Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Touring the BeadFX Metal Studio: cutting, drilling, polishing and finishing

I've been taking everyone on a virtual tour of the Metal Studio over the last couple of months and I'd like to finish the tour with Finishing!

Since I don't work with the kilns I won't discuss them, but you should know there are several on the premises and you can pay for firing time. Call the store for more info. 

What you will notice, when you walk in the room, is a series of work benches on the left. Each is complete with a Foredom Flex Shaft. What's that, you ask? Well it's an essential tool for any jeweller's work space. Along with a variety of attachments, this versatile tool is used for grinding, deburring, carving, engraving, stone setting and polishing. I use it for drilling holes in metal or stone, for polishing the insides and outsides of rings when I'm making a bunch of them at once. There are hand tools that accomplish all of these tasks, and you can find these tools in the studio too, but the Foredom Flex Shaft makes short work of these tasks, saving a lot of time and elbow grease. If you're interested in hand finishing, try the various types of files in the studio. 

If you can't afford a Foredom, or don't have the space for one, a Dremel might suit your needs. There's one in the Studio you can try out. It's great for doing all the same stuff as the Foredom but you can pack it back into its little case when you're done!

And for more polishing, you should try out the Jool Tool by Anie. It makes it really easy to polish or grind your work and have a really good look at it while you're doing it. Amazing tool! 

Cutting. Well, there are jeweller's saws and blades and beeswax to accomplish this task, and bench pins set up at the benches to make this task easy. There are different types of metal shears to try before you buy as well. 

Finishing. There are so many ways to finish your work. You can pop it in one of the pickle pots in the studio (there's one for silver and a separate one for copper/brass) and bring it back to shiny life with a little polishing. A quick side note: if you want to set up your own pickle pot at home but don't want to buy commercial pickle (Sparex) then get a cheap crock pot at the store or check second hand shops for one. For every cup of white vinegar you add to the pot, add one tsp Kosher salt. Warm it up and it makes great pickle! 

Sandpaper and steel wool help polish and finish too. There's liver of sulphur in the cupboard that will enhance any texture on your metal piece.  Things like gilders paste and alcohol inks can bring out the texture and life in your metal work. There's a box of gilders pastes in the Studio that you can apply to see the different colours and effects you can achieve. 

I hope that your interest has been piqued by this tour. There's nowhere else in Canada that you can get access to this breadth of tools for a nominal fee and try them out. Please join me in the BeadFX Metal Studio this Friday, July 24 from 5 - 7 pm. I'm happy to help set you up with the tools and answer your questions. Contact the store to book a spot. 

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