Making Jewelry Storybook–Lines Bracelet

 What was it?

The last posting of what I had on the bench, I asked you to guess what it was I was making. I finished it and finally took some photos of it. You see the teaser below? It’s a bracelet, all right!

This is how I made it

First, I started with a bracelet blank; a strip of 16 gauge silver that is 6″ long. I took pieces of wire and formed them into various shapes, and melted some scrap silver into balls. You can see most of this laid out on the charcoal block. If you’re wondering what the white crud is that’s all over the metal, it’s a flux that prevents firescale. Sterling is notorious for taking up cupric oxide and it leaves a nasty purplish stain in the metal if you don’t take steps to prevent it from forming.

All the wires are sanded so they’ll sit flush on the bracelet blank. The wires are soldered on a few at a time, with cleaning baths in pickle in between solderings, and of course, more flux to prevent firescale before soldering again.
Here you can see the wires all soldered and the form pre-polished, before filing and forming the blank into the bracelet.
And now the purdy…
I love the movement of the lines on the bracelet, and how that movement changes, depending on which angle it’s viewed. You can go to this link to see a few more pictures of the Flowing Lines bracelet from different angles:
Thanks for stopping by to read! You can find more stories on Making Jewelry Storybook posts. Learn how handmade jewelry goes from sheet and wire to be fabricated into volumetric and gorgeous jewelry.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

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On the Bench!

Working on the concept
This is one of my current projects. Maybe you can guess what it is, but I’m not going to tell you until it’s finished and I have it in a Storybook Jewelry posting. But I like the way the lines move on this piece. It’s somewhat similar to the honking big amethyst pendant in another Storybook Jewelry posting. I think I’m going to have to do a whole series of this type of pattern development to get it out of my system. These have been some of my more enjoyable ones, so it might take awhile. I have a whole season of downtime (my favorite and most creative time!) coming up. 

If you have any ideas of what you think “lines” might look good in jewelry, why don’t you give me some feedback. You never know when I might use those suggestions to make something. I depend on feedback from people to help me develop jewelry that gets noticed!

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

For the Metalheads–Sanding Small Parts

Tired of bloody fingers?

It’s always a pain to sand small parts quickly and efficiently, and you tend to shred some skin in the process. If you’re going to solder two parts together it’s imperative that you have both surfaces in good contact with one another, and that means you need to get rid of high spots and have flush fittings.

You need a handle!

You need some tape. Duct tape or electrical tape are good because they have very sticky adhesive. My personal favorite is Gorilla Tape, but sometimes it can be overkill, but it’s great for very tricky sanding jobs. For the purposes of the photos, I’ve used masking tape so it will show up better against the surfaces.

You need to have about 2″ of tape for the “handle” and enough additional tape for the “legs” that will cover most of the piece. Double the tape in half, and stick together the first inch for the handle and then stick the two “legs” onto the piece, as shown in the photo below. Press the “legs” firmly onto the piece.

Now you can grasp the “handle” while you’re sanding and have a secure grip on your piece. Sanding is easy!

Be sure to remove the tape adhesive before soldering, and make sure the whole piece is squeaky clean before soldering. You know the saying, “If it ain’t clean, it ain’t gonna solder.”

Another pointer for a really small piece

If your piece is too small for tape, you can use the eraser off a pencil as a handle. Just push the eraser onto the piece to embed it. I like the white erasers that come off mechanical pencils, and you can buy them at stationary stores in a tube of erasers for replacements. They have the right amount of stiffness to grab them and not disintegrate, and yet soft enough to push down onto and embed a piece into them.

Wait! What’s that sanding surface?

Aha. So you noticed my actual sanding block. I use 3M’s finishing film stuck onto one of my bench blocks (I have two), in the 100 micron size. Sorry, can’t find the mu symbol for micron in this program. It’s self-adhesive, sands quickly and because of the close-tolerance graded media, no huge scratches that have to be sanded down further.

The bench block is perfect. It’s very flat, has a decent surface size and it’s heavy enough not to move around. I still have the other side to use for flattening things and other stuff a bench block is used for. I do have a small piece of rotary cutting mat I keep under it so it won’t scratch my bench (not that you could tell really), and that mat also dampens sound when I’m banging on the bench block.

I don’t get paid any kind of endorsement for touting 3M’s products (wish I did!), but they have some awesome things I just can’t get along without. The finishing film is one, and the other are the bristle disks for both your flex shaft and your bench polisher. That’s for another posting.

If you liked this tip, look for other tips in the “For the Metalheads” postings.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

How to Get Started Making Jewelry

I have a lot of people ask me how they can start making jewelry. They love jewelry and they have a creative side, and they’d love to combine the two.

It’s not as hard as it used to be

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it used to be when I began. There’s a wealth of material out there now, in both books and DVDs. If you go to Amazon.com, all you have to do is a search for “how-to” and then a technique you think you might like to learn. There are some exceptional ones out there for every skill level.

The best way

You’re not going to be able to jump right into making soldered jewelry without training of some sort, like a college class or some beginner workshops. There are a lot of different facets required for this type of work, and you have to learn to use a lot of equipment safely. It just helps to have a live body nearby to guide you, so you can observe in real time and ask the questions you need answered.

When formal education isn’t an option

If you don’t have the time, the money or live close enough for this to be an option, there are other things you can do. There is beading, wire work, resins and polymer clay. You can even find free online videos for many of these things. Also consider getting magazine subscriptions. Some places offer online subscriptions for the same price as print. These are nice because you can print out just the projects you like, and you don’t have to be storing a whole magazine. You can even pick up a whole year’s worth of back issues on one CD!

There is another alternative called “bridge jewelry” that is generally made with metal clay (Precious Metal Clay and Metal Art Clay). This is where you start crossing over the line into fabricating metal jewelry and can be accomplished with a minimum amount of tools. Even though it’s kiln fired and you have no kiln, you can  have it fired at a local pottery. For less than $100 buy a small trinket type of kiln that can be fired with a plumber’s portable propane bottle or with a butane torch that is used in restaurants, usually for making creme brulee.

Is any of it free?

Several places I point people to is ArtJewelryMag.com and JewelryArtistMagazine.com. Both have free online video and printed projects, ranging from beginner to intermediate in a variety of mediums. If you type in “jewelry tutorials” in Google, you’ll have more tutorials, many free, than you’ll have time to explore. Just start with one that you really like, and make sure it’s from a reputable source. Two I recommend are Rio Grande http://www.youtube.com/user/RioGrande1944 and Ganoksin http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/videos I’ve seen some things on video from amateurs that are just dangerous, so use careful judgement when trying to learn from free video postings.

And that means…

Don’t expect perfect results the very first time. You’ll get better with each progressive project though, and with experience you learn how to turn your goofs into serendipitous exploration. Yeah, I know that’s a big and pretentious word, but any of my students know that when I yell out, “Serendipity!” in a workshop, it means it’s a learning experience. Just read that as, “I did a goof and I’m going to act like it’s the greatest design focal point anyone has ever seen.” And actually, when you look at it that way, you’ll get away from your preconceived ideas and start making things that are truly original and fabulous. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, just as we all have, and you’ll learn from it. I’m still learning from my mistakes, and I’ve been doing this for a loooooong time. I don’t want to say how long because that will give you an idea of my age!

Occasionally, you’ll run across a kindly soul who will mentor you, either in making jewelry, design or learning business skills. They’ve been down your road at one time, and if they’re willing to impart knowledge, listen to them. They’re worth their weight in gold!

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Thank You to our Veterans

Thank you to all our veterans today, past and present. Those I know include my husband, father, father-in-law, uncles, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws and nephews. In addition, many of our friends, and those who supported all the veterans on the home front.

Please take a moment to honor this day, even if it is only a moment of reflection.

Odie and the Oh-Duh! Moment

We got Odie from the dog pound. He’s German Sheppard, or mostly Sheppard. We named him Odie, after the cartoon Garfield’s sidekick. If it’s any kind of ball–tennis ball, snow ball, basketball–you get the idea, he has to chase it. He will also go though anything that stands in his way of getting the ball. He’s not too bright but he’s a lot of fun. One of our kids explains this as, “Not only does his elevator not go to the top floor, there are days when that elevator doesn’t get out of the basement.”

15 lbs. beef brisket, 107 lbs. walking stomach

As an example, consider the brisket story. Sometimes when our little grocery store in our little town 30 miles away, doesn’t have much in the way of selection, I’ll buy a whole brisket for $2 a pound, cook up the whole thing and use if for a variety of meals.

One night, after slow roasting the brisket for 4 hours, I proceeded to shred the meat. I was about half-way through the brisket when Mother Nature called.

Animals are not allowed in my kitchen. Ever. We train them from the first day that the kitchen is not their space. We have a little motion detector birdie that acts as the “squealer” until they learn.

So no problem if I happen to need to go upstairs to use the facility, since there isn’t one downstairs. I proceeded to do so on this particular day, without any thought of leaving a large dog within sight of a beef brisket unsupervised. Which this particular one weighed in around 15 pounds. The brisket, that is. The dog weighs in at about 107 pounds.

Oh-Duh!

I came back down to finish shredding the brisket. All the meat I had shredded was…GONE! After looking around for the culprit, I see Odie curled up on the cat’s sleeping pad, or rather trying to curl up on the cat’s sleeping pad. He couldn’t quite get curled up because his stomach looked like he was ready to birth an elephant. And he is trying his hardest to act nonchalant, as if nothing has happened, nothing is out of the ordinary. He had the same innocent look on his face like in the picture above.

“Odie…”

Odie’s eyebrows twitch up and down. He puts on his most innocent look.

“Who me?”

Odie spends the next two days outside more than in. We could have had a methane explosion if he was around, not to mention the desperate dashes outside. He also didn’t want anything to eat for the next two days. His innards were working overtime, and didn’t need any additional abuse, I think.

Anymore, if I’m in the middle of something involving food, and I can’t see the kitchen directly, I pop whatever it is in the oven and close the door. Just in case.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Making Jewelry Storybook–Baroque Ammolite Pendant

A lapidary from Canada gave me some gorgeous free form (baroque) ammolite for some help I had given to him on making a concha repousse’ die. There are only a few places in the world that have ammolite. Ammolite is the opalized form of ammonite. Ammonite is the fossilized form of a cephalopod of the Cretaceous period. They looked very much like a nautilus. The opalization occurs mostly in the greens and reds, but occasional flashes of bright cobalt blue are also visible.

The one I chose to work with was a large piece. I wanted to make a setting that was in keeping with the ancient properties of the ammolite, and I wanted something to bring out the color, and balance the shape.

After sketching out the basic idea, I began playing with some things that might accomplish this.

What I started with

I chose some pine needle castings for their strong linear forms and some chrome diopsides in various hues to accent the green in the ammolite. I had to make some tube settings by soldering together some telescoping tubing since I didn’t have the right size of tubing.

Taking shape!

Here you see the tubing soldered together and cut into settings, ready for the seats for the stones’ girdles to be cut. I’ve arranged the pieces loosely to approximate how the final setting will look.

Ta-da!
Here’s the finished piece that I’ve put on my Etsy website. Gorgeous, isn’t it? This is why I like working with pretty stones.

Thanks for the stones Gerry–they are absolutely lovely! (And I still think I got the better part of the deal.)
If you’ve enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the “Making Jewelry Storybook” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

For the Metalheads–3 Steps to Cutting Tube Settings

Tube settings are really nice for setting stones, but if you’re making your own from tubing, it can be frustrating. You carefully mark it, cut it, and you think you have it level…And darnit, it’s not level and it’s canting to the side. So you carefully sand it, taking down the high side, and it looks level until you set it on your bench block to check it, and darnit, it’s still not level! You seriously contemplate buying one of those expensive jigs so you won’t have to keep going through this frustration.

No frustration method

Well, this is the cheap and fabulously easy way to do it. First you need to get a mini tubing cutter from a hardware store. It’s used for cutting small copper pipe for gas or waterline piping. They cost less than getting the #1 meal from McDonald’s and you’ll still have change left over.

Mark it

Next mark how high your setting needs to be with a pair of calipers. You only need to mark the tube just enough so you can line up the mark to the roller wheels in the tubing cutter.

Cut it

Align the mark you made on the tubing to the sharp roller. Adjust the knob (black knurled knob in this photo) so that it snugs the tubing up between the sharp roller and the two roller guides. Make sure the tubing is straight and snug.

Grab the other end of the tubing with something to keep it from rotating while you’re cutting. I usually use my round nose pliers. Put a little lube on the cutting wheel of the tube cutter. Rotate the cutter around the tube. As it cuts, it gets a little loose. You have to tighten the wheel by using the knurled knob every few turns to snug it up to your tubing. Keep rotating until you’re all the way through.

Finish it!

Ream the bur from the inside. I use my round pliers for this or I stick my tweezers in the end to ream out the bur.

Finish by sanding the cut edge to smooth it.

Your result is perfectly perpendicular cuts and you can repeat it exactly for however many settings you need.

This also works for heavy wire. Although the cutter won’t go all the way through the wire, it will leave you a very nice slot so you can saw it evenly. The caveat is that it won’t do very short lengths for tube settings, and there is a limit on how small or large the diameter of the tubing you can use in the gadget. When your tubing gets too short to use the tube cutter, use the left over piece of tubing for a bail.

Look for other postings like this in “For the Metalheads” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Cow Patty Cookies

a.k.a. Cow Patties

Everyone has their favorite cookie recipe. This is the one my family seems to like the best. If you’re allergic to anything, don’t eat these cookies. And yes, they look amazingly like their namesake, so best to keep the name to yourself until well after a guest has one.

Cow Patty Cookies
2 sticks (1 C.) melted margarine, not butter
2 C. white sugar
2 C. brown sugar
18 oz. jar of peanut butter
6 eggs
1 Tbsp. syrup of any kind
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 tsp. baking soda
18 oz. box of quick oats
12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
1 C. chopped nuts
14 oz. bag coconut
1 C.-2 C. raisins
Melt the butter, stir in the sugars. Add the peanut butter, syrup, vanilla and eggs, and stir well. Add the baking soda and stir well. Add the quick oats and stir well. Add the chocolate chips, nuts, coconut and raisins and stir well.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 10 min. until medium golden brown and they have just started to slump. Cool slightly and remove to cool completely. Makes about 10 dozen.
These store well, and can be frozen cooked or as raw dough. In the summertime I take the raw dough and press it into a cookie sheet until all the dough is the same level. Another cookie sheet on top of the dough works well to level it, as my cookie sheets have a lip and are the same size.
Then I lightly score small squares of the sheet of dough, and make a package out of 2 dozen of the squares at a time. I wrap them in that Press ‘n’ Seal, then put those stacked up into a gallon size heavy duty freezer Ziploc.
When I want some cookies, I can just take out a package and cook up a couple dozen, which is about right for after supper while I do the dishes. Because it’s fairly late at night, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen.
The recipe came from an aunt who had an off-beat Okie humor. Is there such a thing as off-beat Okie humor? Or is it all Okie humor is off-beat and completely normal? Well, actually, she was a transplant, so we can’t say all of it was Okie humor..

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Workshops in Lander, WY

I’m going to be doing several workshops in Lander in October. The first one is Oct. 1, 2011, and it will be an Egyptian coiled bracelet. All the tools will be supplied and you’ll take your finished project home that day.

On October 15, 2011 I’ll be doing a class on introductory etching on metal. This is a fun workshop and we won’t be using caustic acid, but instead a mordant that is generally used to dye textiles. There won’t be anything to memorize and the projects are simple to make. All the supplies are included in the cost.

With this one we’ll be doing direct resist methods, which means you draw on your own patterns. It does not mean you need to be any kind of an artist! You can write a name or draw a stick figure, and you’ll be amazed at how well it looks on metal. Etching is also useful for the guys who want to do PCBs for their electronic projects.

This isn’t a full-fledged workshop course on etching, but more of a laid-back and fun class. You’ll have great projects to take home!

You can register for the classes through Central Wyoming College. Click on Non-Credit Courses for the Fall Schedule at this link:

http://www.cwc.edu/what/outreachcenters/lander