Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adventures in Pen Plating!

 So today the ladies came to see how to use a 'pen' to selectively plate metal.

We had a big group: Jowita, Cindy, Ann D., Vicki, Sonia, Ej, Sharon, Odaybea, Ann C., Bodil, and Dana- 4 of which are new Ladysmiths!




The first thing you need is a rectifier- there're several available on Rio Grande, or you can try Amazon, like I did. You need at a minimum a 3-amp machine. You could also use this to electroform as well as do a saltwater etch, so it really is a 3-in-1 tool! (like you need a reason to validate a tool purchase...)


You also need a pen for plating- this is 2 leads (red & black) to plug into your rectifier, plus a clamp, and the pen, with nibs included.




Lastly you need the material you want to plate onto with- there are lots available from many companies- Midas is the most well-known and comes in many types of gold, silver, rhodium, etc... I bought the one above.
It's a nasty and expensive mix, so be sure you don't spill it! It's acid (cyanide) based, and you don't want to get it on ANYTHING.

I got seduced into trying this process by watching Ann Davis' video below. And we were lucky to have her with us today to give us street cred (and lots of advice, which we needed). So PLEASE watch this video if you want to see the process in action!!!! It will explain how & where to clamp onto your piece, and much more. The container of gold actually says to use between 3-8 volts, so that's how you know how to set the voltage- small pieces 3-4, up to larger pieces 7-8. I had mine set too high for a small piece and I was 'burning' gold- it looked brown and ugly. Fortunately Ann was there to set me straight!



Here's a piece 'before'.



And here is the 'after'.

Nice!



Here's another few pieces I played with. Very fun, satifying... AND VERY THIN. Don't think about doing this with your piece UNTIL EVERYTHING ELSE HAS BEEN DONE. That means final finishing.



Okay- on to some other stuff.... you can see in the background of the above picture that I used some jett sett to sink my bottle of gold into so it wouldn't spill (Ann's idea).

The above piece is Ej's and is a magnetic holder for burrs- they connect on magnetically right to the outer ring. Cool!


Now on to some RECENT WORK:


Jowita is taking a class on resin- these bracelets have different foils floating in them.



And here is a clasp that Jowita made, too- very modern.




Some pieces from Bodil's new line of jewelry with sapphires.



Ann C. is playing with some amazing piercing/sawing techniques.



Cindy's experimental piece- polymer clay base with outlines in metal clay, which were then pen-plated with gold.



Ann D.'s multi-level ring with enamel.




Ann's piece was made of cutouts of copper clay.




Sonia's earrings- very sculptual and with some really cool stones.




Recent pieces by Sharon- Koroit opal, variscite with fossil coral.




Ring by Vicki- one of her first soldering projects!



Another great piece by Vicki.




Sharon's 'pod' earrings.




Odaybea's piece was carved in wax and cast- a remembrance of her late father....

Thanks all- see you next time!!




Friday, February 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Karen

Today we met at First Watch restaurant for brunch to say goodbye to Karen, who's moving to the 'other coast' tomorrow! Bah!

It was a snow day, but we still had a nice crowd: Bodil, Odaybea, Sonia, Sharon, Evie, Mimi, Karen, Jowita, and Ellen K.



Karen got all kinds of presents- links, earrings, food, etc... she seemed to enjoy every second of it and actually got a little verklempt here and there...






Because it was a snow day, we had a kids' table of possible future metalsmiths??




Ladysmiths Jr. had a very important meeting of their own.....




Ladysmiths Jr. was not always a very well-behaved group....




Karen got some good stuff! Earrings from Sharon, and links from Jowita, Mimi, Odaybea, Peggy, Sandra, Ellen Y., Bodil, and Dana.




Mimi showed us work from a recent workshop she took with Barbara Becker Simon. First she made polymer clay models of faces.




Then, she created molds using a new product...




This! Then, she used metal clay (and allowed for shrinkage)....




Pressed the clay into the molds, and fired into some awesome silver faces then made into rings!




Odaybea made these gorgeous dragonfly rings- wowzers! She casted the bodies and then soldered on etched wings (from our last etching workshop!) and set the stones.



She also used a kistka to create wax veining on a seed pod, which was then cast into this heart-shaped piece, just in time for today- Valentines' Day!!




And Evie created this (upside down) file caddy! She stitched an open pocket, then ran parallel lines down to hold mini hand-files. Brilliant!!



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Etching Workshop

This is our 3rd or 4th etching workshop- always an adventure etching metal in acid!!

Thanks to Sharon, Bodil, Odaybea, Caroline, Ellen K., and Ej for coming out today (and me, Dana!)



We used 2 methods to attach PNP to the metal- irons and a laminator. We had mixed results with each. We joked there is no one method that works flawlessly. And that we should come up with a product that consistently attaches PNP and we'll get rich!!



Odaybea carved  a dragonfly body into a ring shape out of wax. She then etched it's wings and will attach them once the body is cast. Very very cool! 




Aren't Sharon's robots cool? She had success with both ironing and laminating- and failures with both.




Ellen's hamsas etched very well in nitric acid.




Bodil had no problems today and made a bunch of great pieces!




Ej's lion is almost completely etched in ferric chloride- took 40 minutes with Ellen's agitator!




Here's some of Dana's projects ready to etch... 5 minutes in nitric acid and they'll be ready to complete.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Etsy Shop Photo Shoot

Today the Etsy shop-building team met to have a photo-shoot. We set up light boxes with a variety of background papers and did some experimenting.


Thanks to Brenda for hosting, and to Karen, Caroline, Ellen Y., Karina and Sharon (and me, Dana!) for coming!!


First, some recent work. Here's a series of pics taken on Brenda's ottoman of the participants recent work that they wanted to photograph:

Karina's brass castings just came back and are amazing!!




This is Ellen's beautiful piece.




Recent gorgeous work by Sharon!




Karen's fun skull earrings!



Okay, now onto the PHOTOSHOOT!!


These lovely earrings by Ellen were taken with her iphone!!!!



Caroline's necklace, also taken with her iphone, came out great! IMHO, the best photos came out on a mid-tone background. The pics taken with background papers white or black, suffered a bit from contrast issues and camera confusion!




Caroline's gorgeous earrings.




Caroline's necklace and earring set. A great composition and a nice shot WITH HER IPHONE.

In fact, many of the pics were taken with iphones, which surprisingly did very well! Look at Karen's comparison:



Karen did the above comparison...  "It doesn't have the depth of field, but the iphone photo is pretty darn nice!"

The iphone also has a lens available, called the Olloclip (at Apple stores or at the Apple online store) that helped get closer to objects and still have them be in focus- it has a macro/wide angle lens, as well as a fisheye lens.

Here are some links:


Light box use was really important. Hard to count on natural light being available or convenient. Also, don't use incandescent lights- too yellow! Use these specialty bulbs made to mimic natural light:



Good pictures came not so much because of a good camera, but more because of the nice diffused light from the light box (even a handmade one by Karina!) either purchased or made. Mine was a structure of PVC piping (see earlier post) with a white sheet hung over it, then lights shone at it from either side. Here's directions:


Karen used a clear Sterilite bin and draped a white lacy cloth over it to diffuse the lights on either side.

Background paper was also important. Most of us liked the grey to black gradated paper that you can get from this link: