Author Archives: Annie Kilborn

Cupid’s Bow and Arrow Brooch by Annie Kilborn

Back of Brooch with the sample “trial and error” piece I made out of brass.

What is Valentines Day without Cupid and his bow and arrow? ( See below for materials and tools used)

I began this project with a quick simple sketch to work out the ideal size and shape of “Cupid’s Bow and Arrow” Brooch. I knew that getting the bends in the sterling silver patterned wire “Dotted” would be a little tricky, because the bends would need to occur where the wire was the thickest. Before I attempted to bend the sterling wire, I made a sample in brass, a cheaper material for trial and error.

 

I marked the center, and where I wanted the two main bends to be on the wire. I used a 4mm jump ring maker mandrel in a vise to bend the metal. I bent the two outer bends in the bow to create a U shape with the wire. The metal needed to be annealed a couple times to get the desired bends. I did not initially worry about the bend in the middle, because I removed material with a saw making it much easier to bend after the two main bends were in the wire. I then repeated the process in the silver wire. Then I removed material to create a slight tapper on both ends leaving just the dot on the ends. I also added a tapper toward the middle bend. Once I got the desired shape for the bow, I filed, sanded and polished the tappers and smoothed out the bends. I soldered the pin henge and catch to the back of the bow with hard solder.

Next, I started constructing the arrow by taking 18 gauge sterling silver wire and making 10 pieces that were approximately 3/4” long with a 90° bend in the middle to make the fletching. I lined the pieces up so that they fit snuggly together. I cut the tubing to a 3” length, and removed part of the tubing on a 1/2” area at the end of the tubing exposing the inside. Then I flowed hard solder in the exposed inside of the tubing and pickled it. After pickling, I placed it on top of the 18 gauge wire pieces, and reflowed the solder to attach the pieces. Next, I soldered the other end of the arrow to the middle of the bow leaving enough space to solder the stone setting to the end of the tubing. Next, I soldered on the stone setting completing the arrow.

I took 7” of the the sterling silver patterned wire “Rope #2”, bent it in the middle, and soldered it to the back of the fletching with medium solder. After it was soldered, I took the ends of the “Rope #2” wire and wrapped them around the ends of the bow so that the wire nested into the niches that were made around the dot. I wrapped the wire around itself to create a tide rope effect, cutting of the excess wire so that the end is in the back of the piece. I took the remaining 5” of the rope wire, placed the middle of it behind the bow where the arrow attached, and wrapped it around the bow.

I did all my final sanding and polishing then raised the fine silver. The last few details were setting the cubic zirconia, and put the pin stem on. I put a bend in the pin stem so that it hid behind the bow. I finished of the piece by brass brushing it to create a soft finish on the silver.

MATERIALS USED: 

CUBIC ZIRCONIA – FIRE OPAL – TRIANGLE 10mm

STERLING SILVER 10MM ROUND SNAP-SET – 6 PRONG SETTING – SET/2

STERLING SILVER TUBE – .089″ OD, .009″ WALL

PATTERNED WIRE – STERLING SILVER – DOTTED 12 GAUGE DEAD SOFT – 6″

PATTERNED WIRE – STERLING SILVER ROPE #2 – 16 GAUGE DEAD SOFT – 6” (x2)

WIRE- STERLING SILVER – 18 GAUGE HALF HARD – 1 FOOT

STERLING SILVER PIN FINDING – 2”

TOOLS:

KNEW CONCEPT HAND SAW WITH CAM-LEVER TENSION AND SWIVEL BLADE CLAMPS – 5”

HALF ROUND RING FILE WITH WOOD HANDLE – CUT 4

HAMMER – NYLON

FRETZ PLANISHING HAMMER

ECONOMY TABLETOP SWIVEL VISE

JUMP RING MAKER – SMALL 4MM – 8MM

PLIERS – LINDSTROM EX SERIES – SIDE CUTTER

PLIERS – LINDSTROM EX SERIES – FLAT NOSE

PLIERS – FLAT NOSE

FOREDOM® SR-2220 FLEXIBLE SHAFT KIT – #20 QUICK CHANGE HANDPIECE

SANDING DISCS – ADALOX SNAP ON – 7/8″ MEDIUM

MINIATURE MANDREL – SNAP ON 3/32″ SHANK

SILICONE POLISHER – BLACK BARREL SET – SET OF 4

SMITH® SILVERSMITH™ ACETYLENE AND AIR TORCH KIT WITHOUT TANK 

360° ROTATING SOLDERING PAN WITH PUMICE – 12″ DIAMETER

SOLDERING BLOCK – MAGNESIA

HANDY FLUX 8 OZ

CAMEL HAIR ECONOMY BRUSH – SIZE 3

SILVER SOLDER WIRE- HARD & MEDIUM

Nano Gems – Update

After conducting some further testing of Nano Gems in the Cool Tools Studio, we found that Nano Gems are highly responsive to light. To keep Nano Gems true to color, it is very important to fire with an azure, or a hole for light to pass through, behind the gem. Without an azure, Nano Gems can change color, get muddy or lose luster.

Nano Gems can also change properties when they are fired above certain temperatures, and the maximum temperate that a Nano Gem can be fired to varies from gem to gem. We have found that all of the Nano Gems we currently carry are safe to fire up to 1675°F / 913°C on an open shelf in clay, with the exception of the Dark Orange and Orange, which can be safely be fired up to 1650°F / 899°C on an open shelf in clay.
Initially, we fired the Nano Gems on an open shelf – not in clay. The Nano Gems could be fired up to 1725°F / 940°C safely without change, with the exception of the Dark Orange and Orange which could be fired safely up to 1700°F / 927°C on an open shelf.

The first Nano Gems testing we performed in clay was in FS999 Fine Silver clay on an open shelf, fired at FS999’s recommended firing schedule of 1650°F / 899°C for two hours. The top row of Nano Gems all have azures behind them. They stayed true to color and brilliance. The only exception was with the Amethyst Green, which reflected some champagne tones with the light green ones. The bottom row of Nano Gems do not have any azures, as the gems were placed directly into the clay. All changed greatly in color, clarity and luster. The exceptions were with Orange and the Kryptonite, which just lost some of their luster. You can clearly see the difference the azure makes for the stones appearance. Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

 

The next test we did was similar to the previous, however, we fired the Nano Gems in EZ960 Sterling Silver clay. The sample was fired open shelf at EZ960’s recommended firing schedule of 1675°F / 899°C for two hours. Again, the top row of Nano Gems with the azures behind them stayed true to color and brilliance. The exceptions were with the Dark Orange and Orange, which began to lose their luster and became slightly dull, and the Amethyst Green took on some champagne tones as it did in the FS999. The bottom row of Nano Gems, without the azures, respond very similarly to the ones fired in the FS999. Some did get darker and duller do to the higher firing temperature. At this point it is very evident that the Nano Gems are dependent on an azure to stay true to color and luster. We tested the Dark Orange and Orange in EZ960 and fired open shelf at 1650°F / 899°C and fired for 4 hours. They stayed true to color and brilliance. Both the Dark Orange and Orange cannot be fired above 1650°F / 899°C in clay.

 

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

The third test was the Nano Gems with azures in EZ960 fired in Magic Carbon. It was fired at EZ960’s recommended firing schedule when firing in carbon, which is 1590°F / 865°C for two hours. All fired beautifully, without any change in any of the stones. The test was repeated with FS999 in Magic Carbon fired at 1650°F / 899°C. Once again, they all fired perfectly. As of this writing, we have not tested firing silver clays and Nano Gems in coconut or coal carbon.

The next question… How do the Nanos respond to base metal clays? We did a test strip of Nano Gems with azures fired in Hadar’s One-fire High-fire White Satin fired in coconut carbon fired to 1000°F / 538°C and held for two hours, then continued to fire to 1705°F / 929°C for two hours. All the stones did change due to the higher temperature, with the exception of the Amethyst Green which stayed true to color and luster. Some just darkened and dulled slightly, others changed dramatically. We also did a test strip in Hadar’s One-fire Medium-fire Bronze and fired 1100°F / 599°C and held for two hours, then continued to fire to 1560°F / 849°C for two hours. All of the Nano Gems fired beautifully, with exception of the Dark Orange and Orange. The Dark Orange and Orange do not fire well in coconut carbon; in both samples they turned black as shown below.

 

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We worked on some other tests to get some conclusive evidence on cause and effect of firing Nano Gems. One test was to see if the size of the stone matters. We tested the London Blue Nano Gem in a 2mm, 3mm and 4mm round all with and without azures. All the Nano Gems with azures stayed true to color, and the ones without an azure did not. The upshot being that the size of the Nano Gem does not matter. We tested Cubic Zircons in 4mm round with and without azures to see if they responded to light the same way that Nano Gems do. They do not. There is only a very light change of color and luster when they are placed directly into clay.
All in all, the conclusive finding is to always fire Nano Gems in clay with an azure, or hole for light to pass through behind the gem. If the Nano gem is too small to effectively create an azure behind it, the next best option may be to use a small cubic zirconia instead, as their brilliance is not diminished when placed directly in clay – with or without an azure.

Nano Gems with azures behind them are on the top row.

 

Antique Mold Charm Bracelet by Annie Kilborn

The “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” is a great project for beginners. The simple techniques make a wonderful bracelet, which looks very complex due to all the wonderful elements made from our Antique Molds. We have a huge selection of Antique Molds, with over 800 offered. You can choose to use all of the mold, or just a fragment of it. One of the great things about a charm bracelet is that you get to pick and choose the elements that appeal to you. The individualized compilation of the charms tells a unique story.

After you have chosen the Antique Molds and clay(s), you are ready to begin the project. I chose to work with Hadar’s Clay One-fire High-fire Clays.  Any clay(s) would work well for this project. It would look amazing in FS999 or EZ960 with our new Nano Gems embedded in the charms or set as charms on their own.

I began with Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. I hadn’t had experience with firing copper wire into base metal clays, so I made the seahorse and rose charm with the copper jump  ring embedded into the clay as test samples. After I molded, dehydrated and finished the edges of the forms, I carved out a groove in the back where I wanted the jump ring to nestle. It is important that the jump ring rests below the surface of the backside. After a good fit is found for the jump ring, secure it into place with some paste and clay. Dry out the clay, do any final clean up and fire. I used the recommend firing schedule for Hadar’s Clay One-Fire Copper Clay. The jump rings fired into the clay well. I continued this process for the remainder twelve molds using the other six Hadar’s Clay One-Fire High-Fire Clays. I fired all of these clays together using Hadar’s recommend firing schedule for combined firing.

Once all the charms were fired, I attached them to the “Patterned Wire Chain Bracelet” created for a previous blog. The bracelet was patinated with Patina Gel, buffed with a brass brush and tumbled. After tumbling I did a final polishing with the Ultra Polishing Pads.

I did have some issues with the jump rings dislodging from the two copper pieces during tumbling. I did not have this issue with the other clays. I believe that I thinned out the clay a little too much, which I used to embed the jump ring. This left the clay vulnerable to breaking. To fix this issue, the jump rings were soldered on to the copper pieces with paste solder and a butane torch. I am planning to remake and fire the copper charms to test whether my first clay connections were faulty, or if copper wire does not like to fuse to copper clay. Also, I did tumble the Steel XT and the Pearl Grey. These are steel clays, and they did rust a bit from the water in the tumbler. I would not recommend tumbling these clays. They will look better from just using dry polishing methods. I hope that my “Antique Mold Charm Bracelet” inspires your own custom charm bracelet. Listed below are all of the materials, tools and antique molds I used for this project.

 

 

 

Materials Used:

 

 

 

 

Tools Used:

Bowl for mixing clays

Distilled water

Mini Palette Knife

CoolSlip Anti-Stick Solution

Cool Tools Slik Metal Clay Conditioner and Release

Non-Stick Big Roller 

Tuff Cards – 2.5″ x 3.5″

Cool Tools Clayboard Non-Stick Work Surface 9″ x 9″

Texture Tile – Kazakh Vertical 

Ultra Clay Pick

Tidy Tray – Sanding Tray Small 6″ x 8″

Needle File Set – 6 Pieces – Cut 4

Tropical Shine Sanding Sticks

Foam Healing Tool

Carving Set

Bronze & Copper Clay Firing Kits

Patina Gel 

Scratch Brush – Brass – 4 Row Soft

Lortone® Tumbler

Ultra Polishing Pads

Silver Solder Paste – Medium 1/2oz

Torch – Firefox – Butane Mini Torch

Antique Molds (In order according to the picture):

Horse of the Sea

Star Rose

Xysticus

Halloween Gravestone

Dreamy Dragonfly

Out of the Brush

LOVE

Master Key

Roped Anchor

Give a Hoot

Young Peacock

Comedy/Tragedy

Pretty Purse

Two by Two

Patterned Wire Chain Bracelet by Annie Kilborn

This a fun and simple project for making a chain bracelet or necklace using decorative patterned wire. I chose the “Copper Triple” 16 gauge patterned wire for this project. However, we carry many different wires in various patterns and metals that will be great for this project. There are some options listed below. You can also alternate multiple decorative wires to offer more variation.

Materials used. These are listed below with corresponding links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you have chosen the decorative pattern, decide how long or what part of the pattern you would like to use for the segments of the chain. It is best if the segments do not exceed one inch in length. Longer segments will hinder the kinetics of the bracelet or necklace. Use a marker or scribe to mark where you would like to divide the patterned wire. Plan out where you want to drill your holes. You will need one hole on each end of the segment. Use a center punch to mark where your holes will be, and drill them out. It is easier to drill your holes in the long pattern wire before you cut it into segments. This gives you more surface area to hold onto while drilling. I used a #60 drill bit to accommodate the18 gauge round copper wire jump rings. After the holes are drilled, you can use a jewelers saw or wire cutters to divide up the patterned wire. Use a file to clean up the ends of the wire were you cut, and then polish to give a smooth edge.

I used a Fretz raising hammer to give a light hammer texture to the wire. This gives the refined wire a unique look. After hammering the wire, I gave each segment a slight bend to help work with the curvature of the wrist. If you are making a necklace leave the pieces flat. I also gave the clasp a hammer texture in some of the areas to help it pair with the patterned wire on the chain. This also helps the look vary from its manufactured aesthetic. I chose the “Copper Plate Toggle Clasp- Plain Leaf” for the clasp, but we carry many different clasps to choose from for this project.

I made copper wire jump rings with the “Jump Ring Maker” 4mm mandrel. You can use a saw or wire cutters to cut the jump rings. After they are cut clean up the ends with a file. Use a round needle file to clean up the drilled holes in the segments of the patterned wire. You want the jump rings to move freely in the holes. Connect all the segments and the clasp with the jump rings to finish your bracelet or necklace.  You can patina and polish the final piece to help the pattern in the wire pop. Now you have a unique chain bracelet or necklace made from a beautiful decorative patterned wire.

 

 

 

MATERIALS:

TOOLS: 

 

There are also other wires we carry that can be used for this project. I have included a picture of them and their corresponding name & product code below.

 

Skulls Earrings by Annie Kilborn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday the 13th! The perfect day to learn from Annie Kilborn on how to create these unique Skulls Earrings! These earrings are Annie’s FIRST metal clay project she has done.

 

Materials:

FS999™ Fine Silver Clay 

Cubic Zirconia – Jet Black – Cabochon Round – Checkerboard – 6mm (2 Packs)

Fine Silver Bezel Cup – Plain Round 6mm 

Cool Tools Patina Gel – Live of Sulfur in Gel Form 

 

Tools:

Antique Mold – Toxic

Makin’s Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder 

Bezel Roller 

Curved Burnisher – Slim

Tuff Cards Teflon Project Cards

Cool Tools Clayboard Non-stick Work Surface 9″ x 9″

Cool Slip Anti-Stick Solution

Cool Tools Clay Thickness Rolling Frames

Ultimate Non-Stick Roller – 11″ Length

 

Making the Skulls:

Roll out a slab of FS999™ Fine Silver clay 4 cards thick. Lightly cover the Antique Mold “Toxic,” a skull and crossbones image with the Cool Slip. Gently press the slab into the Antique Mold. You will just use the skull area of the mold, so the excess clay can be cut away and used for the next skull pressing. Before removing the skull from the mold, let the clay set dry slightly so it will keep its shape and not distort when removing from the mold.  Once removed from the mold, take the extra clay off from around the skull area.  Allow it to dry. You will need to make six skulls. Once they are dry refine by sanding the edges and sanding flat spots on the back.

Making Earring Wires:

This pair of earrings was created for a stretched ear. Use the Makin’s Professional Ultimate Clay Extruder with a round template to get a long coil for the earring wires.  Make a template on a piece of paper of the shape that you want the earring wire to take. Include the area in which the skulls and stones will be placed. The backside of these pieces will attach to the wire. Next, take the coil and form it to the shape created on the paper. Then repeat, so you have the same shape wire for both earrings. Let them dry. Once they are dry, taper one of the ends of both wires. This will be the end that feeds through the ear.  Sand down a flat spot on the wire where the skulls and stones will attach.

Making the Settings for the Stones:

Get four 6mm Fine Silver Bezels Cups and four 6mm Jet Black Cubic Zirconia Round Cabochons with the Checkerboard pattern. Sand down the tops of the bezel cups to fit the stones. Once you have a good fit, set the stones in the cups using a bezel roller to rock over the walls of the cup to hold the stone. Then use a curved burnisher to smooth out the sides of the bezel once the stone is set. Rough up the back of the bezel cups so that you will get a good bond to the clay when firing.

Assembling the Elements:

Create a clay slip by adding water to a small amount of the FS999 fine silver clay.  Lightly, brush on some water to the dried skulls and wire where you want them to join.  Add slip to both parts where they will connect. Then connect with gentle pressure. Add the stones by adding slip to the back of the bezels and join to the slipped area of the wire. Repeat until all the skulls and gems are attached to the wire.  Allow to dry. Once it is dry, do all final sanding and refining. Once refined fire following the firing directions for FS999 fine silver clay.

Surface Finishing Techniques:

Once the earrings are fired and have cooled, clean with a brass brush, soap and water. Once they are clean, tumble them.  After tumbling, patina with Cool Tools Patina Gel to a dark black patina.  Then buff back the patina to reveal the wonderful detail in the earrings.