Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How To: Prepare New Buffing Wheels

Whenever you get new buffing wheels for your polishing motor it is important that you prepare the wheels before you charge them with polishing compound. This is my new two spindled polishing motor. It really should be up about 6 inches, but I have limited space for now.

 Inside it has a fan and a place for an air filter. This is pretty important because polishing compound is pretty nasty stuff you don't want in the air or your lungs. PLUS, you can send your air filter to a refiner and they can recover the precious metal from it. This is especially important working with platinum or gold.
 First thing you do is put the wheel on. You don't need to screw it on or anything: just turn on the motor put the hole up to the spindle with a break-away grip and it will take that wheel itself.
 Whabam! Now your wheel is spinning at a terrifying speed.

 Whenever using a buffing motor it is important to *always* have a breakaway grip. NEVER lock your fingers into your piece. If your piece catches on your wheel and you are entwined with the item the wheel will take the piece and your fingers with it. A scratch or bent prong is not worth loosing your fingers over. Also, don't polish chains on a wheel. There are special dowels you can buy to safely wrap your chain around while you use the motor, otherwise you risk creating a metal whip spinning at 6,000 rmp and loosing fingers (or worse) along with ruining the piece. Am I scaring you yet? Good. This is an important tool that can quickly become dangerous if used wrong.

Finally, there is about a 40 degree area that is safe to polish on. If you polish outside that area its more likely your piece will catch on the wheel and go flying. When you polish ideally your arms will be at 90 degree angle at about your belly button, braced by your hips with your feet planted firmly shoulder width apart.

Preparing a wheel is simple. Just take a hard piece of metal like a flat head screw driver or, like I'm using, the tang on an old file and press it into the wheel. Bits and pieces of material should go flying everywhere.  Move it side to side until the fly aways pretty much stop and then you are good to go. This is a good way of also getting excess or old/used compound off your wheels.

 Finally add your compound. See how I am applying it in that 40 degree area? That is what you want. As you can see, my motor is a bit low which is why I have had alot of pieces get caught by the wheel and go flying.

On Wheels and Compounds:

Different compounds can take different kinds of wheels. Tripoli can be apply to either a pressed felt wheel (which you can choose either a plain wheel or knife edge), chamois, or muslin. Because tripoli is an early polish and still has alot of cutting power a different wheel will give different results. A pressed felt wheel is the hardest and can be used to clean up edges. I've used the side of a knife edge pressed felt to polish the edges of my back plates and it does wonders crisping up the edges and making the whole piece look thicker! A knife edge will also get into narrow areas, but because it still has cutting power it can leave marks if you don't go fast enough. Felt will cut what it touches and will not  necessarily give an even polish to something with raised detail, so that's where your muslin wheels come in. The layers of muslin opens up a bit so they envelope the piece and can reach most detail spots. As you go up in polish grades the wheels need to become softer material so they don't scratch the piece. Sure, tripoli and Zam you can use most any wheel on, but your final polish should be imparted with something soft like muslin.

I have worked with people who are super anal about not contaminating wheels with the wrong compound, and others who literally throw the wheels and compounds all in the same box. Most folks say avoid getting any lower grit compound on your higher grit wheels and clean thoroughly between polishes.

Right now I am only doing two polishes on the wheel. I use red tripoli then go to red rouge. Ideally I would be using Zam between the two for an even brighter polish. Fabuluster is also a great product for silver which i use on my flex shaft and some of my stones. Compound isn't too pricey so you can play around and decide what you like the most.

I'd like to hear what polishes my reader like to use. Anyone use the different tripolis, yellow, white or red? What do you like to finish with? Do you use something different for different metals?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brand New Jacobs Lamb

 We finally got our first lamb! Although we just set John out with the girls in the pasture, Sparkles was the first to succumb to Johns ramly good looks and was very protective of him the first few days, so she was first with her baby. The other two we have no idea on their due dates. Sparkles only had one which  is okay since this was her very first. Crazy aunt Wilda tried to the her baby but Shawn was able to get her away and seperate mom and baby so they could bond. Sparkles was still trying to figure out what happened when I took these pictures and what this little thing is (its only a few hours old), but she is taking the more and more interest in it. I believe I saw her letting it suckle from her.
 The cutie was all wobbly headed when I first saw it like in the video above. Then it saw me and it locked its eyes on me.

 Creeeeeepy stare, kiddo. Do something cute. Now.
 AWW! its trying to get up!
 AW! LOOK AT THE LONG LEGS! By the way, do you know what two shakes of a lambs tail looks like?
Heres mommy. She's not the friendliest of sheep, a little wary of people.

Momma and baby: healthy and happy!

So John is offically a proud daddy now. Crazy Aunt Wilda stayed by the pen reeeeeally wanting the baby for herself. Since it wasn't hers she was offering unsolicited advice to Sparkles (thats her bleeting in the video above). Wilda is pretty huge so I expect she has triplets which can be pretty dangerous to birth. But she is a super sheep so I think she will be fine. Sparkles' mom is also due soon. We are basically letting the pasture birth so the good breeders survive and the bad ones...well, we don't have bad ones. I believe in all my girls!

There is a chance that baby will die. Lambs as very fragile so no names yet. If it makes it past a week then we can name it and sex it. For now, its just "baby."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Soldering Skillz

So I started making a set of earrings from wire and decided at some point to share a little.

first off, I had a ton of solder joints. All the bends in the wire i notched the wire, bent the wire then soldered in the notch to give it strength again. As you can see I used my tweezers as heat sinks to prevent certain joints from accidentally flowing. For the most part I was able to use hard solder, but the spot that had 4 joints at once I decided to use medium on. you can see in the picture below H for hard solder, M for medium. No need for easy.

 I then put on the earring post with medium, again using tweezers to prevent that one joint from accidentally getting too much heat and flowing on me.
 I then added the wires for the pearls and soldered them closed. I polished up the prongs so they were smooth.
 I decided to try something so i oxidized the posts
 And tumbled them so the oxidation became permanent....i might touch up a little to make the darker once they are set.
 Aand this is what i got: black tourmaline and pearls. Super classy.  I overworked one prong so i gotta re-solder it, then liver of sulfur, then tumble then reset. le sigh. Almost done, though. Hope it gives you some ideas how to solder lots of joints together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Year, New Stuff, New Attempt to Blog

 Hello there! It has been a while, hasn't it? Well, you every not do something for a wihle, then feel guilty about not doing then avoid it because you feel bad? yeah, thats me an blogging. Plus, work was crazy for a few months, but it looks like I'm going back to being a poor artist with a night time kitchen job again (how did i end up here again?) so, I'll have time to blog! yay!

So what have I been up to? Well, jewelery making was great during December. I've almost been keeping my hands in the dirt (so to speak) at the farm. Remember I got a ram in September? no? did i not ?...oh well. So I got me a ram in September and he was only 7 months, not proven yet, kinda small, but his bloodlines looked good and he was soooo handsome so I took a gamble on buying him. Once we got John to the farm we let him loose. He had spent all weekend next to a ewe in heat and was rarin' to go, so he immediately chased the girls around. and around. and circles. The poor llama was so confused about what was upsetting the herd! she was just chasing everyone! It was like watching a benny hill skit. Anyway, almost 4 months later we are expecting lambs.

 Isn't John cute with his freckles?
 Gonna be so handsome....
 He's got crazy eyes though with the different sized spots. He's learning from Wilda to be friendly.
 Now, like I said, he's not proven, but I know he tried. Sparkles was the first to submit to his manly demeanor, so assuming that he was actually cycling when he arrived we should be expecting from her on the 16th. Its my first time doing this and with limited means so really we should have kept John away from them for another two weeks so they lambed in early march, but its been really mild this year so we may luck out with weather...and maybe the grass will start growing again early, too.

We arn't going to shear them until May. Shawn had some bad experiences with that once before and Oregon weather is strange. I say let them keep their coats until it actually is warm. But for the lambs they needed to be shaven on their bellies so the lambs can reach their teats. He did that yesterday and said they weren't flat (so they are pregnant), but they arn't full yet. Halfway full, so he thinks a few more days at least. I was expecting fatter looking sheep so I am glad to hear their teats are filling. Way to go John! you did your job! Expect cute lamb pictures soon.

As I said, I have been doing jewelry, too. Here are a few pieces I've completeled recently.

Rough Spectrolite Ring

Cacoxenite Amethyst Cuff

Turquoise Nuggest and Pearls Necklace and Matching Earrings