Thursday, May 2, 2013

5x5 Metal Component Challenge Reveal, Chapter 1 (The filigree ring)

Last week, I told you about the Artisan Whimsy 5x5 Metal Component Challenge: 5 members of Artisan Whimsy were randomly chosen to design with 5 different mystery metal components (we all received the same 5 components.)

Our results are published in the May issue of Bead Chat Magazine.

May, 2013, issue of Bead Chat Magazine. Our 5x5 challenge is showcased on pp 21-26 

I'm breaking down my blog reveal  into 5 parts, because y'all know how I tend to ramble on (and on) with the details....

Here's the pic of the 5 components that was posted in on Artisan Whimsy:

These components were generously provided by Heather Marston - thanks, Heather!

Between the time I learned I was chosen for the challenge and the time I received the components, I kept looking at this pic, trying to "pre-design," to coin a word. We all do that right - when shopping in a bead shop, you see a great bead, and try to imagine designs in your head, right? Well, this was only slightly different - I only had a photo to work with, but still....the suspense was killing me, and I knew we didn't have long to work with these components before the deadline, so I was worried about the time crunch. Hence: imaginary designing in my head: "predesigning."

In my head, the filigreed ring at middle left above was about an inch in diameter, and the copper ring (with those crazy triangular notches) beside it slightly smaller - like a large beadcap. I had all kinds of ideas for that copper beadcap, and the filigreed ring, too!

And then the components arrived.

They are huge. HUGE!
5x5 metal challenge components, with a dime for size reference

One thing participants were asked to do, in addition to testing and designing with these components, was to describe our thoughts and processes as we worked with the pieces. Here are some of my initial thoughts:
  • OMG, these are HUGE.
  • This giant filigree ring is SPLIT!
  • There's only one of each of these components, so I can't screw up.
  • There's only one of each of these components, so I can't make earrings (unless I suddenly meet a pirate).
  • The square copper thing is really thick, and its holes are so tiny!
  • What the hell is this "X" thing, and what am I going to do with it?
  • What have I gotten myself into to now??!?
The filigreed ring was 47mm wide (almost 2 inches) - and the copper disc? 38 mm - that would be one giant beadcap!

I spent a lot of time just turning the pieces over in my hands, and playing with them on the workbench. Placing them beside each other, thinking ... and not accomplishing much! I acted like they were some sort of metal Rubik's Cube, and if I just got them in the right configuration, they would magically come together and reveal all. And it's funny, but several other people that saw them did the same thing! Weird.

I decided I needed to just dive in, and since the filigreed ring was the most familiar piece, I'd start there.

The ring itself was large (47mm), open, and flimsy - in order to be usable, I had to get it securely closed, so I decided to try wiring it together:

 I knew that whatever technique I used to close it, my results would still show, so I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. I used a small piece of craft wire, and wrapped it through a couple of the ring's holes, a couple of times, carefully tucking the ends in. This was a really tight fit - the ring may be large, but the holes are tiny!

OK - what now?

I thought about beadweaving - just embellishing, and embellishing, and turning it into a pendant. Much like the way I embellished this (much smaller) Vintaj Natural Brass filigreed ring to make a ring for a beaded toggle:

Beadweaven toggle (beadweaving on a filigree ring)

But one of the things I wanted to do with this design challenge was push myself, and do new things, and I bead around filigreed rings all the time, so I ruled this out.

I thought about doing some abstract wirework/ wire weaving on the ring - going in and out of the holes, and across the ring, but I ultimately ruled that out, too.

I gave SERIOUS thought to poking a hole in the middle of the X, and turning these 2 components into the world's largest toggle! (But then I compared their size to my wrist, and when the toggle is larger than your arm, it's time to rethink your plan!)

 giant toggle!

As the clock ticked, I decided to use Gilder's Paste to color the ring (with no further plan in mind!) I was initially going to use an antique greenish shade, but at the last minute I switched to Iris Blue - which was a fortuitous decision.

The Gilder's Paste didn't take to the ring very well - I probably should have roughed up the metal some, but there wasn't much metal to rough up! I got maybe 90% of the ring to turn blue, but the rest remained stubbornly bronze. Plus, the parts that wouldn't turn were on the front (as determined by my placement of the craft wire when I wired the ring closed - that had to be the back side, right?)

I fretted, stewed, and then remembered the Perfect Pearls - I pulled them out, and applied the blue Perfect Pearls on top of the unsealed Gilder's Paste. It was a perfect match, and adhered beautifully. Now my ring was 100% blue. So I spent a couple of days sealing it (application of sealer to one side, then 4-6 hours for drying [we were having extremely rainy humid weather], followed by flipping, sealing the other side, waiting.... etc - I wanted to have 2 full coats of sealer. If you've ever had this stuff rub off your jewelry and onto your clothes or skin, you know why!)

Now that I had a blue ring, what to do with it? I held it, turning it over and over - stumped. I walked around the bead shop with it and found the perfect blue floral lampwork bead - the blues matched perfectly, and the bead was almost the perfect size - a few mm larger would have been ideal, but beggars can't be choosers!

handmade blue lampwork flower bead wired in center of patinated filigreed ring

Connecting to the ring was problematic (as connections often are, for me!) - I wanted my chosen method to jive with my color scheme; basically, I wanted something blue. My blue artistic wire wasn't a good match, but I had some blue Parawire that was closer. Not perfect, but close enough.

I wired the lampwork flower into the filigree ring, and then started working on making a necklace with my new blue flower pendant. I liked this large link copper chain with the pendant - the large links mimicked the roundness of the ring. I decided to try patinating the chain with ammonia fumes (I rejected the Gilder's Paste and Perfect Pearls for this project - too much territory to cover, and too many overlapping pieces: I was worried about adequate coverage)

Fortune smiled on me, as the ammonia fumes not only worked, but turned the chain the same blue as the ring. Yay! I really like the rustic look I achieved with the ammonia fume patina.

ammonia fume-patinated blue copper chain

I patinated a copper S-hook with Perfect Pearls (blue, again) - and voilĂ ! A simple, rustic, blue floral necklace.

And it's available in my Etsy shop!

We've all had a lot of fun with this challenge; some of us are blogging about it, and some aren't (it's not a formal blog hop.) Here's where you can read more about my creative fellow 5x5-ers:

Heidi Kingman
Charlie (Charlene) Jacka
Sharyl McMilian-Nelson
Joan Williams

Stay tuned for Chapter 2 (the copper square thingy)! And don't forget to check out the May issue of Bead Chat!


Linda Y said...

Great post. I love your piece and the thought process. I am curious about the perfect pearls that you mentioned. This is twice this week that I have seen that in a blog? Also loved the chain - those large links are awesome. Can't wait to read the remaining parts of your challenge.

Cory Tompkins said...

I love how the ammonia fumes turned the chain the same color as the ring. Very nice job on all the pieces you made for the 5x5 challenge. I am in the June tester group and so excited to see what we will get!!