Thursday, 23 September 2010

20 Mule Team Stubborn

The flower in the picture is one of my first efforts at silver clay and definitely not something to write home about.  But my philosophy is that every mistake has the opportunity to become "art" if you make it look like it was intended to be that way.  And I'm stubborn, just ask my mother. 
I also wanted to try riveting.  Never having done it before, I couldn't start with just a simple riveting job, I had to try something different.
 Okay, here's the basic premise.  The flower is sitting inside a hollow white plastic thingy, so that's not part of it. 
Isn't it pretty?  So far so good.  I soldered the metal clay flower to a hammered 12 gauge ring, also soldered.  I had a little trouble here...I have medium and soft solder and for some reason, I can't get the medium solder to melt.  My torch is certainly hot enough, because it was melting the flower.  So I switched to the soft solder and got the job done.  
The centre part is just sitting on the flower.

I punched out a copper circle, stamped and dapped it, and set a flat peridot crystal on top of it.  Now here's the part that should have been a wonderful example of ingenuity.  I balled three pieces of 24 gauge wire and threaded them through the peridot and copper.  Then I twisted them together tightly and cut them off about a quarter inch below the flower.

I blame this next part on Janice from The Jewelry Artists Network.  She had a wonderful tutorial on her blog "A Metalsmith's Journey" about creating a ball on the opposite side of a ring.  It involves soaking manila file folders and wrapping the bead and bottom of the item in the soaked card stock.  Well, Janice must use better quality manila folders than me, or she isn't dumb enough to twist three wires and expect them to ball up.  I set off the fire alarm but the wires were not going to ball up, uh uh, no way.   And yes, wet card stock does catch on fire. 
Okay, plan B.  I cut the twisted wire off a few mm from the end and decided to rivet.  Twisted wire does not rivet any better than it balls up.  It separated as it was hammered, and although it was flat against the back of the flower, it didn't look strong enough to hold the balled pins in place if it had any stress at all.  So what to do?  By this time, I was out of plans, but not out of stubborn.

 Something had to hold the "riveted" wires on the flower and keep them still.  So I took about an inch of 12 gauge wire and balled it on my fire brick.  Then I soldered it on top of the flattened wires with soft solder.  It looks pretty good in the picture, but by this time the front of the flower and the copper was heat patinaed and looked like heck.  Luckily, the peridot didn't crack or discolor.  It took a lot of sanding and tumbling to get it halfway looking decent, but I figured the copper would eventually darken anyway, so I just hurried the process. 
So here's the end result.  Definitely "art" because the imperfections were intended, of course.  Yeah, right.  By this time, the sun had left, so the picture isn't as good as the first and the darkness at the bottom of the ring is shadow, not firescale.  But the darned thing is finished and this is what I learned: 
Having a teacher or taking classes would be a lot easier on the nerves.  But anything can be fixed if you're stubborn enough.  And I should never do tutorials.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Anticipating the inevitable

Miss Twice, boss of the house, guardian of the world, camera poseur extraordinaire and blanket lover.  The body might be small but the heart is monstrous, taking on Irish Wolfhounds and raccoons with equal ferocity.  Unfortunately, the heart has been slowly self-destructing, no longer thumping in anticipation but softly swooshing with less and less effect.  She's coughing now, so the heart isn't able to keep the lungs working properly and the other day she fainted on our walk.  THAT was scary.  I thought she had died, but she came to in my arms and went home and bossed Dewey around for the rest of the day. 
Boy, it's hard knowing one of your best friends is dying.  And the thoughts that run through your head!  Stupid things that should be embarrassing, but are probably very normal.  Like the four-day trip I'm taking the end of the month.  Go or not?  I pretty well have to go, because it's to see my new grandson and my parents and my parents won't be around forever either.  Like hoping that she dies before the ground freezes, because I want to bury her and don't know what I'd do with her body in the winter.  
Having a pet die suddenly is a shock and horribly sad, like any death of part of your family.  Watching a dog like Blackwatch Twice, proud and independent, carrying on like there's nothing wrong and still ruling the roost, when she's awake, is a lesson in dying.  Don't baby her, let her keep her dignity, but make sure you don't forget when it's treat time.  Sigh.....

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Movie Ratings

I heard the kids in the store yesterday talking about how movie ratings have changed, and how PG is now much more graphic and violent.  This was a 14 and a 19-year-old talking and I found it interesting that they found it disturbing.
I don't watch many adult movies.  If I give up a couple of hours of my precious time, I want to be entertained, not upset, scared or provoked.  So when something by Disney or Dreamworks comes into the store, I nab it before anybody else can get it, because we get the movies three days before they can be released to the public.  Prince Of Persia just arrived, a Disney movie, and I glommed onto it before the afternoon shift saw it and set myself up in my recliner with chips and sparkling water, a real movie night with the dogs.   It was a little disappointing.  The whole movie seemed to be men fighting and grunting - a Pirates of the Caribbean wanna-be without Johnny Depp's talent.  And what's with the hero and heroine stopping and gazing longingly into each other's eyes in the middle of a frantic escape from certain death?  Are they stupid, or what?  Run, dummies!   Along with the rating system, movies like that should carry a disclaimer:  "Warning - May Contain Snakes."  I may have trouble getting to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


I've been having great fun with all my scrap silver and the tiny crucible from Lacy Tools in Toronto.  Each melt turns out so differently and this one has kind of an organic look.  In "person" you can look at it and see a dolphin, flowers, leaves... one of these days I'll learn how to take a good picture of silver.
I put a 4 mm rhodolite garnet in the centre and a 2 mm lab-grown ruby on one side.  
Putting the stones in the bezels, I learned something important.  I either have to get a third hand and a magnifying glass or never, ever use 2 mm stones again!  I still don't know if it's right-side up or upside-down. 
Not sure what I'm going to use this piece for.  The fun was in the making.