Nancy L.T. Hamilton

Welcome to: In the Studio with Nancy

Welcome back to In the Studio with Nancy, Volume 6.  In this newsletter I will babble about My Trip to Hawaii - you've got to go to my website to see it. You guys get first notification of the page.  I've also included two emails.  The first email is about "getting better" and the second is about the importance of a good foot pedal and engraving information.  Instead of my normal babbling (which I did on my Hawaii page), I'm going to post a bunch of links about my "new discoveries".  They may not be new to you but, I thought they were so cool, that I wanted to share them with everyone.  This newsletter is a little scattered but, then, so is my brain.  Enjoy!

First off, an apology (I seem to always be apologizing - see my big apology following)  I kinda lost the month of June and a few days in July to vacations. So, because the vacations are 2 of the reasons that this Newsletter is so late, I thought I'd take advantage of my Hawaiian adventure here.  I know, I know, who cares about your trip and how is this jewelry related?  Well, we artists thrive on inspiration. We also need to recharge our design vocabulary and our creative spirits.  Hawaii and all of its magnificent "stuff" did that for me.  I'm always looking at nature for my design ideas.  What if that tree were wearable?  How would I accomplish that?  From what materials?  So, you see, my Hawaii trip was, for me a design inspiration.  I was hoping to share some of those inspirations and to encourage you to use travel as a wonderful way to refresh your designing spirit

I brought my two part Belicold silicon compound with me and made molds of some very amazing textures.  Don't put it in your carry-on or they will arrest you for carrying bomb making materials!  It was hard enough to bring back 2 bags of Hawaiian sea salt.  My carry-on luggage was searched, the salt confiscated and checked for drugs.  I guess someone, somewhere, was stupid enough to carry narcotics or other drugs in their carry on, in a bag of salt.  BTW, I passed and the salt made it home with me.


In case you missed them, we just published two videos entitled:  Soldering 101 - Part 1 and Soldering 101 - Part 2.  I also published 2 new corresponding web pages: Soldering 101 - Oxidation, Flux and Fire Scale/stain Prevention and Soldering 101 - The 4 Steps for Successful Soldering.  If you haven't visited my website in awhile, there are also updated pages titled:  About Solder and Soldering.  I've been busy - which is one of the reasons that I'm having such a tough time keeping up with my emails - see more of my whining below in THE APOLOGY.

Two asides:  1) Deborah, if you are reading this, the flux that I use is My-T-Flux from Rio Grande.  I started, in college, using paste flux.  Just bought some for the first time in YEARS, to reacquaint myself with it FYI. 2) 
All those with questions on copper and brass solders:  I just received some from Rio and will be checking them out.  Updates on my website and in the next newsletter - if I can remember to put it in!!!!


On that lead-in:  I have had to establish a new email policy.  I get 500-800 emails a month and, for those that have asked technical questions, you know I usually give rather lengthy replies.  What has happened here is that I'm spending 5 days a week JUST answering emails.  I haven't been in my studio, besides for video creation, for two months.  I also want to put out more videos, enlarge the website, finish setting up Chimera's studio (Facebook) and getting ready to teach at Art Is You in Petaluma, CA, next year (a lot goes into a class) and other secret projects.  So, the reason for this song and dance is that I feel so bad about not answering your questions.  We have come up with a solution (I hope) that will work for everyone:  I will be sorting your questions into categories.  We will address your questions in a video,  a corresponding webpage or in this newsletter.  This way, we hope, that everyone will benefit from your amazingly helpful questions.

I will miss the personal touch and getting to know you all personally but, I just physically can't do it all.  Hope this works for you all and, once again, I apologize!


Email One

My Answer

Thanks for a great email and your kind words.  You learn like I do - just jump in and figure it out later!  Oh, and you have the hungry person syndrome like I do:  Everything looks so yummy (meaning techniques/tools and ideas) - what should I try first?  Like going to a restaurant when you are starving and wanting to order everything on the menu.
 When you said you felt that you weren't improving, it made me think of two things:  make multiples and don't jump around too fast.  On the multiples:  when I was in college, one of our projects was to make 5 of the same thing.  They were allowed to subtly change but, we had to follow the same basic premise.  What that taught me was, if you make one, it'll be "okay", if you make two, it will be better still and by the 5th one, you will have streamlined the process and gotten danged good at making that piece.  So, the point of this tale is, you need to make 2 or three roses - maybe 5 and each time you do you will learn something new.  On the jumping:  it is so tempting to jump around - especially when we start later in life and time is short.  It is also tempting because there are so many interesting things to learn about.  Unfortunately, getting good at something, means we have to focus a bit.  I know: dull, dull, dull.  But, you don't have to dedicate a year to making the same rose but, a month or two - would be good.  It's just a matter of patience, doing the work and TIME!  You might live to be 100, think about how much time you may have left to learn!  You never know...
Oh, and by the way, you will probably never be totally happy with anything you do.  You will always see the flaws - just as I do.  The really nice thing about getting better at your craft, is that most people won't see the flaws.  It will be a secret between you and your work. Remember, humans are not perfect, ergo, we can't create perfect things.  All that we can do is try!

Email Two

After watching your video on the flexshaft, I took it apart and greased it, thank you! I feel empowered! 
Then, I bought the hammer handpiece, but I can’t seem to control it. The foot on the footpedal is unreliable (I can probably prop it or something), plus I think that I need to file the bit to a point because it is too squared off. I would like to use it to do some shading. Also, I am worried that if I buy the bit or make a bezel setter for it and try to set a stone that I will kill the entire piece. So far I hate it. Any help would be appreciated.

My Answer

The first thing I thought of was the foot pedal.  Do you have a good one? I have a Lucas (pg. 296) and a Foredom.  I love the Lucas and like the Foredom.  I can make the hammer handpiece go really slowly and have a lot of control.  Also, on customizing your tips, you could try altering the one you have - like you've already started.  In my Making Chasing and Repousse´ Tools video (it is in two parts), I discuss the steps steel needs to go through for annealing, hardening and tempering (of steel - so that you can alter your steel tools).  It might help.  My hand piece came with an anvil point for stone setting.  Rio has a bunch of different tips.
Before using your hand piece on a finished piece of jewelry, I'd do practice settings.  It takes a bit to get used to it.  Practice hammering those bezels down.  I set bezels with the hand piece the same way that I do with a (manual) bezel setter. Rio has a brief section in its flex shaft video, at about 7:20, where he uses the hammer handpiece.

Engraving Info

Shading can be achieved with an electric graver or flex shaft (see below).  Here's a page from iGraver that discusses beginning shading on metal. Sam Alfano of iGraver has a video on shading with a GRS GraverMach AT (you'll need to mortgage the house).

For more engraving info:  Foredom makes the PowerGraver.  You can also use a small, electric engraver with a diamond tip for shading. Dremel makes an electric engraver too. There are additional tips for different types of work. There are different sizes and types of bits (just 2 examples) that allow for a variety of textures.  I use my little electric graver for signing and dating my work.  Harbor Freight sells an engraver for $6.99.  I have not tried this graver.

You can also use a standard flex shaft or Dremel with a diamond point.


This is an actual engraving from the back of a watch by Steve J. Lindsay.  The watch was made by Ron DeCort. Just amazing.  

My friend, David Giulietti, is also a master engraver.  See more of his work on his site.

New Discoveries

Great online store for exotic and interesting materials:  Inventables.  They have acrylic sheet, anodized aluminum, cork (hmmm...ideas at work here), light reflective film, copper fabric, silver screen mesh, glass sheet, thin, medium and thicker wood sheets, 3D printers, desktop lasers, CNC mills, adhesives, tape, miniature LED lights, light strings, microcontrollers, molding resin, silicone rubber, mica pigments, soft gel magnets (? might have to try on of those) and a ton of other cool stuff. Ask for a catalog.

Embossing without a rolling mill

I just subscribed to bsueboutiques on YouTube.  She's a character with a lot of information. She has even more videos than I do!

In this video Sue shows how to use the Cuttlebug.  Employing 30g copper, she embosses the metal.  A great alternative to a rolling mill.  The only issue is the thickness of the metal that you can use.   You could always rivet the thin piece to a thicker piece of metal. She even put a pattern on a sheet of Mica. Wouldn't that make a cool window for a pendant? So many ideas swirling in my head after watching her video.  Thanks Sue!

From Sue's links I also found Harry Wood's embossing on metal information - at B'Sue Boutiques.  Here is Harry's webpage.

Here's a cheap alternative ($199.99) to the very pricey (and worth it) Dursten rolling mills ($1,400.00) (I think this is the model I own).  Of course, Harbor Freight carries it.  I have not tried this machine but, it might be worth a trip to the store.  Don't forget to bring a brass pattern sheet and a piece of annealed copper, to test it out (if you can talk someone into letting you try it out)!

You can purchase foot long pattern sheets (sold by the whole foot, 1 foot minimum - $7.00 US per foot) at Metalliferous.com

Another method for transferring a pattern to metal is discussed here at, Rings & Things. 

Metal Clay Related

The Silhouette CAMEO® Cutter can do amazing things with metal clay.  Check out Wanaree Taylor's (see her link below)  video on: Making Clay Gallery Bezel Wire on YouTube.
As a confirmed tool, woman of the night (you know the word I want to write?!?!?), I had to order one. I'll let you know what I make with this lovely new toy.  


I found this jewelry artist who's work, I felt, was very inspirational - especially to those just learning to saw metal:  Jamie Spinello.  Nice work Jamie!

You metal clay artists probably already know about Wanaree Taylor and her work with the Silhouette CAMEO® Cutter (see above for Wanaree's video on the technique).

Thanks for subscribing and happy creating.  Nancy


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