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.