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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Forming Filigree with a Rawhide Hammer

Filigree is very often used in making bracelets and because it is very work hardened by the stamping process, forming the curves can be difficult. The usual tools are the mandrel of choice..you can use any hard object...I like the bracelet mandrel best because it is oval and the result can fit an arm better than a round like a pipe. The second tool I prefer is a rawhide hammer. Any soft face non metal hammer will work...metal ones will dent and flatten the stamping and that should be avoided.

First try bending the filigree over the mandrel by hand. If it forms to the curve you are good to go.This one sprang back.

Hitting it over the edge of the mandrel will give you leverage Watch your fingers..I pinched my index finger with the hammer and it hurts! Striking near the mandrel will give less and may move the metal if it is soft enough.

I was able to get it to this form which was not enough for my project.

Heating with the torch will change the color of plated goods like this copper plated piece. Use the soft end of the flame..not the blue tip. Its hard to see in this photo but the blue flame is about 2 inches from the metal while the brushy flame tip is on the metal surface. Heat until the color starts to chase around on the surface and keep the flame moving.

You can see the copper color has dulled a bit but the metal has cooled on the mandrel and is ready to form.

Again strike with the hammer and remember to reverse the piece frequently to avoid an uneven bend..bigger on one side.

You can see how much more the filigree has curved and yet the surface is still deeply rounded. If we had bent this with bail making pliers it would be all wonky and have flat areas and uneven curves...not very professional.

This thinner and smaller filigree has been formed by pushing down with both thumbs at once. But still it springs back... and because it is raw brass, it goes to the torch and is brought to red hot then quenched.

Here the color is nice and dark which will be a good contrast to the copper of the first piece

Copper peeking through the matching forms gives life to the overall concept. Before construction begins , the filigree should be finished with polishing or coloring.

I had a surprise when I tried to anneal this Tim Holtz watch face. The outer bronze plating reticulated as the cheap pot metal inside melted. This brings up one big important fact...know your materials. This is not a real watch face...they are made of very thin and often porcelain covered metal. Use small ones that don't need bending or change the design to something else.

I decided to go with a strip of leaves in three colors..riveted together. They will be formed with the rawhide hammer and mandrel to fit the first two pieces...more on this piece to come. Next time I will show how to do a real basic..a soldered bezel in brass.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carnelian and filigree ring

These parts surfaced on my work bench this morning and I immediately knew what to do. A simple 10 minute ring. The base is the floral shank from http://www.bsueboutiques.com/item/Floral-Ring-5276 The filigree is a mystery to me...I bought it from some one a long time back and it has sat there laughing along with about 2000 other pieces..but today I picked it up and found a stone..real stone...carnelian cabochon in 18x25mm that fit right in. I emphasise real stone because alot of people are using cheap looking but expensive glass or acrylic cabs...this cost 3.00. The same size in decent Czech glass was 4.50. I see no reason to go to artificial costume materials when they are more expensive than the real thing. Unless the color is better.

First step was to punch a hole to rivet the base on. I used my http://www.metalclayfindings.com/product/1000130.aspx rivet and punch tool.

A matching hole is punched in the floral ring.

Then riveted on as you may be able to see here. To set a rivet with this tool you just turn the T-handle and form the head. Neat and quick.

Then after lining up the two components a second hole is punched again by turning the handle.

As you can see this leaves a neat clean and tiny head. Ready for the stone to drop in and to set the prongs.
Stone in place and ready to go.  Let me introduce you to my trusty 40 year old prong pusher.

An essential and simple tool. Actually you can use a piece of hard wood or a clothes pin...anything that will push the prong over onto the stone.

Notice that a few on the left are started then a few on the right..then a few top and bottom . This order will insure the stone is evenly set and doesn't move. I always start on the long side to lock in then around the clock skipping a few each time.

The end result is a nicely set cabochon.

Under the daylight in my light box the stones color is a bit cooler and the whole piece looks a little like Victorian Morning jewelry.

The top is 2.25 inches long and sits on the hand very lightly.Because it is curved it is comfortable.

Its off to Etsy to see if someone else wants to have a little Victorian elegance.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Simple steampunk watch case ring with roses.

The basic components for this type of ring are a vintage watch case with back and a suitable decoration, plus your favorite ring shank. I chose a cigar band in silver plate from http://www.bsueboutiques.com/item/Cigar-Band-Style-Ring-5533 and a resin floral bar from there as well. They also carry watch cases from time to time in this style.

The first step is to cut off the ends of the decorative bar so it will fit inside the watch case.

Next rivet the case to the shank. I like to use this technique for getting good position on the holes. Punch the first one then rivet it then punch through the ring into the second ensuring an accurate fit.

Next fit the flower decoration into the base and sand or file the top edges to fit the watch case top. As you can see there is a cutout for the stem of the watch to protrude. If you turn the top around so its notch is on the opposite side you wont have a hole into the case. Of course you could fit a crown to a stem and drill through the cab inside and glue it in place for added decoration.

You can see here that the top covers the bottom notch completely.

The resin is easily filed to fit the opening and it makes a nice little accent in the ring.

I used some E-6000 glue to set the flower and to fix the top onto the case.

And its ready for sale...10 minutes tops and sure to be profitable. If you find a silver or gold filled watch case adding a sterling shank would up the panache. And since the strap lugs are still there you could add personal adornments like ribbon or charms to the case.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Make a tab mount for a cabochon from a flat disk

Have you ever bought a nice bead or cabochon and could not find a mount to match?  All you really need is a disk of your favorite metal and a few tools. For this project I used a fine point sharpie, drill bit in a flex shaft or dremel ( you could use a punch) A jewelers saw and texture tools. I added some brazing and fusing in the decoration so a torch and pickle pot are also used.

First decide where you want the stone to sit on the metal form. Draw around the stone to create a pattern for the next step.

I offset the stone toward the bottom and decided on 4 prongs or more correctly tabs since these are flat. Holes are drilled for the saw blade and the connection or bail.

Put the saw blade in the center hole and support the metal flat on your bench pin sawing in a vertical manner. Never tilt the blade or try to saw with no support...you will just struggle. The saw can work better if you add some bit lube or bees wax to the blade. Saw out beyond the circle by 1/8 inch or 3 times the thickness of the metal to accommodate the bend.

Here I have been brazing on the disk for texture and have annealed the disk for texturing. Some people will want to forge with a hammer or other tools to impart texture.

I beat it with a grooved face hammer ,then fused some silver wire to the surface. Further heating and beating led to this form.

After fire you should pickle the metal. I use cold acid pickle in a crock pot. Hot works faster but it stinks and I am never in a hurry so room temp works fine.. White vinegar will work if you have overnight.

Next the tabs are pulled up and trimmed to the final shape after setting the stone in place to mark the length. This is where you can do almost anything to refine the shape. You could round the ends and edges or leave them rough as I did

With the metal brushed with a rotary brush in the flex shaft I am ready to bend the prongs over the stone. In the case of this piece I used a nylon face hammer and tapped them over on to the stone.

The basics are done and the stone (lapis lazuli) is set in textured disk. Next time we will explore some finishing techniques to complete this piece.