engarian (engarian) wrote,

What I Learned - Sparks and Steel

One of the two classes I took last week at the Bead & Button Show was how to make tools from tool steel. Now, for those who only know me through my writing, my characters play with fire (a lot) and do glass and enamel art (as well as more traditional forms), but metal is rarely mentioned. It's there, but implied rather than brought front and center. But I love metal as much as my glasswork and I had wanted to know how to work with tool steel to make what I needed on the fly for a long time.

I love seeing the sparks fly when I put tool steel against a grinding wheel! Fun!

So I had this wonderful class that gave us a length of tool steel stock, taught us how to cut it into smaller pieces and then use grinding wheels, vertical sanding belt sanders, and polishing discs along with fire (because what in my life can be fun without flame) to make tools. And I loved it. But what was really fun was using them the next day.

I made tools that were similar to these in the pic, although these aren't a photo of my actual tools. They are used in an artform called "repousse" - in other words pushing a sheet of metal into a dimensional shape. We made repousse hearts the next day in Melissa Manley's class. The metal was pushed into a plexiglass form using heat (yes, flame again - LOL) and pressure from tools and a hammer. Voila! I had my own tools from the day before. And they worked beautifully. And then...best of all...we used fire again to fire enamel onto the surface. I ended up with two REALLY UGLY hearts (because I used enamels that I would NEVER normally have chosen) but I loved using my tools, so I was VERY happy. And....I got to play with fire. (Sigh of total contentment - LOL.)
Tags: bead & button show, enamel

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