Thursday, May 8, 2008

Third Time Is The Charm?

I've been working on a "simple" pendant for quite some time now. The stone is a 40x 20mm oval chrysanthemum jasper. It will be set in silver with a pierced floral back. The bail and silver ring that connects the bail to the stone is made of 2mm square wire. The ends of the square wire have been tapered on each end and have pegs for 5mm half-round pearls.

I say "simple" because this piece really should be a quick make for me. However, for some reason I have had some trouble with the bezel. I completely made the piece twice. The first time I made it, I set the stone and after the final polish found that there were still gaps between the bezel and the base.

The second time I made the piece, I got it entirely assembled and the bezel seam came apart. I experimented with trying to fix it while still keeping a tight fit for the stone, and failed. I failed miserably and the bezel melted into a nagging clump of frustration. Humpf!

So this is round three. I think since my stone is so large, my thickest bezel wire just isn't thick enough and can't withstand the heat needed to bring the base to the proper temperature. This time I made the bezel from a strip of 20gauge silver sheet I had laying in my scrap pile. It looks like it may be a little too thick at this point, but I need it to be able to stand up to more heat so the solder flows all the way around the large perimeter. I also chose to use such a thick bezel because I tend to be heavy handed when cleaning up my pieces. I like to have a little extra metal so there is some leeway when filing and polishing.
I have had to re-saw the backing pattern out three times, because once the excess metal is trimmed and filed flush with the bezel, it is next to impossible to match a new bezel to the exact outline of the existing backing.

This "quick project" has put me back in my humble shoes. Even soldering a simple bezel can stick it's tongue out at a somewhat experienced metalsmith. I will post the finished pendant, once I conquer the beast!

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