I know it takes time to develop certain skills, to make my items look like what I see others (who have been doing the same thing I'm interested in, but they've been practicing for YEARS to get where they are) and I chicken out on even making the attempt.
The latest thing I'm wanting to learn is metal work. Stamping, firing, anything and everything. I look at all the blogs I follow and see those who have taken up metal working and how it's expanded their abilities and skills and I think, "Wow! I could so do that! It looks so easy I could just pick it right up!" And, it's entirely likely that I could pick it right up. I'm not stupid or lacking in skills. I can read quite well (started reading in kindergarten where I grew up) and I'm not afraid to try new things.
What I am afraid of is failing. But, failing is a good way to learn. Especially if you don't have classes you can attend. Reading, following the written and pictoral directions, and making mistakes that you learn from is how you get good at something. If you (or, should I say "I") don't ever try, you/I won't learn and you/I won't improve to the point others are saying "That looks easy! Bet I could do that, too!" By the way, making it look easy is the mark of a good craftsman/woman.
Well, this weekend I finally took a deep breath and took... not "the plunge" so much as a toe-dip in the water. I'm working on a new lanyard to go with my Fishes & Loaves design and I'm working it in copper. I have copper wire, so that's no problem. I also have copper necklace links if I want to go that route so, again, no problem. What I don't have is copper headpins.
What I also have is a hand-held micro torch. And it's loaded. And I have the reloads if I need them. And, I also have copper wire! Real copper, not the copper-coated artistic wire, but the real thing (from Lowe's, if anyone's curious). 24 gauge.
I took another deep breath, cut several 3" pieces, flicked on my torch, picked up a piece in my special don't-get-burned! pliers and went to town.
AND IT WORKED! WOO HOO! YES!
I remembered that one blog I read said you should heat the whole wire length slightly, first, before attempting to create the ball at the end and I did that. Then I remembered what someone else's article said about holding the wire so it pointed into the flame and I did that. Then, on a whim, while holding the whole thing over a bowl of water (in case any of the wire decided to cut loose and fall) I rotated both hands so the flame was pointing up at the wire that I was holding into the flame.
Did you know copper, when it starts to ball up, will run UP from the flame? It was totally cool to see! Then, I also remembered what someone said about, if you want the head pins to have a rosy-pink look to them, you need to drop them in the water while they're glowing so I did that with several.
Here's just a few of the results so far:
|Several copper headpins, work hardened, buffed and |
ready to be used ~ EEEEEEE!
|A closer look ~ you can see both "normal" copper headpins|
and rose colored headpins
Once I realized I was ACTUALLY MAKING HEADPINS, much squealing and bouncing in the chair ensued. I was fairly giddy over my success.
I also quickly learned that annealed 24g copper wires is very, VERY soft and you want to work harden it with very, very gentle taps of your hammer before trying to get the fire scale off (very gentle, you don't want to flatten the wire, just re-harden it)
Also, I know you're supposed to pickle the wire after it's been cooled, but I didn't (and still don't) happen to have any pickle (I always think of Vlasic Dills when anyone says "pickle" and I know that's not what that means!) but I also remember reading (again!) that you can make your own pickle from household items. Does anyone remember or have that recipe? It's a LOT of work getting that scale off!
So, lesson learned. Don't just decide to try something new at the Expert end of the spectrum. Just because it LOOKS easy, it isn't. Those Experts have worked HARD to get where they are. Take the small steps, first. Make those copper headpins. Once you/I are/am comfortable with that (and have made several dozen! EEEEEEE!) then move on to the next level. It isn't sink or swim, it's get in slowly and work up to that Freestyle stroke!
p.s., once again I forgot the date/time for a Hop I signed up for, the UK Inspiration Challenge. (sigh) I think I'm going to quit signing up for hops and simply try to make the challenge of each hop a personal goal. That is, I'll set myself the challenge to create whatever the hop is for, but not sign up. I think it's sad when someone signs up for a challenge, then doesn't "show up" for it (as it were). Guess I'm just a sad, sad person this last couple of months! :( Be that as it may, you should go visit the sites of those who DID "show up" for this interesting challenge: