Experiments with titanium, Swapfest loot, and other progress

So I finally started playing with the titanium wire I ordered recently.

It is very lovely stuff – matte metallics colors (it is anodized), and a soft surface unlike any other metal (probably from the anodization).

It is also, as the website said, difficult to work with. I cannot put sharp bends in it; it will break. Right away. It work hardens FAST. And, like the website said, its temper is similar to spring steel, so I have to bend it well past where I want it to be in order for it to stay where I want it. It is also very light; holding one of the small coils, I had a hard time believing I was holding a metal (well, maybe aluminum).

An ear cuff, necklace concept in progress, and random bent shapes.

I don’t feel like I’ve got a good handle on how to use it yet; perhaps if I made the entire necklace from the same color? (The test piece is stainless steel for the support structure, and two different colors of titanium for the layered leaves.)

I do like how the colors of some of the wires work with the rainbow hues on my grey glass beads:

Shiny! The wire is a greyish blue; the bead has some similar colors in it.

In other exciting materials and supplies news, I made it to Swapfest, and got:

– 2 exceptionally lovely bearings

– 1 mystery object that might have come out of an old textile mill

– 2 hard drives with platters held in place with screws and not the mysterious unremovable mechanism some of my other junk drives have, not that I’m still bitter about that

– 1 box of random metal junk, which cost me $1, and was worth at least $2 in entertainment value

Everything from the box of random junk, laid out nicely. (plus hard drives and bearings from other sellers)

There are some small wrenches in that pile of stuff. And by “small” I mean “about the length of my finger THEY ARE ADORABLE.” Most of the weight of that box is made up by things that I think are bike parts. I don’t need them, but lugging them around was a reasonable payment for the small wrenches and other random small metal objects that I am going to clean and keep and eventually incorporate into . . . something.

There was also a piece of lead, in sheet form, in the box, which is now safely contained in a plastic bag. I don’t need a piece of lead sheet metal running around loose and contaminating the place.

The disk drives were also entertaining. One has unusually dark platters; the other had some fantastic machined pieces of metal separating its platters.

Yes, the platters really are dark brown.

Here's the metal piece separating two platters in the other drive.

Later, I discovered that if you hold a platter up so you can see your face in it, you can get some really odd effects if you move the platter around while looking at the reflection, because you will also see two blurry circles of the background at the same time. If you close one eye, you will only get one blurry circle, which leads to fun things like moving the platter so that the circle (the hole in the center of the platter) is where the reflection of your eye should be. It’s like being inside a Magritte, only instead of having an apple for a head, you have a potted plant for an eye.

It is very difficult to get good photographs of this.

Um.

Anyway.

I’ve also (finally) got two tiny book pendants put on cords and ready to photograph and eventually list on Etsy. I’m seriously considering opening up another online store on another site, but there are SO MANY other sites that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to choose.

Oh and I decoupaged the mannequin! At least partially. I didn’t think it was necessary to decoupage the entire thing, since I won’t be photographing the whole mannequin, just the portions necessary to show up jewelry. So she looks like she’s wearing a very stylish sort of crop-top, since the decoupage, which has uneven edges, stops somewhere above her navel.

The world’s ugliest lightbox

I’m not a very proficient photographer, and I don’t have a lot of patience for fiddling with the various settings on my camera to get perfect results, so when I saw some easy instructions for how to build your own lightbox, I made a mental note of it. I figured someday it might be a useful thing to know how to do, if I had small objects I wanted to make some effort to photograph nicely. I know I can always adjust things in Photoshop later, but I’d rather not have to add that step to the process.

Since I started making more jewelry, I’ve become even more bothered by the crappy pictures I’ve been getting under inferior artificial light, so a week or so ago, I looked up the “How to build a lightbox” instructions, and built my own last night.

Here is one such tutorial via Strobist.

Here is another using fabric instead of trace or tissue paper.

Google provides a variety of other alternatives; I saw another one built out of foam core, with solid walls; illumination is provided by clamping lights to the front walls and aiming them into the box (instead of lighting the exterior, and diffusing the light with trace paper or fabric).

Here’s my version:

Lightbox built from binder clips and used Priority Mail boxes

One clip-on lamp + one ugly old saved-from-a-basement lamp = my light sources.

It’s made from two Priority Mail boxes, with trace paper covering the cut-outs in the sides and top. I use binder clips to hold the two pieces together. I cut the top so I can lift a flap of paper out of the way and take photos from above my subject; it is generally held (mostly) in place with tape.

Yeah, it’s ugly, and it probably took longer to make than if I’d started with a single box of the right size. And there are gaps where there technically shouldn’t be. BUT it can be taken apart and stored flat, so it takes up very little space!

Here are some pictures I took to test it all out:

Testing white balance

Not too shabby.

Another white balance test

Also not bad. If only I'd made notes about what the camera settings were.

Overhead picture

I cut a hole in the trace paper on the box top so I could take overhead pictures.

Flash!

Flash! A bit too yellow.

One of my current light sources is a fluorescent bulb, which is not really as bright as I’d like; this will be an easy fix (in fact now that I think about it, I think I might have a nice incandescent stored in a large yogurt container on the little table next to the window). Usually I only use that light, clipped to a bookcase, to provide additional light when I need to use my big mirror. It turns out the clip part of it balances very well when placed on the desk, so the lamp can be a desk lamp without needing to be clipped to the edge of the desk! Nice design, that.

I do want to get a large sheet of white paper to cover the back and create the bottom of the light box; the cutting mat and brown cardboard are not particularly nice.

I originally thought about making a teeny tiny lightbox out of a kleenex box, but it’s easier to put different backdrops and props into the bigger box. (I may make a tiny one anyway, because it would be fun and cute.)