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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Move to outside workshop

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My bench, all made from reclaimed stuff. The top cane from a skip, the table it sits on was being slung out. Its raised on two rough sawn off cuts, not elegant, effective though.

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‘Plier rack’ is an old plate stand, keeps files to hand as well. The filing cabinet has my tumbler, pickle pot (an old slow cooker, make sure its ceramic, not metal if you try yourself) and one or two fondue set mini pickle pots, heated by tea lights, for small work. The table/stand is a laptop stand, height adjustable, very useful.

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Solis cast iron surface plate, or sometimes called a flat iron, perfect for checking the trueness of raising, marking out and checking for flatness. Old fire bricks salvaged from electric night storage heaters, two turntables, the smaller one for a T/V, the other is a twist exerciser, both plastic so be careful. With the size of the bricks placed on the soldering table, I have no issue with heat reaching the turntable. Both found in junk shops.

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Truly awesome guillotine, I took this apart and painted it. It is so heavy, I used a motorcycle jack to help take it apart. As it was over a small drain, the weight cracked through the alloy drain, toppling it onto my pushbike, you should see the dent in the frame ;/

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A mod roc, wire and wood ‘sculpture’ I made for a project. Do you think it would work in copper for outside?

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Swage machines, part of the tinsmiths hall. All need to be cleaned up and restored.

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Two old slip rollers, along with my modern rolling mill. Restoration of the old ones later!!!!

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Some of my hammers. That fan is great, force 10 at least, no paperwork out when this is running.

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A belt and disc sander I use for roughing out amongst other things the chasing tools you see here. They are attached by strip magnets used for storing knives in kitchens, you guessed it, from a second hand shop. The trolley, on wheels, was salvaged from a skip.

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Birds eye view. Got to have a cuppa tea. I’m British don’t ya know 🙂 The stool I use is a piano stool, the pad is on a screw thread, just spin it for height adjustment.

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Couldn’t resist this, beautiful at night, with switchable effects, just plain white, reminds me of the stars, you have to be here to see the full fantastic effect.

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My disc cutter, truly fantastic, beautiful machine. Always make me giggle every time I use it.

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A Norton fly press, more to come in the near future with this machine. The machine to the right, just visible the two rollers, is a bowl forming machine. Alas one of the cast gears is broken, on another post I will introduce my “dirty” workshop, (my garage) and the machine tools I will be using to repair it. Most of the stakes came from the tinsmith hall, along with most of the machines here, see text for explanation.

 

Wato wato one and all

Not posted for a while, work and a direction revisited from a previous time have meant not much happening at the moment. I was hoping the start of the holiday season would be more fruitful than it has proven to be so far. I have just made a batch of wire forged bangles. Alas they are difficult to photograph, I wanted to send them off to the jewellery workshop to try to get some cash-flow going, I will get the next batch professionally photographed, I’m very pleased with them.  http://porthlevenjewelleryworkshop.co.uk/

To the subject of this post, my move to outside with my jewellery work. Long story short, Reen, as you know, is a woodturner, membership secretary for Cornwall woodturnershttp://www.cornwallassociationofwoodturners.co.uk/

Now when we started with the workshop in the back garden I ‘shared’ it with her. As her hobby has grown, so has her collection of wood, not to mention the acquiring of a bandsaw and other wood related stuff. I resolved to just do larger work there, keeping my jewellers bench and associated bits in our spare bedroom. Burnt holes in the carpet and black smeetch marks from soldering/annealing led to the executive decision that I had to go outside.

Great news, Reen has a new shed. I now have re claimed the workshop, I thought I would share some pictures while it resembles some form of order.

I purchased a couple of years ago a complete tinsmith workshop tooling. As you see it is in a fairly rough state, the guillotine, disc cutter and fly press the only three things, apart from the odd stake, that I have gotten round to repairing/restoring. It was fantastic to meet the chap who sold it to me, he worked at this job, for the same firm all his working life. When he retired, the business closed down, he kept all the tooling in a, sadly, leaky lock up. He showed me a fly press die that he said was his first job when he started at 15 years of age. I’m now the very proud custodian of these time capsules. I don’t know if look forward is the right term, however as the years go by, time permitting, I will slowly restore each part. I have only shown some of what I have, I will introduce you to more as time goes on. Some of these machines, like the bowl maker, or the crimper with the associated accessories, are simply fascinating and wondrous to behold. All made from solid cast sections that are hernia inducing to move around. These industrial relics were the CNC machines of their time, I am very privileged to own these machines, they give me immense pleasure as I look at them, trying to figure out how they work, imagining the chap, his working lifetime etched into each one.

I know this has little to do with silversmithing per say, however these machines and associated stakes can be pressed into service for silversmithing purposes, as I intend to show you over the times we share.

I have pretty much completed a commission I will share with you next time, including some more, made from stuff lying around tools you can make yourself.

I apologise in advance for an upcoming post that shows my “dirty” workshop. A very nice person has expressed an interest in the old engineering machines I am fortunate enough to look after. Please don’t dismiss it as I feel sure, as people interested in making things, you should get something from it.

Until next time. All my very best wishes.

Stu Art