Tag Archives: illusion

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 19: Learning Something New Everyday

Today, I found a piece of 2mm round sterling silver wire that had tucked itself behind my tool holder on my workbench.  At 6cm long it’s not strictly scrap, but I can’t actually remember what I originally cut it to size for and by using it, it gives me a chance to try a technique I’ve been itching to do for ages.

I’ve got a couple of great technique books by Stephen O’Keeffe (I can’t recommend them highly enough if you want to do make some jewellery for the first time or just want to learn some new techniques), and today’s piece is from one of them (Practical Jewellery-Making Techniques: Problem Solving).

The technique I wanted to try out is making a compression setting for a stone in a ring.   The book made it sound so easy: solder a length of 2mm wire into a ring and planish (hardening the metal and creating a surface texture) before sawing through the original join with a piercing saw (it would weaken the ring if I sawed through at any other point – doing it this way keeps the rings integrity and strength which is needed with this ring).

The next part was to open the ring sideways to be able to drill into the flat ends. Well, so far, so good – but here’s where things went a little off from the instructions.  I don’t have a chuck for my rotary drill that’s small enough for the 1mm drill bit – I use a pin vice or Archimedes drill – and so I need to make a dent in the wire to help the drill bit bite in the right place.  For this, I use a nail that has been sharpened to a good point which works as a pretty good punch.  Trying to get it dead centre on a 2mm diameter wire isn’t as easy as it looks, and then trying to get the drill to stay in the centre isn’t easy either.  Well, both holes were mostly in the centre, and it probably doesn’t show in the finished product, but the perfectionist in me did a bit of silent swearing at this point.

Not to be put off, I then shaped the ring back on the mandrel and made sure that the tension was right, that it would spring back to shape if pulled slightly apart.  I did have to make the ring slightly oval in shape, rather than round, because the stone is a marquise cut CZ and the gap needed to be larger.  This is where I wish I had an oval mandrel as well as the more traditional tapering cylindrical one – but I made do with forming it manually, with the hide mallet and with my fingers for the last adjustments.

In the book, Stephen has a tapered strip for ring sizing, which was perfect for sliding the ring along till the gap opened up wide enough for the stone to be positioned in the gap and seated in the drilled-out ends of the ring.  Not having a tapered strip, I looked around the house for a suitable replacement.  I found a softwood fork which came as a pack with wooden cooking spoons, the neck tapered down to the bottom of the handle and it was flat.  A quick minute of sawing the top part (with the prongs) off from the handle, and I was left with a pretty good alternative.

Before I set the stone, I filed off any fire-scale from the soldering (I decided not to pickle this piece as there was only minimal fire-scale) and polished with my rotary drill and abrasive-embedded silicon cylinders, to get a mirror shine.  The photos don’t show the polishing really well – it wasn’t till I was checking the photos out that I realised I had been handling the ring with mucky fingers (polishing does get the hands a bit black!) and had smudged the shine 😦

Setting the stone was easy, using Stephen’s technique and the finished ring looks amazing.  I think, in hindsight, I would make the ring more oval than it is, and also maybe use a stone with a flatter back (or keep it round and use a small stone which would only be as thick as the wire itself) so as to make it more comfortable to wear.

I’ve also now had an idea about making the ring so as to have another, complete band inside the first; so that the stone doesn’t touch the skin of the wearer.  I’ll have to do some sketches later.

Well, thank you to Stephen O’Keeffe for teaching me another new thing.  I can’t wait to see what I learn to do tomorrow.

cubic zirconia compression ring


As I’ve said before, I’ve been playing an on-line card and story based game called “ The Night Circus ” based upon a book of the same name by Erin Morgenstern.  I’ve finished the book now, and I can’t recommend it enough. … Continue reading

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day Five: Reflection and Illusion revisited

After the blood, sweat and tears of yesterday and my efforts to make some reflection earrings (which I remembered very early this morning were based on “illusion” earrings, not “reflection” earrings – but then I turned over and went back to sleep because I decided I preferred the term “reflection” for my earrings, and also because it was too early in the morning to think about it any more!)  Anyway, this morning I decided to have another go.

Having played about with head-pins and crystals and solder today; I can tell you that even with easy solder, the shine on the concave shape will disappear and you will have to polish the thing again!  I have been using (amongst my many other polishing discs/mandrels/cloths/etc) flexible silicon wheels to polish the inside of the concave shape (today shape being a hemisphere) and that if you do need to polish around a crystal on a head-pin inside a concave hemisphere, or some other such difficult thing, then these are just what you need.  Just don’t use the yellow ones near gems/crystals/glass as they can scratch them.

Back to the point – oh yes, I was looking at my very shiny concave hemisphere (sawn from a scrap of 0.4,mm silver sheet and rounded in my doming block)  and wondered how I was going to set something sparkly in there.  I’ve got some prong settings which I use for PMC and I cut one of them right near the top of the setting so the gem would sit very low in the bowl (oh yes, let’s call it a bowl – much less typing!) and put it aside to solder later.

I found some thick wire (about 1.5mm) and made a two loop shape, one big and one small.  Instead of crossing over the wire and having to hammer it flat, I had both ends of the wire terminate at the junction of the two loops and soldered the joins shut with hard solder.  Then I took a jump-ring mandrel and my round nosed pliers and stretched the loops tight by pulling in opposite directions.  This straightened and evened up the large loop as well as testing the strength of the join.  To make sure the bowl fit securely in the bottom of the larger loop for soldering, I sanded the wire to have a inward slope where the bowl would touch the wire.  This was also soldered using hard solder.

At this point I pickled the pendant to get rid of any fire-stain and made a bail from another piece of scrap 0.4mm sheet.  I then soldered the bail on the pendant and the prong setting in the bottom of the bowl using flux and easy solder wire straight from the spool.  After using solder+flux paste for so long, I had forgotten that I liked doing it the traditional way – either that, or I had got better at it!

Another pickle and a preliminary polish before going for a tumble in my amazing and most loved tumbler (is it wrong to love a gadget so much?).  At last, a very shiny pendant was ready for setting the blue cz.  Now this is something I’m always so nervous about – bezels I’m about 99% fine with (there’s always one which doesn’t want to do what you want it to), but prong settings always seem to have a mind of their own – especially when I don’t have a spare setting or a spare gem!  The cz wasn’t sitting well because of some extra solder that had sneakily attached itself to a prong when I wasn’t looking, and I had to file it away very carefully because I didn’t want to weaken the prong too much.  After sorting that out, I managed to get the cz in place and then had to bend the prongs over the gem to hold it in place.  A quick, final buff with a polishing cloth and here it is:

The setting reflects nicely, making a great illusion pattern in the silver; but the gem only reflects slightly.  I had hoped for more of the colour to be reflected but it still looked beautiful.  It went as a prize at a fundraising event tonight – I miss it already …