Monthly Archives: August 2011

Meteorite Ring (first in a series)

First I wanted to say that my online store will finally open in September and a good percentage of the things I’ve been posting recently, especially in the jewelry realm, will be up for sale after so many years of people asking. Thanks for everyone who’s been supportive and patient. I’m pretty self-motivated, but I might not have been as enthusiastic were it not for the kind words of both friends and strangers on the internet.

Now here is something that I’m quite excited about!

I am doing a series of one-off rings (as in each one is unique and different) built around meteorites. Real ones. As in these bits of metal and rock floated around in space and eventually fell to Earth as shooting stars. For space nerds like me the idea of walking around with something that dropped from beyond our atmosphere is profound. The small iron meteorite in this ring is from a witnessed fall in May 1516 (collected about fifty years ago — the fall was gigantic and quite a lot of pieces of the Nantan meteorite are around) in Nantan, China. As these things go it’s a pretty “common” meteorite, but it still feels amazing to me. I actually also have a small Martian meteorite that’s mindblowing. That is, long ago Mars suffered a massive impact, huge, and bits of Mars got blasted into space. Eventually some of those bits intersected Earth’s orbit and fell to the surface of our planet where they were found and identified. Wow. A piece of Mars. I’m saving it until my skills are better though.

For this first piece I mounted the meteorite, which is completely unaltered, in a cast lead-free and body-safe pewter ring that I have carved into the shape of an asteroid field with a Haunebu II Nazi-era UFO flying through the middle of it (the part of the ring that sits over the palm). Here are a few pictures of it on my little finger. I think it’s about a size 12 but I’m not sure exactly because I’ve done the sizing a little oval to make the meteorite sit nicely.

And a couple off my finger too.

I can’t wait to create more in this series. I’m doing some broaches and amulets and trinkets in addition to the rings, but the rings are the main focus. This is just the first and I’m really excited to build up the experience to create pieces that do the centerpieces justice.

I call him “The Mad Monk(ey)”

The Mad Monk(ey) as an homage to my doppelganger Rasputin of course. I actually have so much more to post right now than I can find time for but I will put up a few things before I get back to work, and then to bed. You’ve seen lots of my modified versions of Nefarious’s toys in the past, but normally I do them in plastic and paint them. In the case of this alchemist/mad scientist monkey though I cast it in metal and also mounted a nice cut citrine gem in his eye. I guess it’s a paperweight.

It’s modeled after the head from a Littlest Pet Shop toy but here it is in my hand so you can get an idea of the exact size. It’s not unbearably heavy but it’s too heavy to be jewelry and I think would make a nice desk decoration.

In this side view you can see that I managed to capture a pretty good level of detail. I’m also really thrilled because I finally have the process of carving these, making silicone molds (I use Smooth-On “Dragon Skin 20” by the way), and then doing a perfect cast in pewter after generously coating the mold with graphite powder. I think I said it before but that’s the sliver bullet, the graphite. I get a perfect copy every time, from the first pour to the last. It’s getting easy finally!

On the back of his head I’ve engraved the symbol for the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone (as in the alchemical object/process, squaring the circle, not all the hard work I imagine Rowling put in — which reminds me I have to admit that I’m excited to use my beta account to Pottermore soon) because I saw the character as that sort of madman. Madmonkey. By the way, we went and saw Planet of the Apes the other day and I really enjoyed it. On the bottom of the character I signed it as well. It’s very hard for me to engrave such tiny lettering but I think I am getting better at it. That said, I don’t really have the right tools for it so I think if I equipped myself I could do a lot better still.

I like the silicone molds because I can manufacture as many copies of my pieces as I’d like, but when it comes to jewelry with custom fittings (I’ll post an example in the next entry) I’m just doing one offs, so I thought I ought to educate myself on lost wax casting. The examples below are the first two attempts I’ve ever made at that in my entire life. The smaller one on the right is my first attempt, and, upon the advice of the sculpture supply place I used Castilene which is wax with clay mixed in to give it a “best of both worlds” character. Unfortunately what they didn’t tell me is that you need to fire it in a high temperature kiln to burn out the powder, so I had to fake it by melting out the wax a bit in my oven and then scraping it with a plastic rod. Naturally this barely worked. I do like how creepy it looks, but it was not intentional.

The second one, the sort of Abe Lincoln beard dude, was sculpted out of beeswax and that worked much better. I left it in the oven to melt the wax out and dry the Hydroperm (like plaster) while I took Nefarious and a friend out for the afternoon, with instructions to Caitlin to turn off the oven after an hour. Unfortunately before that time came, the wax must have ignited because a huge cloud of smoke erupted from the oven. The bottom half of the mold was all burned and brown. To my great surprise I hadn’t lost too terribly much detail and it still worked.

I don’t know if I will continue with this method, but I have to admit I enjoyed the reduced number of steps.

Current Pewter Projects

I don’t have anything finished to post about today, but I have a ton of really fun stuff on the go that I’m going to do a little sneak peak of. We have a big road trip coming up so I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to post any more for a while so I figure I’ll jump the gun on these so there isn’t too long a silence. First let me share a chess set that I’m working on. It’s supposed to have a medieval sort of feel to it. I’m particularly happy with the bishop personally. The tower is the only one I feel “iffy” on, not because I don’t like it, but because I worry that the style isn’t a perfect match. It’s based on the “Tower” and the “Hanged Man” tarot cards, so the style influence is a bit different than the rest.

Click to zoom in so you can see the details. I will post better pictures when this is done. I’m making this set as a gift so I am not sure whether I’m making more for sale (probably not) but I am open to requests or commissions. That said, a chess set is a pretty time-consuming project and a major commitment so it’s not always something I have time for (especially because I have two unique sets to finish — custom board included — and a third already promised).

The pieces are cast in pewter with a black patina that is partially buffed off. There are some imperfections in the mold itself (some bubbles that a sharp eye may catch) but I have finally figured out how to make perfect casts in pewter. The trick for me was switching to a better silicone (the tin was offgassing causing bubbles so I switched to platinum cure), and more importantly, giving the mold a hearty dusting of graphite powder. The latter has got me pouring a perfect piece every time. Anyway, these pieces will be mounted on stained wood bases that indicate the side (ie. white or black, or more accurate, cherry and ash or something like that).

Following the flattering and gratifying response that my ET ring got, I’m working on a few more sculpted rings. I’m doing a baby Admiral Ackbar (special request from Nefarious), a baby Cyberman (as in these guys from Doctor Who — it will get the “crown” as a second piece), and a cute skull ring with exposed brain. They’re quite early in the process, but this is where I’m at, showing them with a quick blackwash and ivory drybrushing so I can make sure the detail is as I want it. The baby Ackbar has “IT’S A TWAP!” engraved on the inside, and the skull has “RIDICULUM SUM, ERGO SUM” which is Latin (dog Latin most likely) for “I am silly, therefore I am”.

Can’t zoom these — no need since they’re not fully detailed yet.

They’re just plastic right now as I develop them, but when I’m done they’ll be cast in pewter as well. I have some nice gems that I may set in the eyes of all them. I did a test mount and it looks awesome, but I will save that surprise so I don’t reveal all my tricks until the end. These ones will definitely be for sale by the way. I have some other cool rings currently being carved, but they’re just one offs. The reason they’re one offs is that I’m carving them to fit specific stones, fossils, meteorites, and other neat artifacts that I have waiting to be turned into something nice.

Enough boring internet blabbing, it’s Friday Pizza and Movie night tradition for Nefarious and I. See ya!

Slightly Deranged Age Eight Comics

Nefarious has a massive collection of comics and graphic novels (a lot of really good stuff, in addition to reading mine), so it’s not very surprising that from time to time she feels like creating her own comics and cartoons. I’m not sure what influenced these, but they’re… let’s find a polite word… eccentric? Pretty funny stuff though. Maybe it’s just funny if you live here, I don’t know. But I loved receiving them and I think they’re as enjoyable as most comics in the newspaper.

The little alligator on the surfboard says “help, I don’t know how to swim?”, and the big one (who is so talented that he is skipping rope on his surfboard) is thinking, “Eat or save?” As you can see by the lighthouse this is a nighttime misadventure.

More after the break.


Reporting from the Pool

These will be filed in the “ewwwww” category. So unfortunately they make this robot…

…become this robot…

Yeah, not the interesting sort of “ewww”.

Anyway, observed today at the pool:

1. Some scumbum was walking along the side of the pool and did a gigantic hork/spit right into the pool. Think old man in Chinatown obsessively spitting, but white trash dude instead. He also did it right before his bro dived in, almost hitting the little floating island of grossness. Scumbum spit a whole bunch more as the day progressed. I don’t think he was a swimmer, as he spent all his time in the shallow end, so I suppose to him the deep end might as well just be a giant spitoon.

2. I watched the lifeguard (actually, the “manager” because the lifeguards refused) fish out a floating pad… and sadly I’m not talking about a lily pad.

3. A pale (likely from too much time in a suit) old man spent a few minutes absentmindedly (but with great vigor and enthusiasm) playing with his nipples, pulling and twisting them, as he intently stared at the fit teenage boys cavorting together in the water. For some reason he favored his left nipple. And aww geez, as I typed in this note, I just noticed an even older guy doing the same, although preferred the right nipple. He did however agree on the twinks.

A little later I noticed that the guy enjoying his left nipple had a ten year old son.

An ambulance stopped in front of the pool for about five minutes so I wondered whether I’d be adding a number four to the list, but it after I saw that they had blocked in my car (the Saab Sonett III) and were moving their ambulance forward and backward by about ten feet repeatly I realized that they were just eyeballing the car. I really enjoy the car and it gets a crazy amount of attention, but I’m thinking about selling it just because it’s very hard for me to get out of the car because it’s so low, and a car with a clutch can be hard on my legs some days.