Thursday, January 20, 2011

Making Custom Headpins and more

The KC PMC Guild Chapter's January meeting was filled with new ideas and Jule's headpin demo.

What's new?   Verrey Glass© Fusing (Cold Cast Pate-de-Verre)

Margaret Braet (long-time member of our guild chapter and local Kansas City artist) has been developing her own product - called Verrey Glass© - and she's now teaching classes and selling her product. The next local class is at the end of January 2011 - at Heartland Bead Marketing in Lenexa.

What's new about this? Traditonal pate-de-verre is a class casting technique layering glass (frit in a suspension medium) in a plaster mold for firing. (photo of a fabulous beaded collar by member, Betty Chaison, with a cast glass serpent in the center which she brought to show at the meeting.)

This requires working blind and backwards if using colors and leaves a plaster film which must be removed. Margaret's technique permit reusing molds (even like silicone texture stamps) and much more control of color placement. Go, Margaret! She's promised to demo this for us later this year.

Headpin Demo 

Using 20ga fine silver wire and a variety of small shapes (flowers, disks and balls) Jule's created various headpins, suitable making so-simple earrings or using with beads or any way you might use a headpin. She also demonstrated how to ball the ends of the wire with a torch and to ball up scraps of wire or bits of PMC scrap. This also works with Sterling silver, but the balls turn black and need to be pickled.

Tip 1: to make uniform balls of silver (for setting onto a PMC piece or soldering to a fabricated piece)
  1. wind the wire around a mandrel as for making jump rings, choosing the mandrel size to control the amount of wire per piece
  2. cut the coil as for jump rings, the resulting rings will have a equal length of wire
  3. using a small torch on a charcoal block, ball (heat with torch until it melts) up the pieces 
View a Cool Tools video on here.

Tip 2: hold the wire straight into the flame - a tilted wire results in an off center ball or one that melts and drops off.
Tip 3: torches vary! The hotter the torch, the faster the wire melts, so know your equipment.
BE SAFE: Always work over a flame-protected area, wear eye protection and cotton clothing...

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