Welcome to my blog, random stuff about me and where I live, plus some bits about my jewellery.

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pebble Jewellery 2

Here's how I make the silver bail to mount the pebble. First take a short length of silver wire, obviously the length depends on the size of pebble, I had a photo of the wire before working it but for some reason it's corrupted, I'm sure you can all imagine a piece of wire. I use 1mm diameter sterling wire, the stuff I bought is soft, which is ideal as it can be worked straight away. Cookson Gold sells all their silver wire in this condition, I don't always want soft wire  but in this instance that's exactly what is wanted. The wire will get a little longer when worked as you are going to hammer it flat!

Here you can see the small flat faced hammer I use, it's a craft hammer with interchangeable heads but you can use any good small flat hammer. A ball pein hammer produces a different effect, you get ripples along the edge. The second image shows the beginning of the flattening process. It takes practise to get a flat straight length of silver, but I think the slight quirks are part of the style of these pieces; as the pebbles are natural the silver doen't want to be machine perfect. Watch your fingers, and make sure you're not hammering over the edge of the anvil, stay in the middle and work gradually down the wire.

Here's the finished length of silver, as you can see I haven't mastered perfection by a long way, the edge is uneven and the thickness is a bit variable but I like it fine like that. (Hmm gone a bit Scots there that's the influence of music, Wild Mountain Thyme playing on the CD!) You can see the original wire lying on the anvil. I bought this anvil and bench peg from Cookson's (see above) quite small and very cheap! You can use any bit of flat steel to hammer on but make sure that it is flat and smooth or it will mark the silver! I must point out that my silver smithing is very basic and self taught.
You'll need to anneal the silver now as it gets very hard when you hammer it and won't bend properly. To do this heat it with a small gas torch, at a push you can use a domestic gas stove, takes ages though! The silver must glow pale pink for 30 seconds to be softened enough to work it further. Check out this site for really good advice about annealing http://www.silverstall.com/annealing-silver-jewellery.html

Next time I'll talk about drilling the silver and making the rivets.

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