Monday, 3 September 2018

Start for September

New Earring Design

Every birthday and Christmas, our daughter's gifts include a new piece of Dix jewelry (whether she wants it or not!). For her birthday, I usually try  to incorporate a sapphire or two. This year, I came up with a design for a pair of dangle earrings and, to be sure I would like the finished product, I made a pair without sapphires. Follow along here:

Wire Cutting 101


My design requires two 16 gauge square sterling wires, cut to length, per earring. Before I bought this handy wire/tube cutter, the process was a touch painful. Holding the material steady on the bench pin while cutting is hard on the left hand as the wire just wants to move around. I used to get hand cramps if I had to make several cuts. This rig makes it easy to cut as many pieces as you want and all to exactly the same length. Love it. This photo shows one length of the square wire set for cutting.


 Perfect Cut Every Time

In this photo, I have just finished cutting the (much shorter) length of 3.5 mm sterling tube. I tipped the cut piece up in the jig to show the neatly cut end.



The second photo shows the cutting jig to better advantage. It has a detachable handle so, for one quick cut, you can just steady it in your bench pin as shown here. Left hand holds the handle under the pin with thumb pressing on the lever that holds the metal down in the jig. If I need to make several cuts, I unscrew the handle and clamp the squared off bottom of the jig in the vise as in the first picture.

Prepping the Tube


Here is the 3.5 mm tubing set in my bench vise. In the background you can see my magnifying visor and a respirator — needed because that 3.1 mm cutting burr between them throws a lot of silver dust. Nobody's eyes or lungs need that stuff.

The vise is another wonderful bench tool. This one came with rubber jaw covers (not in use here) that can protect your metal when you are sawing or filing and the metal might move a bit. It also has notches that are holding that piece of tubing so  I can drive the burr in to enlarge the hole until the tiny sapphire cabochons will slip into place deeply enough for setting.

Parts Coming Together


In this photo, I have assembled the pieces of one of the test earrings on a fire proof soldering block.

Keeping everything aligned under the torch was vital. The two side pieces are balanced atop a tiny jump ring at the top so I can hang the earring from a shepherd hook. The sterling silver dot — a short length of round wire — sits between the square wires. A couple of dirty old T pins — one on each side — hold everything in place. You can tell they have been used a lot. In the picture, I am using a pair of heat proof tweezers to pull out the very hot pins after soldering.

A+ on the Test Pair


Here is the test pair finished and polished.

I was completely satisfied with the result so assembled the other pair, with the sapphires in place of the silver dots, as the "birthday gift from Mom 2018".

Below: the gift version, ready for me to set the cabochons.


PS — She has them now. And she likes them ;-)



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