New Ring Mandrels from Pepetools

As you have seen, I have had the fun pleasure of working with Pepetools over the past year. This is very fun for me as I am often the first one to get to play with some of their new tools that they develop. Sometimes I even get to be a part of testing it out and helping to make a tool better. A while back I asked if they were going to make square ring mandrels. I don’t know if I had anything to do with it or not, but they finally came out with a  square ring mandrel. I am so excited.

In addition, they also came out with some improvements to their existing ring mandrels and added a couple in aluminum. I ventured onto a few of my jewelry boards and asked why people would need an aluminum mandrel, because it is certainly something that isn’t very useful in my studio. I have seen a lot of people purchase them and try to use them in the same way as a steel mandrel. I can understand using them with wire wrapped rings as you won’t need to forge on them and such. The consensus was along the lines of what I was thinking. The aluminum is meant for very light work and mainly for sizing a ring in settings such as a jewelers shop at the front counter. However, there were a few jewelers that said that they would take an aluminum mandrel when they traveled to do some light resizing. They preferred the lighter weight when traveling.

People ask me all the time why I don’t sell ring mandrels. I am a vendor for a couple of suppliers and they all carry ring mandrels. But I will say, this is one area where I am kind of a snob. I will only use Pepetools ring mandrels. And this is because all of the mandrels I have found that aren’t Pepetools, have deep grooves for the sizing marks. That is just dumb. The rings get caught into them, and when you hammer, it is really easy to hit in just the wrong spot and then you have a mark on the inside of your ring that now has to be filed, sanded and repolished. I do not have the buying power required by Pepetools to carry their products, so I am not able to sell their tools. In fact, I am not paid by Pepetools, other than I do get to keep the tools I test out and review. So my opinions are true and honest and not based on a monetary reward. However, if they were to pay me, I wouldn’t mind that either. LOL.

I made a short video introducing the new ring mandrels. I will also be doing some new projects with the square ring mandrel. The sizing and making of square ring shanks is a bit different than round shanks. I will be experimenting and will try to create a ring shank sizing chart, similar to those for round shanks, but it will take a while and a lot of experimenting. Anyone want to come over and play in the studio with me?

Tool Time Tuesday – Steady Stamp by Jeff Fulkerson

I had the great pleasure of meeting and dining with Jeff Fulkerson and his beautiful wife in Tucson this past February. It was so much fun to see his beautiful pieces. Jeff has written many articles, has multiple DVD’s and online workshops as well as a crazy loyal following at the various national shows where he teaches. Not only does Jeff work with silver and metals for his jewelry making, but he also cuts some of the most beautiful stones. I was able to see some of the pieces he made his wife, and those that he wears regularly and all I can say is WOW. Let me tell you, I was quite humbled in my own work once I had the opportunity to see his mastery of various techniques.

After seeing my review of Gwen Youngblood’s Riveting Essentials, he asked if I would be willing to do a review for a tool he has come up with. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as my sweet Kate has gotten into doing some stamping and this tool works really well for her. What tool is it, you ask? Well it is the the Steady Stamp. The Steady Stamp is a small block of Poplar with a groove cut into it so that you can hold your stamp steady while striking to make an impression in the metal. The image below shows the original Steady Stamp. The tool I was sent has beautifully beveled and finished edges for comfort and is sanded smooth with a soft finish.

Steady Stamp

The tool was developed while writing an article for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, where he was using the large flower stamps from Impress Art. He had a difficult time getting a good impression as he was not able to hold the stamp perfectly perpendicular with just his hands. This tool allows you to do just that. The other thing that is nice is that it keeps your hand clear of the striking range and decreases the chance of getting hit during a wayward blow of the hammer.

Is this a tool that is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY? Nope, probably not. Can you do the job without it? You sure can. Does it really make a difference when using it vs. not using it? YOU BET! At least it did for me. There was a clear difference in the depth and clarity of my stamped impressions when comparing using vs. not using it. Can you make your own? Yup, you sure can, but are you going to actually do it? Now that is the question. :) In the end, I find this tool to be small, and quite helpful. A while back I even showed a video of using my swage block to do this same thing. However, my swage block, while it will work, is much larger and this tool is much easier to hold. My daughter is only 8 years old and she has no problem holding this tool.

stamped cuff by Jeff Fulkerson

And as a special treat for my viewers, Jeff has given me a coupon code for $2.00 off (essentially 10%.) This is only for my blog readers and viewers. Just enter the coupon code MUIR during check out. Jeff’s website is www.ArtistJeffFulkerson.com

Of course, Tool Time Tuesday just wouldn’t be complete without a video.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/V707Vl7cQqo

 

Winner for Sarah Thompson’s Wire Weaving Workshop

Congratulations to LORI T. I hope you enjoy the workshop as much as I did. I can’t wait to try my hand at other projects in the near future.

Sarah Thompson's Woven Wave Bracelet 5

I know I was supposed to post this last week, however Monday night I got really sick with some sort of alien that took over my body and rendered it useless. I think I have expelled the creature, however it has left me with a slight case of bronchitis. But at least I am human, out of bed and being productive once again. Due to my illness, Sarah has graciously extended the half off promotion.

Sarah Thompson's Woven Wave Bracelet 6-3

 Just use THIS LINK for 50% off her workshop.

It will expire next Tuesday, May 19th. This  link makes the workshop only $20. That is such a small amount of money for the education you get. It is more than worth the $40 that is the regular price. So be sure to take advantage of the promotion. The workshop won’t ever expire. You can watch it as many times as you would like.

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Tool Time Tuesday – Workshop Review And Giveaway – Wire Weaving with Sarah Thompson

It isn’t often that I get to learn new techniques in a class setting. I don’t have the time or money to travel to workshops, there aren’t many taught here in Utah, and I have been so busy working on my book and videos that I rarely have time. Can I just say how much I love the day and age we live in? I can now sit in bed before I go to sleep and watch amazing people with amazing talent teach me all sorts of new things. And I do it on this ultra thin, ultra light “television” that I hold in my hands with tiny speakers with amazing sound quality plugged into my ears,  and the blankets pulled over my head so I don’t keep my husband awake. Did you ever imagine we would have this ability when you were a kid? If you were born after 1990, DON’T ANSWER!

It reminds me of when I got my first iPod Touch. We were thrilled that we could connect wirelessly to the internet and watch videos on YouTube, or even better, download a full length movie to entertain the kids. I am still waiting for the holographic set ups we used to see in “Vision of the Future” types of set ups at Disney land. We have 3D televisions, who knows, perhaps that is next and nobody will ever have to miss out of an amazing workshop again and we will be able to have our favorite artist or teacher right there at our shoulder in the workshop. Ahhhh, the dreams of the future.

Okay, back to what we are really here for. I have just spent the last couple of weeks reviewing Sarah Thompson’s Craftsy workshop.

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When I started making jewelry, it wasn’t by stringing beads. I started with wire. I have always loved wire. To this day, you will find quite a bit of wire work in my metalwork. I love the movement that it adds. I have done a few wire weaving things, but it never really clicked for me before I get into doing more metal work. But I have always adored the style of Sarah. (See more of her amazing work on her website: http://www.sarah-n-dippity.com/, Her Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/sarahndippity or her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-n-dippity/240358204033?ref=hl You may want to have some tissues ready to wipe the drool, her work is that amazing.

I have always wanted to do this style of work, but was intimidated by the amount of work involved, the meticulous nature of the tight weave and, well, I just never thought I could actually do it. So I was thrilled when I was approached and given the opportunity to evaluate her workshop.

In addition to well thought out projects, she uses large props while she teaches the weave fundamentals. And she does it in such a way that you remember it. That doesn’t mean to say that I never ran into a problem…. but that isn’t Sarah’s fault.

The Craftsy format is great too. You can view the video in Full Screen mode, watch at several different speeds, rewind when necessary, add notes and even ask the teacher questions as specific locations within the video. You can easily skip around the 7-part lesson for easy navigation and review.

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This is quite a detailed technique and the video is great to watch with TONS of close ups so you don’t get lost and can see exactly what Sarah is doing.

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Most of you know that I truly have ADD, I have since I was a child. I have a hard time sitting still while doing online workshops. One of the things I love about the Craftsy workshops is that I can change the speed. So most of the time, the first time I watch a workshop, I will put it on double speed. Then I can move to a slower speed if I need to see something more clearly or get a better understanding. Even though I did this with a good portion of this workshop, I found that even when I was watching at normal speed, Sarah was very engaging and easy to follow. She was very clear, well spoken and made certain every little detail was covered.

Want to see what I came up with? This is what I started with. I know, it is a bad cell phone photo…. I started with 18 gauge sterling silver for the base and wrapped with 28 gauge fine silver. I added a few 2 mm crystals for a bit of sparkle. The focal bead was made by my good Ohio friend Laura Critchfield.

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After finally getting everything attached and the clasp connected, I added a bit of LOS (Liver of Sulfur) patina, removing from the highlights with a bit of #0000 steel wool.

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I would highly recommend this workshop if you have ever wanted to try this technique. I just look at Sarah’s work and i get so inspired. I can’t wait to try more.

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Now for the exciting part. I have one free workshop to giveaway to one of my fabulous blog readers. I will make it really simple. Take a look at Sarah’s work and just leave a comment on the blog telling me your favorite piece, a link back to the page would be great too.

I will draw and announce the winner next Tuesday, May 5th.

If you don’t want to take your chance on not winning and would like to get started learning with Sarah, she has given my readers 50% off for the next two weeks (until midnight, Tuesday, May 12th.) Just use THIS LINK for 50% off her workshop.

Sarah, Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop. I learned quite a bit and I cannot wait to add more of this style into my work. And I am quite proud to say, I never broke a wire. :) You are an excellent teacher and very talented artist.

Tool Time Tuesday – Hydraulic Press Essential Setup

Hi Everyone. I know the title reads Tool Time Tuesday, and that is because that is what this was supposed to be. However, I updated my Final Cut Pro – the video editing software I use for my videos – and it wouldn’t let me import my videos. I worked on it for three days. Finally had to load it on to my old computer with an older version of the program. UGH. Otherwise this would have been done on Monday. I did get the video up last night though, and even that was a miracle considering I am not feeling well right now. My productivity has gone right out the window. Even once I get done here, I am going to go back to bed.

A while back I did a blog post about the tools I consider essential when getting a hydraulic press set up. Well, this is a companion video to that post.

As you all know, I totally love the Hydraulic press. It has completely changed my body of work. The book I am currently writing is how to use the hydraulic press to make jewelry and is nearly finished. So of course, you will see a LOT of pieces by me made with the press.

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There are a number of presses available out there, and they will all pretty much do the same thing. I happen to have purchased a press by Potter USA and that is what will be featured in my book and videos. However, the information and suggestions will work for any number of the presses.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/gvy2MG1NUnc

Tool Time Tuesday – Tool Review: Gwen Youngblood’s Riveting Essentials

Well, they still aren’t done with the roof. Darn spring weather. However, today it was very windy and snowing at this very moment. So I finally had a day to work in the studio and film really quickly. I was going to try to knock out three videos, however, I only got one completed. But hey, it is Tuesday and I have an Actual Tool Time Tuesday to post.

I had the opportunity to meet Gwen Youngblood while down in Tucson for the gem show in February. She is an absolute doll. I spoke to her at that time about doing a review of the riveting tool she had developed. I then got to spend a week with her in Texas a month later at the retreat I taught at in March. Gwen teaches at a lot of the large bead shows, so I am sure that many of you may be familiar with her already. She also has a fantastic studio located in San Antonio, Texas. You can find her and class listings on her website at www.metalartlab.com.

Gwen Youngblood Riveting Essentials

Gwen Youngblood Riveting Essentials

If you have seen my work, you will know how much I love riveting. I would like to think that I have rivets down to a science. So when I heard about this tool, I have to admit, I kind of thought,  “Well, I am sure it will be helpful for some, but perhaps just another tool for tool junkies and not necessary.” Well let me tell you, I have changed my tune. I have used it for the past three weeks in my studio, mostly on projects for my book, and I am pretty sure it will be rare for me to not use them to make my rivets from here on out. I love this tool that much! Well, just check it out for yourself.

Tool Time Tuesday – Top Ten Metalsmithing Tools

Well, I know it is Wednesday, but the roofers are still at it. Luckily, they are almost done. The weather has set them back a little bit. I have not been able to get in to film yet. And then to add to everything, I am the featured artist this month at a local studio and have had to concentrate on actually making something to put into the gallery of the studio. I have determined that I need three more of me.

So for this edition of Tool Time Tuesday, I am re-sharing a post that I did for iCreateFlix.com a while back.

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As a jewelry artist, and more especially as a teacher, I am often asked which tools I feel are necessary to be successful in metalsmithing or jewelry making. The answer to this really depends on the techniques you are using. I also thought it would be interesting to see what other metalsmiths felt were their top 10 tools. Obviously there is a lot of overlap and their answers reflected their expertise level as well.

When I was coming up with “My Top Ten” I created the list based on someone who is just beginning and does not have any tools yet but would like to get started. I will give you my Top Ten and then I will also share with you the “big hitters” from my colleagues.

  1. Pliers: Round Nose, Chain Nose, Flat nose. Okay, I know that is three, but I cannot make my jewelry without them.
  2. A really good pair of cutters. I actually have multiple pair that I use depending on the thickness of the wire I am cutting.
  3. A good pair of hand shears or my guillotine shear. You want to have a good way to cut bigger pieces of metal and sheet.
  4. Good files: Some files can get really pricey, but I believe they are worth every penny. Of course, I also have quite a few inexpensive files that i cannot live without.
  5. Flexshaft or drill press: These tools are indispensable in my studio. They will do everything from drilling a hole to buffing and polishing. If I had to pick just one, go with the flexshaft.
  6. Jewelers saw and LOTS of saw blades.
  7. Torch and basic soldering set up. Okay, again, this one is more than one tool and warrants its own list. But I cannot make the type of jewelry I do without it.
  8. Hammers: At a minimum I need my raw hide mallet, planishing hammer and riveting hammer. The rest are just icing on the cake.
  9. Bench pin/Anvil combo: Some people will have just a bench block they can hammer on. This tool combines a bench block with a bench pin. The bench pin is necessary for sawing and piercing for me.
  10. Sharpies: I gave this last one a lot of thought. I use sharpies for everything from marking cutting lines and designs, measurement lines, and even as a resist when etching.

I believe that with the items in my list I would be able to be very successful with jewelry making. So what other tools made the “Top Ten” for other metalsmiths?

  • Rolling Mill
  • Hydraulic Press
  • Polishing Machine
  • Mandrels (ring and bracelet)
  • Optivisor
  • Good set of lights
  • Calipers

And then, of course, there are those tools that go without saying:

  • My 10 fingers – Can’t do a thing with out them
  • My eyes
  • My creative brain
  • A good dose of caffeine
  • Good music

Do you use any of these tools? What are Your favorites?

Tool Time Tuesday – It’s coming…

Hi Everyone. I know that I have been rather quiet on my blog lately. I actually have some new tools that I cannot wait to review for you. However, for the past two weeks we have had roofers on the top of my house, and even though I am in the basement, it is not quiet in the least. So that has made it rather difficult to do any sort of good filming. It has given me the opportunity to concentrate on getting photos edited and chosen for my book. Want to take a peak at some of the projects that will be included?

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The projects range from very beginner to more advanced taking you step by step through the process. It is very image heavy. I am getting quite excited. I have two projects to finish up and I will move onto the layout and editing.

As it stands now, there are about 20 different projects and I have a list of others that have been moved to the second book.

My goal is still to have the book published in May. And I will keep you posted on the details as I have them.

I am excited to be hosting the giveaway with Pepetools for the Jump Ring Maker and will be announcing the winner of that this week. Good luck to all of you have entered. If you haven’t entered, be sure to do that here: http://eepurl.com/bbI3kj

Have you ever looked back at things you have done in the past and thought, “Geez, I am sure glad I got better.” Well, I do that with my jewelry for sure. I cringe when I see some of the pieces I first made and gave to my sister….. and she still wears. I am glad she loves them, and I am so glad I have made improvements. Well, this also goes for the videos I have made. I will never claim to know everything. Yes, I am quite knowledgeable in certain things, but there are always different ways to do the things I share. In addition, I am still learning. The videos I create are a way for me to share what I have learned. And as I have progressed in my knowledge, so has my video skills. People are often surprised to learn that I do everything on a video, including the recording. So sadly, sometimes my hands move out of the screen. And yes, I hear about it every time it happens. LOL. But hey, it’s free. :) HAHA. So with that, how about we have a little “Best Of” Tool Time Tuesday as the conditions here aren’t conducive to recording just now.

Remember when I got my very first hydraulic press? Well, it is a good thing I learned about spacers. You should never fully extend your ram as I did in this video.

Speaking of spacers, Let’s see what materials can be used for spacers. It sure is an arm saver when you have to pump the jack a lot.

How about a quick tip for filing flat spots on a piece of metal that is difficult to hold?

Check out one of the ways I use dividers in my studio.

I have a few new tools to review for you soon. And I even have another online workshop review. First, I am going to make something with the techniques I have learned so I can share with you my own results. There certainly is a lot going on here in my studio and household. But there are a lot of really good things on the horizon and I can’t wait to share them all with you. In the meantime, if anyone figures out how to create a couple of clones of me, I would appreciate it as I could certainly use the help.

Back from Texas

Actually I returned home on Monday evening. But it takes so long to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t even started on the laundry yet. I got to spend a week in Beautiful Kyle, Texas at the Sage Hill Inn. The weather was wet, the skies were dark and the temperature was cool. It actually reminded me of the weather when I lived in Washington. I really liked it.

Texas night sky

I had the good fortune of working along side Connie Fox, my good friend Francesca Watson and her business partner, Gail Stouffer. Connie taught the first two days of the retreat where we covered all sorts of things such as what inspires us, what is our design style, is there a message we wish to portray with our art? etc. It was filled with great exploratory  exercises. We had 7 attendees, there were supposed to be 8, but one got sick at the last moment and wasn’t able to attend. Sometimes these retreats have difficult personalities, but this one was absolutely wonderful. Everyone was so much fun, laid back and eager to learn.

Retreat Setup

The last two days of the retreat were spent working on our designs. I introduced the ladies to some of my favorite tools…. they hydraulic presses. Of course!

Hydraulic Press Center

We had four of them to work with along with a handful of silhouette and pancake dies. We played with textures and forming and it was a huge hit.  The ladies were wonderful and worked really hard. Nobody really finished a piece, but they did all walk away with a handful of components ready to be incorporated into their work, so sadly, I don’t have any finished pieces to show.

Once the retreat was over and everything put back into its place, Francesca, our friend Kimmy and I had a studio play date with a local metalsmith, John Meyer. He showed us how to create our own hand tools. I have had people tell me how simple it was to do, but for some reason I was still intimidated by it. However, I am here to tell you, I am no longer intimidated and can’t wait to make more of my own.

Tool Making

I was able to create a handful of texture punches with my own designs and a couple with a design transfer from an old file. In addition, I created a center punch and beautiful scribe.

Custom Steel Punches

The part that has always intimidated me is the tempering. I had never seen it done before and was always worried about taking the heat up a little too high. The picture above shows some beautifully tempered tools where you see the straw yellow at the tips. You can also see the one on the far right didn’t quite go as well. I had to heat this piece again to harden it and then temper once more. But I was so proud of the others. once I get them all cleaned up I will post some photos of the tips and the textures they make.

My girls were excited to see me when I returned. They did so much better on this trip than they did when I was in Tucson. But I have still come to the decision that I am going to do very little teaching, especially out of state. So if you see a workshop offered by me, you might want to snag a spot fairly quickly, because they are going to be few and far between. At least for a few more years.

I am working really hard on this book of mine. My goal is to have it finished this month. Next month I will spend the time editing and finalizing the layout and hopefully getting it published. Because it is so image heavy, it has been difficult to find a publisher. I am looking into many options and I may have to go the route of something like Kickstarter or Indigogo. But I will keep you all posted on that. I am also going to do something that I rarely do, I am going to sell a bunch of my jewelry. I know, that is something I should be doing anyway, but that just hasn’t been my focus. I have  several trays of jewelry that have stuff I made, but is no longer my style. So I am going to get it photographed and offer it up for sale. Whatever doesn’t sell will be pulled apart and scrapped. I can then use some of the money to help with publishing costs.

I am also getting my list together of online workshops that I will begin filming next month. So if you have a project or technique you would like to learn, let me know and I will add it to my list. This is different than Tool Time Tuesday. These are workshops that will be quite a bit longer and in far greater detail. I am very excited about this avenue as it will allow me to teach and still stay home with my girls.

 

And the Winner for the Craftsy Giveaway.

Congratulations to Robin S. the winner for the Craftsy Giveaway. Thank you all for taking the time to enter. This was the first time that I had use Rafflecopter for my giveaway and I will admit, it had a few bumps. I will figure out the whole giveaway thing eventually. LOL.

If you didn’t win, you can still get a great deal on the workshop. For the next week (Until March 5, 2015), you use this link: Creative Wire Wrapping Techniques and you will receive 50% off your purchase of this workshop. That makes the course only $15. Even if you just go to the Craftsy.com website it is on sale for $20. Think about what you pay for tutorials, most are upwards of $10 and that is just for a paper tutorial. This is a video, your subscription never expires, you can watch at your pace, rewind and everything. I am excited about the video platform, but you already know that.

I love doing videos. I can’t wait to get back from the retreat in Texas in another week so I can start on the videos that will be a companion to the projects in my book. I am currently in talks with several places to offer my video workshops. So there are some good things coming down the line and I hope to get them live this year. Now I just need to figure out how to photograph myself so I can get the projects for my book done.

Don’t Forget, I still have the Pepetools Jump Ring Maker Giveaway going on. We are just past our 1/2 way point. Please help me spread the word on this. Just copy and paste the link where you want to share it.  http://eepurl.com/bbI3kj

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