Getting Ready to Roll

When I was first getting my studio put together I knew that a rolling mill was a must have for my design style. I was planning to pattern sheet and wire, reduce metal thicknesses,roll wire, and create graduated wire. And having my own rolling mill would give me the opportunity to do some fold forming and of course to create sheet from ingots that I’ve made from my scrap.But what a big commitment to make! I knew that I wanted a tool that would last a lifetime,or maybe longer. After doing a lot of research, I decided that a 120 millimeter combination with reduction gear would work perfectly in my studio. For what I needed the choices quickly narrowed down to only two, a Cavallin or a Durston rolling mill.

The Cavallin Rolling Mill is made in Italy, the Durston in England. Both of them are well-regarded and have been in business for many, many years. The Cavallin had pulled out of the US market for a few years ago but is back,stronger than ever.

I checked with several metalsmithing friends who have their own rolling mills. Two of them were kind enough to let me come into their Studios to play with both a Durston and Cavallin Mill.

I arrived with annealed metals, Copper and silver sheet, to my friend’s Studio. Her Durston is a beautiful machine. I easily rolled my 20 gauge silver down to a 24 gauge. And, she had some pattern papers that we ran the copper through with. All in all we had a lot of fun and the Durston is a terrific Mill. I was almost sold on the Durston at that exact moment, but I had already set up a time with the other friend to take a look at their Cavallin. A few days later I went to his Studio. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.

Once again, I brought annealed metals, 20 gauge copper and 20 gauge sterling silver sheets to run through his machine. Because I was trying to compare the Cavallin and the Durston, I did everything that I had done before. I rolled the sterling silver down to a 24 gauge. I found it easier to do with the Cavallin mill. It was a true pleasure to work with and seemed a natural fit in my hands. My Durston friend had given me some of the patterned paper that we had used on her mill. I used this again on the copper sheet that I brought with excellent results.

After my Durston VS Cavallin test I came to the conclusion that both the Durston and the Cavallin are versatile, excellent quality Rolling Mills. They both offer excellent customer support, especially now that the Cavallin is represented in the United States again. The Cavallin simply felt “better” to me.

So, as you can probably tell by now, I ended up purchasing a Cavallin Rolling Mill for myself. I could not be happier with how much this has improved my work. I can’t imagine not having one at hand. The rolling mill in my studio makes my life so much easier, not to mention it saves me a lot of time! Time I can use to drink coffee and work on metals.

Jewelry Pliers: What’s the Difference Anyway?

Jewelry pliers come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. Each set of pliers has been designed to accomplish a different job.
Chain Nose, Flat Nose, Round Nose, Bent nose . . . what’s the difference anyway?
Well first the basics, there are four main types of pliers, each designed for specific tasks.

Continue reading Jewelry Pliers: What’s the Difference Anyway?

Nancy Megan Corwin on her passion for chasing and repousse.

Nancy Megan Corwin

Nancy Megan Corwin, Megan to her friends, is an artist in the truest sense of the word. She has worked as a bench jeweler with her own line. She has also taught in Arts centers, colleges and universities for over 30 years. She was an adjunct instructor at Cabrillo College and Monterey Peninsula College in California since 1984. Nancy was head of the jewelry and metals program for the University of Oregon from 1989 until 1994. For the past 15 years she has traveled across the United States teaching short courses in an impressive list of schools. Including Penland school of crafts in North Carolina, Haystack Mountain school of crafts in Maine, the Glassell school in Houston Texas, the University of New Mexico at El Paso, Pratt Fine Arts Ctr., Danica design, as well as various other programs all across the United States. Megan’s handcrafted jewelry and hollowware are an outstanding blend of contemporary artistry and old world craftsmanship. Hammer in hand, she raises rich textures and sculptural forms capturing the intrinsic beauty of the various metals that she works with.
We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Megan.

Continue reading Nancy Megan Corwin on her passion for chasing and repousse.

Top 5: Facts of Gold

Black and Yellow Gold BraceletAt Seattle Findings we are often asked about the various karats of gold. Here are the answers to our top 5 most frequently asked questions about gold!

1. What is the difference between white gold and yellow gold? The metal composition determines the color of gold. Gold is such a soft metal and so valuable, that it is most often alloyed with less valuable metals. The percentage of pure gold determines what karat the gold is marked as. Tri Colored Gold RingsRed or pink shades of gold are formed when there are high copper contents alloyed with gold. White gold is created when the alloyed metals are white metals, such as: silver, nickel, zinc. To achieve a bright white finish, white gold is often plated with rhodium. Gold is a very versatile metal, since it can be alloyed to appear pink, red, yellow, green, white, and even black! No other metal is alloyed to create such a diverse palette.

Continue reading Top 5: Facts of Gold

The Magic of PMC

PMC Necklace by Susan Shahinian DesignsAre you looking for something more to add to your work and your repertoire of skills? You may want to give Precious Metal Clay (PMC) a whirl! Precious Metal Clay, most often shortened to PMC is a powdered metal that has been mixed with an organic binder to form a clay-like material.
PMC can be molded, shaped, and formed, the same way that you would handle clay. Once you have formed the clay to its final state, and all the moisture has evaporated from it (or been removed with a gentle heat gun), you can fire the piece in a kiln or with a torch. Firing the piece will burn off the organic clay binder, and leave only metal in the exact form you created!

Continue reading The Magic of PMC

Exploring New Media!

Found Object PiecesNew Media. Contemporary Media. Mixed Media. What all these and many more terms are trying to describe, is jewelry design that encompasses materials other than metal. As the markets continue to soar, everyone’s pockets seem to get smaller by the day. The state of our economy is making it harder and harder to work in precious metals, so what’s next?
Metal SheetLike so many other jewelry designers and metalsmiths, you should consider trying your hand at different media. Metal is a unique material, with a variety of properties that are unlike any other material. Yet, adornment is not limited to metal, nor does your work have to be! Instead of letting the rising market get you down, think of the high price of metal as a kick start for your creativity. Your materials are now unlimited!
Some of the “new” or mixed media that has been gaining momentum includes (but not limited to!): resins, glass, wood, found objects, paper, and various textiles. To help fuel your ideas, we have pulled some project ideas to get you started!
Resin EarringsResins & Epoxy. Both epoxy and resin can be used to fill a space. The exciting part about these 2 part polymers is that you can put almost anything in them! You can suspend small objects, paint, oils, and colored powders, almost anything! Epoxy, resin, and epoxy resins all work in the same way. Some popular kinds are DeVcon Epoxy, Cast N’Craft Resin, and Marine grade resins. The main variations in epoxy or resin are the curing and setting times and their mixing ratios. I have found that working with a 1:1 part epoxy is the easiest to measure, but you may find that you prefer different resins and epoxies for different projects.
Razor Blade Resin BanglesPictured up to the right are earrings that were made from candy molds. The resin was mixed with glitter and food dye. Here on the left are a few cuffs that have dye and objects in them. The resin was poured into a mold and the rough edges were sanded with 300 Grit sandpaper.
Seattle is a hub for glass of all sorts! Pratt Fine Arts Center is among many of the excellent educational institutions where glass blowing classes and many others are available. Lamp working and enameling are more traditional techniques that can be easily combined with metal for stunning effects! Here are a few examples:
Lamp Worked Beads
Fabric NecklacePaper & Textiles are wonderful materials to work with since they can be folded, molded, cut and more. Paper and fabric can be found in a variety of shops. Stamping and screen printing techniques can be used to replicate images cost effectively. Check out these projects: Paper Necklace
Embossed Paper Earrings
Textile Necklaces Wow!!!
Mixed Metal ManiaAll the above materials can be used in combination with metal and with each other. Mixed Metal Mania by Kim St. Jean has an excellent assortment of projects and project ideas to get you started expanding on your techniques and materials. Kim St. Jean is well known for her experimental media and excellent teaching skills. Her book is a must read!
Wishing you happy experimenting! Check back later this week for more tips and tricks from Seattle Findings!

-Amelia Upton

More than Metal: Interview with Tim McCreight (Part II)

What is your favorite metal to work in and why?
Metal SheetsWhen I can get my hands on it, high karat gold, it is just beautiful. I spend a lot of time testing metal clay. And I work a lot with ingots, hammering and rolling them down. About 10 years ago, when I started working with fine silver ingots, I just fell in love with it – it’s just – yummy! Fine silver is really quite yummy. (But I would not say so if the other metals could hear!)
What projects are you working on currently?
PMCA new PMC book by Hadi Sanderson, just finishing up the final proofing and designing of the cover. It’s very exciting, it will be sent out today. I am also working on 2 more in house books. And in the next year, I’d like to do another video. I just outlined it this weekend. Workshops, I’ll be forging at Bead & Button and I’m a chairman at the PMC Conference coming up.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years?
I am delighted where I am. I don’t have any plans or desire to change things. I’m not a big future planner. 30 years ago, I didn’t come up with a master plan that put me where I am today. Although, I probably will be cutting back on workshops, with all the travel and the bad food, and nights in hotels, it’s time to step aside for the next generation.
MetalDo you have any advice for beginners to the field?
Someone invented everything. It is efficient to pursue education, but there was no one there to teach the first graver how to engrave. Curiosity is the best tool! Sentences that begin with I wonder – Be Inventive! Trust the process! And don’t over intellectualize. Metalsmithing is logical and there are often 12 or more different processes that will be done to the metal, saw, drill, punch, hammer, solder something on, wrap. When you don’t give yourself the time to explore where a piece could go, or you have too rigidly defined the end result you set yourself up for disappointment and you miss opportunities.
SolderingDo you have any words of advice or encouragement for those of us who are not new to the field, but are continuing on?
Follow your bliss! To do your best to find the arrangement that is most satisfying – there is no one path. There is no hierarchy of craft or material. Find your relationship – – let me focus on the metal the way I like it – – for who you are and where you are. Don’t listen to anyone else, and it’s NOT all good. Don’t fall into the misleading hierarchy. The value is personal reward. Find the mix of paying your bills and creating what is satisfying to you. Don’t be clouded by assumption.
When I asked Tim to comment on his fame and the enormity of his career, he told what a few strangers have told to him at conferences and lectures: “We’ve never met, but you are my teacher.”
Tim’s work will no doubt continue to inspire and teach the metalsmiths and jewelers of tomorrow. This concludes our interview with Tim McCreight. We look forward to our next Spotlight Interview!

-Amelia Upton

An Interview with Tim McCreight (Part I)

Student EditionInspiration often appears when you least expect it. When lacking in ideas, many people turn to review their memories, trying to trigger a spark that may lead to a fuller idea or just something slightly more promising. At Seattle Findings, we began brainstorming different ideas that could jump start our new blog project into a positive, creative direction. After several meetings and multiple discussions, I asked myself what I wanted to read about.
Fundamentals of JewelryWhen I took my first metalsmithing class, my first text book was Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight. When I first flipped through the glossy pages and saw images of soldering, piercing and a multitude of finished pieces, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I was lucky enough to get that first tingling again when I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim McCreight himself. He has been working in metal since 1970 and is very well known for his books and workshops. In his own words, Tim has always been a half glass full (and that’s more than enough for me), type of guy.
 

What first drew you to metalsmithing?

While in college studying history and other esoteric topics such as philosophy, I found myself drawn to doing something more physical. My undergraduate degree was in sculpture, yet I found myself making jewelry. I have always been interested in the small scale. When I was a child, I would always choose a Matchbox car over a larger model. Maybe it’s genetic! If you were to ask someone, “What’s big? Show me with your hands.” They may hold their hands 2 feet apart or 2 inches, it’s all relative to each person. I have always liked small things.

DVD Tim McCreight Why did you begin writing books?

I have always been a reader, started writing and making my own books as a kid. It really became a logical option for me. After my undergraduate work, I was looking to further my own knowledge and found that explaining something is the way that I learn. And at that time in my life, 30 years ago, I was just starting a family and writing allowed me to work in a more kid-friendly schedule.

Boxes and LocketsAs a life -long reader, do you have a favorite book or one that has inspired you?

There are many books that I have read many times. Catcher in the Rye –I’ve read over and over. As for art books, inspired is really the right word. I first saw Africa Adorned at a friend’s house. It’s this large book, mostly pictures, and it just took my breath away. I bought myself a copy soon after, which was a big purchase for me at the time. I showed it to many students over the years and somewhere along the way it disappeared and I bought another copy, because I had to have it!

Also, David Pye’s The Nature of Workmanship and Design — it’s on the opposite spectrum from Africa Adorned, very academic, but helpful in clarifying issues within the crafts.

Cold Connection DVDWhat is your best bench tip?

Not really a tip, but I try to create an “aura of similar sensory input” at my bench. We work in a confined and intimate space; most of our tools and movements take place in a zone of 12 or 14 inches.
I have found that I enjoy my work most when I maintain my focus in that zone. I actually keep a short pencil and short ruler close at hand. I cut my hammer handles down and use a small bench block. Removing that difference as much as possible helps to make the process in synch with the objects I’m working on.
This concludes Part I, be on the look out for the posting of Part II!!
All Books&DVDs pictured above are available in store and online.
-Amelia Upton

The Three E’s ~ Easy, Elegant, Texturized Earrings

We all have to start somewhere so why not at the beginning? I made a pair of these earrings for my very first metal project. They are easy, elegant and most importantly FUN to make! Let’s go through step-by-step directions for this project together. First of all, you will need to gather together all of your tools and materials.
You will need:

1 piece 20-gauge copper sheet
permanent marker
jeweler’s saw with 2/0 blades
bench pin
Hand file #2 cut
textured hammer
forming block
dapping set
hammer and center punch
Flex-shaft with polisher and drill bit
burnisher
jewelry pliers
A pair of ear wires
Steps:

1. On your metal, draw or trace a circle. You can make it as large or as small as you like. Remember that each earring is ¼ of this circle. HANDY TIP: Make your circle close to an edge so that you don’t waste any metal.

2. Take your saw and cut out your circle. Copper is a soft metal and is simple to cut out. HANDY HINT: Go slow and be careful when cutting metal. It is easy for it to flex and you will go through a lot of saw blades. On soft metal you can also bend the edges.

3. Now you have your circle. Pick it up and hold on one edge. (be careful sometimes the edges are a little sharp)Take your file and file the edges of your circle. File away from your body using a downward motion. Always file in one direction only. This will smooth your edges and refine the shape of your circle.

4. Use your ruler and marker to draw a cross from edge to edge on your circle.

5. Pick up your saw again and cut along the lines of the cross. You are dividing the disc into 4 pie shaped pieces.

6. Now take your hammer and add whatever texture you like. HANDY HINT: The harder and more you hammer the metal, the more the shape will spread out. Keep this in mind so you keep the design that you want.

7. Take a regular hammer and center punch to start the hole at the top of the triangle piece. Make it close enough to the end so that you can get the jump rings through, but not so close that you weaken the metal causing it to break later.

8. Take your flexshaft and drill through the hole you started. HANDY HINT: Use the completed hole as a template for the other piece. That way your pieces will match.

9. Sand the drill holes and the edges of the pieces with the sandpaper.

10. Now place each one individually in the forming block and hammer it into a domed shape. How much or how little depends on what you like.

11. Take your flexshaft using the polishing wheel, polish the surface to a high shine.

12. Almost there! Pick up your burnisher and burnish the edges, smoothing and shining. HANDY HINT: Use your burnisher rather like a potato peeler, same basic motion.

13. Take your pliers and gently open the jump rings just enough to place through the holes on the top of your earrings and through the loop on your earwires. Carefully re-close the jump rings.

14. You’re done! I coated my copper earring with a clear coat of lacquer to keep them shiny. If you prefer them to patina over time you can skip this.

This very basic pattern can be modified in so many great ways. Patinas, mixed metals, piercing to name a very few. Let your imagination be your guide! All of the items used in this project are available on our website. Enjoy!
-Leah Alden Jaswal

Basic copper earrings