Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spool Journal Necklace

Old spool?  Miscellaneous found objects and a length of leather cord?  Hmmm. What would you do?  Spool Journal Necklace of course!

I threaded a vintage button with the leather cord and pulled it through the spool to begin the necklace.  Next I threaded a small elasticized brown ponytail holder through the spool which ended up creating a loop at the top and bottom.  I inserted an old key through the bottom loop and pulled it tight to the bottom of the spool by pulling the top loop.

I took strips of an aged paper and one strip from a dictionary and lightly burned the edges.  I thumb tacked the strips to the spool and wrapped the strips tightly around the spool making the journal.

By stretching the top loop of the pony tail down around the key at the bottom of the spool I can keep the journal pages securely around the spool.

In the picture to the left I also attached a little light bulb ala Susan Lenart Kazmer style.   There has to be a 100 different things that can be used to decorate these!  I just love the look of these journals and I hope you do too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sterling and Hammered Copper Stamped Pendant

I frequently see  women wearing sterling necklaces with one or more little charms spelling out their children's, husband's or pet's names.  I needed a baby shower gift so I thought I would give one a try.  I sure hope the mom I made this for doesn't change her mind about what she's going to name her baby girl!

My first word of advice: I am not a huge fan of filing, sanding, and polishing so unless you are a lover of all that, it would be much simpler to use pre-purchased blanks from Rio Grande,
Fusion Beads,
Rings & Things, or some other website you can find when you search.

I searched for Sterling blanks for stamping.  Rings & Things even had the washer style. The cost isn't all that great when you weight it against time spent sanding, etc.

I actually didn't have any blanks on hand so I cut one using my handy dandy punch set.

This set works pretty well.  I purchased it at my local jewelry supply store, but it looks like Harbor Freight carries the set on their online store. The only brand name on it is the name Lifetime Carbide. There is a lucite plate over a steel plate and you insert the sheet of metal in between the two layers.  I've been told it is helpful to insert another bit of metal of the same gauge back by the screws so when you pound the plug it doesn't gap and catch the blank.  I use a 3lb hammer.  You may want to remember that the flat end of the plug goes down and you hit the end that is tapered!  If you use the wrong end you may end up damaging the plug and it won't properly cut the blank.

Next I found the center of the plug.  I'm sure there are a ton of ways to find exact center, but I found that using my stencil with the center's marked, a straight-edge and a red sharpie to mark center is fast and easy.  I cut a second plug resulting in essentially...well, a washer.  Actually, I wonder if you could use these stamps on an actual hardware store washer! Give it a try and let me know how it works.  (You may have to heat those with a flame to make them soft enough)

I have an alphabet stamp set that is a pretty small font and works great for this small pendant.  Beaducation has over 50 stamp sets in different fonts.  They also have some cool videos on using their products as well. I've seen stamp sets range from $30 and run all the way up to $200 for fancy scripts.  If you search for Hand Stamped Pendants on the Internet you'll find several websites to offering to make these pendants custom for you.  They illustrate many of the fonts available.

After marking the center, I begin with the middle letter in the name and add letters to the right and left of it.  CAUTION:  Make sure your stamp is facing the correct way!  As evidence from the photo below I didn't.  Some smart person once told me to put a sharpie mark on the correct side of the stamp.  Hmm.. did I listen?  No.  Will I mark them all sometime in the future? Yes.

You could use Liver of Sulfer or stain glass patina liquid to blacken the letters.  For this piece, I simply colored them in with a sharpie.  The other two methods involve more sanding and by now you all know how I feel about that!  Anyone have feedback on whether or not that will last over time?

If your stamp bends the metal, a light pound with a rawhide mallet will flatten it nicely again.
You can punch and drill the hole for the jump ring or use this sweet little tool. As you can see I got mine from Fire Mountain Gems.  These screw punches are terrific.  One end creates a hole that is slightly smaller than the other end.  They are perfectly sized for jump rings. I use this bad boy all the time.

Okay, now for the filing, sanding, and polishing!  As you can see the cutter didn't cut this one perfectly and I needed to do a bit filing to get the excess off.  I also polish using a flex shaft with a variety of bits.  I don't ever know which one will be perfect for the job so I try several and use the one that works best.  
I tried searching and found a couple simple tutorials for polishing.  I think I'll save my comments on those for a other post!

How to Use a Dremel to Buff & Polish Jewelry

Read more: How to Use a Dremel to Buff & Polish Jewelry |

I do have one additional recommendation for working with tools and small objects that I know have saved my fingers time and time again.  These Atlas gloves protect my fingers from the heat of the metal, flying objects, and a revolving drill bit that is spinning at a very high speed.

To finish off my pendant I added a copper blank which I hammered with a ball peen hammer.  Attaching them both together make a great sound when worn together on a necklace.

Here's the disclaimer at the bottom:  I am not paid to recommend any product or websites cited above.  I also am a self taught metalsmith.  For those of you that have formal training or have tutorials available to purchase, please leave a comment if you see me doing something the hard way, the stupid way, or simply right/wrong.  I would love to learn from you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quick Gift in 15 Minutes

I've spent every spare minute this weekend checking out everyone's space on Karen Valentine's **My Desert Cottage**: Where Blogger's Create 2011 event.  If you are checking out mine, please click on the link to the right titled Welcome to My Sanctuary.  Karen, I'll be sending you a gushing thank you for pulling that all together!

Almost everyone I visited this weekend had a stash of buttons in every known container out there...jars, crystal dishes, bins, apothecaries, you name it.

Since I work full time and am quite forgetful, I am always looking for quick gift ideas for last minute invites to gatherings, open houses, teacher gifts, get well, etc.  I enjoy something that doesn't take very long to throw toegether and still is creative.

When my mother-in-law moved in to a retirement home, we were cleaning out her house.  I gathered 1 salt shaker (who knows where the pepper is) and a batch of buttons (score)!  Next time I went to my sister-in-law's house for a gathering I brought her a little surprise.  Who needs the pepper shaker?  Plus, since I'm a better crafter than a cook the gift was more appreciated than a hot dish or pie.

Simple, Simple.
A length of floral wire. I chose green.  I threaded the wire into the existing button holes or shank, looped it through to the back, and twisted.  I cut the wire to the right lengths and arranged a group in the existing shaker holes.

I imagine you could use any sort of wire you have around your space.  The floral wire is very thin, so something thicker may yield better results. You could wrap with floral tape or ribbon.  I imagine you'd have a bit of trouble with the resulting stem being too big for the holes, but you could solve that by enlarging the hole with a punch, drill or flex shaft.

I've also seen examples of this where more than one button was stacked together on the same stem that looked fantastic too.  I've also seen the shakers filled with beads, pearls, rice, sand, glitter.  The list is endless.  Have fun!

Please leave a comment if you've already done this project and have come up with a variation or tried something that worked (or failed completely!).  That's the goal of my website... an exchange of ideas and  sharing of experiences.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Welcome to My Sanctuary

Glimse into my studio loft.  It's where magic happens, calm sets in and blood pressure returns to normal!
Welcome visitors from **My Desert Cottage**: Where Blogger's Create 2011.  What a fun idea to share creative spaces.  I am excited to show you my space.

I had a friend build this table, both ends fold down or up depending on the project.  Mostly I leave it up and store 4 stools under it for craft & wine nites with my family & friends.

The view.  The kids love tossing parachute men into the great beyond.

A bit of garage sale treasure.

Love experimenting with metals, etching, stamping and doming!

The little guy peeking out is my son at four.  What a charmer.

This gem came from a local 
antique store.  It called mine as soon as I saw it.   

Ah, a perfect garage sale find.  Of course it was office neutral color ugly, but it's amazing what a little Rustoleum spray paint and an hour or so can do!

33 drawers hold a lot of great stash!

A vintage watchmaker's cabinet.  All 6 drawers have a gazillion watch-face sized sections.

Just another work surface for all kinds of projects.

My father recently passed away and in his basement of mass collection, I found a rusty old anvil.  I took it to Brian of Paradise Found Forge in Clearwater, MN.  This 50 lb Fischer 1911 Anvil was totally rusted, and pitted.  Brian polished, ground, painted and only he knows what else. For him it was a labor of love.  For me, a bit of my father's love with me as I work.

The work bench.

Hello. My name is Jana and I am a garage-sale-aholic.

I might as well admit it to the world.  My 10 year old son and husband already know.  My husband just shakes his head when I return from a morning's outing and mumbles "less junk, not more".  But, bless his heart, he just walks away and leaves me to enjoy and delight in my new found treasures. 

Today I found someone's discarded set of wood carving tools.  I am envisioning lino-cut fun later in my studio.  Everything for $3!  Oh, I know I could have probably talked the woman down but goodness I would have paid $3 for a bone folder.

I should also admit I am a toolaholic as well as long as I'm confessing.  I simply love to have to tools to do something when I want to do something.  I love amassing all the tools.  In fact, sometimes I simply want to collect the tools, learn how to do the craft, and then move on to something else.  I learned it from my father, the great collector of all things.  He may not have used a tool in 10 years, but even at 84 years of age he could have told you exactly where you had to look to find it.