For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Archive for the ‘Thing-a-Day 2009’ Category

…FOR THE MEMORIES!!

by solunarsilverstudio on February 28th, 2009

Well, that’s it…that’s me finished! What an experience it has been! There were certainly many days when I wondered what on earth I was doing but I am so glad I persevered and got the full 28 days posted. I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about other people. I have achieved things I didn’t think I could and created many things I would never have done had I not been spurred on by ‘Thing-a-Day. I have ‘got to grips’ with the computer…learned how to ‘post things’ on a blog and set up my own blog site at  http://www.solunarsilverstudio.wordpress.com (I can guarantee that I won’t be posting things on a daily basis….perhaps a couple of times a week…but I would love to have you ‘pop in’ to see me!!) I have opened a ‘shop’ on Artfire and another on Folksy but I haven’t got much on either of them yet…give me a couple of weeks and I’ll be filling them up. Check what I am up to on my blog!! None of the above would have been done if I hadn’t stumbled upon the TaD website sometime last year and then remembered to register!!

So, I have my (sort of) finished book of treasured comments from you lovely people as my final ‘thing’. Ok, Ok – I have to admit that it has taken just a teensy-weensy little bit longer than an hour…more like half a day(!!) to get it done, but I couldn’t not do it could I?? I have fought with my ancient sewing machine to try and get a bit of ‘free embroidery’ type action going – but it wasn’t really playing the game but I am quite satisfied with what I have done. I will do a lot of hand finishing (there is like a million threads that need cutting off!!) and sew on some little beads and things later but I hope you can see the sort of idea I am aiming for.

I am very happy with the interior….and I am sure I will dip into it often over the next eleven months, whenever I feel the need to put a smile on my face.

I’m sure it is going to feel very odd tomorrow, when I realise that I don’t have to think of anything at all to create before the midnight deadline…not that I shall be idle – I have a whole house to clean and tidy…as I have neglected it terribly for a month! I’m sure my ‘dearly beloved’ will be thrilled that February has passed!!…I haven’t told him yet that TaD happens every year!!

So, goodbye all…I hope to see you all again next February…keep busy!!

THANKS….

by solunarsilverstudio on February 27th, 2009

Day 27

I read the lovely post by ‘the-gypsy’ yesterday (day 26) about a compliment she had received and how happy it made her feel, and it reminded me how happy it has made me to read all the wonderfully upbuilding compliments you have made on my posts in the last 26 days. I thought it would be a really nice idea to collect all these comments together into a little book format so that I could ‘dip into’ it over the next eleven months (!) whenever I was feeling down or that I felt my work was not going very well…you know what I mean – we all get those days don’t we – with major creative blockages and artistic disasters!!

I have my grandson with me today – Friday I do my babysitting duties – and so I am never able to get much done that can’t be stopped and started over and over again as my little charge dictates! So this seemed like the ideal ‘thing’…arranging and printing out the comments you have posted for me on pieces of thick, cream coloured paper that I can make into a book format tomorrow. I must say that the whole thing has taken me rather longer than I expected but that is because I am still hopeless with computers and spend ages talking to myself about what I have done wrong and how I could have done it better – it must definitely be the first step to madness!!

Anyway, I think I have done it now – to the best of my ability. I might print out some pictures of what I have made over the month so that I will be able to relate comments to ‘things’ when my memory fails me(!!) but I think I will do that on photo paper and stick them in .. working out the orientation of the paper and printing them onto the back of the sheets of writing I have printed out is beyond me – and anyway, the cream coloured paper would spoil the colouring of the photographs…well that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!!

So here is my ‘thing’ for today… a small ‘thank you’ for helping me to have a great experience for my first ‘thing-a-day’.

HEARTS AND FLOWERS

by solunarsilverstudio on February 26th, 2009

Day 26

I have been really short on time again today and so have had to try to create a quick ‘thing’ out of bits and pieces I had to hand. I still had some little silver flowers on stems (which I have used for the last 2 ‘things’ and really am developing quite a love affair with!) and I had some fat, hollow heart beads that I created a mould for on day 19 and were waiting for a purpose!

I put the two items together and made these earrings. There are so many things ‘wrong’ with them that I could fill the page with it…but suffice it to say I would do them totally differently if I did them again. I think the proportions are all wrong, and I needed more wire than I had left myself to do the wrapping. And the whole thing would have looked a lot better if I had had the time to put them in the tumbler and given them a shine…….and……..well…..

I’ll leave it at that – they are not that bad after all!!!!!

FLOWER-RING

by solunarsilverstudio on February 25th, 2009

Day 25

I was not very happy with yesterday’s ‘thing’ …I thought it was a bit weak, but I really liked the little flowers that I was working with – so I sat down with a cup of tea this morning and had a play around with the flowers I had left from the batch I made yesterday.

I have to say – I am a whole lot happier with today’s offering!! As an experimental piece it certainly shows that the idea has a lot of potential. There are a few ‘wrinkles’ that need ‘ironing out’ as far as my technique goes so I will have to make a few more!!

Sorry I’m not writing any more today. I’ve just heard that my son – who is in Thailand – has had a motorbike accident. He is sort of OK, after hospital treatment, but has a lot of abrasion type injuries and a few stitches…so I’m not really in the mood to waffle on!

A TOUCH OF SUMMER

–>by solunarsilverstudio on February 24th, 2009

I have had very little time today and so have made a very simple and summery mixed media bracelet, incorporating fine silver and leather. First I made groups of 3 links from the fine silver, fusing them all closed and then I used strips of leather to create links by folding the ends of the leather strip into the centre, having linked it into the twisted silver links first, and then I stitched the leather strip together.

To add a touch of summer I made some tiny flowers from precious metal clay and embedded a length of fine silver wire into them. When I fired these flowers in the kiln the embedded wire became fused to the flowers. I used the flame from a torch to round the ends of the wire into tiny balls so that they would not scratch and then attached these flowers to the centre of the leather links by winding the wires in opposing directions around the leather strip.

I finished the bracelet with a simple toggle fastening. It is a very lightweight bracelet…not a serious bit of jewellery …just a little bit of fun….ideal for long, hot, sunny days!!

A TANGLE WITH MOBIUS

Day 23

For a while I have been looking at the work of jewellery makers who create chain maille designs. I am fascinated by it and would love to be able to produce some of my own. The only problem is that the fine (pure) silver wire that I work with is a bit weaker than sterling silver (due to it not having any copper added to it for increased strength). It is really only suitable for use in jewellery if it is fairly thick wire in the first place and if the jumprings are fused (or soldered) closed. I have thought that it is probably possible to do some of the less complex maille designs but it would need a bit of careful workmanship with the torch. When the links are so close together it is hard to direct the flame of the torch only at the join you are working on without inadvertently heating up the surrounding rings, and as the fusing technique is basically ‘controlled melting’ it is not always possible to keep an eye on the temperature of all the rings while concentrating on fusing one join. One lapse of concentration and the whole group of rings could become fused into one lump and be good for nothing but the ‘scrap bin’.

So it was with a mixture of excitement and dread that I started today’s ‘thing’ which I had decided would be a bracelet based on the Mobius ring style of chain maille. I have tried to do a Mobius ring before with partial success but to do a bracelet I needed to make several successful rings to link together in some way.

All my chains start off with a pile of open jump rings which I wind and cut myself from a reel of wire. At the beginning of every week I spend a couple of hours making hundreds of jumprings in a variety of sizes, which I hope will see me through a week of chain making. In this way I always have rings ‘in stock’ for any project I want to do. This bracelet would take 55 rings to make.

It was a fairly simple process. First I joined 2 rings together and fused the joins closed.

Then I threaded a third ring through the first two and fused that one closed.

Checking the stack was neatly arranged I then added a fourth ring which interlocked with the other three, and fused this one closed.

Finally, I threaded a fifth ring through the others. This was becoming quite a chunky stack of rings and the join in the fifth ring that I needed to fuse was getting very close to the rest of the stack!

Having successful made the Mobius rings themselves I then needed to attach the rings that would work as connectors to the rest of the chain – which in effect was adding, and fusing, ring 6 and ring 7 to the group!

I then had to decide how best to make up the chain. I laid out different permutations of jumprings and shaped rings to get an idea of how things would look and finally decided to go for a fairly simple and clean cut look.

It is not really my style of bracelet but I think it is attractive in its own way!! It doesn’t really look anything like chain maille but it has proved to me that it is possible to fuse a number of rings in close proximity so I may try to do something more complex and decorative, and ‘maille-like’ at a later date.

HERE COMES THE BRIDE’S BRACELET !!

Day 22

I thought that I would have a bit of a ‘lazy Sunday afternoon’ and complete a project that I had half started some time ago – but as it happens, it has taken me far longer than most of my other ‘things’ have! Having said that – I think my time has been well spent and I am really pleased with the outcome…see what you think.

I made a length of chain some time ago – following instructions from a book called Classical Loop-in-Loop Chains & Their Derivatives by Jean Reist Stark and Josephine Reist Smith (brilliant book!). It took me a long time to get into it and it was very fiddly and painful on the fingers – but I SO loved the chain that appeared as I worked – hour after hour!! I thought of it as my ‘Meccano’ chain because it has a square profile and there are holes on all four sides of the chain for things to poke through or attach to…so much scope for experimentation!!

It has been suggested to me that I should make some bridal jewellery and it has been in the back of my mind to use the ‘meccano’ chain for this purpose – so that was my plan for today…to turn this chain into a bracelet fit for a bride.

I had some tanzanite Swarovski bicone crystals which I wanted to incorporate into the design. I started by cutting 2 lengths of the chain with exactly the same number of links in each and fused a jumpring and a toggle to one end of the 2 chains and a jumpring and a twisted ring to the other 2 ends. I needed to do all of the torch work with this piece before adding the Swarovski crystals because I didn’t want to run the risk of damaging the crystals in the heat.

I then made some 26 gauge fine silver wire by drawing some thicker wire through my drawplate and I then twisted two pieces of this tightly together. I used this wire to literally sew the 2 chains together and included the 7 Swarovski crystals as I went along. It all sound so very simple but it was much more fiddly than I expected and got me rather ‘hot under the collar’ on more than a few occasions!!

I can’t begin to put a figure on how many hours the whole of this project has taken me from reel of wire to finished bracelet – but the bracelet is SO beautiful I will have to try it again to see if I can find a way of making the chain a bit quicker…and try it with different crystal colours…or with big, fat, freshwater pearls…and I’m sure I can speed up the ‘sewing’ part with a bit of practice!!

Although it is made from two chains the finished bracelet is actually semi-rigid and flexes beautifully around the wrist. I have only put the crystals into the centre section of this one but I’m sure it would look equally stunning if the crystals went all the way around…or if they were mounted closer together.

So many variations…so many possibilities!!

BY AN ARROW PIERCED……

Day 21

Yesterday I made some hollow heart beads, which I then made into earrings, but whilst I was making them I had the realisation that I was in charge of how these beads would finally turn out. I made an extra bead which I pierced across the diagonal of the heart instead of the more usual vertical or horizontal holes. I thought at the time that it was rather like a heart pierced by an arrow….so that is what I have done for today’s ‘thing’.

I made 5 of the hollow heart beads using the mould I had made yesterday – I have plans to use 4 of them in a bracelet design – but the other bead I wanted to turn into a pierced heart pendant. I drilled holes into the hardened pmc clay so that I had 2 holes aligned to form the diagonal piercing and a further hole in the more conventional cleft of the heart so that I could insert a hanging loop.

After the beads had fired I cut a short length of fine silver wire and created a loop with a wrapped stem. I then inserted a little pmc slip into the hole in the cleft of the heart and inserted the wire loop. I then cut some twisted fine silver wire that I had previously made by twisting two strands of very fine wire tightly together. Again, I inserted some pmc slip into the holes of the diagonal piercing and inserted one piece of twisted wire into each. I then rolled out a small piece of pmc to a thickness of 2 cards and cut out 2 rectangles and 2 triangles. I fashioned the rectangles into the ‘fletching’ (feathers) to go onto one end of the piercing and the 2 triangles were to become the arrow head.. I stuck these pieces to the front and the back of the twisted wires using pmc slip and pressed them firmly into place. When these had dried, I tidied them up a little before returning the whole pierced heart into the kiln for a second firing.

I wasn’t too sure how well these inserted wire pieces would turn out but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had fused firmly to the heart. The only problem I discovered was that the corners of the arrow head and the fletching were incredibly sharp and could probably inflict real damage!! So I have had to file these to a rounder shape.

I am really pleased with this pendant – which was really just a passing thought that has been transformed into a unique piece of jewellery.

(The heart is just under half an inch across and the arrow is just an inch long.)

‘ARTY’ HEARTY

Day 20

Friday is the day I have to look after my two and a half year old grandson, and so I am very limited with what I can do. I didn’t have to pick him up until 11.00am today and so I had a bit of time this morning to use yesterday’s mould to produce another big fat heart bead to match the one I made yesterday. I also spent a bit of time making another slightly different mould from the same original which would make a similar but slightly flatter heart that would still be hollow.

Using pmc I needed to allow the cast from the mould time to dry before I could put it into the kiln to fire, so during the morning I had to keep checking my beads to see if they were dry. When they were ready I quickly filed away the little ridge that forms at the join of the two mould pieces, drilled holes in the beads so that they could be threaded…and then they were ready to pop into the kiln.

When I was making these beads I realised that it was within my power to make them just how I wanted and so instead of drilling holes in the usual vertical or horizontal planes I decided to do the new, flatter version diagonally – as if it had been pierced by an arrow! I’m not quite sure where this will lead but it seemed like a good idea at the time!!

When I had time I unloaded the kiln and then let the beads cool down. They had turned out really well.

My grandson went home late this evening, and although I am ready to drop I have just managed to pop the big, fat heart beads onto ballpins add a couple of crystals and a turquoise bead and add earwires…all handmade…all fine (pure silver)… and take a quick photo or two, which also turned out to be surprisingly ‘arty’. I have also photographed the new, flatter bead with its diagonal piercing. Hope you like them…I’m really pleased!!!

Big Hearted Beads.

Day 19.

I found some tatty, old, stamped brass, heart shaped charms the other day which I thought looked rather pretty despite their grimy appearance. They were very thin metal but had been stamped with quite a hollow in the back. I didn’t think I would be able to take a mould of them because they were so deeply stamped. I would have liked to have made some similar charms out of pmc but it would be impractical – not to mention expensive – to cast them as solid flat backed charms and I don’t think they would have worked with me trying to follow the curved shape and produce a hollow backed piece. I hope you could follow what I was saying there!!

Anyway – an idea come to me. What if I took a mould of the patterned face of the charm and then turned the charm over and replaced it into the shape it had made in the moulding material, and then take a second cast – to create a 360 degree mould. It would then look like I had taken a mould of a big fat heart shaped bead. It was worth a try… I had one ‘big’ bead, two ‘medium’ size and two ‘small’ ones. I put them all close together and took the first mould. This worked very successfully. I then tried to reposition the charms into the impressions they had made in the moulding material. Some worked rather better than others. I think this was because the hearts were not quite as symmetrical as I thought they were and so didn’t really line up properly.

I then tried to make the pmc beads by pushing a small amount into each half of the mould and then putting a piece of damp, rolled up tissue into the centre of one side before running a little slip around the edges and then pushing the two halves of the mould together. (The idea of the damp tissue is to keep the centre of the bead hollow until it goes into the kiln to be fired.) They did come out surprisingly well. I left them to dry and then worked at filing away the ridge where the two halves joined. I then drilled a hole at the top and bottom so that the bead could be threaded and also to allow the smoke from the tissue to escape as it burned in the kiln.

I fired them in the kiln in a terracotta dish filled with vermiculite which helps to support the shape of the bead as it fires.

Both the beads have come out really well! I have not had time to burnish the silver or brush it to remove the white film that develops on pmc when it fires but I did thread them onto my hand made ball pins just to make sure that they will work as beads. If I make a few more casts from the moulds I think they will make fantastic earrings – and I’m sure I will find loads of other uses for them. A successful ‘thing’ I think!

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