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: