This January, I signed up for a Jewelry Fabrication course with Michael Schwartz of Creative Metalworks. I’ve been wanting to learn to solder and work with metal for a while now in order to expand my design capabilities (and just because it looked so cool!) I checked out this particular offering for logistical reasons mostly, but chose to try the course due to meeting Michael. 5 minutes of conversation, and his enthusiasm for his craft and teaching was evident. He’s also been in the metalworking business for over 30 years, so his teaching studio is FULL of awesome tools.
The first project Michael introduces to newbies is a domed ring – a silver inlay over a patterned and domed copper strip. When Michael makes one or practically makes one by demonstrating all the techniques on a ring you’re making, it comes out stylish and pretty looking. Kind of like this:
I totally enjoyed the process of making this, and started three more to learn the techniques that go into it. I’ve finished one of those, and maaan, based on that experience, I should start maybe 7 more?
The first and second domed rings are the same size – 11.5 – but compare their looks. The second is taller, more domed, and the silver inlay folds over too far. The resulting impression is bulky and hefty – the opposite of what I’d like to achieve in my style. I need to work on keeping the copper band at a small width with minimal doming, and perhaps figure out how to polish the silver inlay into a smooth transition with the textured copper.
When I reach the perfection of domed bands, I shall share the results with glorious photos (hopefully)! Meanwhile, here are some progress shots, and the general steps to creating a band like this.
- Decide on final ring size; based on that, calculate the width and length of the 22 gauge copper and 26 gauge silver strips; cut them out with metal shears;
- Using a texturing hammer or implement, pattern the copper;
- Anneal, make into a rough circle over a ring mandrel at the necessary size;
- Cut/saw/file off any excess length; perfect the seam until you can’t see light through it when closed;
- Struggle greatly to solder it neatly;
- Hammer on the ring mandrel until a correct circle;
- File off any access width until the band sides are parallel;
- Dome the ring from both sides using a dappling set; work at doming and stretching it until it’s the size you want;
- Fold the silver strip into the copper band, marking any access length, then cutting it off;
- File the edges until seam it fitted and clean; solder together;
- Fit the silver inlay into the copper band; stretch on a mandrel; file the silver sides until parallel to the copper sides;
- Check the sizing of the created combination; if necessary, stretch out to size over the ring mandrel;
- Using dappling implements, push the silver inlay out the copper sides; once the inlay is folding close to the copper sides, using dappling block to dome the inlay over the copper;
- Polish for a clean finish; rejoice!