Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tin Ear Parts

The best of the punched pieces (partially cleaned)
I like working with components and we all know in general I tend to make a bunch of them.  I have a hydraulic press I've had for a very long time and used to punch out a variety of shapes to work with.  It's been a long while since I've done this on a regular basis.  I thought some of the steel dies might work to punch out some of the litho steel.  After all, it's thin. 

In theory it was good.  And here is where you find out whether or not you've purchased an excellent product.  My original dies were designed by me and the designs were sent out to Sheltech to be cut from flat tool steel into pancake dies.  I slide my metal into the die and punch (with the press) out a piece I can then design with.  Generally, it's nice, crisp, and clean.  Just a snip here and file there and you're ready to go.

And, I dare say - although there are a plethora of great artists out there you'd be shocked at how many actually do this and then alter the piece for their jewelry.  Don't wince.  If they didn't start out with  those pieces we'd never be able to afford to buy some shiny object we saw in a local gallery. 

I did say this wasn't all good, right?  My original dies are from Sheltech.  I have no interest in cutting out my own dies.  I also purchased, in the past two years, some pancake dies from Potter USA.  They should be good to go....uh, but they are not.  I tried them on the litho steel (tin).  Actually, no one has a right to expect any pancake die to snap this stuff easily.  It IS steel and really isn't meant to cut in a pancake die, even with a 20 ton hydraulic press.  I was hoping for a big surprise here and didn't get it.

But, I was throughly disappointed when it didn't shear 26 gauge annealed copper without a glitch.  I mean gheeze - it should cut like butter.  New die - great press (Bonny Doon) and annealed metal.  My old dies don't do that and they've pressed out consistent clean cut pieces for a long time.  I'm no quitter so I tried unannealed 26 gauge - nope, same issue.  I'm not giving up but then I'm not investing in anymore pancake dies, for the time being, from  Potter either.  To be fair I'll try some other gauges of metal (annealed and otherwise) and we'll see how that goes and then I'll call Potter to see if I'm doing something wrong.  That is not beyond the realm of possibility either.

Gosh I hate it when things don't go the way they're planned.

Won't some of the new mini lampwork look good with these future earrings?


Lela said...

You are making me dizzy. Do you ever sleep? One day you're making glass beads and the next you're punching out tin. Geez, Lady!

But yeah, these look great. :)

Sharon Driscoll said...

I know - my work habits can be a jumble. I usually have about a half dozen things going at the same time. Like the earring stacks at the end of this post have been sitting (I walk past them all day and make decisions on finishing) while I made some glass for a customer - and I thought I'd try the beadrollers that have been sitting under my nose while Christmas was going on while I was making those. I guess if you put the hour here and the half there all together it would add up and I do tend to do things like sand/ file metal and play with clay while watching TV at night. Sleep...who needs sleep - LOL

Barbara Lewis said...

Sharon, I know it sounds illogical, but I think you need to use 18 gauge in the pancake die. I have one from Potter USA, but I've had trouble removing the copper from the punch because it gets caught in the tight angles of the flower design. But, having said all of that, I love what you're doing with these lively pieces!