Saturday, 6 May 2017

Something Subtle

Where I CREATE


Photo: my jeweler's bench is just out of frame on the right. My husband built this heavy duty bench for projects that require serious pounding. It is also terrific to have my drill press (great little Dremel tool) always standing by. On the wall, he drilled two wood shelves to hold plastic tubes full of jewelry findings and jump rings in various sizes. Above them, some sources of inspiration. I bought the CREATE sign from a fellow etsy seller. An actor I worked with some years ago made the decoupage trowel — evokes good memories from a very indifferent movie! 


So, What Did I Create On a Rainy Thursday?


On April 20, I posted about making a garnet ring. This Thursday, while rain kept me out of the garden (again), I created a similar one but set with an oval moonstone.


The first step (which I neglected to photograph and post with the garnet story) is to create a ring blank. In an earlier post, I showed a ring fashioned from round wire. For the garnet and this, I used a strip of silver sheet. This photo shows the 6.1 mm wide strip marked on a larger piece of 22 gauge sterling. That super sharp steel point lets me mark a fairly deep line so it is easy to see it while sawing the blank from the larger piece of sheet.

Creating a Subtle Glow


Once the blank was soldered into a circle and the edges rounded off (file and sandpaper), I set to finishing the band.

Because moonstones have a such soft, subtle glow, I wanted the ring itself to compliment that look. If you finish sterling silver with a brash brush, you get a satin finish. It only took a few minutes of brushing around the ring to get that soft, glowing shine on the silver.

An Unexpected Complication Arose


At this point, I was ready to set the stone. In this photo I was applying flux to the ring and the back of the bezel cup so I could solder them together. When I purchased the oval garnets and moonstones, I also purchased bezel cups to match because I was not totally confident of my ability to create such tiny bezels (4 by 6 mm). I have used a few of them successfully in the past, but this moonstone would not fit into any of the remaining three cups. I learned this, of course, after I soldered the cup onto the band. Not much choice, so I boldly went where I had not gone before and fabricated the necessary bezel from fine silver. It only took a bit of torch work to remove the faulty bezel cup, re-polish the ring, and solder on my handmade cup.

Not About To Make the Same Mistake Twice. . .




. . . I made sure this cup was a perfect fit before I soldered it to the ring! To test the fit, I placed flat dental floss across the cup (for easy removal) before dropping the stone in. The fit was great. Quite proud of myself, I was. 

A Neat Polishing Trick


So, how does one polish the inside of a ring? 

The first stage is done with a strip of sandpaper in a slotted mandrel on a rotary tool. Darn, that's another thing I forgot to get a shot of! 

For a final polish, you run the ring up and down a thrumming string impregnated with polishing compound. For rings, I use this old shoelace tied to a corner of my bench. If you want to polish small holes cut into a piece as a design feature, you can use household string the same way. 

Subtle It Is


I think this is a ring for someone who likes to make their point quietly.