A Day Without Titles and Tags

Checking my stats and posting in the Etsy forums had become such an ingrained part of my daily rituals that spending a day without Etsy filled me with a bit of daunting anxiety. To get my cheap fix, I posted a few half-hearted comments in the forums, however still reeling from my passionate rant and reaction to the Etsy Fireside Chats, my thoughts were miles away from wanting to see that big E plastered before my eyes.

What has been said has been said and I could not even begin to summarize those feelings again so I will just share the link to the Etsy Forum Post here: https://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/discussions/discuss/17100383/page/1 While perhaps I slightly over-reacted by exaggerating the terms out of their intended context, my interpretation of Etsy’s current philosophy towards us full-time artists and sellers only felt clearer throughout the day. The Fireside Chats greased the gears long set in motion allowing the synapses to be bridged and for the first time since starting our business in 2012, muddled emotions turn to clarity and realization that it was high time to move onward to the future and embrace whatever adventures or trials and tribulations lay ahead without focusing on Etsy to provide the platform for our business.

Instead of adding a fresh listing for the day to Etsy over morning coffee, I came to WordPress and spent some time looking through blogger templates, setting up the about page, and focusing a bit on the aesthetics of the site. Nici and I are not bloggers, have never blogged, and only created a few tutorials, so for us this is already the first step to our new adventure. Much like ending a dead end yet long term relationship, the good times and memories present themselves extra vivid and the hardship of the break-up hurts like an arrow through the heart. By mid-day, that ache was overwhelming and my efforts non-productive, so the best solution was to hit my local trails at McDowell on my mountain bike. Had I spent the day with titles and tags, I might have completely missed this hawk perched high on a cactus.

hawkoncactus

In that brief moment of natural splendor came a strange sense of relief that actually we were finally free and our best days of creative inspiration are ahead as well as happy days for the wife hubby team who took Etsy by storm with their custom guitar picks in 2012.

 

guitar bypass ring

made this today – gold bypass ring in shape of a guitar

made this today - gold bypass ring in shape of a guitar

I started with a mock up in bronze ( much cheaper )

I started with a mock up in bronze ( much cheaper )
20 gauge ( 0.8mm thick ) is what I use i bronze or gold as I have a hard time bending things by hand with those 2 metals 18 gauge ( 1mm thick ) I use for copper and sterling silver as both metals are softer and not as springy

I drew the shape out on a piece of label paper

I drew the shape out on a piece of label paper
make it 3 inches long as you have to “bypass ” the ends and anything shorter will look odd label paper is sticky on one side so its perfect to transfer shapes to metal for the cut outs

my trusted jewelers saw

my trusted jewelers saw
I like to use a 6 inch saw frame ( distance from blade to the back of the frame) and 1/0 saw blades – they are very fine and will move well around the corners

cut out shape

cut out shape
I have several hole punch pliers with different punch out sizes – this one is a 3mm – you need a bit of strength to punch so I tend to sit on the end to make it punch though

added some texture

added some texture
hardened steel punches and chasing tools will last you forever

number 2 file

number 2 file
I filed all edges to make the ring nice and smooth for comfort

foming the ring

foming the ring
I start out with bending the ring around the mandrel with my fingers and then pound it in shape with a non-marring nylon hammer , the head of the hammer has sand in it which gives you a bit more umpf you will work harden the metal when you hammer so it will hold its shape nicely

formed ring

formed ring

cleaning up the inside with a flex shaft

cleaning up the inside with a flex shaft
its basically a dremel with a flexible hose the outside I polished with sandpaper first , starting with a 400 grit and then going finer and finer all the way to a 2000 grit and then ultrafine

finished

finished

rocking 🙂

rocking :)

Silver cross and blue Topaz necklace

Just playing around with metal

Just playing around with metal

I started out with some sketches

I started out with some sketches

I always use scratch paper for the initial sketches and when i like the design I will trace the design onto a piece of label paper . label paper has already ” glue ” added to one side soI do not need to glue my design to sheet metal ( rubber cement works the best if you do not have label paper ) I always end up with a sticky mess if I use the glue

I cut out my design and stick it to the sheet metal

I cut out my design and stick it to the sheet metal

in this case the base cross ( or bottom cross ) which is larger was stuck to 18 gauge sterling silver sheet metal ( 1mm hick ) and the smaller ( top cross ) was transfered to a 20 gauge sterling silver sheet ( 0.8mm) Rember in terms of metal the higher the number of the gauge the thinner he metal is

I cut out the crosses wih my hand saw

I cut out the crosses wih my hand saw

Its a jewelers saw with very very thin blades , the blades I use are he 1/0 When you saw out a piece you need to remember to never ” push ” the saw into he metal . let the saw do the work….Luke….be the saw….. Lock your wrist and move your saw up and down from the elbow ,never from he wrist and keep your saw in place – move the metal you are sawing instead ( maybe I should do an instrucional video on that one )

After sawing out my crosses I put them together to see if I like it

After sawing out my crosses I put them together to see if I like it

I did like it soI went to solder

This is after soldering everything together

This is after soldering everything together

If you want insrucions on how to solder you can take a look a my blog www.themetalchallenge365.wordpress.com . I have many tutorials on easy to make things and on more complicated stuff . All tutorials of course are free

After soldering you need to clean your metal in a Pickle solution

After soldering you need to clean your metal in a Pickle solution

When you solder you have oxidation , turning your pieces black . In order to ge rid of that you can either polish for hours or clean it in a Pickle solution ( you can get he salt/grain to make the solution at any jewelers supply store ) please NEVER take your pieces out with the naked hand ( its an acid and will burn your skin ,its also toxic ) and NEVER take them out wih any other metal then copper tongues

This is after he Pickle bath

This is after he Pickle bath

Add some texture if you like

Add some texture if you like

A normal screw driver will do if you don’t have anything else handy ( I have chasing tools but I also use nails , screw drivers and other things i find )

clean and polish your cross

clean and polish your cross

I have a larger polishing machine where I have the same buffing wheel as on my small flex shaft ( the machine in the picture ) but If you have a setting for he stone its better to use the smaller wheel A Flex shaft is esentially a dremel with a long flexible tube ( yes I am aware hat he name is funny )

After you have done your first polishing add patina

After you have done your first polishing add patina

I used a liquid that I can brush on .usually I use Liver of sulfur but I am still nauseated due to the car accident we had on Saturday and Liver of sulfur makes me gag at the moment ( stinks like rotten eggs – and no mom i am not pregnant !! )

polish again

polish again

add your stone

add your stone

the little cup were the stone sits in is called a bezel cup , you can either make your own or buy them , I will make my own if I have irregular shaped stones or If I feel like making one . Most of the time i am lazy though and just use the bought ones next to he cross you see my stone setting tool , the cup has little teeth that get pushed CAREFULLY over the stone to hold he cabochon in place , start a 12 o’clock and push once , go to 6 o’clock and push some teeth over the stone at that position , then goto 3 o’clock then to 9 o’clock , the reason for doing that is so that tthe stone ges set even in right smack in the middle of the cup , take your finger and try to move the stone when you have pushed all the teeth over it . If i does not move you are done

close up of he little teeth of the bezel cup

close up of he little teeth of the bezel cup

Now you can hand polish with a cloth to ge rid of your finger prints , add a jump ring and a chain and ….tata…….. done 🙂 hope as always you enjoyed it nici

Sterling Silver Flower Pendant with Black Onyx

This sterling silver flower necklace was sawed and constructed entirely by hand from 18 gauge sterling silver and features a genuine black onyx stone in the center to complete the botanical statement.

Embodying the organic flow and rhythm of a flower shape, the outer pedals were sawed as one continuous shape from the flat sheet of sterling silver and dapped and domed on a shaping block to capture a realistic three dimensional form. The inner whorls or pedal structure was also sawed by hand, domed, and then soldered to the outer pedals using a hydroflux welder before setting the onyx cup. Adding intrigue, a subtle patina was brushed onto the flower to produce highlights with natural iridescence that brings out shades of grey blue, grey black, and dark silver depending on the viewing angle. The last step is setting the 8 mm genuine black onyx stone in the cup and hanging the flower pendant onto a genuine black greek leather cord to complete this necklace.

[shopify product=http://metalopiajewelry.com/products/sterling-silver-flower-pendant-with-black-onyx]

Rock and Roll fo your arm

 

Sterling silver ” Rock and Roll ” cuff bracelet

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I used a 20 gauge 6 inch by 1 1/4 inch strip of sterling silver for the base and 18 gauge sterling silver for the guitars and the star. The shapes were cut out with a 6 inch jewelry saw and 1/0 saw blades. Personally I prefer the german saws and saw blades as I found the quality to be outstanding , but I might be biased because I am german.

I used a template to draw the guitars right on the metal and then sawed them out .

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After sawing out the shapes they were soldered via sweat soldering onto the base strip then quenched in water and after that put in the Pickle pot to clean the metal from the black oxidation.

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I used an abrasive wheel to quickly file and round the edges – Cratex Medium wheels work very well for that . I like to use my polisher with the wheels because its fast and if you run a business you need to be fast but also have a high quality . I cut down my filing time from about 20 minutes to about 30 seconds .

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When you are finished with filing you edges you can add texture . I have several chasing tools made from hardened steel but I also use screw drivers and other things.

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Now comes the bending part . I am not very strong with my hands and that is the reason why I am using 20 gauge for my base plate, if I use anything thicker than that I would not be able to bend it anymore and would have to use the metal press.

For shaping my bracelets I prefer to use a wooden mandrel and a nylon hammer they are soft and will not leave any marks in your metal

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as you can see after pounding and bending you get a nice oval shape . There are also round mandrels if you prefer a round look . I run the bracelet through my polisher one time to clean the metal and prepare for the liver of sulfur patina . The cleaner the metal the nicer and more consistent your patina gets.

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Liver of sulfur gives you a nice dark gray patina. A word of caution , liver of sulfur stinks like rotten eggs so try to do it in a well ventilated area or your hair and clothing will smell too. Even though my husband always knows when I play around with it 😉

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After the patina I polished the bracelet again an only left the darkness in the pattern and texture

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If you liked the post , maybe leave a comment and let me know 😉

infinity wedding bands

wedding bands i made

 

www.nicilaskin.etsy.com

wedding bands i made

I cut 2 different width flat wire stock to length

I cut 2 different width flat wire stock to length

5mm and 4 mm width

stamped the infinity symbol

stamped the infinity symbol

filed the ends flat and formed them so the ends meet flush

filed the ends flat and formed them so the ends  meet flush

add flux and solder

add flux and solder

start heating with a torch

start heating with a torch

quench in water and then clean in pickle solution

quench in water and then clean in pickle solution

the black is oxidation that happens during torching

after the pickle bath

after the pickle bath

now start forming

now start forming

use a ring mandrel and a nylon hammer first

use a ring mandrel and a nylon hammer first

after forming the ring you can use a ball peen hammer to make the dimpled texture , polish the inside I polish my rings by hand using different grit sand paper and polishing clohs

done 🙂

done :)

follow your dreams

sterling silver guitar ring

sterling silver guitar ring
following my dreams was scary and still is . 4 years ago I had to quit my job as a well paid nurse ( injured my back on the job – did not get workers comb ) The only thing I had was my hobby – metal smithing. 4 years later I am my own boss now and make what I love , even though the ups and down of selling your own creations or following your dream is scary as shit and sometimes you don’t know how to pay rent its still somehow worth it 🙂

enough with the story – here is what I do

enough with the story - here is what I do
starting out with a sheet of metal – 18 gauge sterling ( 1mm thick)

i usually draw directly on the metal

i usually draw directly on the metal

my trusted jewelry saw

my trusted jewelry saw
I have a 6 inch saw and a inch saw but mostly use the 6 inch ( distance between sawblade and frame ) the saw blade itself is about 0.5mm thick

cut out guitar

cut out guitar

number 2 halfround file

number 2 halfround file
I filed all the edges smooth

punching a hole

punching a hole
I use hole punch pliers for most of the holes I need but I also have a really small drill press for when the punch needs to be bigger

added some texture with some older steel punches

added some texture with some older steel punches

I try to never forget to “mark” the stuff I make

I try to never forget to "mark" the stuff I make
maybe one day in 500 years someone will find one of mine and I will be in some antique jewelry book . lol

bending the ring until the ends meet

bending the ring until the ends meet

now comes the fun part

now comes the fun part
fluxing the joint and adding some wire solder

heating the ring with my hydroflux welder

heating the ring with my hydroflux welder
My husband got me a really really nice toy for my birthday/christmas and any other holiday , its portable and pretty safe to use unlike the torches with oxygen and acetylene

after soldering the ends together

after soldering the ends together
oxidation happens during heating , you an clean it up with putting the metal in a so called “Pickle solution”

after the “pickle bath”

after the "pickle bath"

ring mandrel and ring

ring mandrel and ring
I used a nylon hammer to hammer out the shape to make it nice and round and to work harden the ring

formed ring

formed ring

cleaning it with my flex shaft

cleaning it with my flex shaft
a flexshaft is basically a dremel with a flexible hose

added patina

added patina
liver of sulfur was used – stinks like rotten eggs ( or bad doggie farts ) but leaves a nice dark/grey patina

took some steel wool and polished the surface a bit

took some steel wool and polished the surface a bit

done 🙂

done :)

here is another angle

here is another angle
hope you guys liked it and if you want you can have a look at my shop

heart bracelet

anticlastic bronze cuff with copper hearts

anticlastic bronze cuff with copper hearts

cut a 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inch wide strip from 20 gauge bronze

cut a 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inch wide strip from 20 gauge bronze

cut lots and lots of hearts from copper

cut lots and lots of hearts from copper
I have a heart cutter from swanstrom ,

flux the back of your hearts and add solder

flux the back of your hearts and add solder
I use hard wire solder for that

heat the hearts until the solder melts

heat the hearts until the solder melts
and then flux the bronze strip and solder the hearts to it

quench in water

quench in water

form your bracelet

form your bracelet
Now I realize that not everybody has a metal press with the anticlastic / synclastic former ,so you can make the bracelet normal on a wooden bracelet mandrel and a raw hide or nylon hammer. I happen to have a full metal shop and have 2 hand cranked metal presses ( the hydraulic ones scare me and I do it rather by hand soI have more control )

thats my metal press

thats my metal press
yay for awesome tools !!

you feed the bracelet through the former 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch untilyou have the bracelet form

you feed the bracelet through the former 1/4  inch by 1/4 inch untilyou have the bracelet form

you can see how the bracelet forms

you can see how the bracelet forms
hand cranking is a lot of work

almost finished forming

almost finished forming

I put the bracelet into the pickle solution after I formed it

I put the bracelet into the pickle solution after I formed it
Pickle solution will clean your oxidation from metal

hearts , hearts , hearts and more hearts

hearts , hearts , hearts and more hearts

what do you think ?

silver tie bar with brass arrow

Metalwork
draw your arrow on the metal sheet
draw your arrow on the metal sheet
or draw it on a piece of paper and stick the paper to the metal sheet . I just like to draw the easy shapes on to my metal directly
cut out with your jewelry saw and 1/0 saw blades
cut out with your jewelry saw and 1/0 saw blades
clean the arrow with steel wool for easier soldering
cut a 4 inch long piece from sterling silver
cut a 4 inch long piece from sterling silver
I used 18 gauge ( thicker then that and it gets hard to bend into shape )
flux your arrow and add your solder
flux your arrow and add your solder
I use extra easy wire solder ( silver )
fire up your torch
fire up your torch
Did I mention I love fire 🙂
heat until your solder “flows” ( melts)
heat until your solder "flows" ( melts)
flux your sterling silver strip and put the arrow onto it solder site down
flux your sterling silver strip and put the arrow onto it solder site down
heat again until solder flows ( I took a pic of the red hot metal -its so hot that it is red in color ,much more heating and it would start melting )
clean your strip and start texturing
clean your strip and start texturing
use a dremel with a buffing wheel ,or a polisher or a flex shaft for cleaning , add texture with a screw driver
flip the strip over and start bending
flip the strip over  and start bending
use a pen or something similar to bend the tie bar around it
bend so that the arrow is a bit longer then the lower part
bend so that the arrow is a bit longer then the lower part
flip down and put your pen on the edge and press with your finger at the middle
flip down and put your pen on the edge and press with your finger at the middle
you can bend it a bit more with your fingers
you can bend it a bit more with your fingers
pound with a raw hide or nylon hammer on the right hand ( the bend end )
enjoy your tie bar
enjoy your tie bar

easy teaxture if you do not have a rolling mill

fun with metal

easy texture for metal

this is basic metal smithing 101

take a patterned steel sheet

tape a strip of metal that is softer then the steel to the plate

use clear tape so you can see the back . Start hammering with a ball peen hammer on the whole back ,basically covering the back with dimples .You will need some elbow grease with this as this takes some serious hammer time WATCH YOUR FINGERS !!! while you hammer the back the metal expands and gets pushed into the pattern in the steel plate thus creating a negative the plates are meant for a rolling mill or a metal press .If you do not have those tools ,the hammer is a cheap way to get the texture on the metal

here you can see the dimples on the back which look pretty neat too

flipped over you now have a nice texture

my arm is a bit sore now ,but its worth it this took about 20 minutes of non stop hammering

file your edges and form your bracelet on a mandrel

I have a synclastic form for my small metal press to give the bracelet that nice shape , but you can do an ordinary bracelet too 🙂

I made a copper synclastic bracelet today with some snow flakes

copper disc pendant

And because I needed to work out some frustration I made some earrings and a pendant too