Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Tool Time Tuesday – Texture Your Metal with Cupcake Wrappers?!?!?! *Giveaway*

Seriously! You can use cupcake wrappers to texture your metal if you know what you are doing. There have been so many advances in technology that leads to new objects that can be used in a number of ways. One such product is the decorative cupcake wrapper. They are laser cut papers with a consistency of a mid weight card stock. And that means they are perfect for texturing metal in a rolling mill.

Cupcakes and Texture

Watch this super short video to see how I use these decorative wrappers to impart a beautiful texture on my metal.

Video link: https://youtu.be/C6310DiJVv0

Where do you find these wrappers? Well, I found mine on Amazon as well as in the craft store. They are all the rage right now, so they aren’t too difficult. But I did go through a TON of listings and picked out about 16 of them and found the ones with the best prices.

I like using water color paper and this is the one I use:

140 pound Water Color Paper:
http://amzn.to/2eaUdTj

Here are the ones I like best…. and most are on their way to me right now as I type this. 😀

Affiliate links for other cupcake designs on Amazon:
multi_blueCombo pack – 6 designs
http://amzn.to/2eaKuML

Twist Flower Lace:
http://amzn.to/2fenehW

Ghost Cupcake Wrappers:
http://amzn.to/2fBtAMz

Bats:
http://amzn.to/2eaGGLD

Spider Web:
http://amzn.to/2fepRQH

White Snowflake:
http://amzn.to/2fBzxsZ

Snow Flake 2:
http://amzn.to/2ekg6mB

Eyelet:
http://amzn.to/2fBA1PD

Vine Lace:
http://amzn.to/2ekbnB8

Art Nouveau:
http://amzn.to/2fBDL3M

Vine Lace:
http://amzn.to/2fBDygU

Fine Vine Lace:
http://amzn.to/2feyo66

Heart Filigree:
http://amzn.to/2eaLX5V

Butterfly
http://amzn.to/2eaSEEM

White Flower:
http://amzn.to/2eYuFdH

Filigree flower lace
http://amzn.to/2feyX04

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away 20 of these wrappers (4 wrappers to 5 different winners.) Be sure to watch the video, Subscribe to my channel and leave your comment on the YouTube video to be entered. I will be doing a new video on Friday to announce the winners and answer some of the questions asked. I would like to do the Friday videos regularly. So be sure to pose your questions. Thanks for all your support and good luck on winning.

Tool Time Tuesday – Intro to torches AND Use your scrap to create and roll out an ingot.

Yesterday I got you caught up to what I had been doing for the past couple of months. Of course there was a lot that I left out as the post was getting pretty long. So with all of that said however, I am going to start from here and do my best to keep up. Wish me luck.

I have two videos to share with you today. The first video was published last week. But there were some things I wanted to share with it. As you may know, I have been making videos for about 5 years now. I know most of you think that I receive all the tools I review for free. However, that can not be further from the truth. While I do occasionally receive a tool for free, I actually purchase the majority of them. Sometimes I am able to get them at a discount, but that isn’t always the case either. Why am I telling you this? Well, it is time I figure out a way to help cover the cost of the tools I review and use in the studio and share with you. I have signed up for the affiliate program through Amazon. This will allow me to share with you some of the tools I use in various projects and such and make a small (very small) commission if you should follow the link and purchase it. I will only be showing items that I would use myself and think  you may find useful. So if you find something you may like, please consider following my link to purchase. This will help me keep the blog and video posts coming. You will also see ads on my videos. I do not have any control over the content that is shown in those ads. I do get a small fee for the time the ad is displayed. I cannot tell you to click on them, but again, consider watching them or letting them play out. My next purchase goal is to get some good lighting for shooting the videos. Just this past week, I finally upgraded my camera and I am hoping it will have some good effects down the line. Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it.

Torches Torches Torches

So many torches, how do you choose which one is right for you?

So many torches, how do you choose which one is right for you?

With all of that said, Let’s get on to the videos. The first video is one that I get a lot of requests. People are wondering which torch is best to have in their home/studio/apartment, etc. So I take you though the six torches I routinely use in my home studio. First, you should always check with your insurance to make certain you will be covered in case of an accident. Second, always make certain you have some sort of ventilation system set up. I use a bench top fume extractor and it has worked great for me.

Some of the torches I use and like can be purchased through me. Others can be found on Amazon and other tool supply locations.

The Blazer Butane torch was the very first one I ever used. I am still using my original torch and it is my go to for small items such as when I am soldering bezels together and such.

This is the Acetylene/Air torch I use. I also use the #4 and #6 Tips.

The #4 tip is the one that is on my torch about 98% of the time.

I use the #6 Tip for annealing larger pieces and melting metal for casting.

Now that you know about some of the available torches, watch how I use them to melt down my scrap silver to create an ingot using an ingot and wire mold. Once I have an ingot, I forge it down and then roll it through a rolling mill to create a sheet in any thickness desired.

Long over due post – TONS of Videos

I could go on and on about how busy I have been, but that doesn’t really help anything at all. As you can see, I still haven’t figured out the balance between motherhood and work. There seems to be so much going on that every now and then something has to be dropped. Sometimes that is a video, or a blog post, or a piece of jewelry. I have tried very hard to make sure that I don’t drop the balls that involve my family, though sad to say, every now and then one of those gets dropped as well. Luckily, my girls have been very forgiving up to this point.

So what is going on? Well, all three girls are now in school. We still struggle with how to help Kate work through her learning disabilities. It sure makes things difficult when doing homework and trying to keep up with the other two. She just doesn’t seem to retain the information. And I am not sure how to help that. She is making great improvements in school, but we are still so far away, it feels. Riley has finally hit that maturity level where I finally feel like I can just let her take the reigns and do what she needs to without much oversight and prompting from me. That has been a relief. She is doing really well in school. She hates the “B” days when she has Gym and LOVES her “A” Days because she has calculus. I am not entirely sure she is my kid, LOL. Kiari is making huge improvements as well. It is so fun to watch her learn and grow. She is so sharp. I remember back to when she was born (10 1/2 weeks early and only just more than 3 pounds) and thinking what her future would be like. I am so blessed that she is sharp as a tack and picks up on things quickly. She sure has gotten fun.

Fun Family Trip to Las Vegas - M&M world

Fun Family Trip to Las Vegas – M&M world

 

I have finally been able to work a little in the studio. I try to get everything done during the day while the girls are at school so I can spend all my time with them when they are home. That gives us the opportunity to work on homework and our new family VLOG on YouTube. We even already have four videos out there. Our channel is called MUIR MANIA. It is still a work in progress, but the girls are thrilled to have a channel they can be a part of. If you would like to follow some of our crazy antics and just know about what is going on in life, please subscribe. They are thrilled with each new subscriber. And once we hit 100, we get a personalized channel name.

Link to subscribe to our Channel: http://bit.ly/2eD3itt

And be sure to check out our first four videos. We will have lots more crafts, treats and just family updates. It is a family video blog, so there will probably be a little of everything.

5 Fun Halloween Treats:

4 More Fun Halloween Treats:

Kelsi – Our story of Preeclampsia and Infant Loss:

Muir Mania – Vegas style:

Tool Time Tuesday RECAP

Well, I have been severely lacking in posting my Tool Time Tuesday Posts. So let me catch you up. Because while I am behind there too, I have at least made a few videos. Here is what you may have missed.

Fun tip: Removing a pancake die tab quickly with the hydraulic press:

Sand Casting: From Start to Finish

Using the JoolTool:




There are so many files. What is the difference?

You know I love Tube Setting:

See you all tomorrow for an actual Tool Time Tuesday Post. 🙂

Tool Time Tuesday – Get a Mirror Polish with the JoolTool

Hey everyone. Well the construction and remodeling continues. I keep saying this, but hopefully we are finally done for a while. I also will probably have a little bit of a break from the videos (as if the one I have had wasn’t long enough) because I will be teaching at my daughter’s school for two and a half weeks. I am pretty excited as this is a Jewelry Making Intensive, which means I will have 12 students for the 2 1/2 weeks for 6 hours a day. I have quite a few fun techniques planned. I have also been playing with the new sand casting kit by Kevin Potter and boy has it been fun. I am finally really comfortable with it and can’t wait to create the video for that as well as teach my sand casting classes.

In this Tool Time Tuesday video I even show you how I clean up a ring that has been created through the sand casting method. Sand casting does not leave you with a super clean and smooth piece the way lost wax casting does. There is a lot of clean up. But there are some benefits to sand casting and that is a topic for another day. But the clean up…. that is todays topic.

JoolToolPolishRings

A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of traveling to the Los Angeles area where I spent a couple of days with Anie of JoolTool by Anie. It was fun and VERY informative in terms of using the JoolTool. I was able to learn a lot about the tool and what it can do and I promise there are a LOT of videos coming soon. So this is just the first of many.

In this video I use the JoolTool for Metal Polishing. But I use one additional disc – the Flex Diamond. The flex diamond is a very coarse abrasive and will remove material quickly. As you will see in the video, it does need to be used wet to help preserve the diamonds on the disc. From there, I work through progressively finer abrasives to get a final mirror finish to the sterling silver ring.

Video link: https://youtu.be/X56WJ9Ad1C8

Tool Time Tuesday – JoolTool Review

Today is a very exciting day. Less than an hour ago my contractor left with a final check in his hand. This means that the inside remodel is DONE! WOOT! If you recall, we were flooded way back in May. I cannot tell you how nice it is to have this all done. Tomorrow the tree guys will come and remove almost all of our trees. That is going to be sad. But it is necessary for a number of reasons. I am just trying to keep in mind how nice this is all going to look when it is finally done, and hopefully my house will be dry from here on out.

I have actually been having quite a bit of fun in the studio lately. It has still not been put back together, but that hasn’t stopped me from playing with some new tools. In the past two weeks I have put together two new videos featuring the JoolTool. The first is my review, why I finally bought one and then I show how to polish some of my tools. I have NEVER been able to get a good mirror polish on my tools. And with the JoolTool, I was able to do it in under 5 minutes. And some of my hammers were a MESS.

JoolTool Polished Hammers

JoolTool Polished Hammers

After playing with it for a couple of weeks, I am ready to endorse this tool. Yes, it has a nice price tag, but it is still less expensive than a good polishing arbor, and certainly less than a cabbing machine. It is quite versatile, portable (HUGELY important to me) and very quiet. And, I also like that you don’t have to jump in completely, meaning that you can buy a “starter” kit and then build up as you go and adding only the things you need when you need them. I started with the kit for polishing metal and then added accessories to cut and polish stones, glass and enamel.

So here is my review and demonstration on how to get that mirror shine on my hammers and stone setting tools.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/dq0H_ZVShfo

Once I saw what it could do for my tools, I was eager to try other things. A friend of mine had sent some fused glass cabochons and this tool was amazing on them also. I was able to reshape, smooth and polish the glass back to its previous glorious luster.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/LJ6RP84GugE 

For my blog readers, I am offering 5% off your entire purchase. You can either contact me or use the coupon code: MelissaM1 at the JoolTool Website.

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

 

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?

Hydraulic_Press_Jewelry_Collage

 

 

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.

Tool Time Tuesday – Rotary Tumblers & Another Giveaway

Hey everyone. Yes, I know it is Friday. But, the video was posted to my YouTube channel on Tuesday, so technically it is still Tool Time Tuesday, right?  Hey, when you are a mom to three busy girls, you just have to roll with it sometimes. That, and Sales Taxes caught me off guard. I looked at the due date wrong. D’oh! So glad I looked again.  And, I owe a whole whopping $2.46 in Sales Taxes. LOL. That is good and bad, as it is an indicator of my sales for this past year. However, I believe I squeaked out a tiny bit of profit. Like maybe a hundred dollars or so. WOOT! Last year was probably my worst year emotionally and everything, so that tiny bit of a profit made me smile all night long, even now. 😀 <== See? Big Smile.

When I asked about topics for Tool Time Tuesday, a couple of people asked about Rotary Tumblers. I have a couple of them here in my studio so I thought I would give a quick comparison between the two of them.

If you are interested in getting a 3A Lortone Tumbler (the one featured in the video) and Mixed Stainless Steel Shot, let me know. I do sell those, however I do not keep them in stock. They do meet my minimum purchase amount from my supplier, so I can have it sent directly to you. Just let me know.

GIVEAWAY – Pepetools Jump Ring Maker

JumpRingMaker

That is right, Pepetools has graciously offered a Jump Ring Maker (JMR2). Same deal as the last giveaways. You are just giving us (Pepetools and I) to add you to our email lists. You can always unsubscribe if you would like. Pepetools only sends out a few a year. There will be a few more than that from me, especially as I would like to just have my blog posts go out to my email list. That way I can have everything in one tidy little place.

** Oh, and no worries. You won’t be added to the list multiple times. I know it says you are, but you really aren’t. So you shouldn’t receive two emails and such. But I do still need you to actually enter the drawing through the link provided below.

When will the giveaway be done? Well, that depends. Pepetools has asked that we have a certain number of entries before we do the giveaway. We are currently about a 1/4 of the way there. So please share and share and share. I am dying to find out who is going to get the jump ring maker.

ENTER HERE: http://eepurl.com/bbI3kj

Here are a couple of videos for you to get you excited about winning it.

Tool Time Tuesday – Textures: Hydraulic Presses vs. Rolling Mill

Okay, I know today is Wednesday, but my friend Francesca Watson is here photographing steps for the upcoming hydraulic press book, so I didn’t get it done yesterday. Lately, I have had a LOT of questions about getting textures from the hydraulic press vs those from the rolling mill. I figured it would be easier to just show you. 🙂 Of course. So here is a quick little video explaining the difference and showing you some examples.

Enjoy

Tool Time Tuesday – Jumping Jumprings

I have had more than one person come to me with this problem; When using a jump ring making system they would have the holder and guide collapse while cutting the rings or the rings would jump out the sides after they were sawn through. This would cause the last little bit of the coil to get mangled or just not even cut through. I have have this issue with a couple of my jump ring making systems. It doesn’t happen very often on my Koil Kutter from PotterUSA. But I do have it quite a bit on some of the others.

I found that if I would tape my coils together, I would have a lot less damaged rings and I would be able to cut through the entire coil. So I made a short video (I promise, it is less than 5 minutes long,) showing just how I do it. Perhaps you will find it helpful too.