Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Crochet Hooks, Captive Rings

Closer come the holidays, and I've been busy as a little bee, making new crochet hooks, thimbles, nostepindes, (ball winders), needle/toothpick cases, and all manner of lovely things! Check out my selection on eBay and Etsy. (There's still time to ship for Christmas!)

Some of these are on eBay right now!

One of my favorite types of hooks to create is one with captive rings. What are captive rings??? These are doughtnut-shaped pieces of wood that are turned in place, spin on a shaft, not allowed to slide off the piece.

In short, they're lots of fun, as you can gleefully twiddle and spin them with your fingers, gloriously ignoring your work in progress!

How are they made?

Step 1: Cut one or several small "beads" in the finial of the piece. (Make sure to make it far enough off the end so that the hand doesn't touch them when used -- the rings could break).

Step 2: Grind a special tool from a hacksaw blade, in essence a tiny parting tool, and cut into the side of the beads at a 45' or shallower angle, but don't part all the way through.

Step 3: Make sure you didn't "free" the rings in Step 2! Sand and finish the rings as you would the rest of the piece.

Step 4: Make additional cuts with the tiny captured ring tool, carefully so that you do not mar the finish on the surface, and part free.

Step 5: This is the tricky bit -- make cuts around and underneath the rings to give them room to wiggle and spin. Use your tiny parting tool, and a 1/16" parting tool to liberate some more wood chips.

Step 6: Check for breakage. Inevitably a ring or two will break, but don't despair, more practice and altering your angle of approach will see success. Always start more rings than you need in Step 1. Fractured rings may benefit from a drop of CA glue, but it's generally better to break off the imperfect ones, since sanding the join is difficult at best.

Step 7: As a measure against future mishap, turn a pretty shape along the shaft, underneath the rings by moving them to either side. (See why below.)

Step 8: Turn either end abutting the ring shaft, but keep the diameter large enough that the rings won't slide off the piece. (This is very important to the "captured" aspect!)

Step 8: Sand and finish your piece as usual.

A completed piece!

In reference to Step 7 above: I once went to a show in which I was demonstrating turning during the day time, and consequently was unable to watch my items on the table behind me. One hook I'd set out had 4 captured rings... and by the end of the day there was only one left! Yes, someone had maliciously broken them...

The point of this story is... Turn a pretty section underneath so that in case of such mishaps, the piece will still be decorous enough to appeal. (A straight, cylindrical section where there is supposed to be decoration, is rather dreadful looking...)

This technique, of course, can be used on any variety of spindlework, especially small items like stick pens, hair sticks, crochet hooks, fine finials, bottlestoppers, etc. One can also use this technique for making rings on the outside of bowls with colored-graining. You won't want the ring to spin freely, just move it enough so that the grain pattern is shifted slightly, and put a dab of glue to stick it in place. (Try this technique on a sapwood/heartwood bowl, and shift the ring so that dark is on light, and vice versa).

Have fun with it!