You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.

Step2_LinkDesign
I’ve been working on designs for the next link in the chain. I had LOTS of drawings of leaves. This photo only shows a small portion of the little leaves I sketched. I’m drawn to this delicate little leaf pattern. Yet, it doesn’t seem very practical for a necklace or bracelet. I’m concerned that it would catch on clothing or other things. What you see here is my experiment or prototype of the pattern. I used some brass wire I have to see how the drawing could be translated into wire. I think if I pursued this, I’d need to solder all of the leaf joints so the design would stay in tack.

LeafLink
This picture shows how I’ve worked a little more with the wire to come up with the actual leaf shape.

I’ve run these past Lexi and she agrees. The current design has some issues that can be addressed. One great thing she saw in these was a pretty pair of earrings. Ohhh I like that! I will definitely be following up on this. We discussed other possible chain link patterns and she had some suggestions, so I’m running with those and working on the link design some more.

I thought it would be fun to continue to post how the progression of this chain takes place. This afternoon, I’ve been soldering all the rings I made in my last session with Lexi. She’s right, you get very good at soldering when you are working on something this small. I’m having a lot of fun with this.

The design for the next link in this chain is underway and I’m working on creating those links. Right now, it is fairly labor intensive for me because I’m learning this technique. However, as I said in my last post, I really do see this as a great way to make a truly unique chain that goes with a pendant or just to be worn by itself.

Now, Lexi has some great ideas and she has been so generous with the suggestions of where I can go with the look of this chain. Rest assured you will be seeing some form of this leaf pattern in the necklace. I hope it turns out as cool as I envision it in my mind. ūüôā

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person. Make it a great week of creativity.

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In my current lesson with Lexi, I am learning how to make my own design for a chain.¬† You may ask why?¬† Well, it’s important to know the skills involved in creating a unique chain of your own design.¬† Now this project is not complete, but I thought I would write about what I have discovered so far.

One of the really cool things about making your own design for a chain is it can add so much to your design for a particular pendant.  Cool for you, cool for the future wearer of the item.

I chose 16 gauge sterling silver wire.¬† One of the first steps is to anneal the wire.¬† In this case it was necessary because the wire was half hard.¬† If the wire had been dead soft, it wouldn’t need to be annealed.¬† Here is a photo of how the wire is being annealed with the torch.

annealingWireYou may notice how the wire is wrapped in a circle with T-pins holding it in place.  This is very important as it prevents the wire from unraveling while is is HOT, which it does as it relaxes with the application of the heat.

Once the wire has been annealed, it is more pliable and that makes it ‘easier’ to wrap it around a steel mandrel to take on a circular shape.¬† One of the tips Lexi provided for this process was to wrap the mandrel in tissue paper, because as you wrap the wire around it, the wire tightens….and sometimes you have a difficult time taking the wire off the steel.¬† With the tissue paper in place you can light a match to it to burn the paper and the wire comes off easily.¬† Cool, yes?

Fortunately, I’ve had some experience working with wire and winding it around the mandrel went well, once I got the first few wraps started.¬† I was able to remove the wire without any difficulty and had a nice wire coil ready for the next step.

All of this may seem rather tedious, but it’s necessary to understand the process.¬† The next step involves using your hand saw to carefully saw through each of the coils.¬† This creates a nice ring that will end up being a link in the chain, after the joining point is soldered.¬† I sawed and sawed and sawed….at the end my fingers did cramp and Lexi showed me a nice technique for stretching them out.

Now I have all these rings, which can be purchased from nice vendors like the Urban Maille or Rio Grande.  But the point again is to understand this process.

In this picture, a number of the rings are lined up on the solder brick with their openings facing the person soldering.¬† In this photo, it’s Lexi doing the soldering, but rest assured I had my turn at this.¬† You have to pre-cut very tiny pieces of solder, heat them up to form little balls and then using your solder pick, pick them up and place them on the joint of the ring.¬† Once heated to the correct temperature the solder flows, creating the join.¬† In theory….remember I’m learning technique here.¬† I get to practice.

SolderingRingsOnce all of the rings are soldered, I move on to my design for the link between these rings.¬† Now this is part of the fun, because you can come up with something that is truly unique and fits with the metal pendant you’ve already created.

And this is where I will leave you as I am in the process of finishing the solder joins and creating the design for the next link component.¬† I’ll take pictures and share this work in process.

Til the next time, aspire to be more as an artist and person.  May all of you have a great week of creativity!

RainbowsInBronze

My first finished piece using bronze, copper, and silver.¬† The cabochon is one of my fused crinklized dichroic pieces.¬† You may notice that the design is not the same as the original piece I was working on….well, that’s because the first one didn’t turn out.¬† That’s ok, I learn from my mistakes (most of the time ;)) and I think the completed design actually turned out better as a result.¬† Maybe it was meant to be this way?

Dan took a short video of me soldering the bezel to this piece.¬† The next time I try this, I will try to do a little more step by step and explanation of the process.¬† I edited the original clip and condensed it so it would drag on.¬† Leading up to this point, I decided to add three copper overlays to add some interest to the design. I think it’s just part of my personality as a designer….I have an idea of what I would like, sketch it, and then as it progresses…I see other things that need to be incorporated in the piece.¬† That seemed to be the case for this piece with the addition of the copper overlays.

In the video, you can see these little pieces of copper sitting on top of the back plate and they are being soldered into place at the same time the bezel is.¬† Solder flows toward the heat as it melts so at the end of this video, I was trying to direct the solder flow to the outside edge of the bezel to form a complete join between the bezel and the back plate.¬† I saved the video as a QuickTime movie and for some reason, WordPress will not permit uploading of that file format, so¬† here’s the short clip of my soldering
linked off my web page.

This is how the base looked after the soldering.¬† Kind of a mess actually, but I’ve learned that things don’t look pretty until the finishing stage.¬† I guess that is pretty much normal for most of the work I do, whether it’s glass or metal.¬† It’s almost like unwrapping a present as I work on the final completion stages.

PostSolderBronzePiece

I cleaned it up, polished it, etc for the final look you see at the top of this post.¬† I haven’t decided if I want to add a patina too it.¬† I like seeing the different metal colors and textures.¬† I used a very subtle texture on the bronze.¬† I was trying to find something to compliment the texture of the crinklized glass.¬† And the copper is plain, but I rounded the edges of each overlay to help soften and blend them with the rest of the piece.¬† The bezel is fine silver.

It’s been a great weekend.¬† Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful week of creativity.¬† Strive to be more as an artist and a person.¬† Until next time…Namaste and Blessings to you.

First Firing Of The Torch

Tonight was a momentous occasion for me.  I fired up my torch for the FIRST time!  Nervous?  Yes.  Exciting?  Yes.  Results? Thrilling for me!

I have read, heard, and been counseled a lot about firing up my acetylene torch.  You must respect the equipment and take the necessary precautions.  Lexi was kind enough to set up my torch system last month and as I built up my confidence to have a project that I would solder here in my studio, it was time to fire it up.

Soldering stained glass is nothing like soldering metal.¬† And I absolutely love to solder a stained glass window.¬† I have soldered jewelry with Lexi’s guidance and I was eager to do it on my own.¬† Lexi is known in her circles as The Torch because she is an expert solderer.¬† I am her apprentice in a sense and not only did I want to do justice to her mentoring, I wanted to prove that I could solder something on my own…that is without Lexi watching me do it!

Tonight, I was ready.¬† I am working on a piece for one of my glass cabochons that is in that lovely Crinklized dichroic glass from Coatings by Sandberg.¬† I love that glass.¬† I’ve worked on a design and now I was ready to solder the bezel for this piece.¬† The bezel is the component that fits around the cabochon and holds it in place on the main back piece.¬† You have to cut bezel ‘wire’ to just fit the cabochon.¬† Not too tight and with just the right about of leeway to allow for the setting of the cabochon.

My husband, Dan, was kind enough to preserve the moment in digital so at the top of this post you see me quite focused on the solder process.  The end result, the bezel is soldered together and fits the cabochon nicely.

Bezel And Cab

I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish this piece tonight, so I will end with a tickler showing you the components that will be put together to form this pendant.¬† In this photo, I have the bezel placed around the cabochon to confirm the proper fit.¬† The base plate and bail are ready; both are bronze…this is my first time working with bronze.¬† I find it quite lovely and rich.¬† It’s one of Lexi’s favorite materials and I couldn’t wait to start working with it.

The Components

My obligations are such that I may not get back to finishing this until Sunday.  So I will leave you with these views of what is to come in my next post.

AngelWingEarrings

Angel Wings

I was doodling this week and this design evolved from those doodles.¬† I wanted to add a little extra interest so I added tear drops.¬† The materials used were brass for the wings and copper for the tear drops.¬† I added a couple of different textures; a piece of fabric created the texture on the wings and the copper tear drops have imprints from one of the flagstones next to the house.¬† I really like experimenting with textures and thought it would be fun to combine a couple of different textures in the same piece.¬† I felt it was important that the textures didn’t ‘fight‘ with each other, that is, that they were complimentary rather than two drastic opposites.¬† I’m happy with how these two metals, with their own textures have blended to create these earrings.

I also experimented with patinas to create the coloration on the metals.¬† As Lexi has told me, she often goes back and keeps working with the patina of a piece.¬† I think I will do that here too.¬† I knew this would happen, but I find it interesting how the patina on the brass is so different from the patina on the copper.¬† Each metal takes on color differently and with the mixed textures, I’m fairly certain that influences how the patina appears too.

As a final step, I used my dapping block to form a delicate curve on the brass pieces.  This way the wings sort of bow with slight arch.  I like the look.

One of the things I wanted to do with these was work out another design to help me get ready to set glass in earrings.¬† Size, shape, heaviness all play a role in how I will eventually create earrings from my glass pieces.¬† These were fun to make and I believe I’ll continue to work on variations of this theme.

Remember, continue to aspire to be more as an artist and a person.  Til the next time, happy creating all.

Chinese Writing Stone Pendant #1

Chinese Writing Stone Pendant #1

I completed this pendant last night during my lesson with Lexi.¬†¬† One of my goals with this piece was to carry the stone designs into the surrounding setting.¬† Fortunately, I had received one of the first texture hammers I’ve ever ordered and it lent itself perfectly to creating the effect on the metal.¬† A patina was added to help accent the depth of the texture and compliment the coloration of the stone itself.

The stone in this setting is a Chinese Writing Stone.¬† The name of the stone is derived from the crystalline structures that resemble the Chinese characters of the written language.¬† I have a couple of these and I really enjoy the randomness of the patterns created by the crystal structures in the stone.¬† In my opinion, the stone has a very dramatic, striking appearance.¬† I will be creating more of these pendants for the remaining Chinese Writing Stones I have.¬† Right now I think I will continue to carry the texture into the next settings, but vary the effects to accent each piece…depending on the patterns in those stones.

Initial design

Initial design

This was my initial design.¬† At this stage I was debating about creating a pierced cut out to convey the ‘characters’ as this drawing shows.¬† That just didn’t seem to be working the way I wanted.¬† Then I thought about cutting pieces of sterling and soldering that around the background to carry the characters into the piece. When the texture hammer arrived, I knew as soon as I saw it… it was perfect for creating the effect I wanted.¬† In this photo, you can see that I’ve just cut out the back piece, which is 20 gauge Sterling Silver.¬† I took a couple of days to finally decide what effect I wanted to add to the back piece and as the final result shows, the texture won out over some of my other options.

Lexi has written a step by step article for this month’s issue of Lapidary Journal (August 2009), that provided the inspiration for the bail shown in the picture below.¬† I carried the texture effect to the bail.¬† Once I had soldered the bezel on the front of the pendant, it was turned over so this bail could be soldered in place.

Pendant back with textured bail

Pendant back with textured bail

I know, no one really sees this part of the pendant except the person who wears it.¬† However, as I’m learning from Lexi, that’s part of the craftsmanship that belongs with art jewelry.¬† Happy creating everyone!

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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