Saturday, June 29, 2013

2 new Herringbone Bracelets

I know you can't tell, but I've been pretty busy beadweaving lately - so busy I haven't stopped to photograph, list on Etsy, and blog - so I'm doing a little of that today.

I have been on a herringbone tear - I developed a new class to teach at the shop, and wanted to get some examples ready for the class, so here are a couple:

Black and White Colorblocked Herringbone Bracelet

This one is a patchwork, colorblock type of pattern, that reminds me of all those dramatic black & white colorblocked designs that Mila Hermanovski created week after week on Project Runway. I love black and white, so this one was a no-brainer! And I love the big black sunflower button clasp.

This size 7 bracelet is available on Etsy!

And here is another variation:

Metallic Stripes Herringbone Bracelet

Simple, elegant, metallic stripes: galvanized silver, galvanized gold, and copper/bronze. And I love how the beaded button sets off the design!

This one is also size 7, and is also available on Etsy

I have done herringbone with lots of different beads, and different bead combinations - I love how it looks every single time; it's one of my favorite stitches. Both these bracelets were stitched with 11/0 triangles, which I think are the unsung hero of seed beads - they don't get near enough credit for their versatility!

I'm currently working on yet another 11/0 triangle herringbone bracelet - I'll be taking it home for the weekend to stitch on. Plus I want to get back to Zentangling - I haven't done it for a month or so, and I miss it!

We've also added lots of new seed beads (including long Magatamas and SuperDuos) to the inventory at the store, so I've been busy with that, and get summer classes scheduled ... it's always something, right?

Stay tuned - I have more new stuff I'll be posting here soon!

Friday, June 14, 2013

2 New Resin Bottlecap Pendants

I have been working on a new beadwoven bracelet for a few weeks now, and I like it - I like the colors, I like the pattern, but now that I have done one repetition of the pattern (there are about 12 repetitions in the finished bracelet), I am mind-numbingly bored with it, and just want it to be DONE WITH IT. Not the first time a tedious peyote pattern has affected me this way (I even have one in my Zombie box that is 6 years old: it is so tediously repetitive, with a really hard-to-read pattern graph, that I doubt I will ever finish it. It will probably remain 3/4 inch long forever!) Do y'all ever get this way? So attracted by a bright, shiny, new project, you have to dive right in, only to find it bores you to tears?

Anyway, I work on the new bracelet for an hour or so, and need a break. Yesterday I just couldn't even stand to work on it, so I started something new.

I had found these cute bottlecap bezels at Michael's a couple of years ago, and decided I needed to buy them and squirrel them away, because someday I'd figure out what to do with them.

I stumbled across them again when I taught the Cold Connections Workshop last month, and figured that if I'm never going to use them myself, maybe I should work them into a class, so I started thinking on some different ideas for a new class.

We already offer Ice Resin classes, so I wanted to go in a different direction - maybe with embossing powder? Who knows; give it a whirl, anyway.

So, fully and completely bored with my peyote bracelet, I put the seed beads away, and started trying to figure out what to try in my bottlecap bezels. I punched holes in each one for hanging, since they didn't come pre-punched.

resin bottlecap pendants

The bezels came in 2 colors: white (with a funky zebra design on the back) and antique copper.

The zebra one could obviously be reversible, so I decided to use black and white objects in the bezel. I played around with lots of different thing, but only 3 objects really fit in the cup at a time, and while I liked the cute brads (lower right, with the zebra pattern) - and had them in an assortment of 6 different black and white designs (another scrapbooking item I had impulsively purchased at Michael's and hoarded away) - no matter how I arranged them in the cup, they looked like a face staring back at me: 2 eyes, and an open mouth. Ugh.

I found some pink and white zebra striped scrapbook paper (you know the drill: another squirreled-away impulse buy from Michael's), and liked how it echoed the zebra print on the back of the cap, so I cut out a circle of it and placed it in the cup. I looked around for other black and white stuff; what I really wanted was a feather, but alas, I didn't have any feathers - at least, not in black - squirreled away. I finally chose a black button with a sparkly rhinestone center, and a half-drilled freshwater pearl. I carefully placed these on the paper in the cup, and filled the cup with clear embossing powder.

The antique copper cup was much easier - I had these pretty paper scrapbooking flowers, and fit them into the cup, and then added some ground-up malachite that I had made for a previous foray into resin bezels. (The pendant I made during that class, with the ground malachite, sold right away, and didn't even make it to the blog post!). The idea was for the flowers to look like a flowering tree (they were supposed to be pink dogwoods), and the malachite is the grass underneath them. When I was ready to pour the embossing powder into the cup, I noticed that I had carefully put everything into the bezel without noting the hole placement, and they were in there almost perfectly upside down. So I rearranged them, and poured in the powder.

Using my embossing gun, I heated them from the back, and they both liquefied fairly quickly:

waterlily pendant

The paper flower bezel generated a LOT of air bubbles - not sure why. I really like the end result - it looks like waterlilies on a pond to me, very Monet.

pink zebra resin pendant

My pink zebra cup didn't bubble, and once it cooled, I noticed that the scrapbooking paper had a glitter effect on it, which has given a very sparkly look to the pendant. Love it!

pink zebra pendant, reverse side

This is the back of the pink zebra pendant: The center has discolored a tiny bit from the intense heat of the embossing gun.

I think this will make a pretty fun class, and something students can easily do on their own at home, with minimal supply outlay!

And now that I have wasted 2 hours taking pics and creating this blog post, I am going to try to slog my way through another inch or so on that peyote bracelet!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Etching Aluminum with Ferric Chloride

I like aluminum as an inexpensive alternative to sterling silver in my Cold Connections pieces,  but have been disappointed in its utility - I already discovered that it won't take liver of sulfur (LOS), after I had textured a piece of aluminum with one of my texture hammers, and wanted to emphasize the texture with LOS:
Aluminum Sari Ribbon Corset Cuff

The circle in the pic above shows the texture I created with my texture hammer: when I ran this piece of aluminum through the LOS, the LOS just pooled and ran off the aluminum like water off a duck's back. Very disappointing!

But I still love the cuff - and it's available on Etsy!

I forgot all about this LOS-aluminum incompatibility when I tried stamping an aluminum piece -
stamped aluminum

After stamping this piece of aluminum, I placed it in the LOS, having forgotten my previous experience. Needless to say, the same thing happened. Without the LOS, the stamping was hardly visible at all - I used another method to darken the stamped impression of each letter, and then sealed the patina with Krylon.

So - I can't really texture the aluminum with hammers, nor stamp it.

Now, I admit I hadn't thought this through all the way, but I decided to see if I could etch a design in the aluminum with ferric chloride.

I cut out 2 heart shapes, sanded, filed, and cleaned them, and then stamped a heart design on each with Staz-On.

Then I placed the hearts in the ferric chloride bath.

When I etch copper in ferric chloride, I leave in it for 90 minutes. So, I turned around, and grabbed an egg timer from the shelf to set for 90 minutes, because I have a habit of forgetting things (I get distracted by other bright shiny objects!).

Thank goodness I didn't leave the room! No sooner had I turned around (my hand wasn't even on the egg timer yet) when I heard an out-of-place fizzing, like someone had poured a glass of champagne, and was holding it up to my ear.

Hmmm ... I thought.

And I turned around; all the while the fizzing was getting louder.

I looked at the ferric chloride, and it was bubbling and frothing like a rabid dog. This is NOT what happens when I etch copper - it just lies there, soaking in its brown acid bath.

I figured I better take the aluminum out of there, since something was clearly wrong - and my hands were a good 2 feet away, if not more, when I became aware of the heat coming from the acid container. And it just got hotter and more fizzy as I got closer. I grabbed the pieces of packing tape that supported the aluminum in the acid (these edges were well-away from the fizzing action, so I wasn't worried about burning myself) but there was tremendous heat coming from that acid container!

As soon as I had raised the pieces above the level of the acid, the fizzing stopped and the temperature returned to normal.

Those of you with chemistry backgrounds say it with me: That was an EXOTHERMIC reaction.


And here are the 2 pieces that were in there: (they were black, black, BLACK)when they came out, but after a LOT of scrubbing with steel wool, this is what they look like:

etched aluminum hearts

There is a bit of design; more on the left than on the right. And what you see here is not very deep - you can feel it, but not very well. And that grayish-brown stain in the middle of both of them? Won't come off.

And now that I've thought it through, these designs would have needed LOS to really show, anyway - so maybe not being able to etch aluminum isn't something I need to mourn.

I've heard that aluminum takes alcohol inks really well - so there are still other avenues I can explore with it!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

More from the Cold Connections Workshop

Here are the last 2 pairs of earrings I made at the Cold Connections Workshop I taught 2 weeks ago:

Zentangle-inspired domed oval copper earrings

This (above) is another pair of Zentangle-inspired earrings - these are long ovals, which I domed.

textured copper dagger earrings

I like these simple little textured dagger earrings!

I made a few other things you haven't seen yet during the Workshop: a heart charm, a Zentangle-inspired heart pendant, and 2 seashell-themed pieces - a scallop shell and a sand dollar:

copper sand dollar

copper scallop

These 2 pieces are deeply etched, and would make terrific pendants just as they are (well, the sand dollar needs a hole or 2 before it will hang...), but I'm not sure yet if that's the way I want to go. So they have gone back into my "To Do" box for the next time I haul out all the metal working stuff.

It would be so fantastic to have enough space to leave all my workstations set up ALL THE TIME! And what a time-saver, too. Maybe when I win the lottery....

Tomorrow: my adventures in aluminum etching!