Tuesday, October 20, 2009

(Stupid Newbie) Questions for Metalheads

Okay, so I recently admitted that I am totally deficient when it comes to wire-working anything beyond the basic wrapped loop and I've decided I need to do something to remedy that. I purchased a bench block quite some time ago, but it has remained lonely and ignored in a drawer in my studio.

Why did I buy it if I didn't ever intend to use it? Well, I DID intend to use it, I just was afraid of what I would turn out in my first few attempts. Y'see, I suffer from "perfectionist's disease." If you don't ever attempt something, then you can't do it "wrong" thereby maintaining your perfect record of never doing anything wrong.

It's sick, I know.

Hey, I told you up front it was a disease!

Anyway, I have decided that the only cure for this is to face up to the fact that I may, occasionally, create something that is um, something less than supremely perfect and that when that happens, I will just have to GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON. And the only way to do this is to, well, just do it.

What a great line - some company ought to use that as a slogan or something.

So, this weekend, I picked up an issue of "Step by Step Wire Jewelry" and I bought some heavier gauge brass and copper wire for attempting clasps and I also bought (gasp!) a hammer.

(I'm sure the purchase of said hammer will eventually result in a trip to the ER to have my broken finger X-rayed and set, but that's a future blog post).

And here's where the stupid question part comes in:

According to the magazine, one needs both a ball peen hammer AND a chasing hammer. I bought a chasing hammer (mostly because that's all the LBS had in stock). Do I REALLY need both? They look nearly identical.

Stupid question nombre deux: When planning to use liver of sulfer to patinate metal - is it best to patinate your wire FIRST and THEN make something with it, or can you make your piece (bracelet or whatever) and THEN patinate it? Will the L.O.S. ruin any beads (lampwork, etc.) that you have mixed in with the metal?

And last dumb question...

My bench block came wrapped in plastic, but under the plastic, the metal block was coated in some kind of sticky, oily goo. It took me three applications of Dawn to get it all off. I'm assuming it was to protect the block from rusting or whatever, but what I want to know is, do I need to re-goopify it every time I'm done using it and if so, what kind of goop is best to use?

And yes, re-goopify is a technical term that I have copyrighted for this blog so don't go using it all willy-nilly around the internet unless you obtain my permission first.

All right, I now await enlightenment by the oh-so-wise and talented artists of the beady blogosphere.

Bring forth the wisdom.


I'll wait.



Lorelei said...

hehe hehe... i'm struggling with the same stuff! will be anxious to hear what people say. as for the bench block, no you don't need to re-goopify your block after use.

and I only have a chasing hammer. but want to get a ball peen hammer for giving metal that textured look. I had a whole cart full at Fundametals.com...just this morning actually. also wanting buy L.O.S. It'll be fun to go through this stuff together. we should set up like joint blog posts about it. :)

mairedodd said...

oh my god - i am laughing so hard, not at your questions, but rather, at your brilliant writing style...
agreed, no re- goopifying necessary!
you are going to screw up, so wise to start with copper - you are talking to a struggling-to-be-loose type A, so i get this... and your wasted silver? keep it and try to turn it in at a jewelers or rio grande...
your chasing hammer is great... it is what i most use... do not use it to do metal stamping as you will ruin the head... and you need a rubber mallet to work harden your wire...
los - i do most of it afterwards... if something is not porous, it should not affect the bead... lampwork glass, safe for sure - though i will be honest and tell you that i have not put etched glass into it...
one of the neat things you can do is make paddle head pins too... you just need a cup file to do that to give the end a nice curve...
have had the very badly bruised finger - it hurts like hell... but i didn't stop! and i didnt lose my fingernail either...
you are going to love the freedom it gives you, and how you won't panic now when you run out of clasps because you can make them!
start simple, make something fun like a spiral! :0)
hey, just do it!

mairedodd said...

oh, and, p.s. - have you or your son never watched sesame street?
what is the only way to learn something?
i am waiting....
by asking questions!

Follow The Red Brick Road... said...

Hello! Good luck with your wire experimentation! Most chasing hammers come with a ball on one end, and a round, slightly curved and flattish surface on the other. I used JUST the chasing hammer for quite a while. The ball end you use for what you would use a ball peen hammer for...distressing and texturizing the metal. I recently picked up a ball peen (sp?) hammer at a garage sale for very little money...don't have any clue what I'm going to do with it, lol.

As for re-goopifying...if any metal pieces are going to be left unused in damp conditions for any amount of time, oil them up...motor oil? Not sure, I use mine all the time! If they happen to get rusty, just use progressively fine grades of sandpaper to get it into working condition again.

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

Not stupid questions at all. I've been debating on buying a ball peen hammer. I've read all of Sharilyn Miller's books on wire working and she swears by it. For now I use the chasing hammer and just beat it over and over. As far as using LOS, I always create all my pieces first then oxidize them but you have to be careful with porous stones and pearls. These can not be oxidized. Hope this helps!

Meghann LittleStudio said...

#1: There are NO stupid questions!
Here are your answers:
1. You don't "need" a ball peen hammer, though if you want to make a more textured look, it helps. The chasing hammer makes everything nice and flat, the ball peen makes little dents.
2. Liver of sulphur may react with some beads. Be careful! I would say to make your item and then patinate but if there are beads involved, you may have to patinate first, though working with the metal may rub some of the patina off.
3. do NOT re goo! I hated cleaning mine off also, what a pain. just don't go soaking it in water or leaving it in a steam room (though relaxing in a steam room with a hammer and anvil might have some therapeutic value). I've had my anvil for a few years and it is fine...if you do get rust spots, try steel wool and clear nail polish or they may have stuff at your hardware store to fix it.
Best of luck with the wireworking, and hey, get some cheapo practise wire and flub away, we all have to start somewhere (I have thrown MANY pieces into the "pile of shame" AKA the garbage, as have we all!!

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...

First, I suffer from the same disease, in all aspects of my life! Second, there are no stupid questions :)

Ok my dear, here we go...
-you don't NEED both hammers, but you'll eventually want both.

-you can los first but work directly from a coil of wire so I don't waste it so I always los after. los won't hurt ceramic, lampwork and most gemstones. you really just need to worry about the soft stones, things like turquoise. frankly I just thrown everything in! If you're concerned about a stone or bead, toss an extra (less perfect) one in the solution.

-yes, the goop is to protect your bench block from rust. I would have suggested to just wipe it off thoroughly instead of washing it but don't stress, give it a rubdown with WD-40 every couple of weeks and you should be fine. I've had mine for almost a decade and it definitely shows signs of rust but I'm in So Cal (marine air) and not as diligent as I should be in cleaning/oiling it.

Hope this helps :)

Leah said...

My advice: you got the inexpensive practice wire, see what you can do with the hammer you have, and just experiment. I use my ball peen hammer to make a dimply texture, but I don't see why you would need one to make something like a wire clasp.

As for LOS, can't help you since I've never used the stuff.

My block had goop on it, which I've never reapplied, and I do have a little rust. I store my block wrapped in a towel, and when I'm hammering, I fold up the towel underneath to absorb some of the noise (it really does help a little).

Cindy said...

Great questions...and looks like you received wonderful advice! Have fun with wire...you'll be addicted soon! Please stop by my blog if you have not....and join my giveaway...some goodies that just might come in handy with your new hobby! :-)

dochoamom said...

All your questions are answered looks like. I highly reccomend Sharilyn Miller books. She also has videos. check her out here...


She has a blog that she posts tutorials on... I believe she lives closer to you than me anyway... LOL

lunedreams said...

I've been using LOS quite a bit, it's really not a big deal. It just stinks. Works best on silver I find. Doesn't work well on brass at all. A little better on copper. I prefer MIDAS red-brown-to-black oxidizer for blackening brass and copper actually, and ammonia fumes are superb if you want a nice mellow sable color on your brass, or a richer glow on your copper. It will get quite dark if you leave it in the ammonia fumes a long time, but if you leave it too long it may turn green. I get a medium sized tupperware container, put ammonia soaked newsprint or paper towel in the bottom, and put my items in another smaller container on top of that and put a lid on it. Don't let the metal directly touch the ammonia and keep the metal dry. Check it in an hour and see what you think. Keep checking it until you like what you see. It can be polished back up to some extent, but the finish is more durable than using commercial oxidizers. The brass will remain a brown color. The brass in my sorbet sunset bracelet in my shop was oxidized this way. Future acrylic floor polish is a decent sealant if you want to protect it from further oxidation.

lunedreams said...

p.s., you don't need to use that much--I kind of learned that most of the way through my first bottle of pre-mix--you can mix it with water and a pretty dilute solution will still work really well. Esp. if it's hot. It doesn't need to be very strong.