Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Copper for a Test

Custom Ring Design Underway

A family friend wants a custom ring to hold two oval stones she inherited so I did up a few sketches to see what she might like. From these, she selected the one upper left with tapered shank and overlapped front.

Only Fools Rush In

I have never made a ring from a design like this one before, so I knew I would need to experiment. Specifically, I would have to figure out the length for the ring blank as usual plus the amount to add for that overlap.

There was also the question of how much  to offset the ends. If I just cut the flared ends on a straight axis, much of the effect of the overlap would be lost. After some work on paper, I came up with a likely pattern (which I copied so I couple reuse it as often as needed).

Copper to the Rescue

I work in copper from time to time so I always have some on hand. With silver currently priced at Canadian $21.65 per Troy ounce and copper at $4.01 per pound, the advantage in using copper to test designs is obvious.

Photo right is the newly cut test piece. I burned off the paper and glue while annealing the metal, then shaped it and soldered the overlapping ends in position. Photo left.

Just for fun, I got the piece red hot and tossed it into a pot of pine needles. Love those colors. You just have to imagine this it in silver with a stone on each side of that line to get an idea of the final product.

Monday, 27 November 2017

New Ring Design

A Perfect Index Finger Ring

I have been thinking about ring designs a lot lately, partly because of a couple of bespoke projects, and I came up with this one awhile ago. It won't work for my client, but it demanded to be made.

Start by Building the Setting

I had a really pretty pink garnet in my wee box of stones and thought tube setting it would be perfect. The first photo shows a piece of sterling silver tubing clamped in the rubber covered jaws of a vise. I used a setting bur in my rotary tool to ream out a seat for the stone. That reduced the thickness of the wall by about 50 percent.

Nest step: here is my cutting jig, clamped in a smaller bench vise, holding the length of tubing so I can cut it. I used to make these cuts on the bench pin but it did not take long — at all — to see how useful the jig would be. It makes cutting so much more precise. That's vital because getting both ends squared is essential to the final look of this type of setting. If you want to try tube setting and don't own one of these jigs yet, buy one. You will not regret it.

Assemble the Ring Parts

To create the ring itself, I cut a length of 18 gauge sterling sheet to length and width for the ring shank, then soldered the ends together and used my ring mandrel to shape it. Next, I cut a strip for the table, filing the edges smooth and hammering it for texture.

This picture shows my third hand soldering tweezers steadying the assembly on a soldering pad. I used exactly the same setup to solder the tube in place. The complete assembly is shown below. As you can see, I chose to set that table and the stone projecting above the shank, with a lesser projection to the bottom (or top, depending on your preference). I really picture this on an index finger and think it's a great configuration for that.

Finally, on to Setting the Garnet

Well, of course I did a bunch of polishing first ;-) 

Finally, I mounted the finished ring in the rubber protected jaws of my bench vise, letting the setting part rest on the rubber. That way, I felt I could use as much pressure as I might need to burnish the tube down onto the stone. 

This is the setup, with a bezel rocker and a steel burnisher in the background. I can't imagine setting a stone without that painters' tape to protect the silver.

Hot off the bench and ready for listing at SterlingByDix on ArtYah.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Cyber Week Sale

Attention Holiday Shoppers

DixSterling on etsy is offering 20% off any purchase over $30 all this week. Buy something beautiful for someone special. Checkout code is CYBERWK2017

Rings and things, all handcrafted with love.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

November Already?

Cooking Up More Copper

I quite love the whole process of coloring copper and, with holiday shopping on the horizon, it occurred to me that there will be people looking for affordable gifts. What do you give to that coworker, the niece you seldom see, or your kid's teacher? Because colored copper earrings can be a great answer, I thought I'd get busy and turn out a few pairs. So pour yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or mulled wine and follow along.

Time To Shape Up

The first thing I did was cut a bunch of 1/2 inch squares from 24 gauge copper sheet and file the edges and corners to smooth them.

Flat squares are not all that interesting, so I got out my dapping tools and gently dapped the squares to lightly dish them. I put one corner of each into the drill press to create a hole for an ear wire. Next, I scrubbed them thoroughly and cooked them up (see how in my last post).

Waxed & Wired

Once the colors were set, I treated the squares with archival wax, opened the loops on a couple of copper ear wires and threaded the squares onto them.

A quick twist with chain nose pliers and the squares were secured to the ear wires.

That was pretty easy, wasn't it? Bet you haven't even finished that tea yet. Because there are no solder joints or stones to set, these fun, colorful dangles can be affordably priced.

Before & After

Some pretty stunning colors turn up after that hot bath in pine and cedar, don't they?