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My artisan metalsmithing site
My original Celtic designs in various media, including jewelry
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October 27th, 2007

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07:08 pm - Spicula!
I have been seduced by the power of the spicula yet again.

Upon re-reading the article in the-magazine-that-used-to-be-Lap-Journal, I noted 2 things:

1. The spicula featured therein did NOT have their seams soldered; and

2. While the text said to taper the blank from 13mm in the middle to 3 at each end... the photos looked a lot more like the blanks tapered to 6mm at the ends.

So I decided to make another one. This one- also argentium (because I didn't have any 6-inch 22 ga. sterling sheet around)- tapers to 6mm on the ends. I plan on following the forming instructions in the article religiously... although heresy may nonetheless occur. :) Especially since I also plan on thinning the ends- something the article does not discuss, but which I know from reading other accounts of the creation of spicula is advantageous.

Also, I have decided to solder the seam of Spiculum #1. This is mainly so I can follow other instructions on forming it. I've got the middle soldered, and want to pound on the ends a bit more and then solder them, too.

I don't know yet if I'll solder the seam on #2; I shall leave that issue till later.

I am having a lot of fun with these, though, and have now got some notions on how to turn them into finished jewelry. Cool! Basically, I will use the spiculum shapes as a calligraphic line, and add some nifty stone or other as an accent. I certainly have lots of nifty stones!

In other news, I have settled on an approach for my loop-in-loop plus carnelian bracelet(s) that I'm happy with. Naturally, this requires more materials and tools... although at least I had not ordered gold wire for it that I have now decided not to use! I think this approach will work out quite well, both aesthetically and practically.

And soon- very, very soon- I am going to fire up the kiln and do some enameling. Joy!
Current Mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 28th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Definitely thin the ends down!!! I'm surprised the article doesn't mention it. I started mine off at 20g sheet & thinned it down to about 24-26 g at the ends, each step was about 3/4- 1 inch long.

If you're really interested in anticlastic raising, *the* book on the subject is Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths by Heikki Seppa.

By the way, I picked up Elizabeth Taylor's Jewelry book off my store's clearance rack for $1! Can you believe it? It was $65 when it was published. I haven't had much chance to poke through it yet, but it's got some beautiful photos. Admittedly, I'm not much of a fan of Cartier, et all (too flashy) but it's neat.
[User Picture]
Date:October 28th, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
OK, I probably should have thinned down the ends... but damnit! I wanted to follow the printed project as closely as possible this time (with corrections when there were obvious errors, though, like the 3mm instead of 6mm ends).

So far #2 is looking promising. I'm taking it a lot more slowly- trying not to be a cowboy at all this time!- and I have a nice u-curve along the length now, done with a bending block, a couple of hammers, and the "stems" of some of my daps. I want to try keeping it really regular this time around, as well as following the printed procedure (mostly). And being careful and not a cowboy. :)

Do you recall roughly the overall dimensions of your spicilum? -just so I can get a better grasp of the sizes vs. the gauges used. Thanks!

I do have the Seppa book. And soon I will be getting a hammer that will allow me to explore anticlactic! Coolness!!! (At the moment all my appropriately-shaped hammers are steel, as are my anticlastic stakes, so that's not ideal.)

I'm thinking right now that my next sets of tool purchases are going to be a few more hammers especailly for forming, and a basic set of stakes. Full-sized: I have my adorable and oh-so-useful miniature ones that I love passionately!

...Although probably the next area I'm intersted in working more on is chasing and repousse. Or maybe engraving. But I have at least the basics in tools for these (and for chasing etc. can make more myself).

Quite a deal on the jewelry book! Cool! I probably could not have resisted it at $1 either. One time I used a really impressive coupon at Borders and got a book on Lalique's jewelry- one of my better purchases, and it wasn't nearly as cheap as yours! :)

[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
It was an inch & a half wide by 12 inches long, if I remember correctly, or maybe 14 inches. It's the torc part of my Celtic Neckpiece.

I'm sooo very, very jealous that you've got the miniature raising stakes- I have been lusting after them since I first saw them in the Rio catalog. *sigh*

A book of Lalique's jewelry would be totally worth just about any amount of money-- he was a genius!
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Wow- that neckpiece is SO AMAZING!!! Gorgeous work! You engraved the bird motifs with a flex? What kind of bur(s) or whatever did you use? I've been gearing myself up to more serious engraving practive with gravers, mostly for textures under enamels, and doing it with a flex sounds like an interesting alternative...

Thanks for the dimensions. My mega-spiculum is somewhat similar, except I used 18 ga. copper and it's pretty heavy. I did roll out the ends, though. I'm pretty sure it started at 12 in, and the end-rolling lengthened it some. I really need to get some power equipment (J had belt grinders) aand clean it up, and turn it into a torc or something- right now it's just straight.

I am making these spicula straight, and then will be shaping them around a mandrel. I was taken with the way Seppa described doing it and want to try! However, next time I'm using anticlastic stakes and doing both curves at the same time.

It took me several years to get the complete collection of the mini-stakes, and I just finished it this spring. Ouch! But they are completely delightful (as are his small hammers, at least the ones I've tried; I'm getting the new one with the removeable plastic faces in my next Rio order. Well, I need it! For anticlastic! Right????). I've hardly even scratched the surface of their uses, but they've saved my butt on a number of bezels now (especailly gold ones), plus some other shaping tasks- and I couldn't have made the Anvil Ring without them. Right now I have an experimental project I'm trying 2 ways, both involving exceedingly small raising, and they rock. Love!!!! I think my initial few were a rather extravegant birthday present from J. :)

The Lalique book is past words. I have a couple of projects I'm getting my skills up to the point of trying, inspired by it. Actually, engraving/carving with a flex might work really well for one of them... hmm...

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