Monthly Archives: August 2011

Some new rings — casting metal around stones

I’ve been working on a quick’n'easy way to do lost wax rings using the limited amount of gear that I have here. I start with a plaster cylinder, around which I form the jewelry in wax, with the actual stone mounted in the wax. Then I do a traditional lost wax process, and I leave the stone in place after burning out the wax, so when I pour the metal in, it forms around the stone. I’m thinking this is the easiest way for me to do what would otherwise be hopelessly ambitious settings. The first two rings below are made out of tumbled semi-precious stones that I bought for $0.20 at the CNE, and the third (the Fortress of Solitude looking thing) is a fluorite crystal. I have two more of these and I quite like how they look.

These are the first three — the first set of — lost wax rings that I’ve ever made, so I anticipate getting much better as my skills increase. I am happy with how these turned out, but every time I look at the pictures I cringe because I see something that I could do better. I got a book today about jewelry techniques — stone setting and stuff like that — so I have a very long list of things I want to try, in addition to all the things I just want to improve. That said, don’t be surprised if these are for sale in the shop!

Works in Progress: Robocop jewelry + Babynaut

I finished a few new molds today and quickly popped out the first items from them. I have to apologize because I dusted a bit too much graphite into the molds so there are some surface imperfections (like the mottling most obviously). Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit because this problem will not be in anything else I pull out of the mold, but I’m stepping away from this for a few days and I wanted to post the work before melting down these test casts.

Let me start by showing you the Robocop jewelry, being done in a variety of forms, that I’m doing on commission. Unless I get a C&D from the good folks at Orion Pictures I’d like to do a limited run of ten and put them in my soon to be released webshop (which I guarantee you will be up before the end of this September. Here’s the ring version:

The actual commission was for Robocop pendants, not rings, so here is that same design but for a necklace or keychain. In part to make it lighter and more convenient, and in part as a learning exercise, I made it hollow with a screw-on plug (which you may have noticed has the Omni Consumer Products logo) so it also serves as a mini-stash for cash or recreational medication or whatever. I made it by getting some PVC 1/2″ irrigation pipe fittings and mounting them in the clay master.

Can I just say what a headache it is to try and carve “OCP POLICE 001″ in itsy bitsy 1.5mm high lettering? Yikes!

Finally, there is also a no-helmet version of Officer Murphy (i.e. Peter Weller). Before people compliment me on my portraiture sculpting skills, I should admit that I was provided with a model kit to use as a basis. It had lots of problems and shortcomings and I put in a solid ten to fifteen hours of work on this project. Because the model expects a body, I added a gristly stump.

Gosh, that makes me unable to resist the urge to post “Murphy It’s You” from the sadly fictional Robocop: The Musical.

In addition to those, in my series of “character rings” that you’ve been seeing, I also finished off the mold of the Astrobaby/Cosmobaby sort of guy. Same thing — this is the quickie test cast I made today. The final one has gemstones in the eye of course. This is currently in a size 7 I think, maybe smaller, but I made it small so that it can be fitted for any size from that on up to probably a 12 at the most, meaning it’ll fit most women and essentially all men.

Stay tuned for some more traditional jewelry that I’ll post later tonight.

Two Ring Teasers and a One-Off Metal Cup

I feel a little lost right now because Nefarious has headed down to her mother’s for a while (although I think we’ll see her next in a few weeks for a visit) because after five years of schooling (can you believe it’s been that long) here in Toronto, she’s getting her little-girl-wish (and her mother her big-girl-wish) and finally spending some serious time with her mom and doing the school year there. As you can imagine it was a very difficult and heart-breaking decision, but I tried to balance all the issues, needs, desires, and so on, and I thought it was the right thing to do. I feel very empty about it and I know that even with effort made to stay occupied the first month will be very desolate and I dread my emotions.

But I don’t want to write about that at length and make myself sadder than I am so let me share with you a couple of teasers. Here are two rings that I’m working on for “the shop”. The first of course is another variant on the Ken-doll ring (like the superhero ring that I just showed off), a mechanical man. Sort of steampunk I guess but I don’t want to go down that slippery slope. I’ve been wanting to make a Styx Mr. Roboto mask (which is definitely a much more deranged and disturbing looking cybord) when I get a chance. Anyway, the other one is a spacebaby, a toddler astronaut based on the gear that Yuri Gagarin wore. Stars (well… CZ 3mm rounds) for eyes.

Those are just the current versions of the master sculptures. Speaking of mechanical men, I’m also doing a really fun Robocop jewelry comission that’s turning out great, but I think I’m going to sit on it until it’s actually up for sale because with any luck I can get some viral attention to drive sales and I don’t want to blow my potential load early.

I’m doing some more fiddling with lost wax casting (usually I make silicone molds). I’ve showed off number one and two — since then I’ve switched to a microcrystaline wax, a grotesque earwax clone — and unfortunately I didn’t have the sense to photograph number three — it’s a stunningly cute dog’s head ring that Nefarious made for her mother. She did all the wax carving — literally all of it, she wouldn’t even take my advice — and I did the lost wax procedure. It turned out great and we both aced our responsibilities. So this is now my fourth lost wax experiment and I pushed it further, with more complex shapes and a really aggressive level of detail. To be honest the biggest problem was getting all the plaster out of said detail. I still haven’t gotten it all out, but the patina treatment hides my laziness a bit. By the way, an electric toothbrush turned out to be the ideal cleaning tool, which isn’t too surprising.

Actually, I did have a bigger problem making this. After I poured the pewter into the mold, I took a break and laid down and read the latest comics in the Ender’s Game series (based on the Orson Scott Card sci-fi books). When I returned to check on the mold I found it lying on the floor, partially broken, with a hardened pool of molten metal underneath. Judging by the amount of metal, I was pretty worried that I was going to have major holes in the cup’s body and dog knows how much aesthetic mutation. Thankfully it still turned out alright.

In the end I lost a lot of the interior, which I fixed using the dubious method of melting the escaped metal with a soldering gun, letting the drips fill in the unwanted holes. It’s not perfect, but it did work. You can see that the inside leaves a little to be desired, but at least it’s there now. The alternative was to paint the outside with a protectant silicone layer to stop leaks, and then slosh around some molten pewter. I’m sure that would have turned out a lot nicer… but… although patience may is a virtue, it sadly is not my virtue.

I have no idea why my plans for the one-offs are. I may just melt them down and call it education.

Damn, I cast a lot of pewter yesterday and today!

On the big road trip that we just got back from, whenever I had a spare moment I was carving the masters for various jewelry and sculpture items. There is still loads of stuff in the queue, but I had a chance over the last couple days to make plenty of molds and have run a couple test casts, as well expanding my stock for the store. Clock’s ticking there — should just be a couple weeks now and I’ll have much of this for sale. Apologies for my dirty hands in the pictures… I’ve been working with graphite and other hard to clean stuff since I got back. Anyway… huge entry begins now.

Production Rings

I’ve got a bunch of production rings that are good to go now. By production I mean that I have molds and they don’t use any one-off components (like the meteorite rings do for example) so I can manufacture as many of them as I’d like. One of the new ones is this “ugly ogre” ring, for lack of a better title. I just made it for a goof really, passing the time doing some silly carving, but when it turned out nicely I decided to finish it off. This one has an 8mm lab grown ruby set in the eye socket.

I also made a SUPERHERO RING that I’m pretty thrilled with. It’s based on one of the old plastic Ken Doll rings that I made ages ago. I fabricated a mask for one of them and made a new mold.

Of course I’ve also been making more brainiac skull rings

…and my “Little Acky” (baby General Ackbar… IT’S A TWAP!) rings as well.

“Littlest Monster Shop” Paper Weights

As you know I have been making sculptures based on Nefarious’s “Littlest Pet Shop” toys in which I edit them to turn them into monsters and characters from various science fiction or horror fantasies. You may remember the “Mad Monkey” steampunk-esque alchemist that I’ve posted before. Stock is expanding on him. As I build up a mold collection, each time I do a casting run my stock grows exponentially.

While on the trip, I had along a chipmunk and I asked Caitlin and Nefarious how I should change it (I’ve been doing one-offs in plastic that I have posted in previous entries… I’m not sure if I’m going to go back and take molds off them or not) and they told me that I should make it out of wood. So wood it is — half faux wood, with leaves for ears, and a patch of mushrooms growing on the top of the head for hair. With that Gaia-vibe, I’ve also put a globe on the back of the head.

Today I carved a zombie pig while I waited for Nefarious at the swimming pool.

Froggy-Man Loves His Dino-Tooth

I made a little keychain or amulet that is holding (lovingly I think) a genuine fossil of a spinosaurus (think raptor meets sailfish) tooth. Right now it’s on a keyring but there’s no reason it can’t go on a chain instead. This was another idle carving. I’d coiled a piece of clay around the tooth (heavily lubricated so it wouldn’t stick) and never really thought about what I would make out of it. I think originally I got mixed up and thought it was a different tooth, one from a sea monster, and was going to do tentacles, but when I came to my senses and lost that plan, I just spent a minute staring at it with an empty mind, saw a silly character within the clay, and did my best to free him.

One-Off Custom Rings

Finally, I’m working on a wide variety of custom rings… Custom as in there will only be one made, because the ring is designed to fit a specific special item (like a fossil or a pretty rock) that I only have one of. For example, I had a bag of assorted semi-precious stones, and inside was this red-brown stone with sort of an “eyeball” on one side. Nefarious fell in love with it and asked me to make her a ring to hold it, so carved a gnarly “witch socket” with gross warty eyelids, a ridged “stalk” for the circumference of the ring, and then a monster mouth hiding on the inside part. Surprisingly it actually looks quite classic and formal when worn!

I also had a really cool little fossil of a sea urchin, with lots of detail, that I wanted to do something with. I guess I didn’t feel terribly inspired, and I thought that the item was so nice on its own anyway, so I carved a simple vertebrae/backbone design and mounted the urchin inside this curved spine.

Finally — I know, I know, this has been a monster of a bandwidth-killing entry — I made a ring built around a fossil of a seashell. I get that these shell fossils, even one as detailed and perfect as this one, are very common, so I wanted to go above-and-beyond. I carved a pair of merpeople, a mermaid and a merman holding a trident, with a shark swimming between them. I had to sculpt this whole thing under a magnifying glass!!! It’s interesting — my hands shake quite a lot, but the shaking largely stops when I work under a magnifying glass the shaking all but stops. Maybe it’s some sort of feedback loop?

Now I just need to find the perfect host for the store, because I have a looooong list of reasons why Etsy is a big turn-off.

More Pewter Jewelry for the Store

Assuming all goes as planned with the launch of my much considered much delayed little online store, I should be able to do the launch with lots of neat stuff. Here’s what’s sitting next to me right now…

The first of the two (four?) new things is my “Little Acky”, a baby version of Admiral Ackbar that I made on request for my daughter. I may still fine tune the design because I just got some new files and cutting/engraving bits in the mail today and feel like I can greatly improve the detail level. That said I might just move on to newer projects. In addition to the “plain” (just patina’d pewter) I made a second one with a couple mini CZs in the ears plus a couple of oval simulated emeralds in the eyes.

For the brainy skull ring — and I know you’ve seen both of these before in plastic — I filled the eyes with a pair of rubies. The picture really doesn’t do these stones justice — they are really, really vibrant.

Well, I hope none of this post is nonsense. More than once I’ve looked back at the sentence being typed and realized it’s complete gibberish. Random words plucked out of unrelated daydreams trying to turn into sleep-dreams. I spent the entire day working crazy hard, mostly on carpentry, so I have the aweful fear that I won’t have functioning arms/hands tomorrow. I’ve been dropping stuff nonstop. Anyway, barring catastrophe, tomorrow we leave on a road trip so you may not hear from me in a while.