My studio – my behind the scenes place – is more than just where I create. It’s my respite. It’s the place where I can walk in. Sit. Feel. It feeds all my creativity. Textures. Lights. It heightens my senses and allows me to just be. But it’s also the place “where the magic happens”. Where I get to breathe life into a piece of metal and see it become something beautiful. I love that. I am extremely grateful for the gifts I have been given, and that not only do I get to do what I love, I am privileged to create for others. To bring them joy in something as simple as a piece of jewelry.
Today I thought I would give you a tiny glimpse into the steps that go into the fabrication of one of my favorite rings. Delicate and feminine yet also statement making and powerful. That’s how I feel when I wear this design.
This is how she becomes.
My studio is more than just where I create. It’s also the place “where the magic happens”.
My sterling silver comes from a manufacturer that truly cares about the environment. That is incredibly important to me. The first step in this ring is to cut the silver then form it into a round and solder it closed. It’s hammered into a perfect circle before I begin the forging process.
Using a template I mark out four quadrants so when I begin forging the metal (aka hammering my frustrations out) I am perfectly even. There is actually a great deal of math involved in gold-smithing! Secret? I like math. I forge both the top and bottom so it’s slightly flared and flattened. I’ll add some texture and clean up the edges with a file. Then it’s time bring them to the soldering station to heat the metal in order to soften it again – hammering kind of ticks it off so it gets stiff and hard and won’t move. Once you heat it again it warms the soul of the metal and therefore becomes workable.
Once you heat the metal again it warms her soul and therefore becomes workable.
Now that her spirit is softened, I gently round the circles on a ring mandrel to mimic the curve of a finger.
Time to add the ring band. Using a piece of sterling silver then same millimeter as the original circle and a fancy method for sizing I prepare the piece for soldering. Sometimes it takes a bit of manuevering in order to hold the piece just right. The tool I use is called a third hand – ingenius name right? Critical when working with fire! When soldering it is super important that metal touches metal clean and tight. The solder needs to flow directly in the seam to create a strong hold. But remember, I already soldered the circle closed. If you heat too much, the original seam will open up and no more circle. It’s literally a fire dance.
One side complete. Time to form her into something that resembles a ring. Again. Edges are fit together and I prepare to solder side two. (side bar: again with the hands. if you care about your hands and nails do not become a gold smith. just sayin)
Solder time numero tres. Another fire dance. Just enough heat to melt the solder in the seam. Not too much so the other seams stay in tact.
Then she takes a bath. No. I do not have fondue on my bench. I use a crock pot to heat a solution called “pickle”. Pickle is used to the clean metal after soldering. It removes baked on flux (what you see in my baby food jar) and oxides that have formed on the metal. The oxides are typically concentrations of copper in the metal or alloy that come to the surface during soldering. The pickle strips these oxides, called fire scale from the surface. How’s that for a science lesson. Science and math. And you thought artists didn’t know stuff! Secret? I hate science.
Once all the fire scale is removed she is ready to become real. I rinse off the pickle in water and place the ring on the mandrel. Gentle hammer this time to coax her back into a perfectly round circle making sure I am at the exact size intended.
Now on to clean up and polishing and all the messy work that makes her ready to grace your finger! And once that is complete…I’ll finish the other ring. Now…when you see a ring half or even a third of this price in a mall store there are a few reasons as to “why”.
- It’s most likely not sterling silver.
- It was not created by hand.
- It was “cast” from a mold into the shape so each one is identically machine made.
- No love was added.
Hand crafted is just that. Hand crafted. Artisans like myself don’t create to make a buck. Of course we need to. This is our lively hood. But we create for the love of the process. The thrill of creating. Every single piece in my studio has been lovingly created and touched and cared for…beginning to end. It’s more than, “just a piece of jewelry”. I promise.
I would love to create one of these rings for you. Use the code LisaSays for 15% off your very own ring. Just click here to go to my website.
Thank you for taking this glimpse behind the scenes with me. I’m grateful you stopped by. If you have any questions about the process or would love to see how something else is created, let me know!
much love, lisa