The Gift ~ A Silver Stocking Filler!

Sterling Silver Woven Bangle

Sterling Silver Woven Bangle

I thought it might just be the perfect time to do a ‘giveaway’, what with Christmas just around the corner, and this beautiful woven silver bangle just desperate for a new home!

My intention is to make a collection of these bangles, each of differing widths, so that they can be bought as a set and worn stacked together on the arm.  This bangle will fit an average female wrist, being 21 cm in diameter, and the band is approximately 4 mm wide.

I started with three lengths of sterling silver wire of around 1.6mm diameter.  The three lengths were bound tightly together with iron binding wire and then the ends fluxed and soldered to hold them firmly together and in place.  Next, the bundle of wires was secured in a vice and, using a pair of mole grips to hold one end, the bundle was twisted around and around to form a uniform spiral.

Woven Bangle - Work in Progress

Woven Bangle – Work in Progress

Twisting the silver like this causes it to work harden significantly; before any further progress could be made with the piece it had to be annealed (heated) to relax it and make it malleable once more.  The next step was to flatten the spiral.  This could be done easily with a rolling mill (if I had one), but my methods are more basic but probably a lot more satisfying – the use of a hammer can be very therapeutic! Using a hammer and a steel block, I flattened out the spiral into a long piece of woven silver that I could then shape into the bangle.  As you hammer the twisted metal, the weave loosens and the pattern starts to appear.  Repeated annealing is necessary during this process to keep the silver workable.

Once the correct thickness and length is achieved the piece is cut, fluxed and soldered together to form a circle.

Woven Bangle after soldering

Woven bangle after soldering

After the finishing processes of filing, emerying and polishing, you have the finished piece all dressed up, but with nowhere to go …

Thus the ‘giveaway’: I’ll be doing this via Twitter and tweeting regularly over the next week to get as many involved as possible.

For the chance to receive this beautiful handmade solid sterling silver bangle free of charge, you will need to follow me on Twitter (@anabenedicta) and either retweet one of my #BangleGiveaway tweets or give me a mention including the #BangleGiveaway tag – simple!

The closing date for this giveaway is Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 12 noon GMT – the winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying followers using Twitrand and will be announced by 6:00pm on 16 December.

Go on, join in the fun and win a beautiful free silver stocking filler this Christmas.  Good luck!

Handmade Sterling Silver Woven Bangle

Handmade Sterling Silver Woven Bangle

Please note that only UK entrants will be guaranteed to receive the bangle before Christmas; overseas entrants are welcome but may not receive their gift until January 2013 as I am unable to guarantee international postage times.

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils in Silver Cuff Bangle

‘Mosaic of Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Following on from last week’s post, here are some images of the finished Cuff Bangle.  I’m delighted with this piece and already contemplating how I can use this stunning etch design on another creation.  Perhaps a necklace with three etched drops of silver each with a few highlights of 24ct gold?  Mmmm, worth a little thought …

Any ideas or suggestions gratefully received!

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

A Mosaic of Fossils on Silver

Fossils in Silver Cuff Bangle

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Having experimented with a pair of stylish cuff links to determine how well the beauty of nature’s design could be incorporated into my work in silver, I was so pleased with the outcome that I just had to continue the theme with additional pieces.

I have had some success in the past with my cuff bangle designs and so I wondered how best I could incorporate the detailed patterns so typical of an ammonite fossil shell onto such a piece. I wanted to capture the delicate tracery of the swirling surface markings in as much detail as possible in an attempt to create a mosaic-like effect on the surface of the silver.

I have found that etching the silver produces pleasing and fairly consistent results, but this time I feel the effect was truly special. You can see below the strip of etched silver shortly after the resist had been removed using a brass brush in warm soapy water.

Sterling Silver Sheet etched with Ammonite Fossil design

Sterling Silver sheet etched with fossil shell design

The etch is so sharp and clear that the seamless pattern of differing sized fossil images across the surface really make an impression and the fine lacework of lines have achieved the mosaic effect I was looking for; I am hopeful that once polished, the finished piece will be quite beautiful.

The next step was to clean up, shape and finish off the sharp edges of the silver sheet by filing, emerying with wet & dry paper and finally polishing before the piece can be shaped to snugly fit the wrist. Below is a close up of the work in progress.

'Fossils in Silver' Cuff Bangle - a work in progress!

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle – a work in progress

Fortunately, the sheet metal had already been carefully annealed before work began and so was still soft enough to easily shape on a bangle mandrel; no further heating was required and some gentle forming with a raw hide mallet rendered the decorated piece of flat sheet into a perfectly beautiful cuff bangle.

'Fossils in Silver' Cuff Bangle

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Now all that is left to do is give this a pre-polish with Tripoli, clean off the residue and then give the whole piece a final polish up with jeweller’s rouge to leave it sparkling.  Can’t wait to see the finished piece.

A Challenging Valentine’s Commission

It’s a truly happy day for any artisan when they receive, completely out of the blue, a request for a special one-off piece.

That happiness, however, soon turns to anxiety and a mild feeling of panic when you find yourself faced with a design conundrum – the bespoke item you’ve been asked to make is something you’ve never attempted before. Aggghhh!!

This is exactly the situation I found myself in a few weeks ago. I was asked by a loving husband if I could make a beautiful, classic silver bangle for his wife for Valentine’s Day. His wife had seen this particular piece in a jewellery shop window, but alas it had been made with white gold and, with a price tag of over £700, was a little out of reach for my romantic client! He wondered if I could possibly design something similar in silver.

Now, as you will know if you’ve read some of my early posts, I am still very much a journeyman on the jewellery-making road and, although I have made a wonderful wide cuff bangle for a friend in the recent past, this piece was something very new for me – even with some design adjustments to make it truly unique.

As he described the bangle to me over the telephone, I doodled something down on paper and then e-mailed it to him to see if it was something close to what he had in mind. After a little toing and froing, we agreed on the design below.

Split bangle design sketch

Split bangle design sketch

By this time I had come to a decision as to how I would attempt to construct this piece.  I dismissed my first idea, which was to cut the design from silver sheet of the right thickness (approx. 2mm), drill a hole along the centre line and then proceed to pierce the centre split out of the sheet.  I am sure this technique would have worked effectively, but my concern was the time it would take me to true up the edges of the cut sheet after piercing out the outline of the bangle – I could foresee many hours of filing and emerying to get flush, smooth edges.

Instead, I decided to work with rectangular silver wire.  After cutting two strips of wire to the desired length, I fastened them tightly with binding wire and then soldered both ends together to a distance of a couple of centimetres, effectively fusing the ends to form a single piece.  This left me with a narrow split down the centre of the two pieces which, on bending to begin to form the finished bangle’s shape, opened fractionally, allowing me to insert a wooden wedge.

On fastening the bangle between the rubberised jaws of a vice, I was able to hammer the wooden wedge further and further into the split, thus causing it to open to gently form the navette shape that characterises this bangle.

The squared ends of the bangle then had to be rounded off with a hand file and the whole surface finished using graduated grades of wet and dry paper, tripoli and, for the final polish, rouge.

 

Split Bangle

Split Bangle

Eh voila!  The finished bangle.

I am thrilled with the result and I am pleased to say that my client is too – it now just remains to be seen whether his wife will be as happy when she receives it tomorrow …I’m keeping everything crossed!