I thought I'd share a little bit about the process since some of you have been surprised by the effects that can be achieved. Apologies in advance for my somewhat suspect photography skills for this post... I was working with iffy lighting for all of these!
Christmas before last, Eric bought me my Vintaj edition BIGkick machine and I've been having fun with it ever since. (I have a pretty fabulous hubby if I do say so myself!) It's basically a small roller-based die cut machine (like what schools often use to cut out shapes for bulletin boards). Anyway, some smart person discovered that you could use paper embossing folders with thin metal to get cool effects and soon there were jewelry specific products on the market. Vintaj partnered with Sizzix to make this special edition machine and a series of embossing folders and etching dies. In the picture below you can see a pair of brass blanks that I've positioned on the DecoEmboss die as well as a closed die folder. The next step is closing the folder, putting the second clear cutting pad on top (you can sort of see it off to the left side), and rolling everything through the machine.
So, I spent a little bit of time rolling a bunch of plain blanks of various sizes and materials (they come in brass, copper, and a blackened metal they call arte metal). I like to do things in decent sized batches since I have to get out special equipment and it saves time to do a bunch all at one time. Here's what I rolled out:
After I emboss and etch everything I like to give them a quick bath in a little bit of dish detergent and warm water. The tutorials and such don't say to do that, but since the blanks often have a little bit of oil left over from the manufacturing process (that's my guess, anyway...it could just be protective for storage and shipping) I figure it's a good idea to clean that off to allow for a clean surface for the paint to adhere to. Again, Vintaj paired up with Ranger, a company who is known for it's paints and inks, to develop a line of metal friendly paints designed for use with their metals. They call them patinas, but that's just fancy talk for paint! They just rolled out two new sets that I was eager to try out.
After painting the pieces and setting the paint a little bit with a heat tool (i.e. tiny but really hot little hair dryer looking thing), you can sand off excess paint from the high points to bring back some of the metal to the surface. The arte metal is kind of fun since when you sand it down it actually shines through silver. Here are the same pieces after getting painted:
They are super close to being done at this point. My photos were taken in some iffy light conditions and don't do the colors justice. I'm pretty happy with the way I did some color blending to get a sort of ombre effect on a few of them. All that's left is shaping anything that needs it and then sealing everything with the Vintaj Glaze for durability and to keep the shine on the exposed metal. The glaze can also be used to thin out the patinas to create some cool effects but I didn't do any of that with this batch.
It's probably a little hard to really tell, but here are the pieces after I shaped some of them and applied the glaze. I used my dapping block (the wooden square in the top right) and my trusty hammer to dome some of the pairs. I learned the hard way that using the glaze before dapping can cause some undesired effects.
I also curved the three rectangles that became a bracelet. Here is the finished product... in person the painted and glazed pieces almost look like they are enameled or cloisonné.
That's all the show and tell for the moment. I'll showing off at least two pairs of earrings that come from this batch on Sunday for the Art Jewelry Elements Earring Challenge reveal. Most of these will hopefully be completed and for sale at the Chanhassen Spring Boutique sale that day too for you local folks!