Thursday, March 21, 2013

New fleur de lis earrings

Today I finished a pair of new earrings and I thought I'd give you all a sneak peak....

They include a pair of Australian opals I got in Tucson last month- I knew just how I wanted to use them!

The sketch on the left is of a pair of earrings I've been wanting to make for a while- this sketch is probably over a year old. Just didn't have the stones yet to make them. Here they are- I'm assembling the parts. The wire at the top is 16 ga. square Argentium silver that will have some balls fused to it. I already made the bezels for the stones, and took a while creating the paper template for the bottom fleur-de-lis shape. I fuss a lot on templates because I want to get it right. This was my 3rd or 4th one, and I still fussed to get it just right.

Here I fused the balls onto the square wire and traced/cut out the silver fleur de lis shapes at the bottom. I'm trying the stones out, but of course I remove them when I solder things together...

After this step, I needed to solder the bezels to a back plate.....

Which I did here.... I also cut out most of the backs of the stones (because they're transparent) but left a seat. Additionally I left little tabs on the tops and bottoms of each bezel so the fused wire and fleur-de-lis pieces could be soldered onto them and join all pieces together. Before I did this, however, I soldered an earwire to the back of each fused wire segment to be folded later on...

Here they are above ready for keum-boo. I cut a pattern of what shape I wanted, used that to transfer to the gold foil, and cut them out. I put them on my electric burner and burnished the foil so it 'stuck' to the silver. (see my earlier post on keum boo for more info!)

And here are the oxidized finished pair. I discovered that it was challenging to hammer/punch close these bezels because they had some of the elements soldered to them, which stiffened them quite a bit. In the future I will use thinner-walled bezels if I have elements soldered to them.

I'm not putting these in my Etsy store just yet- I'm keeping these for the Ratner show next month!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Opal Earrings

I was recently looking through a catalog that contained some jewelry and saw a pair of earrings that contained a lot gems- all the same kind, and was inspired to do a multi-gem pair myself. And I wanted to use up some of my miscellaneous opals, of which I had a few... here they are, and some pictures of how I made them:

I knew I wanted to create a pair that had a small upper part, with earwire connected to the back, with a piece below that was attached for movement.

This was the set of opals I had in pairs- of course not everything matched exactly, so I spent some time trying to balance the layout so the colors and sizes would seem like they were varied but still looked like a pair.

The first thing I did after arranging them into a pattern I liked was to create all the bezels- 14 of them! That took a while! I opted for thin serrated bezels because I like the look of the edge detail of the serrated wire, and because to use a heavier bezel would add unwanted weight to the earrings.

After the bezels were complete I did a sketch of the feel I wanted the earrings to have. Then I took a few weeks off. When I came back, I realized I couldn't do a granulated pair because the bezels had been soldered. I'd have to use a design that could be soldered together.

So instead, I took the granulated balls and smashed them with a hammer! Into nice little coins- which I then played with to find an arrangement I liked. Once happy, I took all my components to the soldering table to solder them down.

But first I sanded down the little discs, which was easy to do because they were flat, by dragging/rubbing them along sandpaper.

Then I pre-melted solder paillions onto the back of each disc. This is a lot easier than trying to arrange the solder pieces and the discs simultaneously.

Then the pieces were all arranged on my soldering brick, and soldered to the back sheet. Above is a shot of them after I cleaned them up with a blue/satin disc. I've also marked where I wanted them cut out with a permanent marker. 

Here I first soldered a wire to the back of the upper section, and then I pierced a hole and then cut out the backs of each stone, leaving a seat for each. The wire was to become the earwire at top, and at bottom- the loop to attach to the bottom section. I shaped the attachment on the bottom section triangular, so the loop would sit nicely at the top.

Here is everything cut out and blackened in Griffith's SilverBlack. It takes a few dips and rinses to get it dark. It still fades a lot. It's hard to get a really black black!!

Next I buffed the tops of the coins, as well as the edges, back to a silver shine, and set the stones. Last step was to attach the 2 parts and fold the earwires. And here's the final product:

That is my daughter modeling them for me. I think I might keep them! I'll have to see what other miscellaneous stones I have in my stonebox!