Monday, November 1, 2010

Silversmithing (wk43)

This month I spent a few days at Sundance Resort, Utah to take their art classes.  In one art session, I learned about silversmithing and stone setting, and came home with my own one-of-a-kind ring.  Below is the process for making a simple silver ring.

Sundance’s silversmithing instructor, Brittany Golden has a blog site with some great photos of the complete process, and Basic Silversmithing by Manuel provides a list of tools, material details and sketches/photos of the process.

1. Select a stone

2. Wrap the bezel (thin flat strip of silver) around the bead, mark with a pencil and cut with metal sheers.

3. Seal the bezel by applying flux and a small piece of solder (the width of the bezel), sealing with a propane torch.  See Melting Points and Metal Properties.

4. Next take a 26-gauge silver sheet to make a plate for the bead. Trace the bezeled bead and cut with heavy-duty wire cutters. Position the bead over the plate and apply more flux and solder to affix the bezel rim to the plate with the propane torch.

5. With a file, smooth the plate sides to the edge of the bezel. 

6. To raise the bead in the bezel add silica grains to fill the well created with the base plate, and position the bead on top.

7. To secure the bead in the bezel, bend the side of the bezel metal around the sides of the bead.

8. Select a silver bandwidth, the ring size, and cut the metal strip with heavy-duty wire cutters.

9. Forging (Hammer-Work): I chose a small ball-peen hammer to texture my ring band.  Over an anvil, covered with paper and tape as a cushion, you hammer the four sides of the band.

10. Form the ring with tweezers by bending the band around a jump-ring mandrel (marked with the ring sizes).  Use a rubber hammer to close the ring. See photo #6 on Brittany's page.

11. Re-texture the band if the rubber hammer has smoothed the surface.

12. Position the bead plate on the band (center or off center).

13. Seal the band to the bead plate with more flux and solder.

14. Place the ring in a pickling compound (sodium bisulfate), which removes the fire scale (or black soot from the flame). Only use copper tweezers to place and remove anything into the pickling jar.

15. Use a buff wheel to polishing the inside and outside of the ring. See photo #12 on Brittany's page.

16. Use thin wool wire to polish the silver.

17. Brush the ring with a toothbrush, dish soap and water.

Ready to wear in under an hour and a half!