Saturday, March 30, 2013

Open Studio ~ New Copper Earrings

These pretties are the end result of some design ideas I've had recently, some copper wire and a 1x2 inch sheet of 20 gauge copper sheet metal.  I was so occupied with their creation that I neglected my photographs of the process shamefully -- but here are a few I did take.  I used a disc cutter to punch the circle shapes - so much more consistent than sawing (for me anyway :).

This pair is mine but are also the prototype for some I will be offering at Wild Woman in both copper and sterling when I reopen the shop in a few weeks.
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Ring is Done!

...I was SO excited to go to class this week to finish my ring and set the stone.  The finishing included several rounds of sanding and polishing both the interior of the band, the setting and the rest of the ring. Next, I gave it three baths in liver of sulfur to add patina.  A good scrubbing with water, a bit of dishsoap and a brass brush brought out some pretty highlights.

After securing it in my ring clamp and gathering my bezel rocker and burnisher, I was ready to set the stone :).  I worked around the stone in several stages, slowly bringing the surrounding silver closer and closer until the stone was snug and then I burnished the edge of the setting to smooth it out.  A bit more sanding and polishing were required as I made a few little scratched in the silver and unfortunately, that also removed some of my patina on the setting itself. I'll know better next time! 

Even so, I like how it all turned out! Here is the finished ring which I am happily wearing today! I can't wait to make another :)   Stay tuned for some new silver earrings I plan to make at Open Studio this week...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Open Studio - Ready to Polish and Set the Stone!, I worked hard at Open Studio on Friday and my ring is ready for polishing and setting my stone! This collage shows the set up and soldering of the bezel to the baseplate -- this time my soldering went really well, flowing on my first attempt.  I'm beginning to see the correct state of the flux and know when the solder will flow.  A pickle bath cleaned everything up.

Next, I sawed the excess silver into my desired oval shape around the bezel, leaving a small lip as part of the design.  You can see my sawing skills need practice but I did get the basic shape and a good filing will smooth everything and refine the shape.  I've discovered I really like the filing stage and the control it gives me to create the vision I have in my imagination.  Plus, it's kind of soothing in that you have to take your time and be so deliberate in your purpose.

 You can see the baseplate nicely shaped using a fairly coarse metal file.  Next I prepared the ring band to attach to the setting by first filing a flat plane on the band, opposite the original soldering seam.  Sweat soldering the flat spot prepared to the attachment. I spent at least 10 minutes lining up the band and setting (the 'third hand' tool is MOST helpful!) -- I was very worried I'd solder it off-center or lopsided - but it was worth it.  I got it just where I wanted! yay!
Here you can see the attached pieces, its next pickle bath and the ring all cleaned up and ready for the stone.

...and the stone fits!!!!! 
(Please excuse the dental floss -- I wanted to be certain I could remove the stone to finish the ring! :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

~ New Designs...

... in the drawing/planning stage...
 I'm hoping I'll have some time in Open Studio next week to begin these new earrings in copper!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday's Class - Creating a Bezel

This week we learned how to make a bezel setting for a stone (or other cabachon), a skill I've wanted to learn for ages! I also have a new appreciation for the time and attention required to get this just right :)   Originally, I intended to use a small larimar stone I have but decided set this larger lapis lazuli as it is about twice the size -- this seemed like a good idea for a beginner such as myself and I was right! :)  I chose my fine silver bezel wire and wrapped the stone to mark the length required.  I trimmed the seam for a snug fit to solder which is already completed in photo 3.  I struggled with the soldering of this seam, first causing it to flow right BESIDE the seam -- good grief.  My second attempt failed because I didn't have my torch temperature high enough which resulted in a second cleaning and a bit of a panic that the bezel would no longer fit the stone. Third time proved successful and you can see it still fit  -- YAY!

Next, I cut my base plate from 20 gauge sterling sheet metal and this is as far as I got in the process. At Open Studio on Friday, I'm going to finish the setting and solder it to the silver band I made earlier.  It will be ready to set the stone and finish at next Wednesday's class! I have a second ring band and that larimar stone I mentioned -- my goal is to have that ring also completed before the end of this course.  I've enjoyed it so much, I signed up for a second class later April :)  Stay tuned for the finished lapis ring next week...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Open Studio ~ Hammered Sterling Ring

Fridays are Open Studio time at Hui and I was excited to make another ring - this time a hammered band in sterling silver.  I took photos of the entire process (as far as I got :) this time and here they are!  1 and 2 - I cut and filed 18 gauge sterling silver sheet metal. Photos 3 to 5 show the texturing process with a hammer and anvil.
 I measured the length for my ring size and sawed the extra silver. Next, I annealed the metal with my torch to make it easy to work with and gave it a pickle bath to clean the fire scale from the silver. Shaping begins the preparation of the seam for soldering.
After quite a bit of filing and 'wiggling', I had a nice flat seam. A bit of flux and solder and I'm ready for the torch.  I LOVE this!! Another pickle bath and some shaping with a rawhide hammer and I'm ready for filing and finishing --

Here is the ring ready for some more filing and a bit more hammering to add more texture and increase the size a bit.  Next Friday, I plan to add a bezel set stone - probably lapis lazuli - and finish the ring by oxidizing and tumbling to reveal some highlights.  I'll keep you updated!
...on my way home!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My first sterling silver sheet metal ring band!

Where DOES the time go???
After a couple more weeks of work around the house, the last two have been a whirlwind of family fun! We've explored every corner of the island and more beaches than I can count...such a wonderful time! You may have seen me on my boogie board, riding the waves! I've been weepy since they left for home yesterday -- we miss you guys already :(
and we'll see you soon!

I had my metalsmithing class this morning which helped take my mind off their departure.  So far, I've loved it! Our instructor is a talented sweetie --
she explains and demonstrates projects clearly and is patient with us too.  So far I've made a copper and brass pendant using sheet metal that I sawed and textured. Last week and today, our project has been a sterling band, also made from sheet metal. I remembered my camera today, so have some photos just prior to soldering through several stages of sanding and polishing.  Right now, the band is ready for it's final buffing.  I plan to go to the studio on Friday to finish it and create a wider band, also in sterling. 

After class, I scooted to a local bead store that carries gorgeous gemstone cabs.  I found several pretties - lapis, kyanite, turquoise and larimar (this one is new to me and is a beautiful shade of aqua blue). Our next class project is creating a bezel setting and I plan to add it to my ring.  I am VERY excited about this step -- something I've been keen to learn for quite a while.

My ring band, ready for the final polishing!  I'll make sure to take photos next class of my finished ring :)