Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rings and a New (Inexpensive) Torch

In a flurry of creativity I am making jewelry before I leave for Bead & Button. I KNOW! I seem to be packed and mostly ready. (Note to self...print those do NOT want to be wrestling with the printer in the office center at the hotel. Ask me how I know.)

Anyway. I was so excited to actually have some time to create that I bounded merrily over to my worktable and picked up my torch. Wait. Where is my torch? Torch?

Drat. I packed every single micro torch I owned and sent them on their way to the show for class. I was crestfallen. As I pawed through my storage baskets willing one of my torches to spontaneously appear something caught my eye.

Bernzomatic Micro Torch
This guy.

I had bought this torch a while back to try out, turned it on once and promptly forgot all about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I fired it up.

It did not have a built in lighter so I used my fireplace starter to fire it up. The torch is filled from the bottom and pushing up on that red button starts the butane flowing. There is a little switch underneath (opposite of the red button) that regulates the butane flow. The flame kept blowing out when I tried to light it, but a quick adjustment to that switch made the fuel flow more slowly and the torch lit right up.

So far so good. I tried the torch out and I like it. It certainly does not take the place of my Blazer or Max Flame micro torches, but since it was the only torch I could quickly lay my hands on, I made it work.

So, in a nutshell, these are my pros and cons:

  • I already had it.
  • The flame is tapered and precise.
  • Long burn time. 
  • Easy to manipulate.
  • Great for soldering jump rings and drawing a ball on the end of a wire. 
  • Inexpensive and easy to find. $15.95 at most hardware stores.

  • If you hold the torch at a 90° angle to your work it can sometimes blow out. Once I adjusted it to a little higher than 45° over my project it worked perfectly.
  • No automatic ignition switch.
  • The flame cannot solder projects larger than a quarter in size (1 inch or 24 mm).
Since the flame was small and could only solder small projects, I had to get creative. Here are the rings I made.

I used the torch to anneal the metal and to solder the bezel on the ring on the right. It wasn't powerful enough to solder the settings to the ring bands, so those are riveted together.

Now back to the workbench and my little torch. If you are coming to Bead & Button, make sure and stop by and see me at meet the teachers. I'll have rings for sale!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Maker Faire 2012 Recap! Now with Video!


What a weekend. We taught hundreds (300? 400?) of people how to solder, shape and polish a ring and it was all FREE! Going into this project, I thought "Well, how busy are we gonna be? People will just stroll up to the booth and we will chat, coach them on making a ring and then we will relax, greet another person and make another ring."

What was I thinking? Good thing a had a lot of supplies and a great team to help.

I guess people really, REALLY like playing with fire. Seriously. We were SLAMMED all weekend. We had all ages jumping in and trying out the torches. (Good thing I DID have the foresight to make a safety plan. Not one burn. Well, Not one burn on any of the participants...a couple of us got singed just a little.)

If you have never been to Maker Faire, it is just an awesome experience. Makers from all over the country come and share what they do: Robotics, beekeeping, knitting, driving a tiny motorized cupcake, welding, making things out of wood, metal and fire. You name it. And this year tens of thousands of people came to see it.

JUST IN! My super talented cousin Zoe made a great video to commemorate the weekend. Thanks Zoe for making this. I think it's awesome. (Makes me want to do it all over again this weekend!) Thought you might like to see it.

And here are some snaps from the weekend. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Soldering for all ages!
Jess and Kris teaching the masses.
This couple made matching rings.
Look at that concentration.
Safety first!
Our nice booth sign.
And we got a blue ribbon from the MAKE editors for an outstanding activity.
 So much fun! Will I do it again next year? YOU BET!

Friday, May 18, 2012

My new tool belt.

So sometimes in class or demo-ing or even just working at my bench I feel like I need a better way to keep a handle on my tools that are in constant use. I wanted a tool belt, but not one that made me look like I was going to a construction site.

One day while trolling the aisles at my local Harbor Freight store, I found this cool leather pouch and thought it would be the perfect thing for my tools. It was just the pouch, though. I needed to add a belt.

No problem! To make the belt for the pouch, I went to my local Tandy Leather and found a 1 1/4" belt blank and dyed it to to match the pouch. (They also sell leather dye and it was easy to paint right on to the unfinished leather.) My sweetheart added the buckle for me since he is handy that way. I bought a few establishments (also from Tandy) and got to work putting my personal style on the whole thing.

Here is the pouch and belt, pre-embellish.

The conchos and harware I bought at Tandy.

I turned one of the conchos into a belt tip. I added a Vintaj brass blank behind it to make a nice, hefty tip for the end of the belt. Kinda has a steampunk vibe which is okay by me. I'd love to pilot an airship.

To add the hanging hardware (for my safety glasses and keys and such) I riveted strips of leather to the belt.

I used a drill to make the holes...

and then I riveted everything together. And I added a key to the pouch for added flair.

See the key on the pocket? And ta dah, here is the finished belt and pouch...

...and here I am striking a pose in my new toolbelt. I love it. Now bring on the tools!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Class enrollment begins today...

...At Baubles and Beads in Berkeley, CA at 10AM PST! I have four great classes on the schedule. Click here to see all of their class offerings but here is a peek at what I am teaching:

NEW CLASS Soldered Key

Dapped & Capped Beads

Patinas & Cold Connections

Freeform Wire Pendant
I am so excited to be back at this great store. Their classroom is extremely well appointed and includes a video and screen set up so that students can see the action up close without moving from their seats.

Enjoy browsing all of the great class offerings and hope to see you there!

Monday, May 14, 2012

We have a winner!

So most of you that commented on the contest live too far to hop on over to Maker Faire this weekend. 

So I put all of those names in a pot and came up with Mellisa who said "How nice of you to have a back up prize in case of an out of town winner! I'm too far to hop in the car to make it there next weekend (boo, sounds like so much fun!) but the DVD looks fantastic!"

So Mellisa, the Soldered Rings DVD is yours...shoot me an email and I will get it out to you ASAP. (kate at katerichbourg dot com)

And we have a local winner, too. Darryl, who lives nearby was my lone local commenter who could use the tickets, so Darryl, the pair is yours. I have your email address and will shoot those over to you shortly. Looking forward to meeting you at the Faire.

Okay gang...hope you had a great Monday and thanks for playing!

Micro Torches 101, Part 2

Hello! Hope you all had a great weekend. I wanted to share a couple of things with you this morning. First a quick reminder that I will be choosing a name from the entries on my Maker Faire Giveaway later today, so there is still time to enter. Click over and enter...there is a prize for you non-locals, so everyone can win.

And for your Monday morning reading pleasure, check out my latest article on Jewelry Making Daily.

It's the second part of my article on using a butane micro torch. Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

I'll be back later today to announce a winner.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Maker Faire Giveaway

Contest is Closed! Thanks for playing!

As you may have heard, I am participating in the Maker Faire in San Mateo CA on May 19 & 20 and am so excited!

Maker Faire is (from the website) "a two-day family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement."

Imagine a bunch of really awesome people getting together to make all kinds of cool stuff. Technology, sewing, swords, knitting, Tesla Coils, robotics, a bunch of R2D2's, a Bazaar Bizarre... if you can make it, Maker has got it. Most of the demos are FREE and you can roam from place to place and make things and watch others make things. (Plus meet new people and have a generally great time!)

Sounds awesome, huh? It is. I went last year and am exited to participate this year. I am Maker #7865 and will be hosting "Ring Roundup - simple soldering techniques for jewelry making and will mentor willing observers to make their own ring right on the spot. No experience is required!" 

I'll have soldering set-ups right in my booth and anyone can come by and make a cool soldered ring. It's gonna be a make-a-ganza!

Do you wanna go? I am giving away two free passes to the Faire to one blog reader so you and a pal can experience the fun of Maker. Here are the details:

  • Passes are good for the San Mateo Maker Faire May 19 & 20, 2012 only.
  • The passes will be delivered via email and are redeemable at the Faire the day of the event.
  • The passes have no cash value and are provided by the fine folks at Makezine
  • One comment equals one entry. Post a link on your Facebook page, Twitter or blog and get another entry for each. Just make sure to comment separately for each act of social media sharing. 
I will select a random winner on Monday morning, May 14. Make sure that I have a way to contact you- no anonymous comments, please.
Okay, so I know what you are thinking... "But Kate, I WANT to go, but I live in Duluth, (or New Orleans, or Boston) and can't possibly get to San Mateo, CA for the Faire next weekend."

Well, I've got that covered. While I can't offer you an all-expenses-paid trip to come on out, I can still teach you to make rings... so if you win and can't use the tickets I'll send you my Soldered Rings and Bezels DVD instead. We can still make rings together, just not at Maker Faire.

Good luck and have a GREAT weekend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What a whirwind!

Is May is just rushing by for you? I'll tell you, I think it's the last week of April but my calendar says today is May 8. I think the calendar is lying.

Just a quick check in today, but stop by the blog later this week for a giveaway (that is going to be really cool if I do say so!)

It involves this...
and this...

See you soon!