Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saga of Faux Bone™ continues

Sorry, no pictures today. Cloudy, rainy.  Maybe this weekend.

Still working on the Beach Combing piece.  Making the various elements wasn't the real problem I am facing, it is assembling it into something that looks right.

The crooked little stick I mentioned previously turned out to be a piece of vine and is not usable, so that's out of the composition.

The cartouche (the spell checker doesn't like the spelling), piece mentioned earlier is on hold. I know what I would like to do with it, but it may be beyond my ability to pull off.

In the meantime, I'm starting to experiment with colored pencils on faux bone, specifically the recommended Prismacolor type.  We already had a large selection on hand, so I didn't have to buy any additional ones.  We had some other types, but they do not work very well at all.

Thanks to all who have been stopping by for a peek.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Elements

Shown are some more elements which may or may not be added to the final piece.  Things remain in flux as to what to add and what to leave out.

The pieces on the right and bottom were not meant to be as they are now.  Here's why. You probably have heard the old adage, measure twice and cut once?  In this case it was: Check your drill bit size twice before you drill. I have some half-drilled Swarovski pearls.  These accept 20 gauge wire.  So what do I do?  Read this nice chart of drill to wire sizes from Nancy L T Hamilton I have taped to a shelf over the bench, wrong.  So, instead of putting a No. 67 drill bit in the chuck, put a No. 60!  Really bad move. No. 60 is for 18 gauge wire and the pearls, they aren't going fit.  So I have to start over and ball the ends of 18 gauge and then with the aid of good old Zap - a - Gap glue, glue on some seed beads in place of the pearls.  As a rule, though, you do need to use some kind of glue with half-drilled pearls, real or artificial.

Learn from my mistakes, folks.  It's all part of what my blog is about.

One little thing I've found out, which may or may not be of help to anyone working with faux bone, is pre-sanding.  There are few hard and fast rules about working with faux bone.  In general, you draw out the design, saw, shape and then sand.  In some cases, when working with a small piece, if I sand off the slick surface of the material, it is much easier for me to hang on to it.  As I have mentioned before, I sometimes have to rely on a ring clamp or a vise to hold small pieces.  My fingers just aren't strong enough anymore.  You have to do what you have to do.

Speaking of sanding.  There is a most informative nice little video on Ganoskin about an easy way to sand interior spaces that are hard to reach. A very neat solution to what is sometimes a vexing problem.

Found a nice little crooked stick when out on a walk today.  A piece of that might just work in the Beachcombing piece.  We shall see.

Next post in 2 - 3 days.  Thanks for stopping by to see what's up with the journey.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Beachcombing (in progress) phase 4

Another addition to the mix of what eventually will become a necklace.  This piece has been heat formed into a dome using a heat gun and a wood dapping block and punch.  Lines drawn with an X-acto knife and patina is Paynes Gray acrylic paint. Paynes Gray has a bluish tint.

I will start work on some of the stringing.  I may not post anything until Monday, so be patient.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beachcombing (in progress) phase 3

Two more components to be added to the mix, which will eventually become a necklace.  Both pieces were heated and then formed.  The starfish measures about 7/8s inch across.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beachcombing (in progress) phase 2

Unfinished Faux Bone™ sand dollar and a seashell shard.

The sand dollar is one inch in diameter, or 2.5 cm, and is 1/8th inch thick, or about 3 mm.    The shard is about 1 and 1/2 inches long, or 40 mm, and is 1/16 inch thick, or about 1 1/2 mm. My measurements are only approximate.

The sand dollar has just a bit more detail to be added, then the patina.  The shard is probably finished.  I not sure that anything else needs to be done. The patina is orange acrylic paint with interference red acrylic paint over the entire piece.  It isn't noticeable in the photo, but it gives a sort of nacre-like sheen to the piece.

The shard began as a sort of ellipse with one end rounded.  I gripped one end in a pair of round nose pliers, heated the material with a heat gun, then gripped the other end in another pair of round nose pliers and twisted the piece.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beachcombing (in progress)

This was posted on to show some other things one can do with Faux Bone.
The scratches and long lines are made with an X-acto craft knife.  Nail sets used to make the circles. A checkering file was used to create the lines along the edge.  The seed beads are on tiny steel veneer pins inserted into holes drilled into the edge with a No. 74 drill. The material is 1/8th inch thick at the beginning, now thinner all around the edge.  Patina is burnt sienna acrylic paint.

The pendant is nearly finished and in the end there will be additional items added to the stringing to make the necklace complete.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pendant 6

Finally finished something.  Another pendant which I have no name for it.  It is rather thrown together, with no clear idea as to what it should look like or represent when finished.

A number of techniques are involved here:  From wire work, bead stringing, riveting, eyelet emplacement, texturing, etc.

Materials: Faux Bone™, brass wire and eyelets, seed beads, ocean jasper, Swarovski half-drilled pearl beads attached with Zap-A-Gap on wire posts, Golden red oxide acrylic paint, Spirit River light blue Unique Hair (a fishing fly-tying material.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pendant 5

Brain fried, unable to think of a better name for this piece.  I guess that's because I'm not overly thrilled by it.  Threading the beads on the wire was a real chore to get done. I don't believe I will do this kind of thing again. But you have to teach yourself what's good and easy, and what's difficult enough that you don't want to do it that way again.

Couple notes which may be of interest. The group of parallel lines on the side were made with a medium cut checkering file. You can turn the file 90˚ degrees and make a crosshatch, or 45˚ degrees to make a diamond pattern. Pretty neat tool.  Bit on the expensive side, though.

The round brass dots are rivets set into the faux bone with a neat little tool from Crafted Findings.  It is their Riveting System for 1/16th" Semi-tubular Rivets.  It works really well.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Just as I thought.  Cut the wire too short!  Live and learn. Sometimes, making mistakes is the only way to learn.

Anyway, it isn't terribly bad, just not as good as it could have been.  The rock look isn't too terrible either, but that's just my opinion.  Again, I used Golden brand acrylic paint, Payne's Gray, Burnt Umber,  Red Oxide, Quinacridone Magenta and Interference Red.  The latter gave a little gloss to the finish. Rather than using the finger painting method, I used stencil brushes and daubed the paint onto the faux bone.

I keep telling myself to think ahead and hopefully not make mistakes.  Ha! that'll be the day to remember!

Monday, March 7, 2011

More on Real Faux Bone and some of the tools I've been using.

Long winded title.  I've started using "Real" in writing about faux bone to distinguish the "real" from other materials such as polymer clay.  The arrowhead, previously shown in an earlier post, has been textured with a 3/16s inch round bur and the next step will be to drill holes for a copper wire spiral.  One of the tag ends will a leg inserted in a drill hole and riveted. The other end will be a wrap around the top of the arrowhead, and then become a bail.  I sure hope I left myself enough wire!

Here's a run down on the tools.

Fine point Sharpie pen.  Jeweler's saw with Robert's special blade.  Bench pin. Eight inch, half round wood rasp and a four inch half round rasp. The bur mentioned above, and a 3/4 inch diameter bristle brush, in a flex-shaft. The brush cleaned up some of the crumbs left in the depressions. A sanding stick with 30 micron grit. No. 67 twist drill bit. Triangular scraper to bevel the top and bottom of the drill holes. You could use a larger size drill bit to do the same job.  This makes a seat for the rivet.  The ubiquitous three pliers, round nose, flat nose, chain nose, and the flush cutter.  Flat needle file, No. 2 cut to file the wire ends flat.  The so-called flush cutter I have always leaves a little peak on the wire.  Riveting hammer, small, almost teeny size.  Save the fingers!  Steel bench block. The two, hole punched playing cards (gauge for cutting the wire end to make the rivet). Various colors of acrylic paint, what ones I don't know as yet. Have to experiment to see what looks kinda rocky like.

Anyway, hope to finish it, tomorrow, sometime.

Also in the works, a cartouche shape (ha! the spell checker just went nuts!), which I will attempt to stamp something into the material.  They won't be Egyptian, though.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another Pendant

Amazing! Two posts in one day!

Anyway, as sort of promised, a photo of a faux bone creation.  Wonder if I'll ever get good at this?

Three inches overall height by one and one half wide. Sterling silver wire and beads, plain, old, ordinary craft store seed beads and one goldstone bead.

Drill/Wire Gauge Size Charts

There are several places on the internet where you can find these helpful charts. Two of which I find particularly helpful can be found at:


I use Nancy's more than the other.  Nancy's doesn't show drill sizes for wire gauges smaller than 26.  If you should ever need to find a drill for 28 gauge, or 30 gauge, Monsterslayer's chart does show them.  28 is a No. 83 and 30 is a No. 87.  These sizes are available, but they are expensive.  I don't know why an ordinary jewelry maker such as myself would ever need these sizes anyway.

Today it has turned cold. Winter has returned.  So my efforts at improving my workspace goes on hold. Thus, I hope to finish a faux bone piece for your viewing pleasure, which, if I get enough natural light, I will put up either today or tomorrow.  No promises as it is pretty dreary outside.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pretty Day

Today was a nice, warm, beautiful day.  I elected to work outside, getting ready to plant a few flowers so naturally, didn't get a lot done on the bench improvements.  Did make a shelf for the flex-shaft motor control to sit on, and out of the way.  It won't be taking up room on the bench top where things can get pretty crowded.  Also the flex-shaft chuck key now has a permanent site, where it is held in place with a magnet.  If it gets tossed down in the catch drawer, it gets lost and I have to fish around amongst  all the other tools to find it.  Got all the electric cords for the flex-shaft motor control and the foot pedal  captured.  No more cords underfoot.

Some new twist drill bits came in today. Now I have a complete set of drill bits for various wire sizes, from 8 gauge down through 26 gauge.  It's weird how the drill sizes match up to the wire gauge sizes.  the drill size for 8 gauge is a No. 30 drill,  and 26 gauge is either a No. 78 or a  No. 79.  The latter is due to some variation in size from one wire supplier to another.  I'm guessing that it may be due to a new die, or one that's worn and probably needs to be replaced, or it could be a difference in tension on the wire when drawn through the die.  I dunno, you tell me.