Monday, April 25, 2016

04.25.16 Surprise! I like hollow forms (Intermediate Fabrication - part 2)

When I signed up for 201 - the intermediate fabrication class at Creative Side - I was skeptical about the hollow form project.  It was described as a ring - since the only rings I wear are my wedding and anniversary bands, I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  But I talked to our fabulous instructor, De, and she suggested I look online for ideas. She was right, because when I did - I found lots of inspiration, and landed on earrings.

Our first project - the bezel with corners - was really designed to get us ready for hollow forms, and the process of creating a shape, and maintaining it.

With rounded bezels, you can reshape them around the stone before soldering - but with corners, or a hollow form shape - that's not an option...and it's harder than it sounds.

I decided to make a pair of drop earrings, so I used an oval mandrel to shape my metal before soldering the forms closed.  It took three attempts to get the soldering right - but when I did, I had a pair of nicely matched ovals ready to solder on to a backplate.

Once the ovals were soldered down, I sawed off the excess metal and filed down the edges.  The next step was to drill small holes in both the front and top of each piece.  A hollow form has to have a hole to let the expanding hot air out as you solder on the backplate - or your piece will explode.  I drew a grid on the front and top of my ovals before I drilled to make sure the holes would be properly placed..  The hole on the front will end up under my small tube set stone, the one on the top is where leverback earwires will be attached.  That was where I finished on the first of three nights devoted to this project.

In the second class it was time to make the open parts into hollow forms.  With the holes drilled to let the heat escape, I soldered my ovals to another set of backplates.  Honestly I was surprised how easily and well that went.  The rest of the evening, not so easy.  It took a lot of work to make them look like earrings...sawing off the excess metal from the backplates, filing the edges, and lots of polishing. However, at the end of the second class - I had a pair of hollow oval beads!

The third and final night was devoted to finishing and stone setting.  Once the beads were complete, I soldered the wires with jumprings into the top, and small pieces of tubing on to the fronts (to hold 4 mm blue zircons). You would think soldering a couple of little 4.5 mm tubes would be pretty straightforward.  The first one went on like a piece of cake, but  the second one gave me fits! Finally - after multiple attempts (and a move from medium to easy solder) both beads were ready for stones.

Not only am I very pleased with how this project turned out - I realize that I like hollow forms a lot, and the possibilities for future projects are almost endless!  In fact...I've started another pair - teardrops - already.

I've learned my lesson - always go into a new project or experience with an open mind - even if you're soldering the whole piece closed.

I've learned my lesson - always go into a new project or experience with an open mind - even if you're soldering the whole piece closed.

Until next time.

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