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My Stuff Ups With Silversmithing

I have been finding some learning curves with my new hobby silversmithing. I started to make a silver ring with a bezel setting so I could include a glass cab. I made the ring that went fine and I made the bezel and that was fine too. Then I had to solder the bezel to the ring that is when it all went wrong. Well doubt set in didn’t it Ha Ha!! Good old doubt, I was soldering the ring to the bezel and I believed it had soldered but then the doubt set in and I had to keep heating the join and then it happened.

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First Attempt at a Fused Glass Clock

Clock Face

This was my first attempt at a fused glass clock face, but it was a bit of a disaster from the beginning. However, there are a few lessons to be learnt here.

First one is to take better photos. The one and only photo I have is by my iPhone and it isn’t great, but you should get the idea. Taking photos is a fantastic way of documenting your efforts, successes and failures. Combine this with details of the design, materials used, firing schedule and results and you have a great log for future reference. I just have to follow my own advice:)

The concept was a black and white clock face with a city skyline in silhouette. The black and white I felt would give a nice clean and simple feel that could fit into any décor.

All glass is BullsEye COE 90. The base is a circle of 3mm black, on this is a smaller circle of 3mm white. Sadly, when cutting the large black circle a small piece broke off, as can be seen in the photo. At the time of firing I put this piece back in place.

Around the edge on the black glass I used white stringers to mark the hours. On the white glass I used black stringers to frame the outline of the city buildings, then filled in the area below with black glass frit (ground glass).

This was then fired to a full fuse in the kiln. I won’t provide the firing schedule as it wasn’t that successful.

So what was the result?

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First Glass Fusing for a Puddle

Fused Glass Cabochons

This was a milestone – my very first glass fuse firing.

What’s a glass puddle? Well, I didn’t have the faintest when I first heard the term. It is basically a technique for creating jewellery cabochons.

The idea is to layer up a number of pieces of art glass in complimenting colours, then full fuse that together into a puddle. The glass completely fuses down and melts together into what is literally a puddle of glass.

You then break that up, and that is a challenge, into small pieces, set them on edge and again fire to a full fuse. Other than deciding what colour glass to use and how to layer it up, there is not a lot of control over the final result. I suppose it was this that attracted me to the idea; the mystery of the final result.

So how did it all go?

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How I Got Started With Silversmithing

One day I noticed in the local newspaper that the Cobb & Co. Museum was running short courses and one of the courses was a silversmithing course. I have always wanted to do silver soldering. When I saw this ad I thought that this would be a great opportunity to learn how to solder. The funny thing is I wasn’t sure how I would be able to afford to pay the fee, but my husband noticed the ad as well and he said he wanted me to do it. So we looked at our finances and worked it out.

Before this course I took up making jewellery with beads and stringing. This was fun and enjoyable, but I never felt very confident with the silver or gold plated findings. I would put a necklace together but as I couldn’t solder it really made me feel that my work wasn’t  strong and could possibly come apart. I really wanted to learn to solder so I could make jewellery with sterling silver and make my jewellery strong and secure. Learning how to do silversmithing also gave me the potential to make more of my own designs.

The Cobb & Co. course was so good. I started doing the one day course first to see how I went. The only thing I worried about was my eye sight as I am blind in my right eye. So I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see properly to do the soldering. The instructor was a very patient young man called Dan Cox, so it all went well.

My First Ring
My First Ring

Here are a couple of pictures of my first item I made which was a silver ring with a vine that went around the ring with a leaf on top.

My First Ring
My First Ring

When I got home I was so excited. I showed Jeff the ring and told him of my day. He was very impressed so we discussed how I could do a further course. I looked at the Cobb & Co website and found there was another 2 day course coming up in the following month so I booked myself in. The course didn’t go as well as I thought it would.  I think I was having a few senior moments Ha Ha! I didn’t let that affect me; I’m still determined to do it. Anyway, I have purchased the equipment that I need to do it at home and once I have set myself up I will be doing it and developing my skills.

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Our Studio

Our Studio

This is the first post of what I expect to be many about the evolution of our studio. We are learning so we do expect to be making changes to the studio as we discover what does and does not work for us.

Having said that, we love our studio. It is our new playground and where we spend quite a lot of time here.

You can see we have a dedicated area for cutting and working with glass, another where Ann works with her creations and the kiln is in a separate area, well away from combustible items.

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Our Budget Workbench

Our Budget Workbench

This was actually a bigger problem than I expected.

We needed a good sized workbench that was very solid and sturdy, and at the right height. The sizes was important because we needed enough room to have the cutting station but also area for project setup, kiln shelf preparation, general design work and what ever else came up. Room in the studio wasn’t a real big issue, but we had to consider future improvements and decided not take up too much space.

It needed to be sturdy and stable. In other words, something that felt good and solid so cutting and working on it was done with confidence, and with stability so it didn’t move at all. The height was a huge issue. Prior experience with standing and working at a normal table height for extended periods taught me the importance of working height. That aching back is something I didn’t want to be repeating.

We really couldn’t find any ready-made workbench with the width we needed, and couldn’t afford to have one custom made. So, what do we do? Well, the solution sort of just presented itself.

Ann was scanning through an online classifieds site and found a large very solid and sturdy kitchen table for just $40. If it was as good as it looked it could be a great solution, as long as I could somehow make the height right. On inspection it turned out to be a excellent solid table with a thick top and very substantial solid legs. But the height was still an issue.

So I thought about it a little and a plan was hatched. We purchased the table and headed home.

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Building our Studio

Building Our Studio

Not sure if anybody is really interested, but thought I would post a little about building our studio. By the way, please excuse the photos. They were taken with an old iPhone.

The studio is for working with glass, as in glass fusing, glass slumping and glass draping. It is also a work area for Ann working with silver, copper and other metals. She has another area in the house for more assembly work to do with jewellery and other crafts.

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