Monday, December 15, 2014

Head Pins and Spirals

Headpins are an expensive finding to buy when you are making dozens or hundreds of dangles for a piece of jewellery.  Not to mention the frustration of locating a head pin the exact shape or style that is required for the specific bead in the right metal.  Especially when working with fine holed beads, what a nightmare!

With a wire cutter, round needle pliers and some continuous wire, a head pin can be made in under a minute for a fraction of the cost, especially if using silver, gold filled or gold wire.

Hammered Clasp

Hammered Clasp

I am a sucker for textured, hammered, twisted, tortured wire.  I love it, the whole rustic look.  I was first exposed to the whole concept when I was looking at a website by Connie Fox of

This clasp is best made from 1.00 mm (18 gauge) or thicker wire and is easy to make if you have a few tools around the place: ball pein hammer, round needle nose pliers, flat needle nose pliers, fine metal file and steel plate or concrete to hammer against.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Awkward Bezel Setting

In the beginning there was a snail operculum (that's door to us laypeople).  And this shell wanted setting, because a client paid me to do so.  However, I have never set an awkward shape or sheer size like this - asymetrical yes, but not where one side is twice as thick as the other side with a bulky bottom sticking out.

At 2.5 cm x 3.25 cm (1 in x 1.3 in), the shell will test my silversmithing skills.  So I charged less to the client, as I typically do when a project will push my boundaries and give me a chance to learn new skills.

Please note:
This is not a how to on creating a bezel setting in silversmithing, more the journalling of my boundary pushing steps.

No settings below have been cleaned up.  This is the deep and dirty of silversmithing.

Studio Heath Showcase

At the beginning of my wire working fetish, I wanted keenly to be able to capture a stone in wire work and learn more about the "rainbow wrapping" being done by various artists in Colorado, USA in 2005.  I searched for a good, comprehensive tutorial to buy that would not only teach me the foundations of some good wire working but also enable for me to make the complicated ideas I had in my head for jewellery.

Step in Remy of featuring her wonderful work.  She made the most amazing tutorial on exactly what I was looking for in the Woven Sculpture Pendant.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hollow Fusion Bracelet

After completing a ton of fusing metal experiments, what do I do with all of these silver plates!  I had been drooling over the designs of jewelry artist Nancy Blair and thought about emulating the box look of her bracelets.  Why not use my fuse experiments to make up the links in a bracelet!

Fusing Silver with a torch Experiments

After getting the basics of silver smithing down of soldering, polishing and bezel setting I wanted to start experimenting in my home workshop.  After committing sterling silver (s/s) to experimentation, I decided to explore the fusing technique.  I won't go into the actual fusing process as there are may free, great videos on Youtube and other tutorials on the hows.  Needless to say, I didn't do much research and just winged it.

In all experiments, I used 1 mm thick s/s sheet.
Experiment 1: 1 silver s/s ball, one fine silver ball and 1 x 9 karat gold ball 

Fusing requires a lot of concentration and careful flame control.  In an ideal set up, I would have a bunsen burner type flame heating the back plate from underneath to get the metal hot and then use another flame to do the final melting of the top surface from above.  Sadly, I don't have a pluthera of materials in my workshop, so I used one plumbers LPG torch from above with the biggest head possible which leaves very little room for minute control. 

I learned in this first experiment that s/s melts quickly, 9 karat gold melts next and fine silver holds it shape quite well compared to the melting point of the s/s backplate.  The s/s ball and gold ball resemble fried eggs as I was trying to get the fine silver ball to finally fuse to the backplate.

Conclusion of this first experiment was to have all items I am fusing to one backplate all the same material for consistent success without complete meltdown of a feature.