Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Hallmark Legacy

With a name like Hallmark, I get the "are you part of the card family?" question a lot. Alas, the card company was founded by a Hall, not a Hallmark. Family tradition has it that the Hallmark surname traces back to the metalsmith trade, where a hallmark is a silver quality mark. From what I can find online, it seems more likely that it is a variation on half-mark, as in money, referring to the amount of tax paid by a family, since tax rolls were the reason for institution of surnames in the first place. Even so, I have always been drawn to the notion of silver work because of the name.

So it's appropriate that I've been toying more lately with Precious Metal Clay (PMC). I'm trying my hand at bead caps since I got a cool Jim Moore bead press for Christmas. My husband always enjoys buying gifts for me. Think of it -- all those guys who buy their wives tools that they want for themselves, and mine is lucky enough to have a wife who actually ASKs for tools and power equipment. There's nothing quite as impressive as a half-ton press under the tree. Then add a mini-cutoff saw, a new cordless dremel, a big hole punch and a selection of silver tubing. Ah, happy shopping indeed! Funnily enough, we have a division of labor at my house -- I'm hardware and the husband is software. He's great at jerry-rigging things, but not the person you want to put together your kit plane (there would be important parts left over).

Since the holidays I've rolled and stamped and punched discs of PMC, sanded and filed and fired them, polished them in the tumbler, domed them with block and punches, and learned to use that press to rivet them onto a bead with the silver tubing, cut to just the right length with that new saw. Whew! Now, I'm depressed to note that the hardest part of all this process is getting really good ends on the beads...every tiny flaw is highlighted by those fancy bead caps. Hmph! I guess my technique will get better.