Sunday, March 20, 2011

Now I Know What I Didn't Know

A while back, a friend asked me if I might be able to make an earring to replace one that she had lost. The pair had been one of her favorites, and she held on to the remaining earring with hopes that the lost one would eventually reappear. Didn't happen- the lost remains lost.

I typically shy away from specific requests. I know where my comfort zone is and would never exaggerate my jewelry making abilities...... at least not intentionally.

When I saw the earring, I was so happy to be able to say, "Sure! No problem." I was looking at a silver and bronze disc-cut earring that had been curved. Some simple soldering of the ear clip and small jump rings was also part of the fabrication. Easy! Well, not really.

When I sat down to get to work, I studied the two disc-cut pieces and realized that when I initially said "No problem", I didn't even know to know what I didn't know. Is that confusing enough?

I realized that the curves of the two pieces were somewhat similar to the curves of a saddle- not something that I could accomplish in my dapping block. What to do?!

The books that I have in my home 'library' did not offer any help. The talented Dawn Bergmaier pointed me in the right direction. She explained that the earring in question was an example of anticlastic forming, meaning that two curves on the same surface are at 90 degrees to each other. With that understanding of what type of forming I wanted to do, I did some research and found out that specific tools were needed.

Oh happy day- a legitimate reason to buy new tools!

I ended up purchasing this advanced forming stake and accompanying hammer, both made of a high density plastic which prevents marring of the metal surfaces. The sinusoidal curves across the top vary in width and depth and resemble gentle ocean waves. I could get all mathematical here and describe the graphing of sine and cosine functions, but it's been many years since I took Calculus and I would be stepping out of my comfort zone.

Instead, here's what the stake allows me to do.
I cut discs of silver nickle, textured them and punched two holes. I cut out central discs and then annealed the pieces to make the forming as easy as possible. The 3 pieces on the right were shaped on the advanced forming stake and now have that distinctive Pringles shape.

Small, faceted sapphire gemstones, wrapped with balled sterling wire dangle from the bottom of these formed discs.
When I finished these earrings, I felt a bit underwhelmed.

This pair works for me.
These discs are brass that was textured using my center punch before being annealed and formed on the stake. Faceted prehnite beads wrapped with balled sterling wire dangle. I added what I call my wrapped tornado link of annealed steel wire to connect the sterling earwire. This little tornado was sanded with a fine sanding block to bring out highlights.

My staging photo is one that I found at a flea market, and I love the ethereal quality that it suggests. I have a richly detailed storyline that I can imagine for her and appreciate what she adds to my images.

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