Fine Silver Rings (Adventures in fine silver clay..)

Long overdue as it is, I’ve begun making fine silver rings to add to my collection!

 

The first ring I started with was one for myself (naturally.) I wanted to see how much the metal clay would shrink in my kiln and get an idea for how well they wear on the hand.

 

 

I thought it came out pretty darn nice! I could have put a little more work into the band itself to make it smoother and more even, but I was more concerned about the shrinkage factor and placement of the roses. As you can see, it fits my pinky (which is SMALL! About a size US 2.) The clay shrank about three ring sizes, which surprised me, because the brand I use is supposedly known for not shrinking as much. (Art Clay 650.)

 

Regardless, I was still thrilled with the ring and excited to make more!

 

The next ring I made was this:

 

 

I have mixed emotions about the outcome of this ring. I purchased some fine silver ring band blanks, which means that you form your clay design around the band of the ring, and then fire it as usual. This is supposed to adhere the fine silver clay onto the band and leave a nice smooth inner ring surface. Well, I’m not sure if I should have fired it for less time given that the band was used as the base, but the clay shrank too much. Or, maybe I didn’t use enough of it around the band and should have covered it with a thicker surface area. Either way, I ended up with a couple of hairline cracks which was really disappointing. I filled them in and fired it in the kiln again (for much less time than previous) and it’s now mended. However, it’s sort of “lumpy” in my eyes, so this prototype will again be delegated to my fingers.

 

In designing this ring, I used a teeny tiny hexagon shaped stamp that I made for myself. It’s one single hexagon, so each time I press the stamp into the clay, it makes one single honeycomb cell. I know they make hexagon/honeycomb sheet stamps, but I think that takes the fun out of designing and creating something by hand. I also created the tiny bee by hand, piece by piece, and used my x-acto knife and some sand paper to carve out the small details. I’m sort of attached to the little guy! (My father was a beekeeper for many years, so I think it’s just in my DNA or something to be a honeybee fan. Evidence as seen in my previous post about honeybees and honeycomb..)

 

Anyway, despite the somewhat discouraging former attempt, I’m definitely going to make more of these in the future. Next time, I’ll form the base by hand as usual instead of using those darn ring band bases. (So much for that!)

 

The third ring on my agenda was another rose ring. I spent substantially more time shaping and sanding the band on this one, and am truly happy with the result! The roses were much easier to form and set this time around too.

 

 

 

Oohhhh shiny! The band came out nice and smooth. I burnished and polished it a lot, so it has a lovely glossy sheen! I oxidized the inside of the roses to add depth, as I do with my rose earrings.

 

 

This ring is completed and ready to ship, in a US size 5 1/2.  I’ll have other sizes available at some point, but not quite yet.

The listing for this ring can be found here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/104072934/fine-silver-rose-ring-size-5-12-hand

If you’d like to learn more about the process involved in working with fine silver metal clay – creating the rose jewelry in particular – please feel free to check out my previous blog post,  Fine Silver Rose Earrings.

Honeybees and Honeycomb

The arrival of springtime usually makes me a little bit nostalgic, as this is the season when I start seeing honeybees buzzing about, pollinating those pretty spring flowers and tending to the fields. You see, for many years of my childhood, my dad was a beekeeper and my mom ran a little shop in the town we lived in, selling honey and beeswax candles, among other beehive related items. I can still remember the sweet smell of fresh honey overwhelming our home whenever dad was processing a new batch of honeycomb, and watching in awe as he tended to his bees in the fields.

Even after all those years with hives right in our back yard, I’ve never been stung by a bee a single time in my life. Honeybees don’t actually want to sting you, because unlike wasps, hornets and other stinging insects, they need to be provoked (frightened or angered) before they sting – and they typically die after they’ve stung you. Honeybees almost always lose their stinger in the body of the recipient, and when that happens, it kills them. Those other stinging bugs do not (and can keep stinging you repeatedly if they want to!) Thus, the honey bee just wants to go about its business without any trouble. I see them as friendly little workers who make our lives better in so many ways.

I suppose it’s true when they say that your upbringing and life experiences help shape what you create, as I’ve had a slight bee and honeycomb obsession this spring. I’ve been making honeycomb shapes out of polymer clay, and fine silver metal clay – sometimes adorned by tiny little bees.

Here’s a few of my favorites (click on the images for more information)..

Fine Silver Honeycomb Necklace with Tiny Sterling Silver Bee

Tiny Gold Bee and Clay Honeycomb Brooch

Honeycomb Earrings on Sterling Silver Hooks

All of the honeycomb patterns were done individually by hand, one hexagon at a time. I made a tiny hexagon stamp, and pressed it into the clay repeatedly (both the metal clay and the polymer clay) to create the honeycomb pattern. As usual, I did not use any pre-designed molds or patterns! This leaves a slightly imperfect pattern. I think I prefer it this way, as it adds to the special handmade aspect of each piece, rather than a mass-produced item.

Happy Spring! Be kind to those honeybees who cross your path. :)