Friday, August 26, 2011

How I drill a teeny hole in an uneven surface

I had made a dove necklace with a lovely Bahama blue swarovski crystal heart and decided to make a pair of matching earrings.  The problem was, the earring doves were itty bitty and my 1/16 drill bit was too big.  I have some tiny drills ( from harbor freight) and my drill press drilled the tail holes easily using a drill that said 66 or 99 on it.  Not sure if that is the number size of the drill bit or not. Anyway, the hole thru the neck was another matter.  i needed something that would hold my bird, wing side down, straight and firm.  My solution was a hockey puck.  yes, a HOCKEY PUCK!  My nephew gave me 5 used ones from his team (new they are about a dollar or two a piece).
So here;s what i did and how you can do it too:
You will  need a carving tool (i used a utility knife), a center punch, and a rotary tool (love my dremel stylus), a hockey pick and a small drill bit.
tiny drill bits, utility knife, rotary tool, hockey puck
Take  the knife and cut out a small section from the hockey puck. make it deep and wide enough for whatever you need to hold.  Do it in several passes, checking your progress with the object each time, until the part is held level and supported.  I used a drill to help me with it too.  Then decide where you want your hole to be, and center punch a starting divot - this is IMPORTANT!  Otherwise, your drill bit will wander all over the place and scratch up your object....and it won't drill where you want it.  OK.
Carve the hole...use a larger drill bit to help if necessary
Drill!  Keep your rotary tool/drill bit straight and be sure your object is level
 I used my baby finger to give me solid and steady support while I drilled. The drill bit was so tiny that once it went all the way thru it was stuck in the bird.  This is ok.  Carefully I unwound the bird off of the drill bit.  If you try to pull the object off of the drill bit, you will break the is very fragile.  Also, don't push hard on the drill bit when drilling.....let the drill do the work.

Bird stuck on drill bit...temporatily, LOL!
And VOILA!  Tiny holes made, Earrings finished!

Tiny dove earrings
large dove pendant with 28mm crystal heart

Fold Forming Cuffs Finished

I finished the fold forming cuffs I featured on the pickle post I blogged about recently.  Here's the 1st one.   The stamping is attached with brass nuts and bolts.
This is a fairly large cuff- It would fit on a large wrist or on a forearm.  The focal is a vintage brass stamping of the Greek Muse of Music and Dance...lyric poetry.....
The 2nd cuff is plain- the patina is is a torch patina, but like a chemical patina it may change over time.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Steelgrass Farm Chocolate Tour with Friends

Pam and I with "dragon fruit"
Today two good friends from the mainland ( Pam and Faith!) were visiting on Kauai and we went to the Steelgrass Farm for a chocolate tour.  Steelgrass is owned by Tony Lydgate and his family and they host a 3 hour tour of organic fruit/veggy tasting (well one veggie-a watermelon radish). It is a sustainable 8 acre farm  and the tour ends with  a look at their cacao orchard and a dark chocolate tasting of 11 dark chocolates from around the world.  You get to taste each chocolate without knowing which one is which, and rate its attributes, just like a wine tasting - all the while you are shown chocolate making small machinery and you learn chocolate's history and how it is made.  We were also given dried seeds( with "nibs" inside) and milk chocolate covered nibs, to try. The tour itself  takes you from tree to tree and plant to plant and our guide was very funny with great stories and anecdotes. We saw many varieties of palm, viewed their bee hives, sampled their award winning palm blossom honey on bamboo skewers, had sugar cane we rubbed in Tahitian limes wedges, watermelon radishes, longans (dragon eyes, which is what the fruit looks like when it is peeled), sapote (yuck!), star fruit, lilikoi (passion fruit), native oranges and we all sucked nectar from ginger blossoms. We also saw many varieties of bamboo and papyrus, vanilla bean orchids (with vanilla bean pods!), bread fruit,  and of course the cacao trees and their gorgeous chocolate pods!  It was very interesting and and mostly delicious!  They also had a few artists in residence on the property that are constructing bamboo sculptures.  The weather was gorgeous and it was a most enjoyable morning.
Afterwards we went to Mermaids for lunch (Ahi wraps and hibiscus lemonade tea!) and then we walked around Kapaa town, visiting the galleries and shops. We capped the afternoon with drinks at the upstairs Olympic cafe and bar, overlooking Kapaa town.
I had a great day with terrific friends.

my sad and sole cacao pod ( but now i know how to plant the seeds!)
my cacao tree is rangy and not very tree-like

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Safe and Easy Pickle

 I decided to try foldforming  copper.  I had never done this before, but i watched a few you tube videos and it looked easy enough to try.   I cut my copper, made a t-fold in it , pounded the fold in the vise, annealed it, opened it, pounded the folds flat and repeated the sequence.  I also turned all my raw edges under and pounded them so that the edges would be smooth.  After the last anneal, I shaped it into a bracelet shape with a bracelet mandrel and delrin hammer.  Now I needed to clean it up (remove the firescale created by the heat from the torch) before work hardening it and giving it a final patina.
Normally I would use Sparex - which is a somewhat toxic.  I had read that pickle was called pickle because it was often just pickle juice. For this experiment,  last week I had saved the giant plastic container full of pickle juice that formerly housed some pickles from Costco we had devoured   I took the whole jar and heated it in the microwave for a minute - Sparex (and most pickles) always work better heated.
Costco giant pickle jar full of pickle juice
So here's the bracelet before.....
...and the same piece 1/2 an hour later.
  Woohoo - no more firescale!  Then I scrubbed the copper with dishwasher soap and a green scrubby.  It came out sparkly clean!
this shows the scrubby and the dishwashing's a wider bracelet I also made- but it'has all of its firescale gone too!

Safe and Easy - pretty cool, huh!?!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Leather Love

I really have been working on new projects.  I just don't post.....
this is a new pewter piece.  it;s a teeny tiny gargoyle firgurine i made from a plastic gary levi original  I made a mold and then cast it in pewter.

Another project is a wedding gift- so until i send it to the recipient I can't post any pics.  Suffice to say that I made it much more complicated than I needed it is taking forever.....and I have my doubts I will be making a second one for another upcoming  wedding.....
...and then there is the LEATHER.
I really really love working with leather.
I started on one purse........I gave it black piping and black appliques against a solid turquoise base. I used solid brass rivets and vintage cast iron rings.....all that is left to do is sew up the sides...the SIX LAYERS OF LEATHER sides.  My machines (even my vintage singer hand cranked 66) won't go through of it all goes to the WIP pile (work in progress - you know, that plastic bag stuffed under the bench and forgotten about) .  I'm thinking of taking it with me to the mainland  and attempting to sew it on my sister's machines....she has professional super fancy heavy duty ones....
this purse does not have its side seams sewn together yet....this is the front
...this is the back.......again not sewn or blocked....

...and so I set out to make ANOTHER purse.  This one is red and black.  It has cool red and black lizard print lining.  It does not have more than 4 layers, anywhere.
oh why oh why can't I do something on a small scale and uncomplicated?  and why do I make up patterns and not test them first?  and what made me thing this would work in leather?
aaack!  wonky wonky wonky
front..- unblocked It's actually pretty round and even)
the back, still unblocked 
well i did get the machine to sew through it.  and the bird appliques turned out ok....and I finally found vintage buttons that made cool eyes....  but the final finishing around the main zipper is just not working out.  leather tubes do not turn right side out very easily.....and you can't just grab onto the leather like you do fabric because it will mar the leather.
inside offending tube edge
inside magnetic pocket
  so instead of sewing the the tubes at the top together I'm going to make facings and turn those and sew them down.....if that looks too sloppy...and i think it will, then i will rip out the top zipper (going around the top curve makes the zipper look wavy, and I don't like it) and make a new leather facing for the top edge ... then I will just add a magnetic snap to keep it shut or add an insert with the zipper.......
or it will go into the WIP pile for some other year.
 i lose my patience and interest quickly... i want to try some copper etching, fold forming and enameling next.......

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life in the Tropics...

I am pretty ok with most critters....Lord knows we have our share here on Kauai.....centipedes, cane spiders, geckos, chickens, rats, mice....but only one creature totally unnerves me.  I usually see it scampering from under wet palm fronds or on the tool shed door when i open it to the light....very rarely in the house.... but .....
i grabbed a halter top from  our open closet and slipped it on as I walked into the kitchen it could have already been on the shirt, or dropped from the ceiling (baby geckos do this all the time) or flown in from the dog door (Sookie likes to find things outside and bring them in to torture play with)...who knows?.......but i felt the tie from the halter tickle my neck, so i brushed my hand against it...and then i felt something on my arm, so i shook it..
.....and off  IT flew..
A huge hawaiian COCKROACH. gross.gross.gross!   I SCREAMED. I stood on one foot - paralyzed in ridiculous position.
Lance came rushing in and laughed and laughed...
then he squished it into oblivion.
I was so grateful.
I am such a sissy.
WARNING!  This You Tube video is disgusting.  It gives me the creeps....just saying....