Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Susan and Jason's rings, step by step part 1

Congratulations to Susan and Jason!!! I am so honored to make their rings and I thought it would be interesting to show how their wedding bands are made. To begin with, this is not a lathe's my husband's lathe and I hardly know what I'm doing. Ordinarily, I would carve this step by hand but my husband convinced me that using his lathe would make the process much more efficient and produce a much more precice ring blank.

This process starts with a tube of wax. The tube is placed in the chuck and tightened gently. This was actually a process of trial and error. We had one not tight enough and too long so it broke. Once the tube is tightened in the chuck, the first step is to bore out the inside to the correct ring size. Susan is a 6 1/4, which is .658".
This tool bores out the inside a little at a time. It has a sharp edge that will cut away all excess.
As we get close, we use a dial caliper to measure the inside diameter. I actually ordered a digital caliper after we did this, my old eyes can't read all those small numbers!! :)

This is a photo of the wax ribbons that are cut out of the inside of the tube.
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Susan and Jason's wedding rings, part 2

The next step, once the inside diameter is the size you need, is to carve the wax to the correct outside diameter. For Susan and Jason's rings, they need to be about 2-3mm thick. I haven't ever made a ring this way so I left myself a little extra material to work with later. Susan's ring is cut to about 3mm thick and I took a little bit more off Jason's, just to see what works better. I may have to do one or both of these over again.

This is the tool that cuts the face of the wax. The tube spins and a little bit of wax is removed on each pass across. The tool has to be precisely placed in order to cut cleanly and efficiently. For wax cutting this isn't a a dire issue but it makes the process much easier if the tool is positioned correctly.
The tool moves across the wax tube cutting very slowly, cutting ribbons of wax...
Like this.
And this.
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Susan and Json's wedding rings, part 3

OK, we're almost done making a ring blank. This next step is facing the ring. This will ensure that the edge of the ring is perfectly square with the rest of the ring. This tool removes a tiny bit of wax from the edge.
Next, I measure with a cailper and mark where I want the ring cut off the tube. Susan and Jason's rings will be 6mm wide so I cut them off at 7mm, to give myself some extra material to work with later.
This is the cut off tool in action. My husband said, "this is the fun part were it goes flying across the room and we have to go looking for it!!!" Yes, he was serious. I explained to him why this wouldn't work so we caught it on the end of a pencil.
Here is one ring blank all cut off. There was a little flashing that I'll file off when I start working on these rings at my bench.
And, here they are, as plain, straight ring blanks. Both the right size and thickness. Using the lathe for this step was really interesting. There is so much more I can do with this tool and I'm excited to play with it again. For now, however, the lathe work is over and I will move these waxes to my bench to finish them with more traditional tools. Check back for more of the process this week!!
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Motivation: Dragging your tired, sorry, sad self out into the studio, we do it.

I think the hardest part of the “dragging your sorry ass” out to the studio, for me, is the sense of futility I feel when things aren't moving in the shop. This, invariably, turns into a list of things I should be doing instead. I actually hear myself thinking “well, this shit ain't selling and you shouldn't be wasting any more time or money with this ridiculous hobby.” Hunh. I read interviews with lots of successful artists and they actually LOOK FORWARD to times on inactivity in their business. They see it as a respite, a rest from the daily grind of filling orders and day to day soul sucking drudgery of a successful studio practice. They look at this time as an opportunity to create new pieces, to investigate new ideas and forms. They actually use this time productively to free up their minds and hands and let their imaginations work. Their glass is, clearly, half full. The reason I suggested the topic for this month's blog carnival is that my glass is half empty lately and I wanted to know how other successful artists handle this “half empty glass”. How DO you drag yourself out there?

I have been successful in the past, I have overcome the “should do” list always running in an endless loop, walked past piles of dirty dishes, baskets of laundry, even, on occasion, a wailing kid. I have left my husband in charge, chores be damned. It's not a lack of ideas that is plaguing me this time, no. I have an over abundance of ideas and forms to investigate. It would be super easy to blame my inability to stay motivated on my husband and kids, yup, I was going to use them as a scapegoat once again but, after I wrote it all out it rang false. The real reason I can't get out there is because, when things aren't selling and business is slow, I think I suck. Yes, I'm a shitty metalsmith with trite ideas and worn out designs. I'm not a good enough craftsman to execute the good ideas and the pieces I can make are boring and nobody likes them. Hello, my name is Ann Hartley and I'm a praise junkie. I need external affirmation that I'm good enough in order to keep making. The double edged sword of all this is when I'm selling well, I'm filling orders of existing pieces and when the store has tumbleweeds I can't get out there to make new pieces. I don't feel satisfaction in just going out and making stuff because I feel like I'm already a drain on my family's resources, both time and money. Nobody is making me feel this way, it's just built in there. Boo hoo, poor me. It's pathetic, isn't it? Even I can't stand to listen to myself! Which is why I don't listen, I do other things. I make excuses about being tired and I go to bed early, I clean like crazy or I shut my brain off and knit. So how do I fix this? How do I work through the self doubt and self loathing? I honestly don't know. Now that I have done a little self examination I know what's going on and that's helpful in changing course. I guess my answer is that when these times hang heavy, I find myself repeating to myself “this, too, shall pass”. I know these feelings aren't permanent, I know things will turn around and I'll be back at the bench in time. I know this isn't the good answer but what I usually do is just wait it out. I'll have a sale before long and I'll be back out there. Maybe something will happen in the meantime to up my spirits and get me out and working. Or maybe not, maybe I'll get an extra hour of sleep and knit myself a new pair of socks.

So, I haven't been very helpful in solving this problem, have I? Luckily, 8 of my much smarter and much more helpful Etsymeal teammates are blogging on exactly the same topic! Check out their blogs, one of them is SURE to have the answer!!!

1. - Nina Gibson
2. - stacey hansen
3. - Danielle Miller-Gilliam
4. - Victoria Takahashi / Experimetal
6. - Brooke Medllin
7. - Beth Cyr
8. - 2Roses