Friday, February 7, 2014

First, Second, Third ... Bezel Settings

If you have been following along, you have noticed that my first bezel setting has been a comedy of errors. As much as I hate to show this, here is the finished piece. (To be tucked away in a box and pulled out in 5 years.)

You can see that I should not have chosen to use the scalloped bezel wire. I had NO CLUE what I was doing! LOL! Hey, live and learn. Keep reading, I think I redeemed myself. But, not on the second one.

The following picture is the only one you need to understand how badly this second project went.

Yeah, I messed up setting the stone and while trying to get the stone back out, I, literally, ripped the thin bezel wire. I tried to even it out and call it "ART", but I just couldn't do that. :)

By now, you may be feeling my pain and frustration. I don't give up easily, though. It didn't take me long to understand a few vital things:  I needed to learn more and I needed a bigger torch (among other tools). So, I got my pennies together, lots of them, and ordered a new torch, some new tools and some soldering videos. I'll go into more details on those in another post, because it is a post unto itself. First, I want to show you that, indeed, I can do this.

After getting my new torch, things went much, much better.

This little sterling silver and labradorite pendant has lots of little mistakes to learn from, but all in all, I think it came out pretty good. Right now, my biggest challenge is in doing the finishing work. I experimented a lot on this one. (And don't even ask me why the pictures look blue or gray- it's a blogger thing that drives me crazy.) This small piece was full of challenges. See that little wire on the bottom? (I was so happy that it didn't melt!) It covers a mistake I made and did a good job of it, too.

My next piece came out really nice, if I don't say so myself. I tried lots of new things with it.

I don't think the pictures do it justice.  For some reason, the back looks funny in the picture, but it is actually a very even finish with los on a satin finish. I love working with copper. However, there is only one kind of solder, which makes it very difficult to plan a project. When I sweat soldered the bail, the solder around the bezel wire melted out onto the backplate. I have ordered some things that might help with that and discovered a new use for Wite Out. In the meantime, I am content with this despite it's problems.

I am currently working on 2 more projects which require tools that I am waiting for in the mail. Yes, I am beginning to think that  a silversmith can never have enough tools. 

I may have been slow to update my blog, but now you see why. Another reason being all the snow we got. I solder in the house, but didn't want to do it with the kids home from school and underfoot.

My next post (soon) will be a compilation of all the tools, videos and the torch that I've gotten. Yes, it will be a big post. I am very fortunate that I was able to get what I need in a relatively short time. If this is something you want to do you'll find the list very useful, I think. It is, essentially, the bare bones. As I have been working, I stopped to put a tool on a wishlist as soon as I realized how handy or necessary it would be to have.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my failures and successes. :) I know this sounds wrong, but I like to make mistakes. I learn best that way- as I hope you can see from my progression of projects.

Stay warm and happy. :)


  1. Tela, I was chuckling while reading your post. It's also very familiar. Your last pendant, the copper one is gorgeous. I too am learning from my mistakes, I will try at the end of this post to share a link with you of a ring that I made. I had to complete meltdowns and I'm not talking about me, they were silver meltdowns. I understand the never ending wish list that we have. I've been getting deliveries 2 to 3 times a week. I've learned from videos that I have downloaded and they have been amazingly helpful. Thank goodness for the Internet. Keep plugging along, I know I'm having a blast with it. This pendant was a special order. I redid this one many times.

    1. Kate those are BEAUTIFUL pieces and so intricate. Those would certainly test my abilities at this point. You really jumped in with both feet! Yay!!!! I know those were difficult. Did you tube set the stones yourself? I want to try that soon. I just finished an acid etched piece. It's in the tumbler now. I think it came out pretty good- good enough to try it again. :)

      Yes, this is fun and I am loving every minute... well sanding isn't fun, but the rest is. :)

  2. Tela: The last pendent is beautiful--love the design! I wish my 3rd piece was as nice! I knew your designs would be top notch. I will be really excited to see where you take your designs after you get more experience and learn new techniques. I have found the classes at William Holland School in Young Harris GA are great as well as being tons of fun. You can download a class catalog from their website. They are fairly reasonable compared to other places.

    As to tools--it seems there is always something I would like to order, but fortunately for my pocketbook I have had access to tools I don't own yet, acetylene torches and a rolling mill, so I didn't have to buy as much all at once. I have a propane EZ Torch at home which works for most things and I if more heat I can solder in class.

    Kate: your pieces are very nice. I especially like the horizontal copper pendant with the oval stone on your Flickr page. I always have such difficulty with oval stones. I can't find any way to set them that I like. Your setting has a lot of style.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. :) I like that piece myself. I prefer copper to silver any old day. It's so warm and beautiful. I just wish there were more solders for it.

      I've already written the tool post. I'll invite y'all to chime in with your must have's, too. I went ahead and got the acetylene and air torch. I have a friend who ordered the EZ and hasn't tried it, yet. Do you have any advice for it?

      I have wanted to go to the William Holland School for years. It sounds like my kind of heaven. :) Maybe one day... And, yes, I have always thought that the prices were a steal.

      Kate's pieces make me think she is a natural. :) Very nice!

  3. I am not really a fan of the EZ Torch. I bought it when I first started because I needed something inexpensive and it seem easier to handle than a plumbers torch from the hardware store. The one I had always seemed to have issues holding he flame size you set. As you soldered it gradually got bigger and you had to go back and adjust it in the middle of the soldering. I wondered later if it was just defective and I didn't know enough about torches then to spot it. Later on the needle valves were ruined when my son used it. He was too heavy handed in turning it off and bent them. A friend tried to fix the valves and got it "operational" but it was never close to right after that. I got either a tiny flame or a huge roaring 1 foot flame and it wouldn't always turn off properly. I got so I was afraid to use it and did all my work in class.

    I had planned to buy a Smith's Silversmith Acetylene/Air torch last month but had to put that off when my main water line to the house had to be replaced for big bucks. The new torch will have to wait a while. I decided to order a new head for the EZ for $50 instead. Hopefully this one will work properly--if it doesn't it will be returned. If it would work correctly I think it would be fine even though I don't think I would recommend it--it's just not hot enough for big copper or brass pieces and you have to be extremely careful turning it off so the needle valves don't get deformed.

    For a while in class we used a Propane/Oxygen torch. It was great and as hot as the dickens. I really like it. You could ball the end of a 14 ga copper wire in no time! It used portable propane and oxygen tanks available at the hardware stores so it was relatively inexpensive to buy. The only problem is that the oxygen cylinder are so small that they had to be replaced frequently with 12-15 people using it every week. The only practical way for a group to use that type is to have a large oxygen "B" tank since the oxygen to propane use ratio is about 8:1. The instructor that bought it didn't want to get a larger tank so we lost the use of that torch. I think it would be fine for an individual since you get 6 minutes of flame from one small oxygen bottle--that's a lot of soldering time for one person since it is so hot. Propane/Oxygen is much cleaner than the Acetylene/Oxygen. The acetylene gives off nasty black soot when you light it until you get the oxygen valve turned on, which doesn't seem to be an issue with the ones using air instead of oxygen.

    I will update you if the new EZ head fixes the problems I have had with it. Got it yesterday and haven't had time to put it on and test it.

    1. Thank you, I'm going to pass that along about the torch. I'm really enjoying my torch and happy I made the choice to get it. I had a large oxy bottle when I was glass blowing and knew that I didn't want to go through that again. My tool post posts tomorrow. It will have a link to my torch at a store that was far cheaper than anyone else. If you get the acetylene/air, I think you will like it a lot. It gets plenty hot and the tips go from very fine to very large.

  4. Tela and Kathy, thank you both! I bought the tube setting from Rio but that is something I would love to learn. I haven't acid etched and have no idea how. I would love to see how that turns out.

    Kathy, I'm glad you suggested William Holland School. I'm going to look into that. We have nothing like that here.

    1. Etching was really easy. I watched a you tube video by beaducation- (I think). You should try it, it was so easy. I know I'll be doing it some more.

  5. Update on the new EZ Torch handle: It seems to work far better than the original one. It's easy to light--the gas came out of the first one with such pressure it blew out the spark making it a challenge to light. I get a nice even flame that doesn't change when I move the head around and change the angle of the torch. Things are looking good for this one to work as it should. I guess the first one I struggled with was defective and I didn't know it. However, I still think it does not provide high enough heat fast enough to successfully solder large heavy copper pieces. Eventually it will get things hot enough but copper oxidizes so quickly it is hard to solder without "quick" heat. It should be fine for most silver projects though.

    I agree with Tela, etching is easy. The hardest thing for me is to get the design to stick to the copper so you can etch it! Clean metal is the key! I have never used commercial Ferric Chloride or the PNP paper (the normal method). I've drawn on the copper with Sharpie markers and used a laser printer to print on clear transparency film which I used to transfer the design to the copper with an iron. ( I found instructions someplace on the internet for that) . It was hard to get the temperature exactly right so the it was cool enough to not melt the film and hot enough to transfer the image cleanly, but I did finally get the right combo. Admittedly I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants and didn't do a lot of testing to zero in on a consistent method.

    Art Jewelry Magazine had an article several years ago giving complete instructions (Etching with a D-Battery and Salt Water). Sorry--I don't remember the year or month, but you can probably Google it find out. I used salt water and a power supply (my substitute for a D Battery) which will get you a beautiful detailed etch. I also tried some sort of home brew chemical mix I found on the internet involving muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide. It worked but didn't give an even etch with a detailed pattern for me like the salt water. Not to mention--the salt water method doesn't involve any hazardous chemicals--although you can't pour the used solution down the drain due to the concentration of copper in the water. All of the etched work pictured on my Flicker site was etched using the salt water method : is a good starting point for that group. I've done copper, brass, and nickel. (The nickel took several hours to do because it has a much lower copper content)

    1. That's really good news! I so glad for you that you have a proper torch. :)

      I checked out your flickr and again I am impressed by your work. I see we think a lot alike, as well. The piece I just finished was supposed to have 2 heavy wires to make a bail, but they would not cooperate for me, so I went with something else. I love the simplistic beauty of your work.

      I have not heard of the salt water method.. I'll have to try to find it online. My son was tying to describe this to me earlier, but I had no idea what he was talking about.

      I just used sharpie as a resist, but I wasn't doing anything complicated.

    2. Thanks.

      I have done lots of new pieces in the past few months but haven't posted them on Flickr. Hopefully I will get them up there soon.

  6. Kathy, your work is beautiful and so is the photography! Just gorgeous! I have such a hard time with photography, sometimes it seems to take longer to get the right photo them to make the piece.


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