Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Bench Report

Another New Design

I have finally been able to get to the bench for a couple of afternoons. I'm trying to get a bunch of designs out of my head and into production before the sun comes out and the garden demands my attention.

One sketch I had on hand was for a freeform, wonky, openwork diamond shape — one could dub it a "Drunken Diamond" — to be set with a small amethyst.

Bless the Press

In this photo, I have cut the shape from sterling silver sheet and am using my new drill press to create holes above and below the spot for the stone so I can insert the saw blade and cut the openings. Those holes used to be such a pain to drill with my rotary tool. Even with a punched mark to start on, I was always afraid the hand held drill would skid across the face of the piece. Yikes.

Checking Stone Fit and Placement

This next photo shows the wee amethyst, held on the tip of an orange wood stick with a bit of Fun-Tak. Once again, not traditional jeweler's tools, but very effective. Before soldering the tube setting in place, it is good practice to assemble things and be sure you like how they look. As you know if you read my last post, I did alter the stone placements for the Amazonite earrings at this stage.

Every Pendant Needs a Bail

There are many solutions to the bail question. Sometimes, it is desirable to make it a visible design element as I have done with a number of pendants in my etsy shop <www.etsy.com/shop/DixSterling>

In this case, I chose to create a hidden bail from a short section of sterling tube. Before soldering it to the back of the piece (photo left), I slightly flattened it to improve the way the jewel will hang from a chain (or leather thong). Those very dirty nickels under the piece keep it level, compensating for the depth of the tube setting on the front as I press the bail onto the piece while soldering.

Final Fit Check

Before actually setting a stone, I always double check that it will still drop properly into the setting. If the setting is too high, closing it over the stone will hide much of the gem. That is especially nasty when using a small stone like this 3 mm amethyst. At this stage, you can sand the top of the setting until it just protrudes above the stone (which I had to do here). On the other hand, if the setting is not quite deep enough, you may be able to very carefully use the setting bur to make the setting a touch deeper. If so, it is essential to use a very light pressure so as to avoid twisting the setting!

Ready, SET, Go

And here is the setting process. No need to describe that again. 
This piece has joined the rest in my esty shop.