Thanks to Cosy for posting this on the Indie Knit and Spin site. If you want in on the fun next Saturday morning (Feb 6), please sign up as soon as possible!
Note: this is a basic “intro” session so, if you want to make a pair of earrings or a few little charms instead of buttons, that’ll be fine too!
Archive for January, 2016
Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/30
Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/26
Winter has arrived and the Cranberry Artists Network has an appropriately-named “Membrrrs Show” opening today! The prospectus for the show was covered in images of snow and icicles and more that made one go “Brrr!” just thinking about them. What might I decide to enter?!!
Well, from fine silver, I’d made a small collection of long pieces, sort of a tube shape, but not all neat and even ones. I’d been playing around with them: I had sort of an idea what i wanted to do (i.e., I really had made them with a vague design in mind), and at one point I’d assembled them into the first necklace shown here (photo at left).
Except, that still wasn’t quite what I wanted. When I got the invitation to apply for the “Membrrrs” show, however, it came to me: ice cubes and cracked crystal, and a few bits to acknowledge that snow does get blackened after a while, and I ended up with the necklace and earring set Warmth & Hugs Ease Icy Days, made from fine silver, crystal, clear and black glass, black onyx, and copper, all hung from an antiqued copper chain with a copper clasp, shown in the larger image to the right.
OK, but I could submit a second entry too. What else? Had my brain, my creativity, frozen? No, I just had a number of other deadlines looming, and multiple experiments with the silver “hugs” had eaten up a lot of my “spare” time to think about this. But, wait, I had a few “spare parts” I’d made “just in case” I needed them for the Love & Commitment bracelet last fall, which evolved into the Love Warms Our Hearts necklace (bronze hearts with copper and glass bead coils, hung from a bronze chain with a bronze clasp; the last photo, left).
I took them up yesterday, and both entries were accepted into the show! It will be running at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building from January 26 through March 3, 2016. Although, technically, it does open today, the “opening reception” will be on Wednesday, February 3, from 6 to 8 pm. I hope I’ll see some of my friends there!
Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/15
Well, it’s about time! Last night, I finally took two minutes to figure out how to “publicize” a blog post on Facebook. (That time was split between finding where the settings were and choosing among the options available.) And I used that feature for the first time with my last post. This morning, I found the following exchange over there:
Now, Alice is correct. So I could have just “liked” her comment but, well, I admit I don’t know how to be terse, and I thought it was worth trying to be clear about what was going on, for anyone else who might stumble across the discussion here. So I decided that another blog post was in order. Once I’ve got it ready, then I’ll go “like” her comment and share this post too.
This is what my rotary tumbler looks like when I’m ready to use it:
Well, I don’t think it’s specific to this style of tumbler, though it may be a bit more common with these than with some others. But I discovered this trick with the very first tumbler I ever used: a little, all-plastic, undersized for its intent, rock tumbler for kids. The key is that the barrel has to be in good contact with both rollers, both of which have to be able to turn smoothly.
In an ideal setting, the base would be flat on a table. The motor would turn and the belt attached to it would turn the roller in the middle of the base. That would turn the barrel. Because the barrel is also supported by the other roller–the one at the end–that one would turn too. Thus, the motor, belt, both rollers, and the tumbler would all roll around together.
But, with this particular unit, if I simply put the base flat on the table and set the filled barrel on it, then the roller in the middle–the one that’s driven by the motor–that one turns just fine. That’s my clue that the “belt” connecting it to the motor is adjusted correctly. (If that roller slips, or seems to stick, that’s a sign that the belt needs to be adjusted which, for the record, is a routine maintenance task.)
In my case, however, this barrel would just turn in fits and starts. The “other” roller turns only when the barrel turns, so it’s not helping either. It seems to me that there are two possible solutions (though I do welcome other informed suggestions…):
- Slightly raise the end with the motor on it. This pushes the barrel onto the roller at the “end,” which forces that one to move along with the barrel.
- Slightly aise the end opposite the motor. This pushes the barrel onto the roller in the “middle,” which reduces the role of the one at the outside end.
I’ve tried it both ways and, in fact, both seem to work. But, as shown in my photo, above, I tend to set things up the first way, so the end with the motor is just slightly higher than the other end. In my logic, the second way seems like it’s putting extra pressure on the motor to do all the work. The first way seems to force both rollers to contribute to the effort, and that’s why I prefer to set it up that way.
If you have any other suggestions, or a better way to explain what’s going on here, please contribute to the discussion via the comments below!
Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/13
An art-jewelry-friend of mine, Zoe Nelson, posted this in a metal clay group on Facebook last week. But I check Facebook only sporadically, so I didn’t see it until a day and a half later, by which time she’d already received dozens of suggestions and found a neighbor whose car-repair tool (an oil filter wrench) actually helped to solve the problem.
Until then though, none … none! … of the suggestions were how I would have responded: a few were halfway-decent alternatives, a few were complaints rather than solutions, some were simply sympathetic notes, and the rest were ideas that were far more complicated than I’d’ve thought necessary, a few even likely to damage the barrel. Thus, this blog post, at last, that Zoe knows I’m writing for her (and any others in a similar predicament!) to have for future reference.
I did make a range comments about my tumbler that uses these barrels, and more, a few years ago. (Looking for the link — gosh, that was way back in 2012!) So I have over three more years experience with it since then.
Yeah, the clear plastic lid can be a bit tricky. But (just as Zoe said in her Facebook exchanges with her readers) I’ve had as much trouble, in different ways, with the lid on the kind of barrel that’s made out of black rubber. While your experience may differ, I will take the clear plastic ones any day!
You can follow the link above to read the pros and cons I wrote back in 2012 (and see a few more photos, plus other alternatives, if you landed here without a lot of knowledge of tumblers), but here are the things I want to say now that relate specifically to Zoe’s problem and anyone else who may encounter a similar one.
First of all, let’s try to prevent the problem from the start:
- After you’ve filled your barrel with shot, water with either a bit of dish soap or burnishing compound, and the pieces you want to tumble, do this: Dip your fingertip in the liquid and run it around the rubber ring that seals between the barrel and the top. You don’t need to soak it, just get it slightly damp. This seems to help it form a good seal.
- Then put the lid on and turn it backwards until it feels like it is seated correctly and fits smoothly. (I don’t do this all the time, but if it seems to stick at all at the next step, then I always back up and do this!)
- Turn the lid forward to tighten it. It should turn smoothly and freely: if it doesn’t, stop! If you have trouble getting it on, you will have more trouble getting it off! It should tighten easily. If it’s catching, it’s not seated correctly. Back up a step, and repeat that one and this until you get it to close up easily.
- Then, tighten it a bit more so that it seals. The lid does need to be tight, but not super-tight. Tip the barrel sideways and turn it around a couple of times (like it will turn on the base), and see if it leaks.
- If it doesn’t leak, proceed to start tumbling.
- If it does leak, try to tighten it a little bit more and repeat the test. (If there is some liquid in the little “gaps” in the big part of the barrel, where the straight edges connect to the rim, that might be all that’s leaking. So test it for a bit longer and see if it stops dripping once that has emptied out.)
- If it continues to fail, don’t over-tighten it! Spin the lid backwards and, if it moves smoothly, go ahead and try to re-tighten it. If it doesn’t move smoothly or still continues to fail, just take it off and start from the first, seal-lubricating step above (checking to see if it may be time to replace that rubber ring).
- When you’re done tumbling, the lid should come off…. It may take a bit of effort (you did have it sealed up well, you know, so it wouldn’t leak!), but set it down flat on a table, hold the barrel, and figure out how to push down (to press against that great seal you managed to make) and turn the top, let up and turn if you can, push a bit more if necessary and keep trying to turn, until it starts to move.
Now, if that last step doesn’t work, ignore all the suggestions about things like cooling the bottom while heating the top, or hitting the edge of the lid with a knife, or trying to pry the lid off, or any of the other tricks that people have tried in their kitchen, and use the method that I always use in mine and which has always worked on my clear plastic tumbler barrels too. I will quote it directly from the funny but still useful book by John and Marina Bear that is illustrated to the right (just so you get an idea of what the whole book is like, in addition to the tip on what to do…):
|Problems with Utensils
Stuck bottle or jar tops
H. Allen Smith revealed to the world the technique for opening all screw-top containers. Now there are untold millions of us who face Mount Kisco or wherever it is he lives and say thank you every time we are faced with an obstinate top.
The technique: Bang the top flatly on a hard surface, like the floor. Not the edge, but the flat surface of the top. Just once. Hard. That’s all. And to think of all those jars we used to hold under hot water.
(Not that I want to date myself here, but I found that book in what must have been just a few months after this version was published. I have the 1973 UK edition: that’s the year I moved there — my second real full-time job after college — and I suddenly found myself cooking in a somewhat different kitchen using a number of unfamiliar local ingredients, and in London at that time there was a waiting list of over a year and a half to get a phone installed! (I was there for only two years, to the day! So I never even applied to the waiting list. We had postal service twice a day, and lots of people I knew didn’t have a phone either: we could simply write letters back and forth to make plans for the evening! But I digress…) Transcontinental phone calls back then would have been way too expensive anyway… so I had no way to call my family or old friends for help and there were times when I just wasn’t ready to admit to my new English friends some things that tripped me up. The book was a hoot — written by former New Yorkers living in the UK — so although it did use the British terminology I was just beginning to learn, the attitude sometimes felt familiar. And it was helpful too! People seem to either love or hate that book, and I’m one of the former….)
Anyway, there may be a few “bad” clear plastic tumbler barrels out there (and others that have been damaged by mis-use) that are harder to tighten, and those will also be harder to open. But I have two myself: one marked A for the Latin Argentium aka silver (or other precious metal) pieces, and the other, marked B, for pieces containing any form of Base metal. I’ve used a few others at meetings or workshops. I’ve seen people struggle to get them to seal and I’ll admit I struggled with mine the first few times I tried to use them, until I got a feel for it. Like riding a bike (or rolling out metal clay) once you "get" it, it seems easy!
And, every time I’ve had a problem closing any of those barrels, I’ve just loosened the lid, spinning it backwards until I’m sure I’ve got it seated right, and closed it back up with little difficulty. If I tighten it just enough to get a seal (and even that does take a bit of practice to get the feel, but it will come if one remains calm and pays attention), it may take a bit of oomph to get it to start to open, but it will come loose again. Or, if it does resist, just use the tip above: lid down, flat, once, hard.
Because we do need to be able to retrieve our beauties once they’ve completed their tumble-burnishing, don’t we?!!
Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/01/07
Am I really already into my seventh (7th!!!) year of musings here?! Hard to believe that, but it’s true.
I’m a few days late with this one, but things got even crazier than usual at the end of the year. So instead of posting on my New Year’s Day blogging anniversary, I’ve managed to do this on an alternative holiday, one of several for Christmas as calculated on the Julian Calendar. What can I say: I do understand the math involved, and why not find another reason for a celebration!
Part of my year-end disruption was due to the main interstate highway near my house (locals call it the Parkway East) being closed for a week so the city could demolish a deteriorating bridge that crossed it. (How bad? So bad it had made it onto 60 Minutes last year!) There had been a temporary fix a while ago: they built a second bridge underneath it, not for anyone to cross mind you, just to serve as a sort of diaper to catch the bits that were falling off the upper bridge so they wouldn’t land on cars driving down the interstate highway! So the demolition involved covering the interstate with lots of dirt, imploding both bridges down onto the pile, and then hauling everything away.
Now, I tend to use the back roads and simply avoid that stretch of freeway, so the closed road itself was not the problem. No, the problem was that no matter where I wanted to go, I’d’ve had to drive on, or at least try to cross, the detours. For a day or two, no problem; but for a whole week, well, I just left town. Here’s what I missed:
(I like the angle of that video: it shows both structures being taken down, but it definitely plays with the speed (slowing it at the beginning, and speeding it up later on). A more accurate idea of how it went can be found here, though that one was shot from much farther away in a city park, the closest that a “civilian” could get … while I was hundreds of miles away!)
I hadn’t decided exactly how long I’d be gone. I had friends coming to town from across the country that week and I did want to see them. But then there arose another complication: if I stayed in town, there were to be several days when I couldn’t get into my studio! The general community center activities that go on in the building were on hiatus for the week between Christmas and the New Year, and they decided that would be a good time to paint all the public-area floors. So I left late the night before I thought both the highway and the building were closing, only to learn the next time I checked email that, at the last minute, the painting had been delayed for a few days. And the Parkway was still closed. So I didn’t come back early, but instead stayed away a while longer. And then … yes, there’s more! The painters took longer than expected, and didn’t quite finish everything, but their time was running out because the community center did have events planned. I never got the all-clear notice I’d been promised but, finally, I went over yesterday and found that I could get in. So, now I’m writing!
Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that everyone’s complications are finished from last year, and we can just get down to some serious work in the realm of having fun in this new one! The photos with this post showing a pendant from several different angles are one that I started making last year…. It’s made from .960Plus silver clay (a mixture of .925 PMC Sterling and .999 PMC Plus). That’s the clay we used for the Button Making class at Indie Knit and Spin last November. I had some mixed clay left over after I’d finished doing my demonstrations in the class but, rather than think about how to store it, I went the route I usually take and just made something with it! (For technical accuracy: the spiral is from plain .999 PMC Plus that I had left over from the previous day….)
Because having several layers loop over the top to form the bail meant that area was thicker (and thus, likely to take longer to fully dry), I didn’t fire it right away with the class pieces. Instead, I waited until the next month when I made some earrings. I’d used .960Flex for those, but the same firing schedule works for any form of .960, so I fired this pendant with those earrings.
Having made the earrings just in time for my last Holiday-season show last year, I polished and added a patina to them, but I ran out of time before I got to this big piece. The first thing I did when I got back into my studio was to finish it up, so I’d have art-jewelry photos to accompany my first post of the year! I’m happy with how it turned out. I still have to select a chain on which to hang it. But I’m back in the groove for the year, and looking forward to new adventures. And I hope you are too!