Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!


"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Making of a Sterling Silver Enhancer Pendant with Beaded Necklace

Well, I finally managed to solder a piece of silver (without freaking out at the flame!!) in my class, totally own my own.  This was a real "hallelujah" moment for me, because I've been so scared that I was going to explode something with that flaming torch. I'm happy to report no explosions, just a very nice little accomplishment!

Petrified Palm Wood Cabochon Being Set in Silver Bezel

The successful soldering job followed a class where I was thinking, "Maybe this silversmithing thing is not for me." Yes, I almost gave up.  I could not hold anything without shaking that day, and sometimes a steady hand is imperative.  I was attempting to wire that very thin 1/8" strip of silver to the flat piece of silver that would eventually become the bezel. The problem is that it needs to follow the shape of the stone that will be set into the bezel, otherwise it doesn't fit.... and it needs to fit or the piece can't happen.  It also needs to be completely and perfectly flat on the bottom where it meets the back piece so that the solder can flow.  That crazy little strip had a mind of its own that day and wouldn't be still.  I struggled with it until my eyes hurt and I was SO FRUSTRATED at myself. Anyway, I gathered my things after a couple of hours of that, and said, "I'm going home.  This is not working...I'll see you all next time."  I missed the next class due to a hail and rain storm, and then the following one due to the instructor being sick, so several weeks went by and I don't know what happened, but things just worked after that break.  I'm glad, because I was ready to give up.  If you look at that piece up there, it's just all innocent and simple looking, not at all like it could cause me all of those problems!  

Now, although I'm not totally finished with the silver pendant, I need to go ahead and work on the beaded necklace part, so that it will be ready next week when I finish the silver piece...I wanted to share it with you in its current unpolished, unfinished state so that you can actually see this part of the process, like I'm experiencing it.


The pendant is a large round flat-backed cabochon of petrified palm wood set in a silver bezel.  The colors are very warm golden tones with darker brown spots. The main pendant is being constructed like an enhancer, or a pendant that will be removable to use on many different necklaces...just makes it more versatile.  The way this is made is by soldering a strip of silver to the back that will become a hook that will just loop over the strand of beads.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in our local Michael's where they had a bead sale going on, and came across some beads that I thought might work for this necklace.  I bought several strands and had the ladies in the silversmithing class help me decide which ones to use.  I settled on some golden colored 7-8mm river shell beads, some pearls with a gold tint, and some tiny glass beads of a similar color.  I will also be using all silver findings...the hook closure at the back, and all crimps and covers will be sterling silver. Now, I've just got to string up those little beads and bits so that I've got something to hang my newest silver piece on!




I've gathered everything together with my tools and I'm ready to get to work.


I started beading to figure out what I wanted my pattern to look like.  I do have a beading board, but I find it easier to work like this, on a cloth.  (To me, it's hard to grab the beads to lift them out of the little trenches in beading boards..the beads just roll around.)  I estimate how long I want the finished necklace to be and then I add 4" to that length.  That's where I cut my wire, or string, or whatever material I'm using.  It gives me an extra 2" on each side to work with.  I also keep a ruler handy for quick measurements along the way.



Once I settled on the pattern, I clipped a paper clip onto one end to keep the beads from falling off.  I continued adding beads from the other end.



Measuring as I got close to the center, I stopped the regular beading pattern and added 3 tiny beads to make a little "snuggle spot" to hold the pendant securely.  Hopefully it will keep the strand of beads from twisting around my neck if it is holding the heavier pendant in the front center.



I then continued to bead, using the established pattern, until I reached the end.  I double checked to make sure I had the same number of beads on each side of the necklace.  I ran the wire through a crimp bead, then through the ring of the clasp, then back through the crimp bead and through the big shell bead. (It's a good idea to go back through several beads, but the holes in these pearls were too small to get a second strand through, so I had to just go through the one big bead.)  Using my crimp pliers, I crimped the bead, then covered it with a crimp cover.  I repeated the crimping process on the opposite side, trimmed the excess wire, and called the beading part of the project finished.



A preview of what the finished piece will look like...If you can, look at the picture below and imagine the bezel being burnished up around the cabochon, the bail curved over and around the beaded necklace, and all of it polished to a high shine.  Then, it will be finished.



I can hardly wait to finish and share it once again!  

Judy

8 comments:

  1. This is going to be beautiful. Can't wait to see it finished. Yet more creativity from Judy!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by! I will wear it to the meeting next month...Things just always looks so much better in real life. I appreciate you being here!

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  2. I hope the next time I see you, that you are wearing this beautiful piece.

    Blessings,
    Linda

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    1. Thank you, Linda! I'm sure I will wear it to show it off...I've got a lot of time invested in this one! I appreciate your sweet comment!

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  3. Your necklace is going to be gorgeous when completed. What an intricate process requiring lots of patience!
    Mary Alice

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    1. Thank you, Mary Alice. It is intricate and hard on my eyes, but that doesn't stop me...it's too much fun! I do stop frequently to give my eyes a break. I've made two more strands for the beaded necklace part of it, so it really will look different when it's finished and I share the final pics. Thanks so much for dropping in!
      Judy

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  4. I completely understand you were frustrated for a while at that focal, but I think it's coming together quite beautifully! At some point I think I'd like to take a class similar to yours (and really ought to do it before silver prices rise any more!) However, I'm happy with where I'm at right now. I like that you got input from your classmates on your beads and think that they will look lovely with the finished necklace. Can't wait to see it in full when you finish everything!

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    1. Thank you, Hope! I actually just finished it and I'm getting ready to post the final piece...stay tuned!

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