Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Monetizing stuff you can't make yourself destroy


 One my personal dilemmas are the pile of items from my father's estate that I don't want to toss but also can't find a decent means of selling including a pile of some 60 or so 1949-53 pulp, science fiction magazines.. 

Looking at online the prices for these mags seem pretty low and also appear to sit for quite some time before selling.  Further I'm really leery of getting into the shipping racket when Canada post charges more to ship most items than I'd be selling them for.. Yes I know lots of people shop online and don't care about the shipping but to me it seems, "off" to buy stuff that costs $20 but ships for $30

So what to do?

My answer was to buy enough mats and click frames to do a sample run of salvaged art covers for sale at my next jewelry event,  if they sell I can order enough frames for the next 50ish covers.  Slightly larger reprints of this kind of pulp art sold as wall decals  can go for $60-$100, surely even flawed with age, matted framed original covers should be viable at $25-$30.  Yes? No?  I'd like some opinions.

Here is a sampling from my first run










Monday, August 8, 2016

First attempts at enamel




 So yes, the summer heat has made me lazy and reluctant indulge my torch work of late but I do have a something to share.  As I mentioned I was awaiting on some enameling supplies and while I haven't done individual shots for a gallery posting here is a sampling of what you can do with no training and a pile of powdered glass.  

They say you can start enameling in a day but can spend your life learning it.





Thursday, July 21, 2016

Working to the limitations of your materials.



In my last post you saw the big ass coil of 1 inch copper banding I picked up at the scrap yard and while a very good find it's obvious I won't be manufacturing any 2 inch round medallions from this materiel.   While I'd certainly like some nice flat copper plate  I'm going to get my practice in, stretch my range of designs and make some money from my existing investment before I start throwing more money at materials

So I now have copper at 1 inch by several hundred inches at what I think is about 20 gauge, (I need one of those gauge measuring dooleys but a piece of plate with notches in it for $20+ seems just stupid). So what do I do with it?

While the material has sections that are almost perfect there are dents, warps and other imperfections to work around so the best/easiest use is of course to hammer the copper.  Between hammer and torch I can make a variety of pieces that hide or alleviate any issues with the materials, including simple hammered cuffs, pendants, earrings 



The cuffs require cutting to a cuff-ish length, most around 7-7.5 inches, flattening the ends, trimming and sanding the corners to make them safe and then pounding the snot out of them.. While I have a metal anvil I like using a tree stump for this work, less chance of marring the metal and pounding on wood is much easier on my carpal tunnel.  The average cuff can be hammered out in 15-20 minutes but requires being torched and quenched 3 times to soften the work hardened metal..  

As I pound the cuff the stretched copper naturally curls in on itself and requires softening and flattening so I can actually hammer the entire piece which is why it takes 3 torchings, at this point for texture I'm use 2 sizes of ball bean hammer , one that goes to a cone like point and finally the sharp end of a light machinists hammer.  For the cuffs at least I'm liking the look of the machinist hammer which gives lines rather than dimples.   After heating and quenching I soflty flatten the cuff and start hammering on a new area until complete or it requires softening again.  After a final softening I hammer the cuff around a tree limb that's nearly round giving it a final shape and hardening it just enough it will bend but not too easily.  

For any of these projects I have the option of using the fire blackening and just sanding off the high points for contrast and texture, or cleaning them right up to a high polish,, using liver of sulfur to age them brown, using other techniques to bring a real green patina up, using patina paints, or alcohol inks to give different finishes.   In most cases I use fine wet sandpaper to clean up the pieces, take off any rough or sharp edges the hammering might have caused,  final sanding is with steel wool and buffing wheel should one want a high finish or get every bit of patina off.    A final seal with car wax will stop any new corrosion ad keep your arm from going green.



The limitations of the size of the copper banding still allows me a variety of rectangles to play with, as long as I keep in small I can cut squares, diamonds, harts and other shapes for hammered projects.  I took these 3 pieces, 3 cuffs and and a selection of beaded chain mail earrings to a pub night with friends and sold 11 pieces.  So yes there is a market, no I don't have enough friends and pub nights to attend ;)

Another way I've started to use this copper is for etching,, I've tried electro etching but I'm having better but unpredictable results with peroxide and muriatic acid.   There will be an entire post on etching in the near future.   So long as this material is flat other imperfections can be covered up/burnt away by the acid.




Once again the use of patinas or inks can make two pieces with similar patterns into distinct pieces.   Perhaps the owners of the first pieces of etching I made and sold (without documenting) will send me pics to use.

At this point getting two pieces similar enough to for earrings is iffy at best but I've have a number of one offs quite suitable for pendants or broaches.   I'm not all that sure I'm looking for uniformity in my pieces I just hate to take something out of the etch and have to toss it back in the recycle pile.  I only have so much time to play and I hate using several hours prepping and etching to have a failure,, pottery will kill me.















Sunday, July 3, 2016

Gallery1 Stuff I'm working on for my first craft show

The first wave of pieces for a fall craft show with many more earrings, cuffs and bent silver plate pieces to go but I'm definitely tiring of the failure rate in etching
(50% plus or minus) as the resist wears off too soon,, the acid wears out and after pulling a piece out after hours it's not deep enough to use.


on the bright side I've ordered my first batch of enameling supplies so I'll have something new to play with shortly,, add some needed colour to the collection.




SOLD












                                2 pieces, 1 sold















                                SOLD
                  















SOLD



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The search for affordable crafting materials


At the beginning of any craft you have to be very careful about buying supplies, 

Did I buy the right supplies?
Will I actually use all this shit?
Doesn't this come in a smaller package?
Do I really need to spend $20 dollars a pound to buy copper sheets or wire?



I had the hardest time justifying $20/lb for copper when I know it sells for about $4 at the investment level of the market so I started looking for alternative sources, I could buy copper pipe, cut and flatten it but it's till not all that cheap and a fair bit of work that will probably leave you with imperfect, dented or scratched copper stock that will make your work that much harder to finish. 

I then thought about scrap dealers which would seem to be viable but in this region it would seem that most of the scrap dealers don't want to deal with buyers, especially small buyers who want to pick. Fortunately for me I did find one that was reasonably close who said yes on the phone, it wasn't until I got there that the guy in the tie said they didn't allow picking of the copper "because it was inside and not safe, besides what could we possibly have you could use?"  Luckily his resistance was limited and he quickly handed me over to one of the fellows who was more than happy to both let me graze and quite willing to show me treasures they had set aside like plated spoons, copper decorative plates and to my excitement a roll of dirty copper banding 1 inch wide.  I never measured it but I guess I scored about 30 ft of it.   I also cut off several sections of heavy braided copper bus wire in different gauges  in all I acquired some 15 pounds of workable copper for a total of  85$

Sure this material was dirty, in some cases dented, scratched or otherwise marred but at the same time there was lots of it, it was cheap and I suddenly didn't feel so bad about experimenting my money away having already discounted my time as having no real value when calculating the price I could charge for the finish product. 

and most importantly it works.  Sure I have to include the cost of  propane, sand paper and steel wool but 10 of these babies will totally cover my costs for the copper and the anvil I purchased with the savings..   and I have enough copper to make a lot more projects than that.  So scramble and search you might just find materials you can afford to play with.