Friday, 20 April 2012

The rebirth of a Victorian pickle fork.

It is dangerous in our house to leave any precious metal lying about as it is likely to be eyed up, chopped up and melted.

This is an example. Raking through the kitchen drawers I chanced upon an old pickle fork I had forgotten we had. It was very tarnished having been languishing in the back of the drawer unused and unwanted.

Well off to my workshop with it. After a quick polish to reveal the hallmarks, I checked them to make sure it was indeed silver and before I got caught I cut it into pieces. This was not un-calculated butchery, but well considered surgery.

Chopped up

Having chopped it up, I hammered out some of the pieces to get rid of the bow in them; the tines, the part to which the tines were attached and the second section from the right in the above photo. The handle end being left for the present as it was quite thick and the middle section of the handle left untouched as it was nicely reeded.

I doodled with the pieces to see if anything would come to mind.

Doodle ballerina?

Hmmm well there is potential but that is not my cup of tea. Looking again at the tines, the centre one was nice and straight and quite obviously looked like the blade of a sword so off to the workbench to see what might happen.

Pickle sword

The above picture shows the result. I hammered the tine to give it a more edged look, soldered on a small piece of square section sterling wire for the crosspiece or whatever it is called and a piece of round sterling wire for the handle. The hand-guard was a piece of scrap that was already a half circle so that got soldered to the handle and the little tassel was made from small pieces of 9ct gold 0.5mm wire. I did make a little tassel in gold and red thread but thought it was too fragile so made the metal one instead.

So now being a bit single minded, the other tines too made me think of weapons for the tiny handed. I took one of the remaining tines with the barb on fashioned it into a scimitar.

Pickle scimitar

For this one it was much the same as the sword, hammering the tine to give it a blade like appearance, putting a curve into it and soldering on a cross piece of scrap I had lying around, a small piece of thick sterling wire for the handle and then to add a little eastern promise I bezel set a small ruby and mounted it as a pommel.

The next piece to be brought to life from the death of the pickle fork was a little pendant. I had been commissioned to make a rubellite cabochon pendant the back plate for which was cut from the part of the fork near the tines. 

Rubellite cabochon pendant

The lady wanted a particular type of fancy bezel, which I had to buy in, there was and is a fair bit of the stuff left over so I thought I would use some on a nice fluorite cabochon I had. I made a shield shaped back plate for the cabochon from the other end of the dead fork just beyond the unhammered middle section, and embellished it with a little scroll bail.

Pickle shield

The next two pieces to come about happened over the last few days. I had already hammered out the handle end of the fork and it had been sitting on my workbench for some time, when I was inspired by a pair of earrings I had seen in a TV programme, seen only for about 5 seconds, they took my fancy and so I made a pair of a similar nature.

Pickle earrings

I had to hand a couple of fine silver hoops I had made a while back, so I dug them out and cut the two blade shapes from the remaining end of the pickle fork soldered them to a couple of pieces of tube and suspended them on the hoops, finishing them off with a a simple pair of ear wires I made from sterling wire.

I do not normally make rings but at the beginning of the week I did make one and as mentioned before I kind of get one track minded, so out came the middle section of the pickle fork with its nice reeding, which I have to say is quite thick and took some bashing and annealing to get into a ring shape, and another ring was made. I used a bit more of the handle end of the fork to make the back plate for the stone.

Pickle ring
So there you have it, one Victorian pickle fork reborn. The image below is all that is left of it, all other cut offs and scraps have been melted down, to be hammered out once again for further use.

Pickle fork bones :0)

All of these things were made over a period of months, as and when the opportunity arose to use the silver from the pickle fork, except the last two as I mentioned.

I hope you find this a fun and inspiring post on how you too can recycle.

All images will enlarge for better viewing if clicked.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Conditioning a scorifier and melting a small amount of scrap

This post has been prompted by a question on a jewellery forum I haunt :0)

So I thought i would put together a brief "how to" on conditioning a new scorifier and a short video of the process of melting a small amount of scrap silver. The idea of the video is to show the length of flame, intensity, angle and so on. 

Things you will need:

Scorifier (in this instance it is a 2" square ceramic)
Tongs/handle    (to hold the scorifier)
Torch   (I am using an oxy/gas unit which can be seen in an earlier post about casting into cuttlefish bone)
Borax powder
Mould  ( I use a piece of wood with a dent in it, which has been scorched with a torch to prevent the wood catching fire, other moulds can be ingot moulds, which are the ideal thing but due to their weight I have not bought as the postage to me here in France is prohibitive for something that I would use infrequently, or a cuttlefish bone mould; see earlier post , water casting or delft clay).
Soldering block or some other heat proof item to lay the scorifier on to cool once you have finished.

When first you receive a ceramic scorifier, the surface is matt, this needs to be treated or "conditioned" to allow your scrap metal too melt and pool freely in the bowl. In effect what you want to achieve is a glazed interior surface.

Well used with glossy borax coating and a new one untreated.

To do this, have to hand some powdered borax, or if like me, chip bits off a borax cone and grind them in a mortar and pestle till you have a powder. Mix a little of the borax with some water to make a paste and paint it on the inside of the scorifier, (you can just use the dry powder but it tends to expand and float off or get blown about by the flame so a little dampness keeps it in place).

Next fit the handle to your scorifier, making sure it is tight but too tight and that the pouring lip is to the side for future use. ( I know some people have had difficulty when they first get this type of handle, I did too and ended up having to ring the supplier to find out how the thing worked, ha, well I was told that they supply it with the spring part fitted to the wrong side for easier packaging, all made perfect sense after I put it on the correct side duh )

Light your torch and with a strong bushy flame heat the scorifier keeping the flame moving, till you see the borax melt, tilt the scorifier in a circular fashion to spread the molten borax round the interior of the bowl. At first it will be patchy, and you will not cover the entire surface of the bowl. The process will have to be repeated either by adding dry powder to the now hot bowl, or letting it cool and painting on some more paste. Do this until you have an even glossy coating on the inside of the bowl. Do it gradually, you do not want a thick coat, as over time and with the addition of more borax when smelting it will build up and eventually need to be melted on its own and any excess molten borax poured out and disposed of, if this is not done at some point you will be pouring molten borax and metal at the same time   and they will stick together, not a serious problem as it can easily be rectified by remelting, but it is a pain.

Now to melting your scrap: select the pieces of scrap you want to recycle, making sure it is clean and free from debris. Squash larger bits of sheet with pliers if you can so that the scrap is in a close pile. The two nuggets resulting shown below are 8 and 7 grams just to give you an idea of quantities, I have melted more in this size of scorifier but that is all I had at hand for the moment. Once melted it reduces in volume so a little more scrap can be added to the pool of already molten metal, rather than trying to cram the scorifier full at the beginning.

Two notes on above video, you will not see me adding any borax to the melt as I sprinkled a pinch on before the camera was switched on ( not enough hands :0)  ), as the borax melts along with the metal, the metal pools on top of the molten borax. Once the metal is molten, not seen in the video because of the flame, you will see on the surface of the metal a kind of film/scum. Keep the flame on the molten metal for a couple of seconds and let this film roll away from you as it is this film that is caught in the molten borax and helps to skim off impurities.

It is best to keep a separate scorifier for each metal you wish to melt, fine silver, sterling, gold.

The resulting lump can now be hammered out on an anvil to the desired shape and thickness, or if you have used one of the clamp type ingot moulds and are lucky enough to have a rolling mill, rolled out.

Fine silver on the left and sterling on the right.

All photos will enlarge for clearer viewing if clicked.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How to draw a retro rocket using draw tools

I recently made some retro style rocket earrings and was asked how I drew the template.

Well here is a quick guide how to do it. You will need to know how to use layers and the selection and fill tools, along with flip vertical and horizontal. The ones you see top left of the pictures are the ones I did earlier for my earrings.

First open a new document in your graphic programme.

Click the selection marquee tool in the ellipse mode and drag an oval selection on the new document as seen in picture 1.


Then using the fill tool, fill the oval with a colour, here I used black.

Now create a new layer, as it is easier to move the elements about if they are on separate layers, and on this new layer using the lasso tool in the polygonal mode, select a triangle over the top of the oval you have made, and fill it with colour. I have used red so you can see it. Pic.2


Again a new layer, and once again with the ellipse tool drag an oval and fill with colour, Pic.3.


 Now copy this oval and paste it into a new layer. Fill it with a different colour so you can see it, like in pic 4,


and move it so it overlaps the (in this case the red one) second oval you drew. You can now see how the fin of the rocket can be shaped. Click the layer that contains the blue oval and actually click the little image shown to the side of the layer window hit ctrl while clicking and a bounding marquee will appear round the oval, so that only it is selected, now click to activate the layer with the red oval and using your eraser tool, erase the red which is covered by the blue. If you make the blue layer invisible you will see where you have to erase as in Pic 5.


Now move this clipped oval to the side of the rocket, drag a copy to the side and flip it over and position this copy to correspond to the first one. Pics 6 & 7, merge the two layers and then while holding shift erase the tips of the fins horizontally to flatten them off, also seen in Pic. 7.


Now copy the top triangle you made earlier and paste into a new layer and flip it vertically. Pic.8


Merge all layers, and while holding down shift hit the image in the layer box to highlight the whole rocket and using a brush tool paint it in one colour Pic. 9,


deselect and finally using the ellipse tool once more drag a small oval where you want the porthole to be, and erase or use the delete in edit to create the hole. Pic. 10.



Oh and by the way here are the earrings I made using the template:

All images will enlarge if clicked for easier viewing.
Turning grid to visible can help you with alignment and can be found under the view menu.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Two soups and a salsa

A small departure from my usual posts. This is to do with food, which those who know me is something that also takes up a fair bit of my time.

In our house we do love our soup. So here are a couple of our favourites.

Another favourite dish of ours is chicken goujons with salsa and saute potatoes. I am talking here about the salsa as it is the basis for one of the soups.

For the salsa you will need the following:

Red and green peppers
small hot chili pepper                                  
hot pepper sauce
Tabasco sauce
Lime juice (fresh or bottled)
salt and pepper

I used a half a yellow pepper too as it was in the fridge.

Cut the red and green peppers, deseed and then chop into fine cubes. Peel and chop the onion also into fine cubes. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes of a similar size. Chop the garlic and the chili finely leaving the seeds in the pepper if you like fiery food or take them out if you don't, though this salsa is hot in any case. Into the chopped vegetables add a dash of Tobasco sauce and a the same of a hot pepper sauce of your choice, I normally use Encona as it one of the few I can get here in France ( the French seem not terribly keen on spicy food, in my experience). Add a good splash of lime juice and ground black pepper to taste, I never use salt as I feel the Tabasco and hot pepper sauce have sufficient, but I know a lot of folks like their salt so add salt if you wish.  Stir it all round thoroughly and there you have a delicious fresh spicy salsa to go with many dishes.

Very often in our house there is salsa left over and this is where the soup comes in. For a tasty Spicy Bean  Soup the following day put some olive oil in a large pan and put your leftover salsa in, you will notice the salsa has produced a fair amount of liquid. Add to this four or five chopped tomatoes and gently heat through to soften the vegetables. If you have stock add stock if not make up some stock with a stock cube and add sufficient liquid for the number of people having soup. Bring to the boil and let simmer. When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked add a tin of cooked beans of your choice, pinto, kidney, borlotti etc all work well, give the beans a few moments to heat through and you are ready to treat yourself with this lovely warming soup. My partner likes to put chopped coriander on top and an extra squirt of lime juice.

The second soup or Itchy Soup as it is known in our house is a hearty lentil affair, simplicity in itself and served with good bread is a satisfying meal.

You will need:
A large onion
Tomato puree
Dried basil
Black pepper

Ingredients (in this photo I have also added a chopped
tomato that needed using up)

Peel and chop the onion put it a pan with a small nob of butter or a little oil, peel and grate at least two carrots, and put them in the pan. Peel and chop or slice the garlic depending how you like it and add to the pan, add few shakes of the dried basil ( I use dried as it just gives us the flavour we have been accustomed to, you can use fresh if you have it, but do try it with the dried as it is different), add the lentils (most often I use the red ones but, the green or blonde give an equally good result, Puy lentils take that bit longer to cook, the red will cook in about twenty minutes), add a tablespoon or so of tomato puree and then add a liter of stock or water and a stock cube (vegetable or chicken work best).  Turn on the heat bring to the boil and let the whole lot simmer till the onions are cooked. You could of course saute the onions first but with this recipe there is no need, everything goes in together and once the onions are tender the red lentils will certainly be cooked. Other lentils may take a bit longer, just test now and then till you are happy with the tenderness of the lentils.

All in together

And done.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Simple earrings

I made this little collection of earrings as gifts to include in the packages of people who buy my things, not that they do that very often :0)

I was prompted to try out a few different ear wires by a post I read on one of the jewellers forums I haunt. I do not have any jigs and just cut the wire and make them as I feel, most often I make a simple shepherds crook type but I thought I would try some different ones as can be seen in the 3 to the left.

The copper ones I have made from some textured copper I acquired in a very pleasant exchange of supplies.

I was chatting in another forum and it was suggested that we exchange supplies we no longer needed or had too much of. I live very close to a beach and had picked up some sea glass, most of which was too small for my needs. Well I posted that I had this sea glass and anyone who wanted it was welcome to it. It ended up going to New York. The recipient very kindly in return sent me some copper she had textured.

I thought this was a nice way of using the copper and passing it on in the spirit in which it was given.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tapered collet tutorial

I have been asked by a few people to put together a step by step pictorial guide to making a tapered collet for a faceted stone. 

This is the way I do it and so far it has proved to work fine. 

All pictures will enlarge if clicked for clearer viewing.

Tapered collet

For the purposes of this I am using a silly sized CZ to make it easier to see.

First measure the diameter of the stone Pic1, make a note of it, then measure the distance between the girdle and the bottom point of the stone and make a note of it, you will see from the pic2 I stuck the stone in some fimo and marked a line across the bottom to help get the girdle culet distance. My measurements in these pics are not exact as trying to hold the calliper and the camera at the same time is nigh on impossible.



I am going to do the calculations on card to give you the idea, as I have no intention of setting this walloping big stone :0) when you do it use graph paper to make it easier to centre everything.

On your paper make a vertical line right down the middle. Pic3 Using this line mark the measurement of the diameter of the stone across the line so that the vertical line is the mid point Pic4 now using the measurement for the distance between the girdle and the bottom of the stone mark on the vertical line that distance then once again with the same measurement using the vertical line as the centre mark out the girdle culet distance horizontally Pic5 adding just a tad to allow for the rub over.

Pic 3

Pic 4

Now join up the ends and continue the line right down your paper till they meet,  Pic6 marked in red. This point you have just made is the place at which you will be putting the point of your compasses.

Pic 6
So now take a pair of compasses and set them between these two points Pic7.  And draw a circlePic8. Now adjust your compasses to get the distance from lower line to the pivot point Pic9 and draw a second circle. Pic9a

Pic 7

Pic 8
Pic 9

Pic 9a

Now extend the lower line to the edge of the outer circle Pic10 marked in blue.

Pic 10

 Take your compasses and set them to the distance between the two ends of the top line Pic11

Pic 11

Now is the kind of tricky part as you need to put the point of the compasses in to the point where the blue line touches the outer circle and mark off on the rim 3.14 times around the edge. I over estimate and then file off excess later as it is not the easiest of things to judge. Pic12 = 1 mark, 

Pic 12
now move the compasses to this new mark and mark again. Pic13 =2 marks, 

Pic 13

again using the new mark move your compasses around and make the third mark Pic14 = 3marks. 

Pic 14

Now adjust the compasses to 0.14 of the original dimension (use a calculator, so in my example the original is hmmm lets say 16mm so you need to find 14% of 16mm, I googled it is 2.24, so I need to adjust my compasses to 2.24mm) Pic15. 

Pic 15
Now using the last mark you made to put your point in make your final mark on the outer rim. Pic16 = the 4th and last mark.

Pic 16

 Phew nearly done. Now make a line between the point at which the blue line intersects the outer circle to the bottom point where the two red lines cross. Pic17 marked in green, 

Pic 17

and finally do the same with your very last mark on the outer edge to the same spot where the red lines cross. Pic18 marked in pink.

Pic 18

 Pic19 shows the part that will be the collet marked yellow. 

Pic 19

All that remains is to cut this out Pic20. 

Pic 20
This is your template, use rubber solution glue to stick it to your metal and using a tool to score the shape score round the template, cut out your metal form the ring, solder together, true it up on a mandrel or as I do on a little bench anvil which has a rounded pointy bit.


Pic 21



Pic 23