Friday, February 22, 2013

Adventures in metalsmithing

I finally got brave, ordered a couple pieces of copper sheet metal and sat down to teach myself how to make bezel settings for cabochons. And I quickly realized that soldering copper is a giant pain in the ass.

I don't know if it's user error or if copper is just stubborn and naturally a pain in the ass, but it takes me three times as long to solder two pieces of copper together than it does silver. Everything seems to oxidize faster and the thick copper sheet for the backing is just at the edge of heating limit of my little torch.

But I finally beat (melted?) all the pieces into submission and managed to make a copper bezel setting for a small cabochon. It's ugly, and I think I'm just going to take the stone out and use it somewhere else, but making it helped me figure out the basics.

My second attempt is much prettier...

I soldered piece of square silver wire around the edge of the bezel and cut the backing a little larger to make the setting look a little more interesting. Then I realized that I hadn't quite measured the silver wire quite right and there was a gap between the bezel and the wire, which bothered me. (This is how most of my designs end up - I get halfway through making something then change direction to fix a mistake.) So I made a little silver and copper leafy vine that wrapped over the top part of the bezel to cover the gap. I'm happy with how it turned out - some of my favorite pieces are the ones where I had to improvise.

This weekend I think I'm going to make some sort of copper chain with a few silver vine links to hang this from.

I still have a few more cabochons to play around with, but they are bigger than these two. I'm probably going to have to go out to the garage and use my MAPP gas beadmaking torch to get enough heat to be able to solder the bezels to the larger backings.

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