Friday, March 22, 2013

More fun with brass!

I had the opportunity to be crafty again this week. A friend of ours (a member of Security Forces) who is PCSing to Germany had requested a set of cufflinks and a tie tack made from spent shell casings. Since he has a lovely wife, I decided to add a pair of earrings and a pendant just for giggles. With all that jewelry, they had to have a box, so I took a cheap dollar store box and prettied it up for them. Here are the results:

First, the casings "in the raw." This is the condition they are in before I hack away at them:

shell casings photo shellcasings_zps4a6ebca0.jpg

They don't start out very pretty or very shiny. I use a pipe cutter to remove the excess brass and then a lot of sand paper to remove any burrs and make the cuts flat and even. Then it's on to sanding, sanding, and more sanding to remove tarnishing and stray scratches. I use 150 grit to flatten the cut area, and go from 600, to 1000, to 2000 grit to buff and polish.

The cufflinks and tie tack were both soldered onto their bases using a microtorch. I am not that good at it so tend to use this method sparingly when the end results are going to someone else.
shell cufflinks photo shellcufflinks_zpsec092418.jpg
shell tietack photo shelltietack_zpsb8213e1d.jpg

Cufflinks are first, tie tack second. The cufflinks look silver around the base of the casing but that is due to the flux having spread up the sides. Where the flux goes, the solder goes. I decided I liked the look so ensured the second one got "messed up" in the same manner as the first.

For his lady, I went with .45 caliber rounds since they fit my pendant bezel perfectly. After several failed attempts at soldering these (it's been a while and I was never that good at it), I used a 2-part epoxy to hold them to their findings. The earrings are a simple stud base with a wide back to keep them from drooping. The pendant bezel is from a pack purchased at a local big box craft store. They, too, went through the sanding, buffing, and varnishing routine to bring out their best shine.

shell jewelry photo shellearringspendant_zpsfb8efbc0.jpg
Earrings up top; pendant on bottom. They're on a piece of scrap styrofoam while the varnish dries since the posts stick into it easily without bending. I loved the red tint to this set.

And finally, the box I put them all into! 

USAF giftbox photo USAFbox_zpsae9ed95c.jpg
This box began its life as a dollar store plain pine box with a magnet closure. A bit of wood stain, a scrapbook sticker of the USAF seal, a set of scrapbook metal corner embellishments (painted silver then dabbed to remove excess paint to "antique" them), and the inevitable coat of clear varnish turned the simple box into a lovely gift by itself. Filled with the other goodies, my friend was extremely pleased.

Now, time to get back to writing!

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