Ring... Take Two

After my first silversmithing class at Brookfield Craft Center where I created a bezel set ring, I was so excited to get back in the jewelry studio that I signed up for another class. This time was with a different instructor and a slightly different project. We were still creating a ring (and hopefully additional projects if there was time) but this time we were using different methods. Not to mention, just taking a class with a different instructor, I knew I was sure to learn different techniques for accomplishing some of the same tasks. I always think it’s great to learn from a variety of people. You take what you want from each person, find what works for you, and then make it your own. I knew this was a chance to improve upon what I already learned - and most importantly to get more “torch time”!!! Once you get the hang of soldering, it just very well may be the most exciting part of making jewelry… or maybe it’s pulling your piece out of the tumbler all shiny and bright. 

Finished Ring

Anyways, it turned out that the techniques used to make this ring were very different than the first. Instead of a thick and simple metal band cut from pre-shaped metal wire, we got to design the width, shape and texture of this one. In addition, on my first ring, I actually made the bezel setting versus this ring where I used a pre-made bezel setting. I decided to create a wide band and did some hammering. I then cut, filed and soldered it together, shaped it on the mandral, etc. After that, I soldered the pre-made bezel setting onto the band and then set the stone. I’ll admit, I can definitely use more practice in setting stones - it’s way harder than it seems. In any case… by using the pre-made bezel setting, and already having some experience with the tools and torch, I was quite efficient with my time and was able to go on to create a finished pendant as well (future post!!!)… and another pendant, which hopefully one day I’ll get around to finishing - unfortunately it still needs some fine tune sanding and another round in the tumbler.

After soldering and shaping on mandrel (Left); After filing to smooth soldered seam (Center); Bezel setting soldered on before setting stone (Right).  

Full Circle

I love those moments in life when you can look back and realize that you were meant to meet a specific person at some very specific moment in time… and know that through meeting that person, your life took a course that it may not have otherwise. And not only that but they were a bigger puzzle piece of your life than they maybe even realize. It’s interesting how we may never know how we touch another person’s life. And, if we don’t keep our eyes and hearts open, we may not realize how much someone else has impacted our own life.

A few years ago, Justin, Myla and I, headed downtown to a Summerfest celebration where there were various vendors, activities for the kids and sidewalk sales. I had spent some time looking at this one vendor’s handmade, custom jewelry - her name is Erin De Luca. It was all so beautiful. After a few minutes, we decided to make our way down to one of the kid activites taking place and the whole time I sat there, I told Justin that I was curious where she learned her craft because I really wanted to learn some of what she was able to do. I knew of a nearby craft school called Brookfield Craft Center - and even had some friends take classes there in years past. I had even looked into their classes a few times, but I found out that they didn’t receive enough funding to keep the school going and were in a holding pattern until things turned around.

Through talking about Erin’s jewelry with Justin (who was urging me to go back and ask her about her educational background) I told him I was thinking about a little “M” pendant I saw at her table and I knew I had to go back and get it - to represent Myla so I could always keep her close to my heart. I did go back to buy the pendant, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to start asking her a bunch of questions. I sort of felt like a weirdo if I did and as I’ve mentioned before, I can be pretty awkward sometimes.

A few months after Summerfest is when we lost our baby and if you read my post back then, you will know that I had a special pendant created. I had kept Erin’s business card and reached out to her about making it. We met at a local coffee shop to go over the design - she was truly so sweet and was happy to be working on this special piece. Even by then, I still hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her anything that I had been curious about concerning silversmithing and jewelry making.

Fast forward another few months, I get notified that Brookfield Craft is holding an Open House to view some of the instructors practicing their craft - everything from wood turning, blacksmithing, silversmithing, weaving, glass fusing, pottery, etc. The school was working on a new schedule of classes and I was so excited to go check it out. It turned out that Erin was one of the instructors showcasing some silversmithing techniques that day in the jewelry studio. It was a pretty awesome feeling to walk in and say hello and also to share the news with her that I was pregnant (with Maddox). We talked that day about me taking a class with her and we kept in touch up until class started to figure out the safety precautions I should take (including what breathing ventilation mask and filters that I should wear) to protect the baby. She was so helpful both before and during the class - and very inspiring. In an odd way, taking the silversmithing class with her was also a part of my healing process and I felt it brought me full circle back to a place of being OK and being inspired to do “more” again. 

So, as for the project I worked on… I created a bezel set ring. I took many pictures along the way as I felt the process was truly amazing. To take straight pieces of wire, flat sheets of silver and a stone - and work to cut, saw, anneal, bend, hammer, solder, pickle, file, set, polish - it’s just such an exciting process and a huge jump from the beading projects I was so into. Creating pieces completely from scratch allowed for so many more possibilities. 

Here are some pics I took of the process. I missed some steps but it’s so cool to look at how rough pieces of metal can be worked into something beautiful… and with my own two hands.

(Top Left) Ring I made from straight silver wire - soldered, filed, sanded and then shaped on mandrel. (Top Middle) The beginning of the bezel setting that wraps around the stone made from fine silver, thin metal strips. (Top Right) The soldered bezel ring sitting on a flat sheet of silver, soon to be soldered together. (Middle Row) Process of creating bezel setting once soldered and then sawed and then filed smooth. (Bottom Left) You can see how smooth it is after filing and sanding. (Bottom Middle) View of crescent moon shapes I sawed into bottom of bezel. (Bottom Right) View of ring band from top left image soldered onto bezel setting. 

View of completed ring once stone was set in bezel.