Remember that little dome I showed you on Sunday night? Sure enough, I went back at it and made it more domey. I couldn’t stand the thought of making beads when I could be feeling the metal, now that I have a good place to feel it in. So, here are the things I’ve learned:
1. I love my orange and black Shroeder hand drill, and drilling wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. Good drill bits make drilling and subsequent clean-up much more efficient. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference between good and not-so-good drill bits just by looking, but I do know that the drill bits I bought from the jewelry supply were much better than the cheapy ones I bought at a local tool store. As much as I enjoyed my little schroeder hand drill, I couldn’t imagine using a flex shaft. Yet.
2. Polishing was not nearly as difficult as I had expected. I also did that by hand with felt polishing sticks, and really enjoyed taking my time and not worrying about my tiny little piece flying across the room, never to be found again.
3. I NEED liver of sulphur. Like, now.
4. Sawing was the most intimidating task I felt I had before me, and quite frankly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I made it out to be. As long as your sawing technique and position is correct, it’s no big deal. I sawed two lengths of tubing and was amazed at how easily it went as long as I did it right. Of course, I say that after sawing two times, for a total of less than 5 minutes. Perhaps my tune will change once I move on to sheet and more complicated tasks. I’m just over the moon because my blade didn’t break.
5. Filing is smooth and easy with good quality files, and was much more efficient than I had expected. I used a cheapy bastard mill from the local tool shop for big clean-up, then my habilis files for better smoothing, then my smaller no 2 files for final finishing. For the domes, I used emery sticks on the rounded surfaces, and thought that added an interesting matte finish. But I needed to learn about polishing so I went ahead and tried it. I used tripoli, then red rouge. The shine is good – not too mirrory. Again, I need some LOS for contrast for the dome pieces, and I’ll finally be completely happy with them.
the domes - dotty and holey
Next, I got out this simple old sterling ring with a beautiful green stone – it looks like chrysoprase to me. I can’t even remember how it came into my possession, which is odd, because I remember how I acquired every piece of jewelry I own. Anyway, the band had been squished, it was filthy dirty, and just to see what happened, I put it on my ring mandrel and carefully hammered the band back into shape. It worked quite well, except for one spot I couldn’t get to with my hammer. Then I polished it, and found that it was a smidge too shiny for my taste, and now I’m considering jazzing it up somehow. We’ll see how that goes, I could end up ruining the setting, but I think the stone will be safe and could be used for another project if it ends up that way.
And this evening: still being in the “throwing stuff to see what sticks” phase, I went ahead and tried coring a bead by hand, expecting disastrous results. This is the Big Victory I mentioned in the title. I made this big hole flower bead in 2004 or 2005 for this very purpose. (I guess I’ve been pondering working with silver for at least that long.) I’ve almost given it away about a dozen times, but I always decided at the last minute that I couldn’t. I was going through my bead box and it struck me, and I thought, what the heck. If it breaks, it breaks. Even if it doesn’t break and I completely screw up the core, it will be a valuable lesson. So I vaguely followed the Riveted and Silver Core tutorial by Tink on Wet Canvas – since I had a good grasp of the method and had read that tutorial several times over the years, all I needed to refer to it for was how much length to leave for the flare. (2mm on each end, in case you’re wondering.)
the big victory
I (apprehensively) used random sizes of dapping punches on the steel block, turning it over every few taps, and once it began to flare, I used larger and larger punches. One area wasn’t flaring as well as the others, and I think I just needed bigger punches because it finally evened out a bit once I tried them. Then I took my tiny brass/nylon combo hammer and gently tapped the flare the rest of the way down – sometimes on my rubber block, sometimes on my steel block – not too far, but just far enough that it was mostly even and didn’t have much play in and out of the hole. I goofed the metal up a bit, but I went ahead and polished it anyway – I may very well go back and file it a smidge in those areas, but hey! I didn’t crack the bead, and that’s all that matters to me at the moment. I wonder if lining the hole with beeswax helped cushion the impact a bit.
In case you hadn’t gathered, I’m very excited, particularly about the cored bead. I always felt like my big holed beads needed the silver core, not just for aesthetic purposes, but for an extra layer of protection between the glass and the chain I imagined them sliding around on. That’s how I wear mine.
Thanks for being excited with me!!! Perhaps next week (after I get some “real” work done) I’ll have more new excitements for you. Now, I’m going to eat something, then a beer that I hope will make me very sleepy.
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