Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Blog Banner!...and Blog button.

...and a Blog Button of your very own for you to take and put onto your website.

To put this button on your Blog, just right click on the image and save it to your computer. Go to your Blog, click Layout (or Design as it's now called), then Add a Gadget, scroll down to Picture and type http://etsymetal.blogspot.com/ into the Link box then add the button image from your computer into the Image box. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It was time for a fresh new header to the Blog, I was asked to do something a little like my etsyshop banner and so work began. I put the call out to members for 'letters' to be made in their own distinctive styles and quickly all letters were taken. After a few weeks the letters started to come in to me and I had to assemble them into a banner design on Photoshop. My own banner was made the old fashioned way by making the thing for real then taking a photo. Not having a clue how to do this on photoshop, I searched the web for tutorials on "collage techniques in photoshop", as I figured that was the closest thing to what I wanted to do. This is the best tutorial I found http://www.pxleyes.com/tutorial/photoshop/1439/Create-a-Wrong-Fruit-Collage.html by PXLeyes which taught me all I needed to know. Thankyou PXLeyes for your excellently clear and easy to understand tutorial, it's the first time it's made sense to me.

Originally I tried the letters out on different types of background;

...which looked cool, but...

after a vote of sorts, it was felt that the white banner we chose was most crisp. The above backgrounds are just 3 of dozens that I played with, and were images found on copyright-free sources where in most cases you don't even have to link back to the source or credit the owner. You can use them for personal or commercial use but not to sell them on as just the original images (check the Terms Of Use). I could have taken my own photo's even. These are just a few of the many sources that I found;

Of course, once I had a texture downloaded I could resize it to banner size. Ours is 800x200 pixels. A smaller blog banner or Etsy store banner would be 760 x 100 pixels, but you can play with sizing. Now, it's time for the roll call of participants. Find the members shops in the left Blog margin;

The sawframe "E" made on photoshop by FluxplayJewellery.

 "T" by NinaGibson.

 "S" by WildflowerDesigns.

"Y" by Heather of Twigs and Heather.

 "M" by CynthiaDelGiudice.

"e" by BijougirlDesigns.

"t" by Kerry Alice of Twigs and Heather.

"a" by SarahHoodJewelry.

"L" by 2Roses.

"B" by BethCyr.

"l" by esdesigns.

"O" by HartleyStudio.

"g" by rubygirl

So if you want to do your own blog banner by collaging photos together onto backgrounds and tinkering with the images, or you want to put our button onto your blog (it'll link back to this blog), or make your own button (make it 125 x 125 pixels wide), then now you know how you can do it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Charm Swap 6

I heard that my friends are planning, designing and sketching. Some in  a stage of building their prototype. I am impatiently waiting ....

Meg from Simplymega had made this gorgeous charm prototype.

Meg: "Each charm will be different as they will be fabricated rather than cast. Each will contain silver wire and a copper starfish".

Inbar Bareket: "I had a big progress in my charms... here is my prototype Hamsa...."

I am so excited!  
I'll be here again with more news next week !

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Step 3 - carving the details

So, if you've been around for the last few weeks, you'd know that Susan and Jason have chosen the wedding band "Stitches" from my Etsy store. Thanks guys!!! This is the third, and final, tutorial on carving their waxes. The previous tutorials are, part one and part two.

Here is a picture of the gravers I will be using to carve this wax. I want to stress that this is the way I carve a wax. There are as many wax carving techniques as there are wax carvers so if you don't have gravers, don't sweat it. Just use what you have!!

I now have unadorned wax rings in the correct sizes and widths and thicknesses so it's time to carve the details. I start, again, with my dividers and a calculator. I measure the outside diameter, calculate the outside circumference and fiddle with that measurement until I am satisfied with the number and width of the stitches that will fit around each band.
I mark all the way around with my dividers and scribe a line about 2mm in on each side. These sections will turn into the stitches. In these next three photos, I use various gravers to carve out the design. First, I mark out each section with a line. Then, I take a little wax from each corner to round each stitch and scrape away wax from each stitch's edge. I am mostly using a #42 and a #2 graver for this.

All these parts are very fiddly. I use whatever tools give me the right texture. To give the stitches their final texture, I used a file and a scribe. Below is a picture of the final carving.

Once the wax is done, I obsess over it for a day or two. I hunt down air bubbles, remeasure, rub it with 400-600 grit sandpaper and then give it a dunk in the ultrasonic and a quick steam. Sometimes I give the wax a quick flame polish, which is holding the wax very quickly in front of a big bushy flame to just slightly melt it (careful, this can be either really great or really heartbreaking.) There are wax polishers too that work really well. Either way, at some point you have to call them "done" and send them off to be cast. This is, honestly, the hardest part of the whole process. If you have ever had anything cast before you know,...a teeny blemish that doesn't show up much on a wax model can be HUGE once the piece is cast. You want to make sure that all of the scratches and air bubbles are gone once you send it off or you will have tons of cleanup to do.

Thanks for hanging in there for all three weeks!! I hope you learned something and I hope you try carving your own wax!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Connection technique; joining any combination of materials together.

Although I can silver solder, there are times when other methods of joining are required, or I just fancy a change, or a design warrants the look of little rivets. All my work is either soldered or riveted. "Rivets" sounds technical, sounds 'hardware store', but it needn't be. The great thing about rivets is that you can make them yourself, very very easily, you can  connect together any materials you like, they have a beautiful decorative look to them, they're easy to make and use and they can even become the essence of your jewellery or mixed-media artwork. Best of all, it's smarter, more sophisticated, more permanent and more satisfying than using glue. Glue has it's place, but consider rivets.

Here is a sample I made to show you how to rivet, I'm going to show you how to Tube Rivet and how to Wire Rivet. You see a piece of wood, rusty steel, embossed copper shape, snippet of tin can, scrap of fabric and a shard of plastic.

1. You can buy lengths of very small diameter, round tube in copper, brass and alluminium from model shops. You can buy silver and gold tube from your jewellery suppliers. You can make your own tube too, but I wont go into that here.

2. Here are all the materials waiting to be connected together.

3. Choose the tube you want to make your rivets out of. Find a drill bit that's the same diameter, like above.

4. Drill a hole through all the pieces to be joined. The tube should be a snug fit in the holes. The little copper rectangle shape you see in the 2nd picture, is a 'washer' I made to stop the tube rivet from sinking into the soft squashy wood. Your 'sandwich' of materials need to have the outer layers consisting of hard materials, or else make a washer. Your washer could be a tiny little disc with a hole in it, mine is a shape you can see for the purpose of this excercise.

5. Next, you need to saw a piece of your tube down to the right length for a rivet. You want the tube to protrude from each side of your sandwich by no less than 1mm and no more than 2mm. If your tube is too long, it will bend over when riveting and look ugly. Too short and the tube will disappear in the hole. Here is the back of my sample, the rectangular shape is the washer that stops the tube being pulled into the soft wood.

6. Here I am using a basic tube vice (chenier vice) to hold my tube while I saw through it with my sawblade to the right length. You don't need one of these, but it is important that each end of the tube is sawn flat and perpendicular to the tube.

7. Now, with tube section threaded through your sandwich, place you sandwich of materials onto a flat steel block. Use a pointed punch (you can make one by filing a cheap hardware store nail to a point) to flare out the protruding tube, by tapping gently with a hammer or mallet.

8. Gently flare out the other end of the tube by turning over your sandwich and tapping your punch point into the tube again, as before.

9. When the tube ends are flared and the connection is well and truly made, use the round head of a hammer to finish the flare / spreading of the tube end...

10.  ...and then use the flat head of a hammer to make the rivet flat. Your tube rivet connection is complete. There are variations on this simple way of doing a tube rivet, you could solder the tube onto the back of the metal so that only one side shows the distitinctive little 'donut' of the rivet (blind rivet). You could re-drill your hole very slightly, not all the way through, with a larger drill bit to create a dimple which would allow the donut to lie flush with the rest of the surface.

1.  Once again, your materials need holes drilled through them that are the same diameter as the WIRE you want to make into a rivet. Again, the wire needs to protrude at the top of the sandwich by about 1.5mm and by about 1.5mm at the back of the sandwich, as you can see here above.

2.  As with step 6 of the tube rivet, place your materials with the wire in place onto a steel block. Now instead of using a punch, just use the round head of your hammer to tap the head of the wire...as in the above illustration. The black circle represents the flat protruding end of the wire. Your hammer blows should start in the centre of the circle and spiral outwards to gradually spread the head of the wire. You can also hit around the edge of the circle by 'stroking' your hammer blows outwards, as described by the orange arrows. Do a little on one side of the sandwich then turn over and do a bit on the otherside, same as for the tube rivet.

3. Here you can see how the end of the wire has spread into a sparkly little rivet head.

4.  Here on the back of the sample, you can see how much the rivet head has spread, compared to an offcut of the wire in its original condition.

Here are 3 books I own that concentrate on "cold connections" of many kinds. I recommend them all! (I do not represent the publishers or authors).  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful and inspiring.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Charm Swap 6

We have time for the charm swap and not much progress right now
"I just moved my studio - it's not finished yet but I've decided to begin my charms.
On the previous post I told you what I want to do - I am doing Hamsa charms with turquoise. I am not sketching, I planed the materials I am going to use, prepare all in advance and the design coming up on the bench - I flow with my designs.
I went to buy the turquoise stones - They are gorgeous!
I had decided on the Hamsa shape and began to saw them....

To be continue next week....."

Looking forward to hear and post your progress !

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carving a wedding ring from wax, part 2

Hi! For those of you who didn't see part one of this post, Susan and Jason chose "Stitches" for their wedding bands and I am blogging about the process of carving their bands out of wax, to be cast in 14 karat white gold. This is part two in the process.

The following two pictures are the tools I will use to carve the details into the wax. I use dividers for marking precise guidelines and gravers for carving the detail. The second photo shows some of the files I use, one specifically for wax and the others are cheap-o's I got at Lowe's. They are a pretty coarse cut that removes a controllable amount of wax but don't clog up with the wax debris.

The next step is removing some of the wax that I was to chicken to remove with the lathe...live and learn. I measure first to get the initial thickness (with my awesome new digital caliper!) which is 3mm. I would like the thickness to be 2.2mm.

My next step is to measure and mark the .08 mm I want to remove, which I do with a rotary file. This is an amazing tool, I use it for carving all my waxes and for removing metal when I need to move quickly. It leaves a nice surface that doesn't need much cleanup.

I was taught to use gravers for the next step. There are lots of ways to carve waxes but this is the way that works best for me. I think graver skills are so important for a bench jeweler or metalsmith to have. While FAR from an expert, my limited skills have helped me out of many jams and have been indispensable when carving pieces from wax. For rounding the outside and creating a comfort fit on the inside, I use, first, a #38 graver and then a #2. The #38 is a skinny flat graver and the #2 has a "V" shape. I use the sharp edge of the #38 to gently scrape wax away, creating a rounded edge, inside and out. I scribe a guide line first with a divider so everything stays nice and even.

When this step is done, I may run over the whole surface with 400 grit sandpaper but not always. I now have a ring blank that is ready for embellishments (sorry for the blurry pic), which I will cover in my last post, next Wednesday! Thanks for reading!!! See you next week!!!

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