Sunday, October 10, 2010

Count Down Fun! 9 . . . Production Prep Work

We both woke late this morning, and then loafed a bit before getting a late start.  It's a beautiful day out.  I'm doing some production prep work.  I'm making wax jump rings for our earrings!

In order to make and finish all of the work that we would like to have ready for the October Guild Fair we need to think about what we're doing, communicate and plan carefully.  We make a Good Team and we have a lot to do yet.

The keys to production work is to think ahead, do as many similar steps as quickly at once as you can, all while always maintaining the highest quality standards.  Basically, like so much of our work, it comes down to maintaining a very intense concentrated yet relaxed focus on what you are doing for an extended period of time.  It's, as Deb H. recently reminded me, a Zen Mind thing.

We prefer to cast the jump rings in place on our earrings rather than solder them on later.  Not only do we feel that they are stronger by being integral to the earring, but by now it's faster for me to do them this way than it is for us to make, or buy them, in metal and then solder and pickle them in place.

So lets make "some" wax jump rings!!!

20 gauge wax wire, a 1/16" styrene rod for a mandrel, and a fresh #11 scalpel blade.
Everything else is all hand and finger work.

I cut the wax wire into lengths.
Then wrap one length tightly into coils around the styrene mandrel.

Then I carefully slightly unwrap the coils by twisting them in the opposite direction so they are freed up form the plastic mandrel.
(If you don't do this they'll stick to the plastic mandrel.)

Then they are loosely re-tightened.

Then I used the scalpel to slice straight down into the coils; it is levered down rather than sliced with the tip.  The scalpel has to be perfectly vertical or the coils won't close properly.  If any stick together they can be loosen with a fingernail or a toothpick.

Then I slide one coil away from the others towards the end of the mandrel .
(Here's yet another use for long thumbnails when you're a jeweler!)
Using my thumbnails I gently push the ends of the coil together until they line up.
Then using my right thumb and forefinger I gently roll the ring and mandrel around to seal the ends of the ring together.

I slide the new 20 gauge wax jump ring off and line them up.
Repeat until you have made enough. 
In this case there are 90 wax jump rings on this sheet of molding rubber; enough for 45 pairs of earrings.

Back to work for me.  I want to get another two hundred finished before I stop to make dinner!

Because I'm working wax, which has to be completely clean and uncontaminated, I'm working in the office this afternoon while Pat is in the studio.  Our office and studio are next to each other and we frequently talk with each other about what we're doing.  I'm not sure what she's working on right now, but she just switched from using the buffer to her flex-shaft.  (And it sounds like I need take it apart, put new bushings in and give it a lube job sometime!)

It's our habit for one of us to call out, "I need to consult!"  Which has become our cue to stop and come take a look at what the other one is working on and share some ideas or advice.  It's Fun to work together.  That's why we started our business!

(Oh yeah ~ these photos were taken a couple of weeks ago.  But oddly enough this is the exact spot I got to when I took a break to what we're working on today!)

Edited Monday to add link to the October Guild Fair!