sterling silver stone set cabochon rings from scrap

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Carved depression into charcoal block

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After melting the scrap, this is the ingot before forging and subsequent milling down to size with rolling mill.

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The moonstone was mine to start with. Paul and Clair at the jewellery workshop Porthleven kindly gave me all the others to play with

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My attempt to try and KISS – keep things simple stupid 🙂

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The shanks were made from 3mm wire, rolled into a semi ‘D’ section. I already had the wire, only the settings were made from scrap.

Wato wato all

Alas I didn’t take a picture of a moonstone ring I made from parts of my disastrous journey into the world of outscoring casting. I had my moon series domes cast in three sizes to make bracelets and earrings. The results were not great.

Going through my scrap bin, I found one of the damaged domes and decided to make a moonstone ring with the moon dome as the setting. I wasn’t overly keen on it, to my mind it was too tall. Reen insisted that she wanted Clair and Paul to take a look, they sold it within a couple of days!!!

I always battle with what will be attractive, taking every effort to try to keep a bit of my personality in a piece the same time. I realise that this a case of mind over matter; People don’t mind cos it don’t matter 😉

Buoyed with this success, I have made these rings as simple as possible, no trace of an individual maker.

Paid work, therefore funds, still being somewhat illusive at this time, I was forced to recycle some scrap to make the bases for the stones and the bezel. Luckily I had some wire, if not I would have had to make a draw plate to make my own. I put the wire through the ‘D’ section of the rollers and partially rounded the ends. I have noticed, around here anyway, most rings in the art jewellery sections appear to use mainly round wire. I think the extra surface area of the inside of a flat shank is more comfortable. Also, the size of the stones used, I think will stop them flopping on a wearers finger.

As you see in the pictures, I used a block of charcoal to make a depression, doubling as a crucible and mould at the same time. I’m not sure as the wisdom of this, the amount of heat it took was, to me, disproportionate to the amount of scrap in the hole. I can only surmise the block took away much of the heat. For the second batch I used a crucible, it was faster. The reason I wanted to melt into the charcoal was for the reducing effect. The carbon, when heated, takes away/uses up the oxygen, less fire-stain as the ingot cools in a much reduced atmosphere.

Fingers crossed this could be a far more productive avenue for me to potentially take in future. I feel bound to say, if you wish to inject some of your personality into your work, you may need to consider if your personality is attractive enough to share. This is a lesson I am learning. I was looking through my library of books and came across; Silversmithing a basic manual by Nicholas D Humez ISBN 0-316-38151-9. I wish to share with you a passage written there that made me think, perhaps it will do so for you also;-

Third, a word about attitude,or where your head is at. When you sit down at the workbench, if you are not prepaired to commit yourself to being all there – not thinking about lunch, or where your rent is coming from, or why so-and-so is peeved at you, or even how groovy you are sitting at this workbench – you are doing yourself and the metal no favour and will probably botch the job in front of you, possible exposing yourself to danger as well, should your torch or buffing wheel malfunction. Similarly, if you are furious at the world and take it out on the silver, your problems will not go away and your work will probably lack subtlety, even if your aim is good. And if you are just plain sloppy, your work will show it, and in a soberer moment you will be ashamed to have wasted your bench time so. To a certain extent, you will smith silver with the same style with which you run the rest of your life; hence “cleaning up your act” on the bench – that is, trying to do as good a job of being a silversmith as you know how – will work or not according to how well you are coping with the world outside the workshop. Don’t hope to do your best piece of the day after your cat dies: it is simply too much to expect of yourself.

Wow, wisdom and not more than a little kick from 1976. Now I know where I’m going wrong. Time to make more plain work I think 🙂

Until next time, very best wishes.

Stu Art

 

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8 thoughts on “sterling silver stone set cabochon rings from scrap

  1. Great post. And great wisdom about metalsmithing or handwork, artwork or life in general: pay attention. I think Tim McCreight once wrote, with regard to using tools like the flexshaft, polishing wheel etc: If you’re not going to pay attention to safety, don’t use the equipment. period.

  2. I like it how you consider comfort for the wearer, it is after all annoying with jewellery that somehow feels uncomfortable to wear, or makes itself present by “being in the way”. I sometimes wonder if in that sense, it’s easier to make jewellery that you would wear yourself, in which case women designers/makers would have an advantage, although I’m sure different women have different preferences too. Just a thought.
    The advice you share is so good! In my first year of jeweller training (evening class), our teacher told us to “leave our day behind us when we entered the studio, to hang our frustrations on the cloth hanger and focus on our work”.
    I like the rings, I’m tempted to call them “stone candy”, may I? 😉

    • Please do call them stone candy. Made me giggle, I immediately saw what you meant, they do look like that, especially the larger sizes of the stones.
      People who are close to me pretty much shake their heads when I go into what I do to consider all angles possible regarding a piece of jewellery. I confess, looking at the art jewellery world, my thoughts are; great photo shoot, however how does a person wear such a piece. These rings are a welcome departure for me, being as they were, pretty much a construction project, rather than a design to communicate. However, still mindful of comfort and ergonomics I still try to consider the balance between looks and feel. I realise I do approach making in a way that some consider excessive, perhaps compulsive. As an example, the largest stone in the picture, Reen said, you soldered the shank on crooked. When I pointed out that when worn the stone follows the plain of the finger better by orientating the stone to follow a path that compliments the unevenness naturally occurring, balancing its uneven shape. I do sometimes feel handicapped by an engineering attitude to working. If you followed this blog for along time, you may recall the advice Reen gave. Just @%$ing hit it. It is my hope these rings are the beginning of a far looser, less considered and spontaneous phase for me. Very many thanks for your continuing interest.

  3. Stu ! Where can I buy one of your laboradite rings and how much do they cost please? I know these are your bread and butter pieces but PLEASE don’t stop making your other stuff-you are too darn good !!!! Jude Pearson

    • Wato Wato Jude.
      Its fantastic to have such an enthusiastic fan. The rings are in Porthleven, the stones belong to Clair and Paul at the jewellery workshop, ashamed to say, I have no idea how much they are as they gave me the stones to make rings for the shop. These are a departure, as you know, being as they are an attempt to be more of a jobbing maker, rather than a designer/maker. They said they would test the water to see if its worth me continuing to make them.
      The better news is, I’m sure Jess will not mind, I will make you a ring for the help Jess gives me, I need her assistance, same as last time. When I have a list, I will get in touch with her and sort you out with something you will like.
      It was a shame not to have seen you when I visited Jess and Pip. With luck these rings, along with the bangles, will sell a little steadier, meaning I hope to be able to drop in on the way to delivering the next batch. Once again, your kindness and support is greatly appreciated, I look forward to catching up with you in the not too distant future. All my very best wishes. Stu 🙂

  4. Stuart, great rings! Your choice of wire & setting works perfectly with the stones. The labradorites are quite busy with colours & patterns, so your “simple” bezels complement and tie everything together nicely. And I love the roundness and smoothness of the metal – feels quite inviting!
    I put quotation marks around “simple” as, as we know, “simple” doesn’t necessarily mean easy or boring.
    I read your post with a lot of interest (as I always do). I am also these days trying to take a looser approach in my work, so reading about your process and thoughts is very helpful and inspiring. Thank you so much for that. Thanks for the quote as well. Nice to be remembered that in art, as in life, what matters is to be in the moment.

    • Very many thanks for the words of encouragement. I’m feel bound to say, many times I deliberate over writing about the struggles. My fear being it may come across as self pitting, whining or perhaps even fishing for compliments. It is a great comfort to learn you find, hopefully much of what I write, helpful and inspiring, fair to say this is what I’m aiming for. When I set out on this journey, to find someone who was willing to share negative experiences was rare. I know my limitations, the proliferation of sites manned by successful and creatively impressive individuals was, indeed is, very inspiring, at the same time oftentimes demoralising for reasons of not fully understanding their individual journeys. I felt much of what was viewable, by me at the time, was, for want of a better way of putting it, quite fairy tale like. My experiences in no way mirrored this path.
      As a person with a more technical background, I play to my strength, looking to engage with creative people through their curiosity of ‘how to’. It was/is my hope to engage with others in the struggle, growing towards the light of being able to confidently navigate most aspects of the craft competently and confidently. From the nitty gritty hand skills, to the more difficult to fathom, taste, style and marketability of ones work. I hope I’m portraying something of the stop and go nature of attempting to be relevant in this field. I do this to encourage others who, perhaps like me, have found the road particularly demoralising, humiliating and non productive, though not in all aspects of course.
      I am passionate in seeing others reach potentials that could very easily be shattered by rough handling, I have experienced this first hand. As a roughty toughty ugly great bloke, my shoulders are, metaphorically speaking, broader than more fragile personalities who have the potential to be great if encouraged, given the inspiration to take a realisation of how something is done and run with it. Thank you for making me a little less self conscious.
      I’m stoked to know these rings are so well received. Another of life’s lessons, don’t knock it until you try it eh 🙂 I so agree, I don’t care much for hard edges, I like flowing curves, I’m glad you named the stones, I had forgotten what they were called. Can’t get the staff can you 😉
      Thank you for your continuing interest. Very best wishes. Stu

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