Monday, August 4, 2014

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: A Peek Into My Studio

This month's Etsy Metal blog carnival topic is...Show us your tools! Favorites, shop setup, desires...

A metalsmith's world revolves around the many tools of the trade.

The ugly but very practical table above was in the basement of our house when we bought it. It has new legs, but is otherwise untouched. The little set of drawers was also there. I could see some faint lettering that indicated it was originally used in a store to hold spools of thread. Because this table is so sturdy I use it for tools that need to be bolted down (rolling mill, metal shear), and for hammering.

This large black tool is my sheet metal shear, like a paper cutter for metal. I love it since I work with lots of squares and rectangles. It quickly and easily cuts thick sheets of metal into those rectangles, or strips for cuff bracelets.

 I re-purposed the thread drawers to hold various forming tools--hammers, dapping blocks (to form domes in metal sheet), etc.

A drawer of hammers

 More forming tools on top of the bench.

This is one of my favorite tools, a disc cutter. Not just any disc cutter, but a really easy to use disc cutter that cuts clean discs from sheet metal.

This is a relatively new tool, a rolling mill. I've mostly been using it to emboss designs/pattern/texture onto metal. There's a little pile of stuff next to it that I've been using for the embossing. If I really wanted to, I could roll out sheet metal myself with this nifty tool, but I don't plan to do that.

Mandrels for forming hoops and bracelets.

Here's my workbench, where I saw, file, form, and finish. This photo doesn't capture one of my most useful tools, the flexible shaft, a rotary tool used for many purposes. I use it mostly for drilling and finishing/polishing.

 This bench drawer has sanding and finishing wheels for the flexible shaft, and a tube cutting jig (the thing with the red handle).

On top of my bench, some of my pliers and more flexible shaft tools for finishing.

More pliers, plus sanding pads and sandpaper.

I use my jeweler's saw constantly, for cutting wire, tubing, sheet, and for piercing out designs like this one:

On another table I have my soldering area. In the foreground are fire bricks and charcoal blocks (soldering surfaces). In the back you can see part of my ventilation system and a small crockpot that holds pickle (an acid used to remove flux from soldering). I covered the wooden tabletop with ceramic tiles to protect it from the torch flame.

My air-acetylene torch for soldering.

 Yet another table holds my photography setup and the drawers hold additional supplies.

See what my fellow Etsy Metal members have to say about their tools:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Etsy Metal Blog Carnival: Musical Inclinations

This month's Etsy Metal Blog Carnival topic is "are you musically inclined?" May 22 is Buy a Musical Instrument Day (according to the "Bizarre and Unique Holidays" website). Have you ever bought or played a musical instrument? And funny or interesting stories about that? Is any of your metalwork musical in some form?

Like many young kids, my parents decided to have me start piano lessons. I started at age 7 with the Suzuki method (learning by ear). After a year of that, we moved and we started with a "regular" teacher, learning to read music. In another year, we moved yet again, and my parents enrolled us in piano at a music school. This included piano lessons, music theory classes, and performance classes. This school loved the fact that my brother and I were twins because that meant we could play duets for the performances. We weren't too enthused. Practicing duets involved a lot of pushing, shoving, and arguing on the piano bench.

Our weekly music theory classes were, I suppose, helpful, but definitely not fun. I liked playing the piano, but wasn't serious about it. Music theory just seemed like too much. I felt sorry for the nice nun who taught the classes--a roomful of kids who really didn't want to be there.

Several times a year we were required to attend Saturday morning performance classes. This was basically practice  for the annual recital. We had to memorize a piece (which was so hard for me), and perform it for our peers. We also received instruction on how to announce the piece, sit down properly and how to adjust the bench, then the proper way to bow after the performance. I remember some kids standing up there bowing over and over again until it satisfied the school's director. My brother and I kept all this up from 4th grade until the end of high school, although in high school I was able to find a way out of the detested music theory classes!

In middle school I started playing the cello. I was in my hated daily gym class (always the last one picked; not athletic) when the orchestra teacher came in to talk to the class. She was looking for students who could read music--she needed cellists for the orchestra and was willing to take beginners. Joining the orchestra meant I could get out of gym class 2-3 days per week. My hand shot up so fast that day! I liked the cello too--it has a beautiful sound, although at the beginning I did not really produce that beautiful sound. I never took private lessons in cello, but played for about five years. I only stopped in the middle of my high school years because I wanted to take more art classes.

Is my jewelry influenced by music? Not exactly or directly, but the elements of music (including composition, form, harmony, rhythm, texture) are remarkably similar to the elements of art (texture, space, shape, tone/value, line, color). I do feel that music training was helpful in developing an artistic sense and vice versa.

Read what other EtsyMetal artists have to say on this topic: