Friday, April 19, 2013

The Trouble with Dana

 Aren't these stones gorgeous? They are faceted Ethiopian opals. 

I got them recently because my mother-in-law Gerry wants a ring made and it's gotta be an Ethiopian opal with as much fire as possible! She wants it in gold, too.

So, I wanted to make one using a gold bezel because I'd only ever made one piece with a gold bezel before, and it was 14k and I hated it- 14k is so hard, which is good for longevity, but not fun to work with. 

So I used 22k, which is similar in hardness to sterling silver. I really took my time. I didn't want to screw up with gold. Things went well. I wound up cutting a hole in the bottom of the setting for the point of the stone to sit in, but then soldered another smaller piece underneath because I wanted to totally enclose the stone in the bezel/backing and not have any transparency- so I could blacken the inside completely and hence try to have the fire in the stone accentuated. 

I generally like transparent stones like this with a big hole in the back to see through, because of the fact that they are transparent. But another jeweler recently advised me to enclose and blacken the background, so I gave it a try. Plus, it made the shank design easier. I'm still on the fence about if I like it enclosed or see-thru. I sort of felt like it was a short cut to solder that piece of backing on. What I should've done was create a piece of bezel that was taller so I didn't have to do that, but I was using commercially-made bezel and didn't want to take the time to forge a taller piece. Argghhh.....

I then went to work on the shank, fusing 3 rings of 16 ga. Argentium wire. I really wanted to fuse a few gold balls onto the shank near the position you see them in, but they just wouldn't stay put. I probably could've used a product to make them stick; I'm not sure. I didn't take the time to look into it.

So what I did instead was fuse the 3 ball clusters you see on the ring first, using the 22k gold and Argentium. Then I carefully positioned the clusters on the band (took a WHILE because they would not stay!) and fused them on.

And what did I discover when I finished? Well, from the below shot you can see it clearly- the ball cluster on one side fused on crookedly. So what I did: kept going. What I should've done: re-made the band.

I finished the ring and was instantly deflated because the crookedness is just not something I'm proud of or should've allowed. And this is why this post is called the trouble with Dana- because Dana rushes to get things made. 

This is not a good quality.

I have a show next weekend, the only one I do all year. And I'm feeling the pressure to produce. And that's when I do stupid things! It all started when I first joined Etsy. I sold a ring after just 2 days. And then a week later another item. I was hooked! I LOVED the fact that someone was willing to spend their hard-earned money on something I made. It's like an addiction, a high. The making of something and having it be done also produces a high. And on Etsy, there is a lot of pressure to produce something new. There is constant "What do you have that's new" and I'll admit I am guilty of producing some work I'm not proud of because of that sense of urgency. It's not good.

This is something I continue to struggle with. My finishing skills are lacking because I'm usually trying to 'get to the finish line'. 

I need to try to do better.

So now, I'm struggling with spending even more time correcting the ring by sawing the offensive ball cluster off and re-attaching it with low-temp solder, leaving it as is and putting it up for sale, or keeping it.

Motto for Dana: slow down & do it right the first time!!!

(P.S. the bezel did turn out really well, though!)


  1. Beautiful ring, even with the crooked cluster! Deep inside my mind when I'm rushing, I often hear Simon and Garfunkel singing "Slow down, you move too fast." It's my motto.

  2. Good motto! I wore the ring last week to lunch with friends- they didn't notice anything wrong until I pointed it out! Another lesson- we are our own worst critics!

  3. Gorgeous stones! The ring is beautiful and a little something "off" is the joy of handmade.

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