Saturday, 12 June 2010

52 Weeks: Week 2 - Blowtorch

OK... first off, 'blowtorch' was a bit of a misnomer, used entirely to amuse Jan with my obsession with increasingly high heat levels. It's actually a more generic 'introduction to metalsmithing'. For those of you not familiar with the intricacies of jewellery making, I'm a cold connection - and component-&-bead-based - jeweller. That means my metalworking is pretty much limited to bending bits of wire as things currently stand. I've never touched a saw or blowtorch or drill in a metal-jewellery related fashion.

I havea Book. Well, actually I have several books on the subject, but I'm working with one for this and it's the best in the business. It's Jewellery: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight. I've read to page 48 and my design has developed in my head as I've went.

This is my initial sketch (yeah so my sketching ability is appalling. I am well aware of this). then my computer-drawn template

So... having been up in the middle of the night for several hours, I'm going to firstly make sure I know where my copper and silver sheet is, then get some more sleep. Then I need to texture a sheet, mark out the template on the relevant sheets, saw the bits out, file them smooth, rivet them together and solder twirly bits of wire together and to the pendant. The wire design will probably change. Then make and attach a bail.

How hard can it be?

OK.... now finished the pendant and will tell y'all how I made it.

First off was to make the copper base. I stuck (literally, with sticky-back paper) my template onto a sheet of copper, figured out how the eff to thread a jewellery saw and tried sawing. Then promptly gave up and used sheet metal shears instead.


Basic copper rectangle. HOW cute is my mini-anvil?!

Couldn't get away with that for the inside to hunted out my mini drill, drilled a start hole and sawed away the inside. My sawing needs a LOT of work. I spent an awfully long time filing it to right angles and straight edges afterwards.

Hole cut out

Then I ruined all that careful filing by deciding the copper would look better textured, taking a ball-headed hammer and hitting it lots to get the dimpled texture. Then filed some more.


Next I cut two pieces of pre-patterned sterling silver strip and drilled holes in it, marked where the first hole would go when it was on the copper, and drilled that too. Then made rivets for it. Usually rivits would be made whilst in the holes but because the strip was patterned I figured I'd be better off doing the first rivet head before inserting it so clamped the wire with a tiny by sticking up and hammered it to a head. Then stuck it through the holes, trimmed it and hammered the other head on the flat back copper side. Then rivited the other three corners the same way.

Rivited silver strip

And the back where you can actually see the riviting. I'm rather proud of them :p (the back is cleaned up finished!)

Next up was making the curly whatsits which was the easy bit coz twisting bits of wires with pliers is essentially what I do for a living. Then I hammered them a bit to flatten and harden them. and spent quite some time nervously glancing at my blowtorch. I DID do two test solders to get a feel for it on some scrap before I actually attacked the real pendant. My soldering is messy but it IS my first day doing it and it's not something I have any feel for yet.

Between soldering and finishing the clean & polish!

Then it was a case of dump it in some mild acid to get rid of the (terrifyingly dark) marking you get from heating it then cleaned it lots. I was going to make a bail and solder it on but was terrified of killing it so used a pre-made one that I had sitting around here and added a chain. Took about 8 or so hours from initial sketch to completion.

Ta-daaa - finished.


Kit Lang said...


(I love the beaded necklace on your facebook too!)

Faerie-Jeweller said...

Oooh, you get everywhere! Thanks :o)