Chrysoprase Necklace

This past week I gave myself a Pulling Teeth Challenge because that’s just what making jewelry, or anything else really, felt like.

I think I’ve been a bit down for a good while just recently and then, all of a sudden, the sister of one of my good friends died. Just like that. She was one year older than me. I thought I was o.k., but going to the funeral did me in completely, you know the whole death and family stuff, and I still can’t comprehend how my friend or her family feels especially losing someone so young.

I mean they’re just there, and then they’re not.

It was a bit touch and go for a while there and, let me tell you, I was almost on the brink, but you’ll be pleased to know that I think I’ve finally pulled myself out of it.

Hearing about everyone else’s ‘dry’ spells on fb and Instagram, due to depression or anything else really, helped out a lot also.

Put things into perspective.

I knew I was in trouble when I was sitting at my bench and it was all I could do not to just lay my head down on my steel block. Giving myself the challenge of going into the studio every day and making myself start and finish something and then post it on Instagram even though I didn’t feel that I even had the energy to close a jump ring together let alone solder it, started to bring me out of it and on the day after Thanksgiving I thought I’d have another go at making a video.

Just for jollies.

Well for jollies and for the fact that the act of committing to something seems to have been the key to snapping myself out of it. Although it must seem as though I’m always vague and slightly confused I was definitely dragging at the beginning, but by the end I simply couldn’t take myself that seriously especially when I listened back to how awkward I am.

And my god the words! Why can’t I remember the words.

I think when my brain is on the go the words just aren’t always that relevant.

Sorry words. And sorry to those of you watching that might have liked some words that could have actually shed light on what I was trying to explain.

So that said, this new ‘How To’ video series is a bit rough and ready although you can thank your lucky stars there aren’t near as many to get through.

See. Bonus right there.

I do want to say that I will be the first to agree with any jewelry maker who’s been properly trained and who gets upset with someone, like me, who tries to ‘teach’ other people how to make jewelry.

I haven’t been trained. I just get through.

Think of this blog as just a thinking out loud platform for me to share with you how I do things. Not for me to tell you how you should do things. Some things I do quite well, some things not so well, but all of it is meant well and in good faith and for you just to have a go yourselves.

That said here’s my disclaimer.

Please remember that I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

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And so without further ado…

For the Chrysoprase Necklace you will need.

Materials:

A stone

🙂

(I used a 23 mm x 16 mm chrysoprase)

Silver sheet.

(I used 23 gauge fine silver)

A 3 to 4 “ piece of silver wire.

(I used 18 gauge fine silver wire)

black max or liver of sulfur etc.

Tools:

pliers

saw

torch and solder

contact paper or rubber cement etc.

buffing tools

straight line chasing or stamping tool to make the leaves.

sanding tools or file

Video 1

Where I think I’m just going to show you the necklace I’m going to make, but then decide to explain how I’m going to make it differently than I normally do even though that’s not what I intended to do in the first place and so it’s not really very clear what’s going on until you get further into the videos.

And even then it’s touch and go…

 

SPECIAL NOTE: It’s ChrysoPRase, not ChrysoPHRase as I’ve pronounced it here. The word was very long. Forgive me.

Video 2

A quick recap on how I make my bezel collars.

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Video 3

How I cut my leaves to give them a more 3 dimensional look.

I haven’t shown how I make the basic leaves because I covered that – HERE – and thought it best not to keep going over things you’d already seen.

NOTE: Seriously, I did not lie to the nice snipper guy. I do not use my good snippers to cut off the ends of leaves I use them just for wire. I couldn’t find my old ones. Promise.

Video 4

A quickie on making silver balls. Skip if you already make them.

Video 5

In this one I’m figuring out the best way to make the necklace the new way and also deciding if I want to make it into a bracelet/cuff instead.

Video 6

The contact paper bit.

NOTE: For sawing out fine detail on a piece of silver sticking an image onto it using rubber cement is probably a better choice. I’m not sure if you can print a design directly onto the contact paper because I haven’t tried. I know some people use sticky back labels to get the same effect.

Contact Paper – HERE

Video 7

More babbling as I figure out the design.

NOTE: As each piece is individual and so not exactly the same shape as each other remember to keep the pieces in their specific order as you go along. I kept forgetting to do this.

Video 8

Continued belabouring of the design

NOTE: When I make pieces that have a few different layers I pay attention to what I imagine the end weight will be. Sometimes the stone is heavy also. Had I used a slightly heavier stone here and just one layer of silver work I would perhaps have used the 20 gauge sheet, but because there were essentially three layers (including the leaves) and then the stone I used 23 gauge as it all adds up.

Video 9

Soldering the first two pieces together.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Video 10

Finding my grown up words and moving on to the next stage.

NOTE: I usually run a Sharpie around the edge of the top layer of silver if I want to contour it. This gives me a good guide line for sawing. Pencil rubs off too easily and the thicker Sharpie has a good width for a starting point and I can sand more away later if I want it to be narrower.

Video 11

Soldering all the little pieces on.

At the beginning of this video you will hear what it sounds like when someone tries to get more than one word to come out of their mouth at the same time.

Doesn’t really work…

NOTE: When I’m attaching smaller pieces to the base I hold the attachments, leaves, balls, etc., close to the flame as I’m heating the base. This means that they’re not coming to the piece cold. Typically they don’t need as much heating as the base so you can control their temperature more by easing them in this way otherwise they may overheat and melt more easily.

MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT BREATH FLUX IN. Quench your piece first before putting more flux on it. The heat from the silver sends flux fumes into the air. Heating the flux with your torch also sends fumes into the air, it’s just not as obvious as it looks here. Use an extractor fan if you have one or at least solder in an open, well ventilated area. I have a fume extractor which I didn’t put on here as it would have been too noisy, but even so putting flux on a hot surface as I did in this video is not a good thing.

Penny Brite – HERE

Long tweezers – Rio Grande #115222

Video 12

Muddling through the next soldering part as I demonstrate to you why your piece of silver should be clean.

Video 13

Fitting the stone in the bezel.

NOTE: Another reason why something doesn’t solder easily could be because your flux isn’t clean also. Just clean everything. Teeth, hair, clothes, etc.. then you should be covered.

Links – cut off wheel – Rio Grande #346085

Video 14

Using the Black Max and the first buffing.

NOTE: Really you should wear gloves when you’re using the Black Max or any other chemicals. I have those latex free ones. I would take them off, however, when using the buffing wheel. It probably wouldn’t happen, but I just have visions of a piece of loose glove getting caught up in that wheel and taking your hand off. This is probably my tendency toward dramatic thinking here, but you never know.

You don’t need a buffing wheel, or whatever that machine is called, for finishing your piece. You can get smaller wheels for your hand piece which will do the job. Just maybe not as fast. Links below.

Small hand piece buffing wheel – Rio Grande #338130

Machine buffing wheel – Rio Grande #330541

Small yellow wheel – Rio Grande #332581

Machine 3″ yellow wheel – Rio Grande #332076

3m elongated face masks –  HERE

Video 15

Extra notes on setting the stone.

I was trying to explain here that although the bezel wire fits to the bottom circumference of the stone, because the stone I’m using has a very shallow dome there is a lot more wire to push over to hold it in place. In this instance if you push too much of the wire over the sides of the stone too quickly the silver will likely stretch unevenly thereby distorting the fit. The stone I used in the bracelet video had straight sides and so this wasn’t as critical, but you should always rotate the piece as you push the wire over the stone so that you’re not concentrating on one part for too long..

Also I don’t know if I explained it clearly, but by pushing the stone toward the bezel pusher as you push the wire over, you are always pushing the stone away from its opposite side. You will never get a good tight fit if you do it this way. You don’t have to actually pull the stone away from the bezel pusher very much, just make sure you’re not pushing it toward the pusher. See, not confusing at all…

In case you missed it, or need to go through the torture again, here’s the link showing how I set the stone in the previous bracelet video – HERE

Video 16

Ceaning up and final buff.

I know it didn’t look as though I was sanding the sides of the bezel gently, but I was 😉

And so that’s another one done.

🙂

I went ahead and made the bracelet using the method I said I would at the end of the last video and I think it’s definitely quicker and more precise than the way I demonstrated for the necklace. Next time I make something similar I’ll experiment some more and report back, but I think you get the drift.

And here is…

Day 1 of the Pulling Teeth Challenge

Day 2

And day 3

Thank you for letting me waffle my way out of my funk.

🙂

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Notes on watching the videos of my bracelet tutorial

This is my first video series and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to understand YouTube and what I wanted from it when I uploaded my videos on there so I thought I’d just give a quick explanation of my thinking here.

When I made the videos I knew there’d be some extra notes that I’d want to include as I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to talk and make the piece at the same time. I think I did pretty well with most of them, but there are one or two which I felt needed a little further explanation.

Also I’ve included a lot of links to the materials I’ve used etc. for those who would like to know and there are no notes for any of this on YouTube.

To be honest, the idea of anyone being able to watch this on YouTube worried me a little bit also. You guys may know how I muddle through and perhaps forgive me for it, but there’s a lot of stranger danger out there in the grown up world.

I’m hoping this will work out, but just let me know if you have any trouble.

The first part of the tutorial is HERE

 

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Bracelet tutorial continued.

NOTE: If you’re here and you haven’t seen my previous post which shows how I make the first part of the bracelet from hell you might want to take a look at that one first.

Otherwise here are the second batch of videos which show how I made the sides of the bracelet.

 

NOTE: That this is NOT stainless steel. It’s sterling silver.

This obvious lack of brain function marks where the bracelet starts to go off the rails. Had I remembered what material I was using perhaps I would also have remembered how to use the darn saw. If I had taken the silver to my bench pin in the first place things may well have been different.

But I didn’t and it wasn’t.

As for the vise holding thing. I’ve written before about my cack-handed relationship with it. I would like to say that it’s a love hate relationship, but I’d be lying. It’s a hate relationship. I know it can do wonderful things, but I seem to have an aversion to it and so only use it rarely. Consequently, when I do use it, I find I have completely forgotten how I managed to work with it the first time and so it’s a learning curve all over again.

You may find this curve painful. I certainly did when I played the video back.

2 X 2″ lengths of sterling silver 5mm x 2mm rectangular wire – Rio Grande #100552

Miter-Cutting Vise and Jig – Rio Grande #112700

Sticky back measuring tape – HERE

Sorry that you can’t actually see the tape in this video. You might catch it in the others, but I have about a two foot length of it stuck on the edge of my table. I like it because it doesn’t get in the way and I don’t have to keep looking around for a ruler. It does wear out on my working table more than on the other tables I have because I’m scraping silver bits around and over it, etc., but it comes in a large roll and is easy to replace. There’s lots of different makes of this tape and some may be cheaper than the one I’ve linked. I like the one with both inches and centimeters on it.

Making and soldering the bars.

Wolverine ultra flux – If you google it you can find a couple of places that sell it. I haven’t linked to any because it seems too expensive on amazon and I haven’t checked out the other places yet for a good price. I think mine is a 7oz jar.

Finishing the caps on the bars.

1.5″ piece of sterling silver extension chain –  Rio Grande #632812B

Infinity Stamps sterling silver tags – HERE – I use H

Infinity Stamp custom stamp with tag mate – HERE

As I mention in the video the tag mate system with a custom stamp is quite expensive and actually the tags are also I think, but if you make a lot of jewelry and you’re interested in buying one with your own makers mark on it you’ll have to draw up your art work first. The way I did it was to draw my initials (which is all I wanted on my stamp) over and over again on a piece of paper until I came up with something I liked. Keep the paper white and the writing sharp. I think I used a thin sharpie.

 

 

 

 

 

I then scanned it to my computer and sent it to Infinity Stamps. (It was a lot sharper than the image here on my screen).

They charge you extra if you want them to do the art work, and they tried to charge me for alterations on another stamp I’d designed when I felt they hadn’t actually changed anything on it. This was probably an oversight on their part, but you have to be careful as it can add up. If you get the artwork right the first time and feel it’s nice and sharp etc. you should be o.k. Infinity stamps will reduce the image to fit the tag.

Taking one of the end caps off.

Not the most flattering working position, but I think I work it well…

Apologies as I tend to wear my old, worn out clothes in the studio. I’m not that good at keeping myself clean while I’m working. Perhaps black isn’t the best colour for buffing dust and cat cuddles 🙂

Selection of Mandrel pliers – HERE

This is the video where I go on, again, about the solder going up and over. I tell you every time that happens to me I kick myself. I think I’m more reminding myself here than anyone else. I also didn’t realize how many times a person could say, there you go, in one sitting.

NOTE: In this next video when I say the ‘thin’ one, I mean the smaller torch head. I typically use a #0 torch head. The ‘thin’ one is a #00 and I sometimes use it for delicate chains. I mean really delicate, like under 20 gauge wire or if the chain has like micro links that you don’t stand a chance soldering anyway. Always up for a challenge. The larger torch head I use is a #1. I like the #1 because you can feather the flame around the piece and it heats everything up evenly all at once. This is good for a final once over if you want to make absolutely sure that all the pieces are solidly soldered or if you’re soldering pieces over a larger surface area. You have to be more careful with the #1 if you’ve got more delicate pieces that you want to attach as it can be a little fierce. However, you can adjust it to get a softer flame which is nice.

I use a #2 torch head to heat down my scrap pieces into maybe 1″ ish blobs which I can then take to my rolling mill to make small sheets. More silver than that is too much of a work out for me. I bought a #4 head to begin with thinking that it was a good one for the job, but it scared the bejesus out of me as it lit with a small explosion like sound and was like the flame thrower Signorey Weaver torches the eggs with on Aliens. That one’s on the top shelf now, out of harms way. For heating the balls at the end of the day, I turn off the tank and use my #0 torch head to use up the acetylene left in the hose. When the flame turns white I turn it off at the torch handle and then I turn down the pressure on the regulator.

I use an Smith acetylene/air torch, so I can’t recommend which tips you use with the other systems. I only used gas and oxygen once when I took some lessons at the community college. It always freaked me out as I could never remember which valve I had to open first. Just knew I was going to blow the school up. Too much anxiety right there.

AND finally, they are cross locking tweezers! Man! Almost drove me nuts trying to figure out what they were called.

This video stops abruptly because I’m recording it on my phone and the phone’s alarm went off. You’ll probably need a break anyway 😉

Joining the bracelet ends to the setting.

There are lots of ways you can hold two pieces together for soldering. I have a lot of success this way, but sometimes you just have to move it around to see which way is going to be best. My third hand tweezers need to have their ends snipped and leveled which would have probably helped make this set up easier this time.

This is also the video with the shaky hand. I think the inside of my arm was leaning against the side of the table in a funny way and it was resting on a nerve. This may have been because I was holding my arms awkwardly as I tried to solder in view of the camera. Either that or I’m going to have to stop the afternoon drinking…

The alarm went off again in this video because I had it on snooze. Sorry.

Second attempt…

Cleaning it up.

Black Max – Rio Grande #331053

This is the bench lathe that I use – Rio Grande # 334016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And these are the buffing wheels that I use to get the result I’m looking for – Rio Grande #330541

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also use these – Rio Grande #332581 – to get into tight places before I give it a final buff with the wheel above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the stone.

I think I called the gravers engravers. They’re not engravers. They’re gravers. I would be the engraver, if I were engraving, which I wasn’t, not really, and the graver is the tool, not the person. Just to clear that up. And yes, those things that you can buy at the supermarket that help you see better. Those are glasses.

 

This is the bit that I like to use (this one or one like it) to clean out the insides of my pieces – Rio Grande #343124

This is the nail bezel pusher – HERE

Foredom H-15 Hammer Hand piece – HERE

Foredom Hammer accessories – HERE

Foredom  H.20 Quick release hand piece – HERE

Foredom H.18 Quick release hand piece – HERE

Optivisor – Rio Grande #113201 but you can pick whichever strength you prefer in the drop down box.

Burnishers – HERE

Gravers – HERE

The end.

And if you made it through all of that you’re a real soldier 🙂

So there it is.

The bracelet from hell is finished.

No laughing allowed as it was my first ever talking picture show.

If you have any questions just ask and if I can answer I will, and if I can’t I’ll make it up 😉

I’d love to see a photo if you make one.

Au revoir.

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I thought I’d try something a little different this time.

Someone asked if I would write a tutorial on one of my latest bracelets, which I’m happy to do, but just for jollies I thought that this time I’d try to video my process.

I’ve never made a video of myself before and so I’ve never really heard my own voice other than on one or two voice mails so it was quite a shock really. I could definitely hear some american in my accent and it kind of surprised me. Perhaps not a lot of american, and some of you might not even notice it, but it was something I wasn’t expecting and it took a little while for me to realize that this is my voice now. Some of you may know that I come from England, but as I’ve been here for 28 years now I suppose it’s not surprising that the native tongue has mingled with my own. At times I think the cross contamination makes me sound a little Australian perhaps, but god knows I don’t want to offend any Australians out there. It’s bad enough to think I’ve messed up the whole American thing, let alone good old England’s thing.

Will they ever let me back…

Another thing I noticed and which I will warn you about now, is that I ramble. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone who’s ever read one of my blog posts, but it kind of surprised me listening back to it although I do seem to remember now that Peter and the kids have made it a long-suffering point to complete my thoughts.

And there I was just thinking they’d been brought up wrong.

I’m not proud of it. I tried several times whilst making this to get my head into straightforward explanation mode, but until I have some kind of remedial, how to talk in complete sentences, lessons I think I’m stuck with it for now.

Sorry.

It’s like I’m living in a dream land all on my own. All the possible words I could use and calls to action are just up there in my head bumping into each other. It’s like the sentences are completely unsure of whether they should even make the effort to get out of my mouth.

“Shall I go now? No, wait for it, wait for it… Now!

Nope too soon. Call it off. Abort. Abort…”

Really it’s not cool and so unless you think it’s not going to bother you, just save yourself now.

And lastly. What a nightmare!

Making this bracelet took me three times as long as it normally would, which I think is obviously because I was trying to explain my process along the way. (I use the term explain loosely). Also, and this is a huge, good grief!, moment, How clumsy can I possibly be? I think I dropped everything all of the time and the whole sawing using the vise fiasco really should have been my, walk away and do something completely different now! For heavens sake leave it!, clue.

But no. I slogged on and not only did I slog on, I decided to keep it all here, for you, so that those of you just beginning to make jewelry can see just how frustrating it can be even when you’ve been doing it for ages. Today I could probably make the same bracelet again and everything would go smoothly.

But yesterday was another story.

I don’t want to make excuses, but I do think I’ll have to practice if I ever decide to make another video because there has to be a way you can make and talk at the same time, and not only make and talk, but make sure that everything you do is actually in the line of the camera. Yes, I fell foul of that once or twice also.  And why not? Everything else was hit and miss…

I also decided to leave everything in, minute by painful minute, because some of you might like to watch it that way. It’s broken up into snippets so that if, after reading this, you have decided to take your chances you can take frequent breaks.

…from which you may decide never to return.

You have been warned…

And so, without further ado, this is the piece I’m going to be working on.

It is also the piece which, from now on, shall be referred to as

The bracelet from hell.

Disclaimer.

Please remember that I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.

Also.

The links to the tools used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others. If you are beginning your jewelry adventure, please don’t just buy the ones in the links here. Research until you feel comfortable that you are purchasing the right tool for you.

You will need:

Medium sized cabochon. I got mine from HELGASHOP on Etsy – HERE

2 X 2″ lengths of sterling silver 5mm x 2mm rectangular wire – Rio Grande #100552

1.5″ piece of sterling silver extension chain – Rio Grande #632812B

Lobster claw –  Rio Grande #613042

Bezel wire

Fine silver sheet

Small length of 16 gauge sterling silver round wire

Small length of 18 gauge sterling silver round wire.

NOTE: If you watch the videos here and not click over to youtube you will be able to see all of my notes and links. I don’t have any descriptions etc., on youtube.

Making the bezel collar.

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Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Working out the design.

Straight lining tool from 2moontools – HERE

Coming together for soldering.

Initial soldering.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Contenti siver solder wire – HERE

Continuing working out the design.

This is a very short one because Peter phoned me half way through. That man. I tell you.

Taking it back to solder.

This is the one where I like to use the word burn instead of melt. It’s just a thing I do…

Note: When I’m soldering the first leaf onto the stem I mention that the key to soldering is that all of the pieces of silver need to be at the same temperature for it to work. In this case I meant only the stem and the leaf because those were the only two pieces to be soldered together at that time. Had I wanted to solder down the tip of the leaf to the back plate, I would have made sure that the tip was in place and touching the back plate and I would have brought the back plate up to the same temperature also. This would have probably involved concentrating my flame more on the back plate in the beginning as that would have taken longer to reach the soldering temperature than the leaf and stem would. In this way, by paying attention to the temperature of all the pieces around the area you’re working on, you can also avoid undoing previously soldered pieces. If you keep an eye on it you can tell when a piece of solder is about to flow or when a piece of silver is about to melt. There are products that you can buy to coat previously soldered areas that can help prevent solder from reflowing, but it’s not needed in this piece if you’re careful.

Cutting out the back plate.

Cleaning up.

Contenti snap on sanding discs and mandrel – HERE – I tend to only use the coarse discs because I’m really impatient. Not necessarily a good thing.

Contenti abrasive discs – HERE

Finishing up the setting.

Sticky wax – Rio Grande #700187 – Warning. This is a lot of sticky wax. You won’t need to buy any ever again.

Finishing up the setting – continued.

Cutting down the bezel collar.

NOTE: It’s not a dapping punch thing it’s from my hole punch making Pepe thing. Also it’s not a ball bur, it’s a cup bur.

As this part of the bracelet is complete I’m going to stop here. I don’t want to push my luck as there are loads of videos in this post and I don’t know if WordPress has a limit. I’ll show you the next part of the bracelet in the next post.

I hope it hasn’t been too boring. I can assure you that it gets a lot more painful…

MORE NOTES:

The two types of shears I use are both from Rio Grande – #111244 – #111289

CLICK for part two HERE

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So wot’s been going on here then…

It’s been 516 days since I’ve been an orphan.

Not that I’ve been counting or anything… but,

Blog’s been out the window that’s for sure.

But I thought I’d just pop out of hiding for a few minutes or so to let you all know that I’m still alive and to tell you a little bit about my mental state when I come to the realization that I’m going to have to step it up a notch.

Because I’m thinking it’s time again.

😉

I liken my jewelry making to potty training.

Bear with me now…

You know when you put your kid on the potty every darn day for a month and they still pee in their pants so you throw your hands in the air and give up on it completely. Then a week later realize that every other kid in preschool has mastered the big toilet so you try again, not expecting much, but whoa, it’s like they’ve had these alien beings invade their little bodies since you last tried and they’re poohing like champions on the potty all the time now and laughing in your face like what’s been your problem anyways…

Yeah my jewelry making is like that.

Although not quite as messy.

It comes in stages, like one day I’m really struggling and then voila! the next it’s like I’ve crossed a bridge into I can do this with my eyes closed land.

O.K. So not quite with my eye’s closed, because that would be dangerous and I could lose digits or burn the studio down, but you get my drift.

And it’s so satisfying.

You feel like champion of the world for a day until you realize that there are so many skills left to master that from here on out you’ll always need to keep your spare pair of pull ups close by in case of emergencies.

It excites me when I see something that I haven’t done before and I just know that I’ll be thinking of it for a while until suddenly, that’s it, I’m going to have to have a go even though it looks really, really tricky and my old friend, You’ll never be able to do it, turns up uninvited and leaves me struggling with, I’ll never be any good at this, dammit!, until I finally decide to give up on jewelry making altogether even though I have all those tools and gadgets and stones.

Because I’ve completely forgotten about all the stuff I can do and have done and how far I’ve come since that one day when I thought, hey, that looks like a fun thing to do.

It’s a rollercoaster I tell you.

That said, when I look at all the great jewelry out there, and see all the things that I can’t do yet, I know there are challenges coming that I can’t avoid.

So right now I’m trying to think of one of the many skills that I shy away from because I think it’s beyond me.

And I’m thinking it’s going to have to be stone setting.

Not cabochon setting as I think I have that down now, but those fiddly little, how on earth don’t you just pop out, stones.

I might well have no hair left after accepting this challenge, but it’s been on my mind now for some time, and every time I see a video of someone setting those little boogers I can’t help the stubborn in me whisper, If they can do it, so can you.

So we’ll see what happens.

If, of course, I can get past the, Nah! Why would you want to bother with that anyway, voice.

I’m off out now to get some pull ups.

 

 

The How To’s of a ring.

For Patti.

This really is a fairly simple ring to make.

Honest.

I used 23 gauge fine silver sheet, 18 gauge sterling silver wire, and 10 gauge fine silver wire.

Remember that you’ll have to accommodate for the silver around the cabochon you choose to determine the final size of the ring.

First up this is just the way that I make my jewelry. I’m self-taught and make loads of mistakes and don’t always do things the best way.

I’m a bit of a muddler really and so the way I do things and the tools I use are not meant to be set in stone.

The best way to view this How To is to take a looksee and see if it’s something you’d like to experiment with.

I won’t be answering the door to any subpoena’s for incorrect information.

Just saying…

😉

I start all of my pieces with a quick drawing to get a feel for what I’d like to start with.

Sometimes these are brilliant pieces of art work.

Sometimes not.

Here you can see that I’ve already made the collar for the cabochon, but you don’t have to do that first.

I just happened to have this one hanging around for a while because I started off with an idea for it, then couldn’t make up my mind.

I’ve got a lot of indecision on my table.

Then I stamp and cut out little pieces of silver.

Lots of little pieces of silver.

Which I then play around with on the sketch I’ve made adding some silver balls that I have laying around.

Every time I turn off my torch for the day I take out a charcoal block and use up the excess gas in the line to make balls out of the scraps I have laying around.

This way I feel as though I’m not wasting anything and the bonus is I have loads of little balls just waiting for a home.

Of course, however many balls I have hanging around I never seem to have the exact size I’m looking for.

Life can be complicated like that sometimes.

Once I’ve come up with a plan I then take a piece of 18 gauge wire and wrap it around the stone.

I try to do this loosely to give it a little personality.

Here I’ve used sterling silver because that’s what I had hanging around and so I annealed it first to make it more pliable.

If I were using fine silver I wouldn’t have to anneal it first as it’s much softer.

Once I think it’s interesting enough and balances out the stone nicely, I place the little pieces of silver on it to get another feel for it.

And then cut out a piece of the 23 gauge fine silver sheet to solder it on to.

I usually cut out the shape of the pencil line I’ve made around the piece so that I don’t waste so much silver, but for today I’ve just measured out a rough piece to work with.

I did have lots left over to make new leaves though so it’s all good.

🙂

Now I clean it up with my handy sanding pad.

And place the collar and wire on it to solder.

NOTE: I cover all of the plate with flux.

Some old gentleman at one of the shows I did a couple of years ago told me that this helps prevent fire scale, so I decided to believe him and that’s what I’ve done ever since.

Seems to work.

(See more info on this at the bottom of the post)

Also you can see above that I haven’t cleaned the wire for soldering.

I know you’re supposed to, but I’ve found that it’s really the correct heat and the area you heat around the piece you want to solder that is the key. I do, however, always clean the back plate.

I’m not recommending it, just explaining what you see in the photo.

Next I sand around the area to clean it up.

Sometimes this is enough, but sometimes you will need to pickle it.

I then check that the stone still fits using either dental floss to ease it out again, the sticky wax on a stick thing, or, if it’s willing, by just tapping it out.

And now you add the bits.

🙂

I have attempted to make a little youtube video showing how I do this.

It’s quite boring so I’ve sped it up a bit, but if you want to take a look at it I’ll put it at the end of this post.

You’ll see that I place each piece of stamped silver individually around the collar. Sometimes heating a little blob of solder on the bottom of a leaf etc.,and then taking it over to the piece works well enough, but this time I found that I needed to place the solder on the wire around the collar first and then place the leaves, etc., on it for it to stay put.

I use tiny chips of solder from Contenti to do this.

I heat the wire a little then I gently heat a stamped leaf piece as I take it over to the solder. I melt a tiny piece of solder onto it’s underside and then I bring it back to  it to the piece to fix it in place.

If you watch your flame and control where your heat is you won’t undo the pieces you’ve already soldered.

Continually watch the silver. You will see when a piece of solder is going to re-flow. Just take your flame away and come in gently again to the piece you want to solder.

This will work most every time once you get the hang of it..

NOTE: You can place all of the pieces on the piece at once and heat it up evenly until they’re all soldered, but I find that not all the pieces will stay put and I also like to make it up as I go along. You’ll see in the video that I sometime try different sizes of balls, for instance, or I might like to add or take away something.

Now I pickle it and cut it out.

You don’t have to use a sharpie to out-line it, but I find it helps me to keep the back plate just a little proud of the top which is the look I’m going for as, for me, it adds to the depth of the piece.

And now this stage is done.

Next up is the ring shank.

You can make this anyway you prefer, but for the purpose of this How To I’ll show you how I made mine.

I took two pieces of 10 gauge wire which I rolled slightly through the rolling mill.

You can leave them round if you wish, or gently hammer them if you prefer.

Once I flattened them slightly I then bent them so that their middles met to be soldered.

That’s when I found out that I’d used one piece of fine silver, and the other piece, which I’d found lying on my table, was sterling.

Told you I mess up a lot.

My life, I tell you.

:/

But we’re not going to talk about that anymore.

Needless to say, when you have joined two pieces of the correct wire together you will bend them around your ring mandrel.

Depending on whether you measured out you wire before hand, which I didn’t, you may have some excess which you can then mark off at the size you want the shank to be.

And cut down accordingly.

You will then need to take your rubber/rawhide hammer to shape the ends around the mandrel.

Next you will need to angle off the cuts so that they will sit flush to the base of the ring top.

You can do this a couple of ways.

By holding it in you fingers to file down.

Or your thumb.

Or you can sand it.

I stick a piece of that sticky backed sanding paper on my table next to my bench block.

Once the ends sit flush you are ready to solder it onto the ring top.

Here I’ve already stamped the bottom with my mark and silver content. You can do this as I’ve done or you can stamp them on the ring shank itself.

I usually stamp my pieces after I’ve made them and before I’ve set the stone.

I balance the piece on one of my disc cutting punches and stamp it that way.

Don’t question me. It’s just a thing I do…

And now you’re ready to finish up.

I cleaned up the bottom with my new favourite abrasive wheel.

You can choose the best way for you.

Then I cut down the collar.

I ran a pencil around the inside of the collar keeping it flush to the top of the stone.

You might want to cut off the collar differently depending on the cut of the cabochon. This one had a distinctive curve that stopped without transitioning smoothly to the flat top of the stone and as I didn’t want the collar to sit short of the top I decided to roll it over the sides of the cabochon to meet the flat top.

I don’t know if that makes sense, but a long story short I felt that the collar would look wrong curved just half way up the edge of the stone.

I next brushed it with Black Max and buffed it down as much as I could at that point.

 

After which I set the stone and covered it with masking tape to protect it and finished off buffing it until I got the finish I was looking for.

I prefer this brushed look, but you can finish yours using the method you prefer.

And there you have it.

Your new ring.

Hope that all made sense.

I’d love to see what you make.

Happy Mother’s Day.

🙂

As I didn’t want you to watch sugar dissolving I sped this video up a bit, but I think you’ll get the gist. Here I’m soldering the bezel collar and the 18 gauge wire to the back plate using a larger #1 Smith nozzle on my torch which helps to heat the whole area evenly. The solder pieces are already placed inside the bezel collar and the whole piece is raised up from the honeycomb block on one of those titanium strips which I’ve bent into a triangle shape to support it. Once the solder pieces (pallions) begin to shine slightly you might just be able to see that I lift the corner of the silver plate up from the titanium prop with my pick. This allows the heat to get underneath the piece and helps the solder flow.

This lifting of the corner is a great tip and my solder flows every time I do it. I use less solder because of it and it really flows evenly around the whole area leaving no pits on the inside or outside.

Depending on how much you use some of the outside wire will be caught up in the solder flow, but generally only those areas that are closest to the collar. You’ll see that after the bezel collar is soldered I use my pick to pick up small chips of solder to attach the outer edges of the wire to the back plate. In this instance I didn’t need the wire to be completed soldered down as I wanted it to lay in a more natural flow around the piece. I just needed it to be secure, but you can use this technique to fix it all down if you need to.

If you use this technique, at times, if the pieces to solder aren’t evenly heated, you might find that as you bring the solder on your pick to the piece it will flow up over the wire and not underneath it to join it to the back plate. If this happens take another small chip of solder and hold it down with your pick as you heat it so that it doesn’t have the chance to go where you don’t want it to.

                                             

 

This second video, which isn’t 7 minutes long by the way, but is thankfully only as long as the first video, shows how I attach the small leaves and balls.

I flux everything and then heat it up. As I mentioned above at first you can see me taking each stamped piece to the small chips on my board, heating them slightly so that the solder sticks to their undersides and then taking them back to the place I want to attach them to. Usually this works fine, but for some reason today, (probably because I was being watched) they wouldn’t stick. To remedy this I then took the small chips and placed them on the wire where the attachment was to go and soldered them that way.

                                             

Let me know if I’ve missed anything out, or something doesn’t make sense.

😉

UPDATED INFORMATION – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK.

If you have anything to add that may be of relevance just let me know and I’ll update it here.

  • First commenter: Only one issue: that particular flux is not a prevention flux for firescale. It’s a flow flux, to facilitate solder flow. No need to put it all over the piece; just use a little where you want your solder to flow. 

 

  • From another commenter:  I thought all flux covered firescale & flow. No?

 

  • Original commenter: No. There are flow fluxes and barrier fluxes. Neither does both jobs.

 

  • Another commenter: Sooooo cupronil says it’s both a flux and a fire coat preventative … is that not the case?

 

  • Cupronil contains some boric acid and some do use it like Prips as both, but I have not found it to be as good as using 2 separate fluxing preps- all in what you get used to and how you were trained. My training was to fire coat thoroughly, then use flow flux only where you would solder.

A couple of new tools for a good girl.

Maybe not so good, but I have been trying.

I’ve been enjoying making the cuffs and up to now have used the strips that Rio sent me that one time when I messed up my order and ended up with six, 6″ x 1″ strips instead of a 6″ x 6″ square.

Always check the order form before you click submit.

I was a little bummed at the time and they hung out in the draw for a while as they seemed a little too special to use, like they had some heavenly purpose for being there, but then I decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.

And so my cuffs were born.

🙂

Except that the 1″ width frustrated me at times.

Sometimes I wanted a little over and sometimes I had to saw them thinner which was fine if I was going to use the crinkle edge on them, but annoying when I couldn’t get 6″ of a perfect saw line.

I used my Jedi mind powers, I did, but there was always that one time about 3″ in when just as I was thinking how well I was doing I’d end up messing up.

Over confidence can be a killer.

So new tool number one!

The table shears…

I didn’t want to pay a tremendous amount for the times that I would be using it.

If I was a mass producing beast of a cuff maker – maybe.

 So I ended up with this one.

That I picked up from Amazon ,

I’ve since noticed that you can get it cheaper at Contenti, and Otto Frei has one although the cheapest one is for a 4″ cut, but I’ve got so many good girl spending points at Amazon that I ended up getting it for nothing.

Can’t beat nothing.

It cuts like butter through the gauges I need it for even though it’s much cheaper than some of them.

😉

And to further aid in my recent cuff making frenzy I also bought one of these from – HERE

Because although I already have a mandrel I find it hard to hold and couldn’t find a bench attachment for it.

Also this one swivels.

And that’s always fun.

So, there you have it.

My new tools.

I feel spoiled when I think about being able to get these things for myself, and I am grateful, but I have been good, promise, and just think of the damage I can do with that shear….

🙂