Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making a Ring out of Titanium Plate.



A customer sent me a 2 mm thick titanium plate.

He wanted to have me make a wedding ring for himself.

I had enough material for two attempts.


So drilled a hole.


I knew the about size of the hole to start with, because I tested it on a couple of washers before.

The one on the left was a bit small and the one on the right went off my triblet.

Got it.


I cut it out with a hacksaw.

A hacksaw blade is quickly in-sy- moer in if you don’t oil it.

I use SAE 30 – best oil around.



Then I saw the corners off and anneal it, and then I take a vise grip and grind it to a rough round.

The  reason I anneal it only now is because I don’t know what alloy this is.

And sometimes unknown alloys screw up big time after annealing.

So rather a small washer than the whole plate.


One does not just ‘dome’ a 2mm thick washer with a smack or two.

Anne held the flame, and I heated up the washer and when it was good and hot, I dropped it into the doming block and then smacked it with the punch and hammer.

When titanium is red hot, as in pale orange, it’s about as malleable to me as iron is at that temp as well.


The shape of the washer after doming.

I only use the doming to start the triblet part.


One does not just  ‘ bash’ a titanium washer up and flat.

Anne holds the torch, I cook and bash.

It looks bad on the triblet, but I cool it often under water.


That colour is malleable.

You can forget hitting this alloy up in a civilized manner it it’s not red hot.


Eventually it gets to here.

Then I use the bench grinder to true it up

And I also hammer it further until I get it  to the right size.

The center start hole size will determine the sweet spot.

That is where the ring hits 90ยบ and is the right size.

The washer before gave me a good estimate.




Center matt, polished bevel edged and comfort fit on the inside.

Other than the hardness factor it worked as per.

Cool or what?



Two more titanium and gold and silver pendants I made.



Emerald, ruby and diamond.



Diamond in gold, white gold and copper.


This one looks simple enough but it is actually very tricky to make.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Renate Came to visit.

My sister in laws’ daughter Renate came to visit us on at the end of her exchange student program.

She’s sixteen and she’s taller than I.


She made a silver ring.


She played and trashed the local chess expert.


Went on a 45 kilometer cycle with us.


And all to soon she was leaving.

What a bundle of  energy.

Anne and I totally loved having her stay with us.


She also caused us to finally go up the tower.


Three years here and we never went up once.



Its high.


The big picture.


The small picture.


Nice view though.


Tjillip was totally unimpressed with all the goings on.



My latest unfinished enamel painting.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Expanding Titanium Range and Painting Enamels.


Still making more titanium stock.

Pearl with diamond and gold.


Anne has expanded the web site, and I think she has done a brilliant job.


Don’t kid yourself, the work on the website takes just as long as actually making the jewellery.

Especially the initial setting up.


Filed and carved.


Filed out of a solid piece.


Multi metal butterfly pendant.


This one I carved and filed out of a solid piece and I hung a gold fused pendant inside made of 18kt gold.


Oh my, the enameling that I am teaching myself did not go so well.


I start with a cleaned up photoshopped image as the basics.



First firing.

I am going to do a whole post on the transfer technique, which I am still learning and refining .

It is a whole art in itself.

Anyway, I decided to use a blue for the first design imprint, so that the darker later stuff would hide that.

In any painting, whether that is proper paint or enamels, one generally works from light to dark, so you lay your lighter colours down first and the add your darker colours as you go along.


Mistake no 1. --- Yellow is a fugitive colour, so the more you fire it , the more it fades to a dirty brown.


Adding blue and brown.


At this stage I was not too unhappy, which was good, because I am never happy with any work I have done—ever.

I could see that when I added the darks it would start to give more depth.


I skip some steps in the utterly exciting and superbly written adventure.

Notice how the yellow is pulling a duck.


Working towards the final darks and finer details.



Anyway, I did three more firings and then I decided I had taken it far enough in the learning curve  to flux the top.

The trick with any painting is not to under or overwork it.



The enamel pulled away during the last firing.


So I fired it again, just to see what would happen.


This was my original mistake.

When I fired the copper with the first two undercoats of white enamel, I did not fire the second coat at a high enough temperature.

Or maybe to short a time.

So the second coat fired on the top, but did not fuse with the top of the first coat.

A basic error, called school fees.


So I started again.

This time I know more.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Painting in Vitreous Enamels.


There’s a website called Grains of Glass that I joined.

Lots of very good enamel artists there but not so many enamel painters.

Carmen Lombardi

and Susan Davies

were my favorites.

Susan Davies mentioned that she bought her enamels from WG Ball, in the UK.

Right next door, so I ordered it from them.


This is the kit for about thirty pounds.

It’s  a bit limited in the colours but  there are enough to make a pretty picture, for sure.


This is my painting kit.

No.1 are two spatulas.

No. 2 is a milk top that is filled with clean turpentine.

No 3 are the paint medium and thinners bottles.

No 4  are the syringes with needles.

I have three, one with paint medium, one with paint thinner and one with pine oil.

No 5 are the colours.

I also have the same type of box for my Thompson enamels.

No 6 is my Hofner cigar box pallet mixing surface.

I made a glass plate on where I mix the paints on that is removable from the box.



So then it’s easier to mix and stuff.



So the first one I decided to try out the paints with was a Baobab.

I’m familiar with the subject because I used to make them out of gold in Botswana.


It eventually ended up like this.

I used a background of Thompson 1060 white  and Isle blue 1605

Learning curve.

There was quite a bit of colour fade after repeated firings, especially at five ‘o clock.

The brown colour sucks.

Also the top most branches suffered from a spread with repeated firings.

Ergo, put your finest detail last.

This one was made on a 1mm copper disk that was domed and counter enameled .

I decided that was as far as I was going to go with this one.

Diminishing returns and all that.


The thing is I want to do is eventually be able to paint (and make) watch dials.

Watch dials are flat, mostly.



A couple of posts back I showed how I made these copper faces.

The one on the right I test enameled with titanium white which is a high temperature colour, just to see what would happen if it was not countered enameled. ( It still went convex)

I drilled a hole also to see if enamel would run out. ( it doesn’t).


Anyway, this one was my second attempt with the new paints'.

I used Thompson 1060 white as a first two coats, then a

mix of Isle Blue 1605 and Sky Blue 1610 as the background.


I have a old dental vacuum oven which really works well for this kind of work.

It heats up from 0 to 850C in four minutes.

Heat on tap.


This is what it looks out when it comes out the oven.



And this is the finished piece.



I made this Azure tool a while ago and it works a treat holding a dial in place when both sides are enameled simultaneously.

You never know when you need an azure tool.