Saturday, April 17, 2010

First Jewelry item made

Well, today was a day of days.  I went to an SCA A&S fair.  I've never entered a piece and wanted to see what the judging criteria were like.  I was planning on shadow judiging at the faire.  While looking for a posting related to the judges meeting I came across a class that I had not previously noticed.  Silversmithing.  I was giddy and upset.  I was upset beacuse had I known in advance of the class, I'd have planned on showing up on time.  I ran to the building where the class was to be held.  I was about 30 minutes too late, but found that the instructor was a merchant willing to teach all day.  He had an outstanding arrangement.  You make a piece, if you like it, you pay for the materials.  If you don't like it, well you had a free class and he's melt down the silver and you paid nothing.  About three years ago I bout a set of rings which were based on period style.  I loved his work and his prices and his stories.  He knew the history of each type of stone and which ones were period and where they might be found.  I was giddy to find out the man teaching the class was now willing to teach me to make a pendant which would match the style of a ring I bought from him 3 years prior.

Here is a photo of the instructor (Jerald Day) and his setup.

I selected a red jasper stone which resembled a ring and the color of the outfit I wore.  I began by chosing the type of band which would wrap around the stone.  You can see the stone and the band below.  I began by cutting the band just large enough to go around the stone.  I then created a 1/8 inch lap joint and soldered the band closed.

After successfully soldered I had to place the band on a mandral and use a brass hammer to pound out the joint.  After soldering and pounding the joint was unnoticable.
You may have realized, I cut the band to match the size of the stone.  I then lap joined the band closed.  Wouldn't the band be too small?  Yup.  I had to continue pounding the joint until the space was regained.  At this point the band was shaped to the stone again and a flat piece of silver was chosen as the backing.

 I had to solder the shaped band to the back.  I did this by placing 7 smal 1/8 inch pieces of silver solder around the endg of the band.  I used a solution of borax and water as a flux.  The solder is drawn to the heat, so heading the center of the back drew the solder underneath.

To cool and clean the piece, it was dropped into a mild acid and then rinsed with water.

 Here is the "cleaned" piece succesfully soldered.

I was hoping the pendant would match a ring I had purchased.  I selected a thin twisted silver wire to accent the edge.  Again the piece had to be cut, shaped and soldered on.  This took some doing.  I placed the solder on top of the twist brade.  As it turns out, the solder should be on the bottom as the piece is heated from below and the solder runs faster that way.  This portion took about 20 minutes to work out as I was a slow learner and had to do it four times.  Ick!

Should be done with the edge now.   Another acid bath and rinse.

Here is the piece all cleaned up and ready for a loop to hang it from.
 Nothing went to waste.  After I trimmed the extra silver off, the instructor picked up all the scrap and placed it onto a wood block.  He heated it until it all fused together into a small silver ball to be used later for another project.

I selected some 1/2 round double wire for the loop portion.  I wanted the loop to match the style of the ring.  I cut the wire and shaped it as desired.  The pieces were rested on a fire brick and soldered together.
Now all the joinery was done, the instructor tested all my soldering and it held.  Time to clean up the mess. 

Here is the instructor holding a handful of stainless steel shot which is placed inside a rock tumbler.  After about 30~40 minutes of tumbling, all the dirties were gone!

Now all the shiny bits are shiny and it is time to mount the stone.
Here is the finished pendant sitting next to the ring which inspired the piece.  This class was definitely one of my favorite SCA moments.