Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Long, Long Winters and Cooking Experiments

My Family is getting bored being couped up all winter. Experimental cooking has become the thing to do at our house. Last night we had Stir-fry Hot Dogs, with vegetables and rice. A real taste treat for sure. "Don't worry honey" my Fiance says, "I'll make it better next time." Next time !?!

Before that, my daughter made fried eggs with American cheese sandwiched between two blueberry waffles. There is just something about blueberries and American cheese that do not go together.

Oh, and then there was the sausage gravy and homemade biscuits. Coming from the South, I love good old fashioned, sausage gravy and biscuits, and was thrilled to hear that this was on the dinner menu. Was I in for a surprise. The biscuits had been sweetened with French Vanilla creamer, and the sausage used was maple flavored. I swear I heard the Confederate Army roll over in their graves that night.

I start to think of quick excuses, whenever anyone volunteers to cook dinner.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Painting a Multi-Color Mermaid Resin Bracelet

I have been working on a process for "painting" my resin jewelry castings. This is my first large scale test of applying multiple colors of powered pigment right onto the mold surface before casting. Using a small artist brush, I applied each color separately to the silicone mold. Powdered pigments are hard to control, as the powder tends to fly around and stick where ever it lands. So I painted the rougher surfaces first, carefully wiping away any stray pigment with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. Then I painted the smooth surfaces. The final step was filling the mold with clear resin mixed with gold pigment.

There was no way of knowing how the end result would look, until the next day when the bracelet could be removed from the mold. I was surprised at how well this worked. And how much fun it was to do. I took photos and listed her in my etsy store, and she sold the next morning. Thank you, Melissa.

Whoo-hoo! I get to make another one!
Mermaid Treasure Multi-Color Resin Cuff Bracelet

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Variations on a Theme - Seahorse Clapper Resin Bracelet

When creating a new mold, it makes economic sense if the mold can be used for more than one design. The molds I make are expensive to produce, because I use industrial strength silicones. But, they last a long time and can be used over and over, without deterioration. Here is an example of another bracelet made from my fan coral bracelet mold. I combined this mold with an existing mold, to create this new bracelet.

Seahorse and Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet

Side view of Seahorse and Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet

Back view of Seahorse and Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet

Model wearing Seahorse and Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet

I have had requests for a seahorse bracelet, and now I can make him in any color combination. And at a reasonable price.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Something Different - Vintage Black Lace Resin Bracelet

I was rummaging through an old box of fabrics when I came across some lace I had bought years ago. This beautiful old lace gave me an idea. I started with 2 pieces of the vintage black Venetian lace, cut to 7 inches long and joined them with a row of jet black crystal beads. Next I cut and bent sheet brass to cover the raw edges. The sheet brass was too garish, so I covered it in black grosgrain ribbon. Then, I saturated the whole thing in resin. Next I drilled 4 tiny holes through the ribbon/sheet brass edging to attach the Swarovski crystal beads, extender chains and lobster claw clasps. Finally, I attached a Swarovski Crystal Pendant to each of the 7 bottom points of the lace. I used a special resin on the lace that stays soft and flexible, but still makes the lace water-proof and gives the lace enough body to stand on it's own. The challenge was determining how much resin was needed to keep the lace pliable enough to wrap easily around the arm, yet, strong and resilient without looking like shiny plastic. I think it turned out very sexy.

Vintage Black Lace Resin Bracelet

Vintage Black Lace Resin Bracelet

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

My first spring loaded, clapper style resin bracelet

This bracelet has been on my design list for a while now. I wanted a resin bracelet that was easy on and off, comfortable to wear, and oval shaped. The biggest hurdle was finding the spring loaded jewelry hinges. The next problem was finding a heat-proof bracelet mandrel for post curing the urethane resin (see previous post) Once these design challenges were solved, I created the master and molds. The final problem was finding the right glue that would bind the metal hinge to the urethane resin. The glue needed to be heat resistant and give a strong bond, capable of withstanding the torquing stress of opening the bracelet, without failure. After multiple tests, E-6000 turned out to be the winner.

Here is the first of my new hinged resin bracelets. It's a fan coral design. I love the way the fan coral fingers interlace in the front, to give an almost invisible closure. When you pull the bracelet open, and let go, it gives a nice snapping sound. Or should that be a clapping sound?

Fan Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet
Back of Fan Coral Hinged Clapper Resin Bracelet
View showing spring loaded hinge

This is the perfect style bracelet for me. I have small wrists and large hands. I wear a size 7 bracelet, but to get a bangle over my hands, can be painful. This resin bracelet is comfortable, easy to put on, stays in place without rotating, and light weight at just 38.6 grams. Did I mention it's my favorite colors for summer?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sometimes you just have to make your own jewelry tools

I have a new bracelet design that requires an oval shaped bracelet mandrel for final heat treating. I bought a cast steel mandrel years ago (very expensive) but the steps are just not long enough for my current needs. The steps are 1 3/4" long and I need one 2 1/4" in length. I scoured the Internet for an oval bracelet mandrel, but the only ones I could find were tapered (won't work) or stepped, just like mine. Hummm.... what to do.
I was thinking, if I had access to a lathe, I could make one out of oak or steel. We have an ancient metal lathe down in the shop, but, it hasn't been used for years and I doubt it still runs. Still, I could spend a week moving the junk piled up in front of, and on top of it, cleaning the lathe and checking to see if it still runs.

Then, the perfect solution came to me. As usual, my ideas always seem to come in the early hours of the morning. I needed to find a plastic bottle, the right diameter. My oval design is 2.48" wide x 2.29"for an average diameter of 2.39". I buy plastic squeeze bottles from Wal-Mart for dispensing my assorted resins, and these turned out to be the perfect diameter. I ran a quick test for heat resistance. Yep, the plastic squeeze bottle can handle the 180 deg heat treatment temperature with no melting or distortion. I cut off the top of one of the bottles, squeezed it into the right shape with an existing metal cuff bracelet, filled the bottle with plaster of paris, and let it cure overnight.

Voila! Here it is! And, I spent maybe 2 dollars making it. My mandrel turned out a whopping 5 inches tall. That means, I can heat treat 2 bracelets at a time.
Home made bracelet mandrel