Tuesday, July 04, 2017


My experience with learning silverwork I call the percentage method. When you first start your percentage of failure is high and gradually, as you do the same thing over and over, your success percentage increases.

I suppose it's true for most anything, that endless repetition that builds the skills deep into our bones and muscles and mind.

I often hear people wanting to know why a particular thing I do seems so effortless. Well, you should have seen the first 1000, wonky bits that often ended up in the silver recycling cup. I expect near perfection in my pieces, even while knowing my skill level is always improving. Many older things are sold at a discount or taken apart for recycling. It's a wonderful thing that most of my metal I can melt and re-use.

So, now I've set myself the goal of becoming a really good stone setter. I love adding techniques to my bag of tricks, those things that will enhance my jewelry designs and stretch my ever seeking mind.

How many is it going to take? 10? 20? 50? It will take just that many, until I'm satisfied and proud to send those pieces out into the world. The first goal is to achieve excellence in a simple setting, no fancy extras, no pretty leaves or balls, just one well set stone, everything smooth, shiny and secure.

My early efforts have been relatively successful, well, except maybe for that amethyst cab ring sitting on my bench, ick.

This business depends quite heavily on the right tools, especially finishing equipment. Setting a stone tends to rough up the metal a good deal and the clean-up can be daunting.

Here's what I've been working on...

I'm quite happy with this one and it's even made the cut to go to the gallery. A lovely piece of Royston turquoise. I'm please with the bail design and managed to get my maker's mark soldered on the back without making a solder mess. At first you just want to get it soldered, then you go for soldering without extra mess to clean up.

Then this:

All good to the very end of setting and that new piece of equipment wasn't doing quite what I thought it was, result, twisted chunk of messy metal, ack!  I did a lot of metal bending and managed to recover the piece to a certain extent, but it's not anything but a giveaway, sigh.  But that's okay, it's fun to give things away and most people wouldn't be able to see the slight lack of straight. I am happy with the bezel, coming close to the super smooth thick bezel of my dreams.

And then there was the ring shank that shattered in soldering, oops, don't press down so hard. I'm continuing to work, loving every minute of the learning and mishaps, it's all part of the process.


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