September 20, 2014

Another Day, No Blood This Time

Well, that last round of soldering hurt.  I managed to stab myself good with a twisted and sharp point of the copper tape I tried pulling off of the glass, thinking I might be able to re-use it.  No such luck.  The front was cracked in half, the adhesive clearly melted solidly onto the glass.  What a mess.



I decided to give it another whirl and it turned out much better.  Clearly, I need to continue to practice, but at least it's not so bad.  I think I can wear it if I continue to move so that it's a bit of a blur and the wobbly line of rhinestones won't be so obviously wobbly.


It could use another go 'round...
Why does the back look better than the front?  More flux, that's why!
When I feel in a bind in terms of just NOT knowing what I'm doing, I find myself wandering the internet for help.  I actually did find a couple of YouTube videos that offered good advice.  What noted that if you find yourself getting a lot of lumps and spikes in the solder, use more flux to get it flowing.  Great advice!  That's one thing I did much more with this version.  The other video offered suggestions about adhering the paper artwork to the glass first which I don't think I'll do.  I worry about how that glue will affect the paper.  In the soldering class that I took, the instructor had us use a modicum of glue adhering paper to glass.  I found that the heat of soldering caused a bit of condensation to appear under the glass.  Maybe I need to experiment.  The other tip was using a small amount of super glue on the back side of one of the glass & paper assemblies so that the two layers were truly joined together before soldering began.  I can see how this would keep it together tightly so the layers don't shift while wrapping with the copper tape, but still worry about 1) condensation from the glue if not 100% dry and 2) how the glue might affect the paper in terms of staining or eventually showing through.  Guess there's only one way to find out.

Just to see what was out there, I visited a number of Etsy shops that offered soldered jewelry.  I don't like to bash other artist's work, but there was some stuff out that that was just not what I expected to see for sale.  Was that polite enough?  Then there was another artist whose work was just about flawless and quite inspiring.  Clearly, it can be done!  Now to figure out how.  After I work at that for a while, I'm going to go back to fabric which doesn't make me bleed or sob in frustration.

September 18, 2014

Practice does NOT make perfect

Practice needs to take place more often than once in a blue moon.  When was the last time that I tried soldering?  It's been a while.  I'm not sure how many thousands of dollars I can afford on practicing.  To make the jewelry I want to make, I need images or something interesting to sandwich between the two pieces of glass I'm soldering together.  After working on a few tiny pieces of watercolored papers, I realized it was a lot of time spent on something that was likely to end up crap (at least until I had more practice).  There had to be something I could use that, if I pulled off a miracle and whipped up something respectable in terms of soldering, would be worth keeping and wearing.  A few months ago, I joined Teesha Moore's "The Artstronauts Club," and found that she frequently offers free printables of her artwork.  There are beautiful and perfectly sized bits to print (and touch up with sparkly paint or colored pencil for fun) and use in my practice bits.  It takes a lot less time to cut out a tiny rectangle than to paint or draw the work.

Today I was so happy to finish housework early (and skip the trip to the dry cleaners with hubby's shirts until tomorrow) and get into the studio.  My recently purchased burnishing tool performed much better than the old pen cap that I used for getting the copper tape to lay flat and tight.  Silly me thought that this would make a big difference in the finished project.

I just can't get it right.  I KNOW I'm going over areas too many times, but if there's a lumpy spot, there's only one way to smooth the surface.  I worried that I would melt the copper tape backing and it would stop adhering, but it looked like it was still sticking really well.  But as I made a final slide of the iron, I dropped the glass piece onto my studio desk.  If it were wood or metal, no problem.  But it's a cheap, crappy desk from Ikea, the surface of which is coated with plastic.  Ugh.  The hot solder picked up a bit of the plastic all around the surface.  In a panic, I thought maybe the high heat of the soldering iron would burn it off.  I know, dumb.  But I tried anyway.  Then I figured I could build another coat of solder over the first and hide it.  I should have quit while I was ahead. 

It was a wreck.  Done.  No more "fixing" would fix it.  I unplugged the soldering iron and let the piece cool off in a clamp.  After it was quite cool, I started trying to tear off the old solder and tape.  After getting three sides unwrapped, I just opened it like a book and wrestled the paper images out.  They are slightly marred on the edges from the uber-melting of the copper tape adhesive.  The glass was a total loss.  I can still use the images because the tape will cover it, but sheesh!  It's so much time invested to still suck this much!
The front after I over-soldered by quite a few runs

The back wasn't nearly as bad as the front

Time to try something new.  I need to practice every day, even just for a little while before I move on to something else.  I don't want to think that I, and only I, just can't do a better job at soldering with practice.  I've tossed the blechy glass and am ready to give it another go.