A show and tell for Keirsten…

 

Although I don’t pronounce her name correctly.

Sorry.

:/

Not my fault really as I don’t know anybody called Keirsten and so don’t have much opportunity to say it.

As always this is just a show and tell. I’m not even sure if I wanted to show this one as I think it’s really boring. You can definitely see how I go about making my jewelry though. I was being completely serious when I told you that I wing it. Sometimes I follow a drawing, but more often than not I just place things here and there deciding as I go along if I like it or not.

And yes I mumble and um and ahh to myself also.

It can be a little lonely in my studio at times so if I’m not talking to the radio man I’m talking to myself…

:/

So that’s the design aspect of it. The technical aspect is to simply work on the fly using whatever tools I have hanging around that I think might give me the result I’m looking for. One day perhaps I’ll go to jewelry tool school and figure out what they’re really made for.

I’ve always hated going to sites like Rio or Otto Frei and seeing fantastic looking tools and not really knowing what the hell you do with them. Sometimes they give you a little video how to on them, and Youtube is pretty good for finding things out, but I hate knowing there’s just the tool out there that will make my life easier and not knowing about it.

My world can be a dark, mysterious place sometimes.

Moving on.

I’m going to try to make another of these…

…for Keirsten.

Please remember.

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 and materials used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others and some less expensive. 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.

I got these little pieces of turquoise from turquoisesusa on Instagram. I have bought some in the past from aztrading.madison on Instagram also.

Warning: This video is just like watching silver melting 😉

I felt in this one that I didn’t really explain the silver stretching part properly. You’ll find that just stamping on one side of the silver lengthens and distorts the strip. You have to balance it up by stamping or hammering out the opposite side. If you want the melted part to stay as it is and not stamp it as I did, do all of the texturing before you melt the edge.

I keep checking the back of the strip as I form it because I don’t want to completely mess up the texture. You’d have to be a whole lot more careful if you want to have a good smooth finish 😉

I was trying really hard not to use up my acetylene, but I was going nowhere fast by not having enough heat on the piece to solder it. The idea of taking that bottle back to the shop really kills me…

Just so you know I was joking when I said why do it the proper way 😉 that’s just not as much fun as making things as difficult as you can…

You have to be really careful when you bend the tube as I’m doing here as the silver can easily split. I try to do it really slowly and gently.

When I say I’m going to buff the ends to smooth them out I mean I’m going to use the coarse scrubby bits that I used before – HERE.

Brown (thicker) cutting disc – Rio Grande 337217

Thin dangerous diamond disc – Rio Grande 346080 There are a lot of different ones of these so you might look around.

Cylinder bur – Rio Grande 343029

Grinding wheel – Rio Grande 332189

Smaller knife edge cutting bur – Rio Grande 348520

Dawn Gill you’ll be pleased to know that I just bought myself a new honeycomb soldering block as mine’s now in five pieces 🙂

Spider tool – HERE.

Just making decisions…

This video is cut short by a phone call.

Black Max – Rio Grande 331053

Yellow 3m wheels – Rio Grande 332581

Very Fine Buffing Wheels – Rio Grande 330541

Always wear a mask when buffing even if you’re not using a patina as the small fibers from the buffing wheel get everywhere.

And voila!

A turquoise cuff.

 

 

So all said and done it’s nothing like the original, but the way I made it is the same – somewhat. I prefer the originals myself although I think that’s because I was surprised by this one’s size.

Small things throw me a loop…

🙂

The old bottle out.

New bottle in.

Phew!

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Behind the scenes – Amber cuff…

Here is another series of videos showing how I made this silver cuff with Amber.

They come in bursts so that no one is ever that long, except for one I think, but maybe you’ll forgive me for that one.

Sometimes the rambling gets away with me…

They’re just work in progress videos and not really intended as tutorials, but if you glean any snippets, even if they’re what not to do, I think my work here is done 😉

Disclaimer

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 and materials used are only examples of the ones I use. There are many different types available of the same tools, some better than others and some less expensive. 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.

Notes:

In this first video I call the necklace a bracelet so you can see that we’re off to a good start…

And please excuse my clothes! I don’t know about you, but I just use my old tee shirts and jeans, etc. to work in the grime of the studio and apparently this morning I was also playing with the cat…

Cabochon from New Stone Age Cabochons on Instagram – HERE

Note: I use fine silver bezel wire so this is not for you if you need sterling.

Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Notes:

I didn’t show making the components in this video as you can find out how I do this in the Cheetah Jasper Necklace show and tell – HERE

I typically use a #0 head on my acetylene/air torch. I change up to a #1 head when I want a little more overall heat and to not concentrate on smaller areas.

Wire doesn’t crack or snap! It seems that sometimes I get a little bored with using the correct terms. It can however break off when you push on it if the heat from the flame has weakened it.

I mostly pick solder when I’m soldering small pieces. When I solder balls onto a piece, however, I use the ball as my ‘pick’. At the end of this video you can see that I take the balls to the pieces of solder and heat a small blob onto its bottom. I then take that back to the piece I’m working on.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Note:

A phone call interrupts this video and cuts it short.

Notes:

This is the long one…

I find lifting the piece up off the soldering block allows the heat to flow more evenly around and under the piece. These titanium strips do the job nicely as I read once that they are not a heat sink. You can find them – HERE

I heat around the piece until the flux turns a sort of powdery white. This is the point where the water has mostly evaporated from the flux and you can then move your flame closer to the piece as the pallions of solder won’t bounce around. You can see that the flux then starts to get a little gunky and then glosses over slightly. This stage happens just before the solder will flow and is where I lift the piece up with my pick. I do this because it just seems to give the solder that little extra nudge that it needs to get going.

I use Wolverine flux. You can google it as the price seems to change from site to site. I take a small amount of it out of the main jar and mix it with distilled water in a smaller jar. I’ve used a few different fluxes, but for some reason I really like this flux. The solder stays in place and doesn’t bubble around even though I dilute it more with water. I also spread it over all of the silver, even those places I’m not directly soldering on. I think this is mainly a superstitious act as a prayer to the solder gods. Don’t judge me…!

I bend the tips of my tweezers so that they pick up the small pieces more easily. It appears that haven’t done this yet with my new pair.

I concentrate on soldering, or tacking, one piece at a time. Because they’re not fully soldered I can move the pieces around more easily if I want to at this point. Once I get them all into place I change up the torch head for a larger flame as now I want to make sure the solder flows. I hold down each piece with my tweezers, or pick, and you can feel it ‘relax’ into place as the solder flows then I take the heat off it and after a fraction of a second I tap it to make sure it’s secured. You have to wait just that tiny bit as if the solder is still hot the piece will move even though the join is good. I’ve been tricked into thinking I haven’t soldered something more than once because I’ve nudged the piece before the solder has hardened. Once I think that everything is fixed in place I move the heat around the whole area this time to make doubly sure that everything is evenly soldered. You have to keep a good eye on it at this point as the larger flame will bring everything up to the same temperature more easily and this is when the silver can melt and give the pieces more opportunity to move out of place. Note: I only solder this way if I’m soldering a lot of tiny pieces at one time. If you’re just doing a simple solder you don’t have to go around tapping the piece as you can see it flow 🙂

Usually the solder from the bezel join takes care of attaching the ends of the stems. If not I will at some point come back in and place just a tiny dot of solder to secure them.

Notes:

Yes. Sometimes it still amazes me that I’ve managed to do it!

To make sure all the pieces are absolutely secure I scrub them with a toothbrush and take the opportunity as I do so to clean it up more with Penny Brite – HERE

Notes:

I have a few of those stainless steel condiment cups that I like to use for holding small items and it was handy for mixing the No-Flo.

Rio No- Flo –  Rio Grande #: 504080

Notes:

I get a little sidetracked here with the whole plaster mixing thing. These are just the sort of questions that take up room in my brain and distract me from the real issues at hand… sorry.

I placed the top piece on the back plate a little too soon. The top half had melted, but I should have given the bottom half a little longer this is why it took longer for the solder to flow on one half. I also use too much in the center. Usually I would have soldered both sides and then turned the torch off to place the pallions in the center, but was trying to do it all at once for the video. Well that’s my excuse anyway 😉

Now, don’t hold your breath on these next videos making any sense whatsoever. I’ve only made maybe four or five cuffs before and it’s like reinventing the wheel each time. Maybe I should start taking notes…

I also tend to jump right in when perhaps I should pay more attention to what I want the end result to be before I actually begin cutting up stuff.

Where you can literally hear the painful process of my brain whirling. It’s really not that hard Deborah…

Contact paper – HERE – this stuff will last you for five hundred years or more.

Notes:

They’re not pieces of wire. They are silver sheet.

You have to experiment with which torch head works best. The key is to heat it to the point of melting and not leaving the flame in one spot. It doesn’t really look as though I’m doing anything to it here, but it improved on the first effort.

Notes:

Warning. Skip this one if you get annoyed easily. It’s short, but painful.

This is where I had actually figured out how I was going to make the cuff, but then completely forgot when I came to videoing it.

There’s a hole in the end of the strips as I’m going to rivet the two pieces together.

Contenti abrasive discs – HERE

Notes:

Thankfully the torture is nearly over.

In case I’m not clear (hard to believe I know) the sterling silver may over time tarnish and so the nail polish is a barrier to that.

It is Lexi Erickson’s tip. I watched a couple of her videos years ago which were really helpful when I first started and I always remember the nail polish over everything 🙂 I worry a little bit about the polish discolouring and always mean to research it. Perhaps it’s high time I do that now.

Check out her videos. I can assure you they are a lot more comprehensible than mine 😉

If I find that a sanding disc won’t fit I use a flat bur to clean out the bottom of the bezel.

And so that’s it.

Again it’s not really a tutorial, but more of a show and tell because you can’t really teach if you’ re making it up half the time.

If you got anything useful out of it, great.

If not, well… sorry.

😉

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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.

-.

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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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….

🙂

So.

I had the old end of the world earthquake dream this morning.

It wasn’t all bad.

As we waited for the pre-quake green black apocalyptic storm clouds to totally cover the sky a small van pulled up down our road handing out supplies to the residents.

Did we need any survival supplies?

I chose a couple of dust masks.

You know, those simple ones with the little vents in the front.

Seemed as though they’d come in handy.

A large high rise was due to fall onto us once the quake started. Instead of moving away from the object of our imminent death, we instead contemplated the chances that the gaping hole torn into the side of the building would fall exactly over where we waited thereby saving us from being crushed to death.

I tried to calculate the exact trajectory of the high rise’s collapse, but ultimately knew that the life saving cavity would miss us by a few inches.

Bummer.

Still didn’t get out of the way though.

In other, less violent, news I just managed to send off another $7,000 to charity.

To celebrate.

A chain.

🙂

This is a very simple chain which you may have already seen on my Instagram page, and I promise this post is not as long as my last one.

😉

I used 16 gauge sterling silver wire.

I haven’t calculated how much though, so sorry about that.

First up you will need a torch to ball up the end of the wire.

After which I like to use a large cup bur on it to round it out.

You won’t need the bur if you use fine silver as it will make a perfect ball when you heat it, but I tend to use sterling for most of my chains.

You can find a selection of cup burs – HERE.

If you have never balled the end of a piece of wire before simply hold the wire vertically in a pair of tweezers and move the flame up and down the bottom of it until a ball forms. If you keep the flame on the ball for too long after it has formed it may fall off, so be sure to remove the flame when you have the size you need.

Now make a loop as shown.

Solder the ball end at the spot it crosses over the other end of the loop and then make another smaller loop and cut off the extra length of wire.

This loop is turned and soldered just under the first soldered join.

Take the remainder of the wire and ball up the end again.

Make another loop.

This time you will thread the larger loop into the smaller loop of the first link before soldering the loop together.

After soldering it make and solder the smaller link as before.

And continue until you have the length of chain you desire.

I made sure that the balls were all sitting the same way and that all the links matched.

No rules though.

You can mix it up if you want to.

😉

Here are some more photographs of the process.

Now put a catch on it.

And you have a new bracelet.

🙂

Now I’m going to get my survivors guide to the end of the world out and see if there’s anything else I might need to start collecting other than dust masks.

😉