Thursday, 22 March 2018

Copper Experiment

Let's See How This Goes

I recently had an idea — possibly brilliant — while admiring a copper rain chain at son and daughter-in-law's house. What a cool design for a pair of earrings, thought I. This post is about my first experiment along those lines. The work is rough but I wanted to check how I might do this.

I Needed Ten Tiny Circles

Sure glad I have my disc cutter. If I had to do all these tiny guys with a saw, I wouldn't! Once I punched them out, I had to drill holes in each one. Also glad to have my Dremel drill press. The holes are not perfectly centered but I think that may add charm. We'll see.

And Tap, Tap, Tap to Dap, Dap, Dap

This set (yet another gift from World's Best Husband) and my brass hammer made a pretty fast job of shaping the circles into domes.

Several sizes are possible (although a few way too big for earrings!).

Now to Wire Them Together

Short lengths of 24 gauge copper wire provide the linkage. If I decide to make this design for sale, I will be taking far more care with these links. As I said, this is an experiment.

Voila — Rain Chain Dangles

I think they could be a lot of fun to make and to wear. All opinions welcome.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Overlap Ring

Aquamarine & Sterling Version

On January 28, I posted the early stages of making a custom ring to hold two stones a friend inherited. I was so delighted with the overlap design that I decided to make a similar one for sale in my etsy shop. The early stages were the same as posted in January. Below is progress on this version.

Soldering the Tube Setting 

This ring will have a single stone — a round 3mm aquamarine. I placed the tube setting for it off centre at the overlap. I find that more interesting than putting it in the centre. It also shows more of the gap in the overlap design.

Here, the ring is held for soldering in jewelers' tweezers secured in a "third hand". How did I ever do anything before I purchased that helper?

Make It Shine

In this picture, I have done most of the polishing of the shank and tube setting.

I sanded the shank — 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1200 grit papers — before bending and soldering it. It's just easier to do the heavy work on a flat blank. Once the parts were assembled, I started using 3M Radial Polishing Discs in ever finer grades. The early stages involve removal of fire scale — purple stains caused when heating sterling. It can take a long time to remove them and they can also be hard to see until you reach a high shine. That, of course, sends you back to the beginning. I finally learned to keep a piece of white paper handy. Placing the item on it cuts down on distracting reflections so the stains can be seen.

Next Up —Setting the Gem

I always wrap a piece in painters tape before stone setting. All setting tools are made of steel (like the burnisher in background here) and can so easily leave dents and scratches on the silver. Few things are worse than having to polish those out of your finished piece.

Here, the well wrapped ring is positioned on a sandbag for photo purposes. When setting the stone, it is held in a ring clamp. Here, I had just finished burnishing the tube setting onto the aquamarine. Next, close inspection with a magnifying glass. If the setting looks secure, I take a deep breath and toss the piece onto the bench. If the stone stays put, it's time to unwrap all that tape and do the final polishing.

All Shiny and Ready to Find a New Home