Friday, February 25, 2011

Piece a Week #8: Dragonfly (by Lisa)

(Music playing while in the studio. Peter Gabriel Live and Paula Cole.)

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I really love to make dragonflies! I love to take pictures of dragonflies and I love to wear dragonflies. I have made all kinds of dragonflies the past few years - flat fold form dragonflies, wild wire dragonflies, beaded on and so forth.

This week I challenged myself to make a more "planned" dragonfly  - and one that is a bit more approachable.
(My one regret is that the final picture of this dragonfly is not so good...). I have been working in a newly discovered style and wanted to make a token dragonfly in this particular way.

The backplate is in the shape of an aspen I am sawing out this shape.

A chunk of sterling silver quivers in anticipation...ok, I am the one quivering. I LOVE molten metals. Metalsmithing tip: the outline of the shape is from the black sharpie...once you introduce the flame, the black sharpie ink will disappear when the copper is annealed (soft and pliable).

My absolute favorite part...melting the silver.

While the copper and melted silver is in the pickle (acid compound used to clean the metal), I'm back at the workbench shaping the wire. This is layed on the piece and I heat the silver up again. Tricky...copper wire can melt too...I have to watch out for "the signs."

The piece is pickled again, and then I go back through and de-burr and smooth out any rough edges. This part of the process makes the studio sound like a dentist's office!

The entire piece is polished with tripoli (a pourous, decomposed siliceous rock which results from the weathering of chert and siliceous limestone...glad you wondered?). The piece is tossed in a tumbler with steel shot and soapy water. The tumbler runs through out the night.
Final piece...and it really does look more impressive than this!!!
The Aspen Dragonfly is now located at A-RARE-Ity...and yes, while each piece will be unique because of the flow of silver, it is one that I can actually re-create.

For the next few weeks I am giving myself a very interesting challenge...designing pieces SPECIFICALLY for face shapes; oval, square, round,, eh?

And btw...Sponge Bob Ol' Yeller Chunk of Opal...still sits there. It will happen. One day.


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