Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Green Amethyst :: Ring No. 52

My final ring for the Ring A Week challenge features a 10mm cushion rose cut green amethyst that I've set in sterling silver. I've given the ring a brushed finish. I fell in love with this pale green stone.

Participating in the Ring A Week challenge has been an incredible experience. At times, with a full schedule, it was hard to keep up but I'm so glad I was able to finish in time. I've really enjoyed seeing the creations of other challenge participants. You can see the entire pool of Ring A Week rings on Flickr.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tension Setting :: Ring A Week No. 51

This is my first attempt at a tension setting, in which the stone is held in place solely by spring tension. I formed the ring from square wire, allowing the two ends to bypass each other to hold a 3mm faceted peridot between them. The shape is not perfect, the band twists just a bit and does not flow quite as I would like, but I still think it looks nice on the finger, since the back of the band is not the focus. It was challenging to spread the two ends apart and insert the tiny peridot, yet incredibly satisfying to hear it snap into place. It seems very secure.

Ovals :: Ring A Week No. 50

For my latest ring, I decided to start with the same basic components as the previous ring, solder them together in the same sequence, but alter the components and finish to change the look of the second ring. After cutting five circles and then cutting smaller circles out of the larger circles, I rolled each piece through my rolling mill to create ovals. I then soldered them together. I oxidized the larger, open ovals for contrast and gave the small ovals a bright, brushed finish. I really like the effect. Below are the two rings side by side.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Circles :: Ring No. 49

For Ring 49, I've cut small circles from larger circles of sterling silver and soldered them all together to make this simple ring. I've given it a brushed finish.

I've fallen just a bit behind with my Ring A Week challenge. (Thanks to my fantastic customers this holiday season has been very, very busy, with not much free time for creating rings!) I still intend to meet my goal of creating 52 rings by year end--three more to go! Stay tuned....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Walnut Nautilus Ring :: Ring A Week No. 48

One of my first rings for the Ring A Week Challenge was a ring made of wood. As I near the end of this year-long challenge, I've again revisited wood for one of my final pieces. I've hand cut and shaped this walnut ring, giving it a soft, smooth finish. I then etched my tiny hand drawn nautilus shell design into a small sterling silver circle. It is soldered to a post that is inserted and secured in the wood shank.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feather Ring :: RAW 47/52

Similar to a recent leaf ring (RAW 43), Ring A Week 47 features an imprint. This time, I've imprinted a small feather into sterling silver. I then hand cut and fabricated the ring, and oxidized and hand finished it to show of the delicate lines of the feather.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let it snow :: Ring A Week No. 46

I've continued with the snow theme for a second ring, etching my handwritten words "Let it snow!" into this hand fabricated band. The background texture is interesting and also a bit of a mystery. I have a particular strip of silver that reliably produces these textured lines when etched. I've etched a lot of silver and always clean and prep it in the same way, yet whenever I cut a piece from this particular strip to etch I get this result, no matter how well it is cleaned and prepped first. I find it more interesting than troublesome and really enjoy the effect.

Below is a Let it Snow! necklace, with a smooth background (available in my shop):

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snowflake :: Ring A Week No. 45

I love the delicate beauty of snowflakes, and at this time of year I cannot resist drawing them. I etched one of my hand drawn snowflake designs into silver to create this ring. I oxidize most of my snowflake pendants to show off the delicate designs, but I loved the frosty appearance of this ring and decided to instead burnish the delicate lines of the etched design to create subtle contrast against the frosty, brushed background.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hydrangea Blossom :: Ring A Week No. 44

I've had a lot of fun imprinting whole, dried hydrangea blossoms into sterling silver. (Necklaces are available in my shop.) For this ring a week ring, I imprinted a four petal hydrangea blossom, hand cut and formed it, and soldered it to a hand fabricated sterling shank. The oxidized finish highlights the delicate veins of each petal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leaf Imprint :: Ring A Week No. 43

As I was walking my dog this week, I noticed some lovely fallen leaves that happened to be just the right size and shape for a wrap around ring. I collected a few and this weekend I imprinted one into sterling silver using my rolling mill. I hand cut it from the silver using my jeweler's hand saw, following the fine, serrated edge along one side of the imprint. I wanted the ring to feel comfortable on the finger so I chose to create a smooth bottom edge. I love how the tip and the stem of the leaf overlap and envisioned that detail being the front of the ring. However, I think it actually looks nicer on the finger with the overlap to the back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Go and wake up your luck :: Ring A Week No. 42

Every now and then I visit my mistake drawer for inspiration. For my latest Ring A Week ring, I combined two pieces residing in that drawer. The etched piece, which reads "go and wake up your luck," was originally to be a pendant. I wasn't happy with the shape or the etched lettering and so it went in the drawer. I made the wide band from a piece of silver into which I had attempted to imprint some grasses for texture but didn't love the result. I sanded away the texture before fabricating the band and soldered the the organically shaped etched piece in place. I then gave it an oxidized, somewhat shiny finish. I am glad to have found a use for a couple pieces that had not turned out as I intended. It feels great on the finger and is a ring I will likely wear from time to time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Curl Ring :: Ring A Week No. 41

For this latest Ring A Week ring, I challenged myself to make a ring out of a piece of scrap silver from a failed rolling mill experiment. I first cut the piece into a freeform organic shape and then smoothed the sides and edges. I formed it into a ring shape and then curled the ends. Finally, I gave it a soft matte grey finish. It reminds me of ribbon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pressed Petals :: Ring A Week No. 40

Inspired by some lovely dried hydrangea blossoms, I've created this ring by overlapping five hydrangea petals and imprinting them into sterling silver using my rolling mill. I then hand cut the silver, following the organic contour of the petals. The oxidized finish highlights the intricate veins in each petal.

Below are individual petals that I imprinted in sterling silver and 14K gold and turned into pendants. Both necklaces are available in my Etsy shops.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The fall of a leaf :: Ring No. 39

I recently came across this Russian Proverb: "The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living." I love the sentiment and I immediately knew I had to somehow incorporate it into a new piece. I hand lettered the quote in calligraphy and then created smaller versions of my maple leaf design to dance above the words. I hand cut around the tops of the leaves for an interesting jagged edge. I had thought of separating the leaves from the text to make a set of two stacking rings that would fit together along a jagged edge at the bottom of the leaves, but it was turning out so nicely as one piece that I didn't want to risk messing it up. I may experiment with the idea though. I did try a mock up, cutting the two stacking rings out of paper which actually turned out well so I may give it a try in metal sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm pretty happy with how this ring turned out. Below of are some progress shots so you can see a couple stages of the process.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ring A Week No. 38

For my latest ring, I imprinted both sides of the sterling silver with the soft, subtle texture of 100% cotton paper. I wanted to give the edge the appearance of torn paper so I hand cut an organic, rough edge around the entire piece and then formed it into a wrap ring with overlapping ends. To finish it, I gave a subtle, polished shine to the rough edge, all the way around the ring. I like the substantial feel of the ring but for a more papery effect, I'd consider using a thinner gauge of silver the next time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ring A Week No. 37

This latest Ring A Week ring features a purple, teardrop-shaped, druzy agate cabochon. It is set in a hand cut, scalloped bezel. I've oxidized the silver and I think the grey patina looks quite nice with the purple druzy. I received this stone free with another purchase and I really like the sugary purple crystals in its center.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Amethyst Leaf Ring :: Ring A Week No. 36

It's been a busy month, but I've finally finished ring number 36. This ring, created for a customer, is a modification of an earlier Ring A Week design, ring number 7. For this newest ring I've set an amethyst cabochon, instead of peridot, in the center. I've also given the bezel and stone a lower profile so that it is a bit more protected, nestled among the leaves. Other than those differences the two rings are quite similar yet the change in stone color gives the ring a different look.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tiny Butterfly :: Ring A Week No. 35

A tiny etched silver butterfly perches atop a sterling silver band. I've oxidized the ring and hand finished it to show off the delicate etched details of the tiny butterfly.

I'm hard at work preparing for an art fair next weekend so this week's ring is simple and sweet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Luna Moth Twins :: Ring A Week No. 34

My hand drawn luna moth design is a favorite nature motif in my jewelry collection. This week's Ring A Week ring features twin luna moths etched into sterling silver. Their antennae entwine and encircle a small, bezel set 3mm peridot cabochon. I had first intended to incorporate a moonstone cabochon, which would have been appropriate for the luna theme. The moonstones I have in stock were just a tad too large, so I went with the peridot instead. Since luna moths are a similar shade of green, I felt it was a nice second choice and I really like the tiny pop of color at the center of this ring.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ring A Week No. 33

For my latest Ring A Week ring, I've created a sterling silver band that matches my previous ring. The etched design is so detailed and delicate that I wanted to make a simpler piece to show off the detail of the etching. I like how it turned out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garnet Ring :: Ring A Week No. 32

I really enjoyed making this ring. I've set a 6mm almandine garnet cabochon into the center surrounded by my hand drawn etched vine lace design etched into a sterling saucer. The shank is also etched with the design and cradles the saucer. It is oxidized and hand finished and I really like how the patina shows of the delicate, lacy etched vines. I've recently created some pendants with the lace vine motif as well, which you can see in my shop.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Moonstone Ring :: Ring A Week No. 31

Several months ago, I purchased some lovely little 4mm moonstone cabochons. They've been sitting in my drawer waiting for a project until I thought of the idea for this ring. I've been melting and reusing a lot of my scrap silver these days and for Ring 31, I melted some scrap into a molten orb, flattened it just a bit and then filed interesting facets all around the silver nugget which sits atop a fabricated sterling band. I fabricated a bezel for the moonstone, which is inset. I love the rough, faceted texture of the silver (which I've oxidized to show off its angles) paired with the smooth, glowing dome of moonstone.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Life is My Message :: Ring A Week No. 30

I recently came across this quote by Gandhi: "my life is my message" and it stuck in my head. What a powerful statement. Not only was it true for Gandhi; it's true for each of us. I decided to etch this sentiment into my latest Ring A Week ring. I started with sterling silver square wire, hand fabricating the band, hammering the outer surface and etching the handwritten words into the silver. I then oxidized the hammered texture and the etched lettering for contrast. What a great reminder to wear on the finger!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ring A Week No. 29

My 29th Ring A Week ring is a thick, hand fabricated band of sterling silver. I've filed facets along the edges to create an interesting texture, and I've highlighted the texture by oxidizing and hand finishing the ring. It's a substantial piece and also very comfortable to wear.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ring A Week No. 28

For my twenty-eighth Ring A Week ring, I fabricated a sterling silver band and added a 14K gold orb that I made by melting some of my gold scrap. I gave both band and orb a brushed finish. While this is a very simple design, I really like it a lot, perhaps because it reminds me a bit of my wedding ring, minus the diamond (see below).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tide Pool Ring :: Ring a Week No. 27

My friend, Carolyn, of Sleeping Dog Studio recently shared some resin with me and I've been eager to try it out. So, for this week's Ring A Week ring I fabricated this sterling silver ring, added three tiny shells collected during a vacation, and filled the sterling saucer with resin, partially submerging the shells. The clear resin looks like water and this piece reminds me of a tide pool.

I didn't want to waste the 1/2 ounce batch of resin I had mixed for the ring and since it is usable for about 45 minutes after mixing, I looked around the studio to quickly figure out what else I might do with it. I have a packet of small manufactured sterling bezel cups that I never use since I prefer to make my own so they were perfect for experimenting. I also hang on to the pnp paper I use to transfer my designs for etching; the leftover bits are lovely and so I save some them. I decided to try embedding some of the tinier designs in resin, in the bezel cups, and made several pendants like the one below. The photo doesn't quite do it justice since the branch design actually appears to be floating and the image is sharper than the photo conveys. This was my first time working with resin and it was fun to experiment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ring A Week No. 26

For my 26th Ring A Week ring, I etched my delicate vine branch design into sterling and then hand cut the intricate shape, soldering it to a hand fabricated sterling brand. I oxidized it for contrast. I really like the dimension and texture of this vine branch. This ring gave me some trouble that I did not anticipate. The delicate vine was so fragile that it broke in a couple places. I had intended for it to remain in one piece, although I think it looks fine as separate pieces encircling the band. Solder did not flow properly and it took me a couple of tries. I also had some issues with firescale which took some work to clean up. Do you recognize the branch? I also used this motif for Ring A Week No. 14. The two rings are very different.

I've also made a matching pendant (below) which is now for sale in my Etsy Shop.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Hummingbird :: Ring A Week No. 25

I recently found a dead male hummingbird in our yard. I hoped he was merely stunned, but upon closer inspection it became clear that he was deceased. I buried him in a pleasant area near some bushes and pondered the life of this small, amazing creature, one of my favorite birds. My friend, Kathy, suggested I create a piece of jewelry "to honor and celebrate the fragile, yet beautiful life of the hummingbird. It reminds us that all life is fragile." Another friend, Julie, suggested creating one of my Ring A Week rings in his honor. I thought these were lovely ideas.

This ring has resulted from their suggestions and from some design motifs I've been working with lately. I hand cut the tiny hummingbird and flowers from a sheet of 14K gold and soldered them to a sterling circle which I then cupped and soldered to a hand fabricated sterling band. I oxidized the silver and I really love the striking contrast between the blackened silver and the gold. This ring is one of my personal favorites, perhaps my favorite piece that I've created to date.

Below is the ring before I oxidized it. I've also posted some progress photos to my facebook business page, which you can see here.

I've made several other mixed metal pieces combining silver and gold that are now available in my new Etsy Shop Here are four of them:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ring A Week No. 24

For my twenty-fourth Ring A Week ring, I melted sterling silver scrap into a ring shape. I wanted to preserve its interesting, undulating edges and organic form, while forming it into a functional ring. Below is the ring shape I started with. I used my hammer and files to create the finished piece above.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pebble Ring :: Ring A Week No. 23

I recently melted down my gold scrap and made some little 14k gold balls. I soldered several balls together, intending for them to look like round bubbles floating on the band. I didn't like the look of it. The balls were too round and they looked odd connected to each other but with open space between them. They did not look like bubbles. I then flattened the tops of the balls a bit, gave each a more organic shape, and then soldered them to a sterling background, cutting a nice contour around the gold pebbles and finally soldering the assembly to a sterling band. I oxidized the silver for contrast and I really like how the dark background shows off the gold pebbles. I'm happy with how this piece turned out.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ring A Week No. 22

I had so much fun fabricating my twenty-second ring for the Ring A Week challenge. I love its soft, sleek shape and soft satin finish. I don't actually love it as a ring though. Perhaps it's just not a good match for my fingers but I thought it looked odd on my hand. I decided to also make a smaller version for earrings, which you can see below, and I'm pleased with how they turned out. The ring looks nice hanging from a chain so I may wear it as a pendant. Its hollow form makes it wonderfully light weight.

Both the ring and earrings were made from Argentium silver. Argentium has a slightly higher silver content than sterling (a minimum of of 93.5% vs. a minimum of 92.5% in sterling). Germanium replaces some of the copper used in sterling silver, making Argentium silver tarnish resistant and a bit whiter and brighter. It is also firescale resistant. Argentium is produced using recycled silver.

These are the first pieces I've created using Argentium and I really enjoyed working with it. Each ring is created from two halves that I soldered together. I used Argentium silver solder which is an excellent color match for this metal and I am pleased that there is no visible solder seam.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fragile Strength :: Ring A Week No. 21

While walking my dog several days ago I found a few broken robin egg shell fragments on the sidewalk. As I examined the pieces, I marveled at how thin and fragile they are, yet strong enough to shelter and protect a developing bird.

Robin egg blue is one of the prettiest colors. As I admired the smooth lustre of the shell fragment, I imagined it set in a ring. In fact, I knew I had to try it. I designed and constructed the ring using cold connections, to eliminate torch work that would destroy the shell. I made two convex rings, one that nests inside the other. The smaller of the two provides support for the shell and holds it in place beneath the larger convex ring. I made a larger flat ring that fits over the two convex pieces, holding them in place. I secured the assembly to the shank with two tiny rivets.

I am pleased with how the ring turned out, although despite being as careful as possible during fabrication, there is a small, hairline crack in the shell. It is nearly invisible but I am still disappointed that I cracked it.

While not a practical ring at all, it was so much fun to make.

By the way, while googling robin eggs I came across this plastic surgery site with an amazing photo of a broken robin egg reconstructed with microplates used to repair facial fractures. How cool! Click here to check out the photo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Talk About Blog: New Project Ideas

Each month, Handmade Division team members have the opportunity to write a blog post on a given topic. This month's topic is: What new project are you working on now and why?

A project that has been floating around in my head for awhile is a personal series of pieces incorporating mementos from my grandmothers. It's been 21 years since my maternal grandmother passed away; I lost my paternal grandmother at the end of last year. I have wonderful memories of both. From an early age, I remember being drawn to their jewelry collections (of course!) my maternal grandmother kept her earrings on a mirrored jewelry tray on her dresser. During each visit as a child I'd organize her jewelry tray, matching up her earrings and arranging them in neat pairs. My paternal grandmother had a drawer with stacking trays and later a jewelry armoire. I remember going through the drawers with her...she'd tell me about the pieces my grandfather gave her and sometimes she'd give me something to wear or even keep.

As I think about creating pieces in memory of my grandmothers, there are many possibilities. I know that I want to etch their handwriting for these pieces. I still have letters from both of them. A small heart-shaped stone that I found with one of my grandmothers could look interesting in a bezel setting or prong setting. I have bits of jewelry from both of them, with some broken pieces that I would love to somehow rework and incorporate into these keepsake pieces. I like the idea of also incorporating a tiny photo.

While this project is still in the early planning stages, it is one I think about often. I'll wait to begin the work of fabricating until the time feels right and I have a clear vision for these pieces. I'm in no hurry.

Read other Handmade Division Team blogs on this topic:

Rickson Jewellery:
WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Circles :: Ring A Week No. 20

For my twentieth piece in the Ring A Week challenge, I've cut and soldered fourteen tiny sterling silver circles, forming them into a ring. I've oxidized the ring and hand finished it to enhance the dimension and texture. The ring reminds me of scales, or armor.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Serendipity :: Ring A Week No. 19

Serendipity is one of my favorite words. For my nineteenth ring in the Ring A Week challenge, I've created this sterling silver ring with the word "serendipity" encircling it. I've handwritten and then hand cut the word using my jeweler's handsaw, allowing the ascenders and descenders of several letters to extend slightly beyond the band. I've oxidized the outside of the ring only and I love the contrast between outside and inside.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Calico Lace Ring: Ring A Week No. 18

When I first got this calico lace agate cabochon I didn't know what I'd make with it but I knew I couldn't hide the back of this stone; the backside is as gorgeous as the front. The stone also features a small translucent pool, allowing light to pass through its depths. I love the dimension and the small white orbs visible within the frosty pool.

I chose to use this stone in my eighteenth Ring A Week piece. I wanted to keep as much of the two sides of the stone visible as possible so I have given it a bezel setting, cutting a large opening in the sterling seat to frame the back of the stone, and soldering the sterling shank to the edges of the frame. Below are progress shots of the ring before setting the stone:

I really like the open back of this piece and the stone's secret window, hidden when worn but fun to take off and hold up to the light.