Hubby’s parents’ Christmas presents

by helen hill on February 21, 2009

As Christmas presents for my husband’s parents, I made a necklace for his mother and a bola tie for his father.  The pendant part of the necklace is made from sterling silver, amber, citrine and CZ’s.  I fabricated the sterling silver chain links and linked them together with 9K yellow gold jump rings I’d made, to coordinate with the amber cabochon and faceted citrines.  The pendant is similar to one I made for a friend a few months ago, using Indian garnet (see other blog post).  Where there is a group of three stones comprising of two citrines and one CZ, there were supposed to be three citrines, but unfortunately I broke the middle one whilst setting it and so I had to replace it with a CZ as I had no more citrines of that size in stock.  Apart from that, I am really pleased with how it turned out – and so is my mother-in-law! 😉  The picture was taken quickly, without the aid of my light tent and so there are some nasty shadows on the picture – they are NOT firestain.  Unfortunately, the chain did the old electro-plating thing in the ultrasonic and the yellow gold links are slightly silver plated.  Hopefully it will wear to a deeper colour in time.

Sterling silver and 9K gold, amber, citrine and CZ necklace

Sterling silver and 9K gold, amber, citrine and CZ necklace

Sterling silver, amber, citrine and CZ pendant

Sterling silver, amber, citrine and CZ pendant

The following is the bola tie I made for my father-in-law.  It is set with a Chinese turquoise cabochon and also incorporates 9K yellow gold balls recycled from one of his broken yellow gold chains he no longer wanted (the chain was not repairable – he’d taken it to a jeweller’s once and he’d attempted a repair and then he gave it to me to try and repair when it broke again in a different place.  I also attempted a repair, but it was a hollow linked chain and extremely delicate and so melted for fun as soon as you showed it some heat.  I warned him it would break again on a different link, and it did – he was hanging a heavy pendant off it).  I figured it was only fair to let him have his gold back in a different piece.  I fabricated the main piece using a sheet which I’d melted and rolled, and bordered it with 2mm square sterling wire.  I textured the background using a diamond-coated burr and textured the square wire using an old electrical screw driver.  I fabricated the tips using sterling sheet and yellow gold balls.  I also fabricated the mechanism on the back using Lee Epperson’s advice and his tried and trusted method, making a figure of eight with wire, folding it out and soldering it onto the back.  The holes in the figure of eight correspond with the size of the two widths of leath cord.  Thank you Lee! 😉  I couldn’t source the usual braided black bola cord in time, so I purchased some blue cord to match the turquoise cabochon.  My father-in-law apparently likes it but said “it’s beautiful, but it would have looked better with the background enameled – maybe next time perhaps”!  There’s no pleasing some people.  I’m very pleased with it but have learned from the mistakes I made, which will help the next time I do something similar.

Sterling silver and recycled 9K gold, Chinese turquoise bola tie on blue leather cord

Sterling silver and recycled 9K gold, Chinese turquoise bola tie on blue leather cord

Sterling silver and 9K gold bola tips

Sterling silver and 9K gold bola tips

Sterling silver and recycled 9K gold, Chinese turquoise bola tie

Sterling silver and recycled 9K gold, Chinese turquoise bola tie

Since starting to make jewellery, my husband has relied on me to make presents for everybody, so I’ve been swallowing the cost of everybody’s presents.  However, the novelty of doing such a thing has definitely worn off now and I’ve said no more to my DH.  I will still make presents but he is now at least paying for my materials for such pieces so that I’m not out of pocket any more.  My F-I-L’s comment helped push me towards this decision but I also figured that it’s time to try and make some money out of this venture and I’m never going to do that by constantly giving away freebies.

helen hill

helen hill

helen hill

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen Hill August 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

Hi Duncan,

Thank you SO much for your lovely words about my jewellery and my blogs/posts. That’s very kind of you. Regarding the bola, I used the screwdriver on the 2mm square wire border. I simply used it as a stamp, hitting it with a chasing hammer. It’s only a tiny electrical screwdriver, so it doesn’t take much force for it to make quite deep impressions. I liked the effect so much that I intend to use it more often, and have in fact actually set some stones by “upsetting” the bezel with the screwdriver texture technique.

Regarding the bezel, I make all my bezels myself from sterling silver sheet. I eyeball the stone from its side, measuring it with a steel ruler. I determine the height I need by taking a point just where the slope of the stone changes from vertical to a more diagonal angle. That way, physics says there’s no way the stone will come out of the bezel accidentally (and in fact when I’ve dismantled my pieces, I’ve broken many pieces because they are set in there so securely!) as there is enough height, BUT not so much height that would make closing the bezel difficult. I always make my bezels slightly too small and then stretch them up on a bezel mandrel to get the perfect fit. When soldered closed and stretched up, I sand the top and bottom edges of the bezel to get really crisp surfaces. This makes it easier and neater when soldering onto the backplate, and it also makes the top which will be seen, much neater. I mainly use 0.5 mm thick sheet to make my bezels, although I have made a really chunky setting recently using 1 mm thick sheet for the bezel. I always set the stones using a setting punch (basically a piece of brass rod set into a wooden handle, with a flat, polished face at its end) and chasing hammer. At first, I was leaving tool marks and having to do a bit of clean-up to get rid of them. But now, I can use just the right amount of force to avoid tool marks, whilst still turning the bezel. I also go around afterwards in a sort of sideways motion, to use the punch and hammer to burnish the setting. The setting then gets a final polish afterwards. I don’t know whether I’ve answered your questions regarding the bezel but feel free to ask any more questions if haven’t.

BTW, thanks for the recommendation regarding Brian Clarke. I will look him up, but I can’t afford classes or holidays at the moment unfortunately. And my daughter has once again changed her mind about the jewellery business and has dropped out of college not knowing what she wants to do. She’s wondering about horticulture at the moment, as she has enjoyed helping me out in my garden this summer.

Take care and thanks again. And ask away if I’ve missed anything out.

Helen

Duncan August 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

Helen! Loved the postings about your DH and gifts! I make it a point to not make gifts till the supplies are bought! HA! I especially enjoied your stone set pendant- quick query about the bola… how did you use the screwdriver for the background? and I am interested in your technique for the bezel about the turquoise as well… Love reading your questions and look forward to the posts more!
Be safe and have a great day! And if your daughter wants a good shoot-out of the gate for a definitely different approach to fine-ware (including jewelery) I would highly reccomend you and her take a working holiday to Ireland- go see Brian Clarke (google Irish Silversmith) and take a course! I experienced his teaching and genteel manner and patience last year and thoroughly loved the experience… (but then again- Im a yank with a love for silver…) Yes, he mainly does hollow and flatware- but therein lies the beauty- if your daughter can get into a good rhythm with jewelery- then the flatware and holloware could be a good side niche!
-Just a thought from across “Lake Atlantic” Be safe and good to see your blogs!
-Duncan

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