Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Techniques

I know I have to make lots of bead inventory for the Bead and Button Show coming up this June, but I am also trying to set aside some time each week to try out some new things. It's the only way to grow and come up with new ideas and expand my creative juices.

If you know me you know I make lampworked beads, but also like to use them in jewelry too. So I like to try lots of jewelry techniques. I also work with precious metal clays. And I am trying to teach myself some basic silver smithing techniques.

So I decided to make a project that appeared in the September 2007 Art Jewelry Magazine. My plan is to adapt it for my glass beads. But for now I followed it precisely. I learned a new cane technique with polymer clay. I made 3 bezels and attached them to sterling backs which I had to saw out. And I soldered the 3 pieces to a wire (not easy), and soldered on a pin finding. Whew!
But I'm happy with the results. And I definitely learned a lot. It's not perfect. But I already have plans for number 2 and know what I need to do a little differently to work smarter.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Silver Cored Beads

I'm making silver cored beads to fit on those popular European charm bracelets... Troll, Pandora, Biagi etc. I have been buying silver tubing and doing the coring myself. But that takes time and yes I break some beads.

Metal Clay Findings just announced a new product .. the fine silver bead core. It allows you to make your own metal clay or lampworked glass bead directly on the core, and it fits all those bracelets. So I had to try it! I made up 8 beads pretty quickly. Here is a picture of some beads made on the core and the blank core before I put glass on it. Pretty neat. Of course you have to be careful not to melt the core in the flame. Ask me how I know this!!!

Here is a better picture of the beads.
but as all things in life there is a trade off. I have to clean out the bead release from the silver core and I can't use my regular diamond file to do that as I would scratch the silver. Ummmmm. I tried tumbling, and the mixed shot liked to wedge itself in the hole. Isn't it amazing how it can get in that hole but does not want to come out. So I need to find some kind of brush to use.

So I have to decide... core my own, or order more findings......

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Desert Bloom Necklace

The inspiration..................
the flower is called a Mexican prickly poppy and it captivated my attention during a trip to Tucson. Here's the necklace it inspired

As usual once one piece is done it triggers new ideas and ways for improvement. Any comments?

Third Firing Worked

Ok, repaired a second time and refired for the third time.. alone. The patina changed again. I really love the light green on the left. The area of the repair turned a reddish color. Overall for a first project I'm pretty happy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bronze Bangle Bracelet

Remember those 4 pieces from my last post? Well I riveted them together with spacers and wire wrapped some pearl and crystal dangles and voila! a bangle bracelet. Glad I have a small hand. But this was a good experiement. Definitely see some possibilities.

Bronze Clay Bangle revisited

The Repair - so I rolled and cut a shape of bronze clay 6 cards thick again to fit into the gap created from the first firing. Not so easy to get the fresh clay to adhere to the fired clay. Used a little spit (wash your hands first) and it stuck. (thank you Hadar) Dried it, sanded it , carved it.

Also made 4 other pieces... will talk about those in a later post.

Put all 5 pieces in the carbon for firing. The bracelet went in the bottom layer and the 4 pieces in a second layer on top. Used the same firing schedule.

Interesting to note that the patina on the refired piece deepened and there is lots of purple on the back. (no picture, sorry). The other 4 pieces have a patina similar to the bangle after the first firing. ?/? wonder if more firings will increase the patina??

The repair is not quite successful. There was some pulling away at one of the attached seams. Maybe I should have filed it more. Anyway the plan is to add more clay and fill in the little gaps and fire it again.... Stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bronze Clay

I took a bronze clay class with Celie Fago last September. Vermont was great, even though I was hoping for more color change in the trees, and the class was superb. I had great expectations to rush home and make many bronze pieces. But, that never happened.

Saturday I finally got the urge to experiment and dug out the left over bronze clay from the refrigerator. I was happy to see that the clay looked and felt good. It hadn't oxidized and was well hydrated. I decided I wanted to make something that I would carve. I remembered seeing a bangle bracelet made by Barbara Simon so I set out to make one of my own. I made the bracelet 6 cards thick and left it to dry overnight. Sunday morning I carved petroglyphs and squiggles into the bracelet. I really got into the carving. It was fun. I decided to fire the piece during the day as this was my first bronze clay firing and I wanted to monitor it. The big decision was should I follow the firing routine given to me by Celie; or should I use the new firing schedule that I have read about on Hadar's website. I decided to go with the schedule from Celie for thick pieces that I got when I took her class. I ramped the kiln at 250 degrees per hour to a temp of 1531. I chose this slightly lower temp (instead of 1550) because I am pretty sure my kiln is firing a little hot. I used the coal based activated carbon and fired just the one piece in the large stainless steel container with the lid on. The container was placed on kiln posts. The schedule took just over 9 hours so I waited until this morning to pluck out the piece.

Bummer, it split right at one of the deeper carving lines. Today I am going to try to repair it. And I am going to follow the same firing schedule. The bracelet has fully scintered though, so I am happy with that. So stay tuned. I'll post the repair when it's done. Oh yeah, some cool colors too... nothing too vibrant though.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I just tube set a stone

I have been wanting to teach myself to tube set a stone for a long time now. Never seem to have the right tubing to go with the stone or visa versa. During the Tucson shows a year ago I actually took a Rio Grande class on stone setting. A great class by the way. It was a 3 day class, and by the time we got to tube setting, I was so sick with the flu I don't remember anything.

Today I was going through some old issues of Art Jewelry Magazine .... I'm cleaning my studio and putting away the hundreds of magazines on the floor is a high priority. Of course it's nice to take a break and thumb through them too so I am guessing that is why my studio never gets clean. Anyway, in the July 2008 issue, Noel Yovovich, who made the awesome bracelet on the cover, has a one page article on a super quick way to tube set a stone. This time I actually had the correct size tubing for my 3mm amethyst and literaly in 10 minutes my stone was set. I didn't kill my hand pushing the metal over the stone either. And it looks good - not perfect - but good. I have learned that you should file the cut edge of the tube before setting the stone. Next time I will wear my magnifiers so I can actually see those tiny imperfections.

I was anxious to try this new technique to set the stone so now I have this piece of tubing with a stone set in it, and I am wondering what to do with it. I'll figure that out later; right now I am just rejoicing that I can do it!