Where…

…have I been?

Good question. It’s been a long time since I posted. Reason? Work. I’ve found it very difficult combining that with jewellery making and home-keeping. During the past 7 months, I often wondered how a lot of jewellery artists who have full-time jobs combine the two. By the close of work every day, and after running after the little ones, I am so tired that I usually doze off while using the laptop. The fact that I do not have a dedicated work area I think is a contributory factor, because I seem to spend more time setting and packing up than actually making things. Oh how I long for SPACE… (sigh)

That said, I made some virtual friends during my sabbatical and learned new skills (not quite to perfection, but practice they say makes perfect). I came across Nancy LT Hamilton and her very educative videos on you tube. She also has a blog with numerous great tips which I find very useful.

Though I didn’t do much in terms of creating, I did a lot in terms of self-development. I spent more money, bought yet more tools (am I alone? I think I must have bought more in those months than previously put together). I learnt basic silversmithing and stone-setting with the help of John Cogswell and Joe Silvera (no, I didn’t attend their classes though I wished then that I live in the US, I had to make do with their books), and of course from the numerous tutorials/videos that abound online from generous teachers. Thanks to all the wonderful people who take time out to enlighten people like me with free materials.

There were a great deal more frustrating moments than successes, but I picked up a lot of skills along the way. Will try to put up pictures of both the successful and the opposite. Till next time, thanks for stopping by.

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I am well…a lurker


A fellow Folksy crafter, Lu of Found In Keswick, wrote about this topic in this post – “Are you a lurker?” – sometime ago, and it struck a cord with me. I read it and said to myself, “I am well…a lurker, but I can’t help myself”.

I joined the Yahoo Metal Clay forum about a year ago (and many more since). It’s a fantastic forum of fabulous and generous people who do not hold back at sharing their knowledge with lesser knowledgeable people like me, and I find myself looking forward to the almost daily questions, answers, tips, etc. BUT I don’t think I’ve ever answered any of the questions even though I know the answer. My excuse? I’m an almost novice in the medium, and someone else may have a better answer.

We all have different reasons for lurking. Fear of saying the wrong thing, lack of time, or just plain nonchalance, but the fact is we’ll learn more by sharing what we know because who knows? it might be that we actually don’t know.

Aha!

I had an ‘aha!’ moment a few days ago. I had mentioned in this post my love for a really polished finish on my pieces but that I have to apply a lot of elbow to get that finish. Yes, you guessed right, I didn’t like it at all. Getting a polished finish on fine silver is not so much trouble, but on base metals is another story altogether. I knew there were tools made especially for polishing, etc., but they are certainly beyond me. The answer meanwhile had been right in my face all along – the rotary tool. This is a hand held power tool with a variety of rotating accessory bits and attachments that can be used for cutting, carving, sanding, polishing and many other applications. I had first come across using it for finishing metal clay in Hadar Jacobson’s books but I forgot all about it especially as she only demonstrated with emery papers.

A popular rotary tool is the dremel, but I have a Proxxon FBS 240/E that I bought years ago to cut jumprings and if I had bothered to pay more attention to it and the accompany accessories, I would have realised that it would be useful for finishing my pieces. So, last week I decided to try it with polishing papers. Let me say here that you should take precautions before using this AND any other motorised tool, and this means a pair of wrap-around safety glasses, dust masks, finger protection, etc.

Straight mandrel with ‘ahem’, dirty 400 grit polishing paper

I first use it with 400 grit emery paper on fine silver (coarser grit on the base metals, as they’re harder), then the polishing papers in order, from the coarsest to the finest. To load, I insert the paper into a slotted mandrel, wind it round and hold it down with cellotape. I set my rotary tool to the lowest speed and then the fun begins.

By the way, the picture above shows the straight slotted mandrel, but there’s also the tapered one.