Friday, January 18, 2013

Hammers and Pearls - adventures in blundering

Experiments time! I went to a junk meet last weekend and picked up a box of super-crusty buttons, which is so rare to find and I'm jumpin' that I did, because now I can get back to some primitive cool.

This is the average level of crust- to start with I was disappointed they were going to be good enough to sell, then I remember some like it crusty, then I remembered I do too- so yay all around. So his Lordship (the hammer) and I got busy smashing metal.

BAM. A couple of wacks with the hammer and a quick punch hole and you got yourself some earring charms. 


Here's the oval ones- you can see hammering them gave a really cool artefact affect, actually they kinda remind me of peat bog mummies. (I'm not going to link to them, you can Google it, but brace yourself for wrinkly dead people.) But peat bog buttons wasn't enough for ol' Sparrow--- oh no.

I bought this the other day after being exposed to Fanci's cosmic affects, and after wrestling with my 'but it's not eco-friendly' demons for a while I forked out for some. Some things just can't be done with the planet's benefit in mind; I recycle a ton already and I am long past the point where I stunt my creative development for the sake of conscious consumerism. So there.

 Hmm...didn't look as sparklefest as Fancis. I've since learned though that these didn't turn out so sparkle cause I was a little light on the powder, you gotta slap it on like Divine. Also apparently it don't work so good on lighter backgrounds, the darker the base the better the shine.

You can see here- a quick application of pearls and then some UTEE and gold mineral on a piece of blackened steel - the colour pops more.

Back to buttons!

Here's the previous button after I applied some more pearls, then heated it to see if the pearls would burn and darken, which it did- came out like rust, awwwesome. On the left is the (as yet) untainted cousin.  But then I remembered Fanci said you gotta seal the pearls or it rubs off. Bummers- I didn't have any sealer...maybe I could use wood glue, that dries clear...then I saw the pot of UTEE on the shelf. YES. (Also another excuse for heat gun.)

There now! That really bought out the shine- there might also be some gold mineral eyeshadow in there, I can't remember. But yeah, UTEE gave it a sealed and slick finish and bought the colours a poppin'.

 My attention then turned to the untainted one.

A quick bit of heat and some sprinkled UTEE, then only a tiny bit more heat so it wouldn't spread but just 'glob' and look like rain on grass. D'aww.

Then I gave it some purple pearls powder. I like this effect, like blistered paint or craters on a moon.

Then I painted it, which I don't like so much so I might take it off. I wanted to paint it gold leaf but I have misplaced my leaf pen since moving. Actually think I'd prefer silver anyway. 


Then I remembered the button stash again, and that there were plenty of those boring, vegetable ivory buttons- chunky and plain and not very crusty or interesting. I thought 'it's a shame it won't hold the heat enough to UTEE it... then my brain said 'so make it metal!' YES. Copper sheeting ahoy! But first I should put some wire in so it's got a connector.

It was here I learned that vegetable ivory is fragile. So I swore a bit and got another button- plenty more there!

I did the copper kinda rough, cause I'm slap-dash like that    I wanted some texture.

Purple pearls and UTEE later, lookin' much more interesting! Still not 100% convinced but it gives options. I also noticed the UTEE did stick around the edge where there's no copper, so maybe vegetable ivory can hold the heat.You'd think I would've experimented with that but no- I wanted to get back to some hammering.

Poor unsuspecting creatures. I have LOADS of these in the button score, so I'll be able to offer some for destash at some point. Yay crusty buttons! I love the one with the stitching still in- he escapes the hammer.

Hammered the engraved one. Love the 'found in a tomb' look that gives. To further the relic look, I pearl powdered with green, then a dip in UTEE to seal.

Next to it's 'before' brothers. 

Not sure how I feel about it (yeah I get that a lot experimenting) - I love the 'Celtic bronze' green effect, but not so sure about the overall piece. I put it on a quick necklace with some complimentary beads...will hang it up and muse on it. I think it needs to go in a cluster, or maybe novacan the bronze wire so it looks less like gold.

Anyway- a heat gun in one hand and meltable plastic on the bench, I figured might as well make some head pins aLa Fanci. It's been said that stone is the best idea for these headpins, but I had a big tray of glass beads next to me and I have the kind of mind which assumes the rules don't apply to me.


Turns out they don't! Glass will take the heat- though I should point out that Fanci's technique involves heating the UTEE in a metal bowl and dipping into it, but mine is lazier and more instant in that I simply heat the bead with my gun then dip it right into the granules, then heat it again to melt. You get UTEE grains spraying all over the room if you don't shake it off good, but I'm working at the messy bench outside so it don't matter.


On the left, rather ordinary glass hexagony type bead- on the right, an identical bead, stacked with another one which is disc shaped, then threaded on a paddle pin and dipped in UTEE and purple pearls. Yup- hot bead in the UTEE, heat to melt, sticky bead in the pearls, heat to fix. Easy! 

It's a really addictive thing, that headpin makin', so I made a few more- and then started looking around for other things to 'deal with'.

On the left, nice but not-very-moving glass twisty charm. On the right, same charm- but thanks to pearls and UTEE is is now a magical tiny unicorn horn from the Elvin lands. I noticed here too that if you've got something frosted, the UTEE will get rid of that.

Then I got hungry and I needed lunch. Just before I went I spotted a crystal laying around, and I had a brainwave. If UTEE can seal and stick down pearls, maybe it could be used to seal down wire?  Cause sometimes you wrap a stone and you think 'ain't no way that's gunna stay'. So I wrapped it tight as I could (without actually making an effort; I was hungry after all) and dipped it a few successions of UTEE and pearls.

Not 100% convinced, but I think if the wrapping was better and there was more UTEE it would work fine. I remembered just now though, I've actually done this before- here. But since I'd forgotten about it, it was like inventing something all over again! You can see on that one that having more pigment works better, because it's more 'cap-like' and has a more secure look.

So there we go! I hope you enjoyed the tinkering tour- I like these posts, you can settle in and go through a process. All to often we get the impression that when others work, everything turns out right the first time. I think it's nice to now and then reassure each other that - at least with me- most days I go into a task thinking 'how hard can it be?'


Lela said...

I love this post.... And also love seeing your experiments. I have some UTEE that has never been opened. You make me want to open it. Thank you!

ArtPropelled said...

I always enjoy your studio tinkering and being able to look over your shoulder at your experiments.

artistic rejuvenations said...

experiments gone wild! serious, so fun to see before and after pics as they really show the potential you saw in the pieces and the love, love results. you are very clever.

Kimberly said...

Great post, makes me want to do some button smashing. Your package has left the premises here and is hopefully on a plane to you now.
I have never experimented with the UTEE but I agree that headpin making is addictive.

Flotsam Tide said...

Thank you so much for sharing this mate! What wonderful adventures in smashing and utee. I love the tiny unicorn horn, and how your buttons turned out to be ancient relics.... Hooray for the stitched one that escaped the death knell of the hammer. Your soft sugary rustic tones are on point here! Love it all.

PipnMolly said...

Love the smashing buttons and Jeremy Clarkson shot.
You do make me want to play with my also unopened Utee. Appears you are having gob loads of fun.

Breana Fry said...

What a fun day you had of smashing and experimenting! I love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

Wendy said...

Great ideas you're trying out. Very inspiring. It's been so long since I Played with UTEE, I really must find some time for it. Thanks for sharing.

fanciful devices said...

this is awesome. this is how i do anything- just messing around til something good happens. its so fun to see experiments! im too lazy to stop and take pix all along the way, tho...
i would recommend oxidizing the buttons before pearls, that will give it darkness and crust and make it all pop. glass in utee headpins is great, what you dont want is wood. doesnt really distribute the heat no good.

also, krylon matte fixative will keep things on w/o adding shiny or dimension and that's good. not eco, but very very pretty.
lol that last graphic.

13 said...

love what happened when you squashed the buttons. It's great how you get a soft, faded twinkle, in my hands it would be like my little pony on acid. Yep I'm with Clarkeson on this.

Anvil Artifacts said...

Ditto ten times! Great post! What fun to see your step by step. Thank you! Now where did I put that utee?.........

Gardanne said...

Thanks for taking the time to document your experiments. I am still a UTEE virgin but I may take a trip to the dark side.

lacelady said...

fabulous post! thanks for the details!

CraftyHope said...

What a sublime bunch of tinkering you did!! I've never thought of using so much UTEE in my jewelry, but now you've totally got me rethinking it, as well as all my other supplies. Thank you for the amazing eye candy and inspiration as well as for sharing your experiments and thought process. Awesome!!

Megan Craig said...

Love your tinkering! I just found you on Pinterest & Etsy and holy moly I love your style - so rustic and vintage without being cutesy or junky. Keep up the beautiful work!