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.

ūüėČ

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…

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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

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….

ūüôā

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.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

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.

ūüėČ

Here are some more photographs of the process.

Now put a catch on it.

And you have a new bracelet.

ūüôā

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.

ūüėČ

The anatomy of a stone cuff.

This is going to be a long one.

You have been¬†warned…

I thought I’d show you how I made¬†one of my¬†cuffs. So if you want to make one yourself, and if you’ve the patience to get through this post, here are step by step instructions.

Before we start you should know that a lot of times I tend to make things up as I go along and only afterward realize that, had I a plan in the first place, things could have been done more efficiently. So if some of the steps here seem just plain wrong it’s just the way my brain works.

Not my fault…

Also there’s going to be a lot in here¬†that seasoned jewelry makers already know and so many of you, who I know can recreate a piece just by looking at it,¬†might want to skip this post entirely unless you’ve been having trouble sleeping.

Here’s what I’m working with, you can pick any cabochon that you think is worth the amount of silver in this cuff.

It’s a lot.

As always links are in the photographs and dotted around the text for the suppliers and tools I’ve used.

These are just what I use and are not necessarily what you need to create this bracelet.

Dendritic Landscape Opals from HELGASHOP

First off choose your stone and make the bezel collar.

Here I’m making a collar for the earrings, not the cuff, but the process is the same.

Find the right height bezel wire. You’ll want it to be at least a couple of millimeters, if not more, proud of the stone.

I find I mostly use this one – HERE

For thicker stones this one – HERE

And very thin ones – HERE

Overlap the bezel wire as you fit it snug around the stone and then mark off with a pen or pencil where the join is going to be.

Be careful when you wrap the wire around the stone, especially if the stone has a domed edge, that you don’t push the top of the wire¬†over¬†the stone as this will distort your line.

Cut the bezel wire a millimeter or so away from the line so that the collar will be slightly larger than needed.

It’s better to keep snipping away thin slithers until the size is right than cutting off too much to begin with.

Once you have snipped away enough for the collar to fit perfectly around the cabochon, (ideally so that the stone will slip easily in and out of it without it being too loose), push the two ends into and beyond each other so they overlap slightly then you can pull them gently apart until they meet under a slight tension.

The two ends should be flush together as should the top and bottom of the collar.

Once they are in place I like to squeeze the edges together with a pair of pliers. This takes care of any distortions on the flat sides of the collar.

You can just about see the join here at about 2:10 o’clock.

Or is that 2:11?

ūüėČ

This is how I solder my collars.

I like to hold them in a Third Hand – HERE¬†–¬†and solder them with hard solder on the inside of the collar.

You can’t see them clearly here, but the joins are on the bottom waiting to be soldered.

I prefer to use Contenti solder – HERE.

It seems nicer to me.

Just sayin’.

I also like to use their chips for soldering links and small parts –¬†HERE.

And I use Wolverine Flux which you can find on Amazon.

Because someone recommended it to me and I believed him.

Don’t judge me.

As with everything here, you can use whichever products you prefer.

Now they’ve all got their collars on.

ūüôā

Hopefully, if they behave they will become a pair of earrings, two rings and a cuff.

Next I cut a piece of silver sheet leaving about a centimeter around the stone.

Here I’m using 23 gauge because I didn’t have any 22 left.

You can then saw or cut it out.

If you use snippers, as I do, it can distort the sheet. In this case take a raw hide hammer, I prefer one of¬†those rubber hammers – HERE¬†–¬†and tap the sheet gently as you pull the hammer out away from the center rotating the sheet as you go.

This will flatten the sheet.

Alternatively you can place it in-between two bench blocks and hammer the top.

Whichever way is good for you.

I then take the sheet and hold it in-between a pair of long tweezers – HERE¬†–¬†and begin to run the heat slowly along the edges of the sheet until it begins to melt.

This can be a little frustrating.

I use an acetylene/air torch so I’m not sure how this will work with the smaller hand-held torches, but the key here is to use a torch head¬†that will heat the edges sufficiently to keep the¬†molten silver¬†moving.

I’ve found that on smaller pieces a #0 torch head is sufficient, but on longer or larger pieces you may need to use a #1 torch head.

Ideally I needed a torch head in-between these two numbers for this piece as the #0 wouldn’t touch it and the #1 took itself way too seriously and wanted to control the whole show.

But, if you’re careful you should be able to melt the edges into a nice crinkly blob effect.

Note, however, that if you haven’t done this before and decide to practice with the torch you have that different metals will melt at different temperatures. So using copper, for instance, which would be great to practice on, may give you a different feel for what you’ll experience with silver.

One thing I’ve found is that it seems to work best if you keep the¬†flame moving at a slight angle along the edge of the silver and then once it starts to melt you can ‘push’ the melting¬†silver along.

(That’s not strictly true as you’re not actually ‘pushing’ the melting silver, but rather new bits are melting as you move¬†along the edge.

Just wanted a visual is all.)

Anyway, watch it carefully¬†as one lapse in concentration can result in the whole thing going to pot¬†and you’ll have¬†to swear mightily and roll around in a tantrum across the room.

Which actually might not be a bad thing as could be you’ll find all sorts of goodies that you thought were lost forever on the floor.

Not that I’ve done that.

So, all blabbing aside, this is what you should end up with.

Which I then clean up with one of these special things – HERE – that I bought a while back and didn’t know what to do with.

The melted edges can be very sharp and this bristle brush takes care of it almost immediately.

Love it when I finally figure out what to do with things.

Now solder the bezel collar to the melted sheet.

If you have trouble soldering the collar because of the rippled edges of the back plate and you find you are left with some gaps that you can’t fill, solder what you can and then quench the piece. Put the piece on your bench block and gently tap the collar with your rubber¬†hammer to close any gaps. If you do this gently enough you won’t distort the collar too much as the silver will already be softened due to annealing during the first solder and it won’t take much to close it.

If it does distort you can place the stone back into the setting and re-form those parts affected. I use wax – HERE¬†– which I have blobbed onto the end of a stick to lift¬†my stone in and out of a setting if¬†I haven’t drilled a hole in the bottom from which to poke the stone out.

Doing this isn’t ideal as you should try to get your bezel collar and back plate to sit as flush as possible, but in a pinch this¬†works¬†for me.

Now you can put a little more flux on the piece and heat it up again so that the solder flows nicely around the edges.

Next I put the stone back in the setting and textured the area in-between the wavy line of the melted silver and the bezel collar. I also textured slightly up the collar.

I then used a pair of pliers to turn up the edges.

You can’t use normal metal pliers as I have here¬†if there is no texture on the back plate as they will mar the silver, but you can carefully use the pliers with the nylon tips, or I have also used my burnisher to push the sides up from underneath.

Again this step can distort the bezel collar so you have to take care not to trap the stone.

Once this is done I cut the inside silver away.

As a note, I have turned¬†the sides of the setting up both with the back still in and with it cut out. Although it seems more logical to turn up the edges with the back already cut out so that the stone doesn’t get trapped I found that, for me, it distorted the setting more and it was harder to get the shape back so that the bottom lay flat.

You could try either.

You don’t have to cut out the inside of the setting, but I like my stone to sit further down into the design as it gives it a little more dimension. It also takes away some of the weight from¬†the larger settings.

Use your pliers to reshape any distortions.

Try to saw away the inside as close to the edge as you can otherwise you’re going to have to do a lot of filing.

ūüėČ

I rest the collar on the edge of my bench block and either use my file,

or an old, worn down grinding wheel – HERE – that is able to fit inside the setting.

This can be a bit vicious however so use with caution.

You want to end up with your stone being able to slip right through the setting.

Now cut out another piece of silver sheet just a fraction larger than the piece you’ve just finished.

Sand the silver sheet with a piece of rough sandpaper.

I like these foam backed pads from the local hardware store – HERE.

And use that special buffing thing on the bottom of the setting.

Or whatever you normally do to clean things up for soldering.

I like to lift the larger pieces I need to solder up off the block a little as it really helps to move the heat around.

I use one of those titanium strips – HERE – that I don’t know what else to do with.

I never can seem to bend them into the shape I want, but for this it’s perfect.

When I solder larger pieces I not only raise it up off the block a little, but once the flux has begun to gloss over I lift the whole of one side¬†of the piece I’m¬†soldering up with my pick. This really gets the heat moving around and the solder flowing.

For those new to soldering sometimes you will notice that the solder flows up onto the bezel collar. This is because the bezel wire is thinner and therefore heats up faster than the rest of the setting. The heat draws up the solder. Be patient. Keep an eye out not to melt the collar, but the solder will eventually begin to flow and you will have won the game.

It’s all about where you place the tip of the flame and getting it to heat all of the silver to the same temperature at the same time.

You don’t want to concentrate your flame on one spot, but rather move the flame continuously over the whole area you want to solder.

The very tip of the blue part of the flame is the coolest, so that can be a little closer to the top edge of the collar. The hotter part is about a centimeter out from the blue tip. This is the part that will melt things, so if you bring the blue tip down closer to the top edge of the collar the hotter part of the flame will go down beyond that to the area where you want the solder to flow and not melt the collar itself.

You still have to be careful, but it works.

ūüėČ

I then saw away the base to mirror the top layer of the setting and sand it smooth.

And voila.

A little grubby but I’m not complaining.

Now I put it in the pickle and work on the cuff.

Here I have a 6″¬†x¬†1″,¬†20 gauge piece of fine silver.

I tend to use fine silver for all my pieces and only use sterling for some wire.

Anneal the silver.

Charles Lewton-Brain says that you know when the silver is annealed when the flame turns orange.

I always looked at the colour of the silver, but now I look at the flame.

It’s good to mix it up once in a while.

ūüėČ

Once annealed I start to hammer it over the edge of my bench block to fold it in half.

Bit fiddly.

Eventually I decided it was easier to wedge the silver in-between the block and my bench, push down on the block and whack the thing upward.

Once it folded over as much as it wanted to, I annealed it again.

I then hammered along the very edge on the fold.

Which opened the ends up slightly.

Enabling me to get one of my jump ring mandrels inside and pry it apart by tapping gently on the mandrel with my rubber hammer.

I put the hammered part of the fold, about 5mm or so, into my bench vise and then hammered one side down to make it a 90 degree angle.

After which I was able to fold it back over itself.

And flatten it down.

It doesn’t look tremendously great at this point.

Going to have to work on my folding skills.

Remember to keep on annealing during this process. As soon as the silver seems harder to work with put it back under the flame.

Now you’re ready to stamp.

I hate stamping, and I hate wire wrapping.

Fortunately I only had to deal with one evil here.

You are going to have to level up the underside of the cuff with a piece of metal so that the stamp will mark evenly on the top.

Here I’m using another piece of silver because I was too impatient to¬†find something¬†else.

Not really one of my better ideas although it didn’t spoil the smaller piece as much as I thought it might.

You can use card or something else to pad it with.

Here is the front of the piece ready to continue stamping.

You can gently hammer on the edges of the strip if you find it has distorted during stamping, but the reason it’s distorted here is because I¬†have stamped more on one side than the other which has, in essence, stretched the silver out unevenly.

You can correct this by stamping more on the other side to compensate for this.

Here I have leveled it up and snipped away part of the ends to help with shaping.

And now it’s ready for the edge melting process.

At this point I shape it on a bracelet mandrel.

And take the setting out of the pickle to cut down the collar to the correct height for the stone.

I run a pencil around the inside, snip as much as I can away with some snippers, and then file the rest down.

For this setting I wasn’t as precise as I usually am as I wanted a more uneven look to go with the setting.

I propped up the cuff and used far too much solder on it to join the two together.

But that setting ain’t going nowhere…

I forgot to mention that at some point I also added some balls and whatnots to the setting.

Sorry.

I pickled it once again then painted it with Black Max – HERE – which is not the least toxic of products out there, but is my favourite patina.

Just be very careful with it and always wear a dust mask when buffing it.

Always wear a dust mask anyway.

I give it an initial buff which I forgot to show you, with both a radial wheel – HERE – I like to use these 1″ yellow ones for the tight places and then with¬†my dinky¬†buffing machine – HERE –¬†with this very fine buffing wheel – HERE.

After I’ve got it almost finished with the first buff I set the stone and place masking tape over the top.

Which I then cut away leaving enough to protect the stone.

And then I buff it again.

Until I’m satisfied¬†with¬†the end result…

 

 

So I hope you made it through without my boring you to death.

ūüôā

If you make one, I’d love to see it.

Hello. It’s me…

I come to you today with my new, ‘stepped up’ pieces of jewelry which now I actually think of as being more¬†‘stepped out’.

They kind of happened when I wasn’t paying attention.

Which I highly recommend.

I’m a very anal creative.

With the pottery, with the quilt making, and with the jewelry making, I like to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s, and will often go back, even when something’s finished to fix something that, in my opinion, is just not quite right.

Can be annoying.

Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily always a good thing.

Sometimes you’ve just got to let yourself go.

It all started with a ring that a lady had asked me to make for her, but which we could never really decide on.

She liked this, but I couldn’t find a similar stone.

I also thought that perhaps all the little leaf things would catch on other non-leaf things when she wore it.

Looking at it now I’m not so sure.

So I cut quite a lot of stones and made up a few settings, which I consequently made into necklaces.

India Black Skin
Larsonite

I didn’t mind doing this as I’ve been needing some help getting into the studio.

I really like this setting. It’s clean with a little interest and it highlights the stone nicely.

India Black Skin and Larsonite are now two of my favourite stones.

India Black Skin from NataliesRockCraft
Larsonite from NataliesRockCraft

I next cut a nice piece of dendritic opal.

Dendritic Opal Opalite from OCDhobbiest

And this is where it all went wrong.

And right.

I admit I was at a loss for making the ring and when I feel that I’m not able to do something I tend to self sabotage.

It’s not going to work anyway, right? So why pay attention.

This happened while I wasn’t paying attention.

I had made a cuff the day before, but I didn’t like it. I did¬†like the melted edges, however, so I decided to make my favourite setting with the same edges.

And as I’m a slow learner I soldered the bezel collar to the sheet first.

Not smart.

I managed to melt the edges of the sheet o.k.

Along with the collar.

Frustrated I just decided to leave it and make the most of it.

I was kind of liking the rough and ready, Capt’n Jack Sparrow look to it anyway.

Don’t ask.

It just reminds me of him.

Pirates in general really.

So I improvised around the collar, in the back of my mind thinking that it might turn out o.k. after all, but at the same time not holding my breath.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a ring as it was just too big, so a brainwave later, I decided to put the whole darn thing on the ugly cuff.

Still on a bit of a downer after dad.

Everything’s ugly.

Or dark.

In-between nice shiny bits of lovely.

It’s a work in progress.

Bottom line is that I kind of liked it.

It’s funky and statementy and more out there than what I’m used to, but it may just be¬†exactly what I need right now.

Not that anal isn’t necessary at¬†times, but I need a change.

So I made it a friend.

And then decided to make it some cousins.

Here’s a ring.

Luna Agate from NataliesRockCraft

And another ring.

Purple Salvia Chalcedony from CatalinaCabochons

Seen here at their group photo op.

Pretty darn big rings really.

And here’s their second cousin once removed.

Which isn’t as deep, dark and seductive as it is in this photo.

See.

For some reason certain stones just want to mess up the whole show.

So in a sense I think I have stepped it up.

In that out of the box way.

Although I do tend to suspect that my inside self is more big, bold and colourful than my outside self gives up.

And so I’ll leave you here¬†to¬†go out to make more.

After I’ve cleaned the cat litter.

Bloody cats pooh anytime they want to…

ūüėČ

Time to step it up – again…

I’m still doing a lot of things wrong.

Mostly it’s because I’m impatient¬†which,¬†of course, often times means that I¬†end up needing to work on something for longer anyway because I¬†didn’t pay enough attention in the first place.

So I’m going to step it up.

Again.

I know I stepped it up once before, and¬†that was a good thing, but now I want to work on always being able to know, with confidence, that what I’m doing is definitely going to work the first time and that when it goes out the door I’m completely satisfied that it’s the best I can do.

I know it can be done.

I know there are people out there who are so bang on their game that they’re just brilliant at it.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed my new pieces.

Mexican Amber
Flamingo Rose Agate
Sapphire Berry, Ocean Jasper, Larsonite

But I always get worried when one of them goes out the door.

No, not worried.

Agonized.

It’s worse when I see that I have a review on Etsy.

I can literally feel my heart stop a beat because I know they are just so disappointed with it and I have to cross my fingers to see if it’s going to be o.k.

Crossing my fingers, by the way, happens to be my go to safe place.

Nothing bad will happen if my fingers are crossed.

Well that’s what¬†I tell myself anyway…

It’s amazing to look back at pieces I made when I first started out and didn’t know what I was doing.

The amount of solder I used for instance.

Way too much

ūüėČ

But you don’t know these things unless you keep on doing them wrong until they¬†whack¬†you over the head.

And that’s o.k. as we all have to start somewhere.

But for a while now I just would really like to not do it wrong.

And for me that means slowing down, paying attention, and finally being able to let go of a piece knowing that it’s everything it should be.

Too much perfection I hear you say.

Maybe.

But if I don’t try I’ll be bored me thinks.

ūüôā