Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Aquamarine filigree Locket Adventure

Not long after my first, and so far only, silversmith class, I wanted to make a locket for my sister's birthday. This was probably a bit too ambitious for a beginner such as myself, but I never let that stop me. The fun is in learning the new techniques and just going for it.

In the design I combined my first love of wirework with my new love of metalwork. It's far from perfect and has many flaws but I think the flaws make it better, more unique.

Things I Learned While Making This Locket

  • It was on this piece that I learned I could get the heat I needed to make solder flow while not melting my wire. By pulling my torch our from t he piece,  I can keep the heat at the correct level and not over heat it to melting point. 

  • I also learned that if you want a ball on the end of the wire you're working  on,  you have to do it before you put it in your design. I melted a few spots as I learned that little bit.  I should hit myself in the forehead and say "duh."
  • For some reason, this lesson just doesn't stick with me and I have to relearn it each time I have done a larger far. Although the backplate may be thinner, say 22 gauge, the entire backplate has to be heated when attaching an element to the top. Without heating the whole thing, the solder will not flow. Don't know why I can't get that through my thick head. I had the same problem on a piece I just finished.

  • Drilling a hole for piercing. Seems easy. Now that I've done it a few times, it is easy. But this first time I drilled a hole was not easy. First, I grabbed too large of a drill bit for the hole. The bit should start out smaller then get larger as needed. I kept trying to push it through and it seemed to take forever. Second mistake...not using any lubrication! My bit heat up and I thought it would break. Thankfully it didn't but some burlife would have saved me some worry. Third, I should have made a dent of some sort with a punch tool. That way, my bit would have stayed in the same place as I gradually pushed it through the metal. Without the dent, my drill bit wiggled some and marred my metal a bit. I sanded and polished it off, but I could have saved myself the clean-up.
  • It too me forever to figure out how to make a clasp. I tried doing the two balls on the outside but just couldn't get it to work.  They would just rub up next to each other and not hold the box closed. Since lockets were new, and still are new, to me I did some research and found this ball clasp style.  My first try didn't go as o well. The ball was too large and didn't sit right. Once I made a smaller ball and got it attached,  it sat funny.  I realized it would sit better if I put a duvet in the inside wall. The locket now has a nice snug clasp and doesn't come apart when worn. 
Surprisingly, I didn't have too many issues when setting the stone once I got the hole cut out and sanded. It was just a matter of making sure the girdle (back of the stone) fit snugly in the space I created. Then I had to push the loops I had made out of the wire down over the stone. The stone does not move at all and is nice and snug. It can be accessed from the inside of the locket for cleaning and to help reflect light. The setting ended up being very unique and I just love how it turned out.

Even with all the mistakes I made while making this locket, I think it turned out pretty well. Some of the melty bits irritate me but I definitely learned how to keep those errors to a minimum on future pieces. 

Thanks for reading. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and not have to make them for yourselves.