Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amethyst Squared... or rather Cubed! ;o)

Stepping outside my box - more into fabrication... what am I saying - TOTAL fabrication!! Some of my friends refer to this as "from scratch". :o)

I had two 8mm square Amethyst cabochons that I had put aside for a friends February birthday and they were yelling to me... MAKE SOMETHING!! I wanted to set them but lordy I have not set square cabs ... have never made square bezel... never mind a square bezel cup - sides and bottom!!

Out came the design book one evening, then transfer design to Photoshop (just something I do) and then I waited for Friday and for the work-work day to be over.

I have to tell you, something incredible happened Friday evening - the "Studio Gods" smiled on me. NEVER have I felt more in sync with materials, process, design. I felt like I was in an awesome groove. 
No melted wires, no messed up bezel cups, no waste, no bumped head!!
I started with "the hard part"... the bezel cups made from Sterling and Fine Silver that the gems are supposed to sit in. I figured... If I could do this, I could do the rest! Measure, wrap, measure again, cut, trial fit, file, clean, solder... sides! Place on sheet metal, solder, fit, trim, file, clean, retest fit... cup!! Now they were tall - prob 2x taller than needed. So I marked them, sawed off the excess, filed and cleaned up. DONE! ;o)
NOW For the base - thanks to my obsession with having to buy tools that look cool, different, "may need that some day" or "ohhh that's a good inexpensive version of what I "might need" let's try it til I think I REALLY need it"... I have a weird set of plastic stepped mandrels in different shapes. The largest size square was perfect for what I wanted for the base of the earrings. I formed the base using Sterling Silver square wire and the square plastic stepped mandrel - shaped, checked, pushed, checked, cut, checked, soldered... checked - sweeeet! ;) 

Then I cut two squares from the Sterling Silver sheet, filed the edges, rounded the corners a touch to keep from wounding anyone. Then I formed the twisted Sterling Silver wire to form the "ropes". I placed, checked and then soldered the "ropes" onto the base square, cleaned the piece and then placed and soldered the top decorative
square onto the base and "ropes". Cleaned again and then placed and soldered the bezel cups onto the bottom of the earring base. 

The two pieces went into the pickle pot to clean and I went to work forming the pierced earring post... I have a small (SMALL - like 1" x 2" MAYBE) steel draw plate that I use to make the posts. First I use a mini torch to ball the ends of a 1" piece of Sterling Silver wire (when you hold it into the flame it forms a ball and it slowly creeps up the wire forming a bigger ball). Once cooled I put the wire in the smallest hole it will fit in inside the draw plate (which is being held by my small (SMALL! ;o)) vice. And I wack the ball with a hammer. This flattens out the ball forming a flat top instead of a ball. THIS I have found makes soldering a post onto an earring back MUCH MUCH EASIER. The posts were then soldered onto the earring bases and the two completed but not set earrings were pickled one more time and I was done for the evening! 
::phew:: Nothing. Went. Wrong. STILL!! 

The next night all the cleaned and rinsed pieces were ready to have the Amethysts set. I still felt the cups may be a 'touch' to tall so I cut two pieces of PVC card to fit into the cups (1 each). The cabochon went on top and POOF perfect height. Slowly I pushed the edges (starting at the corners) in - moving the metal slowly and not scratching the stone. and finally... they were set. I cleaned up the pieces, burnished the cups and base pieces and then tossed them into the tumbler with stainless steel shot to harden and shine. The next day they came out, were rinsed off, the posts trimmed, scratch brush used on the top square to give it texture and a matte finish. A purchased Sterling Silver earring nut was added to both and they were complete. 

This was THE BEST project - I felt completely in sync with the materials and the project. Such fun pair of earrings and I'm very pleased with the outcome!

Size: 1.75" x 1.5"Stones: 8mm

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