Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Midas Touch

I would love to do more work in gold, but it's too hard on the budget. So I learned how to do Keum Boo (or Kum Boo), a Japanese technique of diffusing bits of thin gold foil onto silver. Fine silver (no alloys) works perfectly. If you use sterling silver (which has copper and other alloys), you must use a process called depletion gilding to bring the fine silver to the surface and then apply the gold. Even though I've done a couple of Keum Boo projects already, I just purchased a book by Celie Fago called Keum-boo on Silver to fine tune my skills. 

Here is a toggle clasp that I made using this technique. I textured a sheet of silver using my rolling mill, then made the toggle with my disk cutter and applied the gold circles. I'm excited about the results!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Heavy Metal

I'm taking a metal smithing class each Wednesday morning this month with Elaine Weisman. Not only does she know practically everything about working with gold and silver (she has an MFA - Master of Fine Arts) but she has the patience of a saint. 

The classes are freewheeling. You decide what you what to learn and Elaine spends time with each of the five students on a specific task. At the first class on July 1, I learned how to work with sheet wax to make an object ready for casting in precious metal. Specifically, I made a cone model for use when I make my multi strand necklaces. The wax comes in different gauges (thicknesses) and you can bend it with your fingers and/or heat the "dentist" tools that you use to work with the wax in the flame of an alcohol lamp. With the heated tools, you can join pieces of wax, dribble liquid wax, make marks in it, etc. 

Sheet wax lends itself to very organic forms - the kind I love so much.

Here's are pics of the wax cones I made, one embellished with leaves and one with stars.  You'll have to make a very large leap of faith to see it in gold or silver :) (I also show the wax tools and a brass store bought cone on one of my necklaces so you can how they are used.)