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Salt Water Etching

My friend Trice, who sews and will monogram anything that isn’t nailed down (and does a great job), sent me this picture and asked if I could make her one.  I could tell it is a copper pendant, most likely etched.  In theory I can do copper etching, and I have the bookmarked web pages to prove it, but in reality I had never tried it.  Most of my customers want this type of look in silver, so I normally use PMC with a custom texture sheet.  (Note to self: write a tutorial for that.)

I wanted to try salt water etching because I aim to be The Lazy Etcher, so I’d prefer to just pour the solution in the sink when I’m finished and “chase it down with plenty of water,” as my organic chem professor used to say.  I dragged my husband, whom I met in that o-chem lab, to Radio Shack to obtain a single D cell battery holder and a couple of alligator clips.  I noted that The Shack also carries ferric chloride in case this method didn’t work.  (Ferric chloride just needs baking soda to neutralize it anyway, not that bad.)  I also noted the irony that it’s usually the husband dragging the wife to Radio Shack.  Thank you for not being an electronics geek, sweetie.

Which of these does not belong? 

Well, they all do in this case.  After sanding a piece of 24ga copper with steel wool I cleaned it with acetone (okay, nail polish remover), then alcohol.  I freehanded the monogram with a Sharpie, which didn’t look awesome but this was just a test run anyway.  I put a spot of nail polish in the margin to note the difference in masking quality.  I wrapped the back and edges of the copper in duct tape to keep them from being eaten away, then I cut another piece of copper to be the cathode.  A spoonful of salt, a glass of warm water, and some wirework skills to attach the clips to the leads on the battery.  Clippy clippy, dunk dunk, battery in, and I was in business.  Bubbles started forming on the cathode, which was a good sign.  After about 10 minutes brown sludge appeared around the anode side (another good sign).  After 20 minutes I still wasn’t seeing much etching going on, so I added more salt.

I let it go for over an hour (instructions found on the web suggested etching for 5-60 minutes), then used acetone to clean off the resist.  My design was still shiny while the negative space was matte, which indicated that my resist was working, but there was no cut (nothing was really etched away).  Stay tuned for Round 2.
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Eye Candy

I fell behind adding items to my archive pages as they sold, but today I went through my pictures and updated the archives.  A lot of my work is making custom pieces, so I maintain these archive pages so people like you can see the scope of what I make even if my current inventory doesn’t reflect it.  Feel free to send me the link to an archived piece if you’re interested in having me make something like it just for you.

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British dog tags

I get requests for custom orders all the time, but every once in a while I get an assignment that is really neat and I like to share it with you.  This time it was from a fellow named Hereward (Hez) “across the pond.”  He wanted a christening present for his great nephew whose Dad is in the Royal Marines, so he asked me to recreate a set of British military issue ID tags (the round kind with a smaller chain for the second tag), but in sterling silver with the father’s service number and name and the baby’s birthdate and name.  Hez sent me all the measurements right down to the diameter of the ball chain and the size of the hole in the tag through which the chain goes.  I sent him a picture before I set off for the post office and he was very pleased, couldn’t wait to give the guys their gifts.  Isaac is a month older than Olivia, so I bet he’ll be excited for a new shiny object.

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Wedding Invitation Pendant

When I get a really cool custom order, I like to share the story.  I was asked by a wedding guest to take the scrollwork from the invitation and make it into a pendant with the bride and groom’s monogram and a bead drop to match the wedding color.
Some of the scrollwork ran off the page, so I had to do a little Photoshopping before I had an image I liked.  Originally the customer wanted me to stamp block letters into the pendant for the monogram, but because I’m working in Photoshop I can use whatever font I want.  Customer liked the chiseled monogram.
From that image I created a custom texture sheet to use with silver clay (PMC) to create the pendant.  How?  Special polymer, transparency film, UV light, and a toothbrush.  Got that?  Sounds like MacGyver?  Perhaps a tutorial is in order. 
I love coming up with the logistics to create a piece, but I have to give credit to my customer for coming up with such a beautiful and meaningful idea. 
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Love logo

I’m still here, working hard in my workshop to finalize Christmas orders without the help of elves and with the baby’s due date looming on the horizon. But sometimes I get such creative requests for custom orders that I just have to tell you about them. A gentleman in Oslo found me on the internet and inquired about having custom jewelry made from a heart design he has created using his girlfriend’s initials (VB). After reviewing the options he commissioned me to make two different pendants out of his love logo.I made the first pendant from PMC using a custom texture sheet. Having a tile shape for a background and a rustic finish, it is kind of a casual look so we decided to put it on a chocolate brown leather cord.
For the next pendant I cut three pieces of sterling silver wire, beveled and filed the ends, and soldered them together. Then I hung it slider-style on a box chain for a more delicate look. These pieces are on their way to Norway and hopefully VB doesn’t read my blog before Christmas. I think my client should pitch the logo to the Beckhams now.

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It seems like all I’ve been doing in my studio lately is making custom pieces. I don’t mind it, but it does take away from the time I have to come up with new designs. But, my clients often come up with cool ideas. Here are the newest creations, a pair of pendants that bear a famous quote from Ghandi. The one on the right is for my client’s sister who is being deployed to Iraq at the end of the month.

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Pushing Bezels

I’ve had this special order hanging over my head for some time. The assignment was to set that slippery little guy (hematite pebble, lower right) into a pendant and I knew it would be a challenge. I like to have at least half a day dedicated to soldering, which is tough to find these days. I just got a couple lampwork cabochons and wanted to get them into a setting, so I thought I’d do all three in hopes of some kind of assembly-line benefit.

Yesterday I soldered. Today I soldered, pushed (wrestled, actually) the bezels, filed, sanded, oxidized, polished…. Bezel-setting is NOT my favorite thing to do, considering it makes my TMJ problem worse from all the jaw clenching, but I do like the outcome.

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Puzzle pendants

A guy in England asked me to make these puzzle piece pendants for him and his girlfriend. I thought it was a sweet gesture.

I’m still at Sparkles this week and having a good time seeing people and playing with beads. People keep asking me if I’m thinking of opening a store, and I have to keep myself from laughing out loud. I think I would go crazy if I had to wait on the general public every day, plus AnneMade is already a full-time job and am getting very little done while tending a shop. Maybe I need some minions.

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I have a customer who comes up with wonderful designs for me to make for her. It doesn’t sound like much when I picture them in my head, but once I’m finished they look so rich and I want to keep them.

This necklace is 37″ long (with a clasp for doubling) and laden with smoky & clear quartz and sterling silver. I can see it getting a lot of mileage with the versatility alone.