Wednesday, February 19, 2014

She Drills Seashells By the Seashore

I used part of my time off for the long weekend to work on my seashell-drilling experiment.  It took some messing around with the modeling clay to figure out the right thickness to both hold the shell in place and protect the bottom of the water container I was using, but I'm pretty pleased with the results.
A couple of things I learned along the way:
  1. After a few drilling attempts, the blob of clay starts to get a bit waterlogged and loses its stiffness which means the piece you are drilling starts to sink down into it.  After realizing what was causing the issue, I just replaced the clay blob every 20 minutes or so.  The good news is that the clay never hardens, but it DOES dry out so you can let your first blob dry and re-use it after about an hour or so
  2. Seashells are harder than I would have guessed and dull the drill bit pretty quickly.  I had to lay in a supply of replacement bits so I could swap out pretty frequently
  3. There is such a thing as beginner's luck.  I had much better results with my first group of scrap test pieces than I did with the actual shells.  Some of this was due to #2 above, but I still struggled even after replacing the drill bits.  Possibly because it was taking longer and was more difficult than I had anticipated so my impatience was kicking in?
  4. Making matching pairs is harder than I thought it would be.  I'd get the first shell drilled perfectly and then the second one would break or the drill would skip off the mark a little bit (oh, and the refraction effect of the water is not helpful when trying to find the marked spot and drill right on it!) and the hole would end up slightly off
Still, I think I'm on to something and I just need to keep practicing and being patient.  Also, a Dremel may not be the most optimum tool for this...too bad the drill press moved out when my ex left.  I don't miss him, but the tools were nice to have around LOL!
Here's my first set of practice pieces.  I used broken shell pieces and one shell that already had a hole in its top center that would not have been useful for hanging due to the location.  I actually really like the way these scraps came out (especially the twisty one at the far left of the photo).  Wish I had two that were a little more similar in size and shape for earrings, but I'm still thinking I could use them individually as charms hanging from a center ring with some other bits and bobs.  Also, I used the top shell to determine the best location to put holes and whether I could drill two holes in the same shell.  I was able to get quite close to the edge on one of the holes, but whenever I tried that same placement on any other shell...I ended up with breakage.

This pair came out pretty well other than the fact that the holes are not quite in the same spot.  Refraction effect!

Got closer with this pair...enough so that I think they'll be usable.

This pair went perfectly from the other side (where I was drilling from), but once I turned them over  to take the photos, I realized there is some minor chipping around the holes.  What do you think...still usable?

This pair already had some chips on the end - they came that way from the beach.  That white blob near the hole on the shell on the right is a bit of the clay that is still stuck to it.  For the most part, that wasn't an issue - it will come right off.  I just didn't notice it before I took the photo.

This one was PERFECT!  And on it's way to being a perfect pair...until the second one broke :-(
I did lots more playing over the long weekend...some with great results and some...uh...not so much LOL!  Stay tuned to see them.


Shaiha said...

How about mismatched earrings? They are really popular though I tend to lean more towards symmetry myself.

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

YAY you!! Great job!! By the way, Dremel makes a drill press attachment for the Dremel. It's about $50ish. I got mine at either Home Depot or Lowe's