Need to remove a stone from a bezel? Wonder how to forge a small scroll? Looking for some good torch tips? Watch these short videos by stellar instructor Deanna Pastel
Deanna Pastel is a metalsmith and artist based in Austin, Texas. Her current work ranges from everyday wearables to blending conceptual jewelry with the function of adornment. For the past five years she has been growing new curricula at several establishments around the Austin and San Antonio area and is available for one on one instruction, group workshops, and individual custom design.
Thank you, De for sharing your video with the iMakeJewelry community!
Need to fix a hinge?
A collector of mine recently broke the hinge on a locket I’d made for her many years ago. (Yes, ouch, but there’s first time for everything.) What remained of the hinge pin was broken off inside the top knuckle, and the other end was riveted. I needed something strong yet small enough to fit down inside the tubing, something I could lightly hammer would be even better. After combing through the more pack ratted parts of my studio, I found a push pin. Voila! It fit inside the tubing, was strong enough to stay straight, and the plastic end meant I could tap it lightly with my rawhide mallet. The pin poked out enough to grab it with pliers easily.
The Ultimate Sandbag
I discovered the coolest way to make a sandbag when I taught a workshop at The Bead House in Bristol, RI last year. Fill an old fashioned hot water bottle with sand and screw in the stopper. Voila! Instant sandbag, no splitting seams, great surface to hammer on, just the right size, easy to store or transport.
(The funny part is that after their students bought up all the water bottles from the nearby chain drug store, the store took the wrong cue and extensively expanded their hot water bottle department. Little did they know that we smiths are notorious for repurposing all manner of things in the name of creating new cool tools.)
Easier Clean Up
When most of us think of clean up we tend to think of our work, but sometimes we need it too. I don’t usually mind the toll that metalsmithing takes on my hands, at least not until someone wants to look closely at one of the rings I’m wearing and then I notice that blue rouge doesn’t make for the most attractive of manicure solutions.
To avoid using harsh soaps and still remove all that gunk, I mix baking soda with mild hand soap, which removes polishing compounds and abrasive wheel grits without taking my skin with it. (If you have sensitive skin, be sure to do a patch test first to avoid any possible allergic reactions.)
Bench Block Noise
There is nothing like the prolonged (or even the brief) banging of metal on a steel bench block to fray the nerves of everyone within earshot. – Sandwich sheet between two bench blocks to flatten it, and you have my least favorite sound in all of metalsmithing. – Our ears need protection too, but most of us are less than perfect about grabbing a pair of earplugs every time we need to hit something quick.
The best sound (and vibration) buffer I’ve found to place under a bench block is a Mastercarve Artist Carving Block by Staedler. They’re for carving rubber stamps, but they’re better for muffling sound than any other type of material I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a few). They are inexpensive and readily available at many craft and art supply stores or online. Grab one, and save your ears!
Soldering on Reticulated Metal:
Whether by intention or by accident, reticulation happens. (Reticulation is the texture that happens on metal that has been heated to the point that the surface became molten.) It’s a natural result of doing wire or sphere granulation on sheet. I often create rings with granulation and reticulation, but the texture on the area where I might want to solder a bezel or other finding can be problematic, since reticulated metal can be somewhat porous and suck in solder where I might not want it to flow.
To solve this problem, I use a tiny planishing tool from my repousse tool set, a very small planishing hammer, or a dapping punch to hammer a smooth texture just where my bezel needs to be soldered down (and sometimes I extend the texture beyond that area if it fits with my design). This smoother hammered texture will make the metal flat and less porous, allowing me to flow the solder more easily and only where I want it.
Got Sticky Pitch?
I use cooking spray as a mold release when working with metal on pitch. Spray the back of your piece with it before placing on the the pitch. Since it’s made to get hot, it won’t smell as bad the next time you anneal your piece. Be sure to keep the can well away from your torch!
This and other great repousse tips can be found on my latest DVD, Metal Techniques of Bronze Age Masters: Eastern Repousse and Chasing.
Got Dried Up Flux?
If your paste flux is dried up, try adding a little liquid flux (aka Battern’s flux) to dilute the mess without watering down your flux to the point of uselessness.
The Scriber Trick: I learned this trick from John Cogswell to burnish the file marks off the edges of metal to be soldered together and later discovered that it has so many used. Run the side of a polished twisted scriber (or burnisher) along the filed edge of metal until light runs down the edge in a line with no breaks. This is a great time saver on parts that are cut out, and there is no waste because burnishing metal smooths metal down rather than removing it to create a high polish.
Run the scriber along the inside edge of a bezel to remove tiny burs that can be difficult to grin off once a stone is set.
Have a tip you’d like to contribute? Email Victoria with it, and you’ll be given credit if it’s used on iMJ.