Hello folks, thanks for joining me once again. We are now midway through summer and the streets in the towns and cities of England are quiet, as everyone has gone on holiday. The kids are on their school break and people have taken the opportunity to go abroad to wreak havoc in far away places.
I've been playing with the leftover pieces of copper from my efforts with fold forming - I'd originally thrown them into the bin until I realised how wasteful I was being and that I ought to practice my soldering skills on the remnants.
I 'sweat soldered' textured strips of copper to the front of rectangular pieces of copper, spot soldered silver wire to the back and converted them into stylish angular ear wires to suit the shape of the earrings. They are light and easy to wear with little turquoise dangles, and I was quite happy with them. By the time I'd filed, burnished and antiqued them, I was exhausted but carried on trying to make another pair. I melted a couple of bezels, and eventually gave it up as a bad job.
Note to self; do not play with fire when tired! This time it was the bezels that were toast, next time it could be something not quite so easy to abandon - Ah well, one lives and learns.
I've hoarded a string of kyanite 'icicles' for over two years as I couldn't think what I wanted to do with them, and then one day, Alakazam! it came to me. I combined them with Biwa pearls and as both the kyanite and the pearls have a glow of their own, they were bound to go well together.
As I went along, crystal teardrops jumped out of the box to join the party and The Shard came into being. I've used kyanite before and I love the cool silvery sheen of the icicles - I do find them difficult to use, as on their own they are dull and need to be lifted out of their pale serenity. Pearls with their warmth seem to be the obvious choice in my mind, although I have used coral in the past for the same effect. I named it after The Shard, one of London's landmarks.
I took one look at the topaz stones in this pendant and fell headlong in love. It was bought on my trip to Jaipur a couple of years ago, and I've been hoarding it ever since. The necklace with the faceted onyx and little silver beads which have been cleverly cut to catch the light, turned out to look as beautiful as a dance move, hence Arabesque.
In my youth I always wanted to learn to dance, but my mother wouldn't support my ambition for reasons unspecified. With this necklace I feel I've achieved something akin to being able to perform a dance move myself.
That's all I have for you this week, folks. Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for dropping by. This week, with a few days off from the day job, I had time to try everything my heart desired - I whacked copper into kingdom come with hammers, soldered wires onto the hammered jewellery, embellished a pendant with wire work and then hung it on a beaded necklace. I've said this before, and I'll say it again - it gives me so much pleasure to make my own components, much more than using shop bought.
The Copper Beech or Sylvatica Purpurea
Last week I played with hammers and fire, and boy, was that addictive. I had a few days off work and caught up with all the chores I had set aside for this week, all the time champing at the bit to get back to the conservatory and play with fire again. I cannot trust myself to use a torch in my craft room - for one thing I share it with Michael and our sizeable collection of books and waving a torch about in it would not be the sensible thing to do.
I made this leaf following a YouTube tutorial by Nicole Hanna, who apart from being a whiz with wire is one of the most generous people I know. She gives of her knowledge so freely and is extremely helpful to newbies in the wire world.
I set an aventurine onto the leaf in a fine silver bezel wire - I only melted one bezel, so that was pretty good going as this is only the first time I've attempted soldering a cabochon since I went to a class with Anna Mazon over a year ago.
The hardest task so far was cutting the copper sheet with the shears without injuring my fingers with the cut edges of the sheet of copper, and filing the edges of the leaf once I'd finished forming it. My hands looked as rough as a bear's backside by the time I had finished, but at least I hadn't cut or burned myself, or the house down.
The next step was to decide whether I'd done enough and use the leaf as a simple pendant, or to carry on embellishing it - and of course there was no contest. Given the chance I embellish anything that is stationary long enough for me to attack it with frills and furbelows.
I once again took a leaf out of Nicole's book and embellished one edge with copper wire work, and then antiqued the piece with Liver of Sulfur and shone it till it gleamed, with steel wool. When I was done, the piece resembled a leaf from the copper beech tree in my neighbourhood. The simplest thing to do would be to hang it from a jump ring as in the picture, but I decided to try and put it on a horizontal slant.
A string of green turquoise slab nuggets were pressed into action and Sylvatica, named after the copper beech appeared.
And I was hooked!
I made a pair of earrings - the copper sheet was fold formed into little half hoops, and I then soldered a sterling silver wire to one end and a jump ring to the other to make a flamboyant, but very light pair of earrings that resembled Fulani earrings from Mali, on a smaller scale, of course.
I made a couple of other little bits but they have yet to be refined and made up - as I said the worst part of this is filing the really sharp edges that appear when the metal is bashed repeatedly with a hammer.
My website is still playing the Scarlet Pimpernel, now you see it, now you don't - the good folks at Weebly are supposedly looking into it, but nothing has changed so far and I am fed up talking to them. I get a new person each time and have to begin the story all over - they don't seem to have any notes, or previous history they can look up - oh, for some continuity of care! I now know how patients must feel and yet I appreciate why I cannot deal with the same person each time. However, at least I have notes that I can refer to beforehand when I see my patients.
That's me for this week folks, have a lovely week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, nice to see you again. We've been lucky with the weather, especially since I'd booked a few days off from the day job. With no plans to go anywhere or do anything apart from waking up late and following whatever whim came to mind, I found that the sun had decided to stay on and join the party.
I decided that it was finally time to try a bit of metal-smithing. I had been putting the day off through procrastination, taking classes, watching You tube videos, and buying supplies until I realised that I had run out of excuses not to give it a go. The weather was warm, but not too warm, I had every single hammer I could possibly need and then some, and now I had the time. So that was it then, no more wasting time. I set up all the stuff I needed in the conservatory and got to work.
Michael has this penchant for wandering around junk/antique shops and charity shops. He often comes home brandishing some find or the other and when I look askance at his offering, 'it's only twenty pence, he/she wanted a tenner, but I got the price right down', he says. It would appear that really, we live in a glorified junk yard - most of the stuff in our house supposedly costs only twenty pence! He came home with a rusty cobblers anvil a couple of years ago, the metal so pitted, scarred and misshapen that I banished it to the conservatory - well, actually I said 'get it out of the house, it's an eyesore'. He obviously didn't chuck it away and sanded all the rust off it to make it a useable tool. This was the anvil I used, so his purchase came good in the end - thank you Michael.
Fold forming is a new system of metal forging developed by Charles Lewton - Brain in the 80's. It relies on the natural characteristics of metal, which actually seems to move when it is forged. It is folded, repeatedly forged and annealed, and eventually unfolded; at which stage it generally has a dramatic new three-dimensional form. .He creates beautiful structural forms and I fell in love with the shapes he made with a piece of metal and a hammer. How I will use these shapes in jewellery is yet to be seen, but the videos I have watched inspired me to at least give it a go.
The Ruger Fold
The Ruger Fold is created from a long narrow piece of metal, which is forged until the two ends cross over one another. I started to hammer the copper sheet, over and over but absolutely nothing happened. I thought I was doing so well, but I was achieving diddly squat. I took a short break and went back to the computer to see what Mr L-Brain had to say about it and found this. He recommends forging it 'heartily' and I realised that I'd been striking it like a girl, a girl who generally makes polymer clay roses and sweet peas! I decided to up my game and strike like a bloke - you know the ones in the Coca Cola ads, in a vest, with rippling muscles and oiled bodies, doing manly things, thirsty things - that's how I needed to work, not like a little girly girl.
If I had anger issues, I swear it would have done me a lot of good. I might tell some people in my family to take it up and whack the bejeezus out of a sheet of copper instead of taking pot shots at people - it beats meditation for the ill tempered person. A few good strikes with the hammer and the copper curved into a crescent like a good'un. The muscles in my right arm were well developed by the time I was done, bye bye bingo wings - problem - I am not ambidextrous so the other arm is just as flabby as when I started out.
This was the second piece I forged - I love the shape of the leaf. You can see my Joyce Chen scissors in the picture - as I dropped out of jewellery school because I couldn't use the saw, these scissors turned out to be invaluable. I had got used to the butane torch by this time and decided to try a bit of soldering - I've had the supplies for a while, but not got around to using them. This seemed as good a time as any.
And that's as far as I've got folks, I now have to find a way to turn these two leaves into jewellery, but there's a lot of finishing work to be done first.
After this masculine pursuit, I thought I'd go back and try a bit of gender reaffirmation, so flowers it had to be. A string of pretty peach quartz needles tinged gently with a pearly silver jumped out of my stash and I made up a simple necklace with a few brushed silver flowers. When I had finished I thought it needed a bit more to give it some 'oomph'. Pale green peridot, steel blue shell pearls and a pack of orange coral beads were pressed into action until I was satisfied.
That's me for this week folks. I shall no doubt spend a lot more time on my leaves and will have something to show you next week. Have a fabulous week, and I shall catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello everyone, I'm glad you could join me today. We are bang in the middle of summer and at last the sun was shamed into showing his face - but who knows what next week will bring? Rather than worry about what is to come I decided to make the best of what we have and spent every day of the week splashing paint onto my garden furniture until it was all painted a uniform shade of sunlight yellow.
I'll bet you're thinking what on earth I was doing painting the furniture a 'Hi-Vis' colour. Well hold on, and I'll tell you. There is a method to my madness, I promise.
We were about to have a retractable poly tunnel like pool cover installed and I wanted to draw the eye away from what I thought would be an eyesore in our little garden. We needed the cover though, cleaning the pool was becoming increasingly a chore as the trees in the surrounding properties shed their leaves and seeds by the lorry load on a daily basis. It was quickly becoming a nuisance rather than a pleasure and something needed to be done, and quick.
This was the end result, and I think the two go well together. We will be able to extend the number of days we can use the pool and reduce the heating bills besides keeping it clean.
I bought a string of coral fossil slab nuggets - I'm not usually one for beige and brown, but these beads are so pretty I couldn't resist them.
Corals are invertebrates that are made up of colonies of tiny polyps, which secrete calcium carbonate to form an outer skeleton. We only get to see the exoskeleton part of the organism, eventually left behind once the coral dies, and turn these into pretty beads and jewellery. Most coral is beige, cream, yellow or black and very occasionally pink or red. .
Millions of years ago, coral lived in warm shallow water. Over time, as plates below the ocean floor shifted, the coral became buried under layers and layers of sediments. As the temperature and pressure changed, the coral eventually fossilised and turned into rock. Fossil corals are actually natural stones that formed when ancient corals were replaced by agate, their hard skeletons fossilising when they were saturated with silica rich water bubbling from limestone. Coral remains were gradually replaced with agate, a variety of naturally occurring chalcedony, or micro crystalline quartz. The fossilised coral typically appears as small flower-like patterns in the stone. You can read more here, if you are interested.
Hand carved bovine bone flowers, copper spacers and a pop of colour with turquoise beads were added to the piece ( I simply couldn't resist adding a bit of colour to what would otherwise be a very sombre necklace) and I think the necklace is very fetching. A couple of copper beads were left over and I added some bone flowers to make little earrings to match. As the necklace is pretty striking, all it needed was an unobtrusive pair of earrings.
That's me for this week folks. Next week I have a bit of time off and hope to play with a bit of fold forming and metal smithing. I will probably end up with lumps of twisted misshapen metal, or I might surprise us all and make something really interesting - who knows? I will keep you posted, as usual.
Have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.