Monday 3 March 2014

Moving shop, Birthday (ick, another one?) & Working Methods...

Since I have so little in my booth space at the One-of-a-Kind Antique Mall, I was asked last week if I'd mind moving down the aisle to another location so the lady across from me could expand. I had no problem agreeing to that. In fact, it worked out to my benefit as I was able to move into a half-booth next door on the other side of the partition.

However, I should have looked around first. There is another half booth up closer to the front of the building. Man, there are some nice things coming into that Antique Mall. I have to stay away or I'll start buying... and I'm supposed to be selling.

Jewellery, collectible beads and tchotchkes are selling well out of my display case up at the front, and I'm very, very pleased about that.

I had another birthday last week. Funny, isn't it, how they keep coming -- and faster and faster. On Tuesday, Winter took me out to the Banana Leaf, a local Thai place. Good spicy food, and sufficiently large portions that I took half my dinner home for lunch the next day on my real birthday.

Winter makes boxes, trading cards and does a killer job wrapping gifts.

Meanwhile, back here in the still-frozen Great White North (minus-20-somethingdisgustingthismorning-Celsius and it snowed AGAIN), I have been working on more copper bones (see Lisa Yang's tutorials). On Saturday I mindlessly cut up wire for a few hours while sitting at the market and reduced the length of the bones to see what they would look like. The original ones were 1" and with a twist. I cut and hammered a set of bones at 7/8" without turning them, so they look like "real" bones, ditto a set at 3/4" with a twist. Yes, I'm totally bilingual when it comes to bead measurements. I'm fine using metric for bead diameters and weight, but everything else is in inches.

What I was working on yesterday while hammering was trying to keep the bench block from moving so much every time I hammered it, and to reduce the noise. First, I cleared off the table so I don't have to stop in mid-hammer to rescue something from falling off the table.

Oh, yeah -- the blue cloth is a silver-cleaning cloth. I noticed all the black gunk smeared everywhere -- that's from the Sharpie marks used for cutting the wire and it gets ground into the copper and the bench block and the hammer head itself from all the hammering -- and all over my fingers. Next time I'll clean that off the wire pieces first, rather than doing it afterwards. Sigh... But again, that's something I can do easily at the market while sitting. It helps to be doing something that intrigues people, convinces them that you really DO make the jewellery, and it's something that can be put down easily when someone does stop by.

Working at an angle seems to be the best for me. I had put my bench block on a bead mat last time, but I decided to try a folded t-towel this time. Maybe I'll try a bath towel next time. I like to work at an angle. I recently read somewhere that someone likes using their anvil better than the bench block, so I thought I'd try it. I tried hammering, but the towel and the anvil still bounced around with every blow. Working with the anvil on its side gives a larger area for the hammer to hit, but also keeps the end of the wire being hammered closer to the centre of the work surface which helped towards minimising the movement of the cloth, but it still didn't do anything about movement of the anvil on the cloth.

Note the Sharpie sticking out. I worked it out that using my index finger and thumb to hold the wire against the anvil (fingers not ON the anvil, only the wire) had my middle finger pushing the anvil into the pen and leaned the bulk of my hand on the cloth/table, it worked quite well.

Keep the anvil pressed firmly against the Sharpie. Anything would work, a stick, etc.

Showing the back view of how I've positioned my fingers when hammering -- keeping them well away from the hammer.

Showing half the wire hanging off the back of the anvil surface with the anvil pushing firmly against the pen.

Finished 7/8" bones hammered straight and awaiting holes to be punched and then the tedious business of filing all the burrs. I also made more horseshoes for a necklace, and these links came out much more evenly using the barrel of a Sharpie. This is another project easy to do (except for the hammering) while sitting at the market waiting for customers.

Let me know if you try this, and if the pictures help or hinder. Writing instructions and taking photos to illustrate each step is not as easy as it looks.

I'm sure there's some traditional bench gadget that's been in use for hundreds of years that would make this all moot, but for a quick hammering on a few items where you don't require a professional and permanent setup and/or don't plan on hammering for hours on end this works fairly well as it's portable and uses items we all have on hand.

Thanks for looking!


Nelson Beads said...

Instead of using a Sharpie to mark measurements, try a scribe. You can set the legs at the length you want, and just mark the wire, move the leg to the new mark, mark again. Fast and clean.

Barbara said...

Good idea. I have a dental pick that would work.