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

Posts tagged ‘fusing’

Hoop-la!

Day 14

Whoever said that Sunday is the day of rest just hasn’t got a grip on the real world!! I seem to have been constantly on the move today and getting my ‘thing’ done has been squeezed between getting organised for dinner and visiting a friend. I would have liked to have done a bit more…but at least I managed to do something!

Today, I got a little closer to finishing off that super lampwork cabouchon bead! I have already decorated two drum shaped beads by making rings out of fine silver sheet which has then been embellished with PMC (precious metal clay) slip and tiny pieces of fine silver wire twisted into scroll shapes and embedded into the PMC. I have drilled little holes in the silver bands so that a piece of wire will fit through the rings and go through the hole in the bead – which holds everything in place. I can then wire these beads onto chunky chain to make quite a statement! I rather like the effect and think it makes the glass beads look like something from antiquity. So I want to do the same sort of technique with this bigger bead.

Having cut the strip of silver sheet I fused the two ends together to make a complete ring. A little gentle teasing with a ring mandrel and it was a perfect fit on the bead. It just needs the PMC treatment now – which I hope to be able to do tomorrow – and I might even get as far as finally creating a piece of jewellery out of it!

Advertisements

“Argentium Experimentium”

Is there anyone else out there that is trying to get to grips with Argentium silver and not exactly meeting with success??  I have tried to find information on other people’s experiences with it but have come up with very little success so far…but I will keep looking!!

I am a really recent convert to making jewellery with silver so I don’t have a lot of experience of working with the metal to really know what to expect when faced with Argentium!  But I have always been one to have a go and experiment!  I love working with pure ‘fine’ silver…it is just so clean and beautiful to work with….but it is not a very strong metal.  So although I make chunky, decorative chains from fine silver and use pmc with it as well, I am very aware of its limitations. That is why I was very excited when Argentium was finally available in the UK!

I have made earwires and catches with it since July with great success but I thought it was time to get more serious with it…and I especially wanted to see how compatible it is with pmc….so I have been having a play with it this week…  Can I just say that I am pretty new with pmc as well…and am reluctant to commit large pieces of it to experimentation!!

I have had a go at annealing the Argentium with a torch – using the Sharpie trick – and just watching for a very dull red colour change in a darkened studio but found it less than successful…so this time  – after initially trying to wind it round mandrels straight from the supplier and creating a very springy spring!  – I tried annealing it in the kiln…with the door ajar to allow lots of oxygen to circulate…

After allowing it to cool a bit and quenching it – it still looked rather springy…

Trying to get it tight round a mandrel was impossible – although I taped it into place!  See the gap that sprung open as I cut through the rings!!!

Anyway – I persevered…  I have already discovered that Argentium fuses really well…doesn’t even need a flux…and amazingly it goes silver again as it reaches fusing temperature!  Can you spot the difference between the fused and non fused rings here!!!

And here is the difference between the colour of the fused rings (right) and the smaller rings that I cleaned up in pickle…

So now we have my little pmc additions.  I have previously tried attaching stars and holly leaves to elongated Argentium  jumprings using pmc slip with some success and discovered that  if the attached area is too great it causes the Argentium to distort alarmingly!   So I have been very careful of the way I have attached them this time.  The rings were real experiments where I literally only attached the rings to the back with 3 or 4 little spots of pmc slip…just to see how strong a bond this would make!

Well – you can see by the results that the rings have distorted pretty dramatically  here so obviously the Argentium has adhered pretty well to the pmc even with a few dabs of slip!!  I am still pretty shocked by the extent of the blackening of the Argentium though – considering how bright it was after fusing it!  It is so thick it is actually pinging off the surface in little flakes!!

So I plopped them all into pickle after they had all cooled down a bit! and they came out looking lovely!

But as I gathered them all together I felt a horrible crunching noise in my hand and—– disaster!!  The ring from the ivy leaf – which had distorted so much in firing had snapped!  And as I manipulated it more I discovered that not only had it snapped but that I could break the rest of the Argentium off of the pmc leaf just using my fingers – and worse still…it snapped just like a piece of dry spaghetti!!

But I plodded on with my plans and popped a bit on enamel onto the pieces that were left…only to get distracted at the vital moment and ended up leaving them in the kiln for much too long…so that wasn’t much of a success either!!  A bit of a bad day all in all!!  (And it does get worse!!)  But look again!!  …why has the Argentium not blackened this time?  I fire my pmc and my enamel at the same temperature 820 degrees C – so why did it go black when fired with pmc but not when enamel firing and accidently leaving it in a hot kiln for the same sort of time??

Having messed these up I left them to cool in the kiln and had an evening with my grandchildren before looking at the pieces this morning….and yes…I couldn’t resist a fiddle!!  I could tell that the wire was just not feeling right…no where near as fragile as the ivy leaf ring was – but obviously not good…and there we go….  A pile of so much scrap!!

The broken wire I have discovered balls up beautifully – so perhaps that is not entirely wasted…but I can’t think how to salvage the pmc!!

I don’t know what I have learned from all this yet…and would welcome any comments!!  Perhaps Argentium isn’t compatible with pmc…not with a physical bond anyway.  I am thinking that the shrinking process with the pmc3 is disturbing the Argentium when it is at its weakest and most brittle state and causing it to shatter all through.  Perhaps it can only fire with pmc at its lowest firing temperature.   Perhaps it is only safe to use it with a mechanical attachment to pmc pieces….

Perhaps I will just go back to fine silver!!

As I have said above…I would really welcome any comments…and would love to have some information on how you have found Argentium to perform in the workshop…and with pmc if you have tried it!!

If At First You Don’t Succeed….Do It 120 Times!!!

I have learnt a lot of different techniques for making jewellery over the past year or so, but the one thing I still enjoy more than anything else is making fine silver chains, using pure silver wire.  It just relaxes me so much and I can go into my own little world and make beautiful bracelets and necklaces.  But as people keep telling me..nice as they are…a chain is just a chain – there is no WOW factor…even if it has a really decorative design…it is still just a silver chain.  I know they are right.

Last Christmas, I sold quite a lot of chains that I had wired semi precious stone beads onto.  Many people think that these stones have healing powers and this made them more attractive to buyers.  I hated wiring those beads on last year.  It is one of those techniques that I just couldn’t get to grips with.   It was great to get commissions – until they said they wanted semi precious stone beads!…that really knocked the shine of it!!

Not long ago I developed a new design for a chain that I knew would make a really great basis for a beaded bracelet and it incorporates my favourite twisted link which is rapidly becomming a feature of my most popular chains.  I knew I would have to face the hated bead wiring to really make the best of this chain.  So this weekend I decided that I would do nothing else until I had made 4 beaded bracelets.

I had to make a batch of ballpins – fine silver wires with a little bead of silver fused onto one end – as it is these that the beads are wired on with.  As I planned to use around 30 beads for each bracelet that meant I needed at least 120 pins….I could put off the beading for a little bit longer!!  But inevitably – I had to face it.

I chose a range of beads that were colour co ordinated…a range of red/pink; a range of turquoise/blue; a range of greens; and a mix of blacks an reds.  Most of the beads were semi precious stones but I added some glass ones as well to add a bit of sparkle and add a variety of shapes and sizes.

The first bracelet was a trial…I was all fingers and thumbs!!  Some of the wires had to be cut off because I had not done them right but I kept on and a little over an hour later I had a beaded bracelet!!  and it looked really good!!  And you know – there is nothing that spurs you on like success!  The second one came a little easier and looked just as beautiful!  I was definitely getting into this, I had developed a technique that worked for me and it was getting easier and easier with each bead I wired.  My fourth bracelet took about 40 minutes to complete the beading…still a rather long time – but it was no longer a challenge – more an exercise.

I was actually rather upset that I had only done enough pins for four bracelets because I wanted to try a freshwater pearl and swarovski crystal one too!  I have had other commitments today and so I still haven’t had a chance to get another one done…but just try and stop me tomorrow!!  I have an idea for a necklace too!!

I have shown a few people these new bracelets and have had nothing but positive reactions…so I am really quite excited!!  Why, oh why did I put it off for so long??  If I had faced my demons back in January, after the Christmas rush, I could have had loads of lovely colourful fine silver and semi precious stone bracelets and necklaces for sale on my website ages ago!!  What a silly woman I am!!

I’d love to hear your comments on what you think of my new beaded collection of bracelets!

What a Great Week-End!!!

Wow!  Have I had a great week-end (and a bit).

For a while now I have been toying with the idea of making some fine silver rings using pmc (precious metal clay) and building them on fine silver sheet metal ring liners.  Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I won’t pay over the odds for something I can do myself – so I bought some fine silver sheet with the determination to make my own ring liners rather than buy them at twice the cost (plus postage of course!!) from some other supplier.

Over the weekend I had a go at making a couple of rings with the fine silver sheet – cutting, shaping and fusing the join – and made a pretty decent job of it – if I say so myself!!  I then went on to produce two designs in pmc on these ring liners – and that really did make my day because they worked out so well!!

Since it all went so well I had another go yesterday and did a couple more rings…building up the pmc and fine silver designs.  I fired them in the kiln this morning and was even more pleased …because I was able to produce another couple of really good rings…but I felt something was missing…

…you see that one second from the left… inspired by the 40th anniversary of the moon landings –  I felt my ‘moon craters’ needed a little something in them.  I knew that I had some enamel powder somewhere – so I went digging around and found some transparent blue.  Now it has been a while since I last did some – not too successful – enamelling, but since these rings were only experiments for me to wear I took the plunge and filled my little craters with the enamel powder and popped the ring  into the kiln.

I’m really glad I went for it because I am just so pleased with the way it has turned out!!  I can only get better with these techniques…I just need some practice…but boy! am I happy with my week -end’s work!!

I’d love to hear your comments!!

Big, Fat Raspberries!

Well, they may well be eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, washed down with champagne…but I’ve got nothing to complain about!

My little 5 foot by 7 foot studio (workshop) takes up about a quarter of my tiny postage stamp of a back garden but I believe in making that little patch of soil work for me!  Over the last 12 years or so I have planted a rhubarb crown (divided many times since and shared around!), a thorn less blackberry, 2 blackcurrant bushes, 3 red current bushes, 5 blueberry bushes, a gooseberry bush (which is yet to bear fruit so it had better watch out!), a little herb garden with 4 types of mint in pots, 2 types of thyme, chives, marjoram, sage, rosemary, bergamot, horseradish and angelica.  This summer I have also planted out in pots 4 tomato plants and 2 courgette plants.  But as you gardeners out there would know…the raspberry cane I bought about 4 years ago hasn’t stayed where it was planted!!  This year – because I have been too busy with Solunar Silver Studio to do much maintenance in the garden I left the raspberry runners to do much as they wanted and they have crept through the soil unchallenged and taken over the whole place!! …their days are numbered – but not before I take all the lovely fruit off of them.

Over the past few days, as the weather here in England has been warming up more and more, I have taken to wandering out of my studio between silver fusing activities to have a bit of a break and I have indulged myself by plucking a handfull of raspberries straight off the plant and popping them in my mouth – still warm from the sun and oh, so fragrant!  What little treasures!

Today the weather has been really hot and heavy as we wait for the promised thunder storm to break.  For lunch I sat on my tiny 2 flag stone ‘patio’ under my little strip of canopy and sipped a cup of tea.  As I drank I looked over to the straggly raspberry area and saw how many raspberries had ripened over night.  A little more than a handful I can tell you! – so after I had finished my tea I collected a plastic punnet from the kitchen and began to pick.  There was hardly a breath of wind and the heat from the sun was making the sweet aroma from the raspberries hang in the air – quite intoxicating!  It took me about a quarter of an hour to seek out the majority of the ripened fruit and by the time I had finished my fingers were running red with the raspberry juice.  How delightful the simple things in life can be!!

There will be a few more punnets of raspberries before this year’s crop is exhausted and then we will move onto the blackberries, which are currently still green, and so on through the summer.

I will make something of the raspberries this evening to eat after dinner – but much of this year’s bumper crop will end up as jam – to continue to delight the senses throughout the winter.  Nothing can beat the intensity of flavour of home made raspberry jam!

I will uproot many of the raspberry runners after the crop has finished and share them around so that others can enjoy the same experience next year.  I know my 6 year old granddaughter and her 8 yer old brother are fascinated by the whole process of soft fruit growing (and eating!!)  so I will definitely be giving some to their Mum to plant!

My Dad learned all about gardening from his Dad and I learned from him…now it’s my turn to pass the baton down to the next generation or two!  That’s how life is!

Happy Day ‘Hippy’ Bracelet

Today has been a great day!!  My son came home from his 3 week holiday in Thailand – where he had a motorbike accident on day 3.  I was so relieved to see him in much better condition than I expected.  He still has stitches that need removing and is missing a tooth but otherwise he is fine and I am so relieved and happy to have him home!!

Secondly,  I have managed to get the bracelet that I wanted to make from my pmc (precious metal clay) squares and flowers more or less done.  I have one and a half grams of pmc left so it was a close run thing.  I would like to put a catch on that is sympathetic to the design but I don’t have enough pmc left for that so for now I will have to put one of my usual toggles on it and swap it over when I get my new supply of pmc in.

I am very pleased with it although it has been a real trial to put together.  There is so much silver in it and the jumprings pass quite tightly through the holes I drilled in the pmc that it has been almost impossible to get the jumprings up to melting temperture with my torch…the rest of the bracelet has been acting as a sort of ‘heat sink’ and preventing the joining rings from fusing.  I have learned a lot from doing it and have decided to modify the design when I do it again to see if it makes any difference,  I must find a way round it because I really love the design idea.  I think the random numbers of flowers and the random arrangement on the bracelet ‘links’ works really well.  It has a lovely open look and would look brilliant as a piece of summer jewellery….and has a sort of ‘hippy’ look to it.

Well – I like it…do you??

Tag Cloud