I’m on a crusade to have that punctuation rule removed from the books. I feel that just as in parenthetical math equations, items that belong together should not be separated.

You wouldn’t say: (8+6)-(5+3.)
You would say: (8+6)-(5+3).

And so I like my quote marks to stay with the quote… and the punctuation to go after.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the latest etched bracelet…



Recently continued with soldering experimentation. Here are some the results (btw, don’t forget you can click on any photo in my blog to get more info on an item):




Brought back one of the limited edition Pyrite pieces. This is from the artifact line and is a design inspired by an ancient Transylvanian necklace.



Hope everyone (who this pertains to) had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I went to SF and Gabe and Sereen prepared the dinner for me. It was awesome. Monica went to El Segundo with her boys’ team and they swept the tournament there.

The buck has returned…. Or “a” buck. Although the does and the babies come up daily, I haven’t seen a buck since last year.



Turns out our deer are Columbian Blacktail.

And now I’m going to get back to work. Have a great week!



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Etched Bracelets, Misc Beading Supplies for Sale, GIMP Photo-Editing Software, SRAJD Winter Jewelry Design Contest

Since the tutorials came out (see previous blog post), I’ve been on an etching spree.

Click a photo for more info…




That second one is a Marianne Williamson quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

The tutorials are so popular, in fact, that I just sold out of the supplies kit, but hope to have it back for sale within a day or two.

I continue to add beads and whatnot from my supply drawer to the Etsy store.

Oh, and very exciting news… turns out you can use my Photo Etching Tutorial with GIMP. GIMP is a photo-editing software that you can download for free. How awesome is that?

The entries are rolling in fast and furious for our WINTER Jewelry Design Contest in the SRAJD group. The contest is open to entries until the end of November, but no need to wait until the last minute.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Photo Etched Copper

I’ve finally finished my photo-etching tutorial. I’d like to thank those who asked for it, pushing me to get it out in time for you all to create personalized, unique gifts for the holidays.

Here are some samples from the tutorial. You can find it on my website
as well as in my Etsy shop.



Then…. I decided to make the Simple Etching Tutorial for those who want to etch but maybe don’t want to get as involved with the photo-etching steps.

So again, available in both my website
as well as in my Etsy shop.




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some New Earrings... continuing the experiments in enamel and solder

I enameled some gear-shaped copper disks then had no clue what to do with them for two days. Finally put together this pair of earrings and was fairly pleased with them.



I really like how this pair of earrings turned out. I dapped the dome out of copper, sawed it in half, then soldered it to square frames. The patina was a two-day ammonia and vinegar fumes set-up and there you have it.



Decided the book will have to wait. I’m working on too many projects at the moment. Spent several weeks doing nothing but writing tutorials that were being requested.

I’m also at the tail end of a large custom order. And I did another tweak on my Jewelry Pricing Calculator (that took all day).

Today, I plan to clean the studio and try to get some metalwork done. Not exactly sure yet what I’m making, but have a hankering for some solder work. Will probably save enamel day for when Dawn and I can get together this week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. Seuss Enamel Earrings and A Necklace Giveaway

This Friday I'm giving away a necklace from my Etsy shop. I will select the winner from the people who have "admired" the necklace. I'm not letting on which necklace it is that I'm giving away, but go ahead and add a necklace in my Etsy shop to the list of items you admire and see if you end up winning it. :-) Click here to see the necklace section

Aside from a special project I’m working on and aside from the tutorial I’m trying to get out as fast as possible, I managed a little enameling time recently.

Here are my efforts. Two pair of “Dr. Seuss inspired” earrings, one organic pair of earrings, one cosmic feel pair, and in keeping with the “it’s full of stars!” theme… a cosmic feel pendant and earrings.

(Click a photo for more info.)








21 photos to restore your faith in humanity.

And now back to work. Will be enameling tomorrow so what to try out my new solder today… make some shapes to be enameled.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Stuff All Around

Took a couple days off to go to the Bay Area with Monica. Watched her play a game using her new leg pads (new to her… but still used). Here’s a shot of her protective big brothers.



And here are some of the new items. Colorful bracelets that work year round and a “House of Elliot”-inspired rope-length necklace. (Click on a photo for more details.)







Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Copper Etched Pendants and A Couple Gemstone Charm Bracelets

I recently posted two new charm bracelets. These ones feature gemstones.





Stay tuned for two more charm bracelets coming soon that feature vibrant resin beads.

I love how this next piece turned out. Sometimes, when a design is very simple I worry that the piece will get lost in the crowd, but I’m not worried about this one being passed over. Alex’s Lampwork beads are beautiful and the copper wire-wrapping really meshed well with them.



Listed a couple of hand-etched charms in my Etsy store.



And I think I’ll that for the upcoming holiday season I’ll be offering custom portrait jewelry, similar to this piece I just made for my daughter’s friends.



And for some hockey moms a few years back.



And yes, I plan to put the tutorial for this process in the book which I’m desperately trying to complete before the end of the year. Fingers crossed.