Thursday, 4 February 2016

Handmade Argentium Silver Findings And A New Torch!

I've been meaning to buy a Sievert torch and propane bottle for absolutely ages after first using one at the jewellery night classes I went to a couple of years ago. It was really my love-hate relationship with my max flame torch that finally made me just get on with it and buy one.

Up to now I've managed with a mini butane, a max flame and a plumbers propane/butane torch and they've mostly been fine for soldering and enamelling a range of sizes of metal. Apart from the max flame butane torch. It's a larger version of the mini butane but badly designed with an awkward on off switch arrangement, a bad habit of spitting liquid butane out of it's bottom when you try to fill it, only igniting when it feels like it and a flame {once you manage to light it} that dies within minutes of "filling" the torch. And I have as yet not managed to fill it properly despite holding it and the butane canister at different angles, pumping the butane canister and then just swearing at it a lot. When it works it's a great torch and handy for when the mini butane can't cope but no good if it only works when it feels like it.

So I bought the Sievert Pro torch with a needle point burner and a larger burner for soldering larger items.

As you can see I haven't used it properly yet but I have played and it's great. I can use the smaller burner for enamelling and smaller soldering jobs and the larger burner for larger pieces and bangles.

New Handmade Argentium Silver Findings
At last, another thing I got round to doing! I've had some 20g {0.8mm} argentium silver wire hanging around for months waiting to be made into earwires and headpins and I finally got round to doing it yesterday.

So what's the difference between sterling silver and argentium silver?
  • They are very similar except argentium silver has a slightly higher % of pure silver and less copper than sterling silver and has the addition of the metalloid germanium. A metalloid is a chemical element that has a mix of metal and non metal properties.
  • A big advantage of using argentium silver in soldered pieces of jewellery is that it doesn't form firescale when heated as sterling silver does. 
  • Another important bonus has to be that it's also highly tarnish resistant and is brighter and "whiter" in colour than sterling silver.
  • It is also claimed to be hypo-allergenic so it may be suitable for people who have allergic reactions to earwires made with other metals.

I cut the argentium silver wire into lengths for earwires and headpins.

Then I started to ball the ends with the torch flame. Here's the first few I did.

argentium silver balled wire - cinnamon jewellery

The melted argentium silver wire forms lovely smooth balls that don't oxidize in the flame but remain bright. Part of the wire about 1cm down from the end discoloured slightly but this was removed quickly by pickling.

I balled up a piece of sterling wire to see the difference in the appearance of the balls. The sterling wire balls up and cools revealing a pitted, more rustic looking ball.

Earwires in progress. I decided to stick to just one earwire design for now.

argentium silver earwires - cinnamon jewellery

Super shiny! The finished earwires and headpins after a polish in the tumbler.

I'll be selling the earwires in packs of two pairs and the headpins which are 2.5 inches long in packs of 10. I just need to get them photographed properly then they will be listed in my Etsy shop.

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Friday, 29 January 2016

New Earrings Using Patterned Bronze Sheet

In my last blog post I wrote about some patterned bronze sheet I'd made using my rolling mill and that I'd then made some new earrings with the results.

One of the pairs is made with a leaf vein texture. It's really easy to get a mirror image of the leaf vein texture by sandwiching a skeleton leaf between two sheets of metal which is what I did for these earrings. I then trimmed around the outline of the leaf shape and added a curve to the leaves so they looked a bit more like real leaves.

 I used this forming block...

I bought this on ebay a while ago and only recently found out it's designed to be a bangle forming block but it can be used to form curves in lots of different shapes. It always makes me think of a child's toy :D

It added a nice curve to the leaf shape which is what I was after. I then soldered a jump ring to the top of the earrings and pierced out the centre to form the hanging hole for the earwires.

I tidied up the edges of the pierced holes with the help of a file and my flexshaft then decided how to decorate the earrings. I had originally planned to add a cabochon near the bottom then I realized the curve would make that a bit of a fiddle to do. So I kept it simple with two silver balls near the top instead!

I used the bezels and cabs I was going to put on the leaf earrings and added them to these bronze heart earrings instead.

My bezel setting weapons...

I try to avoid using metal bezel rollers/rockers whenever possible after ruining one too many cab settings right at the very end of the whole making process. Instead I use a toothbrush handle and half a wooden clothes peg. Wood and plastic are softer than metal and stone so if you do slip as you're setting your stone you won't end up with a scratched cab or bezel. Sometimes if the bezel is a bit hard to move I will use a metal bezel rocker..... but very carefully! 

These bullet shape bronze earrings used sheet textured using a bought brass texture sheet.

I soldered on the hanging loops the easiest way I could find. Adding the finishing bits - loops, jump rings and earwires is my least favourite type of soldering and normally when I'm likely to make a mess of things!

I formed the loops from sterling silver wire then flowed some solder on the ends on one side. I then sat the earring on top of the loop and put a copper disc on top of the loop towards the top. This pushed the loop up at the ends under the earring and made sure they was good contact between the two so that it would solder properly.

I covered the solder join between the two layers of bronze with a paste made from rouge powder and water. This will stop the solder reflowing and messing up the front of the earring. Then I hit the top of the earring with the flame and watched for the solder to flow at the point where the silver loop emerged from under the earring. Doing it this way mean the weight of the earring stops anything moving {and me swearing}.

 After checking the soldering is good the earrings go into the pickle pot then a soak in super pickle to remove the copper plating that forms when you heat and pickle bronze. Any excess solder was removed and the ends of the wire smoothed down before the earrings were oxidized in LOS.

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

I Have Been Busy, Really. Patterned Bronze Sheet.

It's been a bit quiet on the blog front for the past few weeks. I put my Etsy shop and website on holiday just before Christmas so I could have a break, relax and also get cracking with making new jewellery.

I did quite a lot of relaxing {and scoffing chocolates, yum!} over Christmas and the New Year and enjoyed catching up with the end of the second season of The Affair, started watching the second season of Fargo {which to me seems so much better than the first} and other stuff I'd stockpiled with Sky+ .
I did give my shed a proper clean too - even wiping down shelves which were covered with black dust {nice} and I even washed the windows :D

I also got round to making some new jewellery. I felt the need to make some bronze earrings and decided to add some patterns to the sheet bronze with my rolling mill.

I used a mix of textured card, leaf skeletons and brass texture sheet that I'd bought and some brass sheet that I'd etched with a stamped designs.

I started off by cutting the bronze sheet to size then annealed it.

This is me attempting to anneal some bronze sheet and take a photo at the same time.

I normally buy my textured card from Rolling Mill Resources on Etsy and generally get good results. This blog post from January 2014 shows the results on sterling silver and copper sheet using textured card bought from Rolling Mill Resources.

This time I used some textured card from another shop and have been pretty disappointed with the results to be honest. Below is a piece of bronze textured with one of their cards. The pattern is there but it's pretty faint.

The patterns on these two pieces of bronze turned out pretty faintly too.

Below: this strip was textured using a piece of textured card from Rolling Mill Resources...

Admittedly having a long thin shape makes it easier to impress the pattern onto the metal and I did maybe roll it a little bit too tight which is why the metal has curved but the results are much deeper and clearer.

Compare the card textures to using metal to impress the design...

rolling mill textures using etched brass and machine patterned brass

The bronze on the left was rolled with a piece of etched brass and the other piece with a brass texture plate I bought ages ago. Lovely clear patterns!

rolling mill textures on bronze sheet © Cinnamon Jewellery 2016

I flipped over the largest piece {shown above} that had the faint card texture and used a piece of brass I'd etched with a stamped design. Much better!

I also used a leaf skeleton. You can't go wrong with them, they work so well on all the metals I've tried them with. The fibrous nature of the veins is obviously pretty sturdy.

leaf vein texture on bronze © cinnamon jewellery 2016

The photo collage at the top of this post shows what I did with some of the patterned bronze but more about that in my next post!

Tracy © Cinnamon Jewellery

Copyright © 2016 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year again and I've been MIA for the last couple of weeks as far as writing blog posts is concerned. After a slow start {and a little bit of complaining to friends on my part} my Etsy shop and website got really busy with lots of bangle orders and quite a lot of earring and findings sales too. It's great but I'm always a bit relieved when it's over and I can put my shops on holiday.

I already have lots of ideas for new jewellery for next year and despite enjoying the break I'm already  feeling some metalwork withdrawal symptoms so I'm not sure how long I will be able to stay out of my jewellery shed!
Wishing everyone who reads and comments on my blog a very Merry Christmas! The fact that you are reading my jewellery ramblings is very much appreciated :D

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The One With The Bottle Of Tabasco

So just why is there a bottle of Tabasco on my jewellery bench? Am I a secret Bloody Mary drinker having a crafty snifter everytime I hear a Pearl Jam song on the radio? Unlikely as I hate tomato juice. I do like Pearl Jam though {and vodka}.

No it's there because I needed it for a recent custom order. The buyer contacted me asking for something in copper with a heart to fit over a bottle of Tabasco. It was for his {copper I presume} anniversary and his wife likes Tabasco so he wanted to combine the two. I thought that was sweet.

I originally had an idea for a decanter style label in copper with a copper chain attached so it could be hung on the bottle but then the buyer sent me this drawing....

.....which made life a lot easier! He did also offer to send me a catering size bottle of Tabasco to work with - his wife really likes Tabasco - but I told him I could work ok with the normal size and set to work.

First I cut out a heart shape from textured copper sheet.

Apologies for the blurry photo, I'm on a diet and think it could be chocolate withdrawal that's giving me the shakes :D

I then cut out two smaller hearts and soldered them to the large heart. A bit of excess solder to clean up there I think!

I added some stamped detail to the small hearts after sanding the excess solder off.

The next step was to solder some 2mm copper wire to the back of the heart but in my excitement I forgot to photograph that bit so this photo shows the wire already soldered onto the back of the heart after I'd started to shape it to fit the curve of the bottle of Tabasco.

And here's a photo of the heart being shaped on a hoop mandrel...

Another dreadfully blurry photo - God knows what I was doing!

The next step was to hold the heart in position over the bottle of Tabasco and pull the copper wire around and up the neck of the bottle so whole thing would slip over the bottle with the heart sitting nicely on the front over the label. Another stage where I got too engrossed in what I was doing and forgot to take a photo! Above is the finished oxidized version.

And this is the heart in position..

What a lovely thing to do for your anniversary, I really hope his wife liked it. 

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.

Monday, 16 November 2015

A Distinct Lack Of Copper Studs

I've had some time recently to catch up with all those little jobs that tend to be pushed aside when I get busy. One of them is reviewing what jewellery I have for sale and making new stock to fill any gaps. Well one of the gaps I noticed was copper studs - they are fairly low in price so tend to sell quite quickly and I hadn't had much chance to make any new pairs.
So I made some more!

Studs are a good way of using up small pieces of metal sheet and I have a lot of those, especially etched and embossed copper sheet. I went for a variety of shapes - square, triangle, flower and teardrops. I do love a heart stud and they do sell well but my plastic heart shape template is a bit weird. The point at the top of the heart shape always comes out slightly off centre when I use a felt tip or scribe to mark the heart shape on the metal. I press that part down to stop the pointy bit moving but it nearly always comes out a bit off and can mean a lot of filing to get the two hearts exactly the same. So I don't use it that much. Maybe I need to find a better one :D

Luckily my other shape templates for teardrops, triangles and squares aren't weird.

These triangle studs make me think of pyramids.

Rounded square and teardrops shapes in good old leaf vein texture.

I also found some stamped copper sheet and used some of it for these teardrop studs. I love circles so tend to stamp circle designs a lot!

Cute etched daisy studs.
 They were originally going to be round then I decided to cut around the petals to make them a bit more interesting.

So that's the copper stud deficit sorted. 
  Next: bronze studs!

Copyright © 2015 Cinnamon Jewellery. All rights reserved.