October 29th, 2006
I'm pretty pleased with my work today!
I started out very off-task indeed: making a big floofy collar for our dog out of a Halloween fabric- and, for good measure, one out of an Xmas one as well, for her to wear after Thanksgiving. This was a check-off item, though not "work" per se (even if my sewing machine is currently stuck in a corner of the studio space as we work on the rest of the house).
I did quite a lot of enameling! I completed the enameling on an experimental pair of earrings- they're copper with some minimal silver wire to break up the large open areas. I used 2 shades each of blue and green for them- partly because they look so nice with copper, and partly because these are very reliable and well-behaved colors and it is an experiment! It seems to have worked out pretty well, though one of the wires loosened itself on one end in the firings- it must not have been soldered very securely. I think it'll be OK in the end. I was anticipating some problems with firescale popping off the copper when it was cooling and affecting the glass, but that didn't happen. I also got the first pass of the cleanup done- the enamels ground down where they were overfull in the cells, the firescale (temporarily) off the copper, and the places where solder had flowed ground donww to copper as well. Now to go at it with increasingly finer sandpapers until the metal is smooth, clean with a glass brush, then do a final quick firing. -- Although I am thinking of using 600 or 800 grit sandpaper after that, on the glass too, and going for a polished metal with matte glass look- it might be cool.
I also got the blues done (I hope) and the first of the gold into my sunburst/chrysanthemum plique piece that will have a very pretty 7mm citrine in the center. I actually really like it with the gaps where gold #2 is supposed to go, and am tempted to leave them... However, I think some gold #2 will set off the citrine nicely, so perhaps I will fill one of the concentric circles of cells now open with it, but leave the other.
And I have successfully re-depletion gilded the January thimble, after the garnet setting popped off and I had to re-solder it. Grr. It is now as ready as it will ever be for the enameling...
I think my next plique project will be the pair of lotuses for another set of lotus earrings (in this userpic). This pair is pierced out of 20-ga. fine silver, and I am curious about whether I can get the cells to fill firing unsupported as I usually do these days, or if I will need to fire them on a backing. I'll start work on the thimble after the sunburst is done- I have only 3 trivets of the best size for this stuff, you see! But that's just as well, since it keeps me from having so many pieces ongoing that I can't keep track of the colors!
I also did some fusing: another 50 links for my wide loop-in-loop necklace (this time with my Little Torch; I was wondering if it would be easier. (Answer: yes, physically- my big torch is heavy and the hose balky, so for extended soldering operations I'm fighting it a lot. However, the smaller flame from the Little Torch was not an asset here, even though its feather weight and greater mobility was lovely.) I also fused the argentium borders onto my argentium fused-and-granulated hearts, and fused the bezels for the garnets for these.
And now the big task left on my list for the day is to work more on processing photos, and updating my website (http://www.afmetalsmith.com) and/or my Etsy store (http://afmetalsmith.etsy.com).
i really want to see photos! :)
hey, as an aside - have you ever done any work with diamonds? i've got a piece that i want to cast some diamonds in place with and then enamel over, and while i know the stones will be fine to cast with at around ~1000F, i don't know if they'd withstand the enamelling temperatures of 1500F or so. i can't find very many resources for it either :(
I know! *headesk* Everyone wants to see photos, and I'm working on it- really I am! I did add some new stuff to my website in the past week, and it's in the "New!" section so it's easy to find.
Photos of the dog in her finery will probably be forthcoming, but posted on my personal LJ. :) It is not at all metals-related, except that she is my Official Studio Dog.
I have done some work with diamonds, yes, but not what you're talking about. Is there a reason to cast the diamonds in place and then enamel? There are pretty low-impact ways of setting diamonds (especially small ones) that could be done after enameling without much risk to the glass...
Or are you planning to enamel over the diamonds? I must admit to being intrigued by this possibility! I've never even heard of anyone doing it, though, so it would be pretty experimental.
In terms of pure temperature: I have read of someone who actually sets diamonds in enamel- I think they drill the setting, put in the diamond, then fire it. Since diamonds are made at way higher temps than kilns, I think this would be pretty safe... but I also think you'd best view the first few as experiments, meaning- don't use the really good diamonds! :) Also, I have heard of diamonds getting a grungy film baked onto them if they are not clean and soldering is done around them; this could be a risk.
If you don't have a subscription to "Glass on Metal," you might want to get one. It has interesting articles on various experimetnal techniques, although one of the writers obfuscates more than he enlightens, in my opinion. :( Still, a pretty interesting resource. I think it's tied into an enameling professional society, the official name of which is escaping me at the moment.
hehe well i look forward to the photos :)
my problem is that i want the diamonds to be flush set and cast-in-place is the easiest way to do that, but then there's a section of the piece i want enamelled also. my main concern is that the diamonds might crack during cooling from such a high temperature. and unfortunately i don't have extra diamonds to experiment with and can't afford to replace them should something go wrong. hence my paranoia :(
it would be really interesting to see diamonds under translucent enamel... that could be really cool... damnit now i want more diamonds. it's hard to let myself experiment when the cost of materials is so high :(
I'll argue about the flush setting being easier with cast-in-place- it's pretty damn easy regardless. I don't think I can describe the technique I use in words, adequately, though; it sounds like the video on setting that includes flush- and is pretty expensive but, by all accounts, worth it- uses the same technique. I think it's Blaine Lewis.
Now, diamonds can stand up to pretty high temperatures without cracking, and I'd say soldering around them would be more likely to cause problems than firing... especially if you allow the piece to cool in the kiln gradually, rather than pulling it out and shocking it.
Depending on the quality you want, diamonds can be pretty inexpensive- I have some yellowish ones that are maybe 2mm max, and were under 50 cents each. Are there and gem shows around you? We get some in which one can buy packages of lots of very small diamonds for a pretty reasonable cost per piece.
do you do the flush settings where you bur the setting just a tiny bit smaller than the stone, then use a hart bur to make a little ledge that the girdle squeezes into? cos i suck at that method and don't know any other way. :p
we do have an occassional gem show near me, about two or three a year. often they are closed to the public though... iunno. i guess i'm just gonna suck it up and try to do what my original design calls for, and hope for the best. thanks though :)
No- that's not the technique. Doug Zaruba- who is a brilliant goldsmith and I was very lucky to have taken a class with him- poo-poos that method. Basically, the method that he and Lewis use is to cut a seat that's exactly the size of the stone, then burnish it in. Easy to say, and pretty easy to do once one gets the knack, but I really think pictures are vital.
The other techniques I've learned- a more tricky variation on this, and a method using a hammer handpiece- work, but they're more complicated.
At some point I'm going to buy the Lewis video- I'm comfortable with my flush setting, but would like to learn the other stuff, and I've heard Great Things about it- well worth the price, so people say.
The gem shows we get have both a public and a trade-only bit- however, the vendor I've gotten inexpensive diamonds from is in the public area. Are you in the US? Also, I'd be happy to pick something up for you at the next show, if you let me know what you're looking for, and approximate price points...
that is hilarious - i asked my teacher once about the method you're talking about, and she said it didn't work very well and recommended what i just described. i could easily experiment with your method though until i feel comfortable with it, and then go for it with the real deal. i pretty much know what you're talking about though :) that solves a lot of problems for me, so thank you :)
and, just so you know for any future experiments you do, someone in the metalsmithing community just pointed me towards an article about what heat diamonds can withstand, which is apparently about 1470 before they combust (!). i just didn't know the proper words for looking up the info - "thermodynamic stability" apparently is the key phrase. so that would make diamonds suitable for casting with -some- enamels, but not the japanese leaded red-pink i wanna use. if you ever try the diamonds under enamel thing though sometime with lower-temp enamels, please let me know :)
and thank you for offering to pick up stones at gem shows for me. :) right now i can't afford too much so i've got some lab-created stones that i picked up cheap and will hopefully make into some rings to sell for the monies to purchase better stones. but seriously, thank you :) i will let you know if i need other stones. and if there's anything ever i can help you with, just let me know :)