Tag Archives: pendant

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 23: Boo!

Halloween is nearly here and I felt like getting into the spooky spirit (excuse the pun) with today’s design.

I doodled some ghost designs, you know the ones that look like a draped sheet with big eyes.  I first thought about making earrings – just cutting the design out of sheet silver and adding red crystals for eyes; but,as well as not being inspired by the idea, I don’t actually have enough scrap silver sheet to do it.

This then forced the idea to evolve into a wire project.  I decided to make the outline in 0.8mm round silver wire and solder two ovals for eyes.  Looking at the design made me think that something was missing – it also looked a bit unsupported (the wire form would not be rigid enough to withstand wear and tear).  Thinking about ghosts, and the ghost stereotype in particular,  I decided my ghost would be the type to jump out and shout “Boo!”, so why not add the word to the design?

Well, down to the actual making of the project.  First, I shaped wire into the individual letters of the word “Boo”.  The “B” was actually made up of two separate pieces of wire instead of trying to get the shape right using only one; and two tiny jump-rings were perfect for each “o”.  These I soldered together with medium solder (If I haven’t said before, solders are graded according to how much heat it takes to melt them – hard solder takes a lot of heat and then next is medium solder, then easy solder and lastly extra easy, which will melt and solder at the lowest temperature.  It makes soldering lots of pieces in different stages very easy by taking the temperature down each time you don’t re-melt the previous solder joints) and put aside for later.

The main shape of the ghost was based on my original pattern but, as I worked the wire using the round-nosed pliers, I changed some of the bends slightly if I thought they looked better.  As I was using scrap wire which was in short lengths, I actually had to make the main shape in two pieces and solder them together (again using medium solder).  The eyes were wire, soldered into large circles and then squeezed gently into ovals with my fingers.  The eyes came out different sizes but I liked the effect and decided not to re-do them.

Putting all the pieces together flat on the soldering board, I saw that I needed to squeeze the main body in slightly so that there would be good contact between that, the eyes, and the word “Boo” – I wanted everything that touched to be soldered well together.  I added a jump-ring to the top (after filing a concave curve in it so it would fit well to the top of the ghost) and then fluxed and soldered all the joins at the same time with easy solder.

Looking at the ghost, I remembered I had wanted to give him red eyes.  I soldered one half loop to each eye and then hung a red (Siam) Swarovski® crystal from each loop.  They now swing in a very sparkly but somehow disturbing fashion – they remind me of those googly-eye glasses that you used to get from joke shops or advertised in the back of comics (am I showing my age now?).  I just also thought I should say that the head-pins for the crystals were hand-made as normal ball-ended head-pins but I held them in a pair of pliers and hammered the “ball” at the end very flat.

A bail was added, which was made from a coil of silver wire soldered together.  Very simple but effective, especially when silver sheet is not available to make bails.

You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned pickling in this post.  The silver that was used for this project is called “reflections” silver and is a silver allow with less copper but increased tin, zinc and germanium, which means it has amazing resistance to tarnish and fire-scale.  It is still 925 purity and can be hallmarked Sterling Silver or “925”.  It’s also much easier than traditional sterling to work with.

Well, lastly I gave the piece a preliminary file and polish before a very quick half-an-hour in the tumbler to boost the shine and work-harden the piece (to make it more durable to everyday wear and tear).

Here he is (don’t get frightened now… he might cry!):

Silver GhostA little after-thought: I wish that I could have thought of a way to do his eyes that meant they were a little bit clearer as to what they are!  I think that the loops detract from the design but I couldn’t think of another way to get the colour in there (apart from using coloured resin, but I didn’t want to do that; or flat ovals of red glass, which would have been perfect but I don’t have any – so I couldn’t do it that way).

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 12: A Modern Fairytale? – UPDATE!

Well, here is the photo of the finished pendant.

After I had put it together, I thought that it needed something to make the heart “pop” (stand out from the main design).  I used a technique called Keum-boo (also spelt as Kum-Boo or Kum-Bu which is Korean for “attached Gold”) to apply a thin layer of real gold to the silver.

This gilding technique is used a lot with PMC pure silver (although I mostly use 24ct gold paste especially made for PMC), as they are both pure metals and bond well together.  The heart charm was made from PMC so I didn’t have to prepare it apart from heating it to burn off any contaminants from the surface.  If it was sterling silver, I would first have to depletion gild it to get a thin layer of fine silver on the surface..

The gold was applied to the heart and then I heated the charm till it glowed a dull orange (this gets both metals at the right temperature for their atoms to bond together) and then applied pressure (burnished) with an agate burnisher to create the permanent diffusion bond.

I made a new jump-ring and re-attached the heart to the main piece.  Another polish and it was finished and ready to photograph.  A bit more work than I first was expecting but I think it made a real difference to the design.

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 11: Technical Difficulties

Firstly, sorry for this being a day late – everything mechanical seemed to be on a go-slow (or stop) yesterday.  By 2am, I had decided to give up and re-write/post this today.  Also, my beautiful Frodo (Maine Coon Cross kitty) is back at the vets, staying overnight for fluids and TLC after having a dip with his CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) and loosing a bit of weight.  You’ll be glad to know that he’s had a good night (and lots of cuddles from the great staff there); and hopefully, I’ll be picking him up today.

The other technical difficulties I had with this piece is the actual setting of the fluorite stone – but I’ll get to that later on.

You see, I had this beautiful green & purple fluorite stone in a (sort of) tear-drop shape, which has been sitting around not doing much for about a year.  I don’t make much big jewellery and thought that this stone was much too heavy to make something out of.  Well, I had an idea for a spiders web type of decoration for a bezel set stone and for once, this stone seemed perfect.

I drew around the stone as a template and roughed out the idea before picking up any tools.  I usually like designing as I go, but this time I needed to make a pattern because the stone isn’t a flat-backed cabochon but a rounded stone like a pebble.  Once I had the design I wanted, I drew it out in pencil on my soldering board.  This meant that I could place the silver where I wanted it and solder as needed, without the worry of flammable paper being near; and it’s much more of a stable surface than setting out on paper – less likely to shift when placing items together.

I decided to make the silver “webs” first and make them a little larger than needed.  This way, they would rest on top of the bezel wire for soldering and then I could file the unwanted parts back.  It would be easier than making them the exact size and the finding them not quite fit or having trouble soldering them to the bezel.  The strands of the web were done using scrap pieces of 0.8mm round wire – bent to shape and laid together.  These were soldered with hard solder and then I filed the places for the silver balls (so they would sit still whilst soldering) and then the silver balls were soldered on top with medium solder.

The bezel was wrapped around the stone for sizing and then (with the stone taken away) soldered closed with hard solder.  A jump ring was soldered to the top at the same time.  It was quite hard getting the jump ring soldered in the right place – the locking tweezers acted as a heat sink and made it difficult for the two pieces to heat up evenly.  In the end, I sweat-soldered the two together.

The two parts of the spider’s web were placed on top of the bezel and soldered in place with easy solder.  I trimmed and filed any excess silver away.  Originally, I was going to have the strands terminate at the silver balls, but I liked the way a little bit of the wire poked out at the end – so I kept it like that and just rounded the ends off.

The whole thing went into the pickle pot and then (after a quick smooth & polish) had a turn in the tumbler for about an hour.

As the stone was rounded, I didn’t want to have a back on the bezel.  The idea was to have the flat bezel strip pushed down on both sides of the stone, curving around the edge and setting the stone from both sides.  This is where the real technical difficulties happened for me.  Placing the stone in the setting, I had to curve the web part of the design (okay so far) and then turn the whole thing over and push the bezel down.  In hindsight, I think I should have pushed the bezel at the front down first, but originally I wanted the bezel to be straight at the front – although it didn’t look  right when I did it that way and I ended up pushing the bezel down over the front of the stone in the end.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!

As the stone is very rounded, it was quite hard to get it to stay in place when pushing the bezel down.  As soon as I thought I’d finished, I checked it over and there was still more movement in the stone and I’d start going over it again.  I don’t think I would have had a problem if the stone was a flat-backed cabochon and the setting had a back on it; but it wasn’t and it didn’t – so I just had to persevere.

When it came time for me to turn it over, the bezel at the front didn’t look quite right, so I decided to push it down there as well.  It was a bit difficult around the webs but I managed it with not too much trouble. The problem only showed itself when I thought I’d finished – the bezel had twisted slightly while setting and had slightly come forward at one side.  “Oh bother” I said (or something similar), and proceeded to try and bend the bezel back into place.

This has been more of a learning curve than I had expected.  Although, I am quite pleased with the finished piece; I don’t think I will do this type of bezel again in a hurry!

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 12: A Modern Fairytale?

I don’t really do modern pieces.  I’d like to –  but each time, it either goes wrong somehow or turns into a more fairytale piece without me even trying.  I just don’t think I’m made that way myself, so it’s not surprising that I find that style difficult.

Today I’ve been playing around with circles and lines.  All the pieces were either scrap or abandoned/left over from other projects.

I started with a circle which had been made from two circles of square wire soldered one on top of the other.  I found some short pieces of 0.8mm round wire and laid them on top – all the ends together at one edge and fanned out at the opposite edge.  The ends of the wire reached out over the edge of the circle and, as I was happy with this arrangement, I soldered them together with hard solder.

After filing and smoothing the soldered areas, I noticed the wire ends looked a little lost in the design.  I reached for my trusty pot of sterling silver balls and added one to the end of each wire.  (It would have been nice to have the balls totally spherical but it was easier to solder those I have with flat bases – so I used those.)

I took a step back from the design – firstly to make a cup of tea, but more importantly to look at the design with fresh eyes.  An old trick I learned at Art College (long, long ago in a county far, far away … from Cheshire, that is), is to hold up your design page/test piece/actual jewellery to a mirror as if you are wearing it (so you are looking at the image in the mirror).  The image will be backwards but your brain will see it as new and you can look at it objectively.  It’s a great way to see your designs as if for the first time – from a customer’s perspective if you like.

Anyway, back to the design.  After looking at it in the mirror, I decided where I would put the loop for the bail and that I would add another loop on the inside, immediately beneath that one.  Because the main circle was two wires high, I used some iron binding wire to lift up the jump-rings so I could solder them to the middle and not just have them soldered to the bottom wire (or top wire if I had turned the piece over when soldering).  I attached a bail to the top loop which was made from 0.8mm wire coiled around my jump-ring mandrel twice.  (I soldered the coil of loops together with easy solder to make them more durable.)  A quick dip in the pickle to get rid of any fire-scale and I also made sure any firestain was polished out and any imperfections smoothed away before the final polish to a high shine.

I attached a lovely little textured heart (made from PMC), which was originally for a pair of earrings, to the inner loop and the piece was done.

I’ve got to attach the photo tomorrow – my technical difficulties continue today (although it’s really my own fault this time), because my camera ran out of battery and it’s only just gone on charge.  Sorry!  I’m blaming it all on my head-cold, as I’m sure I used to have a brain before  🙂

Oh, by the way – just in case you were wondering … Frodo came home tonight, happier and healthier, with a shaved leg (from the IV) and a big appetite.  Remind me to post a photo of him at my bench, keeping an eye on things – he has a cat tree just behind me as I work and sometimes just can’t help but come over and see what I’m up to! (Oh, just to say, never when I’m working with heat or chemicals though!)

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 10: When is a Cupcake not a Cupcake? …

… When it actually turned out looking like a bakewell tart!

This reminded me of a blog I read called “Cake Wrecks“, which is great and well worth checking out every day – it’s really hilarious!  I wonder if they accept photos of jewellery “cake wrecks” as well as edible ones?  I’ll let you know…

Back to the disaster! My poor, tiny cupcake (it’s about the size of a pea) looked so pretty before I put it to the torch.  It had tiny sprinkles and icing and even a cherry on the top.  Okay, the paper-case was a little bit on the thick side (hence looking more like pastry) but everything at least looked cake-like.  The bottom of the cupcake was made with PMC (after trying a few times with silver sheet).  It looked okay before it shrank while sintering (firing with the torch to burn off the binder and bring the silver particles together) – it is meant to shrink about 10% but this time it also seemed to make the cupcake case shorter and so looking less like a cupcake.

Well, as I soldered the top and bottom halves together with easy solder (to make it easier to solder the two together, I had already attached a sterling pillar in the centre of the PMC bottom half), everything seemed to go okay but then – disaster!  My flame was just a little too hot and too close; the little sprinkles melted into the icing and all the fine detailing disappeared under the solder which ran just where I didn’t want it. I sadly withdrew the flame and quenched the ” little baked item of no fixed identity” in cool water along with all my enthusiasm for this piece.

After a few moments of reflection and silent swearing, I got out some more tiny pieces of silver wire from the scrap box and made a few more “sprinkles”.  This time I managed to solder them on without them melting away, and then quenched the “cake” before dropping it in the pickle.

I left the “cake” part with just a light polish and the rest (icing, sprinkles, cherry & base) was given a high shine.

Before I show you the finished item, I wanted to say that I started this challenge for a lot of reasons, one being to try new techniques/materials.  Usually, if I try something and either it didn’t come out as planned or it just ends up in the scrap box, I don’t have to admit it and I can keep it a secret between me and my workbench.

But now, I feel that in this challenge, it would be cheating not to document the bad as well as good. Well, I don’t mind admitting it – I’m not perfect (well, almost) and I’m not a master craftsman (who probably have off days too – please tell me they do?), so I do make mistakes.  Well, this one is not my first, and certainly not my last; but hopefully you’ll not mind if there are a few here and there in these posts.

Well here it is (please remember it’s less than 1cm²):

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 9: In Flux

Today has been a bit up and down – in flux, as it were.  That phrase could also be put to both the piece I made today and the technique used to create it.

I didn’t have much time to get something done, but I had an idea to solder some scrap pieces together and then solder that onto the top of a plain silver band ring.  I was going to then pierce out the silver of the ring which showed through the largest parts of the soldered scrap pieces to make it lighter and give it more interest.  Well, that experiment will have to wait for another day.  I got as far as soldering the scrap pieces and decided I liked the design as it was and my ring design suddenly became a pendant design!

The technique I used to join the scrap together was less like traditional soldering and more like almost melting everything together – a process called “fusing“.

I placed all my scrap pieces in a pleasing arrangement and then coated everything in a thin flux.  I gently heated the silver and added more flux (this time as powder) when the silver was hot but had not started to fuse or melt.

This can be tricky to get right and all too often some of the silver will actually melt too much and the design will be ruined.  When this happens, I just usually keep it aside for when I want to create the small balls I use in filigree.  For this design, I wanted the effect called “reticulation” which is where the silver is depletion gilded (creating a thin layer of fine silver over the whole piece) which means that the fine silver “skin” will melt at a higher temperature then the sterling silver underneath.  When it is heated with a torch the inner sterling silver melts first and patterns or texture are created on the surface.  I’m not very skilled in this so just went for the texture instead of any patterns.

I didn’t want to polish this to a high-shine because I didn’t think the texture would be as noticeable as with a more matt-finish.  To finish, I added two beads of real amethyst with a silver flower bali bead spacer in-between.

The photo has been digitally-enhanced a bit, because I took the photo at 1am and didn’t have the energy to get all my photo stuff set up.  I will take a better photo and post it here (hopefully tomorrow).

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 8: From Daisies to Roses

I used to have this beautiful rose ring, with a large central rose and stems with leaves entwined around it.  Sadly, one day the shank broke off and it wasn’t possible to re-solder it together.  Today, in memory of that pretty little ring, I have made a Rose pendant in the same style – using a fired PMC rose with scraps of silver sheet and 1.5mm round silver wire.

Soldering fine/pure (.999%) silver to sterling is very difficult (or at least it is for me!) and so I treated the silver wire (depletion gilding) to give it a coat of fine silver, which would make it easier to solder.

With the sterling wire, I created the basic shape of my stem and then soldered the rose onto it.  I cut smaller pieces of wire and soldered these on as off-shoots of the main stem.  I curled the ends round to both look pretty and to give me something to hang my sparkles from.

The leaves I cut from scrap pieces of 0.5mm silver sheet.  After a quick file to get rid of any sharp edges, I took my tiny jewellers screwdriver (with a flat head) and hammered a curved line down the middle of each one.  This gave the leaves some shape and definition.  I put the leaves in place and soldered them, all at the same time, with easy solder.  Some of the leaves had a bit too much solder for the small area needing soldering; and excess solder leaked onto the surface of the leaves, masking the texture and shape that I had just added.  Oh well, they still looked good, so I didn’t mind too much.

A quick dip in the pickle and a polish with the silicon wheels, brought up the silver nicely.  I didn’t want a high shine on the stems and leaves – I wanted to have some contrast to the rose, which I would polish up more later on.

I’ve been using “Gilding Wax” for a while instead of Liver of Sulphur to give colour to the detailing in some of my pieces.  The black is easy to apply and gives a dense coverage.  After about an hour, I rub in some “Renaissance Wax” to seal the gilding wax in place; then wait a few minutes more and polish off the excess renaissance wax.  This keeps the colour on the silver but any pieces with this finish can only be polished using a polishing cloth.  Silver dip or liquid polish would ruin the colour or totally polish away the wax.

I wanted to use the marquise cut, clear (white) cubic zirconium (CZ) again; so I found in my scrap box an old “cinch” bezel type finding.  It’s a thin piece of flat wire which has been curled inwards so it’s more of a c-shape in cross-section.  It’s most usually seen as a complete item, with a loop at the top and a place just under the loop to squeeze shut with pliers (after the gem is set).  This tightens the wire around the gem so it can’t fall out.  Anyway, I had re-cycled some gems that were mounted this way and I had kept the cinch bezel pieces for a rainy day.  I cut the wire to size and shaped it around the CZ gem.  As it was only a small gem, and one I had heated successfully before, I soldered the wire ends together with the gem mounted inside.

Remember to not quench any stone/gem/crystal that you heat – it will cool way too quickly and will crack or break.  Some CZ’s and crystals will change colour after heating and I wouldn’t suggest it with a stone over 5mm (round).  If you are going to heat a stone, either have a spare in case of disaster or check the place you purchased it from – most sites have information of this sort freely available.

The rose pendant is back in the pickle pot as I type this.  I wasn’t happy with one of the soldered joints and so I’ve re-soldered it and now am waiting to be able to polish it. So, I’m going to post this and then add the photo tomorrow (or later tonight, if I’m still up).  Sorry for not persevering now but the head-cold is still making me feel rough and I need a bit of a rest.

UPDATE:
Apologies for the awful photo – 12:30am isn’t the best time for me to be taking photos but this is the first time I’ve had all day to do it. Anyway, I hope it gives you an idea of what the rose pendant looks like!