Thursday, January 31, 2013

Using Crimp Bead-Set Stones in Your Wirework

Wirework Magazine's Facebook page was nice enough to link to my last blog, so I thought we'd explore a way to use the crimp bead set stones in your wirework...with no soldering!

It's my way of saying thank you for supporting my renewed effort to blog this year and a way to celebrate both my 500th fan on my Facebook page and my exciting news at the end of this blog!

While, it would be much easier to dangle a beautiful crystal bead, there is just something special and satisfying about incorporating a truly hand made item into your work, especially if you've just spent time creating the rest of your piece, like the dogwood flower in the photo below (hint...foreshadowing my exciting news).

1. Slide the crimp bead onto a toothpick and use the smallest dimple pliers to "center punch" a divet about a quarter of the way down the tube. Do this gently, you don't want to mishapen the crimp bead, just simply provide a well for the drill bit to sit into.

2. Hold down or tape the toothpick and use an approx .8mm drill bit (1/32 or a #65 - thanks to Tim McCreights Metalsmith Suite app for the conversions), to drill a hole through one or both sides of the tubing (depending on if you are creating a dangle or a connector. You can feed the tubes onto a 12g wire if you want to ensure that they are still completely circular, necessary to set the stone.

3. Feed a one-inch 22g or 24g headpin into the tube and through the hole you just drilled. You will need to place a slight angle in the pin to get it to feed through smoothly.

4. Wire wrap a loop, tightly, so the tube doesn't spin.

(If you are making a connector, make a wire wrap loop on one end of a 2" piece of wire, feed through both holes in the tube and make a wire wrapped loop with the other end of the wire.).

5. Now, follow the directions for setting the stone found in my last blog. Since the tube is not annealed, you may find it easiest to set the stone by giving the setting punch a light tap-tap-tap with a hammer.

Ok, now to my news! I received my book in the mail! Metal Jewelry in Bloom is printed and ready to go soon. The book is beautiful and they even had some lovely hand water-colored illustration of flowers made to go with my metal creations. The book will be available through most major booksellers, Kalmbach and my website (where you can find an exclusive bundle of the book with a CD of digital templates).

Look for some sneak peaks (and an exact release date) in my next blog this weekend.

Thanks for letting me share my news!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crimp Tube Stone Setting

Amphitrite's Ring: Sea glass, sterling silver, brass, 23K gold metal leaf, vermeil, cubic zirconium and Faux Bone
(inspired by a new book on sea glass jewelry by Eva Sherman and Beth Martin - coming later this year!)

I love the accent that a small tube-set stone adds to any design but have always been frustrated to find that I never have compatible tubing, stones and setting burs. This lead me to seek a way to "standardize" the materials I use to streamline the whole process. For me, the least expensive and efficient way was to purchase the following from Rio Grande (prices approx).
This allows me to set 100 stones in Sterling silver for just $0.22 each with a one-time investment of $43 in tools. The disadvantage is that I have only found the stones in clear.

Most often, I am soldering a crimp tube on top of a rivet or screw (they fit perfectly on the brass Crafted Findings rivets) so that I can add a faceted stone to a material that can't be soldered, such as Faux Bone, nylon or glass (shown above). This is very easily accomplished, even if you have no soldering experience.

  • Insert the rivet into a kiln brick or Solderite pad 
  • Set the crimp tube near the rivet
  • Warm the area around the tube and rivet with a torch (to slightly heat the two)
  • Spray on a healthy coat of Firescoff, as directed (be sure to flip the tube over and get inside)
  • Use tweezers to center the crimp tube on top of the rivet
  • Drop in a small solder chip (I use medium
  • Heat the area around the tube until the solder has flowed

The Firescoff, if applied correctly, will act as a flux and prevent firescale, that way, you don't have to use a pickling solution. This also anneals the metal, allowing you to set the stone more easily.

Once the piece is soldered, drill a hole in a piece of wood or Faux Bone and insert the rivet, allowing the tube to sit flat. Hold the tube with crimp pliers and use a setting bur on a flexshaft to create a well for the stone to sit just below the rim of the tube. Set the stone in, making sure it is flat, and with a quick twist of the setting tool the rim of the tube is perfectly burnished over the edge of the stone! (see more info in the comments section about how/when to set the rivets).

The stone setting system above is definitely an economy version and I damaged several of the larger ones when I tried to use them to set larger stones...but for this operation, they work perfectly.

I have done the same with gold filled and copper 3X3 crimp beads, but found with the copper I needed to go up in size with the stones and bur (2.75) since the hole size is larger (.09). It also worked with 2X2 crimps and very tiny stones...but my eyes are too old to keep playing with those!

Thanks for stopping by and create recklessly this week.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trailer Hitch Anticlastic: Two Ways

Dyed Faux Bone (left), Copper with Inked Faux Bone strips and brass wire/beads (right)

I've noodled ways to create an anticlastic-style Faux Bone bracelet for the last couple of years but have never come up with something that worked consistently. However, while roaming the aisles of a hardware store (as I do at least once a week), I came across a giant display of different trailer hitches, all priced at about $8. The department manager eyed me picking each one up, inspecting each to see how even and deep the well between the ball and screw were. He asked me if I needed help and when I explained what I was doing he said, "Oh, you're one of those." (Come on everyone, admit it. You, too, torture well-intentioned hardware store clerks with tales of how you are going to make jewelry with their wares.)

After finding the perfect hitch, I attached it to my table at home and began to hammer away on copper. It didn't take too long to find a sure fire way to get a bangle every time, in about 15 minutes! While my first half dozen were very rough, I got better and better at getting smoother shapes. It is a great exercise for understanding how metal moves. I played around with different designs... open bracelets, rippled edges, rolled edges that trap beads. I then moved on to my original intention of working with the Faux Bone.

Using my copper form, I was able to heat and form a Faux Bone bracelet blank around the form. It took a few tries and a few tricks to get it right, but once I figured it out, I could repeat it over and over again. They look great worn together and you can make interchangeable Faux Bone strip bracelets to go in the center well of the bangles. I am so jazzed about this new and inexpensive technique and hope to bring it to a classroom soon. If you get a chance to try it out at home, send me a picture of what you make. Would love to see what you create...recklessly!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Proof of Concept: Powder Coating

Littered throughout my studio are various pieces that I call my “proof of concept” samples. Often when I go down to the studio to create recklessly, I don’t make something with the intention of creating a perfect, final product. I just want to see if I can get the concept to work.

A few months ago, I took a powder coating class with the fabulous Rachel Shimpcock who travelled up to Danaca Design (she will be returning there on March 30 and 31). I could only stay a few hours of the class but it gave me the basics I needed to start experimenting. My mind was racing the whole drive home and before I even walked through my door I had determined my first challenge.

I wanted to powder coat rods in all different colors and insert them between two sheets of 1/8” thick Faux Bone that had holes drilled on the edge. The fist step was to figure out how to powder coat wire or rods so that they stood up and didn’t have a flat side. Having learned in class that baking silicone is a good fit for powder coating since it can take the heat required and the powders do not stick to them, I started with the baking section at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Immediately I found a silicone steamer, which had a base filled with holes. I cut it apart and screwed another piece of the silicone beneath the holes so the wires would not drop through and it made the perfect rod stand.

After creating 30+ powder coated wires I was so excited I threw two pieces of Faux Bone into a vise and begin drilling using my flexshaft. Of course, I should have used my drill press, but I didn’t. I was just too excited to get some holes in those suckers. They were a mess of crooked holes that occasionally pierced through the sides, but it allowed me to move on. Then, instead of unpacking my heat gun from my last teaching gig, I just shoved the rods into the holes (even using a hammer now and again) and of course, cracked the powder coats at the edges. But I got the pieces put together. Then I heatformed the cuff to see how it would bend with all the rods in it. It worked perfectly and I had a confirmed proof of concept.

 Now I was really excited. I grabbed a fourth cup of coffee and set off to make the final piece! I planned to first dye my Faux Bone solid black. I unpacked my heat gun, set the depth of the drill bit on my drill press, lined up the vise and I was ready to go. One problem. I had been so busy teaching I had completely decimated my stock of Faux Bone. I had no 1/8” thick stock in the studio. Anywhere. And it was 2am so I couldn’t call my friends or drop over to Fusion Beads, which carries Faux Bone. Sigh…it was time to go to bed. But alas, that fourth cup of coffee kicked in and I ended up watching the Real Housewives of some East coast city at the wee hours of the morning. Good grief.

I will get back to this piece as soon as I can and look forward to sharing the result!!