Today I am going to talk about 2 other nifty tools that will greatly increase your jewelry making abilities, and work great at home in a smaller space, and don't require any torches or soldering; a dapping block, and a disk cutter.
NOTE: The premise behind these posts is to help folks create a safe, affordable studio and to teach skills that one could learn without a class. I have not included soldering or using a torch. I believe that you can do tons of amazing stuff without a torch, but there are of course some limitations. Metal is obviously hard and doesn't bend or form easily. In addition to soldering, a torch is great for something called annealing. Annealing is a process of heating up your metals, (wire and sheet) to make them more malleable, less brittle, more formable. If you have worked in wire before, you may have noticed that it feels like it's getting harder as you work with it. It is getting harder, that's called work hardening. Annealing will soften up your work hardened metals.
If you don't have a torch however, the best metal to work in is copper, it is the most malleable. Then silver and brass. Nickel is very hard and won't be much fun. If you are just cutting and texturing is it fine, but if you want to move the metal, I would avoid nickel.
|The disk cutter: we call it Pepe|
Everybody loves Pepe the disk cutter. Infact I don't even tell my beginning students about Pepe because I want them to learn to saw rather than relying on him. Also, it can get pretty boring seeing a bunch of circle designs all day long. However, Pepe can come in handy and will be a great addition to your home studio.
Disk cutters come in a variety of sizes. The Rio catalog has 3, and now that I am looking at them, they are actually pretty pricy. The most expensive is $525!!! The one I would get is $265, but I bet if you search around, you can even find them cheaper.
So Pepe will cut up to 11 different circles that can then be used in a variety of ways. With these cutters, you want to use softer metals, mainly copper and silver. You can cut nickel and brass, but it dulls the cutting edges on the punches. I would recommend using a 20 gauge sheet or thinner when using a disk cutter.
When using a disk cutter it is best to use a brasshead mallet. (Brass is also best when stamping)
There are tons of possibilites with using circles, and all the stuff I have discussed in the previous posts can be applied to circles: cutting out shapes from the inside, texturing, patina, drilling or punching holes...
One of the coolest things you can do with a disk is to put it into a dapping block and begin to form it into a dome.
|Steel dapping block, wood dapping block, punches and hammers.|
A dapping block is a piece of steel or wood with different sized round cavities. Punches are big steel rods with a ball on the end that we use to form the metal in the cavity. To start, take one of your circles and place it in a big cavity, then as it forms to the cavity, move it to progressively smaller cavities. Since your metal is un-annealed, you don't want to force it into a small cavity, it will get stuck. With un-annealed metal, it is pretty hard to get a perfect deep dome. You can still do lots with shallower domes however. In general, it's a good idea to try to transform your flat metal into 3D whenever you can.
|Use a steel hammer or a plastic mallet to hit the punch that is hitting the disk.|
|Textured copper, brass and nickel dapped disks.|
For more info and ideas on stamping and texturing and working without a torch, I highly recommend the website http://www.beaducation.com/
Beadeducation will give you tons of info and ideas, and sells really cool stuff to stock your studio.
Finally, the coolest and most useful tool I have and no one should live without...A BRASS BRUSH
|This is a brass brush. It has soap on it...|
|Brass brush, dishsoap and H2O.|
If you have any questions about anything, please let me know. If you have any ideas you want to add about creating a home jewelry studio, we'd love to hear from you!
|Student work: holes punched out with Pepe.|
|Student work: Petals formed using a dapping block.|