Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to Use a EuroPower Punch


I'm enjoying using my punch to add a variety of design elements into metal components. I introduced you to the punch in a previous post and a tutorial was requested on using it. I found the directions to be a bit difficult to follow so I thought I writing up a photo tutorial would be helpful.  


About the punch:
The  EuroPower Punch is a great tool for punching various sized holes into metal. The punch can make seven different sized holes ranging in size from 3/32" to 9/32" and can be used on metal sheet up to 16 gauge in thickness. 

First, you must decide which size punch to use. You'll need to insert the punch and its' corresponding die into the pliers. Initially I found this process to be a bit persnickety. It seemed awkward to manage and I wanted instructions with photos. Rest assured after running through the process a few times it definitely gets easier. Switching from one size punch and die to another size becomes quick and easy.


Begin with the punch lying on your bench top. Screws and depth gauge facing you.


Remove the screw (as shown in above photo) to release the pivot arm. The upper handle and the pivot arm work in tandam and individually. Sounds weird I know but it can take a little fanagling of these two pieces to get the pivot arm where you need it to be later in the process.


Screw in the die that corresponds to the punch you're using. 
Point to note:
Insert the die portion first or the punch can fall straight through and end up on your bench. 


Position the plier handle and the pivot arm so the hole for the punch is exposed. Insert the punch. You can see in the above photo how I am holding the pivot arm and the handle to allow the hole to be completely exposed.


Insert the punch into the top hole.


Fanagle the pivot arm and top handle to capture the top of the die in the slotted piece of the pivot arm. As shown above. I find it easier to have the Euro punch lying flat on my bench top, while positioning/adjusting the die to meet up with the slotted portion. 


Replace the screw that holds the pivot arm in place.


The punch and die have been successfully installed and you're ready to punch!


Insert the metal.


I find the pliers to be large to hold in my hands. The smaller size punches are easy to punch while holding the pliers in my hands but as the size of the die increases it becomes a bit more labor intensive and I need to use my bench for leverage in order to cut through the metal. As shown above.
(just an fyi...I don't usually work in my kitchen but for the purposes of taking photos and avoiding having to clean up my work bench I was.)

Removing the metal from the punch is easy. An extra lift of the upper handle and the metal will pop right off. 





Have fun creating with your punch!

Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Bay Moon Design + Marsha Neal Studios


I was attracted to that large swirling focal immediately with this design. I love the simple graphic quality of this handmade component as it speaks to me of the rustic and almost child-like exuberance with which Avery has painted this glorious fall landscape. The fact that Miss Kathy also made her own swirl component to match just makes my heart do a jig! The colors in this piece are not as vibrant as the inspiration, but have the same tonal quality and the muted shades work so well with the orange-y copper handmade components. A beautiful, eclectic design!

Featured Designer :: Bay Moon Designs

Featured Bead Artist :: Marsha Neal Studios

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Just a friendly reminder... We have a slightly new format for uploading your pictures for consideration for the Perfect Pairings each Wednesday, as well as the Monthly Challenge Recap post. We are now using Pinterest! You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes, including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge! (Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!) 
 
Deadline to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post is Thursday, October 30! Let's see what you created!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inspiration Strikes


in·spi·ra·tion noun \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\
: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create
 : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea

Consider me inspired! I love to know what inspires bead artists and jewelry designers to create their pieces. So today I thought I'd share my inspiration with you.

I was out on an afternoon walk recently. It was one of those absolutely perfect days; sun on my skin, temperature at the perfect comfort level and the glorious colors of fall surrounding me. The fall foliage set against the bluest of blue skies struck me as simply stunning.


I'm a tree fantatic. I love trees! (Is that weird? But really...don't answer that because I love trees). The colorful leaves against the blue background accented by the deep richness of the branches. I couldn't help but think B.E.A.D.S.


Lampwork beads that is. I created a set of scrumptious beads based on the photo. 


Beads emulating the tree branches full of color against the blue sky.


Along with a matching focal to capture the full beauty of the tree. This is bead is double sided, with the tree wrapping around both sides of the bead.



I just love the flow of color in these leaves. Seemlessly flowing from one color to the next. 


These maple leaves really caught my attention, with three colors flowing through the leaf quite beautifully.


I leave with you an inspiration photo for a studio. My dream studio! I walk by this building everyday, dreaming of how I would put it to use as my studio. It sits empty not far from from my home as part of an old farmstead, which happens to be for sale. Ahhhh....if only....


As always, thanks for stopping by for a visit at ABS. I hope I've left you feeling inspired today. I've shared with you how trees inspire me. I'd love to know what inspires you. What really inspires you? What makes your heart open up and sing?


I'll be listing the beads in my Etsy shop.

Ema Kilroy is a lampworker and metalsmith living and working in Central Massachusetts. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations Kristina
You have won  one rectangle-shaped 'Call Me Rosebud' pendant (retail value: $25) from Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati
Please send Erin an email with your information.
________________________________________________________________________________

beads placed into a can for raku reduction 
Since we are still having some decent weather here in Northern New York, and I had gotten out my raku equipment to make Zombie jewelry with my grandchildren when they visited over Columbus Day weekend, I thought I would share with you some pictures of how I used my small kiln to raku some beads I made this week.  
The raku process requires the placement of red hot ware into a container ( for beads, like the one above) that has some combustibles that will catch on fire and once the lid is in place, will  deprive the clay of oxygen and turn  the unglazed areas black. The glazes will often develop an iridescent sheen.
Examples of selective glazing of my pieces for the raku firing

This toggle clasp  has an unglazed area around the orange which will be blackened by the reduction firing

This daisy only has color and clear glaze on the  petals

these birds have glazed areas and unglazed areas 

this maple leaf was left unglazed but glazed all around the leaf

Here is how they looked after the firing

Raku Fired Toggle Clasp

Raku Fired Daisy

Raku Fired Birds

Raku Fired Maple Leaf Pendant


I use a small metal rack to string my beads on for the firing so that I can get them out of the kiln easily when they are red hot. 



Beads on metal rack before the firing


I heat the kiln up to about 1800 degrees F. and then open the door and take out the red hot beads and place them in a Christmas popcorn container with combustibles. 


beads heated up to 1800 degrees F


popcorn container with beads and combustibles on fire

I usually throw in some wood shavings and sawdust right before I put on the lid.  Then  I wait about 10-15 minutes and  take them out and plunge the rack with the beads in a bucket of cold water.  That step seems to bring out the sheen on the glazes. 

raku fired beads drying in the dehydrator
After the beads have been in the cold water and cooled off, I scrub them with a brush and than put them in my dehydrator to dry.

Then they are ready to be used in jewelry.  Many of these beads are in my Etsy shop .  I hope you will stop by.


Raku bead firing is a very unpredictable process.  The colors of the glaze and the depth of blackness is not easy to control and has to do with many factors. Many experienced raku artists say that gray and overcast days with high humidity make the colors come out the best.  I love the excitement of the raku  process and the surprising results.  But I also know that sometimes I will be disappointed in the outcome.

Now for my question to you:  Do you like to be surprised by the results of what you do or would prefer a predictable outcome? or are you somewhere in between?   Please tell and leave a comment below.
I will give away a pair of raku beads from these firings from a randomly chosen comment left below.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Mary




beads shortly after they were removed from the cold water
You can see the iridescence on the bead rack as well as the beads.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Art Bead Palette :: Margit Boehmer

Artisan Pendant

I came across the work of Margit Boehmer yesterday, and I just had to share it with you.

Everything about her work draws me in. From the geometric shapes and textures, to the unabashed use of bright colors. Margit is a color lover, too (which you know I love), and it shows in pretty much every polymer clay bead she creates. I'm especially a fan of her color combos, which are unusual and captivating.

Here's more:

Flower bead earring elements

Calypso beads

Spindle beads


Aren't they lovely? As always, there's far more than I can show here, so be sure to stop by Margit's Etsy shop.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perfect Pairings :: Martha's Ruby Acorn + Artybecca + Dreams and Elements + Round Rabbit



This challenge painting is just tailor made for color blocking!
What drew my attention to this piece was the delicate balance that Martha has achieved with her color play. The white stars on the right are the same size as the beads on the left, that give the piece the visual weight. The fact that the bead on the left has a star on it, brings in what I call 'The Power of Three' to the piece: three stars in a triangular shape. This piece makes your eyes roam over it, as they would an autumn landscape, soaking in the colors and marveling at how they all work together so well.

Featured Designer :: Martha's Ruby Acorn

Featured Bead Artist :: Artybecca + Dreams and Elements + Round Rabbit
 
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Just a friendly reminder... We have a slightly new format for uploading your pictures for consideration for the Perfect Pairings each Wednesday, as well as the Monthly Challenge Recap post. We are now using Pinterest! You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes, including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge! (Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday - Collector Necklace

This tutorial is for a pretty simple but endlessly versatile necklace design.


(ceramic tablet drop - Something to do Beads; ceramic spike - Scorched Earth)

The ingredients here may look quite particular but you could work with any selection of harmonious materials you have to hand.  Here is what is essentially the same design but in a couple of different variations. 


The charms/pendants in the one on the left are, mostly, a chance selection of extras that Petra of Scorched Earth sent me, which happened to fall together on my desk. The pieces in right-hand piece were leftovers from a magazine project I did for Beads and Beyond (including more Scorched Earth!).  Just start by arranging your pieces in a fan on your mat. In this piece I've mixed my art beads with some rough and rugged semi-precious beads.


You'll need to be able to string all your items at the top so in some cases you may need to add a bail. A bit of wire will usually do the job.


Then all you do is start stringing. You'll want to use small beads (I've used 4mm glass rounds) so that you can control the distances between your pendant pieces with ease - and you won't always need the same number between each of your drops.  It's really a case of judging by eye.


Once you've added the focal pieces continue beading up the sides for a short way. I've included a stray gold bead to add interest and break up the bronze coloured rounds.


I then added on a couple of little rondelles to give a bit of punctuation. 


You might want to add a clasp at the side here, as I have in the other examples. Also, you may want to switch to even smaller beads and bead around the back of the necklace. However, in this case, I've opted for chain and a hook clasp at the back.  


I've used french wire on the connection points. It's my new favourite thing to use - I've never been entirely convinced by wire guardians.  

And that's your necklace done!