Continuing from yesterday’s post of doodles and designs, here’s a rough mockup of a more streamlined ‘entanglement.co.uk’. I’m hoping that the new layout will direct people to the various parts of the site more efficiently. Now I just have to design another 3 layouts for the jewellery sub-site, 1 layout for the ‘projects’ page, one for the blog, and one for the actual items you’ll be looking at! Then the question is how to achieve various bits of functionality, what theme to use as a base, and how to hack it to look as I wish… Phew!
I’m always interest in people’s design process, so here’s a little glimpse into mine – I want Entanglement to be cleaner, easier to read, and direct people more smoothly to the disparate areas of my work. To that end, I’m working on a re-design of the site, complete with snazzy icons and more functionality. Exciting! Here are some of my incomprehensible notes and plans.
I could make these silhouettes with just about anything… such fun!
These and others for sale on Etsy, including custom designs, made to order.
I’ve had a lot of interest in my etched copper jewellery since we published our super-pretty copper etching video, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my workflow. I’ve been doing some experiments to improve the issue, and in the past few days I’ve made some great progress!
Resistance felt futile
My first problem was in selecting the material which will form the design, and resist the etchant’s blandishments, leaving bright, smooth, shiny copper behind. Here are a few I’ve tried in the past, and how they’ve let me down:
- Wax – Fiddly to apply, brittle – will chip or flake when you scratch a design.
- Staedler Lumocolor pen – When working on a very detailed design, subsequent lines will lift off ink, especially around the edge of each stroke, wit ‘orrible results. Can be good for broad coverage though, if applied quickly so it all dries together. Easy and neat to scratch designs on. Hard to mend, though.
- Sharpie – Different kinds of sharpie use different inks, and it tends to dissolve itself, as above.
- Nail polish – Horrible stuff to work with! Thick, gloopy, and peels off very easily when you’re trying to scratch a design. Takes an age to dry.
- Acrylic paint – Another fiddly medium, hard to get good coverage without it balling up, and can’t scratch designs without it flaking off. Also takes an age to dry.
It’s a struggle to fulfil customers’ expectations when I can’t rely on being able to produce consistently good etches (discarding what falls below my standards!), and I have to laboriously re-draw every detail each time on recalcitrant surfaces with uncooperative materials.
I had read about using laser printer toner – transferring designs from paper to metal using a household iron – and it sounded like the perfect solution. After my housemate adopted a stray Brother laser printer I performed a variety of unsuccessful experiments with almost every kind of paper I could find in the house, and was just about to bite the bullet and buy expensive specialist paper when I came across a fantastic tip! The secret: using the left-over backing sheets from Avery laser-printable sticky address labels! The very thing I’d recently started using for shipping out my jewellery orders!
The next part is the backing. It’s important to protect the back of whatever you’re etching, so that there’s still something left when you pull it out of the tank. In the past I’ve coated pieces individually with nail varnish, wax, ink or paint – fiddly, time-consuming and with variable results. I’ve recently, however, come up with a new batch-making process – coat a small piece of plastic with a thick layer of acrylic paint, drop the copper pieces onto it, and wait for the paint to dry before drawing on the designs with pen and dropping the whole thing into the etching tank. Effective, but time-consuming, and sometimes a pain to get off the copper pieces afterwards.
But now, I think I have the ultimate solution – vaseline! :D I use the same general idea, smearing it thickly onto plastic, but now I prepare the design in advance, then smoosh the copper pieces into the vaseline and throw the whole lot straight in the tank. My tests worked beautifully, with perfect protection of the back, holding the pieces very firmly but releasing them easily (running the whole lot under the cold water even solidified the vaseline, so most of it was left on the plastic), and the clean-up was super easy.
My first test (my Making Tuesdays dancing crocodile logo) transferred beautifully, far better than I could have hoped – not a speck of toner was left behind! It was tricky to line up the design with the disc, though, so I’ll have to work on that. The vaseline did its job beautifully, and the whole process was probably the quickest and smoothest etch I’ve ever done! It was a quickie (1 hour etch) so the design isn’t as deep as it could be, but I’m really happy with the techinques, and will be diving into the rest of my commissions with joy. (After a few more tests with resolution, detail and alignment…)
Ugli resides between Television Centre and part of the BBC’s R&D department on Wood Lane, and lets a variety of spaces to creative and media enterprises. When Entanglement gets off the ground, it’s just the kind of space I’d like to work – far more sociable than working from home! For next Tuesday, though, I’ll be setting up in the lovely café/bar area, where I’ve had some great informal lunchtime meetings and a fun evening watching short films. I can’t wait to meet more of the people who work there!
If you have a similar captive audience who might like to meet a jeweller, watch our lovely copper etching video, and find out more about the bespoke crafting process, get in touch! I’m happy to trade film-making and crafting talks for the opportunity.
A very exciting opportunity has come up (to be discussed if and when confirmed!) but this is just a quick post to share the work I’m doing today on developing a physical showcase for my jewellery. The idea is to create a self-contained desktop display environment that I can use to showcase examples of my jewellery work – earrings, necklaces, pendants, brooches, bracelets, cufflinks and so on.
Due to my recent acquisition of a fabulously gigantic cardboard box from a friend’s recent extravagant TV purchase, I plan to use cardboard as the construction material, and brown paper as the design/background theme. I’ll see how it comes together. For now, here’s the necklace display I’m working on today. I’m structurally very happy with it, although the carpet core tube will need to be covered in brown paper to hide the yucky glue marks.
Phew, this was a challenge – in 2005, I was commissioned to make a mixed-materials pendant for someone’s partner, based on his tattoo (hope he doesn’t mind me sharing his shoulder!)
The final product was a translucent green soapstone gecko clinging to a coconut shell leaf, with claws and eyes inlaid in mother of pearl, and went all the way to Australia.