Bead & Button 2010: Class 4 – Sherri Haab

Today’s class was “Going Green for Easy Etching in the Home Studio” with Sherri Haab.  Here is one of the sample pieces I made in the class:  (the left side used a toner transfer resist and I used a paint pen on the right side)

It was a cool class.  Sherri and her electrical engineer husband have developed a reliable, easy and environmentally friendly way of  electro-etching.  The process uses safer solutions than the traditional acid etching technique, the solutions can be reused and you can etch silver as well as copper, brass and bronze.  Silver just requires a different solution, but it’s one that is way less toxic than nitric acid.

The process was very straightforward.  We left the copper pieces in for about 2 hours.  Some people did silver samples as well and those went faster.  You can use a surprising variety of resists, PnP paper, toner transfer, dye resist and paint pens for example.  The system is pricey, but the results are excellent and the absence of dealing with hazardous waste disposal is a huge plus.

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Bead & Button 2010: Class 3 – Robert Dancik

Oh, what fun I had today.  Today’s workshop was “Concrete: It’s Not Just for Sidewalks Anymore” with Robert Dancik.  Here’s what I made (not fully cured in the photo):

It was a delightful class, as expected.  Robert is an excellent teacher.  I appreciate his enthusiasm for both the techniques he’s teaching and for the act of teaching.  He encourages a thoughtful, meaningful and personal approach to the creative process.

This is the second workshop I’ve ever taken with Robert Dancik.  My first workshop was a cold connections class at the Brookfield Craft Center in the summer of 2006, and it was a huge turning point in my work.  I’ve been looking forward to taking another workshop with him and today did not disappoint.

It was a very full class at 26 students.  Fortunately, despite the fact that we were crammed in like sardines, everyone was really great. There was a lot to cover:  box construction, texturing and customizing the boxes, preparing the items to be set in concrete, mixing the concrete and filling the box, plus overall finishing.  The class was remarkably quiet and focused given the number of people in the room.  The result was a fantastic array of cool concrete and copper pendants.

At these large conferences where your workspace is very small and classes can be very full, resources can be spread thin and people can get snippy.  There wasn’t any of that kind of tension today, which was quite nice.

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Bead & Button Show, class #2 – Rio Grande Flex Shaft 101

Flex Shaft 101, taught by Mark Nelson of Rio Grande was today’s class.  I’ve had a Grobet flex shaft for a couple of years, but I didn’t really know too much about using it for more than drilling and basic polishing.

The class was really helpful and interesting.  I can now say, I am no longer intimidated by the flex shaft.  I understand what I need to do to maintain it.  (incredible simple really)  Mark explained the uses of a whole range of attachments, accessories and handpieces.  I’ve got loads of notes!  The Rio Grande classes are especially helpful because they give the students an opportunity to try out the tools first hand.  It makes a world of difference.  For example,  have wanted to get a quick change handpiece for my flex shaft, but I wasn’t sure what to buy.  Having a chance to try a couple of styles, I found out that I am much more comfortable using the version with the duplex spring.  It’s much kinder to my small hands.  I really couldn’t have figured that out without trying the different handpieces.

The hammer handpiece was lots of fun to use too.  The diamond tip made a great texture on the copper we were working with.

They had a great camera set-up for the class, so that everyone was able to get a close up view of the demos.  It really helped make everything clear.

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Jewelrymaking iPhone App

I’m working on a resource list for my Guest Artist visit to the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild this weekend.  I’m giving two demos:  Scribble Beads and  Combining Metal & Polymer Clay.  After compiling a list of online sources for various tools, supplies and reference books, I was trying to think if there was any other really useful resource, and I remembered the iMakeJewelry iphone app by Victoria Lansford.

Clearly this is designed for a very narrow market, but if you make jewelry and you have an iphone or an ipod touch, then it’s a really great tool.  Among other things the application has:

  • up to date metals prices
  • reference info on a variety of metals & stones
  • calculators for ring blank lengths, sheet & wire weights etc.
  • tables with B & S gauge info & corresponding drill bit size
  • conversion calculators for area, distance, mass, temperature & volume
  • and a bonus tips & hints section

It’s a really handy app!

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