Sunday, August 23, 2009

PMC Silver Leaves in Progress

My big dilemma this weekend is what setting to use on the kiln to fire my PMC standard.

As you may recall, when I followed the “optimal” firing schedule for my first batch of PMC+ (1650 F for two hours), I killed the silver.

I took the other half of what I’d made (but hadn’t yet fired) and fired it at a lower temp (1110 F) for 45 minutes. Pretty drastic change, I know… but once you’ve obliterated half a package of silver metal clay, you become fairly cautious.

If the melting point of Bronze is 1743 and I fire at 1480, that means I’m firing at 263 degrees below the melting point. So if the melting point of fine silver is 1760, I should be able to fire at 1497.

But there’s another way to look at it. If I’m supposed to fire Bronze at 1540, then I’m dialing down by 60 degrees. With that reasoning, I’d want to fire my silver at 1590 (60 degrees below the normally recommended schedule).

I think maybe I’ll test fire a piece before putting my “goodies” in the kiln.

So I made a tiny little snake and put him in at 1590 F for two hours. Wish me luck!

Okay, the snake came out appearing fine. So fine, in fact, I didn’t have the heart to break him open and see if I can recognize a “sintered” versus a “not fully sintered” piece. I took the other thing I’d been working on—a piece of plastic from the throat guard of Monica’s helmet… that broke off when a hard shot came at her earlier this year… and she wanted to keep the piece rather than throw it away… so I filed it down and smoothed it out and drilled a hole in it. I put the snake on top of the plastic pendant and put both onto a sterling silver chain to be worn as a necklace.

I just realized I can’t fire my silver pendant because I need a smidge more clay to finish it and I don’t have a smidge. That will have to wait, then, until I pick up some more PMC Standard. As for the leaves… I drilled my holes (after making a quick decision whether they’d hang or be used as connectors) and stuck ‘em in the kiln.

A few hours later and they’re out. They don’t appear as white as the snake was. They actually seem rather dark gray (like that first, burnt batch), but they seem to have retained their shape. Next is cooling them, then rinsing and burnishing to see what I have.

Then I took one leaf and burnished it.

Then put a patina on it.

Then polished off most of the patina… but I have to clean up now and get ready to photograph ‘cause I have to go to Mon’s scrimmage at six and I’m going to swing by X-Sport first to get her a stick (she broke her only stick during last night’s practice).

Next steps are working on my peacock and putting together my silver leaf necklace.

I have a small set of charms to give away, too… just one Chinese pendant and two leaf charms that could be earrings.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A bunch of Bronze Clay Items and My First Package of PMC Standard

Went to Hadar's last night and used an entire package (20g) of silver clay. How nerve-wracking!

I made a "quilted" pendant and five leaves.

I still need to file, add a tube bail to the pendant, and drill holes in the leaves. Then I'll fire it all and hope for the best.

I have to leave the apartment later this afternoon (to take Monica to hockey), so I really have a lot to do this morning. I hope I have time to finish my silver and get it fired before I have to leave.

The rest of today's post is copied from my Laura Bracken blog, so if you've already read it there, no need to continue.

So here’s a mish-mash of results, in no particular order…

Sorry for the blurry photo. Can’t remember if I mentioned it out loud or not, but I wanted to revisit the charms I made in this bracelet…

… but this time polish them up. Here’s how they are straight from the kiln, except for the top one which I’ve begun to polish…

And here are the tube ribbons out of the kiln (the top two are semi-polished).

I started to run out of some of my dremel bits. I am on my last mini fiber wheel (will have to stock up on those). So I tried a different tool in its place…

… I’m afraid I have no clue what this tool is for. It did absolutely nothing on my metal clay. Ha!

Now here are two bronze bead caps straight out of the kiln.

Then I polished them, one more than the other. I prefer the one on the left (semi-polished), but again I don’t know how long the natural kiln patina will last.

Here’s Mr. Peacock right out of the kiln. His eyeball fell out. I’m guessing that once the cork form burnt out there was nothing to hold the eye in so now it’s mixed in with my charcoal (needle in a haystack).

Here’s Mr. Peacock after a first go-over with a couple dremel bits.

Here’s a leaf pendant. I made this at Hadar’s class last week while I was waiting for my charms to dry.

Here are two charms (I made these when I made Monica’s earrings... did I ever get a photo of those?) straight from the kiln.

I have since polished them up and put them on chains as small pendants. I’ll photo and list them, along with another copper/bronze piece that I’ve apparently forgotten to take a quick photo of.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jewelry Progress and Eco-Friendly Musing

Jewelry Progress

Nada, really. I plan to work on my peacock tonight and then bake him, possibly along with the things in my last post (that look like turds in a box).

Monica made a necklace that I'll add a clasp to. She also made her first chain maille bracelet… I can photo that. We both made some copper chain maille components. Maybe I'll get those photographed.
There are so many projects I want to work on (and have the materials for!), but time is the culprit. I must carve some time out of my days (or nights) to do my creative stuff.

Eco-Friendly Musing

So I'm thinking yesterday about our world. Other than the stray meteorite, nothing new comes to this world, and very little leaves permanently. So… other than the rare exception, what we have on this planet is the same stuff we've had on this planet for thousands of years and will most like have for thousands of years to come.

People, animals, plants, insects… we are all born and we all die. Every THING that we make or create comes from "stuff" from this planet and becomes other "stuff" on this planet… and it never leaves… it just changes how it looks, maybe how it functions… and then maybe also it has potential to become something else… or not.

So maybe what I'd like to do, art- and otherwise, is to make choices in my life that don't harm the environment. I know that's a very broad way of saying it, so let me think of some examples (of harming and of not harming).

The Ozone Layer

Most of you know what the ozone layer is and more importantly what it does (absorbs 93-99% of the sun's ultraviolet light… the stuff that can damage life on earth).

One of the biggest contributors of the desctruction of our protective ozone layer is chlorine in the stratosphere… and currently human activity accounts for 75-85% that.

Wanna see something scary? Check this out…
That's NASA's projection of stratospheric ozone concentrations if chlorofluorocarbons hadn't been banned back in the 70's.

Ozone levels in the northern hemisphere have been dropping 4% per decade.

Some of the specific things that harm the ozone include:
-- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)… now banned
-- Carbon dioxide (car exhaust, coal burning, etc)
-- Methyl bromide: Used extensively as a pesticide until being phased out by most countries in the early 2000s… In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane was applied to California vegetation… A court order mandated that farmers had until Jan 1st of 2008 to meet the standards, but California farmers were given a reprieve until 2012… why is methyl bromide getting annual exemptions? Money is, apparently, more important than health because farmers in southern California seem to be fine using a chemical that rids their soil of pests so long as they get their $386 million a year for strawberries. "Farmers say without a viable alternative, their businesses will go under." But what about the bigger picture? Since Methyl bromide is still used on about half the strawberry crops in California, my personal take on the issue is this: in order for me to eat strawberries not contaminated with this chemical for interest in my own personal health as well as to not support the farms that use the chemical, I will only buy locally grown, certified organic strawberries. I can't stop farmers from using it, but I can make my own personal decisions on the part I play (yes, miniscule though it may be) in the big picture.

A word (from Wiki) about the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050.

Kudos to Indonesia, who imposed a ban on the import of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and methyl bromide in January 2008, putting the country two years ahead of the 2010 schedule for phase-out of ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol.

So that's some info about our depleting ozone layer and what we, as individuals, can do or not do to try to help our planet, even if that help seems like a drop in the ocean.

Chemicals that Harm the Environment

-- Industrial waste
-- Agricultural processing waste
-- Industrial and car emissions cause acid rain which poisons fish and affects the ability of soil to support plants
-- Carbon dioxide causes greenhouse effect and climate changes
-- Chemical fertilizer run-off causes build-up of toxins in rivers.
-- Dioxins: a by-product burning PVC, of manufacturing organochlorides, of paper bleaching, of volcanoes, etc. Dioxins cause serious health problems and only radioactive waste is more toxic. Dioxin was in Agent Orange. It is virtually indestructible and our bodies have no defense against it. Dioxin is the most potent synthetic carcinogen ever tested in laboratory animals. When we incinerate items made with plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), we release dioxins into our environment. "They settle on pastures and crops and get eaten by cows, pigs and chickens. They get into lakes, streams, and ocean and are taken up by fish. They go through the food chain and appear in meat and milk and accumulate in the fat cells of our bodies." PVC is used is so many of our daily items… and when these items are disposed of an incinerated, we are poisoning the environment.

Kudos to Electrolux for creating policies to phase out the use of PVC in their appliances.

I'm going to start looking for Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) products.

I will go out of my way to use biodegradable products whenever possible.
I will avoid chlorine bleach.
I will try to use unbleached paper products.
I will try to only print things when really necessary and I will print on recycled paper whenever possible.
I will try to reduce our family's use of single-use or "disposable" products and/or containers.
Now the sad part… polymer clay is PVC. I'm not saying anything about this other than if I choose not to use it that is a personal choice, not a social commentary. No judgments.

I know someone who won't use gold in their work because of the way it's mined. I don't recall now if it was the dangerous labor conditions or if it was that the method for mining is harmful to the environment… or both. But I think each of us who wants to create art does need to decide about the products we use and what it says about us.

I can't change the world, but I can change what I do in this world. I will continue to make choices that sit right with me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bronze Clay going in... Silver Clay coming out...

Alright, let's see what we have here…

These are the textured ribbon tubes I made out of Bronze clay while I was waiting for my peacock to dry.

Here's the peacock. Bronze over cork, some copper accents, and one inset eye. His bottom needs to be finished properly (the edge, all around the whole thing, is jagged) and I need to drill holes for the feather bits.

These are my first silver tube beads... but even after tumbling for three hours, there's still white to be seen. I wonder what else I'm to do or what I should do differently.

And these are my mismatched caps (not oxidized yet) and a lesson... hammer VERY lightly on finished PMC.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just playing with clay...

Hadar’s class was fun and informative, as usual. Turns out the two lovely ladies at the end of the table aren’t seasoned pros (like everyone else there except me). One of them makes AMAZING felt dolls… I hope she lists on Etsy soon so I can show you her work.

Okay, this is weird… I swear I already mentioned this, but where? Where did I write it? Hm… shrug… anyway, my peacock is larger than I intended, but he’s coming along. I’ll try to get a picture tomorrow so you can see my progress. If nothing else, he’s got a very special eye. :-)

While he was drying, made some … hm… ropy tubes? They’re not fired yet. Maybe I’ll get a pic of those too.

But, when I was looking for dremel bits to take to Hadar’s, I found some silver I’d made but not yet fired. Seeing as how the only time I did try firing silver, I burnt it to a crisp, I needed some… time… before trying it again.

This time I did 1110 degrees for 45 mins. No special ramp up or down (I figured if some people fire with a torch, there’s not long ramp up or down in temperature, so…).

And, tada! They were white when done. Yay! They are currently in the tumbler. I’m not EXACTLY sure of the next steps. I mean, I want patina in the recesses… does that mean I patina them and then HAND polish the surface?

Okay, regarding listings, I got three pieces of jewelry listed in the last two days. One pair of earrings (sold) and two sparkly crystal bracelets. or just click on one of the bracelet photos.

I’ll have more to show soon… back to listing now.


Friday, August 7, 2009

The first step in my Tiffany Peacock... and learning about dremel bits

Monica allowed me to polish one of her copper pieces (she's at her dad's this weekend). I took a "finishing abrasive buff" bit and polished the top layer (the "outies" of one… well, um… two of her pieces).

Actually, her pieces felt odd to me. I can't figure out if it's just because I'm not used to all copper, or if they aren't sintered properly, or if she just made them too thin.

I'm going to Hadar's tonight… will pick up some (a lot of!) bronze powder. I guess I can take some of Monica's pieces and see what Hadar things about why I think they look/feel weird.

Oh, speaking of going to Hadar's tonight… I guess what I need to do there is start on my Tiffany Peacock piece. Which means that before I get there, I need to do some more planning and sketching. Oh, maybe I can see if Hadar has any black cz's I could buy for the eye… otherwise it may be kind of odd to try to get a swark in there.

Y'know… I may also ask Hadar to explain (again) to me which dremel bits are to be used for which occasions.

Oh, back to the project for a second… here's my first sketch…

A lot of the success of this piece rests on tonight and my ability to build a peacock's body. I'm not a sculpture so this will really be a test.

Oh, and as usual, don't forget to check out my other blog. Thanks!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Distributing the Wealth

I got up at 3am and opened the kiln so it would be cool by the time Monica got up. I left the sifting stuff and the mask. She said all her pieces came out fine… but she wanted to buff/polish the copper. Hm… kind of hard for me to help her with that over the phone. I'll have to remember to show her in person how to use the dremel, including changing the bits.

Okay, so back to ways in which I'm trying to be green…

We use CFL's (compact fluorescent light bulbs).

We don't run the tap while we're brushing our teeth.

I'm trying to find and use environmentally friendly cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom.

I eat a LOT of meatless meals in a week.

I try to buy local-raised (and organic) food products.

I also try to buy food in bulk as opposed to convenient snack or single-serving size packaging. We use tuperware.

So I was thinking this morning, about how I prefer to buy from indie stores or people rather than like say Walmart, Kmart, etc.

Since I'm a proponent of spreading the wealth, rather than a few rich people and a whole lotta poor people… I want to think that even if I have to spend a little more, if I'm buying directly from the source, directly from someone who makes their own whatever-it-is-I-need… well, then I'm helping to do my part to keep that money thing from getting out of hand.

At first I was thinking, "But if the big companies are doing well, they hire people, and people having jobs is a good thing." I'm trying to find the flaw in that logic, because my intuition still tells me to buy indie whenever possible.

Last night I made another necklace. Still have my green gemstones out (from the other night), so I made a necklace of Malachite and Sterling Silver. I quite like it even though, like the other one, it's very simple. Monica said it looks like my style of jewelry. Hm… not really sure what that means. Maybe it sort of has that little bit of ethnic feel because of the beads… like when I try to do old Egyptian jewelry. Well, pictures tonight if I don't go to Hadar's. Otherwise, Saturday.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What are your "green" methods?

Monica spent all day working with metal clay. We’re baking it tonight ‘cause she has to leave tomorrow afternoon. She’ll wake up early tomorrow, it’s guaranteed. Ha!

I have to pick up more bronze when I’m at Hadar’s this week. I’ll have to email her and see if I can go to Thursday’s class as well as Friday. Gotta catch up.

So… let me think of other ways I’m trying to be greener lately…

I’m now using recycled paper to print my invoices. I’m using handmade cards to include with purchases. I’m reusing jewelry boxes when I can.

At the office, I no longer go to the fridge and help myself to the endless supply of plastic water bottles. I have a coffee cup and I just wash it every morning and use it all day, filling it with cold water from the tap.

Share your tips with me!

I recently saw a post by a lampworking vendor (I think) where they listed all kinds of things they to do be greener. Wish I’d paid more attention.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just Hello and some kudos...

Okay, I obviously don’t make jewelry every day. Actually, I’m lucky if I get 10 hours of jewelry-making time in a week.

That being so, I think I’d better discuss things other than my own pursuits.

How about some kudos for other greenees?

Kudos to Bottled Up Designs. Her store is self-explanatory.