This is going to be my last post on this page, as I have begun a photo blog on Instagram to share my studio happenings. Please follow me there at KellyLimbergJewelry.
For my last post here I wanted to share a recent topaz & silver ring, which has become one of my favorite pieces made to date. The ring started on paper with a to scale rendering of the design.
After the design was finalized, the work began. The first step was to create the bezel, which actually starts as a simple cone.
The next step was to cut and file out all the detail of the bezel. And once that was completed I had to create the split band to fit exactly around the bezel.
And with some soldering, patience and careful fitting the band came together.
A seat was then carved for the stone and the prongs shaped, and then finally the stone was set and the piece polished up.
Feel free to contact me if you are interested in having a custom ring made for you or a loved one!
On the corner of my workbench there had been a long, plain strip of silver just sitting and waiting. This past spring I had drawn the original sketch for a new cuff, and then cut out a silver section which would be the base of the new piece.
However, then things got busy, other orders became priority, and a move to our new home shuffled things around even more. When I unpacked in my new studio, the silver piece again found it's place on the upper corner of my workbench. Months passed, until finally a few weeks ago, I was able to return to my abandoned piece of silver.
The strip has now became my new Floral Landscape Cuff. Of course there were a number of steps that occurred in between the strip of silver and the final piece. Several of those steps I have shared below. This piece is a little different than some of my other designs, like the Will-o'-Wisp Brooch, in that I combined both forged wire and sheet to create the top details.
What step do you find most interesting? Designing, sawing, soldering, or adding the patina?
Balance Posted on 20 May 20:32
A little while back I was working on one of my favorite ring set designs, and documented the process to share with all you great folks.
The ring set consists of two bands, each with a slight pattern variation. I love a perfect balance of ornate pattern and clean lines. That was the goal of this design.
Every ring starts with a flat sheet of solid argentium silver. Measured strips are cut from the sheet. Smaller strips are placed on the top and bottom to create the borders. These strips are all carefully fused together using a torch.
One of the great benefits of argentium silver vs. standard sterling, is fusing. Instead of using solder to attach the strips, I can heat the argentium to a precise temperature and it will fuse itself together. No messy solder clean up!
Once the ring bases are fused, the patterned section is created. From thin silver wire I fuse, cut, form, and set up the decorative wires. I try to get them all the same size and shape, then use tweezers to set them in place on the flat ring shanks. When all the wires are arranged, it's time to solder.
The photo above shows a ring right before it was heated up. Originally I was going to solder the wires on, but decided to fuse them for a cleaner look. With wire you have to be extremely careful not to overheat, as small wires melt easily.
Once the wires were attached, the rings were formed and soldered closed. (I missed a few photos at the end here.) One ring was left silver and the other given an oxidized/brushed finish for contrast. Here's a final shot of the finished set.
You can have a set made just for you, find the details here.
The Jeweler's Saw: One of the first tools you learn to use when beginning working in metals. When you start a metals project you will almost always begin with a sheet of metal. This fabulous tool is what you use to cut out shapes, circles and slits.
A basic jewelers saw has a "C" shape frame and a wood or plastic handle. Saw blades are usually bought separately and come in different sizes. You use specific sizes to cut different gauges of metal. For example a number 2 saw blade would be good for cutting a 16 or 18 gauge sheet of metal. A 2/0 has much smaller teeth and would be good for cutting 24 or 22 gauge metal. It has to do with the number of teeth for the thickness of metal. Another thing to remember is you always want the teeth facing down and toward the metal. There should be a nice tension on the blade as well. Just enough so if you pluck the blade it goes "ting".
Before you begin cutting it is helpful to run your blade over a wax block for lubrication. Learning to use a jeweler saw for the first time can be a bit frustrating as many blades snap while you learn the movement and tension needed. Most beginners have a tendency to apply to much forward pressure, ending up in a snapped blade. It is well worth the effort to keep practicing, as the process can greatly expand the range of pieces you can create.
Below is an example of a piece I created that consists of different layers of silver and copper, the intricate patterns all handout with a jewelers saw.
I am putting this post up, and maybe a few more in the future, to give a bit of information on some of the basic metalsmithing tools and techniques that I commonly use. I get a lot of people that walk into my work space and are intrigued by all the fun toys I have so I thought why not explain what I use them for.
Here is the Flexible Shaft Machine, a tool that almost everyone asks me about, and also a tool that I use nearly everyday. While there are many makes and models the machine has three basic parts: a motor, a foot pedal that controls the speed of the motor, and the hand-piece.
There are a few different types of hand-pieces, the one I have is pretty basic and has three prongs that open and close using a jacob chuck. The prongs close tightly and hold attachments such as drill bits or cutting, sanding, and polishing discs. If you want to spend a little more, there is also a quick change handpiece which is allows you to change the attachments faster.
With a lot of the pieces I have been making lately I use the flex shaft to drill holes, sand and polish pieces. Overall this is one of my favorite tools as it has so many uses, and helps save a TON of time.
If you are in the market, here is a link to the flex shaft system I have, here. I would also consider adding the quick change handpiece.
One other thing to mention is the Dremel. I know many jeweler's that use a handheld wireless Dremel tool. If you are starting out this may be a great affordable solution. While they are comparable, the advance of the flex shaft is that you have control over the speed, and don't have to worry about battery life. Also as you get more advanced, a interchangable hand-piece may be important.
What tool do you use the most in your studio?