Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Explorations in Metalsmithing

My fellow metalsmiths, Tracey & Margarita along with myself have taken on exploring new or revisited metalsmithing techniques twice a month. One of the first things we decided to tackle was etching. We had all etched before but had not done it in awhile. We started with copper etching. We tried different methods of "resist"on the copper. The resists varyied from Sharpie markers, finger nail polish, & laser toner based transfers. We all came out with some interesting effects that we found were mostly successful.

Tracey & I decided to take it a step further & explore etching on sterling silver. Stronger acid & more dangerous. Eeek! This time around I used asphaltum as the resist on my silver. It held up pretty good after a very short etch time. The longer the etching the more it under cut into the edges of my designs. I find that using asphaltum is is much easier to carve out the area you want etched than to carve out around the area. Meaning carving the positive versus the negative space. It just how my brain works.

I have always admired the decorative patterns of Gustav Klimt. In particular, I have been drawn to his "Tree of Life" painting.

One of my silver etchings is a simplified homage to his tree. I finally got around to making it into a piece of jewelry. I wanted a gemstone to give the piece some color & some interesting visual dimension. I chose a natural Australian boulder opal. This one had an earthy, root feel to it. I thought it worked perfectly. Here's the finished result:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I recently completed a custom wedding set based on one of my bands but with modifications. The client wanted to add diamonds to a 2mm wide band. I nodded politely & said "no problem." I remember being taught how to flush set stones but MUCH larger ones. I didn't even have all the proper tools yet. I ordered three extra stones just in case I lost, broke or chipped one (or two.) The mans version was easy. 6mm by 2mm hand hammered, brushed & oxidized, done. Her band was simple but I decided to make three. One for practice, one for potential mistakes, one for real. Of course, I used all three.

It is always a wonder that if you plan for it, you almost make your own destiny. The first one was fine just one diamond got set a little lower than I wanted. I salvaged the first one for my shop with some minor adjustments. The second one I broke a drill bit in it. Not much fun to get out but not impossible to do (usually.) I decided to go ahead with the third one to save time. It came out great! I didn't even loose one of those tiny teeny diamonds. I think I might incorporate them into my regular line. The diamond band is just so darn cute!