effort less

Melissa is slapped down by the soldering gods. Licking her wounds, she strategizes how she might improve her performance tomorrow.

I had a day of mixed success in the studio yesterday. I was re-blasting a piece that I had attempted to colour with the microtorch last week, which hadn’t worked out. Blasting and refinishing all went fine, with the colouring that I decided upon working a treat. Re-stringing was easy too; I had decided to omit a piece of the puzzle, the effect of which changed/improved the whole look of the pendant. It was going great, until I had to solder. Four simple ends should be easy-peasy; it’s something that I have to do on practically every piece. I’m looking right now at a brooch I wore recently, and it has eight of these solder points, which is about average.

Yesterday though? Could. Not. Do.

I had many attempts, with the ends of the cable getting shorter and shorter each time (you just can’t make silver solder stick to carbon-blackened stainless steel). In the end I had to walk away, three out of four points completed.

As my littlest sister would say: “Fail. Epic fail.” (The rest of my sisters would quote John Lennon in the Beatles movie Help and say “Jeweller, you’ve failed!“)

Today I’m in hiding from the studio, doing paperwork. Cowed?… yes. Attempting to regroup for more action tomorrow? Certainly.

self sourcing

Melissa buys titanium, and calls it a successful day. Lazy? No, not exactly… Relaxed? Maybe…

So what am I doing with that drawing, you may well ask? It’s currently in the inbox of the laser-cutter, patiently awaiting the arrival of the metal through which it is to be sliced. The titanium was purchased earlier today and is currently racing by courier to catch up with the drawings. (And what of the stainless steel? Well, it enjoys a more relaxed existence at this stage… I can only assume that it is idling in a rack at the laser-cutters.)

Need titanium? I did. So I went to see Commodity Marketing and got myself a sheet of 1mm, and a 914mm length of 1.2mm wire. The sheet was grade 1, though I forgot to ask about the wire. But wait! There is tube! Though the smallest diameter that they hold stock of was about 20mm. (I would have liked some 1mm…) When speaking with the rep he acknowledged that many jewellers would like for him to stock more tube, but apparently we don’t order enough.

I saw that he had small-ish packets of the 1.2mm dia wire, and assume that the tube would be sold the same, say 50 or 100 per packet. It would be interesting to see how many are in a packet, and how many jewellers are interested in sourcing such titanium in Melbourne…

drawing is oooo-ver!

Melissa talks camera, and lights, aaaand action!

So today it’s back to… photography. There will be studio time later today, (HOORAY!) but for the moment, I’m working on shooting straight.

I have a Leica D-Lux 4 which takes a pretty good shot. I know very little about cameras, but I have several friends with Leica’s, (and one with the cheaper but identical Panasonic Lumix LX3, you know who you are!) and generally, they rave about them. I try not to, but hey, here I am now…

Having said that, I’ve had this Leica with and without a lighting setup. I have to say, the lights are probably more important than the camera. I didn’t realise back in Perth (given the unmatchable access to powerful natural light year-round) how important lighting is, so I struggled in Melbourne for a while with my previous (but still not too bad) camera.

Now I have the camera, and the modest light setup, and I can shoot this;

and turn it into this!

(hopefully there’s detectable improvement)

way down in the hole

Melissa whines about adding centre points to 1500, 0.5mm diameter holes. No sympathy please, it was her idea in the first place.

There are over 1500 holes in my latest pattern. Having drawn them all, I now have to go back and add a centre point to each of them for laser cutting. Lucky I drew them all on their own layer, or might never have found them all.

(drawing not to scale…)

questions questions…

Melissa has cause to pause and question. The question is an image; the answer… who knows?

Today an image I produced to ask a question of my laser cutter. To save costs*, I’m putting in the tabs and lead-in’s for my latest drawing.** Not all holes are drawn equal, and this one in particular is hard to define as it’s not a stand-alone void. The question is, “does this hole need a tab?”

Well? Does it?

* it’s a boring job, so if the client volunteers, why not let her do it…

**Didn’t I say it was going to sort the women from the gels?

out of Perth and back to earth

Melissa gets down and dirty… earthy… sandy…? Anyway, she’s back in Melbourne.

An explanation of my title: I’m now back in Melbourne, and am going back (all of 2.5 weeks) to what I learned in Perth at the workshop presented by Elizabeth Turrell, which was, in essence, about how to apply sand to metal.

So, what’s to know about earth then? Well, very kindly, Inari put her hand up to make an order to Thompson Enamel in the US on behalf of a few fellow Victorians. She is currently studying at RMIT and keen to keep using this process in her works for examination, so was quick off the mark with her order, which I have been told arrived yesterday. (Yup, a Sunday…)

For my order I went over to Thompson’s website where I downloaded their comprehensive catalogue (on the main page) and set about trying to find the enamels we had used during the workshop. In the end I ordered (in 8oz dry powdered form) from the section – Liquid Form Enamel, Water Base, Base Coats:
BC-1070 Medium fusing white
BC-969A Low fusing clear transparent
BC-303L Medium fusing clear transparent (not used in the workshop, I just added this one to be a completist)
and in the Liquid Form Enamel Colors:
533 White
930 Chinese Red
772 Black

Being in the possession of a sand blaster (too many posts to note sorry, do a search if you’re interested) I will be testing these enamels (once I have mixed them with water and got them paint-brush ready) on mild steel and stainless steel (why sandblast? Elizabeth suggests blasting the surface to help the enamel stick). And with any luck on some recycled pre-enameled metals as well. One of our group has already approached her local white goods retailer and been given a bounty of fridge doors to attack/beautify.

Now all I need is a kiln. Coincidentally, TurboNerd sent me a link to this little sucker yesterday. It’s maybe a little small (dimensionally and in possible heat output) for my current needs, and definitely lacking in a thermometer, but it’s perfect for my current price range…

For the moment I think I’ll attempt flame-enameling instead.