I’d like to tell you that everything I make starts good, ends good, and everything in the middle is perfect.
So I cut this nice little Willow Creek Jasper cabochon from a big chunk I bought from The Gem Shop.
And thought I’d show you something I made with it.
I decided to go for something like this, but wasn’t sure about the garnets.
I thought they might be a little too pretty, but decided to go ahead anyway.
If you’re new to bezel making here’s how I prepare mine.
I run a length of bezel wire around the stone and cut it off a little larger than it needs to be.
If the stone has corners I define those with a pair of flat nose pliers first.
Then holding it as tightly as I can I tuck one end underneath the other and mark where it overlaps with a pencil.
O.K. so that was a lot more overlap than I needed.
I was obviously feeling generous.
Now I snip the extra off leaving it a slither longer than I measured it.
And I work the two ends by pushing them beyond each other to close up the gap and create some tension when they touch together.
I use my flat nose pliers to slightly flatten the join. This helps to finish up the alignment.
The join has to be perfectly aligned before soldering.
With no gaps.
Now I solder it.
I like to use a third hand and place the solder piece on the outside of the bezel, but there are many ways to do it. Just make sure to heat the silver evenly so that the solder flows over the join. If you heat one side more than the other the solder will pull away from the join toward the hotter end and the solder won’t fill the join.
If this happens take your flame away, start heating the whole thing again so that the silver heats evenly and then help the solder flow across the join with your pick.
The bezel should fit nice and snug.
Look at the shine I got on that cabochon.
I did that.
In fact I was so impressed with myself that I celebrated with a cup of tea.
Here’s the other side.
They’re not so impressed. Especially the last man.
Next up I soldered the bezel wire to the back plate and pickled it.
And because all of a sudden I thought perhaps I should I’ve stared rinsing the piece in a solution of water and baking soda when I first get it out of the pickle.
Then I rinse it in water.
I also hold my breath when I open the pickle crock pot.
The hypochondria’s been creeping back in.
I’ll be O.K.
Now I trim away the excess silver from around the bezel wire leaving a couple of millimeters as a border.
And then I cut away all of the silver plate inside of the bezel wire.
You don’t have to do this when making a bezel setting. I just like to sink the stone down into its surround a little more to try to give it more depth.
If you want to try this make sure to saw as close to the inside edge as possible otherwise you’re going to have to do a lot of filing.
And that gets boring real soon.
The end result should see the cabochon passing through this first step of the bezel without it getting caught on the sides.
Just in case you were wondering we’re still on the rise bit of the project so try not to worry too much.
Now I stamp and cut out some leaves.
I found these little beauties
I try not to buy much from overseas, but in this instance I couldn’t resist.
I was having one of my bored Sunday buying days.
Nice stamp though.
Once they’re trimmed I push them against the edge of my block to give them some dimension.
I’m all about dimension.
Except around my waistline of course.
That can be as flat as it wants with no complaints from me.
Next the garnet bezel.
I’m using a 5mm garnet cabochon which I found at Rio Grande.
And this is the tubing that I used to set it.
If you haven’t got one of these special little glob on a stick things you’ve got to get one.
Aside from coming in very handy they just make me smile.
I’m sure there are lots of other fun stuff you can do with them aside from picking up small things that don’t want to be picked up and, of course, you could easily make your own out of wax, but even when I’m not using mine I sometimes have to look over at it and give it a wink.
I used it in this instance to pick up the garnet and measure it with this gauge tool.
I’ve got to tell you that this is another one of my smiling tools.
It’s just so simple and neat.
And here the two of them are doing their stuff together.
Brings tears to the eyes…
O.K. so I measured the height of the garnet and then marked out the length of the tubing.
I cut the tube with my new favourite tube tool.
And sat back admiring my work.
Now I use the corresponding bur bits to drill out a seat for the garnet.
This takes a bit of practice and a steady hand as there’s not much room to play with if you chose this method to make the bezel.
The first couple of times I made one I gave up on ever being able to do it properly.
This is still not the fall of the Willow Creek Jasper.
I know you’re getting anxious.
So there’s hope.
Again, there are different ways to do this, but this is the way that I’ve found works for me.
I take an old pair of flat nose pliers and hold the tube against a wooden block and gently drill out the middle, first using the round bur.
Up until now I’ve found that the tube easily slips out from the pliers if you’re not paying attention.
I had a brain burst and got out an old pair of plastic tipped pliers which I rarely use because they don’t have a spring handle and I don’t like them as much as my other pair.
These grip the tube so much better and I’m not worried about ruining the plastic stuff as I never use them anyway.
(Update: The heat from the drill bit melts the plastic stuff so it doesn’t work after all. Man! I was so excited as well. I’m going to see if I can’t drill some tube sizes into an old pair of pliers, or something like that.)
After using the round bur to drill away to the depth you need you go in with the setting bur.
This one creates a little ledge for the stone to sit on.
Check out the fit as you go along using the fun goo stick thing.
Use your beeswax or Bur Life as you drill.
I prefer the beeswax as the Bur Life is too crumbly for me.
The stone should sit level in the bezel cup and deep enough for the edges to be pushed over the slope of the stone.
With practice this is possible.
My theory is.
If somebody else can do it. So can I.
Now I place all of the components on a sheet of 22 gauge fine silver to outline where I need to saw the sheet to prepare for soldering.
And so begins the downfall of the Willow Creek Jasper…
It all started innocently enough.
A phone call with P.
Another cup of tea.
Some yelling at Willow who has taken to barking all of the time wherever she is and whether she wants to or not.
P thinks it’s because she’s deaf and old and becoming senile.
I think that’s a bit harsh.
You can yell at her all day and she won’t hear you.
But look at her.
So basically I was distracted and didn’t know it.
And so happily continued on my way
Until everything was nicely soldered.
Except for the little balls which needed a slight adjustment.
Nothing much to worry about.
Except for the fact that I had soldered the bezel collar upside down which might not have been a problem except that the stone really really didn’t look as good this way up as it would the way I had intended it to be.
I could have continued with it, but it would have bugged me every time I looked at it and as I’ve decided to really try to make the best jewelry I can and also didn’t want to begin over, I reheated the piece and took the whole lot off and re soldered it the correct way up.
A little tricky as, if you remember, I had cut the inside of the bezel away and now had to try to solder it back on again with no wiggle room whatsoever.
Here’s a trick to removing already soldered components.
If you just want to remove one item then heating it and picking it off with your tweezers is good enough, but if like me, you want to remove everything, it can be difficult to keep the heat spread evenly enough to loosen everything at once as one side invariably cools just enough for the solder to harden again.
So basically, just as you get one side of whatever it is you’re trying to remove loose the other side becomes soldered again and you can end up going backward and forward in a never ending spiral of desperation until you either melt the stuff accidentally, or more likely on purpose, as you’re so very frustrated and annoyed with it all.
To ward against flinging your torch across the room at this point and setting the room on fire I find that if you turn the whole piece over and heat it from the back it gets everything glowing nicely and evenly and then you can quickly turn it back over and pluck the pieces off easily.
Of course then you have to chance that one of the components will fly off the tweezers and burn a hole in your leg so that you’ll never be able to walk again.
Fortunately this time I was saved by the towel.
Always pluck carefully.
Now, of course, because of the traumatic rescue, the whole bezel setting is a complete mess and solder has flown everywhere including into places that you never knew it could flow into.
And also the little border I cut out at the beginning was a little messy and uneven.
To even up the border I marked the outline with a sharpie which helped me see the areas I needed to file away.
I have to admit that I cheated here by using one of those handy little flat burs.
Even so, it took some time.
A few moments of, Man! Why can’t you get anything right.
And another cup of tea.
But eventually I cleaned it up, and soldered that pesky leaf back on which had decided that with all the fun going on it would take a little field trip.
Next up I cut away the excess silver.
Filed it and added a bale.
Then I cut away the back design.
Just so’s you know, the flower design is upside down here on purpose and has nothing to do with the fiasco above.
The top half of the back of the cabochon isn’t as nice as the bottom and I wanted a nice colour to show through.
Then I cleaned it up some more with the flat bur and trimmed away the collar to the best height for the stone.
And gave it a good scrub with the Penny Brite and a toothbrush.
At this point I wasn’t too sure about how to hang the bottom garnet as, although wire wrapped tear drop beads are nice, I felt it would be a little too unfinished for this piece.
So I made it special home.
Yes, I know.
It looks like a cow bell.
Then, relieved that the struggle was almost over, I blackened it with Black Max, buffed it as much as I could, and set the stone.
After setting the stone I covered it with blue tape and buffed some more.
Once I’d got it to the point I was happy with I got out the setting tools for the smaller garnet.
These are neat little punches that hug the round of the bezel cup and, as you hammer the top gently, push the bezel over the stone.
It’s a bit freaky when you first start using them as you just know you’re going to damage the stone.
But it works well if you take your time.
And so there you have it.
I’m still not sure about the bottom garnet, and might change it up, but on the whole I like it.
Especially as now the stone is the right way up…
Here are a few others that I just finished.
Now I’m off out to yell at Willow again because she’s driving me nuts!
It really only makes me feel better as she can’t hear me at all…
19 thoughts on “The rise and fall, and rise again, of the Willow Creek Jasper…”
Great post, as usual! I especially love the bails on the turquoise and agate – looking forward to see how you complete these…
I think that Flamingo Rose Agate is beautiful. Such nice soft colours.
Well, I LOVE it with the garnets, not too “pretty” at all. I rather like the contrast of the opaque with the translucent. The design is fabulous (love the cowbell especially, haha–yes, that rises to the occasion in this piece better than a wire wrap would). Love all your other pieces too–using your chain links as bail components is brilliant! Especially nifty on the turquoise piece–balls (haha I said balls), sticks, and wavy bits together have a nice rhythm. I admire your tenaciousness, I would have thrown all that against the wall and started drinking something way stronger than tea–like Long Island Iced Tea.
Lol the cow bell. It definitely looks like one doesn’t it. Now I can’t get it out of my head.
Lovely pieces – I especially love the way you hung the bottom garnet. I haven’t done that setting yet.
Just another experience – if you try to cut the seat in a tube setting while the tube is snugly in your Bench Mate’s grip, the heat will melt the plastic inserts, also. Not a good thing, as it is very hard to then remove the insert.
I don’t have a bench mate, but that’s something to look out if I do. I’m not sure that I’ll get one, however, as I don’t really have a proper jeweler’s bench and wouldn’t really know where to put it so that it wasn’t always getting in the way. I like the idea of them though.
Wrapping your pliers in electrical tape to hold the tricky parts while drilling might work- I think the electrical tape might take the heat where the plastic won’t and still give you a better grip.
All the pieces are beautiful and I love looking at pretty jewerly. Mostly though I appreciate lessons you are sharing.
Brilliant idea! Can’t believe I didn’t think of that. I’ll give it a go next time round. Thanks 🙂
P.S. Thanks for showing the backs. 🙂
My goodness – it is absolutely impossible to pick a favorite here – all so lovely, including that self-inflicted shine on your jasper! But, the bails in the last few pieces -with your inverted pieces of chain (I don’t know what to call those once-known as jump ring things!) – THAT is what really caught my eye. It is your attention to detail! Superb!
Thanks Patti. I see you’ve been able to comment. I’ve been fiddling around with it all, but I’m not sure I’m the reason it got through.
Thank you for sharing your trials and triumphs with us. It’s always informative and fun.
I really love these pieces of yours, Deborah, they are just beautiful! This just goes to prove my theory again, to be an “artist”, be it a jeweller, painter ceramist or whatever, the most important quality needed (apart from a little talent) is perseverance and determination. My husband calls it stubbornness!
I agree. It’s the crafting of a piece that’s most important and I’m nothing if not stubborn lol. I just don’t think it’s worth doing if I’m just going for, ‘it’ll do’. That’s boring and says nothing about me.
A masterpiece — this blog post I mean! Extremely entertaining, but also instructive, I’ll be able to do an amazing stone setting the next time I find some time to try (I’ve done two so far…)! 🙂
Just love that turquoise, with the creative bail, but of course every piece is fantastic. And I like the cowbell. Maybe you could find someone with a connection to the dairy industry who would need it… 🙂 (I mean seriously, sort of… I’m planning on some pieces with a microbiological theme, to give to colleagues.)
My thoughts on that tube setting: what if you drilled the “shelf” before sawing it into that fiddly little mini size? Would it help? A mini vise might also be an option — don’t ask me where to get it, but there is one at my metals class, it’s about the size of two matchboxes. We reach for it when we have managed to saw something into extremely small pieces before drilling the hole that should have been drilled first, and the like. (The class: I’ve been to 2 classes of 2 weekends in winter, and a seven day marathon in summer, it’s not a regular thing, but extremely intense.)
I’ve had some bad experiences with duct tape, it all disintegrated into a gooey mass. Masking tape (the papery kind) was a lot better to my surprise. But there are a lot of other tapes out there too probably worth testing.
That was a lot of tea — a day’s worth for me 🙂 (I prefer mine the British way, but with honey instead of sugar. Dad’s fault, for being an exchange student at Cambridge!)
That’s a great idea. I’m going to try that. I’ve got a bench vise and it’s ready to start getting a little more involved than it usually does so I’ll keep you posted. I’ve got three new methods to try now thanks to all of our brains getting together.
And I may be a little biased, but the British way is the only way. 😉
Well that ‘cowbell’ dangle is my favourite part of your lovely piece, I would wear a tiny necklace with just that!! Just a thought but have you got a swiss mitre jig thing? They are pretty good for holding small tubes to drill and have a multitude of other handy uses? xx
Do you mean that flat metal thing with all of the slits and slots? Yes I do! I don’t like it for sawing the tubes, but it sounds like it might be a goer for drilling them. Monica and KJ have two other methods I’m going to try. It’s so brilliant when we all get together to sort out a problem. Love it!