Friday, January 30, 2015

Serendipity or The Benefits of Knowing Many Techniques




Today I was going to show you beautiful bronze earrings with sterling posts that I had soldered to the earring.  The earrings were going to have Mojave Stones in a bronze bezel and I was going to feel so smug about putting all those things together.  Instead I’m going to share what really happened!

First I need to tell you that a client wanted earrings to match a necklace I made a year ago.  I said I would try.  In order to even come close to success I would need to practice by making several similar pair of earrings.  After this experience, my advice to myself would be:  make the earrings at the same time as the necklace.  There are too many variables possible.

I still had Goldie Bronze hard and soft clay left from the original necklace.  Rio Grande carried bronze bezel and bronze solder so I ordered that.  Next I made the earring backgrounds from the Goldie Bronze clay and I added leaves and flowers and stems.  After sanding they looked good.  I had not used my kiln lately so I read through the settings and put my bronze creations in charcoal and fired them in two stages in the kiln.  5 pieces came out great.  1 broke in half and since it was only 2 playing cards thick I made another to replace it. 

Earring on right is the one I remade.  It is right out of the kiln.  The stone is Mojave Stone.

Next the bezels.  Bezels are really difficult for me and I need lots of practice.  The bronze bezel wire was cut and fitted to the stones.  I have an acetylene torch and thought that would be good to use with the bronze as it is hotter than butane.  Fortunately I practiced before using the real pieces because the solder did not melt and the bronze bezel did. That is going to take more research and practice.  I moved on to silver solder, the bronze bezel and the torch.  That worked!  At least I thought the bond was tight. And the stone fit the bezel – always a good thing! 

Things were looking good.  The sterling posts went on beautifully with silver solder.  The stone needed to be set and I got my tools out. 


Backs of Earrings

I found the bronze bezel hard to bend to the stone and in fact, the bezel started to come loose at the join as I pushed the metal to the stone.  Hmmm!  I tried another stone and same thing happened.  The solder joint was tight until I pushed the bezel forward to hold the stone. 

As you can tell by now, several hours had passed and I did not want to start over.  What to do?  I certainly cannot use the stones and if I clean everything, remove the bezel and take off the back posts (which would not be reusable) I wasn't sure anything would improve. 

Well, it happens that I have polymer canes that I made and stored for serendipitous moments!  This was one of those!  I made cabochons for the earrings instead of stones.  I hid the bezel problem and finished the 2 pair of earrings that I am happy with.  Yes!  I have more to learn but not tonight.  I’m glad I was able to think of a solution that worked for me.

I’m going to try setting the bezel wire in bronze clay before firing and see how that works.  I’m also going to figure out how to gently bend the bezel to a stone.  If any of you have information or experience with this, please share it with me!  I am a determined woman! 






Friday, January 23, 2015

Connections in My World

Necklace with many connections!






Connections have always fascinated me.  People meeting people, learning how materials can be made to work together, finding the same shapes over and over in nature, using the same information in many contexts and - cold connections in jewelry, connection of notes in music!  Connections are everywhere!




I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me see connections in history and look at my world a little differently.



One of the books that has caught my interest and become a favorite is The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay.  Not only does the cover with all the stacks of colors catch my attention but the author’s method of using one or two pages to tell the fascinating history of a color works well for me.
I can pick up the book, read about ‘Greek White’ and learn the historical facts that I’ve previously overlooked. 

For instance, I knew early Greek and Roman sculptors and builders used bright colors on marble that faded with time.  What I did not know was that in the 15th century forward, dealers of antiquity would use scalpels to scrape off any remaining color or wash the items in an acid bath.  It seems that wealthy patrons wanted their classical sculptures to be ‘Greek White’.

Each color has such fascinating history that I had not known about.   And interesting questions like “Where do pirates go when they retire?”  This is a terrific book with great pictures and stories and I’m so glad I bought it.

It reminded me of the PBS series ‘Connections’ that kind of does the same thing.  The series would start with a scene and then connect many different topics to explain how we got from point A to point B. 


The Pinball Effect by James Burke is another book I love to pick up and read because it can be read in many ways. http://www.amazon.com/The-Pinball-Effect-Renaissance-Carburetor/dp/0316116106

I can start at the beginning and go to the end (which I never do in this book). Or I can start with a page and watch for a ‘gateway’ (coordinates next to a word) and go to that place in the book.  There are so many ways to read this book and get information and a different experience.  On page 245, Chapter 18 ‘Bright Ideas’ talks about the fizz in fizzy water that Priestly invented in 1777 and how it was good for every infirmity- even tuberculosis and cholera.  At that point I can skip to page 14 and read about Rowland Hill (a teacher in Priestly’s Sunday school) who set up a new kind of academy with a science laboratory.  These two seemingly unconnected events really were). The book is based on the idea that we all live on a web of change and we are linked to each other and everything in the past.


Maybe the reason I like these books and programs is that my mind kind of works along the same lines.  I’m interested in many things and often one thing leads to another and another.  I used to think I just had a short attention span.  Now I realize there are so many things to learn and so many interconnections.  There are so many ways I can transfer knowledge and techniques from one thing to another.  Everything I have learned in the past can be used if I am open to the connections and can remember to let them flow!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cleaning Out the Library


A Section!
Cleaning out my book library is taking quite a bit of time since I have to hold the book, open it, think about when and why I bought it. My books are friends!  I have to decide to keep the book or share it with someone else.  I tend to group my books by subjects and my changing interests are pretty obvious. 

 In 2002, I was deciding if I wanted to be a woodworker.  My late husband had all the tools and many books about woodworking.  I made wood sculptures in college and loved the touch of wood.  I took an apprenticeship for a few months and what I found was that I love wood.  I love using hand tools but the resin in the wood played havoc with my sinus and lungs.  I kept the tools and Peter loves using them.  I kept the books until I was ready to let someone else use them and now I’m selling them on Amazon.

Weaving is another section in my library.  I’ve taken tapestry weaving classes, Navajo weaving classes and pattern weaving classes.  I’ve washed and carded wool and spun it into yarn.  I’ve woven that yarn into fabric and made clothes and blankets and place mats.  I’ve the books to prove it!  Last year I sold my loom, used my yarn and am now donating my weaving books to the local yarn shop. 

Interior Design was my profession for 30 some years.  When I retired I donated many of my books to the local ASID Student Chapter.  I sold some.  I kept some and now I’ve several more to sell. 

Cookbooks!  I have cookbooks because I like to read the recipes.  Once in a while I’ll actually use one to cook.  So every time I go through that section, a few more books leave the shelf.

Now that my interests run toward design and jewelry making, my shelves are filling up with those books.  And there is a section on color, on birds and yes, I even have a few novels and non-fiction books. 


I discover books that I’ve not read or want to re-read!  Next post I just have to tell you about my favorite book of the moment The Brilliant History of Color in Art

Friday, January 30, 2015

Serendipity or The Benefits of Knowing Many Techniques




Today I was going to show you beautiful bronze earrings with sterling posts that I had soldered to the earring.  The earrings were going to have Mojave Stones in a bronze bezel and I was going to feel so smug about putting all those things together.  Instead I’m going to share what really happened!

First I need to tell you that a client wanted earrings to match a necklace I made a year ago.  I said I would try.  In order to even come close to success I would need to practice by making several similar pair of earrings.  After this experience, my advice to myself would be:  make the earrings at the same time as the necklace.  There are too many variables possible.

I still had Goldie Bronze hard and soft clay left from the original necklace.  Rio Grande carried bronze bezel and bronze solder so I ordered that.  Next I made the earring backgrounds from the Goldie Bronze clay and I added leaves and flowers and stems.  After sanding they looked good.  I had not used my kiln lately so I read through the settings and put my bronze creations in charcoal and fired them in two stages in the kiln.  5 pieces came out great.  1 broke in half and since it was only 2 playing cards thick I made another to replace it. 

Earring on right is the one I remade.  It is right out of the kiln.  The stone is Mojave Stone.

Next the bezels.  Bezels are really difficult for me and I need lots of practice.  The bronze bezel wire was cut and fitted to the stones.  I have an acetylene torch and thought that would be good to use with the bronze as it is hotter than butane.  Fortunately I practiced before using the real pieces because the solder did not melt and the bronze bezel did. That is going to take more research and practice.  I moved on to silver solder, the bronze bezel and the torch.  That worked!  At least I thought the bond was tight. And the stone fit the bezel – always a good thing! 

Things were looking good.  The sterling posts went on beautifully with silver solder.  The stone needed to be set and I got my tools out. 


Backs of Earrings

I found the bronze bezel hard to bend to the stone and in fact, the bezel started to come loose at the join as I pushed the metal to the stone.  Hmmm!  I tried another stone and same thing happened.  The solder joint was tight until I pushed the bezel forward to hold the stone. 

As you can tell by now, several hours had passed and I did not want to start over.  What to do?  I certainly cannot use the stones and if I clean everything, remove the bezel and take off the back posts (which would not be reusable) I wasn't sure anything would improve. 

Well, it happens that I have polymer canes that I made and stored for serendipitous moments!  This was one of those!  I made cabochons for the earrings instead of stones.  I hid the bezel problem and finished the 2 pair of earrings that I am happy with.  Yes!  I have more to learn but not tonight.  I’m glad I was able to think of a solution that worked for me.

I’m going to try setting the bezel wire in bronze clay before firing and see how that works.  I’m also going to figure out how to gently bend the bezel to a stone.  If any of you have information or experience with this, please share it with me!  I am a determined woman! 






Friday, January 23, 2015

Connections in My World

Necklace with many connections!






Connections have always fascinated me.  People meeting people, learning how materials can be made to work together, finding the same shapes over and over in nature, using the same information in many contexts and - cold connections in jewelry, connection of notes in music!  Connections are everywhere!




I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me see connections in history and look at my world a little differently.



One of the books that has caught my interest and become a favorite is The Brilliant History of Color in Art by Victoria Finlay.  Not only does the cover with all the stacks of colors catch my attention but the author’s method of using one or two pages to tell the fascinating history of a color works well for me.
I can pick up the book, read about ‘Greek White’ and learn the historical facts that I’ve previously overlooked. 

For instance, I knew early Greek and Roman sculptors and builders used bright colors on marble that faded with time.  What I did not know was that in the 15th century forward, dealers of antiquity would use scalpels to scrape off any remaining color or wash the items in an acid bath.  It seems that wealthy patrons wanted their classical sculptures to be ‘Greek White’.

Each color has such fascinating history that I had not known about.   And interesting questions like “Where do pirates go when they retire?”  This is a terrific book with great pictures and stories and I’m so glad I bought it.

It reminded me of the PBS series ‘Connections’ that kind of does the same thing.  The series would start with a scene and then connect many different topics to explain how we got from point A to point B. 


The Pinball Effect by James Burke is another book I love to pick up and read because it can be read in many ways. http://www.amazon.com/The-Pinball-Effect-Renaissance-Carburetor/dp/0316116106

I can start at the beginning and go to the end (which I never do in this book). Or I can start with a page and watch for a ‘gateway’ (coordinates next to a word) and go to that place in the book.  There are so many ways to read this book and get information and a different experience.  On page 245, Chapter 18 ‘Bright Ideas’ talks about the fizz in fizzy water that Priestly invented in 1777 and how it was good for every infirmity- even tuberculosis and cholera.  At that point I can skip to page 14 and read about Rowland Hill (a teacher in Priestly’s Sunday school) who set up a new kind of academy with a science laboratory.  These two seemingly unconnected events really were). The book is based on the idea that we all live on a web of change and we are linked to each other and everything in the past.


Maybe the reason I like these books and programs is that my mind kind of works along the same lines.  I’m interested in many things and often one thing leads to another and another.  I used to think I just had a short attention span.  Now I realize there are so many things to learn and so many interconnections.  There are so many ways I can transfer knowledge and techniques from one thing to another.  Everything I have learned in the past can be used if I am open to the connections and can remember to let them flow!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cleaning Out the Library


A Section!
Cleaning out my book library is taking quite a bit of time since I have to hold the book, open it, think about when and why I bought it. My books are friends!  I have to decide to keep the book or share it with someone else.  I tend to group my books by subjects and my changing interests are pretty obvious. 

 In 2002, I was deciding if I wanted to be a woodworker.  My late husband had all the tools and many books about woodworking.  I made wood sculptures in college and loved the touch of wood.  I took an apprenticeship for a few months and what I found was that I love wood.  I love using hand tools but the resin in the wood played havoc with my sinus and lungs.  I kept the tools and Peter loves using them.  I kept the books until I was ready to let someone else use them and now I’m selling them on Amazon.

Weaving is another section in my library.  I’ve taken tapestry weaving classes, Navajo weaving classes and pattern weaving classes.  I’ve washed and carded wool and spun it into yarn.  I’ve woven that yarn into fabric and made clothes and blankets and place mats.  I’ve the books to prove it!  Last year I sold my loom, used my yarn and am now donating my weaving books to the local yarn shop. 

Interior Design was my profession for 30 some years.  When I retired I donated many of my books to the local ASID Student Chapter.  I sold some.  I kept some and now I’ve several more to sell. 

Cookbooks!  I have cookbooks because I like to read the recipes.  Once in a while I’ll actually use one to cook.  So every time I go through that section, a few more books leave the shelf.

Now that my interests run toward design and jewelry making, my shelves are filling up with those books.  And there is a section on color, on birds and yes, I even have a few novels and non-fiction books. 


I discover books that I’ve not read or want to re-read!  Next post I just have to tell you about my favorite book of the moment The Brilliant History of Color in Art