2.14.2008

Interstitial Obsession

Yes readers, it is finally here--my first metalsmithing project (good grief, now I can stop whining about it!). Interstitial Obsession is a pendant comprised of copper and nickel silver, suspended from leather cord.

The general design--a simple background and a simple shape--comes from Mark Lareau's book, Getting Started Making Metal Jewelry (yes, I am a big fan of both of the Lareaus--recall in a previous post I mentioned his wife's book).

The reason I like Mr. Lareau's approach is that he really puts everything in layman's terms. He gives you the "need to know" information that's necessary to get started, and before you know it, you're on your way to your first project. Of course, his book won't be the only book I study and learn from, but I'm really glad I have it as a starter!

That being said, here's a rundown of what I did to create this piece:
  1. Cut out shapes and filed them
  2. Soldered the foreground shape to the background shape
  3. Soldered the bail to the background shape
Of course, there are some things I'll be doing differently for my next project. Some of these, as well as things I can improve upon, include:
  • Making sure I'm careful while filing my shapes...the heart you see on this pendant bent a little at the bottom tip; therefore, it was hard to get it to situate itself flat against the background.
  • Making sure I flux appropriately...my bail suffered a bit of an impact, which is fine because you can't really see it, but it's definitely discolored and it won't polish off.
  • Investing in a more powerful torch...I'm running a small butane torch right now, and it takes forever for the solder to reach its flow point. I'm not sure if this is normal or not, I have to do some reading, but I'm thinking with some more flame it wouldn't take as long.
Keep watching, dear readers. I promise I'll post new items as I get them created (and as soon as my husband lets go of some space in the basement--we're both currently working in the same room, as he is building our entertainment center and I'm trying to learn all of these metalsmithing techniques).

For those with experience, any tips for future projects? I'd love to hear them. One special Flickr contact of mine recommended that I integrate my wire working techniques with my metal work...which is exactly what I'm plannin'. I'm hoping to come up with some really unique designs by combining the two styles together.

6 comments:

Lava Jewelry said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting on a couple of the metalsmithing problems you encountered. I might be telling you things you've already learned.

About bending the corner of your cut shape... just anneal, then hammer with a non-metal hammer (rawhide or nylon) on an anvil or bench block. I do this every single time I am soldering two surfaces together, whether there is an obvious bend in the metal or not.

About discoloration on the bail... I don't know what metal you used for the bail, but perhaps you could try a different type of pickle, or leaving your piece in the pickle longer. I've found that a good pickle soak and some super-ultra-fine steel wool can get rid of any discoloration that occurs from heating.

Beautiful work for your very first metalsmithing project!!! :) I would never post a photo of my first one; it's just a mangled piece of metal, really.

High Desert Diva said...

My husband is an artist blacksmith. He is constantly reading, and learning new techniques also. I'm always amazed when I look at his early projects and then look at what he's capable of now.

I can tell you have the same drive. You've already figured out what you'll do differently next time, and are looking for even more ideas. It's going to be fun watching your work evolve.

fi at moose and bear said...

that is truly beautiful.

jewelstreet said...

Well, I can't see the bail but it looks good. I love the shape of the heart. I think your first metalsmithing project turned out really, really beautiful- better than mine did.

Hey Harriet said...

Wow! For a first attempt at metalsmithing that looks great! Looking forward to seeing more lovely pieces from you :)

Nicole Solo said...

cool, it looks just like my copper and silver earrings in my etsy shop :) I'm also learning with each piece I make, so I feel for you. its interesting sometimes what you end up with too!