Process notes: aventurine necklace, Working Day 2

One post for tonight.  Apologies for the out of focus shot:

Tonight's work.
Tonight’s work.

I’m just noting this down to give myself something to think on for tomorrow.  I’m probably not going to keep that large clear green bead down at the bottom there…I just needed a placeholder, and didn’t feel like building the tassel before the rest of the piece.

The opaque pine-colored 6/0s I found at the bead store yesterday are working really well.  I also think the camo tone matte 11/0s will work well in this piece…they might help even out the blue tone in the pine beads.  The pine-colored beads are the opaque, shiny, and large ones in the upper left corner of the photo.

Cropped out of the image is one of the two-hole stud beads which my lines are leading back towards.  Right now this is on 6-lb. test FireLine, and I’m not sure…how far back I’ll need to have the pieces join…and how to relieve the pressure at that join.  I found out tonight that I probably don’t want to use the brass stamped connector pieces (pictured in the entry before this one), because I’d have to end all my lines to do so, and right now I’m using FireLine, not something that I know will stay secure if knotted.  FireLine (I think it’s polyethylene thread, originally for use as fishing line — but much finer than normal fishing line) will be abrasion-resistant, but it doesn’t hold knots very well.  And like normal fishing line, it can be scratchy if there are loose ends sticking into someone’s neck.

Also, I need to go back and rework the thread joins below the pendant.  Right now they’re simple loops, and I want them to be lark’s head knots, for security.  FireLine is abrasion-resistant, and I am using 6-lb. test, but the less rubbing there can be, the better.

I’m facing something that…is kind of the sacrifice needed to make any art, and that is closing off myriad possibilities and unlimited potential in order to allow one thing to come into being.  I used to think it was hesitance to destroy what existed in order to make anew, or fear of failure that was stopping me…but actually at this point I think it is the threat of loss of (imagined) potential.  Potential can always be perfect.  Reality never is.

I suppose I could read about how the ancient Greeks approached this problem.  They had a thing going for approaching ideal forms (i.e. Platonic forms), in which they sought beauty.  But then, they also did not see themselves as the creators of that beauty — only the makers through which the ideal could be approached.  The creative “genius” was considered to be spiritual (daimonic) and not contained within the artist his- or her-self, but on the contrary was in communication with the artist.  (Granted that I haven’t taken a course on women in Art History, so I don’t have a clear idea of whether female people were allowed to participate in the arts in ancient Greece.)  This changed in the Renaissance, when the locus of “genius” was relocated to the artist themselves, for instance with da Vinci, IIRC…but I’m getting off track, here.

At all steps I’m considering how things can be different (next time — should I find another deep green stone donut), but to be productive…I can’t stay in the psychological state of envisioning what could be, forever.  I have to move from “what could be” to “what is,” and just remember that I can follow different paths in later pieces.

(Kind of reminds me of my life…)

But to be honest, this necklace is being made around that donut.  It is the tribute to that donut.  I’m…doing something that the protagonist in that graphic novel I’ve envisioned (but not written or drawn) does with the gems s/he finds…that is, I’m making art around what the gem triggers in me.  While I probably can go back and undo what I did and remake the thing, chances are that I won’t.  And it will be imperfect, and that will just have to be how it is — I can’t work on the same project for my entire life.  And, the donut may not even survive.  It does have a hairline fracture, and it’s possible that my binding is all that’s holding it together.

Today I went back to the bead store to get some metals.  Metals are the absolute…nearly always the most expensive parts, for me — given that I’m not buying gem-grade materials.  If I were getting high-quality precious stones, it would be different, but the stones I go for are generally not gem-grade.  (Like the tiny rough ruby piece I got for $7.  Yes, it’s a real ruby.  Yes, it is nearly entirely opaque, meaning that it’s not worth much…except to the right person.  [Me.])

Even base metals (not precious metals like gold or silver [also reactive metals like niobium or titanium, though I’m not sure that these are not considered base metals]) — even base metals can run a tab which really are the most expensive elements in a piece.  But I suppose metal has to be mined and refined and alloyed and shaped and cleaned and treated and polished…it’s not as plentiful as sand which can be melted for glass.

As an example, I picked up about 25 antique brass jump rings today which ran me about $4.40 at retail (without tax).  This would be $2.20 at wholesale (without tax, which might be how they’re bought if for resale — tax should be charged to the end consumer, and the government doesn’t want to tax twice), but I’d have to buy in bulk, and I might not get the sizes I need, and they might not be pre-soldered.  (Soldering [actually, technically, “brazing” or “hard soldering” — a much different technique than “soft soldering”, which is generally what hardware and electronics stores assume you’ll be doing] jump rings is a pain — they’re tiny and easy to accidentally melt.  Although it’s easy if you know how to pick-solder (and have the patience), there is the toxin concern [cadmium in the solder, depending on its source, and depending on the jump rings, unknown alloy content], and I have no way of brass-plating a brass jump ring which I’ve closed with silver solder.)

So…I live with what I can buy ready-made, at this point.  I know how to copper-plate, but not how to brass-plate, and anyway — heating metals of unknown composition (like store-bought jump rings which might just be brass-plated — meaning of unknown core alloy) is dangerous because of the fumes.  Craft wire is almost always off-limits with fire.  I’d have to make my own rings from wire which I know is safe (usually from a jewelry supply company or hardware store — craft stores are hit-and-miss), in order to avoid toxicity concerns.  It’s too easy to breathe in something harmful.

On the upshot, it’s usually really obvious when you’re heating something you shouldn’t be, because you won’t be able to breathe the fumes (from the one time I KNOW someone set fire to craft wire and the acrid smell made me get out of the room as fast as I could).  Colored wire, coated wires (e.g. “anti-tarnish” wire), and plated wires are all off-limits with fire, so far as I’m concerned.

I haven’t made it up to the reactive metal level (where metals can be colored through what has something to do with electricity — the term is anodization), but seriously — no craft store is going to be selling coils of solid niobium or titanium wire.  It’s too expensive.  I haven’t tried aluminum, either, but honestly with aluminum, I don’t see the point of making anything that will last long enough to ask for a brazing attempt.  I don’t even know if aluminum will tolerate brazing temperatures, matter of fact…I do have one chainmaille piece made with anodized aluminum, I’m pretty sure — but there is little point in trying to solder the rings shut.  It’s just not expensive enough to warrant it.  (I didn’t make it, either, though, so I don’t have the skinny on this.)

Anyhow.  The necklace I’m doing is all brass, now.  I know I said I didn’t want to do that, but there’s the question of whether the red of the copper is a necessary component.  I know that the copper flower was much heavier than the brass one I’ve got now.  But — that little brass cone will probably work out better than the copper flower, because its shape will keep it from knocking against the beads at the sides of the necklace, and it will definitely be less likely to chip or crack any of them.

And, right — I did wish to mention that I’ve got to find a better way of figuring out what beads will go in what necklace other than building outwards from the center and adding things in as they seem right.  I could reach a bead at the outward extremes which could go really well in the center! — but I’ve already built it.

Yeah, I…yeah.  Photos.  They help.

I also have an extra little brass tulip blossom now…too big for the piece, but should make a lovely cap for something else.


3 thoughts on “Process notes: aventurine necklace, Working Day 2

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