This blog is meant to be a record of my adventures as a new home-based business owner. Starting my jewellery business was one of the most daunting things I've ever done, next to giving birth. Especially since I was (am?) pretty technically stunted. In this blog I will describe the trials, tribulations and, hopefully, eventual successes I experience while navigating the world of (really, really, really small) business. I also plan to use this blog to talk about all the aspects of jewellery design that fascinate me, keep me addicted, and cause me to spend thousands of dollars (What, honey? No, I didn't say thousands...) on gemstones, beads, findings, etc. I welcome your input, ideas, and stories of similar experiences in beading, jewellery design, or running a handcrafts business.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Directions

Wow, I can't believe my last post was in the fall!  In the last few months I've been getting more and more into metalwork, and not doing much in the way of beading.  I bought a soldering torch, and experimented with both soldering and fusing.  I made some soldered copper links in different sizes, and added them to new necklace designs.  I even made a rope length necklace out of copper links and chain.  Check them out here.

These are fun to  make, but there are a lot of steps, and they take a long time.  Also, I'm having some difficulty with the soldering.  First, what is the best kind of solder and flux to use?  There are so many brands, forms, levels of hardness, etc., it's hard to know what is the best kind of solder and/or flux to use with each type of wire.  So far, I've used silver solder (wire format) and paste flux.  The technique I use is to cut the wire solder into teensy pieces, and lay one teensy piece underneath the join, which I've coated with paste flux.  Then I direct the heat onto the seam, and since the solder flows toward heat, it flows up through the join.  My problem is that the solder hardens into a big lump over the joint, and it's hard to file off.  The biggest problem is that while filing off the solder, the file makes ugly scratches in the metal, and I can't get rid of them. 

Another problem I'm having is this: after I've soldered the link, if I want to give it a hammered finish, the hammering dislodges the soldered joint, and the link opens.  ARRRGGHHHH! Really annoying. If anyone has any ideas about how to sidestep these problems, please let me know.

I've also been experimenting with dapping metal disks.  I bought a metal dapping block like this one...

and a wooden block like this one.

I've made a few domed and hammered copper disks, and put holes in them to hang them as pendants or earrings.  I made some bead caps too, like these.

I used this handy-dandy hole punch tool to put the holes in the metal disks.  It's really easy to use, and makes nice, neat holes. 

Just last weekend, I tried making stacking rings.  I used 16-gauge argentium silver half-round wire.  I bought a ring mandrel and a rawhide mallet.  I cut a piece long enough for a size 9.5 ring (I know, I have fat fingers) and filed the ends nice and flat so they would meet perfectly.  For the first ring, I soldered the joint.  It turned out quite nice, after I filed it a lot.  Then I hammered them on the ring mandrel with the rawhide hammer.  For the second and third rings, I tried fusing instead of soldering.  The first one I fused kind of melted a bit at the joint.  The second one worked better.  I hammered and oxidized the ring that melted a bit, and that hid the melty bit.  I'm happy with my rings, but next time I'll try making a wider one.

I plan on experimenting more with rings, and maybe I'll try doing a brushed finish on some of them.  Another project I'm working on is setting up a permanent studio space in my bedroom.  I live in an apartment, so space is hard to come by.  I can't wait to get up when I'm finished and just leave everything where it is, instead of having to clear everything away so we can eat dinner on the table.  I'll post some pictures when this project gets under way. 

Good night, all!

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