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Friday, December 30, 2011

New books to read, new metal to work

My daughter gave me this book for a present. It is one of the most complete overviews of historical jewelry I have ever seen. It has become my leisure time reading lately. Filled with great illustrations of jewelry from all eras and locales it is a valuable design source. I have already made 2 rings from illustrations in the book, duplicating hand forged rings from 2000 BC in Europe. Its worth a look. And since my daughter is a savvy shopper this is probably available at Half-price or similar stores.

This book I purchased for my self. It is like an encyclopedia of technique for silver...and what works for silver works for copper,brass,bronze and other metals. Soldering,shaping,etching,cold connections its all in there with clear photos and concise instructions to get you over the little hurdles in metal working. It is available through Interweave.

Since silver is expensive these days I have been trying alternatives in both wire and sheet. Silver filled is a good alternative especially in wire work. Here are a few sheets of silver filled bronze. The sheet with 380 on it is the back..jewelers bronze or NuGold the others show the front which is clad in sterling silver. The piece on the left is heavily forged..fold formed,hammered for texture and heated repeatedly to anneal. Then pickled. Even before polishing the fine silver color is apparent.I plan to make a ring shank from the top piece with sterling on the inside and the bronze out side. Imagine etching through this sheet with ferric nitrate and revealing the gold layer through the silver...Just as a design element the two color metal has many possibilities. I purchased my single clad 1/10 silver filled sheet from RioGrande.
New inspirations for a New Year...be creative and grow your mind and your art.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Doll Restoration 101 Making new from old broken parts.

When a treasure like this box shows up in the mail I spend a lot of time sorting and looking for similar or hopefully matching heads and bodies. This time I hit pay dirt.

Among the 350 pieces in that box was this pair of matching doll parts..a head and shoulders and a body. To recreate the original doll form that is over 100 years old is the goal. I start with a mold box and place a layer of non- hardening clay in the bottom. Next I place the doll part into the clay and embed it halfway paying attention to undercuts. In order to remove the doll part later we have to fill any undercuts with clay and fill voids in and around the doll as well.

After pouring a layer of plaster, curing it and spraying mold release and pouring again we get a 3-d mold. Fill it with liquid clay and allow it to dry over night. This is what we have. Complete with air bubbles, pour lines and flash around the seams.

The next step is to remove the fettle(seam lines) and flaws by carving , filling, and smoothing. The pieces then are cut to match. In this case I used the v-neck of the shirt as my cut line and cut off the body from the head, and cut away the upper chest from the body. A small amount of slip is place in the matching cuts and it is pressed together to bond the clay.

This is the result ready for more trimming and drying in a dehydrator for 3 hours. Then the clay is hard enough to sand , file and burnish further refining the surfaces. Mold marks and trade marks are removed.

The tools I used to begin finishing are a folder 120 grit sanding disk and a triangle file. After the piece is completely dry fine sanding with 1000 grit sanding pads will leave a smooth finish. Next the piece will get fired to bisque which will allow me to further refine the details using diamond tools. Next time I will show her with glaze and a few of the pieces I have recently made like the duck girl and dino man. I am working on another doll this afternoon...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beaten copper bracelet

The raw materials for this project are a sheet of copper,some square wire and for tools we will use planishing and texturing hammers,plus a torch and vises. The wire is used to make a shape in the metal. It is placed under the sheet and struck with the hammer repeatedly. Then we bend the first fold.

The bends will be raised with a hammer after flattening along the seam.

The edge of the fold is clamped in the vise and the pieces separated and hammered flat.

Then another fold is added.

Again the seam is pounded flat and placed in the vise.

I continue until the folds cover 3/4 of the length. Alternating direction each time.

A planishing hammer is used to flatten the metal and the ribs.

I chose to flatten the ribs in a twist..each end goes a different direction .

After flattening the ribs the metal is heated to anneal and quenched in cold water. The heat has begun the decoration of the metal.

Next the whole is folds down the length. It is flattened again placed in the vise and opened leaving a central ridge.

The ridge is then hammered flat locking in the center of the folds and creating a wonderful texture.

Next the edge is textured with the linear pattern hammer which gives a ruffled look. To me it seems like the edge of an orchid or iris petal.

Pounding continues on the round mandrel and the final shape emerges. To smooth the edges of the metal it is first sanded then buffed on a 6 inch wheel with Tripoli. It is then cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner and wiped dry.

It looks ancient and a bit abused.

I think the texture makes it look like a medieval armor cuff. Total time was about 1/2 hour. It could be further polished or textured or colored...from here its all good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More simple earrings and fun stuff

Earrings are fun to design and I enjoy trying to use some eclectic items to create slightly odd combinations. This one will work with any bead and really any color wire. I had copper hooks and so chose 16 gauge (1mm) square copper wire for the hoop. Two approaches came to mind..one to solder the join in the loop and the other was to hide it in the bead and use a little E-6000 to fix the position of the bead. This bead is a little tight on the wire so I chose the glue.

With the bead to one side of the join, I put a drop of E-600 on the wire next to the bead, then closed the gap like one would with a jump ring, swinging the wire close and bending slightly to tighten the gap. Then push the bead into place and let it sit. The hoops were formed by wrapping a foot of the wire around a wood dowel. Then cutting with the flat side of the clippers to the facing segments. You can make a whole pile of circles at once with this method.

The loops are about 1 inch across.

Add a natural background and they are ready to sell.

This project is another 5 minute ring. I started with a foot of 8 gauge sterling silver and wrapped it around a ring mandrel and hammered it around the out side with a smooth planishing hammer. This gives a faceted look to the silver and hardens the ring. Next I filed the ends of the wire to smooth and shape them. and punched a hole 1/16 in in one end. I riveted a 6 prong silver snaptite mount 10mm diameter in place and polished the ring to a smooth texture

The ring is adjustable over a 4-5 size range and the head is filled with a man made ruby.

Here are the components of an art doll that I created from an antique German body and a plastic dinosaur head. Each piece was cast in plaster then liquid clay was poured into the molds and when it was set up a little the head and body were removed and joined with more liquid clay. The result is on the left. That was fired to about 1860 degrees and allowed to cool then glazed and fired again.

This dapper little fellow is the result. I have made three and will continue to make more...4 will become the knights in a fantasy chess set I am creating.

This is the next combination I will make; a duck headed doll. Coming up will be the restoration and reproduction of an 1840s cherub and an 1830s boy doll wearing his dads clothes. I have acquired over 500 new dolls and parts in the last week. All dug up in Germany 

This is a shot from the location where the dolls are being recovered by Cornelius Peschel. The picture is from his Ebay listings. His seller id is cocona36 check out his offerings.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Simple dangle earrings in silver and stone.

The components for this design are a pair of french hooks with fine chain,a jeweled head pin and two different sized beads. I chose to use silver for the metals and agate and tiger eye beads from http://www.magpiegemstones.com/catalog/item/5238556/8841592.htm

First step is to place the beads on the headpins.

Next bend the wire at a sharp right angle.

Then grasp with round nose pliers or bail making pliers and wrap around the tip tightly forming a hook shape.

Leave enough room to slide the end of the chain onto the wire...

And form the wrap making a tight 2 layer wrap

Then snip off close to the bead.

The result are a pair of attractive dangles.

With the jeweled headpin adding just a touch of class at the bottom. This pair was just listed at www.oscarcrow.etsy.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Further wrapping with wire and a pair of winter earrings.

I had a bit of wire left over from the last project so I decided to make a wire wrapped stick pendant with it and a raku bead I made last week. The technique is not my invention..its been around a long time. My adaptation plays the copper wire color on the bead and wire off the silver wire for great contrast. Take about 12-15 inches of 24 gauge wire..I used dead soft sterling round wire. and a piece of the twisted copper. Fit a bead that is just loose enough on the big wire to allow the smaller wire to be inserted into the bead. On the copper wire I flattened the end and drilled a hole through.

A little sanding to remove any burrs and you have a place to run a jump ring or very fine chain through.

Place the bead on the wire and tuck in the small wire..in this case I pushed 1/2 inch of the wire into the bead.

Next wrap the small wire once around the big wire tight against the bead.

Bring the wire tightly around the bead and wrap in the same direction, then pulling tightly on the fine wire go around the bead again as many times as you wish..I went 8 times. Then finish off by wrapping the end around the wire to tie it off. I see my wrap is a little loose and will have to be redone.

This is the back side of the finished piece ready for a jump ring and a chain.

These are some simple silver earrings made from commercial branch forms and sterling hooks.

Another shot with a plain background. These parts were ordered from Hong Kong on Ebay last year and after using some in other projects I decided to make dangles from these. They are of course headed to my Etsy shop.  www.oscarcrow.etsy.com