Circle or disc cutter for making blanks for hand raising or sinking silver, copper, tinsmithing bowls.

http://youtu.be/WtyAoITMHFA

Wato wato all. Very long time no communication eh!

Lots of water has passed under my bridge, as for sure yours also, since the last posting on silversmithblog. My new job at the Jewellery workshop in Porthleven has been a mixed and varied bag of delights, horrors, failures and victories that will no doubt continue to crop up in the coming posts. Looking forward to sharing the experiences that will help you to realise its only you in the way of making what you envisage in your head. Remember, all I know is technique that can be learned with ease if the application of the craft is exercised in the correct manor.

Its appropriate for me to now state that, at this time, looking to the types of work needed to service commissions. Also items bought in for repairs and adjustments has rendered me a bona fide Goldsmith. Never in my earlier wildest fantasies did this enter into my mind. The challenges have been both frustrating and rewarding to say the least. Enough of that for now, lets get on with the real passion, silversmithing. Well copper for now anyway.

A long while ago a promise was made to video the circle cutter that I am very fortunate enough to be the custodian of. The link at the start of this post will take you, (with luck I have done all the right things for this to happen) to YouTube to see said video. Had no idea you couldn’t upload a video here, you live and learn eh.

For those who watched the clip, sincerely hope it was enlightening, perhaps even entertaining. Please do give some feedback as if you wish, more clips can be added if you so wish. I know YouTube is awash with really great content, though bound to say haven’t trawled through it for some time myself. I will not add to the numbers if it’s not relevant, up to you. Better still, encourage me to post something you may wish to have better explained that will help with more visual content.

I showed the model that has been an experiment, now it will go further with the four copper bowls that are, finally, on the way.

Reen makes wonderful quilts, probably mentioned this before. Pictured here are two of her creations that led to the idea of the designs to follow.

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As you see, they convey wonderful movement, along with wonderful patterns. The model in the video, if you look closer, uses these lay out patterns, or at least like them, to start. I wondered how the raising process would effect the geometric, straight lined patterns. The distortions are very pleasing to my eye, wishing you may agree. They lend themselves very well to chasing and repousse decorative techniques, don’t you think.

Missing the larger scale work, working on small scale jewellery at this time, most of the time. Bound to say, I have been pining for more hammer work and less soldering/constructional work. Looking forward to seeing where this goes. As those of you know who have followed this blog from the start, major influences remain Hiroshi Suzuki and his hammer chased vessels. At least one of the bowls will employ hammer chasing, if you return to looking at his exquisite creations, the patterns I will use will be of a similar flavour to his signature natural forms. Not forgetting the awesome and wonderful human being that is David Huang, have I mentioned him before 🙂 I intent to give these bowls a rim, with my own ‘twist’ as a nod to his massive, incalculably huge continuing influence on my approach. This blog was in large part influenced by his generosity, for those of you who have not, please do look him up, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

I do not want to go on too much as I know this is a continuing personal failing. Suffice to say, its good to be back on the blogasphere. Please do get in touch.

I will be telling you more of my adventures as a jobbing jeweller in a busy shop, as well as my wonderful times as a tutor for the workshop. In two weeks I was fortunate enough to enable 60 people, including my now weekly 8 week beginners course that is rolling out continuously for the foreseeable future.

Until then, all my very best wishes.

Stu

Annealing and some modified ‘special’ tools

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Wato wato one and all.

I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours, back to the making part of the journey, my favourite. Who thinks the business and marketing side is favourite for them? I need to party with you if you are that person 🙂 For the rest of us, lets talk tools.

I had a question regarding the set up I use for annealing. The first picture shows my trusty Sievert set up. This is a very old set I purchased second hand on Ebay. Beware if you do similarly, this one leaked like a basket. On closer inspection the handle cracked and I had to modify/make new parts to make it gas tight. As far as I’m aware, Sievert no longer make this kit. However if you wish to have a set up like it for a fraction of the price, Machine Mart in the U/K have a comparable system, not Seivert, that looks very interesting and equally, if not more versatile than mine.

The first picture highlights the three nozzles I use most. The smallest one (part number 3937) is great for small work, think jump rings and the like. For general soldering and annealing of larger jewellery pieces, cuffs, large wire bangles ect, the one in the middle laying on the handle is great (part number 3941). For annealing vessels, quite large ones at that, in a shielded (firebrick) enclosure I have annealed a ten inch sheet with the nozzle shown attached to the handle in the first picture (part number 2943). The third and fourth picture show the smallest, with the needed small neck, and the largest in the kit. The largest nozzle I have (part number 3944) is shown lit on a very low setting. I show it here for you to see a soft flame is possible with this massive nozzle. I like that the flame given off is huge, it sounds just like a jet engine in the workshop, roaring away and bathing a very large surface area in a moderate to high heat. I find this creates an enveloping environment that is less likely to produce hot spots that more fierce and directed flames used by some twin pack set ups, like Oxy Acetylene for example. MAPP gas is hugely expensive. For large sheets I shudder to think of the cost. To my mind its overkill as the temperatures these systems are capable of are never needed if you stick to silver, copper and the like. The twin pack gasses are really best suited to precious metals where very much higher temperatures are required to anneal and solder. I appreciate this is my opinion derived through my experience. Please do comment if you have anything to add.

I use common garden Propane. The second picture shows my additional step down regulator. If you choose to have a, do everything set up, like mine, best you invest in one of these. Great for toning down when using the smaller nozzles with a simple tap, as you can see. I can’t speak for countries other than the U/K. The Propane I use comes in a red bottle of various sizes. Its very reasonably priced, if you do a lot of annealing then you have the option of a 47KG bottle that will last along time. I have the smallest bottle in the workshop, and a couple of larger ones for annealing larger work under my carport, I have another handle and hose, just needing to swap the nozzles, you can see the spanner in the 3rd picture.

I understand that Butane is calorifically higher, hotter, more bang for your buck. I have not felt the need to try it, besides I would need to purchase a new regulator if I did. If you must mix. Sievert, and other handles are available that will allow you to add air if you wish. This will make a very much hotter flame, I guess you could hook it up to a compressor if you wished to keep cost to a minimum. If anyone uses such a set up, I, we indeed, would be very interested to learn of your experiences with it. Butane is sold in blue containers with similar sizes, though I don’t think you can get the giant 47KG ones as you can with Propane. Again I am ready to stand corrected should anyone enlighten.

I have been asked to make a necklace with forged to undulating round/ovalish shapes. The rub is, the chap wants it to be really weighty and asked for 5mm wire to start!!! I managed to talk him out of 6mm which was what he contemplated. These links are to be forged once turned into rings, soldered and shaped. Have you tried to make small rings with 5mm sterling silver wire! Man alive, it is tough to work into bends that small, getting the ends to meet for soldering is also a nightmare as it is soooo hard. The other conspiring difficulty is, the 83mm lengths to start with are a bugger to hold whilst you try to form them around a mandrel. The vibration is enough to rattle a chaps fillings, also keeping it still, trying not to hammer fingers, preventing it taking an aerial journey across the workshop was also challenging.

After fighting with the first one, bruised fingers and all, I decided to try something else, I share it with you here in the hope you may find the following tips helpful as they can be used on all sizes of wire if you wish.

I bent each end approximately 45 degrees and then put them in the contraption you see in picture 4. I only thought to photograph it afterwards, so the link you see is complete.

These ‘pliers’ were purchased on Ebay a while ago after I came across them in one of my second hand tool hunts. They are old pig ringing pliers. Used to attach nose rings into pigs. As you see, you have the option of two sizes. I was not strong enough to form them with my hands, resting one handle on a rubber block and tapping the other closed with a leather mallet. Fantastic and painless result, as shown. Ring forming pliers are nothing new, look on any jewellery supply site. However these are quite a bit larger than the ‘proper’ jobs. Also, who wants pig pliers, cost conscious farmers thats who. Not ‘oh its for working precious metal therefore its and arm and a leg please’ of the tool suppliers. Look up a set for yourself. These are aluminium, thats a bonus as they will be far less likely to mark your material, a danger with steel ones. Also, should you so wish, you could mirror polish them and use them for making production runs of perfect, unmarked larger jump rings ready for soldering.

Soldering is where the next challenge presented. The spring in heavy gauge wire is considerable. After getting the ends as close as possible it was still a gnats doo dah too large for soldering. Anneal the link to give some softness after getting it almost to meet then onto the next beauty I managed to think of. I tried to use binding wire. No way could I get enough tension, after trying I was also worried that if I could, this would bite into the link, scarring the silver.

When people know you make things, the best of intentions come out, though sometimes misguided. My mum found these e.p.n.s. sugar tongs at a boot sale. ‘thought of you Stuie, any good to you’?  You don’t like to say no when the thought was so nice and well intended do you. Off they popped into my dead, damaged and what the hell is this for, tool graveyard.

As you see in the final two pictures; brilliant for this job, the spoon end ‘cups’ of the tongs cradle the link and stop it skidding about. Wrapping binding wire around the handles, exploiting the natural spring in the tongs gave just the right amount of pressure required to close the gap, whilst giving the smallest of footprint to prevent too much heat loss through the heat sinking effect of having another metal object in contact. Also as the tongs are very much thinner than the link, this really helped to get the heat where it was needed.

I hope you come away from this post refreshed from the horrid last couple of navel gazing business oriented ones. If you get something from this post, please do let me know. I will share other tools I have made or modified in future posts. Until then, as always thank you very much for sharing the journey.

Very best wishes.

Stu.

Sterling silver moon ring how to with home made tools. Part 1

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The completed, hallmarked sterling silver rings.

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The first, spiky example was my first attempt at a ring at my first year of College. I am drawn to this type of construction, though I wouldn’t recommend this ring. It was a good exercise on many levels, not least, how to make something totally unappealing 🙂 it taught me a lot about soldering though. The second was my first attempt to make a ring with repousse and chasing techniques to take advantage of the ‘skinned’ or two part hollow nature of these rings. The third is where this project takes off.

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To give you a flavour of the process, some experiments, drawn, paper mock ups and copper blanks ready for the next stage.

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This is not the final patter, though pretty close. If you do something similar I would recommend using graph paper, I did in the end. The reason is, when cut out you notice, especially in the following processes, that your pattern isn’t quite symmetrical. Graph paper makes this far more preventable.

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Some of the directions from the comfort of my drafting table,. Told you I couldn’t draw 🙂

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I can’t remember where I picked up this tip. Fabulous stuff this rubber cement for sticking paper patterns to metal. Cover the metal and the paper with the glue. Blow on the metal until it goes matt, slide the paper pattern and leave for a min or two. Saw up to the pattern, great stuff.

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Blank in copper domed in the block with a 15mm doming punch. Starting in a larger depression, moving down a size, four or five times. If you try too small too fast, it created nicks in the corners of the piece where it is trying to compress too quickly. Anneal if you feel the need.

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From a previous post. remember my, made from copper, filled with lead pitch bowl. This parcel tape fits the bill as a great stand for it. Some grippy cloth in-between keeps thins nice and stable.

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2mm and 3mm doming punches for repousse stage.

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Same again for the chasing part.

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Using a suitable sized doming punch, to fit the ring shank you need. Mark the overlap, cut through both layers (each side) to create a perfect soldering joint.

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Some of my miniature metalwork forming tools. See text.

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Showing how to round off the shank. Use a soft hammer, not metal as this will stretch the metal. Remember this if your outer is too tight to fit the shank. You can use a metal hammer to the stake to stretch it to fit.

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You can just see the air gap. I will go into more detain in the next post.

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The silver blanks ready.

 

Wato wato one and all.

This ‘moon ring’ was a request, I have no idea if it will sell, made a couple just in case.

This journey is in two parts, this one shows you a little background. Also the refinement of the design and the tools needed to realise it.

The references to looking to the text will be covered in detail in the next post. Hope you enjoy reading about it. Also I hope it inspires you to look at the things around you in a different way. You never know where the next tool is lurking, just keep looking.

Until next time. Very best wishes.

Stu Art.

RT blanking die for cutting repeatable shapes in metal silver copper ect.

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project report no. 12e_1 the r.t. blanking system – may 1980

Wato wato all

Want to make repeatable elements without having to saw them out individually. You want the RT blanking system you do 🙂

I hope you can download the attached PDF as it was a free download I had from a couple of years back. I have made these dies for others, not had good enough ideas myself to warrant some for myself…. YET!

I include this post mainly for a smashing person who asked what my yellow clamp was from a previous post. As you can now see close up it is a vice. I use this to hold my bench pin, as you see here. Also for holding a small soldering stand, and holding small forming stakes. It is shown here with rubber safety jaws, I also made some copper ones to hold work securely without marking. Not shown in these pictures, though I will in another post, is the vertical and horizontal ‘v’ matching grooves in each jaw. Great for holding round bar, also for stopping stakes I make from discarded Allen keys from spinning when I hammer onto them.

I will not write too much on the RT system, the attached PDF should provide way more than I can write. What I will explain is my way of maintaining an angle when sawing out my blanks from flat stock steel.

The angle gage shown here has a magnetic base and is used for setting saw blades to the appropriate angle on table saws and the like. Nowadays you can download an app for your smartphone to give you a very accurate angle gage, better than buying a gauge like this, you probably already have an all singing and dancing phone right 🙂

Have a read through the PDF, look at the pictures, please ask if you require any clarification. I saw mine by carefully maintaining the angle, watching to see I am sawing vertically, not swaying from side to side. If you look on line you will find saws contained in frames, they run in tracks to go up and down perfect every time for this job, no risk of deviation. They also have tables to rest flat sheet upon that can be set to the angle you select, for the thickness you require. Very posh, very efficient but quit a lot of money. Fine if you are a production person, not so justifiable for experimentation. My results were quite satisfactory, sure to be the proper saw will do a better job, I have to clean up the edges more than would be needed with the proper saw. I can live with that, can you? give it a go. Prepare to break a lot of blades, progress is very slow cutting hardened steel. Very best of luck.

Very best wishes.

Stu Art

Move to outside workshop

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My bench, all made from reclaimed stuff. The top cane from a skip, the table it sits on was being slung out. Its raised on two rough sawn off cuts, not elegant, effective though.

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‘Plier rack’ is an old plate stand, keeps files to hand as well. The filing cabinet has my tumbler, pickle pot (an old slow cooker, make sure its ceramic, not metal if you try yourself) and one or two fondue set mini pickle pots, heated by tea lights, for small work. The table/stand is a laptop stand, height adjustable, very useful.

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Solis cast iron surface plate, or sometimes called a flat iron, perfect for checking the trueness of raising, marking out and checking for flatness. Old fire bricks salvaged from electric night storage heaters, two turntables, the smaller one for a T/V, the other is a twist exerciser, both plastic so be careful. With the size of the bricks placed on the soldering table, I have no issue with heat reaching the turntable. Both found in junk shops.

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Truly awesome guillotine, I took this apart and painted it. It is so heavy, I used a motorcycle jack to help take it apart. As it was over a small drain, the weight cracked through the alloy drain, toppling it onto my pushbike, you should see the dent in the frame ;/

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A mod roc, wire and wood ‘sculpture’ I made for a project. Do you think it would work in copper for outside?

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Swage machines, part of the tinsmiths hall. All need to be cleaned up and restored.

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Two old slip rollers, along with my modern rolling mill. Restoration of the old ones later!!!!

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Some of my hammers. That fan is great, force 10 at least, no paperwork out when this is running.

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A belt and disc sander I use for roughing out amongst other things the chasing tools you see here. They are attached by strip magnets used for storing knives in kitchens, you guessed it, from a second hand shop. The trolley, on wheels, was salvaged from a skip.

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Birds eye view. Got to have a cuppa tea. I’m British don’t ya know 🙂 The stool I use is a piano stool, the pad is on a screw thread, just spin it for height adjustment.

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Couldn’t resist this, beautiful at night, with switchable effects, just plain white, reminds me of the stars, you have to be here to see the full fantastic effect.

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My disc cutter, truly fantastic, beautiful machine. Always make me giggle every time I use it.

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A Norton fly press, more to come in the near future with this machine. The machine to the right, just visible the two rollers, is a bowl forming machine. Alas one of the cast gears is broken, on another post I will introduce my “dirty” workshop, (my garage) and the machine tools I will be using to repair it. Most of the stakes came from the tinsmith hall, along with most of the machines here, see text for explanation.

 

Wato wato one and all

Not posted for a while, work and a direction revisited from a previous time have meant not much happening at the moment. I was hoping the start of the holiday season would be more fruitful than it has proven to be so far. I have just made a batch of wire forged bangles. Alas they are difficult to photograph, I wanted to send them off to the jewellery workshop to try to get some cash-flow going, I will get the next batch professionally photographed, I’m very pleased with them.  http://porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

To the subject of this post, my move to outside with my jewellery work. Long story short, Reen, as you know, is a woodturner, membership secretary for Cornwall woodturnershttp://www.cornwallassociationofwoodturners.co.uk/

Now when we started with the workshop in the back garden I ‘shared’ it with her. As her hobby has grown, so has her collection of wood, not to mention the acquiring of a bandsaw and other wood related stuff. I resolved to just do larger work there, keeping my jewellers bench and associated bits in our spare bedroom. Burnt holes in the carpet and black smeetch marks from soldering/annealing led to the executive decision that I had to go outside.

Great news, Reen has a new shed. I now have re claimed the workshop, I thought I would share some pictures while it resembles some form of order.

I purchased a couple of years ago a complete tinsmith workshop tooling. As you see it is in a fairly rough state, the guillotine, disc cutter and fly press the only three things, apart from the odd stake, that I have gotten round to repairing/restoring. It was fantastic to meet the chap who sold it to me, he worked at this job, for the same firm all his working life. When he retired, the business closed down, he kept all the tooling in a, sadly, leaky lock up. He showed me a fly press die that he said was his first job when he started at 15 years of age. I’m now the very proud custodian of these time capsules. I don’t know if look forward is the right term, however as the years go by, time permitting, I will slowly restore each part. I have only shown some of what I have, I will introduce you to more as time goes on. Some of these machines, like the bowl maker, or the crimper with the associated accessories, are simply fascinating and wondrous to behold. All made from solid cast sections that are hernia inducing to move around. These industrial relics were the CNC machines of their time, I am very privileged to own these machines, they give me immense pleasure as I look at them, trying to figure out how they work, imagining the chap, his working lifetime etched into each one.

I know this has little to do with silversmithing per say, however these machines and associated stakes can be pressed into service for silversmithing purposes, as I intend to show you over the times we share.

I have pretty much completed a commission I will share with you next time, including some more, made from stuff lying around tools you can make yourself.

I apologise in advance for an upcoming post that shows my “dirty” workshop. A very nice person has expressed an interest in the old engineering machines I am fortunate enough to look after. Please don’t dismiss it as I feel sure, as people interested in making things, you should get something from it.

Until next time. All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Chasing and repousse´bowl, new German red pitch used for completing sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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See text for explanation of hot air/paint stripper gun.

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Because of the hight required for the ‘runes’, also the definition/separation from the background I wanted to achieve; you can clearly see the material ‘gathered’ from the surrounding ares of each stone to push more silver where thinning will inevitably occur.

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German red pitch, I now have experienced, is very much more supportive. To get this flatness with my normal green would have meant transferring from the pitch to a flat plate, using planishing punches to push back surrounding areas.

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To cover up the marks made whilst gathering material, starting to use different curved liners to give the impression of flowing water.

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Not shown, look at the slightly raised areas made by turning the piece over in the pitch to repousse´ small water eddie type effect.

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Close up of the water eddie effect I was shooting for

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After all the water flowing decoration was applied I planished each rune as best as possible with planishing punches. From the pictures of runes I have seen, many appear to be smooth and shining. Not my normal approach, I much prefer the planishing marks, however for the effect I was looking to create, polishing was next.

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After polishing came the application of the name Lawrence in the rune alphabet.

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All done 🙂

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From a previous post, remember the copper ‘sketch’?

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Another bonus with the German red pitch. Look at the impressions left after removing. It releases much easier, is a lot less messy and so much easier to clean up.

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Fingers crossed Lawrence likes it

Wato wato one and all.

The German red pitch is brilliant, I’m a convert. The green pine based pitch will still have a place in my workshop, I wont be throwing it out anytime soon, horses for courses as the saying goes. For rapid ‘puffing’ or the repousse´ stage, it still has a lot to offer, being as it is far softer than the red. At this time I feel confident in stating I will in all probability not use green pitch ever again for chasing. After using the red, it just isn’t supportive enough. When I made the copper model, yes I know its softer to start with, however I had to, after each course, return to a steel flat plate and return the surrounding areas to flat with mallets and punches. Not once did I have to using the red.

You will perhaps remember when I attempted to put in ‘Lawrence’ into the copper runes, they pretty much all collapsed. I feel very confident that would not have been the case if I had used the red, rather than the green pitch. Yes, the silver is stronger, remember though the amount of raising required to get the hight will have thinned the silver quite a bit, so perhaps not as strong as we may be lead to assume.

In conclusion, green for rapid and less precise repousse´ stages. Red for chasing and more refined lines, less planishing and more support. I hope this is helpful to some of you who, like me, wanted to know the difference. I still haven’t found anywhere on the web where comparisons are made, probably not looking hard enough, please let me know if you find such a site.

A very nice lady, check out her blog  http://patriciacarlson.wordpress.com/  told me of a workshop she attended with a master craftsman, David Bigazzi:-  http://www.dbcollection.net/

She very kindly passed on a tip she picked up whilst there. I show, in the first picture, a heat gun that I have always used for softening my pitch. I find the thought of playing a flame over it and all the associated soot, not good. My Dad is a heating engineer and he has a supper dooper programmable digital heat gun used to check out thermostats. I couldn’t afford one of those, but I got the idea this one. Its great for the job and has a variable heat setting that I find very controllable. Patricia also says DB uses such a gun for annealing!! How cool is that. I must confess I haven’t tried it yet, I will though. Could it be a better way, less risk of overheating and firestain. I will let you know, Thank you again Partricia.

Thank you all again for looking at this blog. Remember if you wish to see something, don’t hesitate to let me know, I love a challenge. I hope to show you next time some ring projects I have in the pipeline. A lady likes my moon series, but wants a ring made. I have done a copper model (no really 🙂 this will be a hollow design needing stakes that I made out of old bolts to create, I’ll show you how. Reen had been asking for me to do a moonstone ring, aaarrrrhhh stones, colour, get behind me Satan. I pays to get out of your comfort zone once in a whilr – right ;\

Until next time all my very best wishes.

Stu Art 🙂

Chasing and repousse´bowl to take new German red pitch for sterling silver ‘Lawrence cuff’

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Wato wato all

How the jolly well are you, I trust all is tickety boo with you and yours. If not, look on the bright side; this time next year you wont remember least alone care eh :/

It has been a while since I have tried to make something, back to regular work now, night shifts are such a bore. My own fault, should be better at this by now. The good news is that I now have some cash coming in to purchase things like the German red pitch you see here. Not a huge amount, I got it from Amazon U/K as postage from abroad to import it was shocking. I also wanted to see if it was any good before committing to buying larger quantities.

The cost of a new pitch bowl, combined with the postal charges – they are heavy cast iron after all – was, again prohibitive. The solution was to turn to my trusty supply of copper hot water tanks, sink a spherical bowl and use that. At approx 0.6mm thick, the copper was way too light on its own. Also the amount of pitch I ordered would not fill the 10cm bowl I made to accommodate it. A solution to kill two birds, as it were, was to 3\4 fill the bowl with some scrap lead I had given to me. The pictures show the block in mole grips, held over the bowl. Using a propane torch I dripped the molten lead into the bowl.

The bowl is now heavy enough to prevent it skidding about as I use it. I know the lead is not a great idea, health and safety and all that, so I decided to contain it with a disc of copper. To secure the disc I chose to use body filler as it will not get hot enough in use to cause an issue. The low melting point of the lead makes it, to my mind anyway, impossible to solder, so this was a solution. The beauty of the body filler is that it will fill the gaps, making a permanent barrier against the contamination of the pitch with lead.

As you see, Lawrence does want a silver version of the copper cuff of a previous post. I have ‘puffed out’ the ‘runes’ as far as I can on the plaster scene at this time. Next job is to fill the new bowl with the German red pitch and see how it goes.

Thank you again for joining me on the never ending journey. Until next time, don’t let the bounders grind you down.

All my very best wishes

Stu Art 🙂

 

Repousse´ and chased flame patinated copper sunk leaf bowl

Wato wato all,

Hope you’re all looking forward to the festive season.

I have mentioned before, Reen is the membership secretary for the Cornwall association of wood turners. I have relented to her request to join, but not for turning, one turner is enough for any household I think. I have had a go at carving quite some time ago and so I enrolled on the woodcarving beginners class to see how I would get on. As you are aware silver requires quite a hefty investment before you can start something larger, as a result I go back to my trusty copper.

I have struggled since leaving College to establish myself so I am soon to be back on the hamster wheel of regular employment, helping to fund my further attempts at making objects that people may wish to purchase. I think this also pushed me to try the carving, a welcome distraction from my failures, perhaps it would give me a different view, some inspiration as to a new, hopefully more commercial aesthetic that other people may better relate to.

The leaf you see here is a direct copy of the template given to us by Johnny, our tutor. It was great to be involved in another craft, meeting up with others with a passion for what they do, comparable to mine in my craft. For what its worth, I would recommend that this is an approach that may help others, as it has helped me, it is very easy to become insular, seeing things from a singular perspective. Great if you are bang on target with the market you wish to attract, pretty poor if, like me, you are so far short that a shot of outside inspiration can be like a refreshing cold shower.

Once a month the woodturning club has a social evening, inviting a guest speaker to present to the group. Reen put me forward to give a talk! What do you talk about to people who work in wood? How do I engage an audience that is wedded to colour and grain patterns? Make a leaf to compliment the carving thought I, so this is the result. The main body was first repousse´ then filled with pitch to chase before finally sinking the rest away from the veins. The copper lent itself to being more colourful and random, a little like grain or blotchy colours in wood. All good eh, well almost but not quite!

I am terrible at remembering dates and times, Reen told me the date, no worries thinks I. The Wednesday morning before the Friday talk Reen asks me how things are coming along. No worries I will have it completed by next Friday no problem, picture the scene, cheesy grin and self satisfied, smug expression. Now imaging the ensuing unraveling of this confident exterior as she informed me, this Friday you wally. Oh sh-1-2, why me :

I hope this goes some way to explain, though not excuse of course, the damage you see on the completed piece. I finished this leaf at approximately 3:30pm on the Friday of the talk, I had to be there to set up at 06:00pm.

The good news is that the nice bunch at the club enjoyed the talk and even offered excuses for my poor finishing, and ham fisted ness by saying it gave the piece character. Nice to have a sympathetic audience eh.

The pictures are not a complete time line, fair to say you will all have an idea of how this sort of project progresses along. As always, please do ask any questions if I have not been clear.

Reen is also a member of a quilting group, though I will not be attempting that anytime soon, the patterns and geometry employed have my very much more engaged. Who knows what I may come up with. Now I’m off to read this months edition of Magic Patch for quilters 😉

I hope you will be encouraged by my experience to give other crafts a look to see if you can become better inspired.

Happy Christmas to you all, just in case this is the last post this year, a very happy and creative 2014.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

Repousse chased copper model of a custom cuff bracelet from conception to completion in pictures

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The drawing given to me with the rune alphabet and the caption as wanted. My interpretations at the bottom with the copper blank ready for lining

 

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Without annealing, turn the lined piece over and use a rounded punch. Follow the outline, as made by the liner in previous stage, working towards the middle.

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Turned over, on the plaster scene from previous stage, you can see the ‘runes’ taking shape. The surrounding material needs to be straightened out now.

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You can see this was an allen key, most of my tools start as allen keys, great cheep tool steel. The face, as most all of my chasing and repousse tools are, is mirror polished to prevent scarring of the material whilst working. The background is gently pushed down, again use the largest planishing punch as you can to minimise the overlapping tool marks that can lead to an unwanted planished effect. You are just ‘placing’ the material back, not forming it, just be gentle as you will need to repeat this again later.

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First annealing stage, pickled ready for more working.

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Because the material was work hardened in the previous stage this would likely not have been successful before this annealing. This takes the last stage to its conclusion, making the ‘runes’ return to the same level as the surrounding material. This allows you to separate the elements better later and allows you to see how high you have come, more importantly how much further you need to go.

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The underside after outlining the individual runes from the front, notice the clean edged as they have been encouraged back to the steel plate.

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A more focussed push tool is used for the second puffing out round. Same again, start from the outline and work towards the middle of each separate element.

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Compair this with the previous annealing, I need to start to think about making the runes look like separate elements rather than the balloon like appearance they have now.

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I will repeat this later. You will no way get this amount of height this early on working in any type of silver. You need to think about that as you may end up becoming despondent not being able when you try. Ask how I know 🙂

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Ready for undercutting now to make the runes look separate from the surrounding sheet.

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This is the sort of angle to use to give some material for undercutting when the piece is the right way up.

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Two sizes of planishing punch, smallest one for the tighter gaps between the elements.

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Annealed and pickled, round three.

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Lined onto the metal plate again. Please be careful, too heavy hammering on this repeated process thins the material and a real risk of breaking through exists if you are a little exuberant at this stage. Guess how I found out : \

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Straighter sides ready for undercutting, helping to further shape the illusion of separate pieces.

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This type of tool with a rounded blunt profile is used at this kind of angle.

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The shiny parts show where the tool has contacted. A little imagination is needed to envisage how you wish the elements to look from the front. This will dictate the profile, as well as the angle you choose to employ

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Much more defined and starting to look more like separate elements. Its over to the pitch now as the final shaping requires more support than the plaster scene can provide.

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A Victoria Lansford tip here, cooking oil applied to the side you are adhering to the pitch will aid its removal when completed.

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Sorry to say, imagination will have to guide you better than my words here. Study the two tool profiles, the blunt one is driven into the side to undercut each element. The other tool I made up from previous attempts to ‘lift’ elements. I made this type of tool for ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ cuff when I was having trouble making the veins stand proud of the surrounding material. I find it effective, good luck if you wish to try your own. Better still, do you have any profiles you may wish to share?

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Another view of the two tools. The ‘lift’ tool shows the ‘belly’ I shape into it. Picture the effect this has when struck. The belly forces the tool to follow the rocker profile, the scoop profile then shapes and tucks in the element as it is described around each one.

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Just like the plaster scene stage, this is for making crisper definition that the more supportive pitch allows.

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Playing with the runes theme, elements and the like, I thought water flowing around would give a greater visual impact. Back in the pitch, face down, this blunt rounded tool is used to create raised ripple like effects as seen from the front.

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Off the pitch, from the front on a steel plate.

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Chasing the flowing patterns, this is one of the curved liners I used, more in following pictures.

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All the ‘flowing’ chased detail applied, shown are all the liners I used to attain this pattern.

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A blunt tool was used to mark out the rune letters that were requested. This is an example of spoiling the effect trying to rush. If you do this, remember to fill each element with pitch BEFORE you attach the whole piece. As you see some of the runes are sunken. This is due to be omitting this stage and having to contend with air pockets that do not support, leading to a collapse, shown here.

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Cleaned up and fresh from the barrel polishing machine.

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For illustrating options I chose to present this model half patinated to allow the chap to express a choice. I use a cotton bud as I find the solution wrecks brushes. The fine steel wool is used to take the black off the higher elements.

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One half patinated, the rest shiny, decisions decisions.

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Close up of shiny, clearly showing the ‘reward’ for lack of patience, the rune squashed, what a twit eh.

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Patinated and high spots removed with the wire wool.

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In 0.6mm copper, not very durable, nonetheless a good example of what could be if the chap decides he wishes it made in silver. This is a great example of my approach to ‘sketching’. I could not draw this, no problem making it though, it is a communication tool that allows me to have a dialogue with a person as they finger the surface and are able to better communicate what they want through seeing a representative model first.

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I have added this image of a packet of Plasticine. If you go to an art shop and ask for the generic equivalent , you get much more for your money.
As a thought for the people who wish to dip their toe in the repousse and chasing water, without going to the expense of purchasing pitch and the associated equipment needed to use it, I have had a thought. If you push the plasticise firmly into the depression you wish to add detail to, perhaps experiment by putting it in the fridge of freezer, this will stiffen up the plasticine, obviously you will have to work out how much support this will give, making allowances and decisions when to return the piece to the cold as it warms.
The pitch is very much more supportive, better to use for limited amounts of puffing that traditional low relief chasing and repousse require. The higher relief style I like, I find the plasticine saves time by yielding more, giving me more bang for the annealing buck as it were. Also the pitch will give a pretty accurate indentation for the tool used. Imagine poking your finger up inside a stretched piece of fabric. Your finger will make an impression of a tent as the material around is also pushed up. Depending on the pitch mix/hardness this effect can be, to a greater or lesser degree, avoided, making for crisper definitions of elements. The plasticine will drag material from further around the initial tool impression making ‘hills’ if you like.
If anyone does experiment with cold plasticine, I would be very interested to hear how you get on.

Wato wato

I thought this example of a commission I have received will help to better understand the chasing and repousse methods I use. Better still I sincerely hope it will encourage you to have a go, please do ask me for any further clarification should you need it. I would also be thrilled to see anyone else’s work if they would care to share it.

Lawerence is a fantastic chap who is into shamanism, ooooookkkayyyy I hear you say. I know I know, perhaps a little eccentric, better that than the abundance of dullness I say. A thoroughly decent and nice chap to boot as well and someone who I am very glad to say I now call friend.

Lawrence saw Clairs bangle, you know the pebble one, look back or go to my Facebook page if you need reminding. He came up with the idea of having his name in runes, the drawing in the first photograph will give you the gist.

I will let the pictures do the talking, well they do have some explanations attached, as I say, please do ask if I have not been clear.

As for the silver final piece, well I will have to wait as I have you to show this to him for his opinion. Rest assured if he does decide I will post a picture when I have completed it. As I state in the pictures this model was made in very thin, ex copper water tank, 0.6mm. Sterling silver will be the material of choice for the ‘real’ one. It will take, if I’m lucky twice as many annealings as it took to realise the model working as I do in 0.9mm stirling silver sheet. Please bear this in mind if you jump right in with your own projects, it takes very much longer and is much harder to move than the copper shown here.

As many of you already know I’m no artist and find drawing skills frustratingly illusive at this time, though I am still working on it. To my mind this approach is not much more time consuming than a fine rendering in different aspects that a silversmith or jeweller may need to satisfy a client. As a bonus my ‘handicap’ means I am continually learning in my chosen medium by practicing in it most of the time through necessity. Thin gauge models work for me, go on try it, you may like it.

I hope you enjoyed the photographic journey to the end and it encourages you to have a go for yourself.

All my very best wishes.

Stu Art

David Huang at LaFontsee Galleries

http://www.lafontsee.us/artists/david-huang/index.html

Wato wato,

You may like to sign up for email updates for LaFontsee Galleries. All top notch work from artists and craftspeople showcased to perfection.

Those who have followed this blog will know, I am a huge fan of David Huang, both as a person and an awesome visionary metalsmith. I received my email, David was featured in the mail shot.

The chased and repousse bowls shown here will make your head spin; gold silver and various smashing patinated copper finishes. Silversmithing skills through the raising of each bowl, through to tool making and design excellence to realise his three dimensional raised surfaces and flowing patterns.

I hope you enjoy them.