Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 Cheongju Craft Competition info

The information for the 2011 Cheongju International Craft Competition is now posted.

Entries from outside Korea are due June 8th. Entries from within Korea are due June 3rd.

I am planning on making a silver vessel. I've got a 12" x 12" sheet of 22 ga. sterling I will use. I just haven't made the design yet. I got it in Oct. 2008, when silver was around $9-10/oz. Silver is now around $30/oz. I'm glad I didn't wait to buy it. When I look at the price of metals (silver $30, gold $1375, pt $1700) I think I couldn't have picked a better time to take a break from making things.

I have 5 months to design and make my piece. That should be plenty of time, but things always seem to take much longer than expected, and since I don't have a design yet, I have less time because of work and no longer have a real studio I am sure things will take even longer than normal.

$675 worth of silver:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saul Bell Finalist

My scale necklace is a finalist in the 2011 Saul Bell Competition in the silver category. The piece is at my parents house in the US, so I'll have them send it in for the final judging by mid January. The winners will be announced at the beginning of June 2011.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2 books

Yesterday I got the book Design & Make Coloured Aluminium Jewellery by Lindsey Mann. There's a photo of one of my aluminum pieces in it. I haven't had a chance to look at the book much yet. I also heard from my parents that they just received the book Anodized! Brillant Colors & Bold Designs for Aluminum Jewelry by Clare Stiles. I have 3 pieces in that book. My parents are going to send it to me this week.

Monday, October 4, 2010

no posts in 2 months

I was just going to write something for my blog about Korea and realized I hadn't posted anything here in two months. There just isn't much to talk about, and I haven't felt much like writing in either blog. I haven't really done any work since maybe July or August, and all I did then was just mess around, I didn't really do much.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

old lock picks

I just realized I forgot to post photos of some lock picks I finished not long before I went to Korea.

The handle of this first one is sterling silver with 14k gold rivets. The patina is liver of sulfur. I sold it before it was even finished to someone in Minneapolis.

This one below was the last pick I finished before going to Korea. I wanted to make something different before I left. I had been constantly making lockpicks for almost 2 years, but I was always making the same designs.

The handle is anodized aluminum. I think you have to click on the photo and look at the larger image to see the texture on the handle. The texture is done with a file.

This pick I did not sell. I have sold almost every pick I have made. I wanted to keep this one for myself.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

my new "studio"

Last weekend I finally started doing some work. I started on the snakewood handle of a carving knife I am making for wood carving. I made the blade while I was still in the US. I also prepared two slices of a wax ring tube.

I need another table. Most of the space on my table is taken up by things unrelated to carving. Its really hard for me to work in this small space on a kitchen table, after working for years in my own well equipped studio.

My old studio, where I had more space than I could ever use:

Friday, July 16, 2010


A little over a week ago I decided it was time to start working again. My micromotor is 110v, so I have to use it with my 220-110v transformer. Electronics, like digital cameras and computers usually can handle either 110 or 220v. Since that's all I really use, my transformer has been sitting there gathering dust since I got it.

I knew i needed to use my micromotor with the transformer, but I wasn't thinking and put an adapter on the plug and plugged it in to the 220v outlet. Luckily there are two easily replaceable fuses in it so I didn't destroy the micromotor. But since they are 125v fuses I figured they are probably not available in Korea, so I had my parents send me some from the US.

I got those yesterday, so now I am ready to work. I don't really know what to make. I might just start carving a wax, just anything, to get back into working.

Friday, June 25, 2010

plant book

Last year I got an email from Lark Books asking for photos of my work for a book on artwork inspired by plants. Yesterday I got an update about it saying that the book is postponed. I don't really care if it's just postponed for a while, after I submit my work to something like that try not to think about it again till I get the book or some notification about it. So I don't care if it's delayed, but it sounds like it might be canceled. That would suck.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

anodizing book

I just found out from my parents (since a lot of my mail goes there) that I got three of my pieces in the anodizing book Lark Books is going to be publishing. I am told the book will be out this fall.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

nothing going on

I've been in Korea 4 weeks now. I still feel like I just got here. All my tools and things are in two drawers. I haven't tried to organize anything yet. I have a kitchen table I can work at which should be ok for carving. I haven't done any work since I got here. It's really easy for me to stop working in a situation like this where I am in a new environment and I have a lot stress and other things on my mind. I have been thinking a little about what I should make, so I think soon I will start working.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm in Korea now + a new blog

I arrived in Korea Monday April 19th. I'll be here for a year, teaching English at a high school near Seoul.

My studio is all packed up. I brought some tools so I can do wax carving and wood carving here, but not much else.

I'm going to keep this blog for writing about my creative work and start a new blog about what I am doing in Korea:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

moving to korea

I mentioned at the end of 2009 that I might be moving away to take a new job this year. Finally, after having some long delays I'm going to do it. I'm moving to South Korea to teach English for a year.

I have been planning on doing this since last August, but I procrastinated for a while. Then I was going to apply at a private English language school to try and start working by the end of 2009. In November I found out public schools were hiring for the spring semester and decided to wait and do that instead.

Assuming there aren't any more delays, I will be leaving Sunday, the 18th. I have a lot to do before then.

Monday, March 29, 2010

random things

I have been busy and had a lot of things on my mind lately and haven't really been giving much thought to writing posts about what I am working on.

I got the CMAG Spring 2010 newsletter today. I found out it was my copper vessel that got honorable mention in the members exhibition. They have posted photos of the exhibition on Flickr.

Last Monday I made an announcement about a major change that will be happening soon, but by Tuesday I found out there would be a delay, so I took down that post. So if anyone read that and is wondering what happened, I will still be doing what I said, just a few weeks later.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CMAG Members Exhibition

The CMAG Members Exhibition is up till March 14th at the Lill Street Art Center. I got an email last week about how the show was going. I didn't win one of the three best in show awards, but me and two other people had work chosen for "special merit." I don't know which piece of mine it was.

These are the pieces I am showing:

Vessel #6. 2008.

An untitled brooch from 2007.

Untitled aluminum and ebony brooch. 2010.
I just realized I forgot to finish posting the process photos for this piece. I'll post them later, I'm not in the mood to do that right now.
I had a lot of trouble photographing this piece and was planning to re-shoot it. Now that I look at the photo it doesn't look so bad, but other people who saw the photo first, and then saw the piece said the actual piece looks much better than in the photo. So I don't know what I should do about it cause I'm not sure I can photograph it better.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

felt things

Here are photos of the two brooches I entered in 500 Felt Objects. I figured I should put them on my blog cause they aren't likely to make it into the book.

Both of these are made from 1/4" thick industrial felt, anodized aluminum, and sterling.

I dyed the felt on this piece with fast blue anodizing dye. The aluminum is also fast blue. I did another version of this piece with a sort of brown/black piece of felt and orange aluminum, but I didn't like it and took it apart.

I dyed the felt on this piece black using Rit dye. The aluminum flowers are all slightly different shades of fast blue. I scraped the felt with a scribe to make it all fuzzy.

I didn't take many pictures while I was making these pieces because I was finishing them the day before the deadline for the book. One of the things I like about things like entering competitions and books and things is it give me a deadline for pieces I might otherwise drag out.

I really only took photos of the flowers I was carving for the black piece. I like how they turned out and I will probably make more of them for something else in the future.

I carved them primarily with burs, then used rubber wheels to smooth them. Carving the front went pretty quickly. The back side took much longer only because they were so difficult to hold on to. Next time I will have to come up with a better way to hold them than just trying to hold them in my fingers.

After anodizing, still attached to the wires used for anodizing:


I like the look of the felt, but I don't really like working with it. It's too soft, and it doesn't have the feeling of durability that metal does. Metal will last a long long time. Materials like felt don't feel that way. Why would I want to spend much time making something that isn't going to last? But I'll probably make some more pieces involving felt and aluminum. I have some ideas, I just need to work out the details.

Monday, February 15, 2010

triangular earrings

I finally finished those triangular earrings I was talking about in a post last month. I put them in my Etsy shop the other day along with my 1 yen bracelet.

I had finished these not long after I wrote about them last month, but some how one of them got scratched, so I had to remove the anodizing to re-anodize them. After I removed the anodizing I got distracted by something else and they sat on my bench till a few days ago when I re-anodized them. I redid both of them because it is difficult to match the color if they are not anodized at the same time.

I have a couple more pairs of earrings that are almost done that I will put on Etsy later this week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


There was an earthquake here in Illinois a few days ago. It shook the house for a few seconds. There were two earthquakes while I lived in California, and this felt the same, so the first thing I thought was that it was an earthquake, but then I thought no, there's no earthquakes in Illinois. Apparently this is the 3rd one since 1999. It's the first one I have been aware of.

Progress Tool has closed down. That sucks. But I rarely ordered from them and I only went there once or twice when I lived in California.

Thursday I dropped off three pieces at the Lill Street Art Center in Chicago for the CMAG members exhibition. The exhibition opens February 19th at Lill Street and is up till March 13th.

The exhibition is not juried and is open to all CMAG members so I am really curious about what the overall quality will be. I would really prefer it be a juried exhibition. I'm probably not going to go see it. I hate driving up that direction.

This year's CMAG swap meet is March 6th at The Art Center Highland Park. I haven't decided if I will participate or not. Last year I sold a lot of tools I don't use anymore, but I don't know if I have enough stuff to make it worthwhile this year.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

1 yen bracelet

It's been a while since I last posted. I have been working, I just haven't been in the mood to write about it.

Somehow I have managed to sprain 3 fingers and a thumb in my martial arts class. The fingers are not sprained bad and I usually don't even notice it, but my thumb hurts to grip things in a certain way. It's not preventing me from doing anything, it's just annoying.

I finished a bracelet last night. Its made of anodized Japanese 1 yen coins linked together with sterling silver. The coins are aluminum, so I am able to anodize them.

I had the idea for this in Nov 2008, but never got around to doing anything more than putting a few coins together. I was using green, but green is not the most consistent color, and when I anodized some more coins recently they didn't match the ones I did in 2008. So I decided to use red. I thought it would be more appropriate since they are Japanese coins and there is a red circle on the Japanese flag. Right now 1 yen is worth a little more than a penny, so making mistakes doesn't really cost anything.

The coins for the bracelet have holes drilled in them. But I also anodized a bunch of coins without any holes. I took those with me to Japan last year to try to get them into circulation. I put most of them in the donation boxes at shrines and temples.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

new tool catalog

I got the 2010 Rio Grande Tools and Equipment catalog in the mail today. Getting the new tools catalog and seeing what new stuff they have used to be a really exciting day for me. But now I have just about everything I need, and the new things in the catalog usually aren't anything I am interested in. There are still some things I want for my studio, but it's mostly random tools I would probably never use or expensive equipment that Rio doesn't sell.

Friday, January 15, 2010

unfinished pieces

My aluminum and ebony brooch is pretty much done. I just need to screw the top part of the pin back to the aluminum. I wanted to photograph it with out the pin back cause I don't want to have to worry about the pin stem showing in the photos. I have photographed that piece twice and I am not happy with the results. I am having two problems. One problem is getting the dark brown ebony well lit with out over exposing the aluminum. It looks ok in some photos on the computer, but it always prints too dark. The other problem I am having is the green aluminum is washed out. It's not over exposed, its just coming out too light. I have tried turning up the color saturation in the camera, but that doesn't help. I can mess around with it in Photoshop and get it sort of the color it should be, but I don't want to do that. I'll post the rest of the process photos of that piece once I have a good photo of the finished piece.

I'm still trying to finish up my unfinished pieces, but I haven't been working very hard at it. I have several pieces I stopped working on because I wasn't sure how to continue with the design. Usually I stop working on the piece and think I'll figure out the right thing to do with the design later. Eventually it gets to the point where the piece has been sitting around so long it just needs to be finished. Even if the finished piece is not that good, I'd rather just have it done than leave it sitting around unfinished for a few more years. It also sometimes gets easier to finish the piece after its been sitting around for a long time because if a lot of time has been put into the piece I worry about making the wrong decision about the rest of the design and wasting all the time and effort I have put into it. But if the piece has been sitting untouched for like a year then I don't really remember all the time that went into it, so it's not as big of a deal to just make the design decisions and finish the thing. The pieces I am posting photos of today are not anything I spent a lot of time on, which makes it even stupider that they have been unfinished for so long.

The brooch in the photos below was something I made when I first got my Sherline mill in Sept. 2007. I think I was going to flush set some sapphires on it or something. I decided to just anodize it black and file the anodized layer off of the edges and the raised square on the front, and engrave the design on the back, which I had drawn on it back when ever it was that I was going to set stones in it.

The front:

All I need to do is make a pin back for it and it will be done. The pinback will cover the hole, and part of the top two engraved things.

The back:

Below are some earrings I never finished for some reason. I don't know when I started them or why I stopped working on them, but I am sick of them being unfinished.

I did some work on them last night and I guess they are mostly done. Maybe I will shape them a bit more.

The backs:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Racine Art Museum

I got the good news I was waiting for about my brooches that I mentioned in my Dec. 27th post. The two pictured below were accepted into the permanent collection at the Racine Art Museum.

This is the first of my work to get into a museum's permanent collection. I am so happy about it. I guess my teapot is in some collection in Korea, but I really don't know where. I should probably find out about that.

making screws

I could have had my ebony and aluminum brooch done a long time ago, but I didn't work at much of anything between Xmas and New Years. I worked on it a little last night, I'll probably finish it tonight.

I made the silver screws for it a few days ago. As far as I know there aren't any suppliers that sell sterling screws. Reactive Metals sells silver plated screws, but I want solid sterling screws. Anyway, I think it's better to make all the components of a piece myself.

I made up this process a few years ago. I don't know if there are better ways to do it, but this works for me.

Most of the screws I make or buy are 0-80. For 0-80 screws I make the head of the screw out of straight rod, I think I used something like 2.5mm diameter. I drill a 1.2mm hole in the center of the rod on my lathe.

I then tap the rod. A pin vise makes it easier to hold the rod. I use taps from McMaster-Carr. I have some from Reactive Metals Studio, but I don't like them as much as the ones from McMaster.

I tap the hole as deep as I can, about 1/2" I think.

After I am done tapping, I set my tube cutting jig to about 1.5mm and cut the rod into little 1.5mm pieces. After each piece I cut off I file the end of the rod flat and put a tiny chamfer on the corner so it looks nice before cutting off the next slice.

Next I make the threaded shank of the screw out of 1.6mm wire using a die.

It's good to straighten the wire before starting. I am kind of lazy and the wire was mostly straight. Straight enough that it would be ok once its cut in to 5 or 6mm pieces. If I was making a longer screw then I would take the time to properly straighten the wire by putting one end in a vise and pulling the other end before cutting the threads.

I hold the wire with a pin vise and thread an inch or inch and a half, then cut the threaded wire into pieces. Add about 1.5mm to what ever length you want the screws to be. After every time I cut a section of wire off I file the edge of the wire before cutting the next piece off. You will never get the screw to go in if there's a rough bur on the end from sawing it, and its easier to file the end when it's still attached to a longer piece of wire. After cutting off several pieces I thread the wire some more and cut off more sections.

Next the heads and shanks need to be screwed together.

Since I filed the end of the rod and threaded wire after each time I cut it, every piece has a nice end. If the screw is held vertical, with the head at the top, I put the screws together so the nice end of the head is the underside, and the nice end of the threaded rod is at the bottom, with the rougher ends of both pieces at the top so it will be easy to file them both flat.

Next I solder the pieces together. I embed the shank of the screw in a magnesia block so I don't have to worry about solder flowing down the shank, and put a piece of solder on the head of each screw.

I use my flexshaft like a lathe to clean up the screws. I have a little piece of threaded rod I put in my flex shaft to hold the screws while I work on them.

I file the top flat then sand the top and sides of the screw head. I then cut the slot in the screw with a jewelers saw and polish the head.

Finished screws: