Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Drill, Baby Drill

Now that I finally have the Dremel figured out and have tried all these new techniques, I couldn't wait to take the best of what I've learned and start expanding on it.  Not only has the postman been very busy delivering packages to me over the last week, it also occurred to me that I can finally realize a long-time dream of making better use of the wonderful resource that is right in my backyard...California's beaches!

I have to admit, I'm still a little bit nervous about accidentally drilling my finger, but I'm sure if I keep working, I'll get over that eventually.  I bought some putty clay and am going to try embedding objects in that to hold them stationary while I drill them so I can take my fingers out of the danger zone.  I tried various versions of tweezers, pliers, clamps and vises, but they all either didn't hold well enough or did damage to the brass or other small, delicate items I wanted to drill.

Although I didn't get any jewelry pieces completed this weekend, I was very busy in the studio kitchen prepping metal, practicing with the drill and playing with some new molds I bought.  The kid and I also took time out to hit a favorite non-marine-preserve beach to do some treasure hunting.

First up was drill experimentation:

I wanted to start with something softer and easier than metal.  I had a drawerful of experimental resin/glitter combos that I had never put wire loops on and thought they'd be perfect for my first real significant attempts at lots and lots of drilling.  They worked out pretty well - the drill skipped off a rounded corner here and there and I ended up with a couple of off-center holes, but those were my fault because I was eye-balling the hole placement rather than slowing down and taking the time to properly measure and mark my spot - that whole impatience thing at work again.  But most of these are now useable and while I know they are kind of silly, glittery, tween-girly, there's a part of me that likes that kind of thing so I was thinking if I maybe get some bright colored wire/jump rings to put with them I could end up with some fun designs.

Next up was actual drilling on metal.  I had a bowl of water nearby to drop pieces into if they heated up too much from the drilling.  These all worked really well.  The hardest part was deciding where to put the holes and did I want a hole at the top AND the bottom or just the top.  After that, it was time for sanding and application of gesso.  I'll be using either Prismacolors or alcohol inks on these pieces and then I saved some others aside for use with nail polish and heat patina.

Okay, you can't really tell what these are because this is still sort of a secret, hush-hush project as I'm not sure where I'm really going with the idea yet.  I did get a bunch of molds and cookie cutters and started playing around with them. All the pieces are flipped over so the back sides can air dry sufficiently.  Once they are dry in a few days, I'll be trying out some coloring techniques to see what works best - they may be too absorbent for the liquid types of colors, but I'm thinking the pencils will look terriffic.
And then it was off to the beach to see if I could make a long-time dream into a reality.  For years, I've wanted to incorporate more local, natural materials into my designs, but I was always held back by the inability to put holes/attachments where I wanted them.  Part of the reason I originally bought the Dremel was to overcome that issue and I'm so excited to get the chance to finally try it

In thinking about kick-starting my creativity and design process this year, it occurred to me that my best designs have always been inspired by the ocean.  No surprise as I've always had a special connection with the sea starting when I was three years old, living on Oahu, and first learned to swim in the ocean.  I want to concentrate more on that aspect of my designs and adding seashells like these that Ryan and I gathered from the local beaches is a great way to start.

Most of what we found this trip are the elongated "angel's wing" shape of small clam shells, but we did find a few of the more round shape (see upper left corner).  No real matching pairs out of the round group, although we tried really hard to find some.  I ended up with a couple of pairs that match in size, but they are so different in color that I don't think they will work for earrings.

Here's a more closeup view of the angel wings - found lots of them with really great coloring.  Many have pretty stripes in shades of pink, lavender, blue, purple and even yellow.

You can see the round shapes more clearly now at the top of the picture.
While we tried to mostly gather whole shells, I did grab a few fragments because I thought they would make good initial test pieces.  That way, I won't have to worry about learning on the "good" shells.  Also, a few of the fragments, like those orange scallop shell pieces in the center of the photo, look nice enough on their own that I could maybe find a use for them in the right design.
So, that's the next planned experiment.  I'll let you know how it goes, but fingers crossed that I can pull it off.

1 comment:

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Just make sure you wear the dust mask when you're drilling resin and shell - you do NOT want to inhale those particulates. I know there's the issue of glasses fogging up - if you can't wear the mask, be sure to drill with the item under water (yes you can use the Dremel & water - the water needs to just cover the item & you should have enough length with your bit so only a small part of it is in the water).