Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Missed deadline and jewellery recycling ;)

What good can come from missed deadline and jewellery recycling? Well... This pendant was a result of these two things :). Once upon a time, there was this "Tales of the heart" PMC contest (again huge congratulations to the wonderful winners! :) ). I'm always very eager to take part in all contests I hear about. Of course I immediately have SO brillant ideas ;), and of course I usually don't meet contests' deadlines... (I guess that a good shrink would make me think about subconscious self-doubting and self-sabotaging ;) or maybe just about laziness and lack of organization ;D ). In this case I had an idea of Art Nouveau stylized pendant with a discreet heart motif intervined with some subtle, organic lines. Long story short - I had a lot of work with Valentine's Day custom orders, started making this pendant a day before the deadline, and (not a surprise), didn't finish it on time.

Feeling free from the deadline and this heart theme, I changed a bit the original design and finished the pendant a few weeks later. But if you look closely, you can still notice one small heart there :).
Below you can find a few photos I took while making this piece. Ah, and of course this "recycling" thing explained ;).

Everything began with a stone - lovely, slender lapis lazuli cabochon. I just drew a general sketch around it. I used it later as an actual reference, so I made sure it was accurately sized and symmetrical.

And here is the piece ready for firing. I stuck some ceramic fiber in a few places, to support the pendant and prevent distortion in firing. This time I used PMC3. I really like it.

After firing I soldered a stone setting and two small jump rings (Actually I had to do this two times... During first soldering I overheated my bezel wire and it became totally brittle, so I had to "undo" all the soldering, clean the piece, prepare new bezel and solder it again - this time more carefully...).
I also gilded all tiny balls and flower centers using Art Clay 22K gold paste. I decided that yellow gold would look nice combined with the colour of my lapis lazuli cabochon and gold pyrite flecks on its surface. In this photo the piece is oxidized, but still mat and dirty, waiting for finishing touches.

 And what about all that recycling?;)

For almost a week I couldn't decide what to do with these four flat, empty spaces. Originally I thought - more gold! But then I decided that something lapis lazuli coloured would be better. It was too late for glass enamel (the cab was already set and all soldering done), so I tried UV resin. I had primary colours dyes so I thought I would be able to create lapis lazuli shade, but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected.
Then I recalled a pair of earrings with lapis lazuli intarsia I bought many years ago at a mineral fair. I lost one of these earrings, and what can you do with just one earring? I pulled it to pieces, took all the stones out and made my own lapis lazuli inlay. Lapis lazuli is quite a soft stone (5-5.5 in Mohs scale), so I was able to slowely shape it with my rotary tool and some files. This way I got four thin, tiny pieces of lapis lazuli that fitted well into those four empty spaces :). I secured them in place with special resin.

And that's the whole story ;).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Riveting - after workshops in Warsaw :)

 The workshops in Wytwórnia Antidotum jewellery making school were really great :). Quite surprisingly, the most interesting thing I learned there was riveting. Well, I generally knew how does it work, but I've never tried it before and it's always about details, not "general knowledge" ;). Here is what I did - pure work of art, isn't it? ;)))))))))). Thanks to this utterly ugly piece I practiced two types of rivets - "normal" ones and stilt rivets.

I also saw a lot of scary, huge machines ;). I mean professional jewellery making equipment :). I was really startled by the fact that these things are usually so specialized... I saw special tool for cutting pieces of tubing (!!!), special tool for making dome shaped pieces of metal sheet, special tool for cutting circles (seriously? :))))... If I wanted to have fully equipped, traditional workshop I would need another apartment to put all these things there. Yes. I know. It usually works exactly this way. I'm simply quite an anti-tool person. I usually have as few things as possible. Generally my hands are my best tool. I guess it only shows how unprofessional I am ;).

But of course I'm really happy I was there, learned a lot of new things and met great people (huge thanks to the teacher of our group - Remigiusz Grodzicki). It was a wonderful experience and I wanted to try my newly acquired skills as soon as I came back to Cracow. And here is what came out of it. It's a ring with hidden rivets.

This enamelled "bowl" part with sculpted flowers is made of silver clay, and band plus stone setting is made of regular silver sheet.
Below you can see how I made it.

First of all I made this element out of Art Clay Silver. This was also the first time I worked with "the new formula" which recently hit the market. I got a package from my wonderful supplier - Planetart. Honestly I'm a bit dissapointed. Yes - this new formula is softer, has great workability, longer working time, is a bit more like polymer clay or a bubble gum ;) etc. etc., but for me Art Clay Silver became second PMC. And I don't like this. I really liked to be able to choose. Art Clay was better for filing, but worse for carving and PMC quite the opposite. Now there are two brands of silver clay that are great for carving, but non of them is good for filing. The silver lining is that I recently really like to work with PMC3 (which isn't available in Poland) and now I won't have to buy it abroad. Art Clay will do just fine. But enough about the clay.

As you can see, the piece in the photo is already fired. I made two holes for future rivets before firing and used wet packing technique to put white enamel on its surface.

And here is the piece after firing enamel and oxidizing. I also tried another new thing here. I found on Vickie Hallmark's blog an information that it is possible to use a pencil to create sketches on enamelled surface. It really works and I love it! It was the first time I tried it, so it isn't exactly what I intended, but I will definitely practice this technique.

Then I made an irregular band out of silver sheet and drilled two matching holes in it. Why two and not just one? I wasn't so sure about my riveting skills, and I was afraid my ring would spin. So I decided to make two rivets instead of one, to constrain potential movement.
Then, also using silver sheet, I made a bezel cup with corresponding holes in its base...

...and riveted the hole thing :). Fortunately it turned out nothing was moving and my rivets were very tight.

Finally I set a stone (it's a citrine - with faceted front and flat back), made some finishing and the ring was ready :).
I'm totally in love with white enamel. There is something so pure and magical about it. It is simply inviting to "spoil" it ;). With a sketch, with a drop of colour... Just like a blank piece o paper :).

Ok, enough for today. Ah, and one more thing. If you want to read some more of my blabbing ;) check the latest newsletter of Metal Clay Academy. I was honoured to be chosen as a Featured Artist there. I'm really happy about this :).