Tag Archives: rings

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 26: A Girlfriend for Pete

Remember Pete, my little bat from Day 16?  Well, today he got a girlfriend.

I’m down to really tiny pieces of silver sheet and odd pieces of wire in my main scrap box – so I wasn’t going to be making something big today.  I had made myself a replacement engagement ring a little while ago (the original had worn too thin and was uncomfortable to wear) out of two circles of wire soldered together, with the front part opened up enough so that I could set a rainbow moonstone with a heart shape either side.  I wanted to try this technique out again and I thought that a little bat would look great in the frame of silver wire.

The silver wire I would be using is the Reflections silver wire, which would make life easier with less pickling because of resisting fire-scale.

As you can see, the bat had to be cut in sections from lots of little pieces of scrap silver sheet.  It was quite difficult to use a hand saw with such small pieces but, apart from one broken saw blade, everything turned out how I wanted it.  Then, I soldered it all together with hard solder, making sure that all the seams were tight.

To make the ring, I decided to take two lengths of round 0.8mm silver wire and shape the middle of each to be a half-oval.  Putting the two wires together as a mirror-image of each other, both ends (where the wires lay parallel to each other) were soldered to make the ring shank.

When the bat was placed in the oval, even though it looked fine, I decided to shape the wire around the bat rather than leave it the oval shape.  This was easier said than done because the wires had already been soldered together and that left me with only so much wire that would still move.  Oh well, hindsight is always 20:20, yes?

Once the “oval” was roughly the right bat-shape, the little bat was soldered in place with hard solder.  Any previous solder joints that melted would re-harden again without moving due to the fact that all the pieces were still flat.  If this had been shaped or already formed into a ring, this technique would not have worked and a lower temperature solder would have been used to avoid melting the original joins.

The ring was then formed on a metal ring mandrel (looks like a thin cone which is marked out in graded ring sizes) with a raw-hide hammer, so as not to mark or distort the silver.  The ring shank cut to size and the joint soldered with medium solder (after having been taken off the mandrel!).  I took this opportunity to check the back of the ring and solder again any part that had not been done to my satisfaction.

The ring was put back on the mandrel to check that it was still round and to make sure the ring shank was level (heating the ring for soldering can distort the piece so it is always best to re-check your work afterwards).  Looking at the little bat, it occurred to me that she was missing any definition (except for her eyes, which were round indents punched with a sharpened nail and a hammer).  Leaving the ring on the mandrel for support, the lines on her wings where her bones would be and the fur-like texture on the main body were created with a motorised engraver.  I don’t use the engraver much as it buzzes extremely loudly – even a few minutes of using it is enough for me!

Another check and then into the tumbler for about an hour.  It comes out looking really shiny, but after taking photos, I decide that it could do with a final polish by hand to make sure any fine scratches (which show up on the photos but you can’t see by the naked eye) are removed.  I am in two minds about adding black (by either Liver of Sulphur or by Gilder’s wax) into the details; on one hand – the patina may not stay in the engraved lines and just polish off, but on the other hand – it may make it easier to see the details and this little bat is really pretty.  If I decide to add the black, I will do an update post with new photos.

Anyway, here is the little ring (it’s size is about halfway between “O” and “P” on the ring mandrel):

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“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

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 13: Bold Ring

I did make a new piece of jewellery yesterday but didn’t manage to write the blog post till now – so here it is …

Quite a while ago, I made a PMC heart with twisted filigree curls; which was to become a pendant.  I didn’t like the way the patina turned out and the design wasn’t as pleasing in real life as it was on paper.  Well, the first thing was to take the patina off and get the PMC back to the just-fired state (white).  Not really thinking about it, I took up my torch and heated up the piece … Wow! What a smell!  Liver of Sulphur patina smells even worse when you burn it off than when you add it originally. Rotten egg smell and smoke everywhere!

After opening all the windows and retreating for a cup of tea, I returned to my bench.  A lot of the filigree had softened and was in danger of breaking off due to the reheating.  Using my tin-snips, I took off any bits that didn’t look secure and then filed any sharp bits back.  The bits of filigree that were left, I curled up to the right side of the heart.

In my scrap box, I found a ring (two pieces of 1mm round wire, twisted together and the outside edge hammered slightly flat to make it more comfortable to wear), and after depletion gilding it (there is a brief description of the technique here), soldered both it and the filigree to the PMC heart with hard solder.

The ring was now looking a bit better, but still a bit plain.  I had a lovely purple, square-cut glass gem which I thought would suit the ring perfectly.  Usually, I only use CZ’s or precious/semi-precious stones in my jewellery; but in the spirit of recycling, I wanted to rescue and re-use some of the beautiful glass “gems” that had been part of broken jewellery.  I made a bezel and notched it all the way round; giving it both a pleasing scalloped edge and also making it easier to set the “gem”.  After deciding where to put it on the piece, I drilled a pilot hole and used my hand-saw to cut away a square in the heart so that the light would shine through the “gem”.  I then soldered the bezel over the hole, ready to set the “gem”.

Looking at the piece again, I decided it needed something more.  There were a couple of the filigran silver balls on the filigree already, so I added more all over the piece clustered in groups.  A small silver PMC heart that had been floating around my bench, also made it onto the ring.  Then off to the pickle pot to remove any firescale from the soldering.

The PMC heart, which makes up the main body of the ring, needed a lot of filing and polishing smooth due to some reticulation (there is a brief description of the technique here) happening when I originally fired it. Even after a spin in the tumbler, I needed to use my polishing wheels to be able to get a good polish in-between all the balls and round the bezel.

Lastly, the glass “gem” was set and the ring was finished.

Ta-da! Here it is:

And a photo of it on my hand to show it in context:

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day Three: Daisy Daisy …

Today I found a ring in the scrap box.  I remember making it for one of my kinetic rings but it either didn’t look quite right or was an extra that I didn’t need in the end – either way, I’m sure it’s been very sad.  So, I decided to cheer up this little ring with a makeover, and flowers!

I’ve seen quite a few rings with decorations that are on stems rather than stuck to the ring itself.  I always wondered how practical they would be to wear.  With this in mind, I decided to keep the stems short for minimal hassle (am I the only one who can get their rings tangled in their hair whilst trying to undo a necklace at the back?) and keep the design rounded with smooth edges and no patterns.

First, I tidied up the ring a bit – making sure it was still round, and giving it a quick file to make sure all edges were smooth.  Next, I found some small bits of 0.4mm thickness silver sheet and drew my flower shape using a metal scribe.  These I cut out with my trusty saw – I’ve invested in some blades with really tiny teeth (Grade 6/0 by Vallorbe from CooksonGold.com), which are great for cutting out shapes and they are really easy to use with no breakages so far (fingers crossed!).  I scored lines to show the petals and then used my doming block to make the daisy shapes look like real flowers (I have an assortment of found items that all work well as doming punches, here I used a metal bar with a rounded end which used to be part of a picture frame stand).  I then hand-drilled a small hole in the middle of each of the daisies and three small holes, spaced apart, in the top of the ring.

For the stems/flower centres I used some salvaged head-pins which had been cut very short when the original beads/crystals had been removed.  On each of these, I threaded a flower and (using paste solder) soldered the flower part way down the head-pin so that the round head became part of the flower.  Then I placed each stem into one of the holes in the ring and let the stems come through a little way.  I soldered these in place with easy solder and then clipped and filed smooth the excess stems from inside the ring.

A quick few minutes in the pickle and a polish with the radial bristle discs (the flexible bristles gently polished everywhere round the flowers) and this is the result:

I will put this into the tumbler for a bright shine, but didn’t want to put the tumbler on just for one piece!