Archive for December, 2009

wax injector

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

My next major tool purchase is going to be a wax injector. Yes, bask in the glory. Naturally I launched an exhaustive search for the cheapest and lowest-tech out there and came up with this:

stuller mini wax injector

It’s tiny! It’s cute! It’s… missing a lid. You have to inject up. How do you adjust the pressure? How do you keep dust and gross studio debris out? I’m so confused.

Then I found what I had in mind:

arbe mini wax injector with hand pump

It has a hand pump to pump in your pressure. It has a front injector so you can use both hands to keep your mold together and steady. It has knobs and dials and lights sticking out and, LO! Is that a toggle switch on the left there? The dumbest part of course is the fact that nobody seems capable of showcasing their product with the correct aspect ratio. Probably one dumbass marketing dude posted a squashed image and everyone copied. It’s disconcerting and dulls the pointy parts of my brain to even think about it. Luckily, I’ve seen them before and they look a lot more like this:

arbe not so mini wax injector

Correct aspect ratio. The red is kick ass and I would order it in a second if I didn’t need an air compressor to run it. It also has toggle switches.

Now I have to figure out what wax I need. I’ve been looking at Kerr “Super Pink” wax, which says that it is supposed to be the most carvable (I need to do additional carving once I shoot my waxes) and the wax I’ve used in the past has always been very goopy and sticky, gumming up my wax tool and making things hard. I also need to have a vibrant or darker color in order to see the details. The only trouble with the Super Pink is that it does not say that it is very flexible and I have very tricky molds with pieces that pop out the top and vent out the sides that produce lacey waxes with crazy sprue paths. I practiced with my studiomate’s wax injector and it took me a LOT of tries to even pry a ring out of my mold without tearing it to bits. Her wax seemed pretty flexy.

I don’t know if any jeweler types read this but I’d love to hear recommendations. There are so many wax options to choose from.

As my Christmas gift to the Internets, I present this:

Arbe 110 volt Mini Wax Injector with Hand Pump

It’s the Arbe 110 volt Mini Wax Injector with Hand Pump. PLEASE COPY THIS IMAGE FOR YOUR WEBSITE. You have my express permission and endorsement.

UPDATE on wax injector here.

the mustache

Monday, December 14th, 2009

After visiting a couple of the craft bazaars around Portland this season, I have to say that this year’s design meme prize goes to The Mustache. Mustaches everywhere. On pencils, on t-shirts, on jewelry. Cephalopods came in at a close second but the mustache rules.

stacking mustache mugs

Mustache cups! I actually think these are pretty cool.

knitted mustache cowl

Knitted mustache cowl. Still adorable.

sterling silver mustache ringThe ring.

mustache necklace

The necklace.

skateboard mustache

The necklace made from… Yes: Recycled skateboards.

mustache for plushie

Here’s a felt mustache for your plushie! Don’t you buy gifts for your favorite plushy? No? … Hello?

mr. mustache octopus

This octopus came up in my mustache search. Go figure.

let me stand into your fire

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

I think I’ll start out this blog by talking about my newest and most impressive acquisition: a torch. It’s a Meco Midget and I think it’s the cat’s ass. For the past several years I’ve been using essentially a creme brulee torch (with a bernzomatic for the Big Jobs) and so I am what you might call an easy sell.

The primary reason I’ve been using such a poseur torch setup for the past several years is because I’m a total cheapskate when it comes to buying stuff for myself and reasoned, “Why do I need to spend $500 on a jewelry torch when I can pay $13 at the hardware store and get this half-assed but fully functional adorable mini torch?” Why not indeed. The sad fact is I think that I’ve saved easily $487 worth of frustration in the past week alone soldering tiny jump rings (quickly! and not at all melty-like) as well as large pieces and not encrusting them with such dreadful firescale that I had to then waste time scrubbing away with grinders of varying grit on my flex shaft.

So, at long last, I informed Joshua that I was purchasing a Pricey Item and bought the damned thing. Then I freaked out because maybe I needed a flashback arrestor (my studiomate has one and I know jack shit about such things and maybe I need one too because… BOOM) and it didn’t come with one and oh my god GAS and OXYGEN under pressure in my studio in a rickety old house probably made of matchstick timbers and other combustibles.

When the box finally arrived I was almost afraid to look inside because you know, NOW I had done it. I schlepped the big box to the studio and carefully inspected all the pieces, admiring the gas regulators and the handpiece! Be still my heart! I lashed it down with enough 1″ tubular webbing to restrain a semi truck and then I went online for a little how-to (there was surprisingly little literature that came in the box and the little I had was taken over with WARNING and DANGER and CAUTION, which by the way all mean different things) and I bet you know what happened then. The Internet totally put the fear of doom into me. I read all sorts of freaky accounts of flames creeping back up the handpiece and causing horrific burns and don’t even let me get started on the extensive Ganoksin articles. Studio safety. Good lord.

I selfishly invited my other studiomate in to supervise as I put the thing together so you know, if I blew up the building, I would not be alone. And… nothing really happened. I screwed it all on, turned on the gas, turned the little knob on the handpiece, and we oohed and aahed as the gas came sssing out. Pretty standard stuff really. I had a bit of trouble getting it lit at first because the literature said emphatically ‘never use a bic lighter’ (why? anyone? Bueller?). I went to the big bad welding store and got a sparker (also ordered flash arrestors) but it’s so new and stiff that it’s hard to spark, especially when 99.999 percent of my brain is focused on The Boom. And so when it does finally spark, it is like a firework exploding with all the tension I had built up and then all the gas that pooled around the room ignites and it’s, well, not a relaxing experience.

One little issue I had at first: the torch tip seemed to want to ignite behind the tip rather than in front like it’s supposed to. Not sure why and a week later, now that I’m a (cough) seasoned torch user, it never does that anymore.

Final conclusions: The torch is rad. I’m afraid of it still a little. I can’t decide if I should get a better spark deely-bobber. The spark explosion and subsequent fireball is not pretty but I am getting better at working it and I have to admit, it makes me feel badass to light my little torch with a big ol’ sparker.

Next up: I need to build myself a dedicated solder area in my studio, and maybe buy some more tools before the high wears off.