Metal Mania

It has been so incredibly hot the last 3 days that I’ve found it impossible to do much more than lay in the path of a fan, blowing only slightly less hot air at me, trying not to think about how damn hot it is inside our house.  Work wasn’t any better.  With no A/C in either place, I was melting inside buildings that were at least 85 degrees inside at all times.  You know it’s bad when you wake up at 6:30 AM and even though practically every window in the house has been open all night, your thermostat still reads 78 degrees.  So there hasn’t been a whole lot of knitting going on the past few days.  A lot of sweating and bellyaching about the heat, but that’s about it.  My creative energy, what little there was in the first place, evaporated sometime yesterday when my little coastal town tied its highest ever recorded temp in history.  I won’t tell you what the temp was, as all you southerners and southwesterners will laugh in my face at our puny record, but suffice it to say it was damn freakin’ hot!

Anyhoo.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to take a beginning jewelry class at a local studio.  Well, I figured it was about time I shared some pics of the projects I made in class.  So here we go – show and tell time!

The first class I took was a quickie 2 hour wire working class learning to make your own findings.  Embarrassingly, I was the only person there with little to no experience.  I mean, why take this class if you are already selling your jewelry?  We learned a ton of stuff and I ended up buying a book to practice some of the techniques at home.  I’d love to play around with making some stitch markers for etsy.  Here’s pics of two of the things we made in class: a copper wire S-type clasp for a bracelet or necklace, and a beaded ear wire from sterling silver.  I was amazed at how easy it actually was to make something that looks so cool.  All you really need is a few good tools and some imagination.

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The second class I took, the 3-day Beginning Intensive Jewelry Making Class, really was intensive.  We learned how to use acetylene torches, anneal metal, solder, cut, form, hammer, texture, polish, rivet, and make eyelets, as well as a bunch of other stuff I already forgot.  See, the heat’s made my brain into pudding (Ewww, gross!  Brain pudding!)!  Anyway, I ended up making 2 pendants and a bracelet.  There was kind of a lot of downtime waiting in line to solder or cut metal pieces, but the instructor was great and since it was a small class, only 6 students, it didn’t take too long to get to use the equipment you needed.  We worked only in copper or brass, which wasn’t very inspirational for me as I don’t much love either kind of metal, but it was still fun. 

For my first pendant, I had to re-think my original design in order to be able to solder it properly, so it came out very little like what I had in mind.  But, as my instructor said, I let the metal “speak” to me and it did its own thing in the end.  It even came out upside down from what I had imagined as I soldered the bail (what it hangs from) onto the opposite end of where I’d meant to.  I could say the metal made me do it, but I’d be lying.  I’m just that dumb.

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This required cutting the largest oval out with shears, then cutting the second oval’s inner oval with a jeweler’s saw, and then the outer oval.  A bunch of filing ensued (because I cut like a drunken bum with Parkinson’s).  I then had to cut out the copper piece, stamp the design, dome it, and solder both pieces to the back piece.  The silver balls were the most fun because they start as little flat pieces of silver which are then sprayed with flux and heated.  When they reach a high enough temperature, they magically roll up into these adorable silver balls.  I had to have some of those on my pieces!  Then I had to solder on the bail.  Believe it or not, most of the work comes after all that stuff is completed.  Polishing takes for-freaking-ever and I didn’t really enjoy it, but it makes your project so much more beautiful and refined looking than you’d ever imagine.  Not that this pendant is really that special, but you should have seen how ugly it was beforehand!  Too bad they don’t make that kind of polish for faces!  I could use it in the morning…..

I made this pendant super-quick while waiting to solder something.  1 brass disk stamped out, 1 copper disk stamped out, an “M” stamped on the copper disk, 2 holes drilled, a jump ring installed and voila!  These were difficult to polish, so they give you an idea of what the other pendant looked like beforehand….

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My last project, and my most favoritest of all of them, was a copper bracelet.  This started out as a 6 1/2 inch strip of copper.  I cut a long oval into the center, shaped the ends with a file and coarse polisher, hammered the copper to give it some texture, then twisted it 360° in a vise, cut a 1/2″ off each side (because it stretched less than expected) and soldered on 3 silver balls on each side.  Then I polished the crap out of it.  Several of the other students twisted theirs into more fantastical shapes, but I wanted something simple and refined.  And you know what?  I’ve actually worn this bracelet, I like it that much.  Hurrah!  Here’s some different views….

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Wow, I guess I was kind of wordy and picture-y today!  If you made it this far, thanks for sticking around and reading!  Hope you’re staying cool wherever you are and remember – Metal Rules!

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5 thoughts on “Metal Mania

  1. Wow, your pendant and bracelet looks great! I think bracelet is my favourite though! It looks like you really had a good time during this class! I am so sorry about the heat up there! But I can sympathise with you, the heat wave just came to us and tomorrow shall be 34Celsius grads…

  2. How interesting! That workshop sounds really intense but great. On Saturday I am taking the same class I took before at my local bead shop, with a girl from work who wants to learn how to make simple pieces. I took it about a year ago and forgot a lot of things about the wire wrapping, etc. so am taking it with her.

  3. Maryanne, your jewelry looks great! I’ve also just started getting into jewelry making, but I’m nowhere along the lines you are. The copper bracelet looks gorgeous! Keep rocking the metal!

    – Your Sock Buddy

  4. Your jewelery looks terrific! It’s hard to believe you’re a beginner – your stuff looks professional already. The big pendant is a knockout!

  5. I love the first pendant and the bracelet! I’m a beginning jeweler myself (though only extending to beadwork), and I really want to learn metal smithing. I do like your creative style as well, very beautiful. ^-^

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