utorak, 6. ožujka 2012.

Ice block

Solid block of ice in the dyeing pot
I knew it was cold in the workshop, but hadn't really been paying too much attention to just how cold until I saw this. As a result, I haven't been very productive lately; the steel tools are permanently icy, and have the effect of making me lose sensation in my fingers. This makes it much more difficult to work effectively.

subota, 11. veljače 2012.

Copper Bracelets in Progress

Assortment of bracelets and tools
Above is a selection of bracelets made to date, and of some of the tools needed to make them. Once the outline is cut out, the copper form needs to be fixed to a lead block with broad-headed nails to hold it in place while you work. The lead block provides support to the metal, and allows it to move only where the punch is placed. When the copper form is removed after chasing, the lead has taken the form of the design and needs to be flattened with a heavy hammer before being used again.

Bird bracelet fixed onto lead block, in 'sketching' phase
 This is the second of the 'Bird' bracelets, fixed in place on the lead block. Once attached, outlines can be drawn with a felt-tip pen and then hammered in with the appropriate punches.

Bird bracelet sketched out
Punches can be entire forms (such as the flower motifs above), but more often they're lines or curves from which you build the outline you require. 

Bird bracelet
After the outlines have been punched, the ground is added with a texture punch. The deeper this is the better it looks, so I usually go over it a few times. The most difficult aspect of this stage is getting the textured ground even, as the punch is quite small and needs to be hit reasonably hard.

Sea Bird bracelet, with wave motifs
I decided to try a change in shape and motif, to see what's possible with the tools I have. The partial curves lend themselves nicely to waves and spirals, so I'm planning some more exploration along these lines while sticking with the bird/animal forms.

Fish bracelet, with wave motifs
For the second design in the 'wave' series, I wanted to introduce a fish/sea monster design, and had been thinking of the kinds of forms which appear in Australian Aboriginal art, and those from Chinese drawings. These fish are very loosely based on a combination of these styles.

Copper Bracelets

Cardboard pattern for bracelets

In order to progress, I've decided to stray a little from the form of the 'demonstration' bracelets, and lot from their design motifs. The first step of this process is to draw a new form, and make a cardboard pattern from which the copper shapes can be traced and cut. The first shape I'm trying is not vastly different from the demonstration shape; it's more rounded in the centre, so that a circle can be worked into the design, but is otherwise very similar.

Copper form traced from pattern

The copper form is cut from sheet with tin snips, and then filed to shape and deburred. I like to clean the copper surface with steel wool before beginning, in order to remove any oxides. It's much easier to do this now, while the piece is flat, and it means you can see your design more clearly as you work.

Finished bracelet with bird motif

This is how the chased bracelet looks. It still needs to be shaped, and the final finish (patina, lacquer) needs to be added, but the design work is now complete. The next post will show this process in more detail.

petak, 10. veljače 2012.

Traditional Bosnian Copperwork

The workshop has taken a change of direction lately; it's too cold for anodising (the chemicals have to be kept between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius, and right now the outside temperature ranges from -10 to -18), and I've been asked to teach a workshop on traditional Bosnian copperwork in the summer. Because my knowledge of traditional techniques is limited, I'm learning from one of the Masters in Bascarsija (the old part of town where the craftsmen have their shops). He's set me up with some tools and some copper, and a traditional design that I need to replicate 3 times, to keep me busy until the warmer weather returns.
Bracelet with traditional floral motifs, before shaping

The technique employed here is chasing, whereby designs are hammered into the copper using a series of customised punches. More information about technical aspects will appear in the next post.

nedjelja, 1. siječnja 2012.

Pink Saturn Set

Pink Saturn Earrings
The Saturn Series is beginning to undergo some subtle colour variation; the first change has been from blue to pink, as seen above.

Pink Saturn Pendant
Along with the colour change, some slight variation to the crimping technique has been made, to ensure that the components fit as tightly together as possible.

Pink Saturn Pendant, detail
The next step will be to consolidate the Saturn designs, and produce a marketable quantity of these two colour combinations. Some alterations have been made to the constantly evolving production and anodising processes in order to streamline them and make them more financially viable.

utorak, 13. prosinca 2011.

Planet Bracelet

Planet bracelet
A natural progression from the Saturn pendant and earrings, this bracelet is intended to complete the set. In practical terms, this particular piece only fits my small wrist, so the final version will probably have 5 spheres rather than the 4 seen here.

Planet bracelet showing clasp
The construction is similar to the pendant and earrings; anodised aluminium spheres, strung together on nylon-coated stainless steel cable, and clasped with sterling silver fastenings.

Planet bracelet perspective
There are some problems getting the crimps tight enough to hold the spheres together, as the cable tends to move out of alignment as it passes through the middle section of the sphere. I'm hoping to fix this on the next piece by drilling smaller holes and paying more attention to cable alignment as the crimping takes place.

Planet bracelet undone
Another new workshop development is the aquisition of Adobe Lightroom, which is why the style of photography has changed considerably since the last post. I imagine it will probably take some experimentation to find a winning formula, so things might vary a bit until then...

ponedjeljak, 26. rujna 2011.

Heart Rate Ring and the Saturn Series

Black Heart Rate Ring, after anodising, dying and engraving
After much procrastination, I finally got round to anodising and engraving the men's version of the Heart Rate Ring. I'd been holding off because I had to figure out how to jig it adequately. Since this piece doesn't have any holes in its design, I made a couple of small indents on the inside surface, and made a kind of sprung pincer from thick-gauge aluminium wire. The engraving was added after anodising, in order to give the line a contrasting colour.
Saturn pendant
These pieces are the start of a new planet-based line of work. The idea was to create something modular, which could be used to make sets of pendants, earrings and bracelets. For now, I'm sticking with the blue/black/silver colour scheme, but will expand this once I've completed a full set of work. All pieces are anodised aluminium, with nylon-coated stainless steel cable and sterling silver fastenings.

Saturn Earrings
The modules for the Saturn series are reasonably easy to anodise, since they all have holes integrated into their design. This makes it much easier to create a good contact between the pieces and the tank bar, and seems to have a reasonably high success rate. 

Saturn Earrings, as a pair
 Modules can be mixed and matched for any combination of colours, so can be fully customised. For now, I've just mixed the elements of the earrings to make them as different as possible within a pair.