In the Studio with Nancy, Volume 6, 8/15/13 Volume Six

Nancy L.T. Hamilton

Welcome to: In the Studio with Nancy

Welcome back to In the Studio with Nancy, Volume 6.  In this newsletter, I will babble about My Trip to Hawaii – you’ve got to go to my website to see it. You guys get the first notification of the page.  I’ve also included two emails.  The first email is about “getting better,” and the second is about the importance of a good foot pedal and engraving information.  Instead of my typical babbling (which I did on my Hawaii page), I will post links about my “new discoveries.”  They may not be new to you, but I thought they were so cool that I wanted to share them with everyone.  This newsletter is a little scattered, but so is my brain.  Enjoy!

First off, an apology. I lost the month of June and a few days in July to vacations. So, because the vacations are two reasons this Newsletter is so late, I thought I’d take advantage of my Hawaiian adventure here.  I know, I know, who cares about your trip, and how is this jewelry related?  Well, we artists thrive on inspiration. We also need to recharge our design vocabulary and our creative spirits.  Hawaii and all of its magnificent “stuff” did that for me.  I’m always looking at nature for my design ideas.  What if that tree were wearable?  How would I accomplish that?  From what materials?  So, you see, my Hawaii trip was, for me, a design inspiration.  I was hoping to share some of those inspirations and encourage you to use travel as a great way to refresh your design spirit.

I brought my two-part Belicold silicon compound and made molds of some fantastic textures.  Don’t put it in your carry-on, or they will arrest you for carrying bomb-making materials!  Haha! It was hard enough to bring back two bags of Hawaiian sea salt.  My carry-on luggage was searched, the salt confiscated, and checked for drugs.  I guess someone, somewhere, was stupid enough to carry narcotics or other drugs in their carry-on, in a bag of salt.  By the way, I passed, and the salt made it home with me.


In case you missed them, we just published two videos, Soldering 101 – Part 1 and Soldering 101 – Part 2.  I also published two new corresponding web pages: Soldering 101  Oxidation, Flux and Fire Scale/stain Prevention and Soldering 101 – The 4 Steps for Successful Soldering.  If you haven’t visited my website in a while, there are updated pages titled About Solder and Soldering.  I’ve been busy – one of the reasons I’m having such a tough time keeping up with my emails.

An aside:

*Deborah, if you are reading this, my flux is My-T-Flux from Rio Grande. I also use Rhonda Coryell’s Purple Flux.  I started, in college, using paste flux.  FYI, I just bought some for the first time in YEARS to reacquaint myself with it.


Email One

My Answer

Thanks for a great email and your kind words.  You learn like I do – jump in and figure it out later!  Oh, and you have the hungry person syndrome as I do:  Everything looks so yummy (meaning techniques/tools and ideas) – what should I try first?  It is like going to a restaurant when you are starving and want to order everything on the menu.

 When you said you felt that you weren’t improving, it made me think of two things:  make multiples and don’t jump around too fast.  On the multiples:  when I was in college, one of our projects was to make 5 of the same thing.  They were allowed to change subtly, but we had to follow the same basic premise.  That taught me that if you make one, it’ll be “okay”; if you make two, it will be better still; by the 5th one, you will have streamlined the process and gotten danged good at making that piece.  So, the point of this tale is that you need to make two or three roses – maybe five and you will learn something new each time you do.  On the jumping:  it is so tempting to jump around – especially when we start later in life and time is short.  It is also tempting because there are so many interesting things to learn.  Unfortunately, getting good at something means we have to focus a bit.  I know: dull, dull, dull.  But you don’t have to dedicate a year to making the same rose, but a month or two – would be good.  It’s just a matter of patience, doing the work, and TIME!  You might live to be 100; think about how much time you have left to learn!  You never know…

Oh, and by the way, you may never be totally happy with anything you do.  You will always see the flaws – just as I do.  The nice thing about getting better at your craft is that most people won’t see the flaws.  It will be a secret between you and your work. Remember:  humans are not perfect; ergo, we can’t create perfect things.  But we will try out damnedest! 

Email Two

After watching your video on the flex shaft, I took it apart and greased it; thank you! I feel empowered! 
Then, I bought the hammer handpiece, but I can’t control it. The foot on the foot pedal is unreliable (I can prop it or something), plus I think I need to file the bit to a point because it is too squared off. I want to use it to do some shading. Also, I am worried that if I buy the bit or make a bezel setter for it and try to set a stone, I will kill the entire piece. So far, I hate it. Any help would be appreciated.

My Answer

The first thing I thought of was the foot pedal.  Do you have a good one? I have a Lucas and a (metal) Foredom.  I love my Lucas pedal (not so much the company) and like the Foredom.  (Update:  the Foredoms are plastic now, and my opinion of them is less). I can make the hammer handpiece go slowly and have a lot of control.  Also, on customizing your tips, you could try altering the one you have – like you’ve already started.  In my Making Chasing and Repousse Tools video (in two parts), I discuss the steps steel needs to go through for annealing, hardening, and tempering (of steel – so that you can alter your steel tools).  It might help.  My handpiece came with an anvil point for stonessetting.  Most jewelry suppliers carry tips for the hammer handpiece.

I also recommend a practice session or five.  Make some bezels from copper and solder them to some scrap metal.  You can use glass or onyx stones – something inexpensive – and practice setting until you feel comfortable with the handpiece.
Using a speed control instead of a foot pedal will give you more control with this tool.
Don’t forget that those tips for the hammer handpiece need to be finished and polished before using them!
I found this video from Melissa Muir that might help.

Engraving Info

Shading can be achieved with an electric graver or flex shaft (see below).  Here’s a page from iGraver that discusses beginning shading on metal. Sam Alfano of iGraver has a video on shading with a GRS GraverMach AT (you’ll need to mortgage the house).

For more engraving info, Foredom makes the PowerGraver.  You can also use a small electric engraver with a diamond tip for shading. There are additional tips for different types of work.  I use my little electric graver for signing and dating my work.  

You can also use a standard flex shaft or Dremel with diamond points.

This is an actual engraving from the back of a watch by Steve J. Lindsay.  The watch was made by Ron DeCort. Just amazing.  

My friend, David Giulietti, is also a master engraver.  See more of his work on his site.

New Discoveries

Excellent online store for exotic and exciting materials:  Inventables.  They have acrylic sheets, anodized aluminum, cork (hmmm…ideas at work here), light reflective film, copper fabric, silver screen mesh, glass sheets, thin, medium and thicker wood sheets, 3D printers, desktop lasers, CNC mills, adhesives, tape, miniature LED lights, light strings, microcontrollers, molding resin, silicone rubber, mica pigments, soft gel magnets (? might have to try on of those) and a ton of other cool stuff. Ask for a catalog.

Embossing without a rolling mill

In this video, Sue, at bsueboutiques shows how to use the Cuttlebug.  Employing 30g copper, she embosses the metal.  It’s a great alternative to a rolling mill.  The only issue is the thickness of the metal that you can use.   You could always rivet the thin piece to a thicker piece of metal. She even put a pattern on a sheet of Mica. Wouldn’t that make a cool window for a pendant? I had so many ideas swirling in my head after watching her video.  Thanks, Sue!

Another method for transferring a pattern to metal is discussed here at Rings & Things. 

Of course, there’s the good ‘ole rolling mill.  Pepe Tools makes reasonably priced, excellent mills.

Metal Clay Related

The SilhouetteCAMEO® Cutter can do amazing things with metal clay (and other materials).  Check out Wanaree Taylor’s (see her link below)  video on Making Clay Gallery Bezel Wire on YouTube.
As a confirmed tool, woman of the night (you know the word I want to write?!?!?), I had to order one. Recently, we used it to cut thin wax sheets for casting. 


I found this jewelry artist whose work, I felt, was very inspirational – especially to those just learning to saw metal:  Jamie Spinello. Excellent work, Jamie!

You metal clay artists probably already know about Wanaree Taylor and her work with the Silhouette CAMEO® Cutter (see above for Wanaree’s video on the technique).

Thanks for subscribing, and happy creating.  Nancy

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