Sheet Metal Rings

These are the rings I soldered out of sheet metal and copper tubing.  I set them in this log of clay in order to pour resin in the bezels.

If you look closely you can see pieces of tape that should have stopped up the resin.  However, the resin dripped right through the tape and puddled all over the rings. It was a disaster.  But like all experiments it had its merits. After I finished I thought to myself, “Now why didn’t I just take polymer clay and stuff the holes and bake these things in the oven?  Yeah, that’s what I will eventually do after I clean up the drippy resin that is all over these rings.  They also need to be polished and shined up.  First things first. 

I learned a lot about soldering with these rings though.  I am not fooling myself. I know they are ugly, but they are mine, therefore I am proud of them. lol!

Thanks for stopping by! — Natalie 

Gardening

All this week I’ve been gardening out in the back yard.

Right now this is what my backyard looks like.  I have some container plants on the small slab where we also keep the bbq grill. 

In the back of the property on the right hand side is the pond my children dug for me many years ago.  It took them about five years.  It’s solid Texas clay-mud so they could only get about 1″ at a time. That’s why it took five years.

My husband and I took turns getting it deep enough in the middle. We put old carpet down underneath the liner and I think it should still last many years. It’s probably been there about 10 years now.

The perennials that have worked so well in past years died last year from neglect.

I was in bed for 6 weeks with the surgery, chemo and radiation, and of course it was in the week before June, June, and the week after June — the beginning hot months in Texas, and last year it was very hot!  It didn’t cool down until almost November.

Even after I was finished with treatments I had to get my strength back just to stand long enough to hold the water hose on those poor plants. In the end, I made it through last summer but they didn’t.

I am going to try a few new perennials, some hostas and other leafy things.

Another thing I need to do is to thin out the water lilies and buy this pond a new pump and filter.  And I must weed, I have lots and lots of weeds.

The soft dirt of spring has already turned to the hard clay of summer and the trick for me is to water a patch the day before I weed.  Then the earth is spongy enough to release the weed when I tug.

Earlier this week I planted some white periwinkles around the pond.  I am thinking some red petunias might be nice too, but the gardening store I went to didn’t seem to have any.  I like to support small businesses whenever possible.  We also have a farmer’s market in my neighborhood so I’ll try and stop by there. Maybe they will have some red petunias.

Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I don’t have any bead news. I have some elephants bead sculptures that are going through their first firing today though.  🙂   — Natalie

Tool Aquisition (or is this my Brag Fest?)

 I’ve been on a tool buying binge lately.  Today the last ‘biggie’ item on my list came, this round bezel maker.  It will take a small tube and make it into a cone which then can used for stone setting. Or something like that. I’m not sure. I’ve only read about doing it so far.

I have, however, been soldering rings out of sheet metal and copper.  That I can do.  So now I’m going to try to make more elaborate things. 

 I got this dapping set and I really like it.  I also bought a small wooden one too.  I am amazed and boggled with all the things that can be done with this one tool at all and of course it does no good to have this without the disk cutter (below).

 This is a tool that is a ton of fun and easy to use.  I am sorry to say I broke the tiniest disk cutter.  I was using a heavy brass hammer and I really only needed a small hammer. I struck it at an angle and broke it right in half. I was looking online though and I think I can get a replacement for it.  Needless to say I’ve been extremely careful with how I hammer since then.

 I haven’t actually used this torch set yet. I’ve been using a simple butane torch and so far it has worked really well.  I got some fuel regulator caps that allow me to use this torch with small disposable size oxygen and propane tanks.  It looks a lot of fun. I imagine when I graduate to silver I’ll be using this exclusively.

This was the really big buy. It came last week and it is SO cool!  I have been doing all sorts of experimenting and found that it even picks up the texture of paper towels and imprints it into the metal.  I have been looking at You Tube videos and there are quite a bit of great tutorials of how to utilize texture in your metal.

This was made and packaged in India and I guess mine sat in a warehouse somewhere. The shredded packing paper smelled of mold and mildew and it stank horribly.  But the machine itself was well greased and in perfect working condition.  I did purchase the extra set of rollers to make wire from but I haven’t put them on the machine yet.  The directions look somewhat complicated so I’ve asked hubby to help.

I think I am done buying the big tools. I don’t have  a flex shaft yet, but my dad has one with all the attachments and said he’d give me that, but it won’t get here for at least another month. I do have a Dremel though and will continue using that for until then. 

My dad and grandfather both were jewelry makers and rock hounds, so in one sense I’ve was exposed to this hobby since childhood.  I never thought, though, that I’d be venturing into this area myself someday.   

Copper Tube Beads and Ceramic Elephants

 I am beyond thrilled to find out that Jean A. Wells is going to have some of her jewelry design creations in the Fall issue of Stringing. One of the pieces has one of my ceramic elephants as the focal bead.

I am very excited and so I am going to make a few to have in my store when the magazine is released.

Usually I am not able to make specific things when I want to. I try to make one thing and I end up making another but this time I had to be focused and prayer is an amazing thing because I made this tiny herd of elephants this very morning.

This weekend I played with metal just a bit and I made these very simple copper tube beads. The end caps are made with plain sheet metal.  The copper was small plumbing tubing I found at the hardware store.

I was able to use a small butane torch and medium silver solder. I cut the end disks a bit bigger than the bead so it held the solder as if on a platter. After it was soldered I was able to cut the excess off with a small pair of snips.  The sheet metal is only about 26 gauge so it was easy to cut off. Then I used my Dremel to smooth out the ends and to polish the copper.

I really should go and get the pickle solution started, but I’m working so small right now that it is just as easy to use the Dremel.  When I start making more complicated pieces I will begin using the pickle.  🙂  Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are having a fabulous creative day too! — Natalie

Sheet Metal Ring

What’s this you ask?  Well, it’s what I’m working on instead of getting ready for my company who is coming this weekend.

Have you ever done that? You know you only have a certain amount of time to do something important, like scrub the toilet, and you put it off because there is something so much more fun to do — like solder a ring that has been in your head for days and days.

I am learning how to fabricate rings at the moment but I am a cheapo so I got the most inexpensive materials to play with that I could find: Sheet metal and copper tubing at the hardware store.  The sheet metal cost me a whopping .35 and the tubing was $8 and the little tool to cut it with was under $10.  The butane torch was $10 or so (got it at Harbor Freight), the gas was about the same.  The solder (medium) was $20.  The flux was free (THANKS LOLLY) and so was the stainless steel pick and tweezers (THANKS LISA).  But the third hand was about $30 but when I searched for it I found an identical one for $12 (oooofph) and the charcoal soldering block was $9.  Then there was the ring mandrel ($25) and then the clamp to hold the ring mandrel ($30) and the rawhide hammer ($12) … So this ring, while seeming to cost pennies, actually cost me about …. oh nevermind, it doesn’t matter.  This is a lot of fun and I’ve been wanting to do it for absolutely ever!  Now I’m wondering …. what am I going to put in that teeny tiny bezel? 

Thanks for stopping by! — Natalie

Famous Beads

I have been happily waiting for Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry come out. I pre-ordered it months ago. Even if it didn’t have my beads in it, I would have ordered this book which is authored by Lorelei Hill Eurto and Erin Siegel. You can find it on Amazon to pre-order yours. It will be released on June 19th.

I found out a few months ago that my beads would be in this book and so I am going to make sure that these beads will be kept in stock in my bead store.  Every bead batch is a bit different of course, but I will use the same clay and glaze and they will be similar enough.

There are many ceramic bead artists featured in this book besides myself.  You may want to head over to the Beads of Clay blog because our group is giving away three of these books.

Here are my fellow Ceramic Bead Artists with links to their websites:

Elements Pottery, Gaea,Golem Studio, Lisa Peters Art, Mary Harding Jewelry, Marsha Neal Studio, NKP Designs, Yolanda’s Clay.

Congratulations to all of us! 🙂

Here’s a close up of the beads that appeared in this book.  I keep them in my ‘rounds‘ section of my beadstore.

In any event, I am so glad and honored to be included in this book.  Thank you Lorelei and Erin!

Vacation … Well Sorta

I took most of April off.  I didn’t use the kiln much. I didn’t list much. I didn’t create much.  Instead I concentrated on my daughter who had our first grandbaby and my son who had been diagnosed with moderate melanoma on the same day she gave birth. It was bittersweet that day.

However, everything turned out fine.  My daughter gave birth to a 9 lb 3 oz perfectly healthy baby girl and my son learned a couple of weeks later that the melanoma had not spread to his lymph nodes as it usually does at that stage.

Happy Joy Joys abounded …. Deep sigh of relief … thanksgiving prayers up to God … some quiet time to absorb it all …  and of course time to get to know Ruby, who by the way is the cutest baby in the entire known civilized and uncivilized world.  She smiled at me on Monday and that smile was so big that it took my breath completely away and my eyes swam in tears to where I couldn’t see her anymore. I had to wipe them away and as I did, she gave me another smile. There aren’t enough descriptive words in the English language for for that kind of happy.

 Saturday I had my friend, Lolly, over. I showed her how to lampwork beads and she showed me how to make a bezel.  Oh my … what fun!

We are continually learning from our small bi-monthly workshops at each others’ houses.  We had been quite mystified about soldering copper. It seemed that the copper had heated up fine, the solder melted and then the pieces would come apart. 

I finally kept googling copper and found that as a metal it has to fire hotter than the other metals.  What this meant escaped both of us, but we experimented and she found finally the answer!  Copper requires HARD solder, not easy, which is what we had been using previously.

Mystery solved.  So if you decide to play around with copper and solder it, just remember: use HARD solder.

Thanks for stopping by!
Natalie