Archives for May 2014

Setting Stones

Sterling silver bracelet with flush set stones

Flush Setting Stones

Stone setting faceted stones has been on my “want to learn” list for awhile now.  I have several ideas for setting my lampworked beads in silver and accenting that setting with gemstones.  And I love the look of a flush setting.  So this week I set out to teach myself how to flush set a faceted stone. First I ordered 1.75mm cubic zirconia stones.  I wanted a smallish stone.  And I needed the appropriate size drill bits and setting burrs.  And a burnisher.  So as far as tools go, I didn’t need a lot. I have read about this technique; even bought a DVD, but it wasn’t until I saw a video on youtube that I thought … I can do  this.  So this week in the studio – after I made beads for a few bracelet orders – I sat down to teach myself flush stone setting.  The key to this technique is drilling the proper depth for the gemstone.  My first attempt, I drilled too deep.  Could not capture the stone.  So of course the next day I over compensated and didn’t drill deep enough, but at least that is fixable by drilling again.  oops… too far.  But today was the day.  Wore stronger readers so I could really see the stone better.  Drilled and tested until I thought it was just right.  That is when you begin to burnish around the stone to move the metal to capture it.  AND voila! it worked.  I did manage to get a few scratch marks around the stones.  I could have done a little better job cleaning those scratches up, but was just to excited to get this bracelet on my arm.  I feel with more practice there will be fewer scratches, and I will definitely spend more time finishing.  But I call this a success!  Maybe I’ll even order diamonds next time.

creating the desert in glass and metal

Sterling silver and glass

photo of silver and glass bead bracelet

I stated in January that I wanted my work to “evolve” to include more sterling silver.  So here is a piece I have been working on for the last 3 weeks.  Making this bracelet has forced me way out of my comfort zone.  There are several silver fabrication techniques.

The Beads

I made these lampworked beads in response to a challenge to make 40 beads using 2 or 3 colors.  I chose opal yellow and a black glass from Double Helix Glassworks that has a heavy silver content.  I also challenged myself to make a disc shaped bead with surface decorations on the side of the beads as I knew I wanted to set the bead in sterling silver components – like gemstones; but with a tube rivet.  So I also had to flat lap the beads on one side so they would sit nicely on the silver.  And I had to grind the hole slightly larger so that the sterling silver tube would fit.  Very happy with the beads.

The Sterling Silver Fabrication

Last year I was supposed to take a class with Kristina Logan to learn how she makes a ring by setting a lampworked bead in sterling silver.  Unfortunately I had to leave the class unexpectedly, and never got make the ring; but this technique has been on my to do list ever since.  So for the last 3 weeks I have been experimenting in the studio.  First I used Argentium silver for the back plate and fused a large jump ring to it so that the bead would fit in nicely.  It’s not really a bezel as the bead is tube riveted in place, but it frames the bead nicely. I decided to keep things simple and not texture the jump ring.  I also decided to file the backplate flush with the jumpring.  Ummm…. lots of work!  And I learned I should have filed that jump ring flat before fusing.  Next I soldered the sterling silver tube to the center of the back plate.  Learned quickly that I had to make sure the ends of the tube were perfectly flat after I cut it so that the tube would sit up nice and straight.  Learned how to solder that tube down in a class with Richard Salley a few years ago, so that went fairly smoothly.  Very important to make sure the tube is in the exact center!!  The pieces looked really good.  So I pickled and cleaned them up.  So how was I going to connect them together?  I decided to solder small pieces of tubing to the sides of the components and slide a jump ring in the tubing.  But I really didn’t want to saw out those small pieces so I used crimp tubes instead.  Now you have to understand that the crimp tube is thin and the component for the bead is pretty thick.  Want to guess how many of those crimp tubes I melted?  So thank heavens for You Tube where I  learned I could sweat solder to the component and then heat the component to attach the crimp tube.  I did have to file a nice flat side on the crimp for a good fit.  Now the clasp…  I wanted to make a toggle, but that would have made the bracelet too long.  I could have deleted one component, but decided to make a shepherd’s hook instead.  Learned how to do that with wire ages ago in a class with Lynn Merchant.  That got soldered on too.  Made a nice brushed finish.  Then check each bead for fit…. a little more flat lapping….  but oops the tube was now too tall to make the rivet.  file file file.  By the third one I figured out how much tube is just enough.  So it’s done.  I, of course, see all of the flaws.  But I am happy and I will wear my new bracelet when I go to the Bead and Button show in a few weeks.