Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making Rings and Male Anatomy - Worlds Colliding

Some of my jewelry friends will not make rings because they consider them to be too hard. To an extent this is true, because this little piece of art has to fit perfectly on a person's imperfectly shaped finger.  So why am I so attracted to making them?? I love the whole process, but the sizing part can be really tricky. Precious metal clays are pure metal in combination with an organic binder that burns off in firing. Therefore, as George Costanza used to say, "Significant Shrinkage."

And, to make matters worse, each material: bronze, silver, copper, etc., shrinks at a different rate. If that's not hard enough to deal with, here's the clincher: The piece also shrinks in response to placement in the kiln, size of piece, thickness, get it. Like I said...tricky. There are some ways to get around this, and I've tried them. My favorite is the product called "Hatties Patties." (I like these so much that I named one of my hens after the designer - Hattie Sanderson. To make a ring Hattie tells us to make the ring two sizes larger than needed and insert one of her patties into the middle when firing. The metal shrinks to the patty and no further. When done you just drop the whole thing into a cup of water, and the patty dissolves like an alka-seltzer. I don't know what these things are made of, but you are not supposed to dump the solution down the sink. Hmmm. And then there is my pride. Something about using them makes me feel like I'm cheating. I keep thinking that real artisans don't have to use a crutch, that they can become one with the material and intuit its behavior. But the currently outrageous price of silver makes proper experimentation too costly. I'm working at learning though, and hope to eventually be patty-free!

The first rings I made for Heather and Fran were too small. The second ones worked out.

My friends love nature, so the choice of tree bark bands was perfect for them. The tree represents fidelity and fulfillment - what could be more perfect. I am now selling these bands, along with a few other fine silver rings, on my Etsy shop. They are a lovely gift for anyone, and the ideal 5th anniversary gift of wood-related symbol. 

Other rings: 
Tree knot with bark band, 6 mm laboratory gemstone CZ (I use lab stones for humanitarian and environmental reasons.)

Little Leaf on Vine Ring

My rings are handcrafted in fine silver, (pure silver) - as opposed to sterling, which contains base metal. Order one up, and I promise it will be perfect! Guaranteed.