Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keep Your Pants On!

Just finished a brand new belt buckle and wanted to share a few thought on those little things we use to keep our pants up or sometimes just use to look a little extra "cool".

"Filigree Belt Buckle No.1" (front), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Liver of Sulphur

A good friend of mine (Ben Isaiah) and I enjoyed creating belt buckles while completing our undergraduate degrees at Arizona State University (ASU). His beautiful and interesting belt buckles always inspired me to try and make some buckles of my own. The first belt buckle I created, I made as part of an etching demo in my first metals class at ASU (before I met Ben).

The first belt buckle I ever made... "El Che", Daniel Icaza, 2007. Copper, Brass 
Belt Buckle by Ben Isaiah, on display at our "BFA Show" at "Gallery 100" (ASU) 2010
Another Ben Isaiah Buckle from the same show... 

After witnessing all of Ben's fantastic buckles come to life in the ASU studios (and fashioning a few of my own) I have become completely infatuated with making buckles (not only for belts mind you).

"Filigree Belt Buckle No.1" (side), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Liver of Sulphur
 This is the first silver belt buckle I have ever made (also the first time I have used filigree in a belt buckle). As I mentioned before, the first buckle I ever made was copper and brass, from there I began making my buckles out of mokume-gane and brass. 

"Filigree Belt Buckle No.1" (back), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Liver of Sulphur

I had a lot of fun making this buckle and plan to make more filigree belt buckles soon as I really enjoy the end result.
To really appreciate the colors and shadow box effect click on the pictures to get a better look.
"Filigree Belt Buckle No.1" (front), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Liver of Sulphur
A few of my favourite aspects of this piece include the shadow box effect created by the hollow space behind the filigree and the amazing variegated colors that emerged in the background after patination. I hope to play around with my designs for future belt buckles so this is really more of a prototype/sketch  than anything else, but I still love the result. 
I'll be back soon with more things to share, for now its back to the studio :o) 
until next time,
Peace and Love 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Sand!

I recently received a gift from a very close friend. He had recently taken a trip to the beach and brought me back a bottle of sand... YAY!!!! Now I have finally been able to finish some "Sea-Escapes" that have been sitting around half finished for weeks.

"In The Depth" (front open), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Mixed Media,  Red Coral, Fresh Water Pearls, Crystals, Acrylic, Sea Shells, Sand, Hemp, Match-Book   
This sand is a bit finer and darker than the sand I was previously using. Due to this difference these match-books are a little darker and have a "wetter" appearance than the first "Sea-Escapes" I made.

"In The Depth" (front open propped-up), Daniel Icaza, 2011
The darker sand is a welcome change in appearance as I feel it gives each piece even more variety, character and uniqueness. Ideally I would like to have a collection of different sands so that I could use each different type of sand to achieve specific effects to enhance the conceptual theme of each piece.

"Kelp Trove" (front), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Mixed Media, Red Coral, Fresh Water Pearls,  Crystals, Acrylic, Sea Shells, Sand, Hemp, Match-Book 
As much as I do love making these little beach vacations in boxes, I think it is time I take an actual trip to the beach as I really need to stock up on little shells and other tiny treasures for future pieces.

"Kelp Trove" (front open), Daniel Icaza, 2011
 Perhaps I will even be able to start my sand collection!!!

"Kelp Trove" (front inside), Daniel Icaza, 2011
I just really don't know when I will be able to head out to the shore. There are just so many things I need and want to do, but it seems like there is never enough time to do them all.

"Tide Pools" (front), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Mixed Media, Red Coral, Fresh Water Pearls, Crystals, Acrylic, Sea Shells, Sand, Hemp, Match-Book
I think in the mean time I will have to start making some differently themed match-books. I know I say this almost every time I talk about match-books but new match-books will be coming soon I promise.

"Tide Pools" (front inside), Daniel Icaza, 2011 
I guess that does it for now as I have to get back to making things. I hope you enjoyed this latest installment of "Sea-Escapes" and if you would like to see the previous "Sea-Escapes" please follow these links.
A Little Slice of Imaginary Heaven
Another Trip to the Bottom of the Sea
More Walks Down Beaches
Feeding My Addiction
I'll be back soon with more things to share I hope you come back to see what's new.
Until next time,
Peace and Love

Sunday, May 22, 2011

And the Beat Goes On...

It seems like it has been far to long since my last post (sorry) but I have been busy and have had far too much on my mind lately. On the bright side progress is evident all around me, even inspite of certain negative happenings. Primarily a sick gold fish Kaylee and I have had since we inherited a pair from my mother when we arrived in Costa Rica.

Our first dog Samson (right) and the new addition to the family Bear (left)
 But dispite a sickly fish and a very hyper/ rambunctios new doggy everything else is going great. I just finished writting another guest post on the ART AS MONEY blog, but I dont think the new post has been published yet... So I will be making another post on this blog very soon with a link and some extra info.
I also recently added some new "Satellite Rings" to my Etsy shop in new sizes and in new patterns as well. CLICK HERE to visit the full shop.     

NEW "Satellite Rings" now avalible CLICK HERE to buy one now!

I guess that is all the news I have to share for now but I am sure Ill be back soon. Until next time,
Peace and Love

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Never a Dull Moment

Well I have lots of new things to share, so I am just going to start rambling. First off the Indie Go-Go campaign is up and running and I am happy to say that we have received our first contribution. Special thank you to Linda Zerby for being the first contributor. To learn more about the campaign and make a contribution visit this link CLICK HERE.

In the blogging world, I was recently invited to be a guest writer on the "ART AS MONEY" blog to document the bonding process of an "Exchanghibition Bank Note". I am very honored to have this privilege and I am very happy to say that my first post has just been published. If you have already been following the posts about the Exchanghibition/ Monetary Bondage projects  you can CLICK HERE to read my first guest post and keep track of the collaboration.

"Satellite Rings", Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Copper/Nickel Mokume-Gane

I always like to have at least one picture in my posts (hopefully), so I figure I will show you the latest "Satellite Rings" I have finished producing. These will soon be up for sale on my Etsy shop. (CLICK HERE to see what is currently available)

At home we recently had an earthquake (here in Costa Rica), thankfully nothing terrible happened and besides being shaken around for a minute or so everybody seems to be fine (I don't think we even had a single reported death in the whole country! Very lucky...).

Lastly I am super excited to say that I have been chosen to participate in the 2011 Biennale of Chianciano. This is a really great honor and privilege and I am sure I will have more information to share with everyone about this prestigious event as things progress.

Well those are all the recent events wrapped up in a neat little package. I am sure I will have more information to share about these topics and many more in the very near future, so I hope you come back to see where things go from here.
Until next time,
Peace and Love

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fourth Entry: How to Solder (An Introduction to Silver Brazing)

Welcome to the fourth entry in this series of articles. In the previous article I discussed rolling metal into sheet form CLICK HERE to visit that article. In this article, I will go over basic soldering techniques as well as some basic soldering guidelines, tips and pointers. There are many different ways to solder, different types of solders and metals that can be joined using this technique. In this article I will be specifically dealing with torch soldering (or “silver brazing”) precious and semi-precious metals with silver (or gold) solders; although this article may be practical for other forms of soldering as well.  

Necessary Materials and Tools:

-Metal to solder together
-Small Paint Brushes/ Tweezers/ Soldering Picks
-Binding Wire/ Third Hand
-Quench/ Pickle Rinse
-Scissors/ Snips
-Soldering/ Annealing Area
-File/ Sandpaper

As mentioned in the introduction, this article is technically about “silver brazing” and not normal soldering. The main difference being that brazing occurs when the material being used to join two (or more) pieces has a melting point above 450°C. Although, both techniques are different by definition, one could use this technique with solders that melt below 450°C as well. 

Before beginning, make sure you have an adequate, clean work space constructed out of appropriate heat resistant materials and plenty of ventilation. Different surfaces and materials are better suited for specific soldering needs, some commonly used surfaces include: fire bricks, charcoal blocks, steal wire mesh, pumice stones and many others. With time and practice every individual finds the materials and tools that best suit his or her needs and unfortunately soldering does not become a precision art without years of patience and practice.
Just as there are a variety of surfaces to solder on there are a variety of different solders. A solder or brazing material is typically an alloy of similar composition to the piece/s being joined and has a melting temperature just below the temperature of the piece/s to be joined. Modern silver solders are typically alloys of silver, copper and zinc; gold solders are typically alloys of gold, silver and copper. The type of solder one uses will depend on the materials to be joined and many times it can be useful to use solders with different melting points on pieces with many soldered elements/seams (more about this later).

The most common “silver solder” is usually found in sheet form and is then cut into tiny square chips or “pallions”. This is the most common form of silver solder most likely because it can be easily produced using basic metal-smithing tools. Solder can also be purchased as wire or paste and each type of solder does the same basic job. However different types of solder may be better suited for specific tasks. For example: Paste solder is often used in filigree work as it can be more easily distributed and cover a wide area without leaving much residual mess. And solder in wire form is best suited for “feed soldering”, where a work piece is fluxed and heated and the solder wire is introduced or “fed” into the desired seams and gaps.   
Once we have an adequate place and all the appropriate tools, materials and equipment together we can prepare our pieces to be soldered together. First determine what pieces are going to be joined and how you want them put together. Make sure that the pieces to be joined are clean and as close to finished as possible with the areas that are to be soldered freshly filed and sanded.

Once your pieces are clean and ready to be joined, it is time to figure out how to position them appropriately. If we are joining two flat pieces end to end they could be placed on a flat brick. If two pieces need to be at 90 degrees from one another you could position one flat and support the other with a third hand. For even more complex assemblages sometimes it is necessary to use binding wire to “tie” pieces together before soldering; preferably a thin gauge stainless steel wire. 

Once the pieces are properly laid out and the seams to be soldered fit snugly together we can begin to apply our flux and solder. I typically start my projects with hard solder (higher melting point, lower zinc content) and depending on the amount of soldered elements to be added to the piece, may later switch to a “softer” / “easier” solder (lower melting point, higher zinc content) to ensure I do not over heat my previously soldered seams; as they are very sensitive to overheating. TIP: Another way to ensure your seams are protected, if you don’t have multiple solders available to you, is to paint a layer of clay or “white-out” over your previously soldered seams. This material will work as an insulating heat sink, pulling excess heat away from your seam/s. Keep in mind that clay is probably the healthier option as “white-out” smells really bad when lit on fire… NOTE: Always make sure to solder in a well-ventilated area.

After cutting out a few chips of solder from my sheet, I dip a fine tipped brush into my well of flux and pick up a few chips with the damp end of the brush. I then carefully place the chips (one or two at a time) along the seam/s or piece/s I want to join together. One could also use a pair of tweezers or a “soldering pick” to move the chips into position. One can also add some extra flux to the seam although excessive flux can occasionally complicate the soldering process. NOTE: A small brush can help wick away excess flux or add additional flux; also note there are many different types of fluxes, not all of them are liquid.
It is important to use enough solder to fill the desired gap or seam but, if too much solder is used one waists material and time in having to perform unnecessary and excess clean-up work after soldering. It can often be difficult to decide how much solder is enough but with time and practice one begins to better understand the way the materials work. There are also some instances where excess solder may be useful and/or easily removable. This is not to say we should waste materials but I personally rather perform a little extra clean up or enjoy a little extra solder to having to fill-in solder seams and pits. NOTE: If one were using paste solder, the flux is incorporated into the paste so one needs only apply the paste to the desired work area. 

Once the chips are properly placed and there is enough solder present to fill the seam, we can begin to heat our piece/s up to soldering temperature. Similar to melting material for casting or annealing material for cold working/ manipulation, we want to slowly and evenly heat the work area and the piece/s. Introduce the flame slowly, if the flux is heated too rapidly it may vaporize, boil and sputter sending the carefully placed solder chips across the room forcing you to start over. Generally speaking we want to use a medium size flame with a bushy tip and not very aggressive. The size of your torch and the type of flame you use will depend greatly on the size of the piece you are working on or the type of soldering to be done. These are just a few general guidelines that have helped me over the years.
Most importantly, make sure you are evenly distributing your heat around the piece/s and work area, this is not like using glue, you don’t want to focus the heat on the area of the seam but you want the areas around the seam to become hot enough to pull the solder into the seam/ gap. Solder will ‘flow” toward the hottest areas due to a form of “capillary action” but will not flow properly unless the entire piece is evenly heated.
I enjoy thinking of it like an ice cube melting on a road, filling all the cracks beneath it with water. If the heat (from the sun) were focused on the ice cube instead of across the entire road, the ice cube would vaporize and no water would ever fill the cracks on the road beneath it. If you see your solder balling up into molten blobs that don’t spread across the surface of the metal this is exactly what is happening (assuming your surfaces have been properly cleaned). This is really the most important concept in soldering; it is all about heat control and distribution. Very rarely do we use a very hot, very aggressive (whistling) flame when soldering.
In order to evenly distribute the heat, pay close attention to the color changes that occur to your materials when annealing as these color changes are great indicators of the temperatures of your materials. Also pay close attention to your flux as it too functions as a great temperature indicator. After your flux stops sputtering you should see it turn a frosty/ crystalline white and shortly after you should see it go liquid over your hot metal. Once this temperature is reached your solder should be rapidly approaching its melting point as well. Keep moving your heat around the work area from one side to the other or in circular motions making sure the heat is even on all the elements to be soldered upon, only then can you begin to centralize the heat a bit and focus the heat on the area where your solder chips have been placed.

In the blink of an eye you should see the solder go from solid chips to molten blob/ puddles. At this point it is very important to either move the heat along the seam if there are more chips that have not flowed yet or remove the heat if your solder has all melted/ flowed. Turn off your torch and place it in a safe location. Allow the freshly soldered piece to cool in the air for a few moments and once the piece has cooled, place it in a warm pickle bath to remove any excess flux and fire scale. NOTE/TIP: If the solder is not flowing where it needs to go a soldering pick can sometimes be used to move/ guide the molten solder along a desired path. Although it is very important to do this very quickly as the solder can become overheated if molten for too long, which results in a pitted seam as the zinc vaporizes from the solder alloy. Care should also be taken to not solder the pick to the piece as this is just frustrating and embarrassing.

Allow the piece to soak in the pickle bath for a few moments so that it becomes nice and clean. Remove the piece from the bath and rinse off any excess pickle solution in a sink with running water or in a pickle rinse/ quench. Now you can inspect your newly soldered piece for any gaps or pits in the seam. 

This one looks like it will work just fine for my needs but if you happen to have missed a spot, set up and try it again. There are an infinite variety of soldering methods and techniques but these are the most basic and commonly used techniques I have encountered so far. Perhaps in the future I will make another entry with some additional “advanced” soldering techniques we shall see.
For now I leave you with the "Fifth Entry: How to Fabricate Tubing (Creating a Fine Silver Tube)". As always I hope you found this article to be helpful and informative and I hope you come back for more. Until next time,
Peace and Love.  

Daniel Icaza 5/13/11

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Satellite Rings!

Now for sale on my Etsy shop, "Satellite Rings" CLICK HERE... 

"Satellite Rings", Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Copper/Nickel Mokume-Gane

"Satellite Ring", Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Copper/Nickel Mokume-Gane

"Satellite Rings", Daniel Icaza, 2011, Fine Silver, Copper/Nickel Mokume-Gane 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Help Artists Make Art!

"Creative Contribution Expansion Fund" help artists create more art by contributing to our brand new Indie-gogo campaign (CLICK HERE).

Kaylee and I have been working tirelessly to create, display and sell our original art works. Having more ideas than we can handle, we need your help! Not only to continue making our current bodies of work but to be able to expand our creative capabilities.

HELP ARTISTS MAKE ART visit our brand new Indie-gogo campaign (CLICK HERE)

For a while now I have had to use various improvised techniques and tools to create pieces I don't have the proper tools to make. For example, in many of the new pieces I have made for "Monetary Bondage", I have not had a large enough mandrel to create the large bezels I need to work with many coins. By contributing to our campaign you will enable me to buy the mandrel I need to make larger bezels and other large circular objects. The other tool I am hoping to acquire through this campaign is a large dapping set which will allow me to fabricate large domes/spheres and cylinders which I cannot currently make. In addition to helping expand my studios tool set, Kaylee wants to begin producing a completely new body of work which requiers a plethora of new equipment, tools and materials. For a full description of Kaylee's goals for this campaign please "CLICK HERE".      

Original Mixed Media Art Works by Kaylee Hinrichs 
Here are a few examples of the cool works of art you can acquire by contributing to our campaign.

Original Mixed Media Art Works by Daniel Icaza 
We know times are tough and if you can't help out by making a contribution to the campaign you can always help by telling others about this campaign and getting the word out.
Thank you for all the help and support.
I'll be back soon with more updates, news and interesting happenings.
As always,
Peace and Love.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Status Update

Well I officially have too many things to do but here are some exciting new happenings and some things to look forward too. I received my new mouse pad today from my "Zazzle shop" and I am very happy to have it as I haven't had a mouse pad in years.

Original on left, mouse pad on right. "Psylocibin Sunset", Daniel Icaza, 2011, Mixed  Media
To get your own mouse pad and see all the other products and designs available on my Zazzle Shop CLICK HERE
Besides a few unavoidable color differences in-between the  paint and the print, all the details are perfect and the print has a beautiful quality all its own. I can barely tell which is the original and which is the mouse pad!

"Satellite Rings" By Daniel Icaza, Fine Silver, Copper/Nickel Mokume-Gane 
 In other news I recently finished producing these five fine silver and copper/nickel mokume-gane rings which will soon be posted up for sale on my Etsy shop. (Click HERE to see what is currently for sale) I like to call these "Satellite Rings" just because they remind me of satellite dishes, not the most original thought ever but oh well, I think they look pretty sweet.

"Satellite Rings"
I really enjoy making these rings and I really like the way they look stacked together in groups. Hopefully I will be able to make more of these in different sizes and metal combinations soon. Perhaps I will even get a chance to make some fancier stacked rings with groupings of "satellites" (more things to do...).
Something else I am pretty excited about, is a joint venture Kaylee and I recently launched. We have been trying to put together an "Indie-GOGO" campaign to raise funds to expand our creative capabilities, so I will be sharing more info on that soon. Lastly, I have decided that this months entry in my "Works/Processes/ How Metal Works" section is going to be on soldering, so if you're interested in soldering come back soon to learn all about it.
Like I said I have to many things to do so that's all for now folks.
I'll be back soon, until next time.
Peace and Love

Monday, May 2, 2011

For Sale!

Just wanted to make a quick post to let people know I just finished adding some new items to my Etsy Shop! To view the full shop please CLICK HERE.
Below are some of the items now available through the shop.

Fine Silver Filigree Stud Earrings CLICK HERE
Lost Wax Cast Bronze Spiral Pins CLICK HERE
Fine Silver Filigree Brooch CLICK HERE 
I'll be back soon, until next time,
Peace and Love

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Feeding My Addiction

I have been trying to feed my match book addiction to the best of my abilities. Here is the newest addition to the family.

"Venus" (front), Daniel Icaza, 2011, Mivxed Media, Red Coral, Fresh Water Pearls, Crystals, Acrylic Paint, Sea Shells, Sand, Hemp String, Match-Book 
I have unfortunately run into a  bit of a road block in my creative flow. I have run out of beach sand and need to get more in order to keep making more of my little "vacations in boxes". I guess an actual trip to the beach may be necessary... Oh well, maybe I'll find some other cool things as well.

"Venus" (back)
I already have three other "sea-escapes" in the works but, I can't finish them without some sand; unless I find another cool way of making the outer case "beachy" and "cool".

"Venus" (open)
Meanwhile if I don't find the time to hit the beach or get a friend to bring some sand back for me, I guess I will try and make some different match-books using some other ideas that I had.

"Venus" (inside) 
Well hopefully I will get my hands on some sand soon, or at least make something totally new and different. Either way I'm sure I will be back soon and hopefully I will be able to keep bringing you these little "Vacations in a Box". Until next time,
Peace and Love.