Enchanted Metalworks!

6 years, 8 months ago 35

I don’t know about you, but my last week was dedicated almost entirely to making sterling silver jewelry and doll accessories for orders. And by making, I mean ‘finishing’ it. And by finishing, I mean clipping, cutting, grinding and polishing raw silver castings to the point where they actually look silver. They start out looking nothing like the precious little things they become. Check it out.

silver-process 9

Ultrasonic clean: Metals are dirty after casting and need a very good cleaning. After a short walk home from the local artisan foundry with my heavy bag of dirty silver, I throw a batch of it into my ultrasonic machine before the work can begin.

silver-process 8

Clipping and cutting off injection sprues: Once the parts are dirt-free, I begin using a combination of cutters and high speed disks to de-sprue all my pieces. Every little bit of silver sprues is saved for future castings. Silver is pretty expensive.

silver-process 7

Keeping an orderly work surface: For some reason artists are portrayed and perceived as messy individuals. It never made sense to me, because creative pursuits requires a good deal of strategic planning, prioritizing and execution. I maintain order as I work, so as not to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the accumulation of production debris.

silver-process 6

Grinding: Ok, now it’s time to get my hands really dirty. I use safety equipment such as solid particle extraction to protect myself from respiratory damage; an eye/body barrier to keep high velocity metal shards away from me,  and finger armor to safeguard my hands from friction burns and savage skin gouging by spinning burs and abrasive wheels. Brrrrr…..they are sharp, fast and nasty.

silver-process 5

Acid bath: Now my freshly de-sprued and ground pieces go for a little dip in some relatively mild acid, which still burns human skin on contact. I use precautionary measures, but accidents still happen. Usually, this is when I discover all the little cuts on my hands from hours of grinding because they sting double when acid gets splashed on them.

silver-process 4

Post-acid dip: This particular type of acid, turns silver black. I love black patina because it increases contrast between recessed and raised areas by making intricate details stand out more against the background. Sometimes, instead of dipping pieces, I apply acid with a tiny brush to selected areas. Almost all of my metal works feature black patina. It brings out the depth of each piece.

silver-process 3

Tumbling: Now that my parts are black as pitch, it’s time to burnish them to a satin shine inside a tumbler full of stainless steel shot. While a variety of finishes can be achieved, I prefer satin finish on my jewelry, which is shiny, but not brilliantly so. During the course of several hours, the tumbler shot removes black patina from raised surfaces, while leaving it inside finer details, thus making it stand out against the smooth, bright areas.

silver-process 2

Ready for assembly: When my parts are shiny, I sort them, dry them and bag them in order of priority. Gradually, shoes get laces and buckles attached, pendants get bails and chains, while doll’s ‘clothes’, such as that Crow Helmet for example, get put together from multiple parts and embellished with additional accents.

silver-process 1

And that’s the gist of my metalworks. I hope that it was both entertaining and informative to you. I think I’ll go stick my hands in some ice now.

35 Responses

  1. Christianne says:

    Oh wow Marina, entertaining is a understatment. Ive been waiting for you to pop up…Have you made extras…..:)

  2. marina says:

    Mmmmmmmmmaybe….. ;)

  3. Christianne says:


  4. Sabrina says:

    Don’t leave us in suspense! :D

  5. Christianne says:

    Sabrina have you ever seen those pieces before, 2nd last image..top left hand corner…

  6. Mai says:

    Llllllllllloooooooove it!!! As a jewelry artist, I can definitely relate to this process! Your behind-the-scenes posts are always delightful, and they demonstrate your passion, talent, and dedication to your work. Gorgeous, gorgeous, Marina. Now, to see what these new “mystery pieces” will become…

  7. Merri says:

    I have two face pendants, a hand pendant, lantern pendant and a pair of silver stilettos. Now that I realise just how much work went into their production, I treasure them even more! :)

  8. Aeroksana says:

    It is more than interesting! Thank you for this wonderful journey to your silver process, my precious lady Marina!

  9. Tone Elizabeth says:

    This is so exciting to see, Marina! And I think I see a special piece that might be mine..
    Thank you for sharing your process, it is very impressive craftsmanship.

  10. Bertha says:

    OMG such a lot goodies! I love them all and I want them!

  11. Carolyn says:

    Fascinating process. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  12. Annina says:

    Wow, so cool to see behind the scenes of the metal works, it really makes me appreciate how much work goes into each piece! I love my bronze crown and Iðunn is almost always wearing it! Hoping for my turn to order shoes to be soon!
    Is it similar with bronze pieces, do they also go in acid?

  13. Annina says:

    the crown is truly a treasure and I look at it every day, my favourite photo of it:

  14. Crystal says:

    WOW! You really are the definition of hands on! You have taken on so much, how in the world do you do it??? Who would have thought there were so many other extra steps to this whole process! I’ve just been given an education!

  15. azure says:

    love the crow skull. I actually am intrigued by bird skull pendants. but I wish I had the funds to buy one of your lantern pendants, those just capture my imagination and I will one day buy one, hopefully.

  16. Sylvia Leticia says:

    *Pure Magic*

    Thanks for sharing Marina :-}

  17. Nunt says:

    This was an absolutely fascinating post – thank you for making it!

  18. Anthony says:

    Of course nothing can be as simple as I’d imagined… Silly me thinking you just poor liquid silver into a mould and pop it out^^…. This is an AMAZING process…. Thank you so much for the breakdown. It makes me appreciate all you do all the more. Just beautiful <3 Who will that special crow skull's headpiece be for I wonder?^^

  19. Sabrina says:

    Christianne- those masks look like the one she made for her last e-bay auction but then went with the mask with the nose. What do you think?

  20. Syaron says:

    Marina, if I may ask, what brand of ultrasonic machine and solvent do you use for silver? Would using an ultrasoni jewlery cleaner remove the black patina? I LOVE my silver face necklace! I am afraid to wear it for fear of losing it but really love it. So if and when it needs cleaning I was wondering if I could use my ultrasonice here at my job. Thank you in advance.

  21. Christianne says:

    Sabrina- At first I thought it could be that but connecting two of them together would make the eyes way to far apart. There are 2 other pieces to the right turned over, so we can not see them……Secrets secrets I guess we have no choice but to wait….But for some reason I do not recall seeing this shape?

  22. Merri says:

    Christianne – check out Marina’s blog entry “Watching the Snow” February 26th. She mentioned new metal accessory projects and the doll in the photo is wearing a metal collar that I haven’t seen before?

  23. Merri says:

    Presumably a collar would require to be hinged or laced in some way and the pieces (top right of second last photo) appear to have perforations which would allow for that? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see! :)

  24. trtwtw says:

    Thanks a bunch for this post Marina!

  25. Christianne says:

    Merri you smart girl, I think it is the new doll accessorie she has created. One around the torso and the other for the neck. This is going to be lovely….

  26. marina says:

    Syaron, yes, an ultrasonic machine WILL take some of the black patina off and leave some of it behind too, resulting in the worst-of-both-worlds scenario.

    I wouldn’t recommend ultrasonicing it, seeing how it won’t polish your jewelry or make it shiny. To shine silver, just polish it with a rouge jewellery cloth and it will get bright again. Ultrasonic is a pretty hard overkill for normal cleaning of everyday wear.

  27. Crystal says:

    Oh, I thought those were little eye masks way in the back on the left in the picture where you have them all laid out. It’s actually mystery pieces!

  28. azure says:

    there are some flat cut out shield-looking pieces behind the Extravaganza shoes….wonder what those are? they aren’t turned over, so, mystery pieces that we can see…hmmmmm

  29. Sharon Harmon says:

    Thank you for your advice regarding the ultrasonic cleaner. Who better to ask than the creator of the art.I will absolutely never clean my daughter pendant that way.

  30. Glynis says:

    Off topic,though I did thoroughly enjoy reading it,the new website looks gorgeous !! Your hard work and patience paid off Chad :)

  31. Christine Bourassa says:

    Love the new website!

  32. paulina says:

    Congrats for the new website!!! I love the way the galleries are displayed now. Greetings!!!

  33. jacci says:

    I was wondering what had happened when I couldn’t get on your website….I didn’t know Chad was in the process of his own enchanted creation. it looks great, love the slideshow of the dolls on the front page. kudos.

  34. Sonia Anne says:

    They are all very nice!

  35. explanation says:

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