Tag Archives: blue

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 24: Back to the Beginning Dragonfly

The “back to the beginning” in the title is a reference to where I started with jewellery.  A pair of round-nosed pliers, a pair of snipe-nosed pliers and some wire-cutters rattled around in my first tool-box and I worked with silver-plated wire and crystal beads from a well-known hobby store (in the UK).

That was about five years ago and my first pieces were wire-wrapped earrings.  I soon progressed to sterling silver wire and semi-precious stones, but it wasn’t until I got my blow-torch  that I really started to broaden both my skills and designs.  (I had learned to solder and arc-weld at college w-a-a-a-y back in my youth as an art student.)

The reason I’m in the reminiscing mood is because I’ve had to put down my torch for today.  My little girl is a bit under the weather and we’ve had a lovely day doing nothing-much but watching films and playing Lego Rock-band.  Not wanting to disappear to my bench, I decided to make something while we sat watching another Scooby Doo film.

That meant that I could only use enough stuff that I could sit on a tray on my lap and only cold-connections.  I’ve got some lengths of gold-filled (better than gold-plated as it’s got thicker layers of gold and is more resistant to polishing and general wear & tear) round wire that I’ve not really found much use for (it can be really hard to solder without the gold fading by being absorbed into the core metal).  Well, I’ve had an idea for a dragonfly brooch for a while and so today seemed a great day to try it out.

I found a picture of a dragonfly that I liked:

I sketched it out on paper and decided on how the wire would have to be wrapped together to make the shape.  Then I got my first piece of wire and made the first loop (for right at the top, so it could be a pendant as well as a brooch if needed).

All the crystals used were either Swarovski® or Czech crystal beads.  I used two black ones for eyes and Light Sapphire for the body with the “tail”  in Metallic Crystal Blue ABx2 (twice coated in the Aurora Borealis finish, which gives the crystals a multi-coloured sheen), and the wings in a mix of AB crystal in different sizes/shapes.

The main outline, including the wings and legs, was made first out of 0.8mm gold-filled round wire.  Then the eyes, body and “tail” were beaded.  I added a brooch fitting (sadly in a base metal, as I didn’t have any other and wasn’t going to make a brooch pin as I wasn’t soldering today) and wound the wire round to secure it.

I didn’t totally fill the wings with beads – I liked the lacy look came with having spaces in-between the beads.

This piece turned out bigger than I actually had expected.  It measures approximately 7.5cm across the wings and 7cm from head to tail.

It reminded me of how difficult I found this type of jewellery – I find it really hard to make the wire-wrapping neat, and tight against the wire.  I’ve always had respect for those who can make beautiful things without being able to solder or rivet; but today has reminded me that I shouldn’t neglect to refine all my learned jewellery techniques and still strive to learn more – as they are all facets of this craft that I love.

Update:  I’m so sorry that this didn’t make it onto the blog yesterday (when I wrote it), I thought I had posted it but only noticed that I hadn’t when I came to write today’s post.

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 8: From Daisies to Roses

I used to have this beautiful rose ring, with a large central rose and stems with leaves entwined around it.  Sadly, one day the shank broke off and it wasn’t possible to re-solder it together.  Today, in memory of that pretty little ring, I have made a Rose pendant in the same style – using a fired PMC rose with scraps of silver sheet and 1.5mm round silver wire.

Soldering fine/pure (.999%) silver to sterling is very difficult (or at least it is for me!) and so I treated the silver wire (depletion gilding) to give it a coat of fine silver, which would make it easier to solder.

With the sterling wire, I created the basic shape of my stem and then soldered the rose onto it.  I cut smaller pieces of wire and soldered these on as off-shoots of the main stem.  I curled the ends round to both look pretty and to give me something to hang my sparkles from.

The leaves I cut from scrap pieces of 0.5mm silver sheet.  After a quick file to get rid of any sharp edges, I took my tiny jewellers screwdriver (with a flat head) and hammered a curved line down the middle of each one.  This gave the leaves some shape and definition.  I put the leaves in place and soldered them, all at the same time, with easy solder.  Some of the leaves had a bit too much solder for the small area needing soldering; and excess solder leaked onto the surface of the leaves, masking the texture and shape that I had just added.  Oh well, they still looked good, so I didn’t mind too much.

A quick dip in the pickle and a polish with the silicon wheels, brought up the silver nicely.  I didn’t want a high shine on the stems and leaves – I wanted to have some contrast to the rose, which I would polish up more later on.

I’ve been using “Gilding Wax” for a while instead of Liver of Sulphur to give colour to the detailing in some of my pieces.  The black is easy to apply and gives a dense coverage.  After about an hour, I rub in some “Renaissance Wax” to seal the gilding wax in place; then wait a few minutes more and polish off the excess renaissance wax.  This keeps the colour on the silver but any pieces with this finish can only be polished using a polishing cloth.  Silver dip or liquid polish would ruin the colour or totally polish away the wax.

I wanted to use the marquise cut, clear (white) cubic zirconium (CZ) again; so I found in my scrap box an old “cinch” bezel type finding.  It’s a thin piece of flat wire which has been curled inwards so it’s more of a c-shape in cross-section.  It’s most usually seen as a complete item, with a loop at the top and a place just under the loop to squeeze shut with pliers (after the gem is set).  This tightens the wire around the gem so it can’t fall out.  Anyway, I had re-cycled some gems that were mounted this way and I had kept the cinch bezel pieces for a rainy day.  I cut the wire to size and shaped it around the CZ gem.  As it was only a small gem, and one I had heated successfully before, I soldered the wire ends together with the gem mounted inside.

Remember to not quench any stone/gem/crystal that you heat – it will cool way too quickly and will crack or break.  Some CZ’s and crystals will change colour after heating and I wouldn’t suggest it with a stone over 5mm (round).  If you are going to heat a stone, either have a spare in case of disaster or check the place you purchased it from – most sites have information of this sort freely available.

The rose pendant is back in the pickle pot as I type this.  I wasn’t happy with one of the soldered joints and so I’ve re-soldered it and now am waiting to be able to polish it. So, I’m going to post this and then add the photo tomorrow (or later tonight, if I’m still up).  Sorry for not persevering now but the head-cold is still making me feel rough and I need a bit of a rest.

UPDATE:
Apologies for the awful photo – 12:30am isn’t the best time for me to be taking photos but this is the first time I’ve had all day to do it. Anyway, I hope it gives you an idea of what the rose pendant looks like!

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day Seven: Lost Little Kitty

Still feeling really awful with this head-cold, so decided to do a little light sorting out to start the day off gently.  I found a box of nail varnishes, old “The Crow” film cards (still my favourite film, even now) and some other odds and ends.  Right at the bottom was a small fired PMC charm I had made as a test piece when trying out water etching for the first time.

This technique is used to remove areas of “green” PMC (dried but not fired) to mimic acid etching  but without the use of dangerous chemicals.  A resist is applied to the areas that you want to keep and then, using water and a sponge, the exposed areas are wiped away –  leaving a lower surface that you can enamel or colour and fill with resin (or even coat with gold!).  There is a great explanation of this technique by CeCe Wire in a book called “Precious Metal Clay Techniques“.

The design on the charm was a cat looking up at the moon, and I had used nail varnish as the resist medium.  It had worked well, but as the charm had been so small (I’m very mean when it comes to trying out ideas with expensive materials!), the picture had suffered somewhat by the fine detail being rounded off by the process of wiping away.  After firing (the resist is burned away), the charm had been finished off with layers of UV resin tinted blue (shaded darker around the shapes).

I found a partially wire-wrapped scroll shape (about 5cm long) which I did have plans for, but had never got around doing anything with.  This would be the main body of the pendant.  Firstly, I soldered the wire-wrapping to make it more durable and also to join the two scrolls to the middle wire more securely.  A o.8mm round wire was also soldered to the middle at the back.  When soldering thin wire, it is very easy to overheat the wire and have it melt (especially if your head isn’t feeling like it still belongs to you and you keep on sneezing!) – which is exactly what happened here.  One end of the wire thinned in the middle as it overheated.  But no need to panic.  I just heated the wire again (very gently this time!) and added some easy solder to the area which had thinned.  Any extra solder was filed away after quenching and the wire was once again 0.8mm and round.

After a short dip in the pickle to get rid of any fire-stain, I gave the wire-wrapped piece a sand and polish with my silicon wheels and polishing cylinders with my hand-held rotary drill.  Then I added Swarovski® crystals in Sapphire and Light Sapphire 2xAB,  as well as silver beads in-between, to both top and bottom wires.  The wires were then wrapped around the main piece and loops created for the bail at the top and the charm at the bottom.  I curved the wires holding the crystals to compliment the curves of the main form.  I added the charm at the bottom and here’s the finished article: