Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tool Time Tuesday – Playing with the Sand Blaster and Resists

I have been dying to play with my new tool since I got it into my studio last week. I did get one day to play and the result was last weeks TTT post. I have tried a number of times to get back into the studio to play with it some more, but every time I walked in, the baby would cry, I needed to get one of the kids from school, dinner needed to be made, there was a doctor’s appointment…. etc. etc. The list goes on and on and on.

I really want to get my TTT posts going again, so tonight I just worked through it all as fast as I could. There are still so many other things I want to try, so I am sure there will be more posts in the near future with this little baby!

Tonight I played around with various ways to create resists so I could get unique patterns on the pieces. My  friend Valerie and I played with this a bit last week with some interesting results.

Let’s jump right in and I will show you what I did and what we got in the end.

First, I just grabbed one of my copper shapes and went to town. I didn’t clean it, polish it or anything. Just hit it with the blaster. That is what you see below.

The picture above shows one blasted piece, one unclean piece and one that I have removed the tarnish from.

For this next piece, I took the uncleaned square and made a mask with a simple mailing label. I cut out a heart shape with one of my handy dandy cutters, placed it on the square and was ready to go.


Here you can see that I have blasted the piece. Notice the lower left corner where the blasting medium ate away at the resist (mailing label.) Because of this, it wasn’t a really clean edge when the paper was removed.
Here you can see the rough spot where the label got eaten away a little. I have not cleaned up this piece in any way at this point, so you still see some of the sticker remaining. In the areas where we didn’t get any of the ruby grit, there was no problem in removing the label. But all around the heart, it was a little more difficult in removing it.

For this next piece I wanted to see what would happen if you first blasted a piece and then went back and applied liver of sulfur to it. So first off, I used a name tag this time instead of a mailing label. That was mistake number one, because the name tag, was much thinner than the mailing label. Mistake two… well, you can see already for yourselves that I wasn’t too good at getting the little suns space out well enough.
Here I have blasted the unit and was very careful to not to get it too close to the edges, but it was impossible. You can see where the label has lifted up around the small ridges.
I applied liver of sulfur and the blasted area took on a really nice patina.
When  I rubbed the piece with #0000 steel wool, it did take out some of the texture created by the ruby grit. But I was still left with a little bit of contrast. So overall, it wasn’t a horrible experiment.

As things didn’t go exactly as planned with adding the liver of sulfur and I lost some of my texture detail, I wondered what would happen if I added the patina first, THEN blasted the piece after masking it of.  So first thing I did with this next piece was to give it a nice dark patina in the Liver of Sulfur. It was really dark and had some nice shades of purple and blue. Because the mailing label was easily blasted away on the piece with the heart, I decided to double up the layers and see if that had any impact.

The result was great. There was a beautiful glittery surface with no patina. The double layers seemed to do the trick and I got some nice clean lines. One thing I didn’t plan on was the patina being lifted off on the back of the label. However, I did get a nice marble patina that was rather unexpected.

Here are the final results. The square on the bottom left was one that was cleaned and then blasted. You can see a difference between the two bottom pieces, and even the heart that wasn’t cleaned prior to blasting.

For the next one I wanted to try a technique I use to attach my piercing patterns when using a jewelers saw. I used a nice thick cardstock and rubber cement. I wanted the thicker paper to give a nice buffer and still allow me time to get the desired depth with the blasting media. I used a small hole punch to punch small dots all around the piece. I had traced out the washer before hand so I knew where to punch. I applied rubber cement to both the back of the paper and the front of my piece to be blasted. Let the glue dry and then apply the paper to the metal. The dried glue on both pieces creates a nice tight fit and the piece won’t move. The one thing I wish I had done was put a high polish on the washer before I blasted it.

I had this great idea to apply some screen mesh to a piece and it should already be sticky, right? Well, not quite so right. Once I got this opened up, I found out that the mesh was just a little layer of rubber on a clear sticker. So that didn’t work so well. I applied the sticker and ran it through my mill to see what kind of texture I would get. That turned out okay, but I didn’t take a picture of the final piece. I Just thought I would show you all my FAIL, on the idea for this piece. HAHAHA
While rolling the previous piece through the mill, I saw some copper wire mesh sitting on my table and that sparked an idea. I wrapped it around the copper shape, but it wasn’t a tight fit up against the original form. I knew that the blasting media would get under the mesh and I wouldn’t get a clean texture. So i ran this piece through them mill prior to blasting it. This would ensure that I have a nice texture in addition to clean unblasted lines.
I like the thought of various widths of lines. I looked and looked for tape that were in various widths and most of them were way too wide. I looked for electrical tape and settled for this $0.64 roll of black electrical tape. Then while I was combing the hardware store the thought came to me to use pinstripe tape like what is used for cars. So I stopped at the automotive store and got two packages of different widths of tape. They were $3.99 and $4.99. But I thought it was worth the cost, particularly if it worked.

Okay, so here are all my pieces just after they have been blasted with the ruby grit. Everything went fairly smoothly for the most part. I was rather disappointed with the pinstripe tape though. It didn’t take a whole lot before the blaster lifted the edges or ate right through it all together. The pinstripe tape is the silver colored stripes below.

The cardstock piece and washer did really well. The cardstock held up rather well for the most part. You can see that I was starting to get through it, but I wasn’t exactly light handed when doing this. I was rather aggressive so as to make certain I got some texture in those tiny holes.

The piece with the copper mesh (upper left) turned out GREAT!!!! Once I lifted the mesh screen off the lines were beautifully crisp and shiny.

The electrical tape worked GREAT as well. I was able to easily cut the desired shapes with paper punches and scissors. It had a nice tight seal onto the piece and it didn’t lift at the edges at all when I was hitting it with the pressurized air and grit. It lifted off cleanly and left beautifully crisp lines. Photobucket

Here are the finished pieces. The lighting on them isn’t the best, but you start to get the idea.

This is why I said I wish I had put a clean high polish on the piece before I hit it with the ruby grit. The dots look great, I just wish the rest of the washer were clean. I will probably just go back and texture the entire piece, or I could always buff out the dots and start all over again.

The bracelet links with the pinstripe tape were okay, but not as clean as I would like. The pendant turned out okay, but I applied only a really light texture to it where the tape was so I didn’t blow through it as I had with the bracelet links.

These three pieces were the ones done with the electrical tape. You can see all the lines are very clean. I think I will play around with this tape a bit more and see what else can be done.

Well, I would type more and cover more topics, but the newborn is screaming and it is almost Wednesday.  Good night all.

Goals and Cleaning Up

As you already have read, we are preparing for a big interstate move.
Those are just never much fun. Although they are really good for
cleaning out the house of unnecessary junk…. unless you are one of
those artists that looks at everything and thinks, “But I can use
that… for something.” Sadly, I am one of those people. I try so hard
not to be and I am really trying hard to let go of things, but I really
stink at it.

Tonight I went into my studio and it was just so
hard to look at. There is “stuff” EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t hardly see my
table tops at all. To prove it, just check out these photos.

spent about an hour cleaning things up and replacing tools to their
proper place. While I am not done, at least I can see my bench tops once
again and am able to move around a little bit without having to shove
things out of my way just so I can work on something.

Do you have goals or are you just a dreamer?

Most of the time I am a dreamer. But every now and then I do the right thing and make that dream a goal. Sometimes I don’t take the goal seriously, but put that dream down on paper or some other surface. I have done this a number of time. It is fun when we make our moves to find the list of traits my “future husband” will have. Riley got a kick out of that one
when we found it a few months back.

One thing that was
interesting to come across about 2 weeks ago while we were cleaning out
our storage room, was a group of dry erase boards I had bought when I
first got started making jewelry. I thought the boards were really cool
as they had a thick black frame and a clear piece of acrylic for the
writing surface. Turns out the surface really sucks as it doesn’t erase.
UGH! But the concept was totally cool. Good thing I bought them on
clearance and didn’t pay full price.

Anyway, I digress. The
really neat thing about them was what was written on them. When we first
moved to Ohio Kate was just 10 weeks old. By the time she was about 3
1/2 – 4 months old, I had decided to give jewelry a try. I worked for a
few months and began to accumulate various tools and materials. By
February of the following year (2007) I knew I had a natural talent that
could be further developed into something good and I made a list of my
dream tools and set up at the time. We moved to our current home almost 3
years ago and the boards got put into the storage room and I didn’t
give them a second thought.

Well, here is the original list of my dream tools.
Goals So let’s see what we have here….

A torch. Now at the time, I had only a Blazer Micro Torch. So I wanted a “Big Girl Torch” In this case I was after an Acetylene/Air torch.

Rolling Mill… and boy do I have a nice one.

Bench Shear – Yup, got that one too.

Sand Blasting Unit – Well, what do you know. I just got that one last week. WOOHOO!

Great Studio and Classroom Space. Now, keep in mind, this list was made a year or more before we bought my current house. My studio at the time was the formal dining room of the home we were renting.

Polishing Machine. I am not the best at using this machine, but it sure is fun to have.

Tree stump – I haven’t done anything with it, but I have a great one!

Stake set – This is the only item on the list that I don’t have yet.

So, without really thinking about it and without looking at this list, I have acquired pretty much everything on it. Even though they were passive goals, by writing them down they became goals instead of just a dream. I remember hearing the phrase once “A dream is only a wish until you write it down.”

I have made a new list of dreams and goals. Since I no longer need this one, I erased it and wrote a new one.

Drill Press – This has been on my “want” list forever. in fact, a couple of times it has been in my “cart” but I never hit the final button. Perhaps now it will happen.

Hydraulic Press – Another really good one, but I haven’t ever really put a whole lot of effort or thought into actually getting this one.

Fabulous Studio Space. I allowed myself to put a few things out there and I need to make it even more full by listing EVERYTHING I want. But it includes:

* 3x my current space (If you are going to dream, dream BIG!)
* Not in my house – This is a big one for me!
* Apartment – This means that I would like to have an apartment with it. I would like to have a place to offer people when they come in from out of town.

Kiln – Yes, I have a couple. But I would like a different one. I want to sell the Kilns I currently have and get one that is digital and set up for some of the work I am going to be doing.

I need to put the stake set back up on this list. I forgot to do that. But this is a start for the next round of goals. I will be making another list of goals that involve my desired income, publications, awards, shows and such. I never really shared my lists with anyone before, so I don’t think it is a matter of letting people know what your goals are. But there is certainly something to be said for “putting it out to the Universe.” I was taught many years ago that if you want something, let the universe know and the universe will deliver. You also must be very careful for what you ask for…. boy do I know that one.

I am also a firm believer that you get what you ask for whether it be negative or positive. I try to remain positive as much as possible. I have had more than one person, heck more than 20 people tell me that I seem to have the “golden touch.” This applies to being somewhat successful in my endeavors in developing my jewelry talent and business. Until recently, I hadn’t been turned down for any of my artist “call for entries.” I am numerous books and a couple of magazines. And that was all without really trying.

So now, in my personal life, I am going to put out to the universe my desire that I have the most amazing daughter that sleeps through the night, or at least in 6 – 7 hour stretches. I could handle that.

What about you? What dreams are you going to turn into goals? Please share. Perhaps I need to add to my dreams/goals list.

Tool Time Tuesday – Sandblasting Tool Overview

Did you miss me? Did you ever think I would never get around to doing my Tool Time Tuesday Posts again? I must admit, I was beginning to wonder myself. Kiari is now 3 months old (3 weeks adjusted age) and has been home for 4 weeks. We are slowly getting into the rhythm of things. Though I must say, it is mostly a sleep deprived rhythm for me. I never did care for the newborn stage for this very reason. I like it when the babies are little, but I look forward to sleeping again.

A while back I had learned of an opportunity to purchase a practically brand new sandblasting unit. It was a nice unit also, not just a cheapie one, though I am sure I would have been happy with one of those as well. Due to my crazy pregnancy and bad timing with weather, illnesses and injuries the delivery on this system was delayed by several months. Well, the day finally came and I am now a proud owner of this unit.

My friend Valerie came over so we could hook this baby up and get things rolling.

It isn’t a very large unit, but that is perfect for my current purposes. It has a light inside and a place for both hands to reach in. The spray nozzle on this unit is mounted in the top, which is nice because it leaves your hands free to manipulate the piece with both hands. I must say that the gloves inside are a bit big and bulky. They make it very difficult to work with the piece in the box. I may be modifying this particular set up shortly. But that is for another Tool Time Tuesday post.

In order for a unit like this to work, an air compressor is necessary. I didn’t have one of those. So after a little bit of surfing the web we figured we would run down to our local hardware store and pick one up. Look how pretty it is. The same color as a nice speedy sports car.

Because it is so pretty, it really deserves two pictures. So here is another with Valerie (ala Vanna White) showing this beautiful little piece of equipment.

Now there was one little casualty in opening the box for the compressor.  Just know, that
you should always be careful when opening a box with scissors.
Sometimes the scissors bite back.


I moved the unit into my storage room (right next to my bench) so that I could shut the door and not go deaf from the volume of the compressor.

For the unit to be set properly for the sand blaster we needed to set the pressure on the compressor to be 100psi. That in and of itself, while it should be a simple task, was somewhat interesting….to say the least. We looked through the instructions and finally decided to put them to the side and just get our hands dirty. Eventually we did get everything all hooked up, pressures correct and we were ready to go.

This whole process reminds me of a bad comedy of errors where the main character of a movie gets a new car and is all primped and ready to hit the road. Her hair is done and ready to feel the breeze blow through it  as she cruises along the freeway. She gets in the car, turns the key, turns up the music, hits the gas, goes about 10 feet and stops dead. Well, that is how this process kept going for us. I didn’t have the manual for the blasting unit, so we were just guessing on all of that and praying we did it right.

When you work with a sandblasting unit you need to have some type of material to blast at the piece you want to texture. In this case, I will be texturing pieces of copper. My unit came with 3 different texturing materials. I have Ruby, which is going to give me a course, sparkly texture; Glass beads, which is kind of a middle of the road texture; and a really fine sand, used for a smooth satin finish. There was already a little bit of ruby grit in the blasting unit, so we figured it would be a good one to start with.

Here you can see the inside set up with the gloves off to the side, the gun mounted at the top, the ruby grit at the bottom and the intake piece partially buried within the grit. There is a little shelf that sits on the little ledge you see at the back of the unit.

So here is where we get that first 10 feet and hit a dead stop. We push on the petal, the air is flowing, the compressor comes on to keep the desired PSI while blasting, our piece is held right below the gun spout and…. NOTHING! The grit isn’t coming out of the gun spout. It isn’t even flowing into the gun spout. We open it up and determine that perhaps we don’t have enough grit.

So we open it back up and add some more.

The music is cranking again, we have adjusted our hair and are ready to go once again. We hit that petal poised for speed and ….. NOTHING…. again.  We open the unit once more and see that the intake piece is once again not completely covered with the grit.

So we open it up once more and add the remaining grit. This time the intake is completely covered

So, once again, The music is cranking, we are ready to feel the
proverbial wind through our hair, even though our ego’s are getting a
little bit more bruised by the minute. But we hit that petal and….
NOTHING… again. GAH!  We spend some time fiddling with the nozzle and
pressures on the machine and finally get things going.

Now, I want to point out a very important thing in this picture just below. It is hard to see from the position of Valerie at the moment, but she is wearing a dust mask. Even though there is a door closed and locked shut on the front of this system it is still important to protect yourself when using these fine particulates. I guess really, we should also be wearing eye protection.

So, once again, the music is going… though this time is a bit more subdued… we no longer expect to feel the breeze through our hair and are ready to fail once again, but we push that petal just the same, and…. SUCCESS!!!!!

We begin to notice the ruby grit moving through the tubing, but even more than that, we begin to notice a fine little sparkly texture beginning to grace the face of our piece.

Now, I am not going to go through all the samples we did while shooting photos for the TTT posts, because there are a series of them coming up in the next couple of weeks. But the picture above is just one of the things we played with. The potential of this new tool is so much fun and I am so excited and filled with so many ideas I can’t wait to try them all out. Of course I will document it as much as I can so I can share my findings with you.

Now, Setting up this unit is one thing, but you must know that there is also a proper way to shut everything down. Of course the first thing you want to do is turn the power off and unplug both the sand blasting unit and air compressor.

You need to release the compressed air in the compressor. Here, Vanna-Valerie shows us what we can do with a simple, yet important, paper towel. My compressor has a little release on the bottom. When you compress air, it can build up condensation. Use the paper towel just below the release valve to catch any drips that may come out as you release the air.

Moving over to the blasting unit….
There is a small plug in the bottom corner of the back of the unit. This is used dump the grits back out. and into a container of some sort.

It is a wise idea to have some sort of catch tray below the unit as you unplug and poor the contents of the unit out into the container.  It was interesting, as we would pour the contents out, it would trickle out slowly and we thought we were done. We would shake the unit just a little and it just kept coming and coming. Even with all the shaking and such, we didn’t get ALL of it out. I think to avoid contamination, I will vacuum out the unit before adding a different grit, just to get all the little pieces out.  Even being careful to keep things covered, I still noticed pieces of ruby particles on my bench top when everything was done. So it will be important to take a damp cloth and clean up the surface of the table tops after using this system as well.

Here are some of the pieces we did last night. I will be showing the process of these and a few others I have in mind, next week. The lighting isn’t very good on the picture below, but you can see the textures for the most part.

Boy, it sure feels good to be back! Let’s hope we can keep it up.