Monday, 4 October 2010

Silversmithing

On average, every six months we like to go on a weekend silversmithing course with Ian and Sue Buckley at Bringsty Arts Studio on the Hereford/Worcester border.  They're lovely people and he's an excellent tutor, so we always have a great time.  This is generally enhanced by staying at the14th century coaching inn called the Talbot at Knightwick.


On this occasion all the rooms at the Talbot were taken, so we stayed instead with Jayne Robbie who runs a B&B only 50m from the pub.  This was perfect, as not only was it cheaper, but Jayne is a terrific hostess and we could eat at the pub as well.   Result!

My main project was to raise the bowls of a pair of wine goblets I'd decided to make.  You start with plain discs of silver and then spend a long time banging them with a hammer.  It's noisy and physically hard work.  I got, I suppose, 75% of that stage done, and the rest will have to wait until we go next time.  My hands hurt!

You need to have a second project to fill in gaps, on these weekends.  Ian can't always be instantly available every time you need to grab his attention, so having something else to do means you don't hang around bored.  And on this occasion, I also needed to give my hands and everybody's ears a rest from time to time!

So this pendant is what I made.  I've had a packet of a dozen or so 4mm cubic zirconium for probably 20 years and never been able to set them.  The bought-in claw settings I've tried were always rubbish, and other ways of setting these stones are very difficult and not always successful, so they've just languished in the toolbox.

But on our last weekend, Ian showed me a little cone-shaped burr like the one in the second photograph. You can use that to drill down the centre of a piece of silver tube to make perfectly-angled shoulders for a bright-cut stone to sit on, and if your tube is wide enough, there'll be a thin lip left which you can rub over the edges of the stone to hold it securely in place.

My bright-cut stones are a mixture of 4mm and 5mm in diameter, so I bought two burrs, one for each size, and this weekend made this pendant. I figured Jenny needs some bling jewellery to wear at Royal Society events, and you can't distinguish CZs from real diamonds, so these would do.  I'll have to do her some earrings and possibly other bits to match, but that's fine.  I have to say, I'm rather pleased with that.

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