Friday, August 28, 2009

Personal Accomplishment

I am STILL waiting on my Liver of Sulfur. This really annoys me, as it puts me at a standstill with the simple jewelry making. Most of the copper beads I bought are much too shiny and bright. And the liver of sulfur will give them that dark patina that I prefer. But it's not here yet! ARGH!

In the meantime, I tried something that makes me nervous. I started drilling my collection of beach glass. Why would this make me nervous? Well, several reasons. First of all, I really like beach glass, but it's hard to find around here. I haven't even gone out looking recently - though hopefully next weekend I can go out. Most of the shores of Lake Superior that are within easy distance of me are picked very clean by agate hunters. So, if I ruin a piece by drilling badly, even a bad piece, it's hard to replace. Second, these pieces are tiny, and I have to hold them down while drilling. So, I've got a rapidly spinning diamond bit drill just millimeters from my fingers. One slip, and I'll have tiny blood spatters everywhere. *laugh*

But, I've drilled three pieces now, with no mishaps. No flying pieces, broken glass, or bloody fingers. It takes longer than I'd expect - at least 15 minutes per piece, depending on how hard the glass is. But now I know I can do it!

Getting ever closer to finishing the first hanging thingy. I've decided I need heavier gauge copper, because once I heated the stuff I have, it got very bendy. Also, I need WAY more jump rings!

I'm heading down to the state fair this weekend. Perhaps I'll find inspiration! (If I get really bold, I could stop by the MN Renaissance Faire. I know they have a booth there that sells copper pieces colored like I want to learn how to do. I could ask for pointers...if I was brave!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trading Ska for Fairy Wings

I was planning on going out tonight. I was going to go to a bar, have a couple drinks, and listen to some local kids play ska. I've heard them before - I like them! But I decided to do a bit of crafting before I left, and by the time I looked up at the clock, it was 11:00. *sigh* I guess I'll need to catch them again in September.

Good news is, I made some stuff! Or at least, got a good start. And I experimented, too. This is going to be a learning process, for sure, but a fun one. I started out with finishing drilling the holes in the copper moon shape. That went well, though I was covered with copper dust by the time I was done. My black tank top looked very pretty! (As an aside, this made me google the effects of breathing in copper dust. Luckily, seems like I've got nothing to worry about. Anything that it's gonna do to me, is likely already happening to me anyway. And it's not like I'm making THAT much dust. Anyway...)

After I made the holes, I used a grinding bit to try smooth out the inside curve a bit more. It went well, until my hand slipped and I left a scratch in the front. :( I though I might be able to sand it out, so I put a sanding disk on the dremel, and gave it a once-over. It left a very cool wobbly pattern, though the disk got a little chewed up near the end. I wasn't able to buff out the scratch I gave it, and actually put some new scratches in the back. Oops! Then, I tried blowtorching it. Now, I did get it to turn colors, but not that much. I mean, not the vivid and astonishing colors that I've seen before on copper pieces. I might get down to the library tomorrow and see if I can find any books on metalworking that might be helpful. I did manage to get a very faint patina, though. After that, I decided to put that aside, and start working on something else.

I have a neat (in my fanciful opinion, anyway) idea for a wind-chime-type thing. It involves these seed pods that look like maple seeds but bigger. I can copper coat them and string them and, well, hopefully I'll be able to show you as things go on. For now, though, I started preparing the seeds. I got a jump ring through them and laquered then, and now they're hanging to dry. They look very much like fairy wings - an effect I was not expecting. Next I need to paint them with conductive paint. Then plate them. Then, I've been thinking about etching them to give them a lacy appearance. But that's getting the cart MILES ahead of the horse.

For now, I'll be happy with what I got done. And hope that I didn't miss TOO much by not going out!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seed Beads and Power Tools

I've been slow getting started. I've been waiting on mail orders from five or so different places, and of course shipping isn't the speediest. But that's ok! Today I finally broke down and bought a dremel, so I've done enough productive things to write about. have I been spending the last week? The thrilling project of sorting seed beads. Yes, really!

Ever since I was young, I've played with seed beads. From stringing them on fishing line when I was small, to weaving them on a loom when I was a bit older, I've done a lot. And I've collected a lot of beads. Over the course of life, through many moves and many years, they've all become mixed together. Pretty, but not very conducive to using them. So...I've been separating them into slotted boxes. One at a time. With tweezers. Yes, really!

It hasn't been all bad. I've done some of it at work (I work from home) and a lot more in the evenings while watching movies. The 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy seems greatly improved when I can keep my hands busy. I've also had help from my cat. Admittedly, a lot of her help isn't that helpful, but she sure does look cute!

But...back to the more fun things! I had another shopping trip today - this time to Home Depot. Sadly, they didn't have a lot of what I was looking for - no liver of sulfur or conductive paint (both things I've ordered online, but I prefer to buy local). They did have a rather attractive guy working in the lumber section, though, who let me take a couple pieces of wood out of the scrap box under the cutter. So, now I have wood to use as a drilling and hammering surface - just in time, too!

Today I cut my first bit out of the copper - the base for a sun catcher. It was both easier and harder to cut out, than I expected. The tin snips cut easily around the outer edge, but not well around the inner edge. I may need to buy a pair with a curved blade to get the accuracy I need. I was left with a very raggedy and sharp edge. Luckily...I have a dremel! The grinding edge smoothed it out, though did not shape it as well as I would have liked. I also started hammering the piece with the round end of my hammer. I might want to get a hammer with a larger end, but it was starting to look ok! I would have worked it more, but I was starting to worry all the hammering and whirring would disturb the neighbors. I did take the time to try a cutting bit, and drilled a hole through the piece. It worked quite well - I'm having fun with my new toys!

This weekend I will hopefully have all the supplies I've been waiting for, and I can start working in earnest! Except, I'm not sure my weed killer is copper sulfate based. That may be a problem. :( I had a very smart friend staying with me for a couple days and he gave me a lot of tips on chemicals (part of his job is etching computer parts). This means I may yet have to buy more things online, but he showed me a very...interesting...web site. Along with the more simple chemicals I need, I could also buy things like solid cesium, heavy water, and even uranium! I had no clue that 'normal' people could even buy things like that. Anyway, I'm not planning on buying uranium...but I just thought it was interesting.

If nothing else, I'll see what I can do about hanging the beach glass I've picked up. Either drilling it...or mounting it on a jump ring...or wrapping it with many options to try to see what works best! Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Getting Started

I am a girl with a blowtorch.

I haven't even taken it out of the box, let alone started torching things. But the fact that I now own my own blowtorch gives me a silly sense of pride and and excitement. Right now, I am hoping my skill can keep up with my ambition and creative ideas.

Hello, and welcome to my blog. I'm Liz, and I'm glad you stopped by! Today I start writing, keeping a record of my trials and errors, successes and adventures. Adventures doing what, you ask? I'm starting to craft with copper. Copper plating small objects, etching it, hammering it, coloring it, jewelry making, whatever I can think of! As a small part of that, I also plan on making jewelry incorporating dried herbs - adding the subtle dimension of smell to pieces. Understand, I've never done ANY of this before. But I've always had a creative streak, and I love copper. So, I decided this was what I wanted to do, and this is the time to do it!

Why now? I just got my renter's tax rebate in the mail. Disposable income - huzzah! And I have a steady job, my own place with room enough to work, and the free time to put effort into what I'm doing. So this weekend, I hit up some stores, to start getting what I need. It felt almost empowering, walking around Harbor Freight Tools knowing what I need, and picking up other random things on impulse. No, thank you, I don't need help - but I'll let you know if I do! A trip to Menards and a trip to Target rounded off the weekend, with the stuff I remembered to buy, anyway...

I've gotten sheet copper and lacquer, weed killer and brass brushes and a ball peen hammer, paint brushes and electric leads and plenty of other things. Two VERY important pieces of equipment I did not have to buy. One was a CD player. I expect to be playing great music as I work; the right music can be greatly inspiring (once I start working, I'll let you know what I'm listening to!) The other is a pair of safety goggles. What I have are actually welding goggles, but I assume they will serve the same purpose. Normally, a pair of goggles wouldn't warrant more than passing mention, but these goggles... These goggles are the same type worn by my favorite evil scientist - Dr. Horrible. I hope you agree - that makes them worth praising!

Sadly, I still have more things to buy or acquire before I can get started. Most of the things I need can only be ordered from specialty stores, or will require some searching on my part. For example, I need a chunk of wood to use as a hammering surface. I need to find ferric chloride, too, and liver of sulfur. If I'm successful enough, I'll even get a digital rectifier!

For now, though, I close this initial post thanking you for stopping by. Please come back again soon. You may either see some of my first attempts in crafting...or pictures of me after I accidentally burn off half my hair with a blowtorch. Either way, it will be worth it!