Thursday, 31 May 2018

End of May

My Sterling Rain Chains

A few weeks ago, I created a pair of copper rain chain dangle earrings as a prototype. I have been wearing them quite a bit recently and decided they are enough fun that I should make a pair in sterling silver. Yesterday, I deserted the vegetable garden and sat down at my bench.

Take 2: Doing It Right This Time

When I made the copper prototype, I punched out the tiny discs first, then drilled them. Difficult to say the least.

What follows is a better planned way to create these fun for summer earrings. First, I drew the ten circles I need on 28 gauge sterling sheet. I used a felt pen for that and to mark near the center of each circle. The center marks are not exact because I like the way they do not hang perfectly straight. In this photo, I am using my Dremel drill press (great tool) to quickly drill all ten center holes. Compared to holding each tiny circle with pliers to drill, this was a snap!

Next Steps: Punching . . .

Have I mentioned that I love good tools? With so many jewelry tasks, there are various ways to do the job. Long ago, I cut out discs by hand. A good way to practice sawing, but awfully slow. As for trying to hand cut ten one centimeter circles, it's a sure way to go crazy! With my disc cutter and a brass hammer, it took only a few moments and my sanity is intact.

. . .  and Dapping

Once I had all the predrilled circles on the bench, I used
a steel doming block and punch to shape each one into a half sphere.

This is another of the super useful tools my husband gave me some years ago. He drilled a piece of handrail wood to hold each of the steel dapping punches, too, so they are easy to pick out. As with the disc cutter, I use a brass hammer for striking because I don't want to damage these terrific tools.

Making Links

Obviously, if it's a chain, it has links. To link the discs up, I used two centimeter lengths of sterling wire. I went with 18 gauge this time, as it was the finest in my stash. Bending it into loops proved a bit of a chore so, for future earrings, I will order some 22 gauge round wire.

Mini-assembly line: I measured and pencil marked two centimeters from the edge of my bench pin to speed cutting.

And Assembling the Dangles

Suddenly, my bench was cluttered with tools: mini anvil, wire cutters and several pliers. It takes quite an array to thread these beauties together!

Ready to Polish, Photograph and List in My Shop

I think these flashy shoulder dusters will look fabulous swinging above pretty summer dresses. Only decision I have left is whether to list these with DixSterling on etsy or with SterlingByDix on ArtYah.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Garden Walk

My Bench is Lonely Because...

Well, because it's May and the garden rules. We are getting seriously summery weather after a very, very soggy April and the sun has been luring me outdoors. You know how that goes, right? You decide to take your coffee outside and bask in the sunshine. You barely sit down when you start seeing all the "must dos". Lawn needs cutting. Hedge needs trimming. Planter needs planting. Okay, I get it. Time to get to work.

Two Successes to Report

We have made progress over the past couple of weeks. Lawn has been cut (three times already). Hedge has had first light trimming. Planter and window box have been planted. Hanging baskets purchased and installed. Fountain removed from shop and set in its place. Oh, oh, it seems the pump housing has cracked. Off to hardware store for new pump. Install same. It's too powerful, water splashing everywhere. Fountain empties swiftly. Remove that pump. Off to different hardware store for different pump. 

Success 1: Pump Problem Solved

We bought this delightful pottery fountain as an anniversary gift to ourselves a few years ago. About the time we moved off the river, various aspects of getting older also convinced us that it was time to retire our motor home and give up camping. We sure miss setting up camp beside B.C.'s many chuckling, gurgling creeks. At least this pretty fountain provides that cheerful, restful sound of splashing water. The fact that it lives in a sheltered nook near our bedroom window makes very welcome on hot summer nights. 

Success 2: Labor Saving Device Installed

Every spring, I buy a pair of lovely hanging baskets from a local nursery. I really enjoy the color they bring to the edge of our carport.  They also create a fair bit of privacy to the seating area on our raised porch. Win-win.

Lose-lose is the struggle to drag a heavy hose about 25 feet across patio and carport to water the baskets each morning. This year, we finally bit the bullet and bought all the materials needed to run a drip watering system to feed the baskets. Wouldn't you know it: the first hardware store had everything we needed except the 1/2 inch tubing and the faucet connector. Once again, we had a two-store project! Then installing it became a two-day project. Never mind, now that it's done, the only labor required will be dragging out a ladder to get up there and fertilize them every few weeks. A small price to pay.

Also One Failure

Our current home has a raised bed vegetable garden. For the first few years, I kind of enjoyed it. Late last summer, I got lazy and it began to run wild. As winter moved in, I quit thinking about it. Weeds took root. Then we got hit with a super soggy March and April. There was no hope of any digging out there. By the time the weather warmed up, the weeds were flourishing. I have launched into the clean up but fear it may be fall before I am ready to plant anything. Just look at that mess!