A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

MAPP Gas: the Secret to Unlocking Maker's Block

Been feeling rather uptight lately about making stuff. So I sort of stopped. Then I got a canister of MAPP gas and a new torch head because I wanted to make some copper S-clasps and toggle bars (I like the hammered ball at the end) and the propane just wasn't cutting it on the 16 gauge wire. Apparently I melted right through my inhibitions! Nothing like a little FIRE and molten metal to get you stirred up. Here's my pile of melted stuff, and some more wrapped rings:

As I had mentioned in a previous post, the incomparable Shannon LeVart of Miss Fickle Media had posted on her blog about wrapping rings as an alternative to soldering. I really like how they look! She also--God bless her--shared some VERY handy tips in her "Color Drenched Metal" tutorial about using liver of sulphur. I was dying to get that rich, reddish brown color on my copper but all I could manage was black. I learned the secret from Shannon's tutorial of how to achieve that rich dark color! YES. I also made a couple of plain bars, above, for I don't know what, wrap around something, and some oval link chain (they were just going to be jump rings but then I thought--HEY! why don't I just link them all together and make a CHAIN. I'm effing brilliant. I don't know where I get this stuff.). To make the ovals I wrapped my wire around a couple kebab sticks (wrapping your wire around two round rods produces a nice oval shape--I'm too cheap to buy an oval jump ring maker), and then sawed it at the top with my jeweler's saw (first time I ever used it--didn't break the blade! ha! next time.) I use my flush cutters when I'm making round jump rings, but since you have to keep nipping off the chiseled end of the wire for each ring to make both ends flush, you can't use it on ovals (if you always want to have the cut at the same place. It sounds complicated, but trust me. Sharilyn Miller shows you how to use flush cutters to make jump rings in her "Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop" DVD. Among MANY other handy things. Highly recommend.)

So after I got my jollies with the torch (it's much noisier than the propane torch and the flame is a little more...exuberant) I rifled through my purse for the myriad little notes I make throughout the day of things I think I should make. There were about 7 loose sheets of paper with scribblings and incomprehensible drawings and lists. One indecipherable hieroglyphic went in the trash (not sure what I was getting at) but the pendant below made it onto the workbench and into the shop (I was trying to keep it less ornate--this one involves no ball headpins). Deerskin lace in chestnut and buckskin colors, waxed cotton cord in navy blue, wood and lapis beads, pewter tulip-shaped endcaps, and silver-plated rolo chain from Lima. Hand-forged sterling silver S-clasp.

This is one of Happy Mango Beads' fabulous Celtic spiral pewter pendants. They also have some wonderful smaller spirals and triskelia (triple spirals). I posted a picture of this pendant to Happy Mango's Facebook page this evening and Rudi Taylor, Happy Mango's directrice, told me the winsome story of this pendant (I believe she is currently in Bangkok! having recently arrived from Nepal on a bead-buying trip). I post it with her permission:

"I know there are spirals everywhere, but this particular one has a story. We were in Galicia, Spain (the section of Spain that hooks over the top of Portugal), an entirely Celtic area, and we were driving forever and ever and finally came upon a village with a single bar - so we went in to get a glass of wine and some bread (that's all they had), and inside was an old guy making spirals to be used as some sort of decor for a celebration the village was having, he gave us this spiral (and permission) to have it cast in pewter. So as you can see, it's not just 'any' spiral :)"

Is that not the coolest thing ever? I might have to buy more.

I took some other pictures of this pendant on a cushion from my favorite chair my Mom gave me (she found it at a yard sale and gifted it to me when she replaced it with a posh club chair), and I just loved them because they MATCHED so perfectly and I was dying to use them as the main photo for my item on Etsy, but the pendant just seemed to disappear. I used one of them anyway for the second picture. This is my favorite one:

The Chair:

Pardon the mess. Is that not a fabulous chair? I SCORED. Men are not allowed to sit in it. Except on holidays. Major holidays. Not the minor ones.

I also made these a couple weeks ago--wrapped them at work on my lunch hour but I didn't get around to listing them until recently:

Czech "Picasso" glass in red.
Czech glass in orange with "Sunshine Dust" and Antiqued Brass.

Czech "Picasso" Glass in Turquoise with Sterling Silver.

Czech glass in Purple Luster Finish with Sterling Silver.
I was going to make a copper bracelet this weekend too but all my time got gobbled up with picture-taking/editing and posting stuff. I guess the next time I get all inhibited and angst-ridden I'll just melt more copper with my new torch. I'll probably have to open a second shop to get rid of it all.

Next post: Heat Vent Treasures (or, "The Ductwork Adventures of an Inveterate Renter").


  1. Your posts always make me want to buy stuff.

  2. Love your wire work - so beautifully done!

  3. Your components are wonderful. Make me wanna grap my torch instantly!

  4. Oh I love that you posted all this great information. I just recently received the Color Drenched Metal tutorial from Shannon and now you've given us the Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop which is right up my alley so I'm going to find it and buy it right now. Love all your new stuff!!!!!

  5. Yay, MAPP gas! Now you can do enameling, my friend. Love all the wonderful wire components :)

  6. I wish I weren't so afraid I would burn down the house. I loved the few times I have played with fire... in someone else's space! LOL! I love what you have done with the place... that decor just rocks! ;-) (Or are those pieces of wood?) I think that chair is delightful. It would be a special treat to be allowed to sit in it.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Enjoy the day!

  7. LOVE the earrings - your wire work is always so beautiful and adds such a special touch. I'm also really likin' the mixture of leather in the necklace...tres cool!

  8. love the wrapped loops and the earrings! gorgeous!

  9. I always lurve your wire wrapping. With those briolettes, it is supa cool!

  10. very cool lady, love your creations!