Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November's Workbench

As is typical, November's workbench is a busy place.
Inventory has been dropped off for the 
and preparation for 
is well underway.

My stash of textured metals inspired some new pieces,like...
mixed, etched metals bracelet
with sterling bezel set labradorite caochon....

etched and roll-printed brass (and a smidge of silver nickel) bracelet
with sterling bezel set carnelian cabochon...

and etched copper ring
with sterling bezel set labradorite cabochon.

For several weeks, I've been working on another mission.
I found some great crystal briolettes at a bead show back in September.
Not sure how I would use them, I only bought ten.
I ended up wire wrapping the beads, making them the pendants of long necklaces featuring Herkimer diamonds, labradorite, citrine and amethyst.
The necklaces were well received at the Fine Art & Craft Festival in Swarthmore.
I regretted not having more and contacted the company that had sold them at the bead show only to find out that they had one left....
and they are not typically part of their inventory.
Of course.

Maybe I should have let it go at that point, but it was too late;
I was already a bit obsessed with having more of these crystals.
I also had the naive belief that 
'if I can easily Google it, I can easily find it.'
Well, not really.
These briolettes were not easy to find, even with the aid of the Google search engine.
But after emails, texts, shared photos, calls, false hopes...
I found some!
USPS dropped off my order yesterday,
and I got to work.
Wire wrapped crystals are now ready to become necklaces.

The wire wrapping sometimes had leftover pieces. 
I can't stand letting usable pieces of anything go to waste, 
so those scraps were turned into mini dangles.
How will I use the mini dangles?
I have no idea.
They'll probably still be on my workbench when next November comes around.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Taking That Extra Step

Preparing to make some necklaces with some more of my bezel pendants, I made complementary copper links.
As is typical for my mode of operation, I may or may not immediately use the links,
but I appreciate being able to surround myself with a variety of materials as I'm working so that I can make choices as I follow my intuition.
Segments were cut from my stash of recycled copper wire.
I needed to physically expand the ends of those wires that I wanted to drill, and began by using my favorite hardware store hammer to smash and flatten.
While I accomplished my goal of creating enough surface for drilling,
I wasn't completely satisfied with the result.
(small grouping of 5, 2nd from left)
The hammering left the resulting tabs a bit too thin for my liking,
and I wasn't thrilled with the paddle shape.
I decided I should do a better job.
Using my acetylene tank, I balled each end of the next group of wire segments.
When I then hammered the ends, there was enough material to maintain a more acceptable critical thickness while having the surface necessary for drilling.
A happy benefit is a more controlled and consistent circular shape instead of that less desirable paddle.

The next grouping of links was formed with one of my bail-shaping pliers before soldering.
I thought these links turned out nicely, but maybe not nice enough.
A cleaner transition between the circle and the 'tail' was the image that kept nagging at me,
so I went back to my workbench.
Wire was coiled around a mandrel and then cut with my jeweler's saw to make consistent jump rings.
Some sources will advise using a flush cutter....
don't do it 
if you're making smallish jump rings and the goal is to solder them.
Even a good flush cutter will yield one flush surface and one pinched surface
while a jeweler's saw yields two flush surfaces.
Each ring was filed to create a bit of flat surface for a good solder joint to the 'tail'.
Definitely more work
and definitely a more refined result.

Some of the new links were used in the necklace completed yesterday.
 A practice bezel featuring one of my stones of mysterious origins is the focal point.
The bezel layer is riveted to the bail layer...
 made with roll printed copper and etched silver nickel.
Agate and brass beads are wire wrapped with copper links to make the chain which features a hand made clasp.

I recently gave advice to my sister's friend who is hoping to create and market a line of jewelry.
One recommendation was to resist the temptation to make pieces as cheaply as possible since there is a mind-numbing abundance of inexpensive jewelry.
It's very easy to get lost in a sea of low-cost items.
I made the personal decision to not compete with that portion of the market and instead
hold myself accountable to producing work I can be proud of.