Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On the Construction of a Copper Armillary Sphere

Apart from making jewelry for Lithic Design, I have found over the past couple years that I really love making art objects.  Astronomical and nautical instruments have always fascinated me, so I figured an armillary sphere might be the perfect Summer project. 

Armillary spheres are representations of the celestial circles around the Earth.  For instance, these spheres usually have rings like an equatorial colura (measured in degrees with rotation around the North and South axes), an equatorial (measured in degrees with rotation around the East and West axes), and an ecliptic (a western zodiac symbol ring with a 23.4 -degree offset to match the earth's tilt).  

If that all sounds like gibberish to you, you're not alone.  It took a lot of research to figure out what these things symbolized and how they moved.  In the end I still don't really have a firm grasp on most of it.  After hours of researching and sketching, I decided that art value was more important than scientific, mechanical, and historical accuracy for this piece.  I would love to continue learning about these instruments and make a functioning sphere one day, but for now I'm quite happy with how this endeavor turned out.

Here's a look into how my armillary was constructed:

Sketches of the Rings and Sphere Setting

A much fancier stand than I actually created!  Maybe I'll swap it out in the future. 
Hand drawn details for the etching process
holes drilled, all resist applied before etching in ferric chloride
Looking back at this, I really could have just used the thermos body that came with the top...It sure does keep out particles though! 
Soldered eye pins
Rings soldered together and pins starting to be soldered in place
Salt and vinegar bath to clean up the base and rings 

I honestly regret not getting a picture of the riveting process for the body and base.  It was a ridiculous two-person act.

Finally finished up after more cleaning, a patina, and final polishing.

What's next?  I'm have astrolabes and nocturnals on the mind, so either of those might be in the queue.  

- Kaley

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lapis Lazuli and Amber Earrings

Handcrafted Lapis and Amber Earrings

These two pairs of earrings are brand new in the shop!   Here's a little look at some of the stages of production:

I apologize for not having any pictures before this point, but this is the first set of components I crafted from sterling silver (and part of their original sketch).

Here are the amber settings again with ear wires added + the settings for the lapis studs.

Cleaning up the bottom components for the amber earrings.  These were tricky to solder the twisted wire border on, but it worked out in the end!

If you're interested in either of these pairs of earrings, check them out in the Lithic Design Etsy shop:

Click here for the Lapis Lazuli Pair

Click here for the Baltic Amber Pair

Friday, April 17, 2015

I got bees. But the good news is- I want bees!

Etched Copper Honeybee Earrings with Honey Opal

It's been a LONG time since I've posted anything here, so I decided to write a little process post about the earrings I just completed!  I'm really in love with them, but unfortunately I don't have pierced ears anymore (ironic, I know).  Hopefully they'll go to a great home.

Please note, this is not a DIY tutorial of any sort- it's just a visual of the steps involved in creating my pieces:

The first step, after a quick bee sketch, is to draw a pair of bees in sharpie directly on my copper sheet metal.  This involves hoping and praying that I don't mess up on making them as even as possible and have to start all over again!  After this, the etching process begins.  This takes a good couple hours of waiting for the etchant to nibble away at all of the copper not protected by the sharpie.

At last, they come out of their chemical bath and are neutralized and thoroughly cleaned.

Here they are after being cut out with a jeweler's saw.

Little holes are drilled for the lever back earrings to attach to.  The opal cabochons are ready to have settings created for them!

After soldering the settings and polishing by hand, they take an hour in the tumbler to clean and polish up a bit more.

The lever backs are attached, then they are oxidized, polished again, and set with the honey opals!  Finally they are ready for their photo shoot.

Are you interested in these earrings?  They are for sale in my shop: Lithic Design!