Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cutting down spent shotgun shells

I got a request to make a shotgun shell ring in a smaller size than what was available in my Etsy shop, and the request included the possibility of taking down the height of the setting.  When I read that part of the request, I was on board - I wanted to make the settings lower on the original rings that I made but couldn't get past the material in the base of the spent shotgun shell.  It's a metal casing filled with a thick, solid plastic material and a center metal rivet.  So I set out to try to cut it down again, hoping for better results.

I tried using every type of flexshaft bit I had that I thought might cut through.  I got past the metal, but the plastic in the center just kept gumming up. I was thinking that I probably needed a different tool or set of bits...what I have is for metal and I needed to get through the plastic.  So I did a trillion web searches and found information on saws and rotozips and cut off wheels (cut off wheel: tried it.  Nope).  Then on search one trillion and one I found a mention of melting the plastic out instead of cutting through it...either through boiling or with a torch.

I wasn't about to try to boil those suckers.  I cannot even imagine the horrible mess that would make and I don't cross the line between jewelry workshop and food area.  So I tried heating the base and plastic of the spent shotgun shell and it WORKED!!  I found myself looking around to see if my imaginary audience was as surprised and delighted as I was...all that searching and cutting and general wasted effort and all I had to do was just melt the plastic out.  It literally took 30 seconds.

The other rings I made were fairly tall:

This one ended up being about half as high.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Equipment maintenance

When people look at a finished piece of jewelry I know they can see most of the materials and probably some of the techniques that go into that ring or pendant or pair of earrings.  But one of the things that might get lost is how much that piece cost in other, less visible resources.  The tools and equipment that are involved in making jewelry can be really expensive in two ways:  first in the cost of the purchase and then in time and effort in maintenance.

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours on cleaning and maintenance in my work area.  I didn't want to--I had ideas about things to make and half finished projects staring at me the whole time--but if I don't dedicate the time to doing that kind of stuff I know it will end up costing me a ton of money down the road in new equipment or repairs.

The piece of equipment I use most often is my flexshaft.  I used to have a hand drill with dremel bits but I upgraded to a Foredom a couple of years ago and wish I hadn't waited so long.  I can't think of a single metal item I make that isn't touched by the flexshaft at least once; most pieces require several passes with it at different stages.  I know I need to lubricate the flexshaft for it to work properly and for a long time...and it was way overdue.
I love this thing.
This turned out to be one of the easiest and fastest little tune-ups I did during that work session.  I remembered seeing this video that Melissa Muir put together a while ago to walk through the steps so I pulled that up for a refresher before I started.  I think the whole process takes five minutes (less if you have a screwdriver that fits the flexshaft and don't have to dig around for one).

Glad that's done.  This weekend I can get back to my projects with a clear conscience!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Artists Synchroblog - June Pinterest projects

I'm kind of a sucker for fashion trends.  I know I'm falling into a media trap, being groomed to buy certain things...but I can't seem to resist.  Instead of fighting it I've decided to try be strategic about it and use trendy pieces in small doses.  Maybe a dress here or a shirt there, but mostly with accessories.

My current obsession is with chevron prints.

I chose to make projects for this month's post is based on this pin from my Art/Inspiration board on Pinterest.  I like the contrast of the black and white and the clean lines. And the chevron. 

I started with a simple brass chevron pendant and added a light hammered texture to it. I was going for a summer necklace so I kept the length short.

I kept trying different chains on this copper and sterling chevron pendant and ended up making one to include a hook clasp so the length is adjustable. I like the contrast of the two metals with the brushed satin finish.

 My favorite of the bunch is this layered necklace.  It's chevron-ish without being too trendy.  I sold this one but I'm seriously thinking I need to make another one for myself. 

The Artists Synchroblog is a group of bloggers who post every other month on the same topic, sharing our experience or perspective. On alternate months we undertake a Pinterest Project where we each take inspiration from a Pinterest picture, create something (art, a meal, a DIY project, etc) and then post about it.  You can read more about the Artists Synchroblog here.

Don't forget to visit the other bloggers involved in the Artists Synchroblog to see what projects they made from their Pinterest inspirations:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Party prep

Here are a few of the things I've been working on lately to get ready for a jewelry party this weekend.  

This is by far my favorite.  It's simple but the layering of the two sterling chains makes it interesting.

I like how dainty this little sterling necklace is.  Wait, what does it say?


A sturdy geometric(ish) necklace:

And maybe the biggest fold formed cuff bracelet ever.  This thing is about four inches long.

I'm still finishing up a few more things; I'm never done prepping for a show or a party until it's actually time to leave the house.  Plenty of time to put those last touches on other items and maybe whip up a couple more...