Jewellery/Metalsmithing Class

I started my metalsmithing jewellery class 3 weeks ago, and at first I hated sawing metal. It was hard on my hands and I felt it was very messy and dirty. After 3 lessons, I’ve finished my first project, a brass brooch. Now I can say that I do enjoy it for the most part. It’s rewarding to have a piece of jewellery completed. It looks easy, but believe me, it takes more work. I believe it took me 6 hours to make this, a lot of the time is spent on filing and using different grades of sand paper to even out straight lines and curves. I hope I can make more at home when I have the equipment.

Anyway, on to the photos.

I love the sandblasted texture. I even put it on the back. The pin was once shiny, like a regular brooch pin back that’s glued or sewn on. I thought this would be the best finish since I can’t do this myself at home. I may be able to make a piece into a high polish if I get a rotary tool. The class uses a polishing wheel. It’s huge, and no way I could ever afford one!

It wasn’t easy to refine the curved holes. They’re still a little wonky. Luckily sandblasting hides many of the flaws. 🙂

The next project is a silver Russian wedding ring. I’ve taken some work-in-progress pics this time, and I’ll continue to do so until I finish the final piece. Not sure what the last project will be. It could be a bracelet.

Glass Beads

I know this is really late. I realised I have not blogged about my short glass beads class. The beginners class was two months ago, and I was the only student (it was wonderful to be the only student). Beads were made and I have been wanting to buy equipment to start making my own from home, but still waiting on the return of our rental bond so I can use some of that cash. I’ll be able to make beads for my own use, but to sell, I will have to anneal them first. My instructor has an annealing service. I think it was $10 per batch + postage.

Some photos:

These were from the first day of the class. Very simple stuff, but I had some trouble getting the right amount of glass for accent dots.

Second day’s haul. Lots more complicated beads, but also more fun to make. I liked making raised flowers.

Difficult! I had trouble with making the heart shape. It’s really hard to keep the bead warm and constantly moving, while you are also trying to make a shape or pattern. My barrel beads turned out terrible, but I flattened the scenic one on the left (photo on right) and it looks better.

I still do want to make more and practice, but it’s such an expensive hobby! After getting into Blythe, it sure isn’t easy to save money. I’ll also be starting my metal-smithing short course in May. The course runs for 8 weeks, 3 hours per week. That should be interesting too! I can’t wait to solder, and then I can do this at home with a crème brûlée torch. I can’t wait to combine this with my polymer clay jewellery and also with glass beads.

Memory Wire Bracelet

Last night, instead of just doing nothing or working on polymer clay, I decided to make something using memory wire. I must say that I’m not good at designing with it. There are so many wonderful styles that can be accomplished. I even ordered a couple of finished bracelets from Etsy sellers. They were so pretty. I want to learn from the designs, but definitely not to copy and sell… I just admire them. They’ve been on my favourites list for ages. Here’s what I bought: New Years Resolution and Lavender Pixel Triplets.

So here is what I made…

It’s single layer, pretty much like a bead bangle, really. I joined the ends together, because the bracelet kept opening up. It’s a little too big for me, but that’s how I can manage to get my hand into it.

The bracelet is asymmetrical, yet there is a visible pattern. That’s also one reason why I think it looks good. Forgive me, all my design terminology has flown out the window, so I cannot analyse the bracelet any further. 😛

Remade Fruit Canes

Sorry old fruit canes, you didn’t satisfy me, so I made new ones. I’ve finally gotten around to it! Everyone knows my old bananas, they were stylised and the 6 seeds were not in the location I wanted them to be. It was the second cane that I had ever done in my life. Now take a look at my new bananas!

The left image is the one with my new canes. The right one compares my new to my old ones. They look a little better and less stylised. It’s an improvement, but I still need to make the darker bits surrounding the seeds a little brighter next time, and perhaps the seeds could be slightly darker. Not perfect, still… but I definitely prefer them to my old crappy ones!

Mmm… Banana slices!

And my oranges… poor things, I didn’t like them at all… too yellow, too small. I kept telling myself that they were mandarin oranges, but still, in my mind, they were horrible. So, I sold the whole lot! I made them really cheap and sold them, just so I could wipe my mind clear and start a new orange cane.

As you can see, it starts off as a stump with ugly ends, but the pattern inside should look fine. I slowly reduce the cane and elongate it…

Once at 1-1.2cm in diameter, I cut it in half to investigate! Looked good, so I elongated it till 6-7mm, which should be about right. My last batch was way too tiny, and I should learn from my mistakes. And finally, I cut off the ugly ends until a nice fresh pattern started on all the canes. I was left with lots of leftover unbaked clay, which I normally re-use when I need that colour, or when I make another cane. No wastage!

Let’s compare the old with the new:

I certainly like the colour change! The size is right too, but I added an extra layer before the skin, and the entire skin part might now be a tad bit thick. Nothing’s perfect, I suppose. Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Kiwi Fruit Cane

I’m slowly getting used to making fruit canes… It’s not as hard as I used to imagine it, although, I did mess this one up when lining up the green wedges and had to redo it. Once I figured out a way to reduce the cane that worked for me, everything went a lot smoother.

I started the kiwi by making a triangle wedge and cutting it in half to put a strip of black, which becomes the seed. I join them back up, and add a layer of white on one side. I then elongated it a little and cut in half. I used one half to lay on the first one, becoming two seeded sections as one piece. I then elongated that again and cut it into 8 pieces. *phew* a long explanation for just two photos. These steps are actually the most difficult. If you get the wedges in the wrong shape, the outcome is likely to be poor as well. Sorry, I usually only like to photograph as the results start to show! I recommend books by Angie Scarr, I followed her instructions almost to the letter.

I assembled the wedges around a centre piece and reduced it slowly. The photo on the right shows the chunk is compressed slightly in the centre, and I removed the air holes.

The first picture shows the canes at 8-9mm in diameter, and still unbaked. At this point, I always get excited and I cut the cane in half quickly to see how the pattern turns out! Then I take the two halves and reduce them further to their final size, roughly 4-5mm. I cut them up into manageable sizes and bake them at 100 degrees C, and longer than 30 minutes to be sure. Don’t want to repeat the mistakes from previous canes.

Finally, the sliced canes produce kiwis! Hope you enjoyed the tour… I will try to include more work in progress photos next time, instead of just giving you the end results. I really need to remake my banana… oh, so lazy.

How Mini Strawberries Come to Life

This is only my third time making a polymer clay fruit cane, so I can’t really call myself an expert, and this is technically not a tutorial. I have only made lemons and bananas up to this point, but I thought I would take the plunge and do a moderate level cane. I am a little disappointed with my bananas, so I will redo them at some point. Okay! On to the photo tour.

How Baby Strawberries Come from a Big Strawberry
Large Strawberry
I didn’t take a photo before this, because I was questioning my ability. So, first, I made a skinner blend cube out of red and white clay. I had trouble making it — I was too impatient when rolling it over and over in the pasta machine. I’m sure I missed 10 rounds. I had to fix it by cutting out some white chunks left in there, kneading it until it turned light pink, and then stuffed it back into the cube. It looked disastrous. Nevertheless, I decided to continue and see if my strawberry would end up as a pile of scrap clay. Next, I put in white strips by cutting up the elongated skinner blend clump into 8 pieces, and laying white clay in between them. I lengthened the one side and cut it in half to make the mirror image. At this point, the big strawberry is ready for reducing.

Strawberry, Half-reduced Strawberry Canes, 1/8 scale
These are photos of the strawberry canes, about 1/8 the size of the big one. You can still see my bad skinner blend lines, but that will disappear once I reduce this further. I like how the pattern is turning out!

Lots of Baby Strawberries Baby Strawberries
Would you look at that! I cut up the canes and reduced them again, until they were about 4-5mm large. Each square in the grid is 4mm. Look at how many baby strawberries I have! Almost all of them were good, and I didn’t throw away too much from the ends of the canes. Oh, and I left the ends of a couple of canes larger because I didn’t want to spoil them from stretching, and I also like how they look when they’re not teeny weeny.

Baked and Sliced Strawberries
After baking for 30 minutes at 100 degrees C, here are some of the baby strawberries, sliced up and ready for decorating. I like this third attempt the best… I thought I would mess it up, but I like how they turned out.