When Good Weasels do Bad Things

Everybody has an off day now and then. It’s just a facet of Life. However, it seems when it’s a bad day in the ‘Werks, things go really bad.

I don’t mean that injuries occur; heck those happen all the time! It’s mostly small stuff like stabbing yourself with a file or stubbing your toes on the bench legs (Remember – Safety First! Always wear shoes in the workshop!) – I’m talking about projects that go bad.

Here’s a good example – I was working on some stuffed animals that I wanted to jazz up with some gears, chain and other odds and ends that accumulate in the ‘Werks. The test run was three items – a starfish, a seahorse and a bear. First off, I couldn’t get in touch with my sewing machine, so I ended up hand stitching on the starfish. After some decorating, Star ended up like this:

All decked out in his salvaged finery, Star Fish is ready for the Industrial Age.

All decked out in his salvaged finery, Star Fish is ready for the Industrial Age.

Sort of predictable, but sometimes you have to work through the obvious to get to the not so obvious.

I’m gathering things for the Seahorse, but all in all he looks pretty good. By that, I mean that he looks like a seahorse.

I'm thinking a monocle and a baldric are definitely in order for   Slim.

I’m thinking a monocle and a baldric are definitely in order for Slim.

So what in creation happened here?

Did I do that?????

Did I do that?????

I just don’t have words for this.

It’s going in the bag of tragedy along with bezels that just would never solder to their back plates, etched pieces that look like Saran wrap, chain links that make no sense and that one amethyst that split in half as I was cutting it. There are other misbegotten lurkers in that bag, but they are all best left undisturbed.

As for work today, I think the best bet is to clean up and make sure there will be lots of coffee for tomorrow.

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Working on a Chain Gang

Still getting ready for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival at the end of September. Still working on metal/wire projects.

Decided to have some chains for sale and display, so been working on finishing chains in progress (the Gas Mask chain and others) and starting some new ones. Inevitably, I will have the wrong length, metal or thickness of chain for most of the attendees, but I am also putting together an order book that will let a customer order exactly what metal, length, gauge and style of chain they want.

All I have to do is one or two full length pieces of each type for the table and 2″ samples for the book. Oh, and I have to decide what kind of chains to make.

Top to Bottom: Box chain in copper Oval link Spiral chain in sterling silver Round link Spiral chain in copper

Top to Bottom:
Box chain in copper
Oval link Spiral chain in sterling silver
Round link Spiral chain in copper

Chain is AMAZING!!!!! Links are bars, round, square, oval, fused, tensioned, coiled, hammered, polished, patinaed, waxed, drawn, sawn, beaded, composite and any number of other things. Chain is light, heavy, shiny, matte, complicated and simple. Chain is ancient, modern, minimal, elaborate and absolutely necessary for a pendant but not so wanted for a letter.

Chain is for glasses, necklaces, gemstone bearing, a badge of office, decorative, functional, to keep something safe, to keep something imprisoned, to keep something out or in, to raise things up and let things down.

Top to bottom: 3 Pair base Roman chain in copper 2 Pair base single capture Roman chain in copper Foxtail chain in sterling silver 2 Pair base 2 link capture Roman Chain

Top to bottom:
3 Pair base Roman chain in copper
2 Pair base single capture Roman chain in copper
Foxtail chain in sterling silver
2 Pair base 2 link capture Roman Chain

So often, chain is overlooked and the attention is given to another part of the piece, until the chain fails. Then we realize just how important that chain really was.

So that is the kind of thing that I think about as I saw, shape, solder, stretch and join each little link. I’m duplicating an activity that has been done for thousands of years in much the same manner.

Links can be any shape.  The middle is actually one continuous strand of copper in a Viking Weave.

Links can be any shape. The middle is actually one continuous strand of copper in a Viking Weave.

I often wonder if Etruscan chain makers had as much of a mess on their benches as I do. I don’t wonder if they sometimes played with their work in progress; hypnotized by the look and feel of links sliding and turning while catching the light – I just wonder if they did it as much as I do.

Something old and something new

Sometimes the best part of a project is starting it. It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities, but it is less exciting once you are down to the repetitive part.

I like to do small, repetitious things for the most part, but sometimes I’m not so sure of the end result that I start to lag. Then the project sits on my bench taking up room and silently rebuking me every time I move it so that I can work on something new.

A very good example is the gas mask pendant.

Work in progress.  Going to remain in progress until I cut another billion jump rings

Work in progress. Going to remain in progress until I cut another billion jump rings

All I need to do is finish the chain (which means winding some 18 gauge copper wire and sawing about 100 more jump rings). The problem is that I ‘ve been unsure as to what kind of closure I want to use.

An S clasp seems sort of dumb and lately what I really want to do is a small biohazard symbol as a toggle clasp. I’m pretty close, in my mind, to knowing what that toggle would look like, so I’m ready to get back to doing the jump rings.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a couple of things, mainly this soldered link chain.

22 gauge copper wire.  individually soldered.

22 gauge copper wire. individually soldered.

That’s 22 gauge copper wire, in case you were thinking “Hmnnn… that looks pretty tiny.” The pattern is a single weave Roman Chain. Most Roman Chain is double weave done with a 2 link base, although I also have a 3 link base chain that I need to make end caps and a closure for. Hmnnn… maybe that should be my next post.

In any case, I’m trying to combine one UFO (Un Finished Object) with a new project to keep me working happily as well as clearing my bench.

If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll bribe myself with ice cream for each UFO completed.

Copper on my mind

I love copper. I like brass and silver, but I looooooove copper!

To work with that is. I wear more silver than anything else, but I often go without any adornment at all. The reason is pretty simple – I can’t really wear my pieces when I am working. Metal conducts heat and the last thing I need is more potential for hazard than I already have.

My home studio is a little cramped and many of my endeavors have to share space until completion. For example, my bench is the place for faceting stone, cabbing stone, wirework, filing, sawing, hammering, riveting, sanding and polishing as well as a place to sort work related paperwork and articles. A small table to my left is the home to tumbling, torching and wet processes. Behind me is the computer brain center of my home – there reside the MAC, the PC and both laptops as well as the scanner/printer. The remaining wall houses my fiber and paper media.

But back to copper. I’m prepping for a show at the end of September and am trying out new designs in copper towards building some stock. A lot of things have leaves as I’m totally floored by the process of creating a leaf out of copper.