Thursday, September 29, 2011

Metalsmithing - Week 4

As you know from my previous posts, I am taking my metalsmithing class at the Appalachian Rock Shop in Harmony, PA.  Well, before I go any further, you must check out their new web site!  It's beautiful!  There is something for everyone:  the mineral and fossil collector, casual and/or metalphysical rock enthusiast, jewelry collector, artist, children and educators! Click on the shop's name above and have a visit!
Back  to my classes.  Today we continued working on the bail for my pendant.  I decided to add some texture to the bail so I took a ballpeen hammer and added some ball-like indentations.  Of course, this hardened the metal, so, once again, we had to go through the annealing process. We then continued the process of shaping the bail so that it would fit snugly onto the pendant - pinch, squeeze, hammer - it's a process! After fluxing the entire piece, front and back, it was secured to the firing block. In this step, we used medium solder and small pieces were placed around and within the bail and it was fired, quenched and placed in the pickle for cleaning. Now for the hard stuff - the sanding begins. I went to the bench pin and began this process. Whoops - a little error here - not realizing, I turned the piece over to do some sanding on the back side without protecting what I did on the front - nothing major, but in doing this, the front got scratched from the bench pin that I was using to stablize the metal while I worked. Before turning it, I should have protected what was already done by covering it with masking tape! That was today's biggest lesson for me!! By this time, three hours had gone by and it was time to shut down for some festivities! The shop celebrated three birthdays today and we had pot luck - cheese, crackers, chicken croissants, jambalya, ambrosia fruit salad, cake, cheese cake, cookies, artichoke dip - these gals KNOW HOW TO PARTY! It was great fun.

Thanks for stopping by to see the posts. No class for two weeks, so I'll post more then. This piece is still in the sanding/polishing process, so hopefully, the next photo you see will be one of a completed pendant!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Metalsmithing - Week Three - Creating the bail...

Today we soldered all the pieces of my Ying and Yang pendant. I had to place the piece on the fire brick, set the copper pieces onto the nickle silver round where I wanted them and pin them into place. Pinning the pieces is done with pieces of wire and T-pins to keep the pieces from moving while they are being torched. With assistance from Jo, the pieces were easily soldered, quenched in water, and placed in the pickle for about 10 minutes for cleaning.

Next we set about creating a bail. I did several tracings on paper, cut them out, and folded them in half in the form of a bail to try different sizes against the focal piece. Once I found the tracing of choice, it was traced on tracing paper and wrapped around the nickle silver (set with glue stick) and I was off to the bench pin to saw out another piece of metal. I did get a few scratches on the metal and broke, not just one, but three saw blades getting the job done! However, the final cut piece came out well. Using grits 240, 400, and 600, in that order, I sanded out the scratches.  The bail was torched to soften the metal so the bail could be formed. Out of time today, so until next week, here is a picture of the focal piece and the half-formed bail. I think the next step will be to solder the bail to the focal. I plan on hammering the bail and one of the pieces on the focal, so we'll see which step will be next! Until next week, here is a picture of what we have up to now. See you next week! Blessings, Anita

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vintage Crystals - Re-Created!

I did a home show about a year ago and one of the guests brought me these beautiful vintage crystal beads. She had been saving them for her daughter's wedding, but the daughter was not interested in crystal. They are approximately 10mm and pick up all the colors of the rainbow. I made bracelets, earrings, and a necklace, all in gold tones. The wire connections are hand made from jeweler's bronze. I still have enough beads left to do more in silver accents...sterling would be beautiful! For now, here is the crystal and bronze. Blessings to all! Anita

Friday, September 16, 2011


I've not posted for a while, but have been busy this summer creating and doing some local art shows. While at an ArtieGras show in Sharon, PA, at Quaker Steak and Lube, I met a lovely gentleman and his daughter who told me about the Appalachian Rock Shop & Jewelry Emporium in Harmony, PA and the various classess they offer. My friend, Jeanne, and I took a ride out there to check it out! What a wonderful shop with beautiful rock specimens, beads, findings, beading tools, and hand crafted jewelry! Owner, Leslie, was very helpful in getting me set up in the fall silversmithing class with instructor, Jolan Naleppa. My first class was two weeks ago. Jolan gave us an overview of the upcoming classes and what we would be learning. She demonstrated the various tools in the shop and how they are used. Printed hand-outs were distributed, one with the fundamentals of soldering and the other about the projects we would be doing.

Yesterday was the first hands-on class. The project - a soldered pendant using two pieces of metal that would be sweat soldered. We had to pick out a design that would be cut into one piece of metal with a jeweler's saw. After sawing out the design, we learned to clean up the edges of the metal with various filing tools. The piece was then cleaned in pickle (an acid bath) and prepared for sweat soldering, covering the entire piece with flux and then strategically placing solder on the back of the pieces. Jolan assisted with melting the solder. The pieces were put back into the pickle for cleaning. These are the pictures I took this a.m. showing the nickel silver and copper I chose for the pendant, the design cuts, and the melted solder. Next - we have to reheat the solder to fuse the metals together, add a bail or pin closure, and learn the process of cleaning and polishing.

More next week. There are eight more classes to go and two or three more projects.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


This week I have been doing more wire pieces in Jeweler's Bronze wire.  With real gold being so expensive nowadays, and for that matter, sterling silver, the jeweler's bronze is a nice, affordable alternative in creating custom wire jewelry.  Jeweler's bronze wire is a form of brass.  However, there is a difference in the metal mix that gives it its beautiful gold tone.  In time it will develop a patina.  Like sterling silver, keep it in a zip lock  bag to delay the patina.  The first set pictured is a combination of free formed wire coils/swirls with Byzantine links.  The ear wires are bronze colored nickle and lead safe lever backs. 

This second set is a hammered flat coil "8" connected with jump rings (an Sharilyn Miller design).  A hand-crafted toggle is used for closure.  I used two figure "8" coils attached with small jump rings to create the earrings.  They measure 2 1/2" long from the top of the ear wire.  The bracelet is a generous 1" in width.  I used 14 gauge wire for the hammered pieces, so it has a nice chunky look, in keeping with today's current jewelry trends.