Jewelry-Making Day 2: Soot and a Smile

At the torch with tiny wire and my nemesis the copper earring.

At the torch with tiny wire and my nemesis the copper earring.

I was back at the torch bright and early determined to leave the class with a pair of leaf earrings. I cut new patterns, sent them through the rolling machine, grinded, sanded, annealed (that’s metal-talk for heated with a torch), bended, annealed, bended again and welded the rod on.

Annealed copper leaves.

Annealed copper leaves.

Leaf cut outs and the earring goofs from Saturday.

Leaf cut outs and the earring goofs from Saturday.

Sending the leaf cutouts through the roller to get the shape.

Sending the leaf cutouts through the roller to get the shape.

That was the easy part.

See where I have that tiny little rod in my hand? I had to heat and bend that without melting it in half.

My pièce de ré·sis·tance for the weekend: the leaf copper earrings.

My pièce de résistance for the weekend: the leaf copper earrings. I liked the unpolished look, even though one has purple bands. The purple will eventually fade.

Doug Salmon, the instructor, was very up front with us on the first day: “I’m going to show you the hardest way to do things, so that from now on any other skill will be much easier to do.” He wasn’t kidding. This was hard.

Instructor Doug Salmon helps another student.

Instructor Doug Salmon helps a student.

An hour and 2 goofed earrings later, I had a fairly close match to my first earring. (Not to worry, the goofed earrings will be pendants.)

The thing about this, I realize, is that sheer determination will not yield results with this kind of work. Determination will get you to try again and mess up another 26 earrings, but only skill and learning to do it right will get you to create with this medium.

Doug is offering the next level class at his studio at Spruce Forest next month and I highly recommend his classes. He has a sense of humor, he isn’t afraid to let you burn up a bit of brass and he tells you there are more ways than his to metalsmith.

I am definitely not a stellar welder, but after this weekend I left with a some jangly jewelry, dirt under my fingernails, a bit of soot on my face and great big smile.

New Inspirations

The turtle has arrived!

Turtle Done, Phase 1

He’s a bit flashier than I imagined, with the white around his shell, but that’s okay. This is my first quillwork turtle (that looks like a turtle), so he should be flashy. My projects usually don’t turn out exactly as drawn/imagined because I try to go with the flow. Although I drew a sketch for the turtle, I didn’t outline the design on leather. I usually freehand the whole thing right there as I’m quilling. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t.

I’d say it worked this time.

Closeup of Turtle Done Phase 1

The turtle is done–he looks like he’s going to crawl right off the leather, doesn’t he?– but I still have to whip this into shape with leather tie, leather backing and quilled border. I have a few days left before the Powwow. Pressure is a wonderful thing.

While quills soak and soften, I pull together other porcupine quill pieces.

Silver Quill Loop Earrings

My tradition-style of porcupine quill earrings on the right; on the left are some new ones I envisioned in the middle of a bead store this past weekend. They are more stunning than they appear in the photo.

Friends and I checked out Beadnik in West Chester, PA (along with a fabulous dinner at Vincents and coffee/gelato/pastries at Sprazzo. We should have gone to Sprazzo first. Life is really too short to save incredible desserts for last).

I’m sure I’ve seen these silver tubes before since they’re among the many silver beads made by the Karen Hills Tribe in northern Thailand. I love Tribal Hills Silver and order it whenever I have money burning a hole in my pocket. But there in the bead store, these two little tubes spoke to me.

I have visions like that in bead stores.

In fact, I often have a take a deep breath and remind myself to focus when I go into a bead store. I get very distracted by, “Wow, I could pair this bead with that bead and have and fantabulous new thing.” Too many dollars later I have more beads to take up space alongside the other fantabulous beads I purchased before. This year, I’m aiming to use all those beads in projects so by year’s end my bead boxes are empty and I’ll have to buy new stuff. Then again, don’t all of us collectors-of-inspirational-bits-n-pieces dream of burning through our stash? If only we had enough hours in the day.