Monday, November 13, 2006

All Tied Up in Celtic Knots

I am skipping my last Repousse class this evening because I have finished the two projects I started in that class and need a short break from all the pounding. It can be a bit rough on the neck and shoulder if one doesn't sit properly, something I need to work on. I do enjoy it, though, and find it somewhat meditative. Time flies by quickly as I sit in front of my bowl of red pitch, tapping away until the desired height and shape is achieved. Above is the celtic knot design, the first thing I made in class. Below is the bracelet, project #2.

I have learned a lot from doing this cuff bracelet. I discovered that by using 20 gauge silver, one is virtually guaranteed of never pounding hard enough to cut through the metal, but it does require a heavy hand to make the impressions. I realized too late that the tool I was using to line everything was too thick. Next time I'll know better.

When it was completely done, I formed it into a bracelet on a bracelet mandrel. Then I polished it up and it's now on my arm as I type! :) Next time I'll try doing another cuff bracelet with more variations of height in the design.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Can't Judge a Book by it's Cover

A few years back I decided to give all my book club friends a handmade bookmark at our December holiday gathering. If my memory serves me correctly, that first year I made embossed cards using red and green paper, rubber stamps and embossing powder. I remember Elaine saying, "I can't believe you MADE these." Little did they all know then how much much time I spend "making things."

This year I decided to create sterling silver bookmarks with pretty little beads and charms dangling from the top. I added a rectangular piece of silver on which I stamped each of their names.

I'll give the instructions here in case anyone would like to make some for their friends. Basic metalsmithing tools are required.

1. Cut 10 gauge round sterling silver wire into approximately 4 or 5 inch pieces. Gently
shape into a long, stretched out "S" shape.
2. Roll each piece through a rolling mill until desired flatness is reached. Lightly file the
top and bottom to remove rough edges.
3. With a chasing hammer (round end), pound on each side of the wire, making chasing marks. (Don't forget to stamp your bookmark with a "sterling" stamp.
4. Drill a hole through the top.
5. Add a good sized jump ring and solder it closed (soldering is optional, but recommended).
6. Put them in the tumber and tumble to make shiny (about 30 minutes or more).
7. Add your beads.
8. To make name tags, simply stamp the names into 24 gauge silver and cut out with
Joyce Chen scissors or use a jeweler's saw. Flatten tag on steel block if it's warped at all. Drill a hole at top. File the edges to remove sharpness. If there are scratches in the silver, sand them out with sandpaper (First 220, then 320, then 400 and last 600 grit - coarse to fine). Tumble in tumbler about 30 minutes. Attach to bookmark with a jump ring.

I hope the girls like them. :)