Archive for the ‘From the Shop’ Category

Long Hiatus

So. It’s been a while, yes? Well, sometimes you get hit by a car and things don’t go as planned, but I’m back to making things in new ways. My casting is on hold until a new shop is built to take the place of my previous one. Hurricane Irma dropped a tree on that one. What I have in the meantime is a laser cutter, and I’m experimenting quite a bit with that! It’s running right now with some earrings, and I’ve made some jewelry boxes just because. I’ll be posting up some progress pictures, and everything that’s finished is up on etsy.com/shop/hkmouse or jewelsbymouse.com. Here we go…

nautilus walnutDT1

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Long overdue update

Hi, all! It’s been a while since I’ve had much to share here. I did have a special commission for Christmas that I was really happy with. That’s a black pearl and black diamonds set in sterling. I like the look of tube setting faceted stones, but that spot in the curve was a bit tricky to get in to bend the bezel. Something to practice, for sure.

On my bench right now is a new stack of copper to etch for the claddagh bracelets. These have been my best seller to date and I can’t keep them in stock!

I’ve been playing with bronze clay to try to make centerpieces for other copper cuffs, but I just can’t get the hang of the stuff. I’ve tried several firing schedules and the pieces always end up weak and chipping. The silver and copper clays are fabulous to work with, but I think I’ll stick with lost wax casting of bronze only. If anyone has any suggestions for the bronze clay, I’m all ears.

You know what I did find that’s also fantastic to work with? White bronze. Yup. It casts clean and looks like sterling at a fraction of the price. I hope to be posting up some pics of the cast white bronze soon. It solders easily to sterling findings for setting stones, too. This brings me to my current main project of carving interesting waxes for casting the bronze. I’ve always been more of a 2D sort of person with painting, drawing, and printmaking. I took two sculpting classes in college at a price of ten stitches and decided perhaps 3D wasn’t my thing. Here I am trying it again though, hopefully with better results than my younger self. Working small is a challenge for me, even if the wax is pretty forgiving. The other thing I need to work through is being able to see what I want to make in three dimensions, then having it translate accurately from my head, to drawings, to that square block of pristine wax. Practice, practice, practice. I said it out loud and want you all to be my witnesses: I plan to spend one day of the weekend in the shop carving waxes. Hold me to it!

Until next time, have a wonderful day and go make something!

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More bronze!

I love casting bronze! I’ve got new wax models in progress, but I cast a few items I’ve already done in silver. I hope to have new pieces to show off this week, but in the meantime…

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It’s been a while since I’ve had something new in the store to show you. This past weekend I cast bronze, and I really like working with it. Silver prices are still high so I chose this as an alternative metal. Bronze alloys come in various colors, including a white bronze, so I may cast some silver-looking pieces that don’t carry the price tag of silver and aren’t silver-plated, either. These are my first two experiments. Bronze uses a very similar casting technique as silver. The koi was initially carved in wax and cast. The bird skull was a wee pheasant from a bird farm that I took a mold from to make the wax to cast. Let me know what you think. I think there will be more to come along these lines.

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Black Dress Deco

I’m so excited about this one. A friend asked me to make something in a style I appreciate but don’t generally work in, art deco. After some sketches (a few of which will still be made at some point because I liked them all), this is the result. The deep blue stones are lapis, and the smaller stone between the curls at the top is a blue moonstone. I’m also very pleased with how much color came through the moonstone as I’ve only worked with the white variety before. The back shot demonstrates the 2″ chain to make the piece adjustable.

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Copper and Brass

While one project cures in investment for casting tomorrow, I’ll show you something new. I got a new texturing hammer for Valentine’s Day (yes, he truly knows what I want) and put it to work on brass. I cast some copper trinkets and ended up with earrings! These are coated with a metal lacquer so the color shouldn’t change from this.

I also made some straight copper bracelets. I appear to be outnumbered by folks who *can* wear copper without a sterling or leather barrier, so this is for you. Like the earrings, though, there’s a thin coating of metal lacquer on them so the color will stay true, and someone with allergies should still be able to enjoy it. I haven’t given it a long test, though, so I can’t say if the lacquer will wear off eventually. The first one is etched with a winged claddagh and is 1″ wide. The second one with the sculpted keyhole frame on an etched background is 1-1/2″ wide.

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Earrings to Match

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Copper Cuff V2.0

I got very helpful feedback on my first try at a copper cuff lined with leather (so those of us with sensitivities could wear it without breaking out). Some weren’t so keen on the leather, though. I did find a lacquer that’s advertised as playing friendly with metal, so I *will* do some cuffs that are simply etched without the leather backing, using the lacquer as a barrier. But before I found that…

A couple of years ago I made this:

It’s still one of my favorites and I wear mine a lot. However, it’s a fairly expensive piece to make since the silver provides the structure, and silver prices keep going up (but I’ll happily make one special for you if you like it). So I thought, what if the copper does all the heavy lifting? Can I solder a much thinner sheet of silver to the copper as a liner and pierce the copper to show it from the front? That’s indeed what this is, with the copper sheet freehand doodled and etched and a winged claddagh cut out (four saw blades later). Comments? Suggestions? I probably won’t make too many of these since my time investment is fairly high, but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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Sculpted, etched, stitched

Here it is, the two-inch wide copper cuff. This thing is so badass it’ll win your arguments with the mere suggestion of being backhanded. It started innocuously enough as a strip of sheet metal. I freehanded the swirly background and etched it. The keyhole centerpiece was carved from copper clay and added to the sheet after it was drilled out and pounded into shape. I can’t wear base metals, so I attached the leather backing and wrapped the sides of the sheet with it so the copper wouldn’t come into contact with skin. Finally, I stitched the edges of the sheet and the leather with sterling wire. It’s more decorative than structural, but I wanted a little silver flash and contrast. What do you think? Would you wear something like this?

Edit: Already such great suggestions! On the next one, the leather edge will be pared down and folded under, the silver wire will be thicker, and I’ll etch the pattern deeper. I’ll see what it looks like with brown leather, too. Trial and error and new bladed tools, hooray!

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Contest Entry

If you would, please send me good energy and wishes for my entry into the Rings and Things design contest. I had been wanting to experiment with multicolor Viking knit chain, and this is my first effort, in silver, copper, and bronze. It was kind of a bear to get started with so many wires, as opposed to the ONE wire to keep track of with the more familiar Viking knit technique, but I’m hoping that it’ll be easier next time! I think it works well as a backdrop for the lion head pendant in copper clay. The back is three strands of poppy jasper, amber, burgundy pearls, copper, and pewter beads. At any rate, I’m very pleased with how it turned out and hope that it gets noticed among all the fantastic entries they receive. 🙂


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