Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pendant from Another Time

The project for self-challenge week 4 is this pendant. It's a piece in the Elsewhen Antiquities series. From the excavation catalog:
Presumably a decorative plaque or mount of some kind, this chased and repousséed copper piece has been stabilized and tab set in a brass holder to serve as a pendant. From Mound 5, age unknown because it was located in surface screening as part of the site survey.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Finished Piece for Challenge Week 3

This week my finish-a-piece challenge is met by a small vessel. It's one of three that I made several years ago when I was just starting to learn how to raise bowls from sheet. I didn't have proper stakes, just some large dapping punches that I had to jerry-rig a method of holding in order to use them like stakes. Not knowing any better, I used 16 gauge copper and a 4 inch diameter starting disc so I had very little leverage to use in holding the disc against the stake while I hit it. This little guy took me a week of evenings to get formed!

Later, after I'd learned more about raising, it became my first practice piece to learn how to patina and how to apply gold leaf. The patina was good. The leafing job was... barely acceptable. Lots of weird spots and lumps where dust or something had contaminated the gold size (glue) or the leaf itself. So it sat on a shelf. Then, in this fall's class at Flo Valley, I had a chance to try commercial gold plating on a piece. This was something I'd been interested in for a while. So I took off the gold leaf, polished up the inside, masked off the outside, and sent it off to get electroplated. When it came back the patina was ruined. Lesson learned - plate before patina.

I wanted to see how well the plating would hold up to a hot patina process so this week I removed the old patina and re-applied ferric nitrate which goes on at about 212 to 220 F. The result is that the gold is unharmed but slightly darkened. I suspect that there may be some alloying of copper from the substrate to the plating. It's a nice look though. Unlike the gold leaf, this interior is safe to drink from.

Unfortunately, the plater missed a spot so I don't think this piece is saleable. But it's a good end to an experimental piece and I'll hang on to it as a reminder of where I started and how experimentation is always a good idea.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Weekly Challenge Dec 11, 2016

I've been laid low by a bad back this week, so there isn't much to report.

A picture on the web got me interested in trying chasing on air so I went to the studio and turned this out from a piece of scrap 22 gauge copper. First time I've tried a bracelet. I've since chased three more but haven't gotten them shaped, trimmed, and patinated. So just one piece this week.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Challenge Week One - Achievement Unlocked!

Despite some setbacks I was able to finish eleven pairs of earrings this week. They were UFOs* from a while back.

The three egg-shaped repousse ones are brass with a commercial patina, Birchwood Casey Cold Blue for Steel. It's intended for restoring gun bluing but I found that it makes a beautiful iridescent dark blue-purple on brass. I think it looks like beetle elytra (wing covers.)

The photo doesn't do it justice (because I'm not a very good photographer.)

The other earrings are copper. The skulls are jewelry saw exercises I did about two years ago and never turned into anything. The slender drops are a shape I call earfinger (that needs a different post.) Half of the copper earrings were patinated with vinegar and salt and the other half with ammonia and salt. They've been sealed with a spray urethane so the patina won't rub or flake off.

All eleven are on commercial earwires. I'm not certain if they are brass or gold-plated brass.
I'd intended to make my own wires but it turned out that I had the wrong wire and the jig I was going to use was a failure. I was in despair thinking that I was going to fail my challenge the first week.
But Carole managed to locate some earwires in her stash of beading and jewelry findings so I was saved. Thank you for hauling my butt out of the fire, dear.

There are only nine pairs showing in the photos because I took them all to the bluegrass jam at the Schlafly Bottleworks to finish putting them on ear wires and two pair sold before I had a chance to take a photo. So I'm a happy metalsmith!

On to week two!

* UFO = unfinished objects