Synergy 2 Exhibit Piece

Here is my piece for the Synergy 2 Exhibit.  I am calling it “Keeping It Together”.  The name seemed appropriate because  the theme of this second Synergy Conference is Connections, and the necklace uses many forms of connections:  polymer clay to polymer clay, soldered connections, tabs and links.  All these types of connections serve to secure the elements of the necklace and keep it together.

On a deeper level, “Keeping It Together” represents how the creative spark inside me helps me stay sane and grounded even when it’s banked and quiet.  I think of my artistic side as the pilot light of my soul.  Sometimes it is hard to really know it’s there, but even when it’s really only in the back of my mind, it helps hold me together mentally and emotionally.

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Torch report

I picked up a new butane torch a while ago, and yesterday was my first opportunity to try it out.

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This torch is the first butane torch which seems to have been designed with jewelrymaking in mind.  It has a larger reservoir which claims to provide as much as 90 minutes of burn time.  The best part of this torch though is the ability to adjust the flame to a larger bushier flame.  I soldered 4 complete bezels yesterday and my new torch performed beautifully.

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Once I finish filing and drilling holes, I can switch to some polymer clay work.  I love being able to switch between the two.

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Ventilation system

The studio mess is under control.  I am so excited I can barely contain myself.  Really.  The tables have been cleared off, and my metals and soldering work areas are all set.  I’ve still got to clear up my polymer clay work area, but it’s okay for now.  As a reward for all my cleaning, I cut out and filed 3 unfinished bezels I found while cleaning, that I had soldered a few weeks ago at the Guilford Art Center.  They were tucked away in a compartment of my metals class tool box, and I had started to wonder if I had imagined soldering them to base sheets.

I am really excited about the new ventilation system I put in at my soldering table.  One of the really nifty things about taking a Rio Grande Education In Motion class, like the Microfold Texture class I took at Bead & Button, is that you get to try out lots of exciting tools from the catalog.  The item that most intrigued me in the class was the ventilation system they had set up at the soldering stations.

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(click to enlarge)

It’s a dual filter system designed for fume extraction at a soldering station.  It is fitted with a “Loc-line” hose which is flexible, but will stay where you aim it.  The shorter section at the front of the base unit is a noise dampener which works beautifully to bring the fan noise down to a reasonable level.  It’s a powerful unit and without the dampener, it sounds like an industrial fan.

My basement studio doesn’t have any windows and it was more than time for me to install some kind of ventilation system.  I don’t do tons of soldering here, but I do enough that I needed to address the issue.  What I like about this system is that it is portable.  If I rearrange the studio, I can move it to a new spot.  When we eventually move again, it goes with me.  It’s quite powerful and with the noise dampener, quiet enough that I can still hear my ipod playing (ok, blaring) in the background.  And I am pretty happy that installing it didn’t require cutting a hole in a wall.

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Bead & Button Show – Microfold Texture Class

My buddy and annual roommate, Diane Villano arrived this afternoon and I had my first class today.  I’m having a blast already.  The energy and enthusiasm here at the Bead & Button Show is fantastic.  I love talking to other students about what classes they’ve taken so far.  Despite the economy there seem to be plently of people here taking classes, and it seems like everyone is loving what they’ve learned.

My class today was “Microfold Textures” with Jack Berry, sponsored by Rio Grande.  Their classes are great because they bring jeweler’s benches fully stocked with all the tools and supplies.  All you have to bring is a pen and pad.

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It was a really fun day.  Jack Berry is a great teacher, very thorough and an altogether delightful person to be around.  We used an industrial tube wringer and/or a microfold brake to crimp sheets of copper or silver and then refined the textures with pliers and punches.

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The earrings I made are strictly based on the suggested pattern.  My attempts to play around with some variations weren’t too successful.  It’s something I want to explore some more when I get home.

Tomorrow I’ve got a beading class and the Meet the Teachers reception in the evening.

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