Well hello, it's been a while!
I'm still loving the silversmithing, in fact it's kind of taken over everything else so not much going on in the way of other crafts, but this is just too much fun!
So I have just finished my 10 week course and learnt so much about soldering, forging and generally how metal behaves. I have put that learning to good use in making heaps of bangles and rings, and just sent my first packet off to the London Assay Office - how exciting is that!
Meanwhile those who know me will know I wouldn't stop there, so next on my "what do I want to learn to do next list" was bezels. I have a stash of gemstone beads that were just sitting there waiting to be used. This was a challenge as most bezels are designed for flat back cabachons whereas I wanted to use beads, so mine had to be a little different.
I started out with a few fairly flat beads to make it a bit easier as this was the first time, I have some amazonite, jasper and bronzite pendant size beads and here's what I did:-
Sterling Silver Sheet, I used 0.4mm for the strip and 0.8mm for the base
I cut a strip of silver (from the 0.4) that was wide enough to reach from the base of the bead to just above half way, then wrapped it around the bead to fit (I used fully annealed dead soft silver for this), then cut and soldered (I used hard solder for this). Next I checked for fit around the bead I wanted it to be snug but not too tight to allow for 'setting' the bead once the strip was fixed to the back. I also made tiny pin marks where the bead holes were for later on.
Once I was happy with the fit I soldered the strip to the base, taking care not to bend the strip in any way, especially as the beads were not all a uniform shape. For this I used medium solder
After cleaning pickling and checking for final fit I adjusted by sanding/filing the top edge until I was happy with the fit. Next I set my beads, I used a bezel pusher to do this, taking care not to scratch the surface of the beads. I used a burnisher to finish the setting which helps to get as smooth a finish as I could around the edge of the bead and make sure the bead was secured.
Once I was happy that the bead was set I cut away the excess silver from the base with a piercing saw taking care to get as close to the bead shape as possible
Using the marks I made earlier to find the bead hole I used a Bradawel tool to make the holes big enough to take some headpins, then I used files to smooth the cut marks around the edge and bead holes, then sanded everything smooth using various grades of sandpaper.
Next I made some headpins to fit, I used 1mm silver wire for this and heated the end until the silver balled up, cleaned and fitted them. These are in their 'almost finished' state as they are now at the Assay Office in London for hallmarking, I'll give them a final polish when they get back. Not decided yet how to use them, I'm thinking maybe with a cluster of beads as a necklace, or perhaps just a plain chain with an elegant bail....
I hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of my continuing journey with silver. This week I have been learning how to make findings and I am looking forward to designing pieces using these and eant to have a go at making my own chain next.
Take care and bye for now