Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Making another pair of earrings

I'm getting much better at soldering things. It's still sort of a miracle every time it works but I'm getting better. I had lots of practice today while making my bezel rings.

We were given 8mm cabochons in a choice of rose quartz, carnelian, or onyx. I love onyx with sterling silver so I chose two matching cabs (even though they're all supposed to be the same size, they're real stone so there will be subtle differences between them) for earrings. I like doing earrings because I can imagine wearing them. I don't really think of making brooches or pendants or rings or cuffs. Besides, making earrings gives me the chance to make two things - and that's extra practice.

So once I measured the circumference of the cabs (8.2mm, actually), I cut out my strips of metal that would become the bezel, annealed them so that they're soft enough to form, bent them into shape, and set them up to solder them into rings. One soldered perfectly. The other one melted.

I cut out another strip, annealed it, bent it into shape, and soldered it. Then I hammered it into a proper ring shape, saw it was a little bit too small, hammered it with a different hammer to make it larger, and it was too big.

I cut the ring open along the solder line, cut a couple of millimeters off the band, annealed it, bent it into shape, soldered it, and hammered it. It was a little bit too small (where have I seen this before?), so I took a different hammer to make it larger, and it was again too big. Again.

I cut the ring open along the new solder line, cut one millimeter off the band, bent it into shape, soldered it, and hammered it. This time when it was a little bit too small I didn't take a different hammer to it but continued to use the same hammer and it came out the right size. Finally!

My instructor says that I must have a really strong arm for that hammer, so I'll have to be careful with that in the future. The soldering practice was useful but I wish I'd been able to spend the time designing the earrings. I talked with the instructor and we've come up with something but I wasn't able to execute it tonight. Next time I'll solder the bezel rings to small pieces of silver sheet and then cut out an additional piece out of thicker silver sheet (with a pierced shape in the middle) and solder the rings so that the stone is sitting in the middle of the pierced area. Sounds like fun, huh?

I hope that the my next projects don't take quite as long to make. Actually, I hope I don't make quite so many mistakes even though I learn more from them than getting things right the first time. I don't think that I'm especially slow because I was focusing on making the bezel while others were making the rest of the piece today. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our finished pieces next week.

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