Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Of Magnets and Armature

One of the reasons I love making jewelry is the engineering puzzles behind each new design. Once I have successfully tackled a new idea, I'm always eager to see what else I can do.  Incorporating new material into the equation is always fun... and sometimes a real challenge. A while back I started making torque-style necklaces that simply lay around the wearer's neck... Like this Ball and Squiggle necklace.

 I really like the way the ball and squiggle bounce along as I move... But I was aware that not everyone would appreciate this quirk. In fact, I was one of only a tiny handful who thought the bouncing delightful and silly (silly can be very good, in my book). So, the puzzle presented me was how to make a similar style that tended to stay put, once on. The solution I came up with was rather simple, in this case... Magnets!
This Ball and Star necklace in greens is the first try... and came through my "road testing" with flying colors! If you look closely, you can see a pair of small magnets, which lie between the ball and star. The wearer can simply "break" the two pieces apart to remove the necklace. 

The original design (the Ball and Squiggle) was made with a foundation of memory wire (which added to the bounce). This new engineering design is made over simple buna cord, and hangs like a standard necklace.  I am currently trying to incorporate the magnets and memory wire, but so far the "road testing" hasn't been so successful. But stay tuned... I am getting closer to a solution.

For some time I have been looking for better inner armature for my bangles. At a retreat last year, a couple of friends suggested an epoxy clay-like material that air dried rock hard... Which is pretty cool. The best part, however, was that this stuff can be covered with polymer clay and baked! While this stuff has a three hour work time, it can have a mind of it's own, and is VERY sticky.  So it's been taking some time to feel comfortable with it... but here is a sampling of what I've been doing so far.
There are some more adventuresome pieces that I've been working on, but they aren't ready for consumption yet. But... As before... Stay tuned (but don't hold your breath - this is me we're talking about).


Alice Stroppel said...

Oh good deal with the new bracelet inards, I knew you'd figure it out. I am in love with the necklace at the top. being about to just wrap it around your neck is fabulous.

Alice Stroppel said...

seriously, auto correct is going to kill me one day.

should read......being able to just wrap it around......

Janice Sears Grady said...

I love your use of the magnets! Thanks for posting the wonderful photo so we could see them exposed. I tried covering some magnets for refrigerator buttons last summer and found that there were issues with the magnetism if I used too thick a clay covering.

The bracelet armatures are exciting, too! Keep us posted!

The Mouse said...

Love the magnets and your ideas!

I have worked quite a lot with epoxy clay and wanted to give some tips:

keep a cup of water near by and work with moist hands/fingers. It helps tremendously with smoothing and cuts down on the stickiness tremendously. Also, you can refrigerate the batches to increase working time ( also helps with the stickiness ).

I hope that helps.
Keep on Keepin' on! Looks Great!

mags bonham said...

FABULOUS Melanie! Can't wait to see what comes of this experimentation.

Jainnie Jenkins said...

I love your experiments with the different materials. I've always wanted to try epoxy clay, but have been holding off for now. The shapes you've created are so unusual and wild!

Anonymous said...

Your work absolutely makes my heart leap. I am a tentacles and antenna kind of girl. I love your solution to the necklace wrap. I had tried wrapping different material but found my focal pieces kept on making it to the back of my neck. Your magnet solution is genius. It was very kind of you to share your ideas and your quality of work gives it a great signature.
sincerely, Deborah Groom

Karen Ottenbreit said...

As always, your work is an inspiration for me! I too have been dabbling with magnets lately. I did learn that unless you use magnets with a high heat index tolerance they lose their "magnetism". The magic temperature is around 176 degrees...so it rules out baking them in or with the clay. (The high heat ones are prohibitively expensive too.) Thank you for sharing your experimental process with us, it is very generous!
Karen Ottenbreit

Heartieone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heartieone said...

I just came across your blog and was so intrigued with the experiments you
are working on. May I ask two ?'s ?? 1st~ is the clay epoxy you are using the same as the two part epoxy (self hardening)that plummers and others use in their work?? It becomes rock hard, is water proof and can be baked w/ polymer clay.
2nd~ I have magnets w/ a Gauss of 5,000 ... can you believe it? It's almost impossible to pry them apart~ how de-magnetized do these get in the oven?
Thank you for sharing! Mary Clare

veronika said...

lovely work, these photos are so great! Especially the necklace is my personal favourit! Love it!

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