This year I've turned my focus to silver smithing and have been having a blast! There is a lot more time, materials, tools and technique that goes into producing hand forged, hand textured, bezel set pieces. Design alone is more exacting, as measurements must be precise and work accurately executed. I'd say that the pieces below have taken between 6 - 8 hours each to produce.

 

 

 

 

Here is an outline of steps required to make such a piece:

1) Select an appropriate piece of sea glass in terms of size, color, shape, not too flat, not too rounded, appropriate depth of color

 

2) Draft various sketches of design options that suit the size, color and shape of the sea glass, being mindful of how to construct the piece in a maximum of 3 soldering steps

 

 

3) Measure and cut silver sheets and wire precisely, to within 1 mm tolerance or less, using shears or saw

 

4) Shape bezel to fit around sea glass exactly

5) File, sand and buff bezel to remove any marks

 

6) Soak bezel in cleaning solution to prepare for soldering

7) Prepare soldering station by cutting up hard, medium and easy solder, setting out flux, filling torches

8) Set up bezel for soldering so that area to be soldered in horizontal so solder will flow to correctly into the join, securing the piece as necessary with tweezers

9) Flux pieces to be soldered. Apply solder on join. Heat the join to a high enough temp to allow solder to flow but not so high as to cause the silver to melt. This requires finesse, especially with the hard solder. There have been some casualties.

 

10) Quench soldered piece in water. Check to see that the join was successful. If it was, yay!!! Continue!! If not, go back to Step 6 and repeat.

11) Check that the bezel still fits the sea glass. Fingers crossed! If yes, yay!!! Continue!! If not, go back to Step 3 and repeat.

12) Create a backing for the bezel out of silver sheet. The bezel will be soldered onto the backing. The backing will then be prepared to attach to a ring or chain for a pendant.

 

13) Repeat steps 5 to 10 to solder the bezel onto the backing this time using medium solder, not hard.

14) If adding silver balls to the base, solder those on next following steps 5 to 10 using easy solder.

15) If making a ring, make the ring to the correct size following steps 3 to 10. If the backing is serving as the base of a pendant or earring, consider how the chain or earring wires will be attached to the base. This may be another solder step, or a step that requires drilling a hole perhaps. Prepare pieces as appropriate.

 

16) If a final soldering steps is required, for example if making a ring, solder the base of the bezel to the ring following steps 5 to 10 using easy solder being especially careful to not melt any prior joins.

17) Check all joins to ensure that they are intact. Check to see that sizes are all correct. Touch up any scratches with file or sand paper.

18) Buff to a final finish.

19) Set the sea glass into place. Tricky because a considerable amount of pressure is required to bend and shape the top edge of the bezel over the surface of the sea glass. Too much pressure and you risk cracking the glass, too little and the bezel will not secure the glass.

20) If making a pendant or earring, add chain, jump rings, earring wires, as required.

21) Jump for joy!!! Wear sea glass jewelry with pride!!!