Behind the Scenes - creation of a ring
Posted on October 05 2016
My studio is more than just where I create. It's also the place "where the magic happens".My sterling silver comes from a manufacturer that truly cares about the environment. That is incredibly important to me. The first step in this ring is to cut the silver then form it into a round and solder it closed. It's hammered into a perfect circle before I begin the forging process. Using a template I mark out four quadrants so when I begin forging the metal (aka hammering my frustrations out) I am perfectly even. There is actually a great deal of math involved in gold-smithing! Secret? I like math. I forge both the top and bottom so it's slightly flared and flattened. I'll add some texture and clean up the edges with a file. Then it's time bring them to the soldering station to heat the metal in order to soften it again - hammering kind of ticks it off so it gets stiff and hard and won't move. Once you heat it again it warms the soul of the metal and therefore becomes workable.
Once you heat the metal again it warms her soul and therefore becomes workable.Now that her spirit is softened, I gently round the circles on a ring mandrel to mimic the curve of a finger. Time to add the ring band. Using a piece of sterling silver then same millimeter as the original circle and a fancy method for sizing I prepare the piece for soldering. Sometimes it takes a bit of manuevering in order to hold the piece just right. The tool I use is called a third hand - ingenius name right? Critical when working with fire! When soldering it is super important that metal touches metal clean and tight. The solder needs to flow directly in the seam to create a strong hold. But remember, I already soldered the circle closed. If you heat too much, the original seam will open up and no more circle. It's literally a fire dance. One side complete. Time to form her into something that resembles a ring. Again. Edges are fit together and I prepare to solder side two. (side bar: again with the hands. if you care about your hands and nails do not become a gold smith. just sayin) Solder time numero tres. Another fire dance. Just enough heat to melt the solder in the seam. Not too much so the other seams stay in tact. Then she takes a bath. No. I do not have fondue on my bench. I use a crock pot to heat a solution called "pickle". Pickle is used to the clean metal after soldering. It removes baked on flux (what you see in my baby food jar) and oxides that have formed on the metal. The oxides are typically concentrations of copper in the metal or alloy that come to the surface during soldering. The pickle strips these oxides, called fire scale from the surface. How's that for a science lesson. Science and math. And you thought artists didn't know stuff! Secret? I hate science. Once all the fire scale is removed she is ready to become real. I rinse off the pickle in water and place the ring on the mandrel. Gentle hammer this time to coax her back into a perfectly round circle making sure I am at the exact size intended. Now on to clean up and polishing and all the messy work that makes her ready to grace your finger! And once that is complete...I'll finish the other ring. Now...when you see a ring half or even a third of this price in a mall store there are a few reasons as to "why".
- It's most likely not sterling silver.
- It was not created by hand.
- It was "cast" from a mold into the shape so each one is identically machine made.
- No love was added.