Sunday, September 21, 2008

Studio Life - Key to the Studio

Studio Day

Remember the little fused glass key image, embedded inside the glass - I finally finished it yesterday and added lots of other keys to it, including a long key as part of the chain.

I wanted to make the completed necklace for this toggle, using some of my darkened patina key charms. I originally wanted to use a key charm as the toggle, but all of them were too wide to fit through the toggle hole. Rather than (gulp) make the hole a lot bigger with the drill, I put the key on as part of the chain. I like the results even better, and the twisted copper toggle fits through the hole just fine.

There are more photos of it on the Etsy listing - go there if you want to see the hanging view and get a better look at the key on the chain. I forged the jump links out of copper and used a vintage style s-chain I'd been holding for someting special, to finish it off.

I'll put the timepiece toggle on the expeditionD site, if someone wants to finish that necklace! It's very cool looking, I would love to see what someone else does with that closure toggle with the pocketwatch enameled image in the glass.

I spent most of yesterday down in Studio B, soldering and forming some glass charms. I thought I'd put some photos of that area if you pardon the mess, I'm not a perfect organizer but I have everything I need out to use when I have a few spare minutes. I lost a whole day last weekend because of the power outage, so I needed to get caught up.

The ceiling is pretty low in the basement in Studio B, but I'm not very tall so it's not a problem for me. If I ever have a lot of time and nothing going on (not likely! but possible I guess) I would paint this area a brighter white to bounce the light around better. Maybe sometime.

Here's a photo of the grinder. It has the beveling top on it, so I can shape the fused glass with good 90 or 45 degree angles. It has a water drip supply on the top, and the wheel flings water everywhere in spite of all the sponges, so I always wear a heavy vinyl apron and safety glasses when I use it. This is the grinder that gives me my frequent grinder manicures, when my fingertips get too close to the grinder. Lopsided fingernails, part of the process for me.

I also use this grinder to drill holes in the glass, that's why the swingarm light with a bright lamp in it is right over this table. The whole table is covered with clear plastic and the backsplash is to catch the spray. In case you hadn't figured it out, grinding is wet, noisy and messy! But lots of fun, as the glass goes to the shape you need.

Here's an overview of the soldering station. It's a very long and wide workbench, there are my two soldering irons. I don't let my good jewelry pliers and tools get anywhere near the soldering station because the flux will ruin them. I have some inexpensive pliers and hemostats I use with the soldering. You can see those with the yellow handles.

It's very messy, but I like to keep things out and handy so I can quickly get to work when I have some time available. Thankfully, I have the space to do that, if I had to put everything away each time it would probably discourage creativity sessions. All the equipment is on a power strip that has the radio plugged into it. That way I know when I turn off the power strip and the radio is off, all the equipment is also turned off. It's an extra easy safety feature, so I don't accidently leave the soldering iron turned on without me in the room.

The new soldering iron is the one with the blue handle, it's on a short soldering stand because it's too bulky to fit in the wire soldering stand. My older, chisel tip soldering iron is the one with the orange handle that's in the wire soldering stand. I work on top of ceiling tiles, they are heat resistent and easily replaced when they get messy and dirty - which they really do!

Here's another view of the soldering station, showing the all-important ventilation fan in the window. When I'm fusing, soldering or firing the kiln, I turn on this fan to pull any fumes out that window. There are fumes created by the flux, the solder, and also the patina. And fusing silver or firing the kiln can also create fumes, depending on what you are using. So for safety and good health practices, I always use this fan to pull any fumes out of the workspace.

This is the plastic container full of bottles of solutions I need at the soldering station. There's flux, both liquid and paste; there's silver solder, and flux cleaner to neutralize the acidity of the flux. There's copper and silver patina. Also baking soda, alcohol and polishing solutions for metal. Some for copper, brass and silver.

At the other end of the room, on a smaller table next to the kiln, is the fusing station with the firebrick and torch. I have a metal sheet underneath the firebrick to protect the table from drops of molten wire, it does happen!

See at the very right of the photo, there's the wooden dapping block. I've been working on some copper sheet to create a rounded shape, still experimenting with my locket ideas. The torch and its lighter sit on a ceramic tile. I always put them right back in that spot when I turn it off, to make sure I don't accidently touch the tip while it's still really hot and burn myself.

Yesterday I did a lot of soldering, I had a backlog built up. I needed to finish some orders and create some things that had been waiting, partly finished, since last weekend. I'll put some pictures of the charms I made and other pieces from yesterday's session later.

Thought you might like a view of where I spent the time, and today I will be fusing some silver chain at the fusing table. Safety is very important, if you want to know more about how I make sure I'm safe in the studio check out the safety posts. Always wear safety glasses, to protect your eyes!!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I hope that the marvelous little key toggle gets used in a gorgeous antique setting, or a trippy Steampunk design!

Your studio... is it very big? It seems like there need to be several designated working areas! I like that you make sure you had the fan in the window - proper ventilation is crucial when you're using chemicals. (I've never used them in jewelry, but between rigorously deep-cleaning my bathroom and covering my hair in ammonia.. I can see the necessity.)

Thanks for giving us a basement studio tour!