Monday, 3 May 2021
Thursday, 18 March 2021
Dished & Dimpled Dangles
To make this pair of dangle earrings, I cut matching circles from 20 gauge sterling silver. These are 3/4 inch in diameter but could be any size.
First Things First
You can't get a great final polish on a piece of you don't start working on it from the beginning. And, yes, that is one of many lessons I learned the hard way. 😏
I sanded the circles with grits — ever finer from 400 to 1200 — all mounted on paint stir sticks. As you can see, I use a piece of sticky side out painters' tape to hold the pieces while sanding. Even so, I sometimes find I am chasing a piece that has managed to pop off and spin across the bench — or floor.
More on Holding Small Bits
These will need holes near an edge so I can hang them from shepherd hooks when they are finished. I could set up my Dremel drill press but, when I only need two holes, it is hardly worth the bother.
Another lesson I learned the hard way is that you can't just hold a piece on the bench pin with fingers while drilling. Amazing how fast silver heats up. Painters' tape to the rescue again. That disc in a jar lid is bees wax from a sewing supply store. Drilling goes faster and drill bits last longer if you use it to lubricate the bit.
A chasing hammer and a steel anvil are the tools I used to produce the finish on this pair. The dimpled texture is just one of many finishes that could be applied. It can be left like this or treated with patina to darken the hollows.
I have two of these hardwood doming blocks that can curve pieces as gently — or steeply — as the maker wishes. The work is done with wooden dowels that have smooth faces shaped to work in the various hollows. You can see the one I used here behind my hammer.
Note to self: I must clean up that hammer!
And the Final Polish
After many stages of polishing with 3M discs for the surfaces and a steel burner to shine up the edges, the dangles are ready for their shepherd hooks and a listing at DixSterling on etsy.
Friday, 19 February 2021
Several Steps to Mobile Earrings
I have made several of swinging circle earrings over the past few years. They are fun to wear but a bit fussy to produce so here's how it's done.
Next Photo: Marking Position
Here I have used a sharpie to mark correct position for the tube. If this is wrong, nothing works!
This is where it starts to get tricky. With the tube soldered to the stud, I have to thread the fine wire through it and solder the ends of the wire onto the tips of the larger circle so the stud sits within that arc. The yellow ochre blocks solder flow. It ensures that the solder will not attach the wire to the tube. That would keep the circle from swinging. The last step is to solder on the ear posts and . . .
. . . Polish — Lots of Polish
Friday, 29 January 2021
Dainty Sterling Heart Dangles
It has been some time since I was seen here. Post Christmas ennui or COVID-19 depression? Whichever, I have been away from my bench far too long so decided to start with a simple, seasonal project — heart dangle earrings.
I hand-drew the design on a piece of 20 gauge sterling silver and cut the first one out then used it as a pattern for the second.
Always, Always the Sandpaper!
Once I had both pieces, the finishing work began. My sanding sticks get a real workout. For anyone who has never worked silver, these are just wooden paint stir sticks with various grits of sandpaper wrapped on tightly. You can't cut and work silver without making at least a few scratches (well, I can't). These make sanding those marks away fairly painless — dull, but painless. Each time, with ever finer grits, you sand at right angles to the last. All it takes is lots of time.
And Onward to Polishing
Light as a Feather
Sunday, 25 October 2020
My etsy shop <DixSterling> made several sales lately (Christmas shoppers, I think) so I am restocking my "shelves" this month. I thought I would share the process for this pair of earrings I finished and listed yesterday.
Simple = Sanding
This is a simple, clean design. Pieces with a lot happening (texture, stones, etc.) may not show a tiny rough spot but these certainly do. That means . . .
. . . sanding and sanding. Grits, in order, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200. You work the first across the piece, the second at right angles, third, same as first, etc. It takes time and is followed with a lot of fine polishing. For that, I use 3M discs, then jewellers' rouge and, finally, a buffing cloth. Not all creative work is actually creative!
Pieces of sandpaper in use are wrapped around paint stir sticks but any jeweler has to have several sheets of each grade on standby. I used to be frustrated by the way, kept in a drawer, the sheets tended to curl. I finally came up with this solution:
I store them sandwiched between two pieces of pine shelving atop a cabinet beside my bench. When I need a new sheet, out it comes nice and flat and easier to wrap tightly around a stick.
I will close today's blog with the words of B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry: be calm, be kind, be safe.
Wednesday, 2 September 2020
July to September Project
Bench work goes slowly in the summer. Some days, the grass wants cutting. Some days, the garden needs weeding. Some days, the shop is just too hot. Between such interruptions and its fussy nature, this project was started in July and finished on September 2.
In July, I started on this and did get one pair made with Kyanite stones. These — the prototype — are mine. They are a bit tricky to make as you must get a solid join where the bezel-setting meets the wire circle. After wearing mine a few times, I decided it would be worth the time investment to make a pair or two for DixSterling's etsy shop.
Preparing the Bezels
Here are the parts: 8 mm cabochon sunstones, silver square wire circles, backings for the stones and bezel wire (here being marked for size).
I wound the wire circles on a one-inch mandrel and soldered them shut, then used a file to flatten a spot to attach the bezels mounts.
Tools of the Trade
To make bezels, I wrap the stones, mark the length, cut the bezel wire and solder it closed. By that time, it is bent off round and is sometimes a hair too tight. Both problems are easily solved with a steel bezel mandrel and a rawhide mallet. It takes only a few taps (flipping the bezel to keep in even despite the mandrel's taper) to round and stretch the bezel until it fits. This is much better than if I have made the bezel a bit too big and that requires removing a small — usually very small — section and re-soldering.
I love these 3M radial polishing wheels for my rotary tool. They come in many grits and the finger like parts get into most spaces — even tight ones like where these bezels meet the circles.
Now at DixSterling on etsy.
Wednesday, 1 July 2020
My Canada Day EffortIt's raining. No BBQ today! Did this instead.
For the full story of making these "chopstick" earrings, see my post of November 2018. This is today's work — final stages — of a ruby-set pair.
All that painters' tape protects the silver. The bezel pusher is steel, after all.