I have ventured into making some Judaica. It’s an attempt to fill out a line of metal objects around my wine cups. I like all of the ritual objects, especially the spice towers and etrog containers. I’m a little away off from attempting to make those objects, so I have started with Dreidels and a Torah pointer.
There’s a slide show of the finished dreidels on my Tumblr page, Stones and Silver.
I wasn’t planning on making a blog entry about the dreidels so I didn’t take more than a few photos while I was making them. I had to make another couple chasing tools to make the letters on the dreidels. The strokes had to be wider than the lines made with the chasing tool and had to happen the first time around. No second turn to widen the strokes. It’s better seen on the copper pieces later in this entry. The bezels were soldered onto square pieces. This shot was taken after I sawed out the edges to expose a circle within the square. After this, I filed the edges, drilled the centers, made spinning pins and soldered them in place.
The silver dreidels are finished and I began to work on another design in copper. I laid the design out on larger squares of copper and chased decorative work into the squares with the intention of folding the corners into the center post.
The next step was to drill the centers and fold the corners partially into position. I used my box brake in the basement to turn the corners up into a position about 90 degrees from the base. Then I used the table top to bend them further. While they were like this I made the center posts by cutting a thick brass rod into the proper lengths.
With the help of a mini lathe, I filed one end of each post into a blunt point on which the dreidel would spin. The posts got brass balls soldered on top and then the finished posts were soldered into the folded squares. I used a small mallet to fold the edges down more which made the corners bend close to the posts.
Here’s a portrait of the finished and polished quartet.
That was the main work for one week, then I began on the Yad. I made two test pieces for the body of the piece out of copper. I have carefully watched Gennady and students all last term working with spiculum shapes. I have had my own tests with the spout for the teapot and knew that I would have to test my skills before investing in silver. I was amazed at how easily I made the copper bend into a tube. Soldering the things was another story, graphically messy in two colors on the copper, but with a little filing the surface was smoothed even though it remained in two colors.
While I was finishing the dreidels, I carved a hand in wax for the pointing end of the Yad. Roni cast 2 pieces for me and I picked them up on the Monday when I went into the city to buy the silver sheet. By then I had taken time to redraw the tube and knew that I wanted to make two 6 inch tubes. (The 4″x 6″ sheet of 20 gauge silver was $213. The two hands were $87.)
The final design was not clear. But I needed to keep moving on the project because a deadline was approaching. I cut the silver sheet at the ArtLab in Snug Harbor. They have a sheet metal cutter in their printing room.
The silver was annealed and I began to bend the pieces into the tube shape in a groove on an oak block in the basement. I probably should have used a pointed delrin mallet but all I had was my chasing hammer and the hook hammer.
When the silver hardened It was time to anneal.
Then I was able to close the tube the rest of the way. The tube in the groove has been partially closed, the other one near the hammer is as it came out of the pickle, showing how far I got on the first bending, hammering on the inside.
I continued to hammer on the outside using the broad face of the chasing hammer and closed one end of the tube.
The hammering continued and the tube closed. I closed it even tighter after this photo was taken. It had to be touching for the solder to be effective and this was not quite closed enough.
Soldering the tube was a bit messy. The tubes also had a bit of an arc to them. I was able to straighten the tubes by hammering into the grooved block and on a tinsmith’s stake that has a long end that fit inside most of the tube’s length.
Here are the straightened tubes before filing the excess solder off of them. The copper test pieces are beside them with two cast silver hands.
After doming some copper pieces into half spheres and placing them on the tube, I decided that less of a dome would be more effective.
It also became apparent that the dome should be soldered to a sheet so that it could be seated correctly onto the tube. At this point I had already soldered two rings near the ends of the tube as collars for the design. The intention was to scroll vines and granulated balls onto the tube for a sculptural decoration. Trying that on a copper tube first let me know right away that the vine decoration was way beyond my skills OR that I was going about it in the wrong way. So, as Mad Eye said to Harry during the tri-wizard tournament, ‘Play to your strengths…’, chasing became my ‘weapon’ of choice. Time was of the essence, I had to complete this in about 4 more days.
Before soldering the dome to its plate, I wanted to chase a Mogen David on it. I found an old broom handle and I set the dome in place on the rounded end with a little pitch. Here it is sketched in before I scratch the guide lines.
I used a strip of plastic post card to guide my scratch lines. Drawing what should appear as a straight line on a dome is very difficult, the card simplified the process enormously.
All the lines chased.
One edge of the chased lines pushed down.
The background textured with a small round head chasing tool. I can’t believe it took an entire day to do this little dome.
The tube was filled with pitch and marked and scratched with a spiral design. This is the first line, there will be four to complete the layout.
The lines were chased by clamping the tube in a vise, working and turning each line in sequence from tip to back end. After the first spiral was chased, I divided the space in half, chased the second line and then divided each of the halves in half for the final lines.
Chasing the texture stripes in meant that I needed a different kind of support. I got out my plasticine and a card board so I could support the tube and move it around on the work bench. Chasing pushes the tube into the clay which is easily reformed into a perfect support to continue working. This is the nail punch I used to make the circles.
Beginning with the finer texture.
Chasing the tube took most of a long day to finish.
All done and nearly ready to solder. The base of the hand was filed to fit inside the tube and the dome has a flat sheet soldered to its base. I also had to solder a chain loop onto the dome before final assembly.
This is how I set it up to get the pitch out. The residue pitch was soaked out in turpentine.
All together now. I chased a simple, lined texture on the end of the tube around the wrist of the hand. Next step is a final polishing in the tumbler.