Monday, July 25, 2011

July Project Blogroll - What are you working on?

This month's blogroll of the Aspiring Metalsmiths Team we're showing what we are currently working on. And there is that word, currently. Are all the half-finished, half-started things on my bench included in this? Or just the items that I have actually touched recently?

I have no idea if my way of working is similar to that of others or not. I sometimes sketch but most often don't. Usually I have bits of silver and stones lying around on my bench and sometimes they align themselves in a pretty way and I have a new pendant. I start things, and then forget about them. I make metal clay findings and then they lie around for a while (a while being between a few days and a year) until I find a use for them.

So my bench looks very much like the two upper pictures below. One thing that I really do work on is of course my wedding jewelry. I finished all the segments of my necklace and I'm working on a way to attach the focal stone without it hanging wonky. Another thing I'm working on - just started today - are matching earrings, but I have no picture of those yet.
Upper left: stones, half finished rings, and PMC stuff in progress
Upper right: my dish with some scrap, findings, solder, small stones
Center below: wedding jewelry in progress
Below is PMC work in progress. I did a big batch of fern earrings and some other stuff yesterday. Today most of that has been fired and the two pendants in the lower pic are still in progress. I touch up some areas with slip, let it dry, forget about it, sand, touch up again, sand, etc. That goes on until I either finish a piece or my cat steps on it and it's ruined. ;) 

Below is a spontaneous project that started after a few etching attempts that didn't really turn out great. I cut off the etched parts and two rectangles were left. Earrings of course! I decided to make a rough texture by banging them against a piece of granite and then I decided I would try and flush set two emeralds at the ends. 
In the pictures below I am 1- about to solder on the posts; 2- about to throw them in the pickle after soldering; 3- showing off flushed set emerald #1 while I still struggle with #2. The match functions as a support while I try and flush set, since the stones stick out slightly at the back. I stick the earring post in a drill hole in my wooden block while I work on setting the stone. 

Below are some miscellaneous things in progress. The blue slag has been on my bench for ages, and recently it's become more clear what I want to do with it. It's to be combined with garnet, a color combination which I love. I sawed out the back plate for the pendant and I'm going to try and set the bezel around it, so I need a perfect fit of back plate and stone.
The PMC leaf and boulder opal have also been on my bench for ages but only recently I started on the bezel. It's tricky to solder on the bezel because of the leaf vein structure. I'm cheating a little with PMC slip - I hope it works!
The pretty agua nueva agates have been set in step bezel wire from Rio, but I can't get the stones to stop wobbling and I'll have to take them apart again (I really don't wanna, so they're just sitting beside my bench right now).
And then there is the prong setting. I made this months ago from a piece of square wire. I intended it for a red spinel. Who knows, it may still end up in that setting!
Upper left: blue slag necklace in progress
Upper right: leaf with boulder opal
Lower left: agua nueva agate earrings - paused
Lower right: home made prong setting
Check out the blogs by my teamies to see what they're working on:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From berry to ring (and tummy)

The smultron. Or wild strawberry. I had found these occasionally in the Netherlands, where I'm from, but somehow they didn't have that smultron flavor. Only when I came to Sweden, and was prepared not to like them (as opposed to every body else here; saying you don't care for smultron is like blasphemy), I found out what they Could taste like. It's hard to describe the flavor if you haven't tasted it. It has hints of strawberry but is much more aromatic.
There is nothing like picking smultron on a warm summer's day. You stand there in the sun leaning forward and the warm sweet scent washes over you. They are tiny but even so I managed to fill an entire bowl the other day. Doesn't this look great:
John and I divided the harvest and had them with vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

For my jewelry I use a different part of the plant. When a strawberry plant sends out runners, the first leaves that come are these tiny tiny strawberry leaves. Here is a close-up:
I take these and paint several layers f metal clay paste on them, and after drying and firing they are silver leaves. I use them as details on for instance rings, like on this strawberry ring below: