September 22nd, 2006
A quick update of the last couple of days of work:
I think that the plique smiley has gone through its last firing. I cleaned it up and ground it down last night, and today filled a couple of tiny holes and ground out a couple of flacks of black that had ended up in the yellow areas, then re-fired. I had to go up to 1380F to heal the stress cracks int he smile area, but that did do it. I am letting it cool in the warm kiln with the door ajar in the faint hope that a more gradual cooling process will minimize the formation of new stress cracks.
I have also come up with a notion or 2 of how to do similar spaces in the future, if I am foolish enough to undertake such. :P It was clear in the grinding process that one of the reasons why the smile opened up is that the piece warped- there was no structure for at least a third of the way around it in that area once the glass was hot, and so my smiley has a bit of an overbite. :) Of course, most long thin spaces could stand to have a meander of wire in them, at least, without it looking like teeth...
With any luck I'll be able to set the stones withut adding enough stress to the glass to cause problems. I'm pretty confident of that with the sapphire, since it's on the bail and so not rigidly connected to the plique part. The diamond, though... As long as I can do it by hand, it should be fine; if I need to use a hammer, though, all bets are off. At least with a diamond I can re-fire with the stone in place, with total impunity. Diamonds are generally heat-safe, and black ones- well, they're not really going to discolor, now, are they???
The ribbons or festoons for the cloisonne setting are forged, and I just annealed them so I can tweak the shapes better. They each need to be shaped to the setting in 3 places, plus shaped to the 2 additional settings for the sapphires. It's pretty close, which is great! I did a full-sized drawing, and followed that with the shaping and the forging, and it helped a lot.
(I am not a one for doing formal jewelry rendering. I'm not sure if it's something I need to take up. I do working sketches a lot, but they're very rough and more conceptual in nature- overall design ideas, with sometimes exploded views, sometimes details of construction, and labels to help me figure out later what on earth I was talking about! I also draft a lot of things on the computer, especially pieces that I'm going to saw out of sheet. But formal renderings? not now. I can see the advantages if one is doing really expensive commission work for rich clients, so maybe I do need to learn to do it. I do have a book or 2 on the topic...)
So the smileys are progressing nicely. Maybe after tomorrow's work I'll ask J to get a picture or 2 of the things in their current state. Deadline: next Fri or Sat!
I also started work on the loops for an etched pendant I'm doing as a commission. There will be a loop top and bottom, and the tricky bit is that the pendant is a rectangle with the corners clipped, and the loops need to be in a similar shape. (The top one will have a captured piece of tubing for a bail.) So I've used my miter jig to cut the top and bottom stretches to length at 45-degree angles, and will do the same on the uprights. Then I will use a cylinder bur to round out the angled ends to the proper diameter, then fuse (I hope!) snips of wire into these to make a square corner overall, but with the corner itself clipped. -I know this is a crappy description...! The whole thing is being done in the argentium sterling alloy, and so far fusing that seems to work better than soldering. At least, I am very unhappy with the visible solder line in the ring I soldered using argentium solder... I think I will need to solder the loops onto the pendant itself, but if I can fuse the loops themselves that will be great.
And I finished my re-working of my trillium brooch! It is now much more secure and stable with the petals and leaves not spinning like pinwheels, plus I replaced the nickel silver pin with a nicely sharpened steel one. Much nicer! And I'm glad I didn't sell it before, because it's much more worthy of sale now. :)