Tag Archives: ring

I Still Exist!

And I’m still making things!

I won’t linger over the details anymore, but I’ve been busy in the metals lab since I stopped keeping up with this blog. Here are a few things I’ve completed.


This is a labradorite bead riveted into a silver frame. I like the look of these riveted projects but I’ve become tired of trying to find long beads that are drilled through cleanly and without chips around the ends (which can cause the rivet to bend and distort.) I had to really ream this one out–but it was so worth it.

 

 

Ah, I finally found something to do with the copper “crazy quilt” disc I made a couple years ago when I was experimenting with copper solder. I really like how this turned out (and I also recently made a bead with nine little texture samples on each side like this, but don’t have a picture.)

 

Here’s a bit of fun made with some scraps. I got the color with a power stripper.

 

Malachite is always good for some drama, I think.

 

Inevitably, when you get a reputation for making jewelry, friends and coworkers come up to you with broken jewelry, hoping you can fix it. This piece is pretty much a copy of a cheap, plated bypass ring that someone I work with wore for years until the band snapped at the point where it adjusts to size. She’d hoped I could fix it–nope. But I thought about it, and made a band that night with a piece of sterling wire and a hammer and a mandrel. From there, I got the OK to recreate the ring (tip: get the shell bits out by heating the back with an alcohol lamp until the epoxy weakens and they fall right out.) She was really pleased with it, and I am too. It was a good learning experience (and I made the band thicker so it won’t break this time!)

 

After I finished the above piece, I still had bypass rings on my mind, so I hammered out one for myself and tried out different stones until I fell in love with the look of this red agate. Soldering was tricky, but I’m getting better all the time.

 

I bought this stone a few years ago and made a few failed attempts to design a pendant and set it (remember?):

 

Well, here she is now! That brass framework was a real . . . challenge. I bought my own solderite board to bring to the studio–perfectly flat, and with grooves carved into it to hold those pieces exactly where I needed them. The end result comes close to what I had in mind all this time. Still waiting for the chain to tarnish a bit, though. I randomly melted some silver solder around for an old, industrial look (note the solder around the joined areas) but it doesn’t quite show up on the links yet.

 

Here’s a fun scrap piece I made with some wire bits I melted together some time ago but never knew what to do with. At one point last spring I was making a simple ring with this stone (and, for the first time, adding a jump ring inside the bezel to make the stone stand taller) when I held it up next to the scrappy bit and thought, “Wow! Perfect!” And that’s how this happened.

 

Remember these old dudes I hammered out back in the day? The two on top became earrings, and I hung onto the big piece for a long time, trying to think up a good necklace idea. A little extra piece and a little crochet later:

I rather wish I hadn’t punched holes in the corners, but I did, and that made what I ultimately came up with a bit more difficult than if, say, I had soldered loops on the back. Still, I’m loving the simplicity of this one. I’m glad I waited on it.

 

I sketched this out last October, hoping to make use of this neat sardonyx cabochon I’d been holding on to. This piece turned out a bit difficult due to its size (and trying to solder on square copper wire bits without silver solder blorps everywhere!) The back has a pin mechanism that was a bit tough–the pieces are so tiny and need to be placed exactly, and you have to be sure not to clog up or fuse the catch during the process . . . but I pulled it off. I even made a pin/pendant converter with a piece of tubing and wire.

 

My teacher, Bob, was recently given a huge box full of jewelry supplies, casting stuff, sterling silver, you name it, from a donor who had retired from jewelry making and didn’t want the stuff anymore. Among the treasures was a spool of 30 gauge argentium which he had no idea what to do with–but knew that I would, as a knitter/crocheter. I ended up buying it off him (with proceeds going back to the studio) and made this crochet cuff with some beads and a sterling frame I made myself. It’s got a bit of beginner’s wonk to it, and I ought to have practiced more before making the real thing because one side of the strip is looser and sloppier than the other, when I started really getting the hang of it. But this was interesting–and I’m in the middle of using the remainder to make a kind of mesh amulet bag from instructions I found in an old Lapidary Journal from the 90s.

And last but so, so not least. Remember when I started futzing around with wax to carve rings?

I finally got these both finished after months of inactivity, messing up one and doing it over, and just generally worrying about doing something wrong and ruining all that work. Last week, they were cast in silver.

They’re still not done (clearly), but man, is it a relief to have gotten this far! They are heavy as hell–I wish I’d carved away more wax on the interior but the wax was getting delicate and I was nervous about breakage. I shouldn’t have been, though. The thing on the left, if you’re wondering, was a slice of ring wax that I’d carved into with a new set of wax working tools as a kind of technical exercise. I figured if I made the design well enough, I’d cast it. And so I did–with a different design on each side. It’ll be a reversible pendant when I’m done.

And that’s about where I am on the jewelry front. As for knitting, I haven’t bothered all that much. I’ve got two pairs of socks made with crazy rainbow yarn I tried to dilute with solid colors, and a clone of my cat.

Pattern: SlipStripe Spiral

 

Pattern: Ugly Duckling Socks

 

Pattern: The Parlor Cat

And that is . . . probably . . . all for now! I’m sure I’ll catch up again in a few months. Until then, keep crafting!

 

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Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, casting, crochet, knitting, metals, necklace, pendant, pin, ring, riveting, socks, soldering, stones/gems, wax carving, yak yak yak

Lazy Chain (and other news)

I had several ideas for making my own chain for this piece I’d been carrying around for a while, but in the end I bought a couple lengths of prefab at the local bead store, twisted them together, popped on a clasp, and called it done.

hornedtoadpendant

The copper bit was a piece I fished out of the studio base metal recycle bin ages ago and hammered up. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it, until Bob gave a me a couple of white bronze horned toads he cast years ago from some ready made wax models. I tried one out and the pieces went together perfectly.

IMG_2993

from 2013!

So my big thing lately has been an attempt at a Sydney Lynch-esque box bezel for a beautiful, faceted rutilated quartz stone I bought at the gem and mineral show last year. It was quite the challenge, as I needed to make a step bezel inside to keep the stone in place. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the stone were, say, round or perfectly rectangular, but all four sides have a bit of a curve to them, and making a perfect fit was a challenge I kind of failed.

quartzpendantfirsttry

I made both inner and outer boxes from two bent pieces–think L7–soldered together. Only, the inner bezel slipped, so you can see the corner doesn’t meet up properly. And, somehow in all the soldering, the corners of the outer bezels popped open just a bit (and no, trying to fill them with solder didn’t work, and by that time I had got the bail on with a ton of sloppy, extra easy solder, and trying to fix one would just make the other melt and fall off again . . . you get the picture.) The upshot is, I totally could set this stone right now if I wanted to and have an adequate piece of jewelry that no one would really notice the flaws of. But I think the stone deserves better. And I think I learned a few things on this one. So, when I have the energy and drive again, I’ll just do it over. And better.

One last thing on my bench–actually two things. Wax rings I’m carving all by myself.

waxmodels1

So far, so good. I found a good tutorial in an old issue of Art Jewelry magazine and I’m following it step by step. I’m more invested in the ring on the left with the lapis stone; the one on the right I’m using for practice, just in case I do something stupid (and I did, once, accidentally start carving the outer edge before it was time and that messed up my ability to measure other areas a bit.) If things continue to go well . . . ah, but I won’t jinx it. I’m just having a really good time working on jewelry lately, which hasn’t been true for a while.

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Filed under metals, necklace, practice, ring, soldering, stones/gems, wax carving

Hey, I Finished Something!

sodalitering

 

I cast the band of this ring last fall, when I started fiddling with the old commercially-made wax ring molds we have sitting around the studio where I take classes (how old are they? The foam they’re packed in is crumbling. The wax is dried out and brittle. You can do it, but you have to be careful.)

castingsHere it is front and center.

castring2And here it is cleaned up.

My problem with this ring is that it had a little flat spot, probably from me neglecting to be careful when cutting off the sprue and grinding down the scar. Plus . . . I don’t know. Meh. So I poked through my collection of cheap cabs in search of something I could pop on over that spot, and found a sodalite I thought worked well. I made a bezel cup for it in the first weeks of class (not as easy as it should have been; how is it that I keep forgetting how to solder when I haven’t done it for a few weeks?) and filed that flat spot down larger and flatter.

sodaliteringprogressLike so.

A little soldering, a little setting, a lot of cleaning up, and now I actually love it!

sodalite2

Here’s one other thing: Bob has been playing around with enamel. He made these two discs out of argentium silver, torch fired some blue vitreous enamel on them, and added some steel hooks. Having no further need of them, he told me I could have them. Then I immediately dropped one on the concrete floor and chipped some enamel off the edge. (“Now they’re really yours.”) I tried to think of how I could make the best of this and came up with some riveting.

blueenamelearrings

Yeah, kinda worked, except I cracked a little bit off the other one during riveting. Sigh. I put it back on with a little clear nail polish, because that’s how I roll.

Coming soon:  more casting, more knitting, and maybe a long-neglected project finished?

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Filed under casting, earrings, ring, stones/gems

Labradorite Pendant, and a Couple Castings

Jeez, this may be the most . . . beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

labpend

Labradorite is one of my all-time favorite stones, so when I found this little teardrop at the local bead store, I snapped it up.

Getting to work on it, however, was a bit of a challenge. I keep wanting to do something Artsy and Different and Postmodern, but then I choose gorgeous stones that really don’t need all that. Clearly the design I ended up with is a typical pretty princess necklace, but . . ? I like it.

Here’s the lowdown on my process and some nice new mistakes (oh boy!) I hope never to repeat again.

lab1

Here, right off the bat, is my backing, with a swirl cut out of it. This (1) makes things more interesting; (2) makes test setting the stone easier, as I can poke it back out with a tool; and (3) was a dumb, dumb thing to do before soldering on the bezel and everything. I nearly melted the center of the swirl getting the bezel on; fortunately, I soon realized that placing a few bits of pumice over it during subsequent solderings was a good way to protect it from too much heat. So there’s that.

lab2

Next, I agonized over how to decorate the thing. I had planned to have silver danglies all hippie-like from the bottom, but somehow neglected to leave enough room to do it properly. I poked around my tin of scraps to see what might look good where, and came upon a twisted piece of silver wire. The gauge (14) was too thick, but no matter: I made another in 16 gauge. Soldering this on was a bit of a bear; I got solder blorps galore (note to self: practice stick soldering on scrap, not a real piece, especially when you’ve been told the tank on the torch you’re using has a somewhat messed-up regulator.) I also seem to have made the twisty piece just a touch too large–not terribly obvious, but I know one side could have been better. Ugh, I always know–too late.

The bail is on just, just slightly off center because that’s where it wanted to snap on tight over the twist. Screw it, said I. It’s secure there and unlikely to shift around during soldering–and it didn’t.

Now the stone. This is the weird part, because my bezel was initially too small, and I had to stretch it out on the ring mandrel a bit. Got it right but still snug. Soldered it on, tested the stone a couple times along the way, and . . . found it just a bit loose upon final setting. It actually rattles a little. I think this may be due to either the metal expanding a bit from all that soldering (does that happen?) or else it’s just a matter of the cut of the stone being a bit irregular around the edges, which it is. It’s secure, it won’t fall out, but it annoyed me–and so I pried up the center of the swirl, popped a little epoxy under there, and clamped it down again. No more rattle.

Speaking of that swirl, though, check this out.

lab3

Neat, huh?

So the other big thing I’ve been up to is a casting project. Actually, three casting projects in one. I’ve alluded to them before, and there are two rings in one of the pictures above that used to look like this:

4casts1

This (on the left) is a pair of commercially made wax rings from the studio. Someone donated a ton of these years ago, and anyone who wants to cast one or two or whatever can. These two fit and I liked them, so what the hell, because I also wanted to cast some magnolia seeds (on the right) from my back yard, just to see if it would work. It did.

castingsHere’s my “tree” of all the pieces ready for the casting flask . . . 

 

4castings. . . and here they are afterward, needing a cleaning.

castring1This one’s my favorite . . . kind of a nest . . . maybe I’ll cast some tiny brass wasps and solder them on?

castring2Bob joked that I should set 1 point diamonds in all the holes, because that’s what they’re for. Ha ha. If I could find a mix of color cubic zirconias in that size, I might actually try it someday, because that might be cute. For now, though, I need to try “thrumming”–loading up a string with red rouge and polishing out all those tiny holes with it.

castmag1And my magnolia seeds . . . what to do with them? Maybe I’ll decide after I clean them up some more.

Now I have one class period left to go next week, and I’m not sure what to work on, so I’d better go figure it out.

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Finish It! or, The Winter 2015 Challenge

I’ve got a lot of crap on my bench.

challenge1tableA lot of crap.

Unfinished, barely started, abandoned, set aside . . . you name it. And there’s more in the drawers under the bench. Not to mention all the beads I’ve bought over the past three years . . . so. I’ve got just under a month before metals class starts up again, so why not take this time to do something about it? One project at a time, just get it done. Or, at least get it done enough to get it ready for soldering or some other operation I don’t have the equipment for at home (yet!)

I started the other day with some rings I made in class out of bits of copper rod I found in the scrap bin. I had rolled them out in the rolling mill, stamped, annealed, cut, soldered, cleaned up the join, all that good stuff. And then I took them home and got out the stinky old liver of sulfur.

challenge3rings

The colors were a bit more vibrant, but then I went and sealed the rings with some spray enamel, which always dulls things a bit (goodbye, fugitive blues and violets!) Still, they’re done now.

And I’m on the next thing, also composed of scrap bin finds:

challenge2bracelet

I drew that wire myself, getting it through the draw plate properly for the first time, hooray! The oval is from a scrap of patterned metal that I guess someone ran through the mill and then didn’t want. Who are these people who don’t keep things? Who can’t think of a thing to do with a neat piece of metal like that? I don’t understand. Oh well, their loss and my gain. It’s going to hook on to the wire and serve as a clasp as well as a focal.

My intent is to work every night, even if it’s just a little. And I’ll be going back to posting more frequently, whether the project is done or not yet. That should keep me motivated. Let’s see what I can do!

 

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Filed under bracelet, ring, wire

Micro Mosaic Bead Ring, Take 2

Oh, this poor, stupid, obnoxious ring. I think I am done. At least, I did manage to make a decent mosaic with teeny tiny size 15 beads.

micromosaic20

Especially when you compare it to my first attempt, with size 11 Delicas.

mosaic1

This project fought me at every step (scroll on back if you want to rehash; I do not) and in the end I’ve learned quite a bit from both the metalsmithing side and the mosaic side, so that’s good. I’ve also learned that being too lazy to go to the craft store to get some ICE resin is no excuse for globbing clear nailpolish onto something instead. I swear, I’ve done that like three times now and I can’t get a decent dome on top of the mosaic because nail polish shrinks when it dries. A lot. Maybe I can still put resin on top . . . ? We’ll see. It has a certain cheesy quality right now that I really don’t like.

You may be wondering how I managed to dig out the first mosaic, in which I had used two-part epoxy to get the beads glued in. Well, I had watched Bob do something for a fellow student who had a stone that needed to come out of its setting (in which it was glued), so I knew exactly what to do, and it worked like a charm.

For this project, you would need an alcohol lamp (fueled by denatured alcohol)  and some cross-locking tweezers. I have none of these things at home, and if you don’t either, you can make do with a small candle, barbecue tongs and/or an oven mitt. Oh yes, and a metal pick of some sort.

mosaicremovalprogressYay! Do-over!

First, you might want to scrub out as much grout as possible. I used an old mascara wand (all-around excellent tool) for this. Now hold the piece over your candle (metal side down, naturally) and heat it up good, because epoxy doesn’t like heat. Now you can easily start picking at the mosaic with a sharp metal tool, and bits should start coming out. This may take a while if you’re using stupid barbecue tongs like I did, and your hand will get tired. Other than that, should be smooth sailing.

mosaicbitsAnd here’s the remains of two mosaics I didn’t like, in my handy “no food use” Pyrex bowl.

You may need to clean up the setting a bit with grinding/polishing tools or sandpaper or whatever, and you’ll definitely have some black carbon to wash off the metal, but essentially you’ll be back to a clean slate.

Which is, by the way, where I am with this former mosaic you may remember:

mosaicmark1

I bought some nice beads for the new version, but they have a kind of sandblasted finish and I’m not sure tile grout would just wipe off them as easily as smoothly-polished ones. Also–and let’s be honest–I no longer have the heart for this, so I’m just going to let it be until I’m ready someday.

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Filed under metals, necklace, ring

I Like to Rivet Rivet

I . . . never did post about this one, did I? The riveted bead ring based entirely on a great YouTube tutorial video by Soham Harrison?

rivetbr3

 

I started this in February, I think, because while I had made and liked this riveted ring (below) last fall, the greater complexity of Harrison’s ring really caught my attention.

beadring2

 

I won’t get too much into technical detail, because if you want to see that you should just watch the two videos. I will, however, share some things I learned from this one.

  1. (And this is the big one!) It can be a major challenge finding an appropriate stone bead for riveting like this. You need to choose one that is drilled cleanly, with a small hole (on both ends!) and is drilled straight, not on a diagonal. (The mother-of-pearl inlay bead I used seemed perfect, but it is drilled on a very slight angle, and the checkerboard design only makes it more obvious.) It’s probably best to buy your bead at your local bead shop, not online, and take a bit of wire with you to test the hole.
  2. Harrison’s tip on how to make a dent to mark your tiny drill hole is genius. The usual wisdom is to mark the spot with a center punch, but if that’s actually too big for the hole you want to drill, take your tiniest burr bit, hold it against the spot, and grind away a tiny bit (see video for exactly how to do it.) This is something that’s been a problem for me for a while now, so I’ve very happy to have found this solution.
  3. I agreed with Harrison’s advice to solder the inner ring from the inside, and let the solder flow up into the join so you don’t have any blorps that would show on the outside, which would already be textured and ready to go. However. Be sure you’ve used enough and that the solder does indeed go all the way to the edges, because when you round it out on a mandrel, and then slightly dap both sides of the ring to make it just a bit anticlastic, you may find the join gapes open just a bit–enough to be annoying. I ignored the problem and had to add more solder from the outside later. Don’t be like me.
  4. Soldering the smaller, outer ring onto the inner ring impresses people. I don’t know why. It’s actually one of the easier operations of the whole thing. 😉
  5. Rubber or silicone polishing tools are your best friends for making rivets all but disappear! Here’s a before shot of my rivet and the little hammer marks I’d made:

rivetbr1

All that polished out pretty well. Oh, and as always, tape is your friend when it comes to things you don’t want to get scuffed or dinged by power tools.

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