Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Finally Finished a Metal Crafting Project

Over a year ago I bought and read the book “Metal Craft Discovery Workshop” by Linda and Opie O’Brien.

After reading it the first time I tried making something but I lacked all the right tools and I could not finish the project. Specifically my files were not right or good and it was leaving sharp, dangerous edges. I also lacked anything to make the cold connections with. (The book covers the use of brads, rivets and wire.) Yes, I did not even own metal wire. So I stopped thinking about making something right then.

I slowly gathered tools as I came across them and put them in a box with all the other metal crafting tools. I saved some tins and other metal pieces to use in the future.

My last acquisition was about four weeks ago when I went into Home Depot myself in search of the right metal files. My husband claimed they really did not sell them there. Well I found them on a gigantic wall of files, down at the height of my ankle. I bought the cheaper brand set with a handle and it was just under $10.

And I have read the book a total of three times since I first bought it! That is how much I wanted to do metal crafting.

Last month I had an idea for a project. I figured I’d start small.

Last week I was going away on a trip to visit my grandmother. I knew we’d most likely be snowed in and having quiet time in the house. I gathered up everything I thought I may need and brought this book along and decided I’d do it.

I waited for a day when I had time and when other relatives were not coming over to visit. I laid out all the tools.

It was then that actual fear gripped me. I am not kidding. I was scared to actually cut the metal and try anything. I sat there for just a few minutes then I talked myself out of the fear. I forced myself to just jump in.

To make things easy I began by deconstructing an aluminum can (specifically a Starbucks iced coffee drink can which had cool stripes in the design). I realized the smallest shears were the right tool for the job. If I cut carefully, I didn’t even have to file the metal.

I had trouble with the brads. I am brad-challenged. I don’t know what is wrong but they don’t work for me.

I then switched to using wire for the cold connections.

I made my little project. Hooray!

My ten year old inserted himself into this in the middle of my exploration. He was begging to learn to do it. So I taught him. He had a concept and he cut out the metal and punched the holes using the two-hole punch (that is not a power tool).

My seven year old said he wanted a finished piece. I then did ¾ of the work on a new project to give to him.

This whole project took me over three hours and by that time I’d had enough and I put it away.

I will say this, learning a new skill such as this is not all fun and games. I have no experience with jewelry making so my skill working with wire is not good.

Before I can consider doing this kind of art something that helps get rid of stress I will have to perfect my skills with these new materials and with these new-to-me tools. I am sure once I am used to these it will be more fun and less work and therefore I’ll have less frustration with myself due to my lack of ability with the materials and tools.

I will share a scan of the finished piece as soon as I can scan and upload it. It is a little robot.

For now I am patting myself on the back that I had the courage to try something totally new. I am proud also that I taught myself to do this with using only the Metal Craft Discovery Workshop book as my guide and teacher.

If you have been curious about how to do metal crafting and you are interested in learning cold-process connections, this is the book to use. The book by the O’Brien’s is also full of inspiration and eye candy. They also teach the skills of how to color metal, etch metal, change the finish on the metal, transfer images onto metal, collage onto metal, and more.

If you are interested in learning to solder I would recommend Lisa Vollrath’s book “Metal Mania” which is sold on her site "Ten Two Studios".

You might also see if you can find any video demonstrations on YouTube about soldering. I bet there are some out there (I have not looked yet). Learning to solder is on my list of things I want to do. (My mother knows how and she could teach me; she used to make stained glass windows. It is nice to have an option of having a real live person teach you things.)

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