Friday, July 9, 2010

On horseshoe nails and bellflowers...

Ooh, yay! One little, two little, 15 little bellflowers! I think there are 16 in this picture, but one doesn't count.
I finally went to play with the bellflower presses yesterday! I am really excited about the way they turned out. I can tell you that opaque colors are more attractive to me than the transparents, which surprises me. But you can see more of the flower with the opaque. And the darker transparents are prettier than the lighter ones. Again, probably for the same reason, you can see the flower with the darker colors.
I tried my brass wire, black steel wire, stainless steel wire, and copper wire. The black steel wire is pretty forgiving. You can just mash that right into the heat and not worry about it. The brass...hehe. I think the coating that makes it "non tarnish" is a little on the flammable side (DOH!) because I could see a little line of fire running up the wire as it was heated. Kids, do NOT try this at home! I still need to clean the firescale off of them to see what wire I like the best. The black steel was easiest in that it was a larger gauge, so it didn't bend as I was putting on the glass. The stainless was the most difficult in that respect, but also the daintiest wire and probably the easiest for doing anything with the finished flowers to turn them into jewelry. I think the little pink (garnet colored) ones are my favorites. Then the little white ones (one of the Lauscha buckhorns...milky way?)
I tried horseshoe nails for the first time last night, too. That was an experience.... First, to drill the dang things took forever! I scoured the Dremel website (I LOVE that thing!) and found I had the proper bit to drill a hole in metal. So, I tried it. And kept trying. Kept trying..kept trying. . . . . . . . Well, after draining the battery on my little cordless Dremel, I successfully drilled ONE, yes, that's right, ONE nail. So I figured I'd bring out the big dad's corded Dremel! Well, that one is probably twice as fast, and heated the nail so much I had to keep quenching it to keep from setting the wood it was clamped to on fire! I did have success, but not without much smoldering, steaming, spitting, and annoyance. Definitely going to get a small drill press from Harbor Freight that will do the job much quicker. Probably safer, too, I'm just guessing. Sad, there is a perfectly good drill press in the shed that was my dad's, but SOMEONE who shall remain nameless has it covered with crap and won't take the time to show me how to use it, and considering the bit it has in it right now is bigger than my thumb, I don't really want to take my chances.
2 horseshoe nail pendants done. The first one is pretty hideous. Not balanced. Colors aren't right, dots too close together, not centered on the nail. You name it, there's not much I like about it. But it's the first one, and it survived, and that's important. The rest was a HUGE learning curve, but I think I did quite well. The second one was much better, though still not centered on the nail. So I know where I need to focus and what I need to work on for next time.
So, that's the story from the studio today. Horseshoe nails and bellflowers. Off to make more of the flowers!
Happy torching!

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