Bracelet tutorial continued.

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

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

 

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

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

But I didn’t and it wasn’t.

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

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

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

Miter-Cutting Vise and Jig – Rio Grande #112700

Sticky back measuring tape – HERE

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

Making and soldering the bars.

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

Finishing the caps on the bars.

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

Infinity Stamps sterling silver tags – HERE – I use H

Infinity Stamp custom stamp with tag mate – HERE

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Taking one of the end caps off.

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

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

Selection of Mandrel pliers – HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joining the bracelet ends to the setting.

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

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

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

Second attempt…

Cleaning it up.

Black Max – Rio Grande #331053

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the stone.

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

 

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

This is the nail bezel pusher – HERE

Foredom H-15 Hammer Hand piece – HERE

Foredom Hammer accessories – HERE

Foredom  H.20 Quick release hand piece – HERE

Foredom H.18 Quick release hand piece – HERE

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

Burnishers – HERE

Gravers – HERE

The end.

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

So there it is.

The bracelet from hell is finished.

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

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

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

Au revoir.

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

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

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

Will they ever let me back…

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

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

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

Sorry.

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

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

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

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

And lastly. What a nightmare!

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

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

But yesterday was another story.

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

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

…from which you may decide never to return.

You have been warned…

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

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

The bracelet from hell.

Disclaimer.

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

Also.

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

You will need:

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

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

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

Lobster claw –  Rio Grande #613042

Bezel wire

Fine silver sheet

Small length of 16 gauge sterling silver round wire

Small length of 18 gauge sterling silver round wire.

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

Making the bezel collar.

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Narrow bezel wire – Rio Grande #101003

Medium bezel wire – Rio Grande #101051

Wide bezel wire – Rio Grande #101076

Working out the design.

Straight lining tool from 2moontools – HERE

Coming together for soldering.

Initial soldering.

Contenti soldering chips – HERE

Contenti siver solder wire – HERE

Continuing working out the design.

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

Taking it back to solder.

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

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

Cutting out the back plate.

Cleaning up.

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

Contenti abrasive discs – HERE

Finishing up the setting.

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

Finishing up the setting – continued.

Cutting down the bezel collar.

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

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

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

MORE NOTES:

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

CLICK for part two HERE

-.

 

 

 

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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.

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.

😉

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?

😉

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.

🙂

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.

😉

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.

😉

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.

😉

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.

🙂

If you make one, I’d love to see it.

So we haven’t had a project in a while…

And I thought you might like to play along with me.

By the way, Dracula is great. I much prefer it to Frankenstein except that it’s spoiled somewhat by the fact that the Gary Oldman/Keanu Reeves movie is so true to the book that I can see it all playing out in front of me again. I really wanted to imagine it differently this time.

Oh well. Rebecca next…

Or Anna Karenina.

Don’t know.

So onto the project.

I bought a lovely piece of Sage Amethyst and thought I’d make another of my boxy pieces.

So if you fancy making one here’s how I did it.

I drew a rough design around the stone.

IMG_8840

Then I took a length of bezel wire that is the same width as the depth of the stone and shaped it into the top three sides of the box.

You can just about see it below.

See.

IMG_8842

I sniped it to sit perfectly on top of the stone.

IMG_8844

Then I bent another piece of the bezel wire across the top of the stone.

IMG_8846

And soldered it to the bottom part of the box.

IMG_8847

(Prepare for fuzzy photo)

I turned it over and soldered what will be the top of the box onto a piece of silver leaving enough overhang on the bottom edge to create a lip that will cover the top of the stone slightly

IMG_8848

Then I cut around the sides of the box.

(Another fuzzy photo)

IMG_8850

and checked out how it fit to the stone.

IMG_8849

I actually thought of leaving it right here as the plain silver looked so good on its own. But you know me and my fiddly ways…

Here’s the lip.

IMG_8851

You can see above that the area where the sides of the box and the stone meet doesn’t lie flat on the block. Annoyingly I had forgotten my own instructions and chosen the wrong bezel depth so I had to adjust the lip slightly so that it didn’t lay quite as far over the stone as I would have liked. This allowed the two pieces to sit flush.

Had the sides of the box been deep enough I wouldn’t have had to kick myself and swear (just a little – I’ve had bigger problems) but as I’m all about problem solving I manned up and moved on.

So much for paying attention.

Then I forgot all about it when noticed a half set little Tiger’s Eye just laying around on the table doing nothing much in particular and thought it might look good with the amethyst.

The colour actually looks a lot better with it than this photo gives it justice and, as Snow White would sing anytime she had chores to do – Someday my Prince will come – It was as if it knew its soul mate would eventually come.

Somehow thinking of P when I’m doing the washing up doesn’t quite have the same effect on me..

IMG_8853

As the sides of the tiger eye bezel wasn’t as deep as I wanted it I decided to make it another.

Now I don’t know if you remember, but I had an awful time fiddling around trying to get this vice thing to work for me.

But now I can tell you it’s my new best friend.

I just wasn’t being stern enough with the screws on the top.

Now I’ve figured out that I just have to be firm with it the thing holds the tubes, and whatever else you want it to hold, like a champ.

So I cut another length of tubing to fit the tiger eye.

IMG_8854

And placed the cut off bit back in the vise and made sure to sand the ends completely flat.

You can file right down the vise and not damage the file, or so the Internet says, and you know the Internet is always right…

IMG_8855

Once you’ve done that you can use your nifty bur to drill down into the tube to cut a seat for the cabochon to rest on.

IMG_8858

As you probably know you can purchase cabochons, tubing and bur sizes in various millimeters so that they all correspond to make setting a stone a breeze. Once you get the hang of the annoying vise…

See here how it sits so pretty.

Took me over a year to figure out the easy way to do this.

Man I’m slow…

IMG_8856

Next I cut out a matching hole on the top of the box.

IMG_8859

You can just about see below that the tube has been soldered to just stand proud of the top of the box. You want the tube to fit snug into the hole you’ve made so that the solder joins the two completely and you want just enough of the bezel showing above the box to be able to push the sides over to hold the bezel.

IMG_8860

Next I filed the bottom flush.

IMG_8861

And cut out a backing sheet of 22 gauge fine silver to fit both the top box and the stone.

IMG_8862

Before soldering the top to the backing plate, however, you have to pierce the back so that air can escape as you don’t really want another explosion in the studio.

Just sayin’

My tube sits all the way down and will be soldered to the back plate so creating a sealed chamber around it inside.

My preferred way to do this is to trace around the pieces to be soldered with a Sharpie pen.

IMG_8863

This way I can play around with some ideas and then saw out my design.

IMG_8864

After I have done this I can then go ahead and solder the box to the back plate knowing exactly where the design will lay by matching the top to the Sharpie lines.

IMG_8869

I then drew in the bottom part of the stone again and drilled some holes for the prong setting.

IMG_8868I like to solder the prongs using a charcoal block. This way I can place each prong into the hole I’ve drilled and gently tap it with a hammer so that it sinks down into the charcoal a little. I place each prong as you would close a bezel up, tapping the next prong on the opposite side, etc., etc., until they are all in. This way seems to keep them more secure.

IMG_8871

Then I place a little blob of solder at the base of each prong and place the leaves around the bezel and after soldering

IMG_8872

See if I haven’t completely messed up and that the stone fits correctly.

IMG_8874

Here is the pierced back.

And my grubby finger. Oh how we suffer for our art…

IMG_8877

Here I have cut the excess silver from around the box and stone and have cut the prongs down to their correct height and finished them by shaving some of their thickness off and smoothing out the tips.

IMG_8878

Here’s it’s sexy shot.

IMG_8880

I fashioned it a simple, yet charming bale and soldered that to the top after I finished up the back design.

IMG_8881

At this point we know that it would be an extraordinary thing for me to have managed to photograph every stage of the pendant’s making.

Extraordinary I am not.

I forgot to show you the back.

You’ll have to improvise.

Sorry.

Here is the piece sanded, patina’d and buffed.

IMG_8882
Sage Amethyst

Turns out that I’m not completely happy with it because the top left hand of the stone doesn’t sit as snug as I would have liked it to and the prongs are set too far out on the left hand side. I think it happened when I had to fiddle with the lip to fit over the stone.

🙁

IMG_8883

But I will bravely continue on with my struggle to produce technically perfect little pieces of lovelies.

I’ll never surrender…

And here’s its back.

Finished while you weren’t looking.

IMG_8884

And here’s another piece I had on the back burner.

IMG_8885
Variscite

So let me know if you make one.

🙂

A chain for you and a question…

I thought I’d share with you one of my chains.

It’s very simple, and like most things creative, not unique to me, but if you’ve not tried making your own chains yet and fancy having a go, read on…

You will need about 4 ft of 19 gauge wire for this 18″ chain and simple soldering skills.

IMG_6788

I used sterling silver because that’s all I had available in 19 gauge.

Of course you can use any gauge and ring diameter, but you will have to adjust for the amount of links, etc., accordingly. You can use copper if you prefer, but note that the solder tends to show more.

TIP

When making calculations for a different chain design or gauge I like to make a 4 or 5 link sample chain. This way I can measure how long that small piece of chain is and then multiply it for the actual amount of links I would need for the chain length I want.

I can also see at this time if I like the chain design and the gauge.

For this reason I’ve started making different sample chains out of copper for quick reference.

To calculate the length of wire needed for each chain I’ve found this handy interactive chart.

how to work out the circumference of a circle

and for calculating millimeters into inches,

how to convert mm to inches

NOTE

Jump ring sizes are measured using the inside diameter. To be sure that I actually have enough silver to complete the chain I measured the jump ring I want to use by the outside diameter.

Now for the chain…

Make 24 x 9.5mm jump rings.

IMG_7874

Wrap them with tape.

IMG_7875

And saw them apart trying not to slice your finger open – because it hurts.

IMG_7877

TIP

After much experimenting I find it easiest to use long blade passes through the rings holding the rings just proud of the edge of a wooden block. Start sawing at an angle and once you’ve got a good purchase straighten up the blade so that it runs more or less perpendicular to the outside of the rings.

With practice it becomes easier and that’s actually the first time I’ve cut myself.

Must not have been paying attention.

Always pay attention…

Now make 26 x 3mm jump rings and do the same.

Beware as this is more fiddly and swear worthy.

Now solder the small jump rings together.

Note: I like the whole chain soldered, but you can skip soldering the small jump rings if you wish and just join the completed larger links together at the end.

For a completely soldered chain, however, I find it easiest to solder the small jump rings first.

IMG_7913

For joining the jump rings I like to use chips of solder which I buy from Contenti.

IMG_7901

IMG_7923

I sprinkle a small batch directly onto my soldering board and use my pick to take them one at a time to the links.

NOTE

You do not need flux or solder to join fine silver together.

IMG_7924

You really only need one of these tiny chips to solder the 19 gauge jump ring together. The key, as always, is to make sure that the ends of your jump ring fit tight together.

There shouldn’t be much of a gap at all otherwise the solder will not flow across the two ends to join them.

Now they are all soldered you can slip two of them onto a larger jump ring and prepare to solder that closed also.

IMG_7915

TIP

 Always point the joins you want to solder in the same direction. This way takes the guess-work out of finding the join, especially if you’ve done a good job preparing them and they’re so tight you can’t find the join at all.

IMG_7919

Now take two of the soldered links and join them together with a third, large link.

Solder these also.

IMG_7921

Now you’ll have groups of three.

IMG_7925

Which you’ll join together with another large link.

IMG_7926

Although at this point it becomes easier to solder the whole chain together at once.

IMG_7928

Continue in this way until you have used up all of your jump rings.

Now you could stop right here and you’d have a nice, large loop chain to clean up and buff.

You could leave the rings round or hammer them slightly to give them more character.

IMG_7929

But I took a pair of round-nosed pliers and opened up the links.

IMG_7930

If you do every other link in this way you’d once again have a nice, large loop chain to wear.

IMG_7931

If you then took the oval links and squeezed them together so that their middles touched, you’d have yet another design of chain.

IMG_7932

But I was going for the figure 8, which is achieved by holding a pair of flat nosed pliers at each end of the oval link and twisting it 180 degrees, making sure that you twist each link in the same direction.

IMG_7933

So here’s another chain design.

You could also change it up by using a different size joining ring.

Your options are limitless…

IMG_7934

If you continue to stretch the rest of the 9.5mm links you can go through the same process, making a different style of chain at each stage.

IMG_7935

But, like I said, I was going for the figure 8 all the way…

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Here it is after the pickle.

IMG_7937

And once it has been dunked into the Black Max, or Liver of Sulphur. and buffed.

IMG_7939

All ready and waiting to go.

You can see here that I also hammered the ends of the figure 8’s.

Now for the question.

How much would you charge for this chain?

Bear in mind that you have to accommodate for your experience. For example it’s not fair to set a price when it’s taken you all day to make something which, in fact, it should only take you 2 hours.

I’ve made quite a lot of them now and each time this particular chain takes me 1 hour 50 mins from start to finish.

No breaks. No daydreaming. Just exact timing carefully watching the clock.

Right now silver is $15.79 and so this piece has $4 worth of silver in it.

If you have a scale you can easily weigh the finished piece in troy ounces and then calculate the silver content.

You can find the current silver prices at the top of Rio Grande’s site.

I have a scale similar to this one.

116854

So, what is your formula for pricing?

I used to just guesstimate, but as time has gone by I’ve begun to see how important my time is and how, in the past, I was almost giving my jewelry away.

This had always been o.k. with me insofar I was learning my craft as I went along, but if you are serious about making and selling your jewelry there comes a time when you should start to look into the real value of your work, if not you are not only underestimating your worth, but also undercutting the worth of other artists.

This is a simple formula that I like to use.

labor + materials + overhead + profit = wholesale price

wholesale price x 2 (minimum) = retail price

At the end of the calculation I then look at the figure and see if I think it’s fair and if I think the piece will actually sell for that.

I would be interest in your opinions about this and how you work out your prices

🙂