Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Project Work, Spring Semester ECC 2012, Part 1 of 2

It's been a long while since my last post. You're probably wondering what the heck happened to me! Well, I am alive and still kicking, just a little remiss in sending out updates.

I've been honing my skills and pushing myself to learn new techniques during the Spring Jewelry Metalsmithing class at El  Camino College in Torrance, California with Irene Mori. I was able to cast a variety of materials such as carved waxes, organic materials like pods and twigs, wax reliefs from photoetched plates, and plastic buttons.

The most wonderful thing that has happened in my work is the ipad2. This device has opened a new thought process for ideation. I can sketch in color on the ipad or mashup photos with a sketch. I can see my ideas from a different vantage point. Wow, how great is that? I never thought the ipad would be my new best friend.

What did I create and what did I learn this past semester?

Project #1
Cuttlebone casting

You are probably asking yourself, what the *#!? Cuttlebone is the internal shell of a squid like cephalopod. The most popular use is for birds as a calcium supplement and is available at any pet store. This material can withstand high temperatures and is easily carved, so it's very useful and easy to create jewelry with this method. 

Two pieces of cuttlebone are prepared with a carved design and cavity for the molten metal. The preparation is dusty, messy and smelly, so it's best to do this outside with a dust mask. The two halves are aligned and taped together. Secure the cuttlebone, melt the metal in a crucible and pour the molten metal in the cavity. Here's a mockup snapshot of the cast cuttlebone in sterling silver with a tektite (molten glass from a meteor).

The finished piece is called "It came from outer space." It's an alien flower pendant fashioned with a tube bail, and hinged cap for the tektite. I wanted to elevate my soldering skills so I added multiple soldering operations.

Project #2 and #3
Make two rings using additive and subtractive methods.
My inspiration for the first ring is an Asian gate. For the first time, I used purple carving wax for this subtractive method. It is somewhat firmer than the blue wax but still flexible. The finished piece weighs about one-half ounce. It is highly polished and works great as a statement ring for the middle finger. The inward curves of the ring shank make for a comfortable fit when worn on the middle finger. The base of the ring is weighted and feels good on the hand. I can vary the design with embellishments, perhaps a pearl or gemstone, texture design, fused gold, etc.
Ring #2 
This ring, carved from blue wax (slightly more flexible than the purple wax), has a wax bezel that I added for the chrysoprase stone. I love the vivid green color of chrysoprase. I used by lapidary skills to custom cut this stone especially for this design. Folklore says chrysoprase will protect one from evil dreams, bring success in business, and make the wearer more cheerful.

Here's a picture of the sketch on my ipad. Alternative design options could incorporate a gold bezel, micro pave´ gemstones surrounding the chrysoprase, granulation, or diamond cut design surrounding the bezel.
Finished ring, "The Eye"
My next post will cover my pendant project, wax/non-wax combination, and photoetch projects.
Stay tuned. I'm writing as fast as I can and trying to remember to take pictures of the work in progress is a challenge! Hope these projects inspire you to create something special too.

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