Tag Archives: cat

Aside

Do you know how a top jewellery designer spends their day? Well, I don’t know either, but here’s what I get up to on my typical jewellery making day (this being a Friday) … 7:30am – woken up by Siamese … Continue reading

A Brief Pause and a Time to Reflect Before Beginning Again

I’ve just realised how long it’s been since my last post.  In the big scheme of the Universe (or Facebook, if you know what I mean) it’s only been the blink of an eye but to me the time has been an eternity.

My Frodo, my beautiful boy and friend in fur, passed away from complications due to his kidney disease in early November 2011 and I’ve not had the heart to post anything since.

I’ve still been making jewellery, both successful and not so successful, and I’m still learning with each experience.  There are new stories to tell and things I can’t wait to share, but first, I want to acknowledge this pause and take a deep breath to steady myself before diving back into the waters of blogdom.

So, here’s to my Cheshire Cat, Frodo, who inspired me, watched me work, and could always find a clear spot on my workbench to watch the birds from.  He will be missed forever.

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 18: My Own Cheshire Cat. UPDATE!

As I said yesterday, My boy Frodo is my own Cheshire cat and this brooch is based upon him. (Please check out the previous post for the details of how I made it.)  I’ve now done the photos and, even though I think I still need to do more polishing, here they are:

First is the design I came up with.  It was originally to have had a gold ring suspended from a loop at the back, so it looked like he was holding it.  This was because of both of his name (Frodo from Lord of the Rings with the One Ring) and because it could then be used as a brooch to hold spectacles when they’re not being worn (not my typical type of jewellery, but it was a work in progress sort of idea).

As you will see from the photo of the finished brooch (see below), I decided against adding the ring.  The brooch looked pretty enough without it; although if I make another one, I may add one to see how it would look in real life.

The photo doesn’t show very well that the silver contrasts beautifully against the copper.  I know I need to polish it more, but I am quite proud of how smiley this Cheshire cat looks – just like my Frodo.

Oh, and I promised I’d post a photo of my beautiful boy – so here he is:

Beautiful, isn’t he?

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 18: My Own Cheshire Cat

My boy Frodo is my own Cheshire cat.  Not only is he stripy and is a pale orangey-pink, he was also born in Cheshire and he has the cutest smiley mouth (it really does turn up at the corners and looks like he’s smiling).

Now Frodo has always been important but even more so now that he has CRF (Chronic Renal Failure or Kidney disease to the rest of us).  I’ve got lots of sketches of him as he is quite the laid-back kitty, and I decided to turn one into a brooch design.

As he is such a pale coppery pink, what better than to make his brooch out of copper.  I used the same technique as with yesterday’s bat pin but with silver wire on copper sheet.  I won’t go into the same details (go read my bat post!) but I will say that after cutting out all the pieces, I soldered the face first, the leg next and then soldered both to the body.

I don’t know if it was just me, but I had way more trouble soldering silver onto copper than copper onto silver.  I think that the melting point of copper is lower (don’t quote me on that until I can go check) but anyway it was a headache I could do without and I think I spent way too much time soldering and problem-solving because of it.

I don’t have any way of cutting tiny circles, except by hand, so I decided to take two of my silver beads (they were flattish rather than round to begin with) and hammer them flat.  I also filed into the middle to make the cat-eye shape I wanted.

The brooch pin was made by coiling silver wire around a thin mandrel about 4 times (you could use a thin knitting needle or a metal skewer as long as it’s cross-section was round) and soldering the last loop of the coil to the back of the brooch.  The unsoldered loops of the coil are then (as one) pulled 90° to the side (making sure the tail of the pin is uppermost) and then the pin is trimmed to size and the end filed to a point.  I don’t push the pin down horizontal to the back until after I have added the catch.  The catch was added the same way but the wire had only one loop which was soldered in place.  The tail of the wire was then cut to size and curled round, leaving a gap for the pin to tuck under and be held in the curve of the catch.

I wanted the silver to have a high shine but the copper to be more muted.  With this in mind, I  haven’t tumbled this piece but polished by hand and with silicon polishing wheels on the rotary “drill”.

As I type, it’s 1am and my Frodo brooch is still a little polish away from being finished.  I will post this and then add the photo tomorrow, when it’s all shiny and pretty.  I’ll also add a photo of the pretty boy it’s based on.

BTW, just in case anyone was wondering … Frodo was originally a nickname for him when he was a little kitten and we were trying to think of a proper name.  He has the hairiest, tufty-est paws I had ever seen (he’s half Maine Coon) and he ate at least seven breakfasts a day.  The name just stuck and forever after, he has been known as Frodo (but more often as Mr Frodo or Frodo Bun (short for bunny – a term of endearment, just not a species-correct one).

“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: