Tag Archives: Scrap

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 30: The Final Piece

Today is the last day of my “one-a-day” challenge.  I can’t actually believe it’s been 31 jewellery making days since I started this – time really has gone quickly and I’m feeling sad that I’m at the end.

Well, you’d think that I’d choose something nice and easy for my last day, something I couldn’t muck up and turn into another disaster!  Sorry, but you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried!

Today, I wanted to do a piece that was special to me and I have a beautiful silver ankh earring (again, I had lost one of the pair) which needed to be made into something really beautiful.  For those of you that know Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, The Endless each have a gallery of symbols that they use to call each other – and Death’s symbol is an ankh.

The design is of a ankh in a frame, as if it is from one of the galleries of The Endless.  The background is of cogs and watch pieces and the frame is to be made out of lots of small pieces (like an old ironwork frame that has rusted into twisted shapes) as I also identify the character of Death with the concepts of time (as in time running out, and the end of time, etc.) and entropy.

The main part of the brooch was made in PMC3 – the cogs and watch pieces were made using a unique stamp I had made previously, and I added thin strips of PMC3 to the edges to make them level.  I cut off the loop at the top of the silver ankh earring (to make it look better) and, as it seemed to be silver all the way through, embedded it into the middle of the brooch.  After drying in the little electric oven, I added the brooch findings to the back (made by hand – I will do a proper tutorial on this soon) and my name stamp.  Another 20 minutes in the electric oven and it was time to torch-fire the brooch.

When I torch-fire things that are larger than normal, I place small pieces of fire-brick around the piece (almost like a mini-kiln) and it keeps the heat around the piece better than if I just fired it on a flat board.  It worked really well and the piece fired perfectly – or so I thought.  When I turned the brooch over (I had fired it face-down because of the brooch findings on the back) the ankh had deformed and turned a really funny grey, not like the normal fire-scale I was expecting.

I filed the face lightly and the ankh shone silver underneath the patina, so I thought it was just a reaction with the PMC3 but, oh no, it turns out that the earrings were base-metal with a foil of silver folded around it.  I found that out because the foil just lifted off the base-metal when I investigated further.  I had a moment of panic as I tried to remove it from the brooch but, I am so glad that the ankh came away pretty cleanly after prising the central base-metal away and then grinding off the foil with the rotary tool.  I was left with an ankh-shaped indent rather than the raised shape I had originally wanted. Oh well, I would have to wait and see how it all ended up before I passed judgement – sometimes, something wonderful comes out of disaster (but also, sometimes it just ends up in the scrap bin!).

The frame was made from lots of tiny scrap pieces of 0.4mm sterling sheet.  I drew the outline of my brooch onto the firing board as a guideline and then placed my fluxed pieces down and soldered them all together with easy solder.  (Sounds simple, but getting them all to stay where I wanted and then for everything to solder at the same time was really tricky.)  Both pieces were placed in the pickle pot and then washed before going into the tumbler.

A piece of 0.8mm wire was made into a coil with two straight ends, the longer one to be the brooch pin and the shorter one to be part of the spring.  This too was thrown into the tumbler, to work harden and polish.

After tumbling, the face of the brooch was given a patina and sealed with Renaissance Wax.  Then the frame had a hole drilled into each corner and four corresponding holes were drilled into the brooch.  The frame was attached to the brooch with “rivets” ((this was the first time I’ve ever done rivets in jewellery) which were short pieces of 1mm sterling wire threaded through both pieces and the ends hammered so that they splayed slightly, holding the pieces in place.

The brooch pin was added and the piece was finished.  Okay, it didn’t look quite how I had imagined; but as a final piece it was apt.  I had used leftover pieces and tried some new things. I had learned some lessons the hard way and had to get myself out of a fix with some unorthodox Macgyver-ing.  I’m sorry that it wasn’t the amazing piece of jewellery I had wished to make – but I learned a lot making it and that’s something I can be proud of.

Today is not the end to the making or the posting, or even the making from left-overs!  Just the challenge of making something every single day.  Please remember that my normal working hours are only on a Friday (when my little one is a Nursery) and any other time that I can snatch from my full-on schedule as a full-time mum (and cat-nurse).  This really has been a challenge but one that I would encourage anyone to try.  Thank you for being on the journey with me.

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 27: Birthday Present

Wow, Day 27 already?  Where has the time gone?

Talking of time – apologies for the lateness of this post (it’s already half past midnight) but it’s been a busy day with both creating jewellery and going with my little girl to a birthday party at the local play-barn.

Today I wondered that when I talk or write about making things from scrap or recycled materials (even if they are precious metals), do those phrases bring to mind rubbish or even that the end product is sub-standard in some way?  It’s so hard to get beyond those concepts when recycling is part of the discussion; as if something that is reused or recycled has to be flawed in some way or that it’s previous life has to be hidden to value the new item in any way.

I suppose this came to mind more today because I was making a birthday present for a little girl and I wanted to include it in this challenge.  I didn’t need to – I could have made her something from new silver sheet or wire, but I really believe in not wasting precious resources and all my silver is the same (well, either pure or sterling, anyway), even if it has been made into something else before.

The elements that I wanted to re-use were some pure silver PMC3* pieces, which were either testers or were reclaimed from other jewellery I had previously made (and then taken apart again – artist’s prerogative).  Luckily, I had made a tester of the right initial for the little girl’s name and it was sitting, waiting, in my box of misc. fired PMC pieces.  Looking through the box, I also found some stars of different sizes and took two – one big and one small.

I really dislike the phrase “on-trend” – it’s overused everywhere these days.  Well, something that seems on-trend (*winces*) in jewellery at the moment is chain necklaces with a drop of chain at the front with charms hanging from it – very bohemian, but with a chic style that could go well with a little black dress or a smart work suit.  It also seemed a fun and light necklace for a little girl’s jewellery box – something special but not too grown up (children should be children, in my book) that she could grow into.

Checking my box of chains (wow, that doesn’t sound *quite* as it should!), by now you’ll have realised that I keep all my materials grouped by colour or type in compartmented boxes , I found a small section of good quality silver belcher chain and some jump-rings of different sizes (although I don’t know why they were in there, my putting away must have been off that day!).  Looking at all the pieces, a design was sketched out and then off to the bench to put it all together.

I added all the pieces together with the jump-rings, which were then soldered closed carefully so as not to solder the jump-ring to anything else except itself – easier said than done!  A pair of locking tweezers, holding the jump-ring about mid-way, were very helpful in acting as a heat sink and stopping the solder travelling past the join and onto anything else.  A larger jump-ring (in a wider gauge wire) was attached to the top of the chain to act as a bail, and was also soldered closed.

As chain is notoriously hard (and dangerous) to polish with a rotary motor – the chain went into the tumbler, alongside the head-pin which I would use for the last dangle off the chain.  This would work-harden the silver, making it more hard-wearing, as well as giving it a mirror-shine.

After tumbling, I added the last dangle – a single freshwater pearl.  I believe that the pearl is the oldest known gem and was originally seen as the most valuable.  The story I like best about pearls, is that they are formed by angels travelling through the clouds of heaven.  A perfect gem for a little girl, I think.

(Sorry for how the pearl looks in the photo – I don’t seem to be able to take a good photo of pearls – it’s another thing for me still to learn)

Oh, see how time flies when posting?  It’s now 1:20 am and I think I’d better show you the necklace now before I go and collapse after this tiring day.  Well, here it is – and don’t tell me that it doesn’t look perfectly beautiful, even more so because I re-used and recycled.

 

 

 

 

*Precious Metal Clay is pure silver, which has itself been recycled, in an organic clay binder which can be moulded or worked like clay but when fired at the right temperature, will turn back into pure silver with the binder burning away totally

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 21: Fluttering in the Dark

I mentioned in my last post that we’d had a visit from my Cousin Adelene and her husband, Jon.  They have a business called Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies UK which I know is do to with moths and butterflies (and bats too, I think).  When they were here, they suggested I make a piece of jewellery like a moth – and as I had more time today to make something, that’s exactly what I did.

I’ve had a small piece of silver in my scrap box for a while – it was originally thick  silver wire but I had hammered it flat for some reason (I’m sure I was trying to see what I could do with a hammer instead of using a rolling mill – sadly, because I don’t have a rolling mill yet…).  Anyway, this little odd piece of silver was just perfect for the body/head of the moth.  I filed a notch in either side to delineate the head from the body and rounded both ends (it was already tapered at one end).

The wings I made from copper sheet.  I looked in a book for a picture of a moth and drew something similar (okay, it didn’t turn out a perfect moth, it’s more of an impression of a moth) onto paper.  The finished piece would be about 5 x 2cm.  The basic wing shapes were cut out with a scalpel and the outlines were traced onto the copper sheet with permanent marker (I do normally prefer scribing my cutting lines but, sometimes if the metal is really shiny, the lines can be hard to see), then cut out with tin-snips.

After a bit of filing to get all the edges smooth; I soldered the bottom wings on first and then soldered the top ones, overlaying them on the bottom wings slightly.  At this point I had cut small pieces of silver wire for legs but then decided to make this a brooch and needed room for the brooch pin.  Also, having legs on the moth would have been at best, a good detail but hidden – and at worst, a nuisance and snagging hazard.

The antenna turned out to be problem enough.  First, I used a single piece of silver wire bent in the middle but this didn’t lay flat and wouldn’t solder to the head – the solder kept to the wire as I couldn’t get the head to the same temperature without risking melting the solder on the wings.  I got round this with sweat soldering the solder to a couple of cut-off head-pins and then soldering these to the head.  It seemed that two ends of wire was easier to solder than a length of wire which I wanted to solder in the middle (I also think that the heat dissipated along the length of the long wire which didn’t help).

I now put the moth in the pickle and then (after neutralising the acid on the piece by dunking it into a solution of bicarbonate of soda) filed off any excess silver solder from the copper wings.  A good deal of polishing later (to get rid of any grooves that were added when I filed off the excess solder) and it was ready to patina.

If you’ve ever heated up something with a torch (or used a copper pan on the stove) – you’ll have noticed that there is a colour change in the metal when it is heated.  To get the patina I wanted, I heated the moth very slowly with a soft flame (less oxygen and less gas than a flame for soldering) and watched as  the metal’s colour changed from it’s polished coppery-gold, through orange, red and then it started to just turn bluish in places.  Copper continues to change colour, even after the heat is taken away and until it’s cooled.  As I didn’t want it to become totally blue or black, I removed turned off the torch and (picking up with tongs) placed the moth on a cool soldering board (the one I had used when heating the moth would still hold some heat for a while and would help continue the colour change).  As it air-cooled, the patina showed as a beautiful bronze with blue -green areas.

A quick polish of the silver areas to get rid of any fire-scale colouring and then a wipe-over with Renaissance Wax to seal the colour, and to protect the wearer from going green!  The wax is wonderful but the colours do dull a little – not a problem here as I didn’t want my moth to look too colourful.

As an after-thought, I decided to curve the wings a little bit to give the moth a bit more interest.  I did this by holding each side of the moth, in turn, on my doming block and pressing the wings into the curve with my fingers.  It didn’t damage the finish and looked quite effective.

I name this moth the Clifton Copper-wing!

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 20: Sometimes Nothing Goes Right For a Bit

This post is a day late – but, I did make the piece of jewellery yesterday (honest!)

This weekend has been a lovely one for me.  My cousin, Adelene and her husband came over to stay on Saturday and we had a great afternoon & evening.  Still, I am committed (so apt!) to this challenge and disappeared into my workspace (which was freezing at 9pm) to hopefully create something pretty.

Well, we’d opened a bottle of wine at dinner and even though I’d only had one or two (small) glasses, I didn’t want to be soldering or near chemicals after having alcohol.  That didn’t leave me much to start with (also because I was feeling rather tired and worn out, I was having trouble thinking of what to do).  Everything I picked up and tried to work with was a disaster (things broke or bent in the wrong place or just looked awful) – and I was getting really cold now. Deciding not to freeze by being at my bench for too long, I picked up a silver hoop earring that I’ve had since I was in my twenties.  When I had the pair, I used to wear them out clubbing – until I decided that hoops really weren’t the right look for me, especially ones which are about 5cm across (about 2 inches, I think).

I had an idea to make this lone earring back to being useful again, and decided to make it into a brooch.  The earring is made up of silver tubing and has a curved pin at the top.  One side, the pin was hinged and the other side had the pin going into the open end of the tubing and holding in place with friction only.  This wouldn’t do for a brooch, as it comes under more stress and strain than an earring – so I cut a notch in one side of the tubing at the top (that went right through one side of the tubing) and bent the end of the pin slightly so that when it went into the tubing, it would catch there.  I also had to sharpen the pin so that it would go through clothing smoothly.

I had an idea to use some dangles (something that hangs from the piece and normally swings freely) and have fine chain looping down between them.  This was good in theory, but when I made my dangles (head-pins with black & white crystals and a loop at the top to attach to the earring) they all bunched together at the bottom – not the effect I was going for.  This meant that I would need to make sure that the loops round the earring would stay where I wanted them – I could have soldered jump rings round the bottom of the earring and hung the dangles from them, but I wasn’t soldering and so I needed to come up with another solution.

The easiest solution was to drill holes along the bottom of the earring and hook the dangles through.  In the end, I went with a combination of most dangles being through drilled holes and a couple just with their top loops round the earring itself.

I added the chain to each dangle as I made it – it would have fiddly and unnecessary work to add it on afterwards.  After I had added all the dangles, I put a couple of crystal drops hanging off the chain (which pulled the chain down nicely in a couple of places as well as elongating the design) and I was finished.

Okay, it’s not my most inspiring piece of jewellery; but it was good to do some problem solving and also not being able to fall back on the “I’ll just solder it” solution.

brooch shown being worn

“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 18: My Own Cheshire Cat. UPDATE!

As I said yesterday, My boy Frodo is my own Cheshire cat and this brooch is based upon him. (Please check out the previous post for the details of how I made it.)  I’ve now done the photos and, even though I think I still need to do more polishing, here they are:

First is the design I came up with.  It was originally to have had a gold ring suspended from a loop at the back, so it looked like he was holding it.  This was because of both of his name (Frodo from Lord of the Rings with the One Ring) and because it could then be used as a brooch to hold spectacles when they’re not being worn (not my typical type of jewellery, but it was a work in progress sort of idea).

As you will see from the photo of the finished brooch (see below), I decided against adding the ring.  The brooch looked pretty enough without it; although if I make another one, I may add one to see how it would look in real life.

The photo doesn’t show very well that the silver contrasts beautifully against the copper.  I know I need to polish it more, but I am quite proud of how smiley this Cheshire cat looks – just like my Frodo.

Oh, and I promised I’d post a photo of my beautiful boy – so here he is:

Beautiful, isn’t he?

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 18: My Own Cheshire Cat

My boy Frodo is my own Cheshire cat.  Not only is he stripy and is a pale orangey-pink, he was also born in Cheshire and he has the cutest smiley mouth (it really does turn up at the corners and looks like he’s smiling).

Now Frodo has always been important but even more so now that he has CRF (Chronic Renal Failure or Kidney disease to the rest of us).  I’ve got lots of sketches of him as he is quite the laid-back kitty, and I decided to turn one into a brooch design.

As he is such a pale coppery pink, what better than to make his brooch out of copper.  I used the same technique as with yesterday’s bat pin but with silver wire on copper sheet.  I won’t go into the same details (go read my bat post!) but I will say that after cutting out all the pieces, I soldered the face first, the leg next and then soldered both to the body.

I don’t know if it was just me, but I had way more trouble soldering silver onto copper than copper onto silver.  I think that the melting point of copper is lower (don’t quote me on that until I can go check) but anyway it was a headache I could do without and I think I spent way too much time soldering and problem-solving because of it.

I don’t have any way of cutting tiny circles, except by hand, so I decided to take two of my silver beads (they were flattish rather than round to begin with) and hammer them flat.  I also filed into the middle to make the cat-eye shape I wanted.

The brooch pin was made by coiling silver wire around a thin mandrel about 4 times (you could use a thin knitting needle or a metal skewer as long as it’s cross-section was round) and soldering the last loop of the coil to the back of the brooch.  The unsoldered loops of the coil are then (as one) pulled 90° to the side (making sure the tail of the pin is uppermost) and then the pin is trimmed to size and the end filed to a point.  I don’t push the pin down horizontal to the back until after I have added the catch.  The catch was added the same way but the wire had only one loop which was soldered in place.  The tail of the wire was then cut to size and curled round, leaving a gap for the pin to tuck under and be held in the curve of the catch.

I wanted the silver to have a high shine but the copper to be more muted.  With this in mind, I  haven’t tumbled this piece but polished by hand and with silicon polishing wheels on the rotary “drill”.

As I type, it’s 1am and my Frodo brooch is still a little polish away from being finished.  I will post this and then add the photo tomorrow, when it’s all shiny and pretty.  I’ll also add a photo of the pretty boy it’s based on.

BTW, just in case anyone was wondering … Frodo was originally a nickname for him when he was a little kitten and we were trying to think of a proper name.  He has the hairiest, tufty-est paws I had ever seen (he’s half Maine Coon) and he ate at least seven breakfasts a day.  The name just stuck and forever after, he has been known as Frodo (but more often as Mr Frodo or Frodo Bun (short for bunny – a term of endearment, just not a species-correct one).

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 17: Love-birds

I love this site called Cake Wrecks.  It’s really worth a look, so go check it out sometime (after you’ve read this post, obviously!), you’ll not regret it.

Anyway, every Sunday they post beautiful cakes (rather than the funny cake fails that they normally post about), and last Sunday they showed lots of Autumn (Fall) cakes.  They were all amazing, but one in particular caught my eye – an amazing Autumn wedding cake with twigs and leaves and two love-birds, by Mindy Gwinn.  This photo caused lots of little ideas to pop into my head – I had just done my first copper and silver piece and I had lots of copper left over (hooray!)

I sketched out the birds by eye from the photo on the web and made a note of how the leaves and twigs looked.  I then decided on a circular shape for the frame of this little pendant.  I drew all the elements inside a circle and liked how it looked, so I photocopied the design at the right size and set to work.

If I am working from a particular design, I like to have a copy that I can measure up against, or lay the pieces on (so I don’t forget anything and can check how it looks before soldering!).  This was important here because it was based on someone else’s design and I wanted it to look right.

Firstly, I made a circle of 0.8mm sterling square wire and soldered it closed (adding a jump ring to the top as well) with hard solder.  I cut and shaped the branches out of 0.8mm round sterling wire, then soldered them in place with hard solder.  A quick tap of the hammer to flatten where the branches overlapped (not too hard or they would have broken) and then into the pickle while I got the love-birds ready.

I basically used the same technique as with the bat I made yesterday.  This time though only the basic shape was in sterling silver.  I cut out the wings, eyes and beaks in 0.5mm thick copper sheet; and I can tell you, cutting out the tiny pieces was really tricky (the smallest beak is less than 1mm² and the male bird’s eye has a hand-drilled hole of about 1mm).  This time I used my medium solder paste which has flux already in it.  This paste can be used in tiny amounts just where it is needed, and I could place the small copper parts over the solder ready for heating.

After the love-birds were soldered and placed in the pickle solution to get rid of any fire-stain, I cut out some leaf shapes from the copper sheet and filed down any rough edges (I had already filed down any other parts when I had cut them out).  Then all that was needed was to place the birds and leaves on the pendant, check the layout, and then solder in place with easy solder.  This time, I turned the whole piece over and soldered from the back (so all the pieces had firm contact with each other), although I still had to be careful not to melt the more delicate branches.

I made a bail from a piece of rectangular silver sheet, which I rounded the corners of, and a small piece of silver tubing.  The silver sheet was folded in half with my round-nosed pliers and the silver tubing was soldered between them, at the bottom, for the jump ring to rest on. These were soldered together while they were attached to the pendant and then a copper leaf was soldered to the front.

The pendant only needed a quick dip in the pickle (about 10 minutes this time) and then a good wash with a brush and washing-up liquid, before going in the tumbler.  I’m still going to give it a proper polish to get any fine scratches out and to give it a mirror shine – but that will have to wait for tomorrow, I think.

I will be giving the copper a coat of Renaissance Wax to seal it.  It’s a great product (invented by the British Museum, I think), which will protect both the copper and the wearer.

Well, here’s to msgwinn and that amazing wedding cake … and finally, here’s my little tribute to it:

(I will do a better photo of this in daylight.  My ever obliging husband took this one for me but it was already dark and not the best conditions for photos)

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 16: Little Bat

Yesterday was day 16 of the challenge (wow, over two weeks!) and I just couldn’t decide on what to do.  I made lots of drawings and fiddled about with bits of silver, but still nothing seemed right.  I know that writers are told to “write  about what you know”, so I decided to put that into practice with my jewellery and “make what I like”.  I’ve already got a cat design idea in the pipeline, so I went with my other favourite animal – the Bat!

Originally, I was going to make a necklace – but the piece of scrap silver I wanted to use was so small, I decided to make a pin brooch/badge instead.

I drew out the basic bat shape on the silver and cut it out with the hand saw.  It measured about 2.6cm (1″) wide by 0.8cm (3/8″) high.  I also cut out an oval for the body and a head shape.  After I drilled two eyes in the head, I layered the two pieces on the main shape and soldered them with hard solder.

To make the wings 3D, I decided to use thin silver wire.  I cut them all to shape and then had to decide how to solder them on.  It seemed that sweat soldering (where solder is melted onto one surface before both surfaces are heated and put together, where the solder will melt again, soldering the two surfaces together) would be the easiest method, but it didn’t turn out to be!

I fluxed and soldered the main piece so that when I added the wires, I could then re-heat everything and the wires would be soldered without melting.  I even used my wire mesh on my soldering tripod, so that I could heat the piece from underneath. (Heating from the top means that the wires would get hot before the thicker underneath and would be more likely to melt before the solder would.)  In theory this would work perfectly – in practice, it didn’t quite go to plan.

The solder flowed to one wing more than the other (probably due to me not heating the piece evenly) and swamped the layers and fine detail.  After quenching in cold water; I had to file away as much of the excess solder as I could, just to bring back some detail in the wings.

Also, one of the wires didn’t solder on right and I had to heat again -first to melt the solder and move the wire, and then to resolder the wire in place.   Fiddly, when the item is so tiny!

The next headache to come was when I added the pin at the back.  I thought I’d got some already made in my findings box, but non – so I had to find a piece of round silver wire the right size.  Well, it seems that I had got a little tired by this time (about midnight, I think it was) and after I cut the piece of wire, I actually picked up a different piece and soldered the wrong wire to the back!  I didn’t notice my mistake till after I had filed the end to a point and was putting the notch in the end for the pin back to catch on.  Aggghhhhh! So I took a deep breath and cut off the pin and filed the back flat again.  I picked up the right piece of silver (I suppose it serves me right for working at a messy bench!) and went through all the processes I just described, to get it to be a proper pin.

After pickling and giving it a preliminary file/polish – it was time for a trip in the tumbler.  This was when I decided to leave off making for the day (night!) and tumble it with my next day’s piece when I made it the next day (which would save money as well as not waking anyone up!).

I like my little bat, even though he’s not as perfect as I wanted him to be.  I was going to call him Stan (don’t ask me why!) but I’ve called him Pete because it was my friend Pete’s birthday when I made this.  So, say hello to my bat “Pete”:

 

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 15: Amethyst Stud Earrings

Last night, I had a great idea for a pair of earrings; and all day I’ve been trying to snatch an hour or two, here and there, to be able to get them done.

I drew out my design this morning and worked out what materials I would need to use.  Today, I made everything in this design from scratch (except the pair of cabochon amethysts and the earrings posts/butterflies for the back) using only scrap pieces.

First, I had to make the bezel mounts with solid backs (so I had somewhere to add the earring posts) – I didn’t want to use a purchased setting.  The cabochons are pretty small (8x6mm) and I didn’t have thin enough flat bezel wire, so I used my dividers on the stones to find out how thin the bezel wire should be.  I transferred this onto the bezel wire by holding one point of the dividers at the edge and scoring along the wire with the other.  I then cut down the scored line with my tin-snips.  The cup of the bezel (which will hold the gem) was made by soldering the bezel wire into a circle and then shaping it round the oval gem.  This was then soldered (using hard solder) to the small scraps of 0.4mm silver sheet (by putting it all on a wire mesh and heating from underneath so not to melt the bezel) and the excess cut away and then filed smooth.

Next, I needed to make the ball-ended wires.  I found enough wires in my scrap box and then created the ball at one end of each wire by holding it pointing downwards and heating with my blow-torch till the end started to melt and drew up into a ball.  Each one was dropped into water to quench it – they cool quickly, but can still be hot even when they look cold on the surface.  I didn’t want any burned fingers!

The wires were shaped with round-nosed pliers and fingers to fit the design and then cut to size.  I had to remember that one of the pair would be a mirror-image of the other, meaning that each wire on that earring would have to be placed back-to-front, or  both earrings wouldn’t look like a pair.

I didn’t solder all the wires on at the same time.  First, I soldered the two wires that went around the bezel setting.  Only once they were looking right, did I solder the other wires on.  This helped me keep the wires looking the same on both earrings and minimised any movement – as light pieces (such as these wires) can either be blown around by the heat of the blow-torch or slide away when the solder melts.

After quenching again, I turned the earrings over and stamped “925” on each one.  The earring post was attached by a technique known as “sweating”.  This meant that I melted solder onto the earring post and let it go cold. Then (after fluxing the earring to help the solder flow), the earring post was held upright (with heat-resistant tweezers) against the back of the earring and the earring was heated.  As the earring got to the right temperature, the earring post was heated too and as the solder melted, it was drawn to the earring and soldered the two together.  (It helps to know that solder will travel towards heat; and that grease, gaps, and fire-scale all stop solder from flowing, so that flux is needed for successful soldering.

I decided that the bezels looked a little plain (as well as still being a little too high for my taste), and so used my triangular file to file notches all the way round each bezel.  After rounding off any sharp bits, it gave the bezel a pleasing scalloped edge.  Checking the stones in the bezels (using dental floss laid behind the stone and over the bezel edge, so I could get the stones back out!), I decided to raise them up a bit and so added an oval of 0.8mm square wire inside each bezel for this purpose.

A good half-an-hour in the pickle and then a preliminary file and polish by rotary-tool was all it took to get them at the stage I could throw them in the tumbler for about an hour or so.  I did remember to first neutralise the pickle on the earrings by dipping them in a solution of bicarbonate-of-soda, and also to give them a good wash & brush after using the silicon wheels.

All that was needed now was to set the amethysts – made much easier by having those notches cut in the edge – and here they are, fairy-tale earrings: