Friday, April 4, 2014

Firsts - Attempts & Trips

So, I made my first attempt at forging a copper bracelet. I took some 6g copper wire, annealed it (as much as you can with a hand-held butane torch) and hammered the snot out of it (annealing as needed). I then hammered one area slightly wider than the rest so I could stamp words on it. Once that was complete, I worked and worked to bend a bracelet. I learned several things in this 1st attempt:
1) 6g wire is a bear to work with when it starts to harden. Anneal, anneal, anneal!
2) Having some sort of mandrel to curve &/or hammer your bracelet into shape is a must, you just end up with a fairly rough looking bangle otherwise (still, not too horrible, I wear it proudly!).
3) Use block letters to stamp when you want a long word or a sentence. Cutsie letters are fine for single or simple words, but not so much for a whole sentences.
4) It's gonna take time and effort to get what you're after so don't give up. It can be done, just not (usually) on the 1st try.

Here are a few photos of my first attempt:

As you can see, the lettering is hard to read as cutsie swirls. My next attempt will be block letters and I have a few ideas for getting them set where I want instead of just "eyeballing" it.  You can also see how rough the (non-)circle of the bangle is.

Another angle to show the wording and the rough look. I don't mind some "roughness" to my work but I want it to be deliberate, not because I haven't done a good enough job.
HOWEVER!!! In the second pic you'll notice an arrow pointing to a small, soldered area? YES!! I FINALLY WORKED UP THE NERVE TO DO MY FIRST SOLDER JOB!! WOO HOO! You should'a seen me doing the giggly version of the Happy Hamster Dance. Ooooorrrr, maybe not (HA!). ANYwho! I found some no-flux-needed copper solder at Lowe's (in a handy-dandy little syringe-type dispenser) and this is what I used. Obviously it doesn't look copper, but it's apparently for use with copper. I don't care. IT'S MY FIRST JOB! I'll admit, it's a bit rough looking, too, but I STILL DID IT! (giggles ensuing again)  I worked those two ends over until they were fairly smooth in bumping against each other, then I applied the paste and then the flame. This is a low-temp solder so my little butane torch was more than adequate. It did take me a couple of tries or so because I didn't let it heat enough to set (I got nervous) but it's solid, now. I've even tried pulling and tugging that area. Nope! Not coming apart.
So, being of a mind to continue in this vein, I have ordered my 1st mandrel from Amazon and I also ordered a pair of black, bending pliers. Supposedly they are good for shaping heavier metals for rings and bracelets. (yes, I'm afraid I'm a bit tool-mad at times!) If you'd like to see them, follow this link. They looked like a good idea to me so I'll give you a review on them once I've gotten them and tested them out.

Now, about the "& Trips"  part of my title. Saner Sister and I took The Toad on his first road trip over to the coast. We found out the Avila/Pismo area of California is quite pet friendly and, in some cases, beyond welcoming to your furry, four legged friend. The Toad had a ball. Saw his first hotel (Sea Crest in Pismo, for any interested parties, is one of the top places to stay in my opinion), then saw the ocean for the 1st time (wasn't sure what to think of that!) and met several other pooches out enjoying the surf. Wore. Him. OUT!  We also enjoyed eating at The Custom House in Avila. They have a patio area where we were able to sit with The Toad and they even have a PET MENU you can order from for your dog! Saner Sister & I laughed, then stopped laughing and ordered The Toad some hotdog (called "Who Let The Dogs Out") which sent him to Toad Dog Heaven. He was quite spoiled on that trip but he had a blast. Here's a few pics of his time over there:

Not sure what to think of it all. Top left, loved sniffing the kelp!
Center right, his first encounter with a wavelet. He was having
NONE of it! Meeting friends, of course.  Bottom right, watching
crazy humans on surf boards from the pier. Wasn't too crazy
about the pier walk. Wanted off that thing, now!
Top left, 1st glimpse of the ocean. Bottom row, having fun
chasing things (birds, waves, other dogs). Middle left,
the look he gave me the day I told him we were getting ready
to go home. Guess he liked getting spoiled being w/Momma
and Saner Sister all day, every day.
(Saner Sister tho't we'd better get in at least one pic w/the Toad, hence the selfie)  So, everyone had fun, The Toad and I got dunked at least once (a wave was higher than we tho't it was going to be) and everyone went home exhausted and happy. Now, back to the routine of the Evil Day Job, walking the Toad (and working on manners, he forgot those with his vacation!), and getting back into the craft room.