Saturday, January 12, 2008

Intermediate Jewelry: functional flatware

Well, here it is... my last project of the fall semester for my Intermediate Jewelry Studio.

Both of these pieces are made of Sterling Silver, a combination of sheet metal and forged pieces. At the very least, the part of the service that touches the food has to be silver to be functional... any other type of metal could possibly contaminate your food and make you sick. So, my pieces did not have to be entirely out of silver, but it was both a design choice and ambitious challenge that I made for myself. And I will say this... I was so incredibly nervous working with this much sterling. Combined, I think the materials for this project cost me close to $200. Oh, but it was so worth it... don't my pieces look swell? I made them as a set: an ice cream spade and a pie server.

My design concept came from looking at the gingerbread trim on Victorian houses, and I brought those elements into the pieces with all the piercing (where there are cutouts in the metal). One requirement of this assignment is that the pieces had to be at least 50% forged, meaning that the metal had to be shaped and moved with hammers. My handles are forged.

Now, I have to tell you that I did hot-forging on this project... meaning that I built myself a tiny kiln out of fire bricks and aimed a lit torch into the kiln to take it up to temperature. Using a kiln let me keep my metal hot as I was working it, periodically putting it into the kiln between hammer blows. Working with hot metal makes the metal easier to move and less likely to crack or break (as you pound and shape the metal with hammers, it becomes brittle, and if you don't anneal it or keep it hot, you risk cracking your piece in two). So, now you understand my anxiety... you spend all this money and all this time on a piece and one miscalculation, one second, one mistake could force you to start all over. I know a few people in my class who had to start again just because of this very problem.

I was lucky though: no cracks in my piece at all. I still consider that a miracle, I still don't know how that happened. Luck maybe. Or vigilance. One or the other, take your pick.

Although, I will say this... I am not a forger. My pieces do not really look forged, I could just as easily created my handles from sheet metal as from forged strip stock. My pieces do not really embody the change in thickness or movement that forging can accomplish. So, while my pieces are beautiful and I'm proud of them, they are perhaps not the best example of forging.

So, enjoy. I nearly gave myself a heart attack working on this project, but I'm glad I did it, I'm glad it's over, I'm glad that it turned out so nicely.

The Juicerator

Oh, you thought I was kidding with the name, didn't you. Well, the joke was on you then... because that is this machine's actual name. And let me tell you, aptly named it is.

It was one of Matt's Xmas presents... and he has been a juice-making fiend ever since: using up all the fruit in the house, "yelling" at people who eat "his" fruit instead of turning it into juice, etc. But let me tell you this, the juice is fabulous!

The Juicerator is kind of scary when you turn it on the first time because it sounds like a mini jet engine or a garbage disposal or something... BUT, all that noise is totally necessary because you can put whole apples in there and get awesome juice, pulp free! You have to peel the oranges before you put them in there, but they come out just as thoroughly and deliciously juiced. One night, Matt and I made this pineapple orange juice: to die for!

If you have the scratch (and the cabinet space), I think this is the next purchase that your kitchen needs :) Totally unnecessary, totally awesome, totally fun.

Monday, January 07, 2008

An Interesting Question:

You've recently come into some money... but alas, Fate is a fickle mistress, and the apocalypse is also at hand. You have a month to live.

On what would you spend your money?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Best Movie Moment Ever?

When Warden Norton throws a rock at Raquel Welch.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Word for Your Vocabulary

Pandering: n. (pān'dər'ing)
1 : the act or crime of recruiting prostitutes or of arranging a situation for another to practice prostitution
2 : the act or crime of selling or distributing visual or print media (as magazines) designed to appeal to the recipient's sexual interest
3 : To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses

Where I heard this word: I'm a little emberassed to admit this... but I heard it in that movie with Drew Berrymore and Hugh Grant, "Music and Lyrics." I had no freakin' idea what it meant so I thought that I would look it up and share my findings with the rest of you.

Usage: By allowing her to dance like that, I believe we're pandering.