Sunday, June 24, 2007

Of torches and lemonade

On the torch front, yesterday I went to Home Depot and bought a MAPP gas + oxygen torch, mostly because the tanks were in a handy package with the hose and torch and striker -- and it didn't cost too much. I've never heard of MAPP gas much less worked with it. The good news is that it's way hot enough for everything I wanted to do. Much silver has been reticulated this afternoon, to my great satisfaction. On the downside, it's a two-tank deal, which is a bit of a pain. Even more of a down-side, when the gas is burning without oxygen it produces this extremely sooty smoke. It stops once you add sufficient oxygen, but yech. All the spiderwebs on my kitchen ceiling, which had previously been invisible, are now black. I'm trying to think of it as the decorating equivalent of liver of sulfur.

Here are some other pieces I finished at Peters Valley. All the bracelets are sterling silver. The first two were run through a corrugator before being formed with a mold in a hydraulic press. Of the nine pieces I made at PV, I think these are my favorites. The corrugation makes the silver look like it's ruffled, especially in the white bracelet. The patina on the other one blew me away - I've never gotten that many colors from liver of sulfur. As far as I know, it was just LoS in water - but the teacher kept it pre-mixed in a brown glass jar and we brushed it on cold. I've read a bunch of books on jewelry-making in the past year and many of them had "recipes" for using LoS, but none of them recommended keeping it in liquid form. I haven't tried it since I got home, but if this is the kind of patina cold application gives, I'm for it.

For the third bracelet, I fused silver wire to the silver sheet and then ran it through the rolling mill to flatten the wire before molding. The patina on this one isn't as striking - I think it's because this wasn't polished to a high shine like the other one. Finally, this pendant is the last thing I finished at jewelry camp. The stone is a quartz doublet: two layers of quartz with a thin layer of rose gold between. This started out as a way to salvage a mistake. I had domed the pac-man shaped circle, then decided I didn't like it and hammered it flat, which erased most of the texture and made it slightly lopsided. I put it aside and made another one for the piece I was working on. Later I was looking at the pieces I had left over and started playing with some bits of wire and the lopsided pac-man. Something about the arrangement clicked and, with a little extra texturing using a chasing tool, I had a new pendant -- which I actually like better than the original piece I had been trying to make when I made the mistake.

So the lesson for today is "Carry a big torch and make lemonade." Or something like that.


knitsteel said...

I don't think I've ever used mapp gas for soldering.

I use an atmospheric propane torch. When you're ready to go shopping again, let me know and I'll look up the info on it. I got it at a welding shop.

Nice pendant!

TrueMirage said...

Thanks! I'll take you up on that offer.

knitsteel said...

I don't make any matting tools. You can get some commercially. They're not great. You can improve them by tapering the end that the hammer strikes, with a grinder or even a large handfile.

Athena's Armoury said...

I love your Pac-Man Pendant. It sounds like you had a great time at jewelry camp. I'm a little jealous -- sounds so fun!

TrueMirage said...

Thanks! I did have a great time. I'm already trying to figure out when and where to go next.

Terri said...

Gorgeous ruffles bracelets!!

Ellen said...

black spiderwebs and a dungeon-like basement?? sounds like you are ready for halloween!

wow i have never soldered with an open flame..only iron. sounds thrilling :-)