Friday, January 30, 2015

Serendipity or The Benefits of Knowing Many Techniques




Today I was going to show you beautiful bronze earrings with sterling posts that I had soldered to the earring.  The earrings were going to have Mojave Stones in a bronze bezel and I was going to feel so smug about putting all those things together.  Instead I’m going to share what really happened!

First I need to tell you that a client wanted earrings to match a necklace I made a year ago.  I said I would try.  In order to even come close to success I would need to practice by making several similar pair of earrings.  After this experience, my advice to myself would be:  make the earrings at the same time as the necklace.  There are too many variables possible.

I still had Goldie Bronze hard and soft clay left from the original necklace.  Rio Grande carried bronze bezel and bronze solder so I ordered that.  Next I made the earring backgrounds from the Goldie Bronze clay and I added leaves and flowers and stems.  After sanding they looked good.  I had not used my kiln lately so I read through the settings and put my bronze creations in charcoal and fired them in two stages in the kiln.  5 pieces came out great.  1 broke in half and since it was only 2 playing cards thick I made another to replace it. 

Earring on right is the one I remade.  It is right out of the kiln.  The stone is Mojave Stone.

Next the bezels.  Bezels are really difficult for me and I need lots of practice.  The bronze bezel wire was cut and fitted to the stones.  I have an acetylene torch and thought that would be good to use with the bronze as it is hotter than butane.  Fortunately I practiced before using the real pieces because the solder did not melt and the bronze bezel did. That is going to take more research and practice.  I moved on to silver solder, the bronze bezel and the torch.  That worked!  At least I thought the bond was tight. And the stone fit the bezel – always a good thing! 

Things were looking good.  The sterling posts went on beautifully with silver solder.  The stone needed to be set and I got my tools out. 


Backs of Earrings

I found the bronze bezel hard to bend to the stone and in fact, the bezel started to come loose at the join as I pushed the metal to the stone.  Hmmm!  I tried another stone and same thing happened.  The solder joint was tight until I pushed the bezel forward to hold the stone. 

As you can tell by now, several hours had passed and I did not want to start over.  What to do?  I certainly cannot use the stones and if I clean everything, remove the bezel and take off the back posts (which would not be reusable) I wasn't sure anything would improve. 

Well, it happens that I have polymer canes that I made and stored for serendipitous moments!  This was one of those!  I made cabochons for the earrings instead of stones.  I hid the bezel problem and finished the 2 pair of earrings that I am happy with.  Yes!  I have more to learn but not tonight.  I’m glad I was able to think of a solution that worked for me.

I’m going to try setting the bezel wire in bronze clay before firing and see how that works.  I’m also going to figure out how to gently bend the bezel to a stone.  If any of you have information or experience with this, please share it with me!  I am a determined woman! 






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Friday, January 30, 2015

Serendipity or The Benefits of Knowing Many Techniques




Today I was going to show you beautiful bronze earrings with sterling posts that I had soldered to the earring.  The earrings were going to have Mojave Stones in a bronze bezel and I was going to feel so smug about putting all those things together.  Instead I’m going to share what really happened!

First I need to tell you that a client wanted earrings to match a necklace I made a year ago.  I said I would try.  In order to even come close to success I would need to practice by making several similar pair of earrings.  After this experience, my advice to myself would be:  make the earrings at the same time as the necklace.  There are too many variables possible.

I still had Goldie Bronze hard and soft clay left from the original necklace.  Rio Grande carried bronze bezel and bronze solder so I ordered that.  Next I made the earring backgrounds from the Goldie Bronze clay and I added leaves and flowers and stems.  After sanding they looked good.  I had not used my kiln lately so I read through the settings and put my bronze creations in charcoal and fired them in two stages in the kiln.  5 pieces came out great.  1 broke in half and since it was only 2 playing cards thick I made another to replace it. 

Earring on right is the one I remade.  It is right out of the kiln.  The stone is Mojave Stone.

Next the bezels.  Bezels are really difficult for me and I need lots of practice.  The bronze bezel wire was cut and fitted to the stones.  I have an acetylene torch and thought that would be good to use with the bronze as it is hotter than butane.  Fortunately I practiced before using the real pieces because the solder did not melt and the bronze bezel did. That is going to take more research and practice.  I moved on to silver solder, the bronze bezel and the torch.  That worked!  At least I thought the bond was tight. And the stone fit the bezel – always a good thing! 

Things were looking good.  The sterling posts went on beautifully with silver solder.  The stone needed to be set and I got my tools out. 


Backs of Earrings

I found the bronze bezel hard to bend to the stone and in fact, the bezel started to come loose at the join as I pushed the metal to the stone.  Hmmm!  I tried another stone and same thing happened.  The solder joint was tight until I pushed the bezel forward to hold the stone. 

As you can tell by now, several hours had passed and I did not want to start over.  What to do?  I certainly cannot use the stones and if I clean everything, remove the bezel and take off the back posts (which would not be reusable) I wasn't sure anything would improve. 

Well, it happens that I have polymer canes that I made and stored for serendipitous moments!  This was one of those!  I made cabochons for the earrings instead of stones.  I hid the bezel problem and finished the 2 pair of earrings that I am happy with.  Yes!  I have more to learn but not tonight.  I’m glad I was able to think of a solution that worked for me.

I’m going to try setting the bezel wire in bronze clay before firing and see how that works.  I’m also going to figure out how to gently bend the bezel to a stone.  If any of you have information or experience with this, please share it with me!  I am a determined woman! 






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