Of the four pairs of earrings I made in Ronda's class - these were probably my favorite to fabricate...I loved cutting up the scraps of silver wire, heating them until they glowed and watching them become granules (perfect little silver spheres).
After fusing the wire rings down at the end of the previous day, we began adding embellishments - granules and a bezel for the onyx - to each earring. This represented a second fusing. That's something you can do with argentium (but not with sterling) - go back and fuse new components or make repairs to a piece - so long as it hasn't been soldered, or your stone hasn't been set.
Once the granules and bezels were in place, the next steps were to cut away the extra silver and set the stones.
In addition to showing us how to set the stones in a thick bezel (Ronda uses sheet to form her bezels, rather than preformed bezel wire) she also showed us how to make a tempered steel bezel setting tool. We took a small piece of square steel rod and machined it until it had a slightly tapered end. Then we filed it and used our torches to temper it. So - not only did I go home with jewelry - but I also have a bezel setting punch to boot!
Although I have done bezel setting before, I was excited to learn a new technique from Ronda. She uses the punch and a hammer to set the stone and then flatten the top of the bezel to give it a wider look.
Before setting my stones, I added a patina to my earrings - I really like the way argentium takes the patina, and brightens up to an almost white silver when you polish some of it off.
At the end of the day, after making earwires for both my slumped and granulated earrings - I was three for three, and feeling pretty darned accomplished!
Until next time.