Sunday, June 29, 2014

working on dia de los muertos at zillyboy

28 June, back at Zillyboy. I was at the nature center 10:30-4:30, then came up here to the picnic area above the beach. I worked on the black maille collar with points and skulls, and eventually purple, orange, and pink crystals, for an hour or so.
I think I’m finally getting on the downhill side of it at last. I ought to be! Been working on it off and on for at least a month.
It will have a total of nine points, with colorful crystals signifying grief, sunshine, and celebration suspended from the tips.

Then a quarter mile walk around the sidewalk loop, and I am resting a bit before trudging back to the car.

Fewer people here than last month, but the beach is plenty active. Fewer birds, really only mockingbirds singing. I heard one in three places as I walked the loop. Don’t know if it was three birds, or if he was moving as I slowly progressed.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

DNA chain

After finishing the black and silver collars for Oxide, and before starting on the equally ambitious Dia de los Muertos piece I’m working on now, I thought I’d try something a littler simpler. So I looked over my rings and decided on a fairly fast, large-scale DNA chain.

This is my fourth of this weave. I did one this spring before Jazzfest. My first was a couple af years ago, in lavender and green. I sold it; I can’t recall if it was at Oxide or at a later show.

Then I made an enormous one with my nephew Tom. 8-gauge copper ground wire wrapped around a big dowel and cut with a hacksaw. He and I annealed each big link by holding it with pliers in the gas stove flame.

This current one is intermediate in scale - a ladder of 16-gauge 1/4” links in green, held in a twist by 20-gauge 1/8” pairs of black links. You can pre-close all the small rings. hang two on a large and close it.  Then hang two more little ones on the next large, insert it through one of the previous smalls from the inside toward the outside, through the large, and then the other small. 
That last step can either be easy or an infernal pain if the little one keeps flopping over the wrong direction. Anyway I had the 24” endless loop ready to wear to the Gallery Night last Saturday.

The small links could be of four different colors, in pairs to represent actual DNA bases coding for a real protein. I have the sequence for insulin, which is a useful length. I will have to learn the codon code, which I have forgotten, if I ever knew it. And settle on a color scheme. But I think the people who get the silver tryptophan pendants on Etsy ought to like them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

(written May 17)

I’m spending the afternoon at Zilly-Boy (non Denton County old-timers call it Isle du Bois) Park at Lake Ray Roberts making chain-maille for the first time in FAR too long. I added about 1-1/4” to this necklace; there is around 2-1/4” or 2-1/2” to go. 

Then I have to fuse blobs on the ends of 25 short sterling pieces, oxidize them really black, and put on a “fringe” of green 8mm Swarovskis. Assuming the crystals get here in time. Then do another similar piece in sterling and pearls. In time for Oxide’s ‘open call’ next Saturday morning.

The sterling piece is currently still coils on three mandrels.

I can do it, if I don’t dilly-dally.

It’s  beautiful day at the park. The parking lot is pretty full, but almost all the people are at the first tier of picnic tables from the lot, or swimming, or zooming past in motor-boats. Out here at the end of the peninsula, it’s fairly deserted. The birds are singing up a storm; I wish I recognized more than a cardinal and a mockingbird.

(May 26)  Well, I did it, more or less. I couldn't get the wire ends to melt up into blobs for love nor money, so I used a dozen store-bought silver headpins I had. Lots more dangles would have been more luxurious, but I was out of time, anyway.


Oxide closes now at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon. I was there at 2:30 ;-)  Anyway Warren took them in, and the opening is June 7.

Also he wants me to make him a large-link aluminum choker, 'cause the copper one is too heavy.  So, a good day. ALSO, out of the blue, my 'green-green' bracelet was bought on Etsy! Post Office is open again tomorrow and off it goes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

stamp give-away and another week of YOJ

First of all, THE BEADING GEM is giving away a set of ImpressArt letter stamps on her blog. Go there THIS WEEK and comment for an entry.

And, TA-DA, I got my Week 3 YOJ piece posted on time, on Saturday.

 Maybe one of these days I will actually be an early bird and post on the Saturday before the official week.

I spent quite a while Friday evening doing a 4-bight Celtic knot in 16-gauge copper, and wiring the first of the carnelians I got at the Arlington show last fall onto it. Then I sort of whipped up

this bead, wrapped with a couple of spirals. I thought I would make two of them to flank the knot. But the one I made does not look good at all with the knot; it is completely mismatched in style. So I looked at it for a bit, and decided it would stand on its own as a focal.

Saturday morning I did the byzantine chain, and there it is. Looks much too pretty to have started out as an afterthought. Already up on Etsy, too!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

persian chain templates

I came very close to making nothing at all yesterday. Well, strictly speaking, I did make nothing on the calendar day. But I woke up in the middle of the night, and figured out how to get a couple of persian chain templates started, easier than when I tried and tried to get the pink chain begun. Then I went back to sleep. Since it wasn't Monday morning yet, I'm counting it.

Then when it was a sunny Monday, I did two more little lengths of persian with smaller rings. I photographed the process for the tutorial below. So I made not only a set of chain templates for the toolbox, but an educational blog post too!

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tutorial - starting persian chain

A full-persian chain is a ratbag (stealing a word from one of my favorite authors) to get started. I find the beautiful CGI tutorials at M.A.I.L. fairly useless. Once you have eight rings together, it is stable, and easy to continue. However, holding on to the six rings and keeping them in position to put in the seventh and eighth is pretty much impossible.

The best solution to this problem is to keep short lengths of several sizes of persian as templates upon which to start new chains. I have had a few, but they disappear, or get used in a chain, or something. So last night I set out to make a set, and this morning I continued, and photographed the method that I have found most satisfactory for getting started.

You need several jumprings in addition to those for the template section itself. In this case, I have copper 18-gauge 7/32” rings for the chain. Then I have two black rings, 18-gauge, 1/4”. These can just be the same rings as the chain. At any rate, they should be close in size, so that the chain rings can neither slip over them nor through them. A single very small ring is needed to hold the two black foundation rings in place -- here, a 1/8” pink one. Then there should be several additional rings of any size to make an easy-to-hang-on-to handle -- or this might just be a length of wire crimped on to the small ring.

Interlock the two black rings, and fasten them together with the small pink one. Put a chain of several links on the pink ring to hold onto it easily.

Arrange the two black rings at right angles. Hook a copper ring over the inner one on either side of the crossing.

Put a third copper ring through the two, and up over the outside of them, but through the  outer of the black rings. (I am speaking of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ black rings based on their positions at the lower crossing, where the copper rings are added, not at the top where they cross through the pink ring.)

The fourth copper ring goes opposite the third. You now have one complete persian link, stabilized by the crossed black links. Start the second persian link by adding two copper rings across through the inner rings of the previous link, between the parallel outer ones.

Add the next two rings through these, up over the outer top curve, through the outer rings of the previous link.

Your persian chain is now well started. Keep going.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

pink! maille necklace finished, more halvah

Well, it has taken 5 days, but it is done! 16-1/2" of really pink chain. The pale pink shiny rings are The Ring Lord's new-process anodized aluminum, very nice.
Eventually I realized that the reason the darker, more matte rings were so difficult to work with is that they are the "enamelled" copper. The colored plastic coating is much more delicate than the anodized layer, and I had to throw out a BUNCH of rings, because one slip in the pliers and there was a tattered shiny spot. Do NOT like. Even though they come in a whole lot of luscious colors, working with them is not worth it.

The lobster-claw clasp is one of the powder-coat ones sold by TRL; it only sort of matches, but I think it's OK. It looks closer in real life than in the photo. I will get more in several colors. At 40¢ they may be cheaper than I can make a hook.

Also tonight I tried another batch of halvah, in hopes of taking it to CCHBA Monday night. I got the honey up to about 258°, maybe just to 260° as I turned off the fire. It got noticeably thicker. When it first got hot and foamy, it was very thin and watery as I stirred it, but at about 250° or so it started to feel thicker. Very dark. It got stiff  very quickly as I stirred the combined honey and tahini; I had to "pour" it up when still pretty hot. If it doesn't develop crystals and get fudgy, it is going to be the pull-your-fillings-out kind of candy.

Completely off-topic -- there is a wonderful new word out there - "teabonics" -- the non-standard dialect of English spoken by the Tea Party. See the comments to Juanita Jean's post.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

daily challenge continues ...

It's been three days, and I have NOT made three things. I have, rather, been slowly plodding along on one thing, which is almost half done at this point. It's a pink chain in modified 'one hour less sleep' weave, shown here in two snaps from the Mac Photo Booth built-in camera. A classy macro camera it is not!

I keep meaning to keep a few one-inch pieces of full persian weave for templates to start new chains on. I keep losing them, or using them in finished chains. I keep spending HOURS getting persian (or one hour less sleep, which is persian on every other link) started.

So Tuesday night I started working on this, and eventually got it started, and got maybe an inch made. Last night I listened to several chapters of Agent of Change, and added another 3 or 4 inches. And this morning at the library craft group I got it up to over 6" long. Hope to get another three inches done tonight. Sigh. I did used to be faster at this, but I suppose I should be glad I can still do it at all. At least I do it better than handwriting.

Also I think that I may invest in some really good (read pricey) pliers that are aligned better, so the links slip out and destroy their anodized surface less often.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

trefoils squared

Yes, I know the post title makes no mathematical sense. But I sort of feel like I have done a trefoil of trefoils this week. Now I think I will go on to 4-bight and 5-bight knots, or something else.

Tuesday I started with little ones  from 18-gauge and 20-gauge wire, and learned how to manipulate an overhand knot into the proper shape.

Wednesday and Thursday I made copper bezels for my safety blinkers, and also halvah (previous post).

Friday I made a big, bold knot from 16-gauge wire, with wire wrapping to hold it where eventually I must try soldering. I gave that one away yesterday to Chery.

The wire-wrapped joined ends were my innovation at this scale to make it work. Still ahead is to break out the torch and fine silver and nerve myself up to fusing, to get a true Celtic endless line.

Saturday and Sunday I worked on an elaboration of the idea, with four linked knots from one piece of wire. Yesterday I stabilized it by wrapping three big crystal bicones between the knots. One thing I learned is to NOT use 20-gauge for wrapping, no matter how annealed and butter-soft. A couple of wraps, and it has has turned into piano wire.

Finally yesterday I finished the piece with some kitchen-sink chemistry (after doing some dishes,  because the sink was full, of course). It was pretty clean and bright, but I pickled it to brighten up the 20-gauge, which had been annealed and was discolored. Then I used LOS to blacken it for contrast with the reflective crystals.

It actually came out pretty decorative, I think. Rhonda and Chery were quite appreciative when they were over here. It's on the large side for a pendant, and may be better done up as a sun-catching window ornament.

I now think I have the simplest Celtic knot pattern figured out I can go on to 4-bight or larger simple knots, or try interlacing smaller wire through the 3-dight in various patterns. Or I might try this last one with each successive knot interlaced through the tip of the previous. But that would be a lot more complex, and not as pretty as using the wrapped-on crystals to provide sparkle.

In case finishing the pendant doesn't seem to be "making" something for the day, I will note that I also made a bracelet that Rhonda wanted as a gift for a friend. However, I didn't make it from scratch. I took this necklace and re-made the clasp on about 40% of the chain to be a bracelet instead. Unfortunately Rhonda called back in the evening to say that her size estimate had been off, so she will bring it back for me to add some of the rejected links back on.

So that's the week, for wirework. A bunch of wire trefoil doodles, two utilitarian safety-blinker bezels, two heavy-gauge trefoil pendants, and a re-purposed chain bracelet. And halvah, which is about 80% gone already. It's now January 8th. On to next week!

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Friday, January 04, 2013

safety blinkers and sweets

Another day of no jewelry. Saturday deadline of YOJ is approaching fast! Still, there was some creation.

At the Library craft meeting, which I made at last at about 10:20, I made the second of my safety blinker bezels. Still far from jewelry quality wirework, but a good bit neater than the first. However. the only important criterion is, "will they  stay on?" and I think the answer is "certainly."

Secondarily, they will be easier to get turned on, as the little orange switch buttons are no longer obstructed by spokes.

My other creative accomplishment of the day is halva. Now, I am not going to count ordinary cooking in this "make something every day" challenge. If I did, it would not be much of a challenge! But something out of the ordinary, or that I have never done before -- I think that counts.

This is sesame halva with pistachios -- photo by Sjschen on Wikimedia Commons. Mine is also made with tahini, ground sesame seeds, but with honey instead of sugar syrup, and with toasted pecans. Much browner. Does it taste good? Yup. Is it going to be the right texture? Maybe. I have to wait at least 36 hours to see if it develops the sugar crystals that make it flaky rather than gluey.

Several recipes on the web say heat the honey to 240°. But some say hotter, even up to soft crack stage. I meant to follow that direction, but the honey foamed up so that it was very hard to keep it from boiling over, and  so I gave up at about 245°. I let it cool a little bit, put in the somewhat over-toasted pecans, and poured it slowly, stirring, into the warm tahini. Kept stirring till it was getting pretty stiff, and was down to 140°-150°. Dumped it into a covered plastic tub and put it on the cold windowsill. Now I am supposed to keep my hands OFF of it for 36 hours ...

Edited on Saturday to add:
After two days the texture is much closer to caramels than to fudge. I think I should cook the honey to at least 250°, and also try to beat it longer as it cools. This means using a much deeper pot, perhaps the deep cylindrical Revere drip coffee pot, and a bigger bowl - the heavy white glass Sunbeam bowl.

It is, I think, a good deal stronger in flavor than the store-bought. But delicious. Equally addicting. I eat a bite and walk away from the kitchen. Then I turn around and go back to the kitchen for another bite. At least as candies go, it is very high in protein and fiber!

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

safety blinker

Today I did make something, even something wire-wrapped. It was a utilitarian project, rather than jewelry.

Since October I've been using Tom's old stroller on most of my outside walks. For night safety I have red strobe blinkers on the wheels, as well as the eye-searing fluorescent orange vest Sonia gave me. The clips don't work too well on wheel spokes, so the strobes have been held on with clear packing tape that has been getting increasingly tattered.

So today I made one of them a sturdy copper wire bezel of sorts, with 16-gauge "ears" to wrap around the spokes. It is not very neat, and the prongs that were intended to wrap around to the back of the light are too short. But it is not going to come apart (a problem when I have to change the battery) and it is not going to come off the wheel when it's attached. And, an improvement over the way it has been, the little switch will not be obstructed by a spoke.

Now all I have to do is get the other one taken care of tomorrow!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

wire trefoils

Ok, Etsy e-mail had a challenge to make something every day this year. Can I do it? Stay tuned ...

Anyway, yesterday I made something. Not a finished product, more a test of concept. Celtic knot trefoils of 18-gauge and 20-gauge copper. Alabaster included to show scale ;-)  --actually, because she wouldn't get out of the way! These are very fuzzy tiny photos from the Mac's camera.

I tried twisting and hardening the annealed wire, to get nicer curves, but it didn't work. To get the interlacing, you have to deform it a lot, so you have to try to shape pretty curves afterward.

The trefoil is the simplest knot, though I have also done four and five loops.

For three, start with an overhand knot.

Then bend the ends in so they cross the open space, putting two corners unto the curve. If you're going to make a twisted stem, do that before bothering to refine the shape.

Next? Hammer-textured copper. and fine silver that can be fused into an endless ring. I've been meaning to learn fusing for years! It can't be that scary. Can it?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ornaments ornaments

Got ALL of the ornaments -- those that didn't sell at DHS -- up on Etsy, and showed several on Facebook. Lots of views and compliments. No Etsy sales though.  Now that they are all photographed anew, and organized, I should perhaps make a few more and then offer them in a timely fashion, like JULY, to Central Square Emporium.

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