Monday, August 11, 2008

Otakon 2008

Decided to attend Otakon with about 2 weeks to spare on a costume. Alas, my costume required no props whatsoever, but I did make a few ikkle props for the cosplay group (Avatar, sans main characters) of which I was a part.

Watch this space for photos.

And if I'm feeling particuarly ambitious, I'll post some photos of props that I admire, or props of things that I'm already planning on making for myself (with ramblings on how I'd planned on making it).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wire wrapping... uh, the fifth?

Check the bottom photo for scale (until I add specific measurements for each item)

I keep confusing this one with the other stone w/ a curl...

Front view and side view. The interesting thing is that half the stone is translucent, and the layer between the opaque and translucent is a shiny purple.

The color is sort of akin to foil on the stone, not as much the veins on the other stones.

The iron-stone is oddly light colored, but the little splash of opal color is pretty entertaining.

Two shots of the front of this stone--it's pretty dark, but the color flecks are quite strong. This is the first stone I drilled, and thus far it is the only one that is not wrapped, but rather glued.

Boulder, with the clearest matrix thus far. It's stronger colored on the right, but the pattern is quite consistent on both sides. Drill-mounted wire (fairly minor).

This was probably the one that most caught my eye. I don't think I am too happy with how the wrapping came out, though it is good enough. The front/back are very similar, but the front is more domed. The thick vein runs fully though the stone, so it looks pretty brilliant when back-lit. The eye-loop is anchored via drill-hole (I couldn't justify wrapping across the thick vein!)

Oddly, this is probably the wrapping job I am most proud of, not just in this set, but so far (out of nearly 20 stones). The color of the opal itself is distinctly ... whelming. Neither over, nor under, just... whelming. It's a nice color, but the 3-D/translucent/"opal-y" characteristic is difficult to see.
The stone is very narrow (goes from 1mm to 2mm), fairly long (19mm), and very, very deep (7mm). Notes on construction: I drilled through the thin end of the stone, but the drill chipped the stone upon exiting, so I was left with a crater-ish thing on the left side. To mask/cover/camouflage the chipping, I made a small spiral to mount flush against the side, pulled the wire through and made some flourishes to make the eye-loop more interesting. Somehow this one just works so well aesthetically for me.

Line up, with scale.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Opals, video view

Well, the depth of focus is crap, so it's pretty fuzzy. I had to sacrifice the focus depth in order to get the view close enough to show the colors. Since you're looking for flashes of light, I guess the fuzziness isn't as obscuring as it might be for... text, or somesuch.

1. Queensland boulder opal chip
2. Boulder matrix, jeweler finished. (Crimson, blues, greens)
3. Boulder matrix, jeweler finished. (Blues, greens)
4. Boulder chip, raw
5. Crystal opal? raw (semi-matte, light blue fire)
6. White/milk opal (the only opal here that was meant for normal jewelry)*
7. Black opal, raw
8. Black opal, raw (uber-uber-matte)
9. Black opal, raw (I'm pretty certain it's black opal, even if you think it's not)

*I got this in the best deal ever, but I probably can't mount this for jewelry till I accumulate some standard lapidary tools and skills. Traditional gem-working is a very, very expensive hobby.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Opal-related hijinks

I now have little display cases for them!
(I wanted to put the little "Australian Opal" stickers on the cases, but they would've obscured 75% of the lid...)

Actually, this entry was composed as rant, but I might as well tell you about some of the processes behind the wire-wrapped opals I've been posting.

I've been using 22 gauge, round sterling wire in half-hard temper. I do have some full-soft sterling in 0.6mm, marginally thinner than 22ga, and I will try some 0.5mm half-hard next.
I call these things "wire-wrapped" though there's not much wrapping--I'm mostly shaping the wires into a frame/cage for the stone, and that's done with pliers and hands.
Some of the chips I have are poorly finished, so I've acquired some 6000 and 8000 grit abrasives, and they've brought some chips to an acceptable polish. There are several stones, though, without the stereotypical opal "fire," though they are still beautifully iridescent. I think they're still worth wrapping, so I'll being doing that soon enough.

Most of the chips I haven't wrapped yet were just in need of a bit of shine, but I want to modify the shapes for
a few.
And here's the rant: there's one stone where I wanted to remove the burr that the cutter neglected to finish removing. The problem is that this stone is barely 3mm wide and 12mm long, so it's difficult to manipulate the little bugger. In any case, I managed to gash my finger pretty deeply while filing this thing. I dropped the stone and file and scooted to the sink to wash off the dirt. I've generally stopped using band-aids, so I had to superglue the cut (actually, I had to Zap-a-Gap the cut), use some tissue over the zapped gap, and bind the whole contrivance with sports tape. Now I'm having difficulty typing, much less manipulating jewelry... *Whines* Astoundingly, the cut didn't bleed at all, so I'm pretty thankful for that.

But I managed to misplace/drop/lose the stone during the chaos that was trying to get the cut sealed. It took me about an hour of rooting through my desk and environs before I found the damn thing. (It's conveniently the same color as my carpeting.) Meh. Frustrating thing is, I doubt this stone is going to look all that great, but with the amount of trouble I've gone through for this one (additional polish, burr filing, gash) it'd better be friggin' stunning.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wire Wrapping IV: The Saga Continues

I've run out of simple to wrap stones, so things get a little trippy right about now. We'll see how far I can get with the remaining stones.

Eye-to-tip: 1.6cm
This triangular stone shouldn't have been difficult, but part of the point decided not to cooperate, and I snapped
my first wire, so I had to scrap the original plan. And the triangular spiral? I think it was meant to balance out the mass of wires at the left, and to make the piece visually more complex.
This one is interesting--it looks pretty boring at first. The stone is a dark speckled brown, and there's a bit of gloss and not much else. Only at certain angles do the blue and green flecks show up. At most angles there's barely a hint of the flecks, and I had thought the stone was just poorly polished and therefore the flecks were clouded, but no, it's just a fickle stone.

Eye-to-tip: 1.6cm
Alright, this one was just obnoxious to work with.
The thickest part of the stone is barely 2mm, and most of the piece is 1mm, and the edges are tapered. I think I ended up crumbling 1/3rd of the blasted thing before I got the wrapping done. It's fully caged, but in a way different from the spiral cage several posts ago. This stone is a disc shape, and spiral wrapping would have left substantial lengths of wire with little support, so I had to come up with another way to protect the edges from chipping. Hence the bizarre bumper-rail-things. I wanted to be creative and make the cage a heart shape, but after the rock started crumbling a lot, I gave up and just followed the shape of the stone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wire wrapping, the third

Do we see a pattern in my posts?

The blue vein is pretty, though not as multi-hued and sparkly as some others. The pendant is just over 1cm, from eye to tip:

This one isn't a visually complex stone & wrapping, but I really like the flecks at the bottom point. Fullest width: 1.5cm. I like the subtlety & simplicity of this one:

OMFGSHINY. This one is really delicate, so I had to enclose all of it in wire, but I think the spiral works out fairly well. Eye-to-tip: 2cm. (I really like the uppermost vein--it's mostly nondescript till *Boom* = shiny.):

So the current line up (click for much larger view) is:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wire Wrapping, part II

Silver wrapped Boulder Opal chips (Matrix Opal).
(Largest pendant, tip to tip: 2cm.)

And close ups!

Many of these veins are translucent. I attempt to demonstrate it by strongly back-lighting two of these stones:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Boulder Opals

I bought some tubes of semi-raw Boulder Opals. All the unset Opals I could find were made to mounted flat, and none of them would have worked for wire-work. I am so happy to have found these tubes. (They still weren't cheap. Bah!) Now I need some thinner & softer wire.

Here's attempt #1 at wrapping:
Boulder Opal wrapped in Sterling Silver
(It's about 1cm wide and 1cm tall, so it's pretty tiny.)

Here are two shots of the tubes, before I pulled the Opals out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Orphaned chainmail

It looks like a cross between Parallel chain, Byzantine and Half-Persian 3-in-1:

I haven't been able to find any other examples of it, but it's hardly complex, so I'm guessing there has to be instructions somewhere on the internet.
If not, I get dibs on naming rights.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Manual Macro (kinda fuzzy, but much more zoom)

With a magnifying glass (cheap jeweler's loupe for me) supplementing your camera, you can get in really close to what you're photographing. It's not a crisp image (you're holding the magnifying glass manually, and it's hardly as precise an assembly as a camera lens), but it's much closer than macro-mode, and it's sufficient for a fair amount of detail.
I use it extensively when writing up instructions to provide some visual context, without the need for fine art photography quality.

Crane, Tiny
(for scale, that's a AA battery)
Click image to see it at 600x450 (which is still less than 29% of original image size)
No flash, on a point-and-shoot (5.1mpx)

And for comparison, a different item with similar composition on a different camera:
Stars, tiny.
This shot was taken with flash, on a DSLR (~10mpx?) It's clearer, I guess, but it's a royal pain to edit/crop.