Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Heavy Metal Poisoning

1st project after getting back into metals
As of late I've gotten my hands back onto metals and it feels sooo good. Years ago, I had taken a jewelry/into to metals, semester-long class, which I loved and had wanted to take for a very long time. Since it all involved saws and torches and crucibles with molten metals, I had kind of cast the idea of working with metals on my own out of my mind until I was a world-famous fashion designer and have my own studio, so, you know, I'd have to wait a year or two. Then I got an opportunity to take another metals class in college, but realized upon reading the syllabus that the class was identical to the one I'd already taken. I mean, identical; I wasn't going to learn a single new thing, but it would take up a good 20 studios hours a week on top of the lab hours way across campus when I didn't have a car and had recently started experiencing health issues that severely limited my physical abilities. Add to that the fact that it had nothing to do with my major or graduating and was taking the class "for fun" (which I discovered doesn't really exist in college classes when you're scrambling to make up relevant hours so you don't end up as that 27-year-old sophomore who crashes frat parties during rush week and hits on the freshman boys who probably aren't even legal, but maybe I could get away with that since I'm asian and already look 10 years younger than I am already and… oh, sorry, I digress…). Long story short, I had once again abandoned the medium I once declared my love to. Well, as I stroll around Michael's a couple weeks ago while trying to sneak as many craft supplies and beads into my cart so my mom will pay for them I stumble upon some sheet metals, metal shears, eyelets, dapping blocks, etc. and realize that perhaps working with metals is once again within my reach! Granted, I couldn't sneakwith my that much without my mom realizing so I shelled out a chunk of change I had saved from Christmas (yes, I'm a 12-yet-old, I get it) plus that gift card I'd been trying with all my might to save and went home giddy as a little school girl.
My Evolving Jewelry "Lab"

Forget marijuana, beads are the real gateway drug. You start out with some string and pony beads, which leads to the more expensive wire and crimp beads, which leads to svarovski crystals and pendants and before you know it you're blowing every last cent on a new soldering kit, butane gas, a jeweler's saw and files, the whole shebang. If my mom every gets tired of my terrible spending habitsthat would be! Anyway, the point is, I have invested further and further into this hobby turned addiction, but I couldn't be happier. As I said in my previous post, the soldering has been put on the back burner (ha ha ha) for a little while until I feel I have watched a sufficient amount of videos and read enough tutorials to be confident my house won't be going up in flames. Ok, it may not be all that dramatic, but even though I've soldered before with a fuel system much more dangerous than the equivalent of a creme brûlée flamer I'm still hesitant to jump into it like I normally do. Well, lucky for me I am in no short supply of projects that need starting and/or completing, one of which is antique utensil crafting.
I'll have to remind her there are worse drugs of choice, I could have chosen to use diamonds or pure gold! Imagine how expensive

I've seen a plethora of jewelry pieces made from old spoons and forks and have wanted to do it myself for quite a while, but can never find the right utensils to start with. Sure, you can buy them online, but it
can get expensive and I really like to hand-pick my pieces and don't trust the internet for something like this. Needless to say I squealed with joy when I found a bounty of old silver-plate forks and spoons at a local antique shop and got myself a nice handful of interesting and pretty pieces to get started. My first attempt was a little bit of a failure, as I didn't do my due diligence of research on annealing metals and assumed I could just heat up a fork till it glowed and bend it, while hot.

My 1st Casualty
Things I learned:

  1. Annealing is not heating up metals so you can bend them while hot
  2. Annealing is actually heating up metal then quenching it, thereby softening it to bend while cool.
  3. Silverplate should never be annealed in the first place
  4. Last, and most importantly, 1+2+3= one sad broken fork (my favorite one, too)
I had reached a fork in the road (again, ha ha ha): do I once again abandon metals because they're more difficult, I'm not sure what I' doing, and they still scare me a little, or do I buck up, learn from my mistake, and try again (possibly sacrificing another adorable little fork? I decided to take the former option, this time googling "annealing metal" and reading past "heat the metal up until it glows a dull red" and actually realizing it needs to be cooled first and then realizing I didn't need to, nor should I, anneal my utensils. I will attempt to solder the fork back together, but for now I had my eye on my favorite spoon to experiment on (ok, I don't learn from all of my mistakes) . Of course, true to my form, I used this opportunity to buy yet even more equipment. Off to Lowe's I go to get a suction-down vice (my "workbench" top aka the bar in my basement is too thick for a clamp) and stainless steel sheet metal that I ingeniously clamped down to the table top with some big ass clamps then suctioned the vice down. I was then able to hammer and twist my new victim, a lovely little spoon, into the exact shape I wanted. I then drilled into the bowl and sawed a lovely heart out, used the piece of silver to make a tinier heart charm to dangle off of the negative space, and filed down all the edges. All without swearing even once! (yeah, right) I'm starting to really love this necklace, though, so this may become an Etsy casualty and end up around my neck instead. At least this is the first one… although my mom has poached several new pieces already, but she more than deserves it so I can let those slide. I could go on and on about the many metals project I've got going on right now, but I think I'll leave it here for now since this post (and all my others) is long enough.

Signing off,

No comments:

Post a Comment