Sorry everyone.......I decided to have the Cat/Stars tutorial removed for bla-bla reasons. Now I'm re-posting the shadow-box tutorial that was mistakenly taken off.
In the not too distant future I will post another tutorial on mixed metal applications.
SteveGallery Bezel Red Paua Shell Shadowbox Pendant Tutorial
1. The stone I chose for this project is an 18mmx25mm calibrated Red dyed Paua Shell cabochon. Being a natural shell, the bottom of the cab is not consistently flat. To eliminate this, I used the heavy card backing from a legal pad to make a new bottom. Simply cut off a piece larger than the stone and glue the stone to it. I used Super Glue for his and it worked well. Trim to cab size and hand sand the edges smooth.
2. The first thing to make is the bezel cup. Using 3/16”x28g plain bezel tape for his stone (this allows depth for the shadowbox effect), I wrapped the tape around the stone to get the correct length, marked the spot and cut it. Flatten and file ends parallel and solder flush then pickle to clean. Here I use Hard Solder and a very small flame on my air/acetylene #2 torch tip. At this point it is a good idea to file and clean any solder that has accumulated on the outside surface of the bezel loop making it a seamless smooth surface. I use my ring mandrel for this. Shape the bezel to the stone in prep for the next step.
3. Now with the stone in the bezel, when measuring for the backing of the bezel, measure the length and width of the bezeled stone and the width of the gallery bezel used. For this project I am using IJS # STGA3158 Gallery Bezel, 3/8” in width.
To the bezeled stone size add twice the width of the gallery bezel both width and length and add a little more for good measure – 1/16”~ 1/8” per side.
18mmx25mm with bezel = 1”x3/4”
Width: 3/4”+3/8”+3/8”+1/8” (extra) = 1 5/8”
Length: 1”+3/8”+3/8”+1/8” (extra) = 1 7/8”
At this point I stamp the backing with my Maker’s Mark, ‘Sterling’ and ‘Handcrafted’ in the center of the plate.
Center the bezel loop in the middle of the backing plate, solder into place and pickle. I use Super Easy solder for this step. Centering is important to insure adequate space on all sides for the gallery bezel. Centering your stamps and the corner-to-corner “X” is helpful in this step.
4. Now comes the hardest part of the fabrication: Bending the gallery bezel around the stone bezel. With this particular gallery bezel it is particularly difficult because of the thick skirt at the bottom of the bezel. Here I will anneal the gallery bezel start the bending process, re-anneal it and continue bending. You might have to repeat this several times depending the stubbornness of the gallery bezel.
I want the gallery bezel solder joint at the bottom of the piece so I start the bending process a little past the bottom of the bezel cup for overlapping once bent around the stone bezel. I also pay attention to the position of the gallery bezel spires’ position at the top of the piece. I either want a single spire or an evenly spaced pair at the top.
Off subject info: A good article on silver can be found at http://www.handyharmancanada.com/hbpm/silver/silver.htm
5. On this piece I worked it out so there was a pair of spires at the top.
Now another tricky part – Figuring out where to cut the gallery bezel. I mentioned overlapping; this is where this comes into play. Here I have to decide how to balance the look of the spires at the bottom of the bezel. Using tweezers to pull the gallery bezel tight around the stone bezel I make a decision and cut the excess gallery bezel off.
Again using the tweezers as above I figure where to cut to match both sides of the gallery bezel where it will balance. Most likely the bottom curve on both sides of the gallery bezel will have to be coaxed into proper position. This can be done using round nosed pliers and gently bending between the spires. Once you are satisfied with the location to cut the gallery bezel mark it and cut. Unfortunately there will be several spires of the gallery bezel sacrificed in doing this. Bummer, because this stuff is over $42 an oz.
NOTE: It very important to get these steps right on the positioning of the top and bottom gallery bezel spires. There will be a little play in actual positioning the finished gallery bezel loop around the stone bezel, but once it is soldered and ready for installation, altering the arc on this piece is virtually impossible.
6. Anneal the gallery bezel once again and butt the ends for soldering. Here I use hard solder again. Some filing will probably be needed to parallel the two sides before soldering. Finally, pickle the gallery bezel to clean and put it someplace safe until it’s needed.
7. Next, I’ll build the ring(s) around the stone bezel that hold the gallery bezel off the surface the backing. Using 20g round wire I make an oval ring around the outside of the stone bezel and solder closed using hard solder. For this project I will use two oval rings, one atop the other to gain the height I want. Since these will not be seen it is not critical to make them ‘perfect’. If you make them a little small they can be stretched on a ring mandrel.
8. Place the two rings around the stone bezel and solder in place, making sure they are both flush the base and each other. On this soldering I am using Super Easy solder as I did with attaching the stone bezel to the base.. This will allow a good flow in the next step without affecting the harder soldered joints.
9. Now is the step to add the gallery bezel to the stone bezel. Here I pre-solder the gallery bezel, using Super Easy solder, to a small channel on the back of the bezel. Next, generously flux the entire piece inside the stone bezel cup and around the round wire steps and place the gallery bezel in place atop the steps. There is a little play here that allows the centering of the gallery bezel. In this soldering step I will feed my Super Easy solder through the inside of the stone bezel cup. This is to fill the areas needed to be soldered, including the small space between the gallery bezel and stone bezel’s side without flowing solder on the top of the gallery bezel. Or by trying to feed the solder in-between the small space between the base and gallery bezel where solder could inadvertently be put on the top of the base where it would be visible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Take time to solder this step, heating all the metal to solder flow temp slowly while constantly moving the torch tip fire. The gallery bezel is fine silver and if you don’t pay attention the torch fire, the tips of the gallery bezel could melt. BIG BUMMER….! I know I’ve done it…….!
10. At this point take a good look at the spires of the gallery bezel. If some are off as to their pointing direction, now is the time to adjust them. This is a really small adjustment to the spires. I get one side to look like I want it to and then match the opposite spires to mirror them using my duck billed pliers.
11. Creating the shadowbox affect consists of pushing the gallery bezel tips down to touch he backing base for soldering. There are two different methods I use: 1. Using round nose pliers I bend the tips perpendicular to the base and make contact, and 2. I simply push them down at the tip to touch the base. This will give two different appearances.
or as I’m doing on this piece
12. In soldering this, since I use wire solder, I will cut small pieces of Super Easy solder numbering a few more than the spires to be soldered. In this case 24 spires and 28 pieces of solder. (It’s no fun when you get to the last spire or so and do not have enough solder pieces the finish the job, know I will always drop one or two when going to apply the solder.) Bend each of the spires down insuring they touch the base. Flux generously and start heating. First the whole piece then concentrating the heat to the area where you are soldering spires in whatever rotational direction for your comfort zone.
The processes I use for this step is: Heat and ball each of the solder pieces before applying them; Place the piece on a small pedestal I’ve made so I can heat both side of the piece; Use either a solder pick or normally closed spring tweezers to apply the solder. It may look messy once soldered but this will be rectified in a later step. I’ve tried several soldering methods in order to get a cleanly soldered piece, but haven’t yet discovered one. Does anyone have a method that works?
13. To cut the piece out at the spire solder point, I either use heavy scissors or straight tin snips. I complete the edging on a fine Craytex wheel bring the base up to the tip of the spires.
14. The piece can be finished with this oval design or with a scalloped edge, as I will do. Using a round file or rat-tail file, file between the spires to the depth you wish all the way around the piece up to the tips of the spires. Sand or file off the filing burrs on the backside. This is tedious and tiring work.
15. Now I clean the piece on a medium then fine satin finishing wheel before attaching the jump loop and bale.
Next assembly is the bale and jump loop. The loop is 20g round wire cut to 3/4”~7/8” and then bent tip-to-tip using round nosed pliers making the loop part the same width as the two spires it will be mounted between. The bale is made using 22g~24g sterling sheet cut to a size of 1” x 3/8”. I then mark a center line to the length as a reference for cutting. Using straight sheet metal cutters, or a pair of stout scissors, I form a diamond as shown in the photo. From here I file off the marks made by the cutter, bend the bale over a small file handle end so the ends of the bale meet. Make sure that the scribed center line is on the inside of the bent bale. Now I use a pair of round nose pliers to bend the tips to overlap each other for soldering on the jump loop. Using the pliers I spread the tips apart in order to be able to slip it onto the jump loop.
16. Place the jump loop between the top two spires, flux and solder. Next comes attaching the bale. Slip the spread bale onto the jump loop and while gently heating it bend it together using tweezers, flux and solder being careful not to over solder. Cleaning the over solder isn’t nice.
Congrats…….the piece is assembled. Now comes the finishing process.
17. The first thing I do is clean the piece using a medium satin wheel on my polishing arbor. This cleans the surface and the fire scale on the sterling. Next I use an old worn fine satin wheel with jeweler’s rouge on it to eliminate most of the scratches set down by the medium satin wheel. I can’t get really close to between the spires, but I do best as I can. The oxidation process will cover much of the underside of the spires.
18. Oxidation of the piece is next. I use ‘Silver Black’ by Grifath for this, there are different manufacturers or home made recipes that are good also.
19. Now, how do you want the finish to look like? If it is a satin finish I’ll use a fine satin wheel for this and your almost done – drop the stone in the bezel cup, set the bezel around the edge of the stone and you have a finished piece.
If the stone is too short for the depth of the bezel there are several methods for raising it up. The method I use is to make shims the same shape as the stone from the same heavy paper I backed it with back in item #1 of this tutorial. Two such shims will be needed for this project to bring up the stone to where I want it. Precise cutting is not necessary for the shims as long as they fit into the bezel cup.
20. If you want a high polish piece there is more work involved. I use ‘Fabuluster’ for my finish polish, wash with a Dawn/water solution and warm water. Here I don’t use a solution of ammonia, water and dawn because the ammonia will remove some or most of the oxidation, depending on ammonia solution ratio and exposure. Insert the shims and set the stone. With some stones you can set them before polishing. However, with this particular stone the red dye can be effected and give a different hue of red after polishing. Then final polish with a suede leather or cotton wheel with a really sparing amount of Fabuluster on my Foredom to remove fingerprints and really minor scratched.
NOTE: The size of this finished pendant is 1 11/16” tall and 1 1/2” wide. It’s a large pendant. I chose this size stone because it would allow me to display a greater size in photos throughout the tutorial. Making a smaller pendant is a little harder when it comes to bending the gallery bezel around the stone bezel cup with this particular gallery bezel. Be forewarned.