Spectrolite moonstone ring in sterling silver, August 2019.
Spectrolite moonstone ring in sterling silver, August 2019.
Green labradorite ring in fabricated sterling silver setting, gift. February 2018.
As promised, here are my photos from the Fabrication 3 class I took at Revere in July. The two projects were a sweat-soldered layered brooch, and a hollow box ring.
The brooch was a fun project, as we used a rolling mill to impress the silver with patterns from fabric, paper, and plastic textures. I patterned the base of my brooch with a glittery tulle fabric, and paper-punched snowflakes. The top layer was rolled with 220-grit sandpaper. I domed the two layers, then soldered them together (which was harder than I bargained for, LOL), and soldered on the back pin hinge and catch.
The hollow box ring was quite challenging. It starts as two long strips, the inner ring and outer wall. The inner strip is soldered together into a ring; the outer strip is soldered to the outside of the inner ring. In the end, the bottom half of the ring is solid metal, and the top is hollow. Once attached, these are soldered onto a flat sheet, forming the first side of the hollow ring, which is then cut out from the sheet and cut out on the inside (remaking the finger hole, basically.) Once this is done, you repeat the process with the other side, forming a box ring with an open top.
There’s a lot of filing and finishing to be done at this point, to make all the corners square and flush. A pattern is chosen for the top, and the final bit of soldering is done (there must be a hole either in the top piece, or drilled through the bottom part of the hollow ring, else the ring will explode during the final solder. No, really.) I got as far as soldering the top on, and then finished the final trimming, filing and polishing closer to home.
If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen that I’ve been busy this summer, making jewelry. I’ve been meaning to repost those progress photos here for a while, but, well, here it is, September. (I need to repost my Fabrication 3 class photos, too.)
I’ve been making a lot of pendants, and now I’m trying my hand at some earrings. Rings are always happening, I can’t make enough rings. A lot of the stones I have now are more pendant-size, but there will still be a few rings in there. And at least one pair of earrings. Stay tuned. [Read more…]
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on wirework rings — a bit challenging, given the number of wires one has to control, all at once, but with a pretty nice result (I think.) I made a few practice rings in copper wire, before attempting more costly metal. The below ring (a special present) is pink and yellow gold-filled wire, with a dreamy peach-colored moonstone I found in Tucson.
Interested in a ring of your own? I take commissions!
I took my second silversmithing class over the weekend, despite a lingering cold, and made my first ring! Rings are my favorite kind of jewelry, so I’ve been wanting to dive in and try my hand at one. (Bracelets are a close second-favorite; probably because both can be easily looked at and played with by the wearer… in this case, ME.)
I feel like I learned a lot over the course of the day; it’s been nine months since my first lesson, and it was a little awkward getting used to the torch again. I definitely need to practice filing, and I’d like to learn more about hand-finishing pieces. Overall, I’m happy with the inside of the ring shank, and the finish of the ring in general. The stone is a touch loose, but I think I can fix that with a couple of tools
that I don’t own yet.
Hoping to take another lesson in March, when my instructor returns from the wonderland that is Tucson. Next up for me: a two-day jewelry design class in February, at Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco! SO EXCITED!
In addition to my hoard of gemstone photos found on the internet (I have gobs, I tell you… GOBS OF PHOTOS), I collect photos of jewelry I find inspiring. If I like the materials, the stones, the settings, or the style, I file it away for later oggling. (I oggle a lot. I think oggling is sorta standard, in the gem and jewelry industry.)
Earlier this week, Sotheby’s auctioned off jewelry from the personal collection of Suzanne Belperron, a French designer who never signed her work (her style was her signature, she said.) A lot of things about her work appeal to me. It looks approachable, wearable; she mixes fine gems with common ones (a diamond set in a solid rock crystal ring, for instance, or the ring shown here, a sapphire set in blue chalcedony.) There’s something very clean, deceptively simple about her designs. I can dig it. (And I want this book on her work.)
I love this piece because it reminds me of my favorite strung bracelet, chock full of gems — my gems are certainly not as nice as these, but still! It looks like a happy bracelet, very fun to wear. And check out what’s on it:
Set with polished beads such as amethyst, pink tourmaline, citrine, emerald, sapphire and ruby, to an annular clasp partly decorated with rose diamonds, length approximately 185mm.
I love it, and if I were the winning bidder of this piece, I’d wear it every day! (Sadly, I’m not.)
Finally, this Ippolita Starry Night collection from late 2011 hits all my buttons: labradorite – faceted! Why faceted? There’s no reason to facet labradorite, but I love it! Also the crystal and geometric shapes, the celestial colors… and yeah, the name helps. What can I say? I’d happily wear the whole stack of bangles pictured below.
Over the weekend, I attempted some wirework projects from my newest book find, Wire Jewelry Masterclass by Abby Hook. I started out making a wrapped wire toggle clasp, as the wrapped circle is used in the lariat necklace seen at right. While not a project I planned to make first off, the different components required, and the amount of components required, seemed like good practice for my wire techniques in general. (Hello, rosary loops. I made a whole bunch of you. I now see why there’s special combination pliers, just for doing this sort of work.) I believe I spent 5-6 hours on this, in the end, spread over two evenings.
Having finished the necklace, I tried a ring project, which took me two tries — the first one is on the right, the second one is on the left. There’s something kinda fun about the first one, but the wirework on the second is far better. Practice makes perfect! One of the hardest things about this project was finding beads of the right dimensions, drilled large enough for two wires to pass through. I think, were I to make more of these, I would order beads in advance, as almost nothing I had on hand sufficed.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results, especially the lariat necklace — if you’re unclear on how this piece is worn (I was, I admit), here’s some ideas and a video with more ideas (and Cajun music.)
The next jewelry how-to books on my horizon will probably be Weave, Wrap, Coil by Jodi Bombardier and Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers by Elizabeth Bone. The former has some projects I’d like to try; the latter has a lot of techniques (and is significantly less frightening, now that I been gone done it.)
Introducing a new topic with this post: jewelry making! In the past month, I’ve had lessons in two new (to me) techniques: wire-wrapping, and silversmithing. I mostly make strung jewelry — I took up beads and stringing in high school. Last fall I dove into wire work, and resin/collage pendants; I adore both. Even before I started beading, I recognized the practical advantages of knowing your way around jewelry, from making one’s own accessories, to basic repairs. Broken clasp? Need to change out those ear wires? NO PROBLEM.
On Tuesday, I came away from my first silversmithing lesson with a pendant… not just any pendant, but something I feel I might have purchased. Something I designed, and executed. I’ve made lots of jewelry I’m happy with — I’ll be starting to sell it, this summer — but I’ve never had quite the feeling I did upon completion of this piece:
I admit, I was terrified of metalsmithing. Oh, I wanted to try it, I’ve been thinking about it for months now. But… well, it involves fire. And machinery. Hand tools. And I am more than
hair-brained clumsy skilled enough to thoroughly damage myself with any of those things. After months of being too afraid to pursue this next logical step in my jewelry making, I met a silversmith, Bob Sharp, at the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Show last weekend. He offers private lessons, and I found him a very patient, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic instructor. (We also seem to have very similar design tastes, which helps. He was loath to let my pendant out the door! Ha.)
The first thing I made was a brass ring, to practice soldering. (Bob was kind enough to polish it up for me; it’s sitting on my desk, along with my first resin pendant.) I’ve never welded nor soldered, except two stained-glass projects a long time ago, which I’m told is an entirely different kind of soldering. It was enthralling to behold; I’m fascinated by how the metal heats and changes color, and how the solder flows toward the torch. It seems almost impossible that it all starts with tiny strips and pieces of metal, and that the assembled piece cleans up so nicely! After a lot of filing and polishing, that is.
Wire-wrapping is pretty difficult to learn from a book (which is why I paid for the class, although it didn’t help that the book I bought is not very beginner-y.) Seeing it done in person was enlightening, and though I’ll need to practice quite a bit before I feel comfortable, I understand more of the mechanics. I think I’ll be able to follow my book more easily, having seen and made the correct wrist motions (things that static pictures can’t really capture.)
As I gear up towards my first major attempt at selling jewelry, I’ll post more photos of my work. Stay tuned!