Monthly Archives: January 2010

Wire Wrapped Hearts

Last night 3 wonderful ladies came over to my studio in Norton for the Wire Wrapped Heart Class. We had so much fun. I took a picture of our completed projects, But I forgot to get a picture of the last piece. So Joy, if you are reading this, be sure to send me a picture of yours.

It is always so much fun to see everyone start out with the same materials and yet how different our results all are. The pendant on the left was made by Megan. The one in the middle was made by Robin and the one on the right was made by me.

Wirewrappedhearts

I will be teaching this class a couple of times this next month. My February schedule should be out by Monday. I won’t be teaching any classes in March, but will resume classes in April.

 

Valentine Earrings

Since I will only be around for the first couple of weeks in February, what better time to do Valentine jewelry. So I came up with a couple more quick projects to teach. I have already shown you the ring and pendant, now enjoy two pairs of earrings. The first is a set of post back earrings. Right now the are made in copper as they are my prototypes, but I will certainly make these in sterling as well.

Valentine_earring_Posts

Valentine_earring_posts2

This next pair is based on the same design only they are hanging from french ear wires. Again, just in copper for now, but I will make some in Sterling.

valentine_earringsdrops
valentine_earringsdrops2

Valentine Ring

First of all, I do apologize for all the extra little test emails. For whatever reason my blog is misbehaving and has us all scratching our heads. It has decided to stop emailing updates. Actually, that isn’t true. I did finally get some of them…. about 24 hours later. There may be a few more test posts coming through as we continue to troubleshoot this issue, but hope to have it resolved soon. I was on the phone with my host last night for nearly an hour and we had to pass it on to the advanced troubleshooting team. Just be patient and be sure to check in for any updates until we get it all resolved.

I am getting way behind in my jewelry making. Tonight I have been working on a few different projects. One of which I am presenting to a shop where I teach locally, to see if they would like to offer this along with my heart pendant. It is another project that will take only an hour and be minimal in terms of cost. I have showed two finishes. One is a bright copper and the other is after it has had a little bath in the Liver of Sulfur. This would have been great to show as an example of LOS with small wires.

I tried to get a picture of this on my finger as it is really cool looking, but the picture didn’t turn out very well, so you will just have to imagine it on my short stubby little hands. Any comments, questions or suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated.

Valentine_ring
Valentine_los
Valentine_Ring_shank

 

 

 

Art Jewelry’s Top 10 in December 2009

Today I received the Art Jewelry Magazine Newsletter. I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture of my Winter Lily. They are promoting the Art Jewelry Desktop Wallpapers. It is so much fun to see my pieces when they go out in others publications.

Down at the bottom it lists the top 10 downloaded projects for the month of December. I was surprised to see a picture of my fused silver chain as well. What a cool thing to have that be in the top ten. I just had to share my excitement.

Did you see Today’s Tool Time Tuesday? If not be sure to check it out .

Tool Time Tuesday – Rolling Mill Textures

Today’s Tool Time Tuesday features one of my favorite machines in my studio… the Rolling Mill.

Rolling Mill

Rolling mills are generally used for reducing metal to make it thinner but it can also be used to transfer textures onto your metal. The rollers on the mill are made of steel and can be flat or grooved. The grooved portions can be used for wire. You will see on my mill there is an additional side roller that can be used to make 1/2 round wire. Today we will be working with the flat part of the rollers to create textures on copper.

This is not a tool that you will find in every shop, though most metalsmiths work hard to get some sort of mill into their shop at one point and time. This is not an inexpensive tool, but if you care for it right it will last more than a lifetime.

The mill should be placed and secured to a steady work surface. My mill is bolted to my table. Never get the rollers wet, they WILL rust. Never use steel, titanium, sand paper or other tough material with out first sandwiching them between brass or copper sheets. This will prevent your rollers from being damaged by the harder materials.

What materials can you use to add patterns?
Almost ANYTHING. This is where it really gets fun. You will see in the following photographs that I have used a number of materials. For the sake of time in working through this, I have patterned both sides of one sheet of metal, each side with a different material.

Always start with clean, dry  and annealed metal. Annealed metal is soft and malleable and will accept a rolled texture more easily. Also, if your metal is not annealed you run the risk of cracking the metal as it will be more brittle.

The following has been done in copper, but would easily work with silver and brass in the same way. Platinum, white gold, nickle and bronze are all too tough to take a good impression. Titanium and steel should never be used.

Rolling Mill- starting materials
This first picture shows some of the materials that I will be working with for this demonstration. Starting from the upper left corner and going clockwise I have some copper mesh, aluminum sheet with holes, sand paper, a penny, the bag from my clementine oranges, and though you can barely see it, some steel binding wire. You also see the small copper pieces that I will be working with.

Clemintine_pre_roll
The first example uses the aluminum and clementine packaging. I have cut each down to fit my metal a little better. I will create a sandwich with the two outer pieces of copper. This sandwich will protect the rollers of my mill.

I feed the sandwich into the mill and adjust the height of the roller so that the metal will be compressed enough, but not too much. You want to be able to turn the handle but if it is too easy it means there is not enough pressure to give a good impression.

Cleminine_rolling
As the metal rolls through it is being thinned and that will change the shape of the metal. It also gets very hard as it goes through the mill.

Clemintine_Post_roll
The outer plates are also textured. I am using a relatively thin piece of metal, I think about 24 gauge, and you can see that the texture from the aluminum passed through to the front side where I had the Clementine packaging. My outer plates probably started around 18 gauge.

Clemintine_Post_roll_dots
This picture shows the side that was up against the aluminum.

Annealing_metal
I can generally use my outer sandwich plates for about 2 or three rolls before I need to anneal them. You saw how they got a curved shape from the rollers, well, if I can’t flatten them relatively easy with my hands it is time to anneal them. I am using a large tip on my Acetylene/air torch.

How do you know if your metal is annealed?
One trick I like to use is to draw on my metal with a sharpie. When the sharpie disappears, the metal is at the proper temperature. Let it cool for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and then quench in water. From here I pickle, and clean it back up so that it is prepped to go against the rollers again.

We will talk more about annealing your metal in another Tool Time Tuesday.

Penny_Pre_roll
Next  up, my good friend Abe.

Penny_Post_roll
I didn’t use too much pressure on the mill this time around, but still got a fairly decent impression. Notice that the penny has been reshaped just a bit. I don’t think it will work in any bubble gum machines from here on out.

Rubber_Band_preRoll
I decided to try using a rubber band. I figured I would try it without the outer plates this time as the rubber band is very soft. BIG MISTAKE!

rubber_Band_Post_roll
First of all, I moved my rollers together too tightly. D’OH!  I succeeded in cracking my metal by trying to roll it too thin, too quickly. The rubber band completely mushed apart and I had a bit of clean up work to do on my mill before I could go on. Next time, I will use a sandwich of metals.

Oh, here is a little tip I learned today. Never use rubber bands on your silver. It will eat away at it, not right away, but it will eventually.

Rubber_Band_Imprint
All is not lost, I took the previous rubber band fiasco and used it to texture two other pieces of metal. These are going to be a great background for something.

Sandpaper_Pre_roll
This is one of my favorites. I used some 100 grit sandpaper and thin copper mesh. Again, just sandwiching them in between two larger pieces of copper.

sandpaper_post_roll_mesh
The mesh leaves a lovely crisp impression.

sandpaper_Post_roll
I am afraid I didn’t get a very good picture of the sand paper texture, but it looks like it had little bubbles in it. It was so cool. And, because my metal was fairly thin, you can also see a ghosting of the mesh. I can’t wait to use this in one of my pieces, double sided of course.

wire_Swirls_3
This is the last of them. I had some thick craft paper that I just used a paper punch to create some cutouts. And of course, because it is me, I HAD to use swirls. I used the cut outs and laid them in the center to create a different relief. On the other side of the metal I am using thin steel binding wire. I think it is probably around 24 or 26 gauge, so it really is thin. I have just twisted it up in to this shape, actually, my friend Valerie did that for me.

 

Wire_swirls1
Once more, I created a sandwich and the results were so cool. You can see the impression of the wire in both pieces of metal. But I wasn’t expecting the wire to be so smashed into the textured piece. It does come out easily, but I think perhaps I wi
ll try that with silver sometime. It might be a fabulous way to do some Inlay. The swirl pieces that I put in the center of the paper are all still there. They are just so flat now you cannot see them other than a ghosting. But they too, lift right off.

Wire_swirls_2
This last picture shows the side of the metal that was up against the paper. You can see some of the swirls. The lighting didn’t work out so well for this picture, but there is a soft and subtle texture to the entire piece. You can see the swirls that were laid in the center, but the ones that were cut out have the best impression. It is also really cool the way that the wire pushed its way through to the front side of this metal. In addition, I had re-used the outer plate and the combination of the mesh and steel wire impression is just beautiful and it will no longer be used for an outer plate. I will cut this up and use it in one my  pieces.

How many times can a piece be used to texture the metal? Typically you will only have one or two rolls until the piece is stretched or it loses its texture.

The possibilities are endless. This isn’t even a drop in the bucket. I am sure we will touch on other techniques with the rolling mill throughout the year on Tool Time Tuesday.

Many Thanks to my friend Valerie Heck for doing the photography for this project. I am so glad to have you as a friend.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Like what you read here?Why
not subscribe to the blog and you won’t miss a post. Just enter your
email address in the box that says subscribe in the upper left corner.
You will be notified at that email address every time a new blog entry
is made.

Simple Heart Pendant

This is a piece that I have come up with for a simple 1 hour workshop that will be offered at Embellish in Rocky River on Saturday, February 6th. It is made with 12 gauge copper and 20 gauge sterling silver. The crystals and drops are additional to the class fee, but there will be plenty of stones and crystals to choose from. I will be making more of these to show different variations. We will talk about forming larger gauges of wire and forging the wire to give it a different feel and strength.

HeartSwirl

Art Jewelry Magazine Wallpapers

I just got an email from one of my favorite people at Art Jewelry Magazine. Addie Kid is one of the editors and the one that I worked with on both of my projects. She was truly a delight to work with and I look forward to working with her again…. just as soon as I figure out what other projects to do .

Anyway, she wrote to inform me that I am the first artist to be featured twice with their wallpaper photos. The first one was with my Fine Silver Chain. This time they have featured the Winter Lily. It is a really cool shot, although I have to say it is kind of hard to see it blown up so large. You can see so many things in the photo that you don’t see when you are holding the piece in your hands. HAHAHA Ah, the magic of enlarging items.

Check out the wallpapers. They have some great artists featured here and it is so hard to pick just one picture. I switched my background to this lily and my daughter asked when I would switch it back to a picture of her, so I suspect that it might be short lived, or perhaps I will pull out my Photoshop and incorporate her in to the picture.

You can find the wallpaper images on the Art Jewelry Website at: www.artjewelrymag.com/wallpapers

Do you have a particular project of mine or a technique that you would like to see me write a tutorial for? If so, I would love to hear your suggestions.

 

Tool Time Tuesday – Sanding and preparing your metal

Getting a nice smooth finish is one of the hardest things to do on metal. There is a lot of elbow grease that goes into getting a nice finished polish. While I don’t have a “finished” piece of jewelry to look at for the end of this project, you will see just what I go through when I am making a piece.

First off, is sanding your piece necessary? Sometimes, No. But most of the time, YES! As I construct some of my pieces I will find a new little scratch or nick here and there. It is important to remove those if I want to have a nicely finished piece. Sometimes that is just plain easier said than done. And sometimes, my piece gets a nice new texture that wasn’t in the original plans.

There are a couple of types of sand paper that I will be using for this tutorial. First is just plain sandpaper that I bought at my local hardware store. I use a range of grits from 100 – 600. You can buy sand paper in grits up to 2000 from an auto body shop as well. More often than not, you will not need to start at 100 grits. I find that unless I have a LOT of really DEEP scratches, I can usually start with a 400 and work my way up from there. Occasionally I need to back it down to 320 or even 220, but it is very rare.

The second type of sand paper that I really like is called Microfinishing film from 3M. It is a plastic paper and it lasts FOREVER. I can usually rinse it off, let it dry and use it again and it is almost as good as new. It is also great because you can use it under water and not worry about it falling apart. It is a bit more expensive, but TOTALLY worth the cost. I believe I bought an assorted pack from Rio Grande about 3 years ago and I haven’t even used a 1/3 of the sheet. I just cut off a 2 1/2″ square and use that until it isn’t any good any more. The micro finishing films are not measured in grits, but rather microns. They start at 80 microns and progress to 9 microns. When you feel the 9 micron sheet you will truly be amazed that it is a sand paper. It feels like a very soft velvet, as will your piece once you finish with them.

*Tip: One thing you can do to protect your sheet metal is to glue some paper on each side of the metal before storing it. This lends lots of great uses in addition to saving you time sanding your piece. You can draw on the paper for designs or even for measuring purposes. Paste a thin layer of rubber cement onto your metal and let it dry. At the same time, paste a thin layer onto a piece of paper and let it dry. When both pieces are dry lay the paper (cement side down) onto the metal. It will adhere and it comes off easily when you need it to.

Here is what I started with. I dug through some of my copper scrap and found a couple of long pieces of copper that had been annealed, but never cleaned up.
1_start
Pretty isn’t it? This piece was actually pretty clean of scratches. But I sanded the entire piece down with 100 grit to clean it up and get the tutorial started.

100 Grit
This shows the piece done with 100 grit. I did a sort of crosshatch pattern so it would be easier to see. Typically I will use the lower grits, like 80, 100, 120, etc. for decorative finishes on my pieces.


I have now progressed to 150 grits. Notice that I have also changed the direction in which I am sanding. This is done on purpose. You want to change the direction so you can see which scratches are being removed from the previous round of sanding. I rotate between up and down and side to side. You want to keep sanding with the newest grit of sandpaper until all scratches from the previous round have been removed. This will take some elbow grease in some cases. It is just another great way to burn a few calories.

100, 150, 200 grit
Moving on to round 3. I have now moved to 220 grits. Notice that I have changed the direction of sanding. Also, notice texture. It is getting finer and finer as we move along.

100, 150, 220 and 320 grit
Once again, I have changed directions of sanding as I now move to 320 grits.

320 and 400 grit
I love getting into working with the 400 grit. Once I am done with this round of sanding, the metal is so soft and smooth. There is a notable difference between the feel from the previous grits and 400.

320, 400, 600 grit
Change directions once again and continue in the previous fashion. The lines left by the 600 grit are very fine and close together.

320, 400, 600 grit

Depending on the finish I am after, I may take it from 600 to my buffing machine. here I have used a polishing compound called Fabulustre. It is still going to leave scratches, but they are going to be minor and so smooth.

400,600, fabulustre
I wanted to add another shot of the final polish. Notice, you can see me peeking in as I take the picture. The final polish does leave it more smooth and reflective.

For this next section, I am not going to walk through each of the steps, but I have gone through the exact same process with the 3M Micro finishing films.

Start2
Again, I started with another piece of beautifully annealed metal.This really did have a great patina.

2104

2102
Shiny metal is one of the hardest things to take a picture of. So I tried to get it with a couple of different angles so you can see the difference between each of the sections. The results are similar between the products, though the micro finishing films are a bit more refined and a bit more smooth. I am able to get a higher finish with these as the particles are more along the lines of a 2000 grit sandpaper.

Another thing people ask about all the time is how to get a good matte finish. I have worked so hard to come up with a good way to do that. At first I was so frustrated because all I could ever get was a scratched surface. But that wasn’t what I wanted at all. The first thing I ever started with was a green scotchbrite pad. I was able to get a scratchy surface, but nothing that was really what I would consider “matte.” One instructor mentioned that I could work the pad in small circles giving it more of a Florentine finish. That was okay, but not what I wanted.

As I worked with more patina’s I noticed that I got a pretty nice matte finish with the #0000 steel wool that I was using to remove the patinas from the high spots on my pieces. I worked with this for a long time and was fairly happy until a colleague mentioned that he thought it just looked scratched.

Then I recall cleaning some metal with a pumice powder. It had left a beautifully matte finish on my piece. Because the pumice powder is so fine you can really get a nice smooth finish on the piece. It can be worked dry or sometimes I will add just a small amount of water to create a paste. I will work the powder around with an old soft toothbrush, or just my fingers.

I bought my pumice powder from Rio Grande. I bought a 3lb box and it lasts forever. I take a small amount out and
keep it in a little baby food container at my sink in the studio. I use it on almost every piece I work on at some point and time, whether just to clean a spot of dirt, remove oxidation or to apply a texture. You do want to be careful about using this as it is a very fine powder and can be inhaled and cause issues if not used properly. A friend told me that she likes to use a product called “Bar Keeps Friend.” Or something like that. It is similar to ajax, but without a cleaning agent I believe.

2103
This shows the three finishes I talked about above.

2105
I know the picture isn’t the best, but at least it gives you an idea of what to look for and how to use this.

Please let me know if you have any further questions and I will be sureto address them here on the blog. Also If you have a specific tool youwould like to know about, let me know. I am making a list and can’twait to share some of my other insights with you.

Like what you read here?Why not subscribe to the blog and you won’t miss a post. Just enteryour email address in the box that says subscribe in the upper leftcorner. You will be notified at that email address every time a newblog entry is made.

January 2010 Class Schedule

Well, as you can see, the month is already 1/2 over and I am just now getting around to posting my schedule for January. Things were thrown off when I found out that Kate needed to have surgery earlier last week. This week has been awful as far as getting any sleep. It is always so hard to watch your kids go through any of that. You just want to take the pain away and make them Sleep.

I am currently working on my February schedule and should have that posted here in the next week. Due to some family medical issues, there will not be any classes from me in the month of March. Well, there will be, just not here in Ohio. I will be in Utah. So if any of you are out in that area and would like to get together please let me know and we will see what we can figure out.

In the meantime here is the schedule for January 2010.

January 2010 Schedule

Location

Date

Time

Class

Cost

Beadtini

1/20

10:30 –
1:30pm

Wire wrapped Cabochon

$50*

Norton

1/21

10:00 –
1:00 pm

Open Studio

$65*

Embellish

1/21

6:00 –
9:00 pm

Wire Wrapped Heart

$50

OhioJMAG

1/23

10:00 –
12:00 pm

NEO
JMAG Meeting

Free

Norton

1/23

2:00 –
8:30 pm

Soldered Chain Making

$105

Norton

1/26

9:30 am –
4:00 pm

Bezel Set & Pierced Pendant

$115

Beadtini

1/27

6:00 –
9:00 pm

Wire Wrapped Cabochon

$50*

Beadtini

1/28

10:30 –
1:30

Victorian Earrings

$50*

Embellish

1/28

6:00 –
9:00 pm

Working With Resin

$50*

Beadtini

1/29

10:30 –
1:30

Braided Bracelet

$50*

Norton

1/29

6:00 –
9:00 pm

Wire Heart or Paisley

$60

Norton

1/30

10:00 –
4:00

Bezel Set Rings

$115

 

 

 

 

You can find pictures and class descriptions as well as contact information for each of the shops on my web page at: http://www.melissamuir.com/classes.htm

Tool Time Tuesday – Store Your Metal

Today has been a crazy day for both Jeanette at Fundametals.net and myself. So I thought I would quickly share one of my organization techniques that I use in my studio.

As most of you know, I have only been serious about making jewelry for just 3 1/2 years now. It has been quite the learning curve as I am mostly self taught and don’t really have a mentor that got me started. Since getting into this I have met some of the most amazing people and I enjoy learning from them as I go. When beginning, I didn’t buy nice tools or precious metals as I just wasn’t willing to spend the money due to a fear of ruining it beyond all recognition.

My very first silver wire purchased was only an oz of 20 gauge sterling silver. It came in a small baggie just smaller than a sandwich bag. I bought this wire in October of 2005. The following October, I got brave and bought an oz of 22 gauge gold filled wire. I still have about a foot and a half of this as I am too stingy to use it with the cost of gold at this time.

Slowly I began to get more and more serious about jewelry and the need for more precious metals developed. At first there wasn’t much at all, so I kept it all in a manila folder. This worked okay for just a short while, but then the tags fell off of my silver and I didn’t know which gauge was which. I could only hold them next to each other, compare and make my best guess. I had read somewhere that someone had put their various gauges each in its own folder. I thought that was a great idea, and soon, each had its own folder. Then I noticed that my wire was tarnishing. That is okay, but it is a pain to shine it all back up, particularly as I continued to accumulate more and more metal. I also found that it wasn’t a very good idea to store mixed metals together as they can react with each other in undesirable ways.

When I went away to college a million years ago, I had bought some file crates. These had been sitting around in my house just storing crap, so I figured I would empty one out and use a hanging file folder system. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship for me. I moved each gauge of wire into a 1 or 2-gallon zip-lock type of bag – sometimes only a quart size is needed, and organized them according to gauge. Moving them to the bags was WONDERFUL as it helps keep the oxidation exposure lower and I don’t do nearly as much pre-work polishing.

I write the gauge and shape of the wire stored in each bag and then organize my wire from largest to thinnest, followed by sheet and and specialty wires. When we moved into the home we have now and built my studio I wanted to have a more mobile system for my wire. I went to one of my favorite stores and looked in their office supply section and found this great stainless rolling file cabinet. There is just one large drawer and one smaller drawer. It was only about $30, so very affordable and serves my purposes perfectly.

Wire_Storage

I have moved the drawer to the top of the cabinet. There was a little shelf where I could place other things, but I like having my wire up higher so I don’t have to bend down. This gives me much easier access to what I need at the time I am looking for it.

Wire_storage_file_folders

This is what it looks like from the top of my drawer. Like I said, I like to put them in from largest to smallest gauge, but everyone is going to have a system that works for them.

Wire_storage_Drawer

I keep my spooled wire in the drawer, and it is actually a pretty good size drawer as well. I do have some copper “craft” wire that I keep in a different location as I usually only use that in my other classroom. That, and it is stored just outside the door to the metals studio and is within easy reach when needed.

Hopefully this will give some of you something to think about. Even if you don’t have a large stock of precious metal or wire. It is still a technique that you can  use to keep your studio or work area a little more organized and you won’t believe the efficiency. I would be very interested in hearing what some of you  use for various organization techniques, including organizing tools and other materials.

There is also one recent change I have made that I neglected to add. I have switched from paper hanging folders to plastic. some of my folders were wearing out and tearing. The plastic folders are much more expensive, but totally worth the cost and durability.

Thanks for reading
~Melissa~