Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wonderful Fun Today

Several months ago I signed up for a class in wire knitting being offered at the Fuller Museum of Craft in Brockton, MA; the class was this afternoon from 1:00-5:00. The object of the class was to make a pin/brooch suitable for wearing on a jacket or sweater. I had no idea what the entire class would entail, but it sure was fun.

The only prerequisite skill was to know the basics of knitting - cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. So, with some fine silver wire that had been pre-strung with various beads, we cast on 8-10 stitches and started our little projects.

The knitting was not the relaxing type I usually do with yarn, but worth the slow and unrhythmic work to make the beaded section of the pin. The bead soup I used was the greens and blues of sea glass with some clear and amber pieces thrown in for good measure. We each cast on 8-10 stitches (very loosely as there is no give in wire and the other needle had to be able to be inserted into the stitch to work the next row), worked stockinette for 6-8 rows, then cast off. Except for the cast on row, a bead was placed between each stitch. The beads ended up on the purl side.

Next came learning to anneal copper. This process was done with an acetylene torch - something I never expected to use in my lifetime. Turned out it was really fun, but required paying close attention to get it right and not burn myself or anything else. After the torching of the copper, using copper tongs, the piece was dipped into quench, then placed in pickle (an acidic solution) for a few minutes. The piece was then cleaned with dishwashing liquid and a brass brush. We did this on a practice piece; the pieces for the finished products were already prepared for us, including placement of two spots of solder where the pin would be attached and three small holes where the knitted piece would be later connected.

Using the sample piece, we tried out various hammers and techniques to create texture on the surface of the piece - I finally chose one that would produce small dimples and proceeded to hammer the actual copper piece that would become the top of my pin/brooch. The hammering would make for a great way to dispel anger!

After completing the hammering, the pin-related findings were soldered onto the back on the prepared spots - again using the torch and flux. It was amazing to watch it turn colors and the flux and solder melt together to attach the pin catches and hinges. The piece was again dipped into the quench and pickled for 5 minutes; then cleaned again with dishsoap and brush.

Now the knitted section and copper were attached by weaving the tails from the silver wire through the holes in the copper and eventually weaving in the ends. After this the pin stem was fastened to the hinge by simply squeezing it with pliers.

Now some dangles were made using extra beads, head pins, and appropriate pliers/cutters. Once three dangles were ready, they were hung off of the bottom of the knitted section. Et voila - the piece was ready to wear! Check out the pictures to see the finished product.

It was great fun! We stopped frequently to unkink the shoulders and eat cookies our instructor's husband had made. The woman who taught the class is named Genny Hunt and she comes from southern Mass., has a studio in New Bedford; she was just great - and her husband's cookies (an ER doctor, BTW) were delicious.

I hope I'm around the area when Genny offers the next class later this year.

Peace to all.


Maine-y-ac said...

Sounds like a lot of fun although I don't knit! But hammering the copper would have made it worth it for me today!

CSD Faux Finishing said...

What a fun new skill you have now, there are worlds of open possibilities of how to apply your new found knowledge :)

Should I expect to see you at Home Depot picking up some supplies in the plumbing department for the making of new jewelry? Could be a fun way to pass the time in your new the very least you could knit the beads :)

Sounds like it was a lot of fun and the brooch came out fabulous :) I love the colors you used!

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Chucka - Thanks for the props. Considering how to merge new skill with old ones.
maine-y-ac - Just get yourself a ballpeen hammer and some copper and have at it!

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