Monday, November 30, 2009

Back into the fire!

Saturday's glittering creations are out of the kiln and ready for shaping into pendants and cufflinks. Next, I'll trace outlines onto the ones that will be become circular with a Sharpie and cover the lines with Chapstick so that they don't wash off while I'm grinding -- very high tech! Then I'm off to the basement for a while to shape each piece individually in two stages on the lap wheel -- first with a pad covered in 120 grit diamond pieces, then I'll move up to a 400 grit pad for a second pass. The spinning pads have to be kept cool with a constant stream of water, so this is a rather wet and messy experience. Hence the Chapstick!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kiln Full of Sparkle

I spent a large chunk of the day filling the kiln with pendants and cufflinks, and now I'm mentally exhausted! With beaded or chainmaille jewelry, you have a burst of creativity while designing the piece, then you get to mentally recharge while assembling the piece. When making fused glass jewelry, you try to fill the kiln to conserve electricity and to save time since each cycle takes 12 hours, and so you must think up new things for hours at a stretch without a break. It's tiring!

Tomorrow, when the kiln reaches room temperature, I'll spend another few hours grinding some of my melted constructions into circles and putting crisp, square edges on others with a diamond lap wheel, then they'll go back into the kiln again to soften those edges just a bit (the name for this second firing is "fire polishing", a term I love even though there's no actual fire involved).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chainmaille Fever

I've been making a looooooot of chainmaille lately! Between a set of several custom-designed jewelry pieces for a lovely lady in New York and a stainless steel version of my copper byzantine bracelet for a gentleman in Arizona, I was already spending much of my free time weaving, but then I sort of went off of the deep end.

First, let me apologize in advance for the horrible hotel room table point-and-shoot camera pictures. I'm on vacation for the weekend, and of course I brought my chainmaille supplies.

Stainless steel, it turns out it, is wretchedly stiff! I have a large stab wound in one finger after one of my pairs of pliers slipped while trying to close a ring, and the other, suddenly lacking any resistance, went shooting off and embedded itself in me. And I'm using the soft stainless steel -- there's also tempered spring steel used for chainmaille garments that you must need hydraulic pliers to use. At any rate, the weaving of this bracelet required frequent breaks, so I alternating working on it with working on an idea that occurred to me while weaving the bracelet:  a watch band combining double links of my classic two-color byzantine chain with the larger stainless rings. I love it and have been wearing it every day since I finished it!

Vacation is for learning new weaves, right? I'm being growled at to go take a shower and head off to breakfast now, but expect another post this evening with photos of the new technique I learned last night -- shaggy loops!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Green Craft Fair This Saturday

My recycled wine bottle serving trays and I will be at the Watkins Nature Center in Upper Marlboro, MD this Saturday, November 14th, for a fun new show in its first year! The Nature Center is encouraging a more eco approach to the gift-giving holidays by gathering artists who use recycled, natural and sustainable materials in their work. I'll be bringing some new etched designs that aren't yet available online, so be sure to stop by if you're in the area!

Watkins Nature Center
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro 20774
10 am - 4 pm

In addition to the craft fair, the center will be accepting clothing donations for Planet Aide and hosting a book exchange!