Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Worktable

Today I'm continuing to work on a metal pendant, based on a project in Beaded Colorways, by Beverly Gilbert. I started this pendant on Saturday, worked on it all day yesterday, and still have quite a way to go before it's done. It never, ever, ceases to amaze me how these projects take so much longer than you think they will when you start them!

This is how the back of the pendant looks this morning - I am almost embarrassed to show this picture. You may not be able to tell from this picture, but I actually DO plan my pieces ahead of time, with paper templates and everything, to anticipate pitfalls they may occur during the design process (like rivets falling into the middle of my stamped lettering!) - and that's just the most obvious issue in the photo above!)

I wanted to combine copper and silver, and since the sheet silver is so expensive, I decided to use aluminum again. I used aluminum to make a metal cuff a couple of months ago, and it was very easy to work with.

On Saturday, I took out pen, pencil, and shape templates, and cut out some shapes I wanted to play with. I settled on a triangle and a rectangle, and had to decide which would be copper and which would be aluminum. When I first decided to make this project (the previous evening, during my long car ride home from the shop) I remembered from the metal cuff that the aluminum does NOT take liver of sulfur (LOS) patina, so I made a mental note to make sure that the piece I stamped would be the copper, since stampings really need the LOS in order to show up well.

By the time I was playing with my cut out shapes on Saturday, that mental note was long gone. Sigh.

One side of the pendant was to be stamped, and the other side, beaded. I have selected some ocean-y mixes of blue and green seed beads, and with no further thought to the stamping, and the patina issue, I concentrated on whether the seed beads would be best displayed against a copper or a silver background. Of course, blues look great on silver. But blues and greens look fabulous on copper, so I decided the front triangle would be copper. A decision that impacted everything else that followed!

I cut my metal shapes out, and sanded them to remove all the rough edges. I did some texturing with the chasing hammer. Then it was time to create some holes in the copper triangle to set anchors for the seed beads (these holes aren't visible in the pic above - the idea was to use the aluminum piece to cover the anchoring infrastructure from the back, and the seed beads will cover them from the front.

Once I had done the wiring for the seed bead design, it was time to stamp the pendant. Stamping is not one of my favorites; it seems like the letters never go where I want them to, or I don't hit quite hard enough, or something. And if you make a mistake stamping, you can't exactly erase it and start over!  I had also chosen quite a bit of lettering to stamp, which had to fit in a fairly small area, so that the impression on the reverse of the stamped side would be covered by the copper triangle in front.

I marked where all the edges would be when the piece is assembled - this gave me the outline for the stamping area. I should have done this step on my paper templates - that would have saved me from putting stamped letters where I would later need to rivet! But, I didn't - oh, well!

To further help me with the stamping placement, after drawing some parallel lines to help keep the lettering straight(er), I actually hand wrote the letters on the metal with an extra fine Sharpie. I knew the Sharpie ink would get pounded into the aluminum, but figured I could still clean it off with acetone, and then scrub the pendant really well with comet to remove the acetone before I tried to patina with LOS. See how I remembered my previous bad experience with the LOS and the acetone, and took it into my planning process? Notice how I've completely forgotten that the aluminum won't take the LOS? Sigh.

Whew! Got the letters stamped into the tiny space! Only mis-hit 2 of them. One, the "M" in "mind" - the first half of the "M" didn't stamp, and I was able to fix this by carefully scribing the impression with my awl. The second mistake - I was holding the "R" for "heart" sideways (oops!), so if you look closely, you can see the sideways "R" I stamped. And yes, I stamped over it to fix it. Duh. But I was still hoping that the LOS (THAT WILL NOT EVEN WORK HERE) would cover up this mistake. Like the LOS would be smart enough to only go into the right-side-up "R" and not the sideways "R". Sometimes I wonder about me.

Only 2 mistakes stamping, and one of them was due to me holding the stamp wrong? That is some kind of record for me - I am terrible at stamping! This is what I attribute my success to (sorry for ending a sentence in a preposition!):

 dead blow hammer

I have tons of hammers, and have tried many for stamping, but none improved my success. Then I read somewhere about the dead blow hammer, and I figured, "Why not?" I forked out the dough, ordered it, received it, and stored it away. 'Cause I just don't stamp that often - maybe because of my previous bad luck with it? But this hammer was the only thing different about my stamping process yesterday, and I can't argue with success. Every letter, except one, did beautifully! Now, if only I could learn to line up the letters a little straighter!

After the stamping, it was time to rivet the 2 pieces together. Riveting is NOT my forte. I just cannot seem to get the rivets to flare out and hold. So I avoid riveting like the plague.

I drilled holes from my rivets. I determined the placement by looking at the copper triangle - the front of the pendant. Because that was the side that would show, so I figured placement from the front was important. I could have gotten by with 4 rivets, but 5 "looked" better. So I drilled 5 big old holes in the copper triangle, and then placed the copper triangle over the aluminum rectangle, and marked holes on the aluminum through the ones I just drilled in the copper. I drilled those new holes in the aluminum, and THEN flipped it over to sand them, and noticed the stamping. Huh. How did that get there!? I had completely forgotten already (in 30 minutes) about all the stamping. Now, there was a hole in one of my "H"s, and in the "E" in "the", and my favorite - almost exactly in the middle of the "O" in "ocean". If I had planned it that way, I never could have lined it up like that. But if I had planned it out more with my paper shapes, I would have allotted room for the rivets before I stamped. Live and learn! I can still read the lettering, so I'm forging ahead with the design!.

The next step is the patina - and it is just about now that I remembered I can't use LOS. I need something to make the letters pop, so that is my first task this morning. I'm going to play (on some scrap aluminum) with various other patinas I have on hand, and see if I can make something work.

After that, it's on the the beading - my favorite part!

Happy Wednesday! What's on YOUR worktable?

1 comment:

dreaminofbeads / SAS Jewelry Designs said...

Looks good, maybe try some Gilders Paste, that may sink into the letters and you can wipe off the rest?!?