So this is what I look like while creating a piece. Hair is tied back tightly so that it can't catch on fire or get caught in any machinery. Safety goggles so that nothing can fly in my eyes and so I don't burn my eyebrows or eyelashes off. Tight fitting clothing so again, nothing catches on fire or gets caught. See? Isn't jewelry making glamorous?!? ;)
And now for the process:
- Saw the sterling silver or gold filled wire to the appropriate length depending on ring size ordered. Since I'll hammer the ring later, and hammering will stretch it out, I always saw the wire a few millimeters short
- Crap! I mixed up 2 & 3... ok, refer to picture 3. I file the ends of the wire so that they are flat and can be matched together to form a solid seam.
- And now refer to picture 2... I bend the wires into a circle or oval to match the seams. Since I will be shaping the ring later, the shape doesn't have to be perfect yet
- I cover the ring in an extremely poisonous chemical (yay for me) that will protect it from the fire when I heat it up to seal the seam and to make more pliable
- Using a metal pick, I place a piece of silver solder on the seam. This will be melted and will fill the seam to seal it.
- The solder piece is on the seam
- Directing heat on the solder to melt into the seam
- The solder is melted and the ring is formed
- After the ring cools a bit, I place in cold water to cool further so I don't burn my hands handling
- Place the ring in a pot of more toxic chemicals, this time acid, to clean it. Then sand down the seam to make it uniform with the rest of the ring (step not shown)
- Time to heat the rings again so I can shape and hammer them. Metals become more pliable when heated and harden when worked. Depending on the type of ring I'm making, I may heat, work, heat, work, heat, work over and over until I get the shape or look for which I'm aiming. Each time I do this, I will protect, heat, place in water and then acid all over again. It can be quite a process!
- Heating the rings so I can shape
- Using a rubber mallet to shape & size the ring
- Using a ball end metal hammer to hammer the ring
- Once I am happy with the sizing and design, they look something like this
- Then I place them in a tumbler with a bit of powdered ivory soap to clean and harden them. Since the rings are thin, I want to harden as much as possible so that they don't bend out of shape
- In the tumbler
And the finished product!