Monday, January 22, 2007

Haaaaang on Loopy, loopy hang on

This past week I decided to make a chain I had never attempted before for a pendant I recently started. Because I'm supposed to be writing an article for a jewelry magazine in the next few months with photographs of each step, I decided to do a photographic practice session while making this chain. This has enabled me to see where the photographs are going to need more light, better backgrounds, etc. Meanwhile, I'll share with you all how I made the chain, just in case anyone out there might be interested in making one.

I used 14 gauge fine silver round wire and first wrapped it around an approximately 8 mm circular metal cylinder (wood would work just as well), then gently slipped off the loops while holding them tightly. The loops were cut with Joyce Chen Scissors (these are made for cutting chickens, but they're excellent for cutting metal). I cut 20 total (10 for each side).

I closed the loops so the ends were touching and fused them shut before putting them through the rolling mill to flatten just a bit.

The next step was texturing these 20 loops. I took a tool with a straight edge and pounded lines all the way around each loop, both on the front and the back.

Continuing along, I made 22 more loops (11 for each side of the chain) out of the fine silver (same size), but left these smooth. I opened one, slipped on two textured loops, then soldered the smooth one closed (the reason I decided to use an easy solder to close these loops is because I was losing too many loops by trying to fuse them). I then added a smooth one to the last textured loop, added one textured loop to that and soldered it closed, and so on, until the chain was complete. Each side ended up with 11 smooth loops and 10 textured loops.

At this point I was able to attached the ends of the two sides of the chain to the two sides of the pendant. I added a handmade toggle clasp, and then plopped the whole thing in a glass of JAX to darken and make it look "older." The very last thing I did was set the two stones made from Pietersite, and polished it up with a bit of ZAM.

I would have been glad to have given you a tutorial on making this bezel, but had already made this piece when the idea came to me to photograph the steps. Perhaps next time...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Silver and Opals and Chains, Oh My!

I'm happy to report I found some filigree solder online, so here is the result from my first experiments with the new concoction . It worked quite well, but it's different from the handmade solder I learned to cook up previously using silver, copper, bronze and zinc. Far less of the purchased solder is needed to fuse the filigree to the frame, so I overloaded it every so often, but it burned away nicely.

I am in love with this stone. I purchased it from our friendly "Opal Guy" (Gene) who mines the opals in Australia and brings them to our school for us to choose from. When he shows up and lays all all of his gorgeous stones on the table, no one can get any work done. We obviously buy a substantial amount from him because he keeps coming back...and that's a good thing!

Now I need to get to work on my copper bowl. In the new class I started this week, we are learning how to turn a flat piece of metal (copper first, then sterling silver) and pound it, little by little, into the shape of a bowl. The teacher, Julia Woodman, is wonderful. She's kindhearted, patient and considerate. I can tell already I am going to thorougly enjoy learning from her.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You Can Leave Your Mittens On

What was my absolutely most favorite Christmas present of all this year? My new mittens lovingly knitted by my daughter, Jess, otherwise known as Yarnmonster. Aren't they great? She also made her brother a pair of black socks with the scull and cross bones design on each one in white (he's a pirate at heart), and whipped her dad up a gorgeous soft, green scarf! I'm amazed by her knitting ability. I look at the intricate designs and really have no idea how she does it.

Now all we need is a little cold weather over here so I can wear them! :)