Friday, October 19, 2012

Jewelry School Adventures - Hollow Forms

This week I took my seventh class at Jewelry Studies International. Vasken Tanielian demonstrated the class projects will skill and precision, and then I followed along with many mistakes and repairs.

The first project was a domed hollow band, made from two strips of 22 gauge Argentium. The outer band was made 10 mm longer, then domed over a dapping punch until the sides met the inner band. This relatively easy project only took a morning to complete. I added a texturing wheel to my wishlist to get the matte finish on the outer surface. This band will earn a bezel setting sometime in the future.

The second project was an oblong hollow bead. I went off script and used my fine silver bird and leaves in combination with the Argentium wire to make the surface designs. All were fused to the flat sheet and then the strip was formed into the oval. The gauge of metal was a bit lower than planned due to a late shipment, and even Vasken had slumping when fusing the back seam. The weight of my bird on the front made it even more problematic in my case. We all decided to solder on the sides rather than fuse, to avoid further aggravation. I really enjoyed learning to use a homemade point and a hammer handpiece to texture the background.

Next we attacked the box ring with the outer band 15mm larger than the inner. I decided to flip the large side on the outer band because this configuration looked like an egg, which fit with my bird theme. Again, soldering issues were my main problem area. I had one pinpoint area that refused to close when adding the first side. I asked Vasken to help and he soldered it. When I soldered on the second side, I still saw bubbles when I dropped it into the pickle, indicating an air leak somewhere. It turned out to be the original trouble area. After several more attempts to close the hole, to no avail, I finally soldered a small trimming of metal right over the area. So my errors provided me the opportunity to learn how to fix the issue in the future.

When it came time to make the lentil bead with patterned wire overlay, I decided to go my own way again. I fused flowers and leaves onto each dome, then soldered them each to a flat back. No holes this time! And plenty of learning about how to file and sand around the raised elements to get the edges nice and flush. The earrings are a bit heavy, and the backs don't really add anything to earrings anyway. However, I do feel more confident in my ability to handle hollow construction in the future.