Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Cindy and Erwin came to the studio for the day and they had never made any jewelry before this class. They personally made each other's rings - every step! The first thing we did is to use our rolling mill to roll their mokume rod, composed of alternating layers of 22kt gold and sterling, from 1/4"x 2" pieces down to smaller square rods for the rings. The rolling mill compresses and elongates the thick billet down to a slender, smooth square rod.
Here you can see the layers of gold and silver in the rod.
Once the rod was a more manageable thickness, we twisted them in a vice to make the pattern for the ring, twisting the layers of metal.
The rod was then annealed and forged back to round, and then rolled into rectangular ring stock. In the picture below, you can see how the once straight layers of silver and gold are now twisted into beautiful angles.
If you like these rings and want one of your own, Cindy and Erwin have some left over mokume stock that I think they'd be willing to sell. Get in contact with me and let me know. I can make it for you or help you make it into a ring, too.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Whew! 5 days of teaching the basics of metalsmithing done! Students came in, some completely new to metalsmithing, and learned how to saw, file, sand, hammer, texture, rivet, solder, make a ring, bezel set a stone and polish with power tools. This was the first group to take this new course and we had a lot of fun - intense! But a lot of fun. Check out more of their work (mostly the finished rings they made at the end) on my Flickr page. They each made 1 or more sawn and stamped pendants, 1 riveted pendant, 1 or more basic soldered pendants, and a ring with a stone setting that brought all of their new skills together in one project.
You can find more fun upcoming workshops at SilveraJewelry.com.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Just finished and updated some great new samples for the Intermediate Soldering retreat - and yes, I made them, so I'm saying so myself: they're great!
There's a koi fish broach, a gorgeous jumbo size hollow cylinder bead and a hollow ring - all made to teach students more soldering skills, including working with hard solder, using firescale retardant fluxes and strategies for positioning pieces for soldering. All of which helps to reduce scale and discoloration of the metal and makes for a much easier time polishing.
There's still a few spaces left - sign up up soon!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Just finished some new samples for my upcoming 5 Day Metalsmithing Intensive workshop in Berkeley. 5 days from 0 knowledge to sawing, filing, sanding, polishing, hammering, stamping, texturing, soldering, making rings and bezel setting. Whew!
Browse this and more classes at my website.
Monday, June 13, 2011
This is one of the pieces made by a student during my basic metalsmithing workshop, Saw, File and Stamp. The patina on this copper flower pendant and her hard work are not done justice by my grainy iPhone photo. I need a better camera at the show, because so many pieces were fantastic and the photos didn't turn out at all.
Here are a couple of pics of students making prong settings during one of my stone setting workshops. All of our students made great pieces and were wonderful to work with, in every class. Thanks and gratitude to all of you!
Friday night I gave a free demonstration of soldering at my publisher's booth at Bead & Button.
We packed up our supplies, the tv and video camera and rolled into the booth. I set up a big screen with a live, magnified view of the demo, huge up close images of solder flowing, just like I use in my classes at our studio and when we travel. Students love it. They can actually see exactly how it works! Smart.
As the clock ticks 5 on the dot and I do a final check on my tools and materials, I realize that I'm missing my flux. Oh yeah, do you need flux to solder? Did I write a book about soldering?! Not smart.
Anat rushes back downstairs to the classroom but the door is locked. She somehow manages to find flux anyway, borrows a jar of it and runs back upstairs. Meanwhile, Tania from the camera crew (yup, this flub is live on film too for the show website), manages to borrow another jar simultaneously from one of the vendors at the show. Now I have two jars of flux and the show goes on. I think it took 5 - 10 minutes to sort out, while I stalled for time. But those were 20 of the longest red faced 10 minutes in my life. Can't wait to see the movie!
The rest of the demo was great, btw. But the gaffs are way more interesting to read about, aren't they?
Every year at Bead & Button, people actually pay admission just to meet jewelry teachers. It's still hard to believe, and we were there.
And not just a few people - hundreds! At least hundreds. For one short night we the teachers are rock stars. People line up and wait, winding deep into the halls of the convention center. They pay. The floor shakes. It shakes with the thunder of their stampede as the doors open.
Usually this is a slow night for us as students prowl for wire and bead kits (or so it seems to me). My metalsmithing stuff is great, but soldering is often too intimidating for raw beginners. Not so this year! This year I'm an author and we were swarmed with fans and people interested in soldering. Books sold out. DVDs were sucked up and money, smiles, autographs, questions and answers exchanged with people from all over the country and beyond like Australia, France, Israel and the UK. Amazing. So grateful.
We had something strange, rare and wonderful in our life on Thursday: a day off. Imagine that? And in the midst of teaching at the biggest consumer bead show in the world, too. So we took a trip out to Alterra Coffee by the lake, as illustrated here by my latest over used app, Hipstamatic. Old news, old app, but new to me.
Anat found a coffee brew here in Milwaukee named "El Cerrito", as in our neighborhood in the East Bay, so we had to try that. I ordered a honey latte and scrumptious grilled triple cheese sandwich - they definitely do cheese right in Wisconsin. After my lip smacking eye rolling fit of delight subsided (because as I become an older, wider male, more and more of my pleasure center is getting hard wired into my stomach), we got to chatting with our table neighbor, Josh.
We told him about our mildly harrowing bus ride to the lake. I'm not a complete public transit virgin. I've been on subways, metros, tubes and now the elevated trains in Chicago. I took the bus everywhere in L.A. for one long year, and been for bus rides in Paris and New York. I'll never forget our experience in a taxi in Manhattan, when I looked at Anat and told her I loved her because I really thought we were going to crash and die at any second. So on the scale of vehicular mayhem, this was about a 6. Still, when a massive bus takes multiple hard stomach lurching turns through pedestrian infested streets, narrowly missing cars, sending passengers sliding in their seats from side to side like it's some kind of Speed ride at Universal Studios, you make a mental note: if we live through this, think about other forms of transport. Did I mention the bus driver was laughing the whole time?
Turns out Josh is a real good samaritan, and he offers us a ride back downtown. It did cross our mind that Milwaukee is Dahmer's home town, and rumor has it he was one suave murderer, but obviously we didn't end up as leftovers in the freezer, because I lived to blog about it. Josh was the real thing, a good human being, someone who goes out and helps others, even a social minded, save the world entrepreneur. Really nice to meet one in person and not just read about them.
Hipstamatic strikes again. The photo doesn't do him justice, but at least you can see his smile as he dropped us off back at the hotel. Nice guy.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Well, I had no idea my bald head was so damn shiny while I was teaching. Thankfully I have the tv to distract the students from their reflections on my head! Instead they can enjoy close ups of my ugly fingers. "Pssst.... Joe needs a freakin' manicure!!"
This was a busy class. 18 students made a pedestal prong setting from scratch, including a custom bail - I worked my class to the bone and filled their heads with lots of information about soldering and stone setting. But almost everyone walked out with a set stone despite a few last minute melted bails and crooked settings. Nice thing about prong settings is that you can take the stone out and reset it or repair the setting.
One thing I'm proud of in these photos - my work area doesn't look like a complete disaster area on day three of our teaching marathon. Anat has been a huge help, taking orders, and helping students with soldering, etc.
Thanks to Patti from Wubbers - awesome awesome pliers - for the photos from class.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Soldering can produce fumes that overtime can lead to sensitivities or health problems. I always recommend that students have adequate ventilation in their work area, like open windows, a small table fan, even an exhaust hood. But it's not always easy to set up and an exhaust system can be expensive.