Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Adventures in Jewellery Making Week Two

Today’s class kicked ass! We all got stuck in straight away and I am blatantly going to get jewellery making tools for Christmas!

Everyone was asked to use copper that is 0.9cm think and strips were cut using a guillotine, which looked like it might have been effective during the French Revolution!

The first task was to file the copper on one edge to make it completely flush and straight. You check that it is straight by holding it on a steel block and shining a light behind it. If you can see any light between the edge of the copper and the steel block then you have to file the edges at the part that is flush with the metal to get everything smooth. This took bloody ages and was very frustrating because if you press too hard with the file you can completely mess up the edge and then you have to file the whole thing again. It is best to be extremely patient and file in a light horizontal sweeping movement keeping the file horizontal whilst the copper is clamped in a vice with protectors to stop the metal getting scuffed.

After you get your flat edge you can then draw on your design using dividers (which look like a compass used for drawing a circle but have two sharp edges instead of a space for a pencil) and a set square, which is weighted on one side. The task from last week was to draw out your ring design as accurately as humanly possible onto paper. I used the set square flush with the filed/straight edge of my copper strip to draw a vertical line at 90 deg. Then, using the dividers, you measure how deep the ring band will be and score a line running parallel with the straight edge so you have your ring strip ready and can draw the design inside it. This is time consuming as I have a repeating pattern of five castles and I used the dividers and a scribe, which is like an awl to etch my design onto the metal.

Once you have your design you can then use a saw to cut away the excess metal from the ring along the parallel line that was drawn with the dividers for the depth of the ring band. Sawing is not as bad as I thought but my edge was still quite wobbly! The saw has to be held at 90 deg to the metal and you have to stroke the metal with the blade otherwise you can break the blade. The edge then needs to be filed as straight as possible but it doesn’t have to be as neat as the first edge!

The next step is to use a drill to make a hole in each of the designs that need to be cut out. The saw blade is removable so once you’ve got a hole in the design you can feed the blade through the hole and begin cutting out your pattern. The drill can be dangerous so goggles must be worn. A metal point is used with a hammer to make an indent in each castle. This gives the drill bit a point to start drilling and stops it from slipping and cutting into the part of the ring you want to keep intact! One thing I noticed is that the copper can get very hot when you are drilling so it is probably better to drill in stages bringing the drill bit away from the metal every few seconds to allow the metal to cool. Otherwise you burn your fingers as you have to hold the metal steady as you drill. I managed to get all of my drilling done this week and so next week I will begin sawing into my castle shapes and will then file them to make them smooth using needle files. This will be extremely difficult and I am expecting each castle to look very different from the others!

Two craft fairs have been recommended for everyone to visit. The first is Goldmiths’ 2009 Fair, which runs from 28th September for two weeks. This fair exhibits new jewellery designers and sounds absolutely brilliant.

The other is Origins Craft Fair at Somerset House. I think this is all types of craft so I can’t wait. If you buy tickets before 5th Oct you get a discount. I have bought myself a pass so I can go as many times as I like in the two weeks. Nuala is exhibiting in the first week.

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