Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Halfway There!

Week 20 Tafe:

I can't believe we are halfway through the year and the first semester is over already at TAFE. This week we were free to finish things off or do our own projects.

I did an anticlastic bangle. I don't have the right stakes or the right hammers to do this at home but wanted to have a go. It involved lots of  noise & hammering for most of the day and I went home with an aching arm....but I also went home with this - a  brass cuff. It's about 3.5 cm wide.The colour is from the constant annealing but I rather liked it so I just sanded and buffed up the edges for contrast and I'll just leave the oxidisation.

Towards the end of the day I made this open brass bangle. This was quick and simple as I cut it out with the guillotine. Now that would be a luxury to have one at home *dream*, then I drilled the holes quickly with the flex shaft. I got to use an oval steel mandrel which was a change  - at home I just have a very basic round wooden mandrel.
Now - 3 weeks break before the second semester. Hope to get a little bench time at home while we're on break. Pin It

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lost Claws

Week 18 and 19 TAFE:

Sunday I attempted to re solder my bail to my claw setting. I did everything right and made a successful solder join........except the bail was a little crooked.......aargh - after I'd spent ages fiddling around to set it up, it had looked pretty straight to me pre flame!  So, I reheated to unsolder to start again, which worked fine........until I put it in the pickle and that's when things started to go downhill - the CZ went cloudy! Damn!
With nothing more to lose I set up to re solder it all again (maybe I could pretend my CZ was supposed to be frosted!) and that's when things went totally pear shaped! My poor little claw setting said "enough is enough" and melted.....right before my flame! (Actually it just popped apart - like a mini explosion)

This kind of wrecked my weekend. I sulked, I whinged about nothing going right - In short I transformed into a drama queen - but the upside is the family gave me a wide berth and my husband cooked a nice roast dinner that night! (there's always a silver lining - right?)

 I dragged my sorry arse to class and told my sad tale to the sympathetic teacher with some embarrassment. She gave me the choice of remaking, working on some other exercises or working on my own projects for the day.***.  Initially, I was all keen to remake but gave up on that idea after a few more frustrating hours. Instead I played with brass and the sandblaster. Now that was more fun!

*** Wondering why the teacher didn't make me complete another claw setting? Well, this is a pre apprenticeship level course and completing a claw setting was an extra project the teacher gave a few of us to stretch our skills - so it's not actually a requirement of the course, although it will be a personal challenge for me in the distant future :)
Despite the occasional frustrations above  - I'm still enjoying the course..... really  :)

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Brassed Off!

Week 17 TAFE:

No photos - Suffice to say, all was going well with setting the CZ in the claw setting, until the end of the day when doing the final clean up....the bail parted company with the setting....what can I say?....I did a shoddy soldering job!  :(  Hopefully I'll be able to re solder carefully to fix it.....we'll be continued.

Moving home this week I made some oversized earrings from huge brass discs on Sterling Ear wires. They're 5cm (2 inches) in diameter but they're not too heavy to wear as they're in a thinner gauge of metal. I had fun texturing the metal.

'Landscape' Convex discs - Roll printed with Aluminum mesh.

'Portrait' Convex' Discs - Roll printed with textured paper.

'Portrait' Concave Discs. Hammered Finish.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Finish Clasp - check!

Week 16 Tafe:

Yesterday in class, I made a little bail for my soon to be CZ Pendant. It was gonna be a little rabbit ear bail but while annealing, the edges started to melt, so by the time I filed it back it didn't leave me with much room to saw out a triangle from the middle, (plus I was sort of over it) Now it's just going to stay the traditional bail shape. It's only about 6mm in width.

This modest little finding took me about an hour to make - it was a process of measuring, marking, sawing, annealing, bending, annealing again, nearly melting, bending again and filing.
This gave me a new appreciation for the Sterling Silver bails that I already had at home. They were handmade by Balinese Silversmiths...and were extremely good value at $1.16 each! :)

Then I moved on to finish the padlock clasp. Technically, it's not perfect but it looks OK and it works! I'm happy - I'd prefer that it was perfect(he he!)but I remind myself frequently that I'm a Cert 2 student (pre apprenticeship level)I'm not doing an apprenticeship or the diploma course, and at least I now know in theory how it should be done perfectly! Maybe if there's a next time.........

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Moving on!

Week 15 TAFE:

Our teacher has moved us on to a new project. So this week we started a prong setting.
The padlock clasp hasn't been abandoned - just put aside. I quite like working on a couple of projects at once. While one project is in the pickle, I can be filing the other item or whatever. It mixes it up a bit so things don't get boring....and I'm happy to have a little break from the padlock clasp.

It was left up to us whether we wanted to do a 6 or 4 prong setting for our 6mm cubic zircona and I opted for a 4 prong setting. Yes, it was a cop out the easier option but I want to walk before I run ;)
What I find the most challenging is working on such a small scale. I realize that a 6mm stone is a decent size stone (especially if it was a diamond!) but even so, working on the setting is still very fiddly work, and I'm full of admiration for those that set teensy 1mm stones.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Progress report on the clasp from hell.... ;)

Week 13 & 14 at TAFE:

Both TAFE days I've been working on the padlock clasp which is proving to be a challenge. I did some work at home on the weekend and soldered the chain links of the bracelet, and while I was at it, I thought I'd just solder the top plate to the base of the padlock clasp while I was at the bench: easy peasy - a five minute job...after all it's just a variation of a hollow form and I've churned a couple out with not too many issues since I learnt the technique ......Aha! - what naive optimism - It was actually A PITA that took 4 attempts!

The top is very gently domed and there was one little section where the top just wouldn't solder to the wall of the piece, although when it was all bound up pre soldering it looked like it was all flush and connected OK. Despite me trying the troubleshooting tips from the teacher(filing & gentle hammering of the edges) I still had a tiny hairline section that just wouldn't connect!

Stick soldering saved the day - something I don't usually do because I'm not too good at this and I find that I flood too much solder on the piece when I solder this way. Anyway this time that was a good thing (yay!) and it filled the 'gap'! Now there's just this small matter of extensive firescale to address LOL!
Many jewellers will tell you that solder will not fill a gap. Bearing this in mind it's quite possible that my problem wasn't so much a gap. It may have been that the section was dirty or perhaps contaminated by pickle, which prevented the solder from flowing in that spot. Who knows? Anyway it's all fixed now!

In class I prepared the arm which I soldered on to a little hand formed tube, it had to be hardened, filed, annealed and turned up and soldered. I had to "fit" it to the body, working out the placement of the holes in the wall,which I drilled, burred & filed out ready to take the arm and be riveted in place......which is what I'll be doing next week in class!

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