Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one …

So, yesterday, instead of cleaning the house like a good girl, I made us a project :)

I thought you might like to see my process, for what it’s worth, and make one yourself if you’re so inclined.

 It’s called, The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy.

I love to doodle. One day I’ll show you some but for now we’ll just go with this one.

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I have a piece of turquoise which I’d already put a collar on because I was going to use it for something else. I can’t remember what happened with that plan, but when I found it just hanging around on my table I decided it needed a new home.

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So I drove it around the doodle block a few times until we found something it liked.

If I find a doodle I like, but which happens to be too small, or large, for the stone I want to use I just re-draw the same design around the stone. This one didn’t really need resizing, but the bottom part of the doodle wasn’t working for me so I kept part of the doodle and just re worked the bottom half.

I didn’t really want it to be a butterfly flower thingy, but for some reason my doodles just keep going there.

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Next I simplified the design and tried to make the shape symmetrical.

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I like to give my designs some depth because a stone just placed on a sheet of silver doesn’t look quite right to me, so I drew an outline around the design which will be a bottom layer of silver.

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And so now we’re ready to go.

If you fancy making one, please feel free to use my design. I don’t know how to sue people, and frankly don’t really care to. There’s plenty to go around :)

However …

‘Disclaimer: I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.’

So now you can’t sue me either

Mwaahaha!

Soooo,

Now put your, I’m getting too old to see small things without them, glasses on,

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and trace what is to be the top layer of the design onto the transparent side of a piece of clear sticky back paper stuff.

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Some people just tape their drawing onto the silver, or glue it, but I really like using this clear contact paper. You can get it from craft, or office supplies, stores.

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Once you peel the backing off and stick the film to a sheet of 22 gauge silver you’re ready to saw the shape out.

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I have left room at the top of the shape because I wanted to have some wiggle room in case the collar didn’t exactly fit as expected.

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See.

aaaaaaa

O.K. Perhaps not, but hopefully it will all become clear soon.

Now, and this bit is very important, peel off the sticky tape from the silver, and all of the scraps. If you don’t do this when you come to solder the silver, or make balls etc., with the left overs, it will burn off and really smell bad and you will breath in fumes and die.

Of course I’ve never done this so I’m only guessing.

Sand the top of the shape you have just cut out, and also the bottom of the bezel collar.

I have a couple of squares of different grit, sticky back sand paper stuck onto my bench for this purpose. I find it’s really convenient not to have to search everywhere for the sand paper, even though my bench is always spotless …

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Note: After you have done this re check that the stone still fits into the bezel as you may have distorted the collar when sanding.

Sand your hard, or medium, solder and cut it into small pieces (pallions), and then you’re ready to solder the two pieces together.

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(I forgot to photograph the two pieces soldered together. Sorry.)

Next, because you want the stone to sit as far down into the silver as it can to give the piece more depth, you are going to cut away the inside of the bezel shape, and the extra silver you left at the top. This is easier than trying to match the leaf shape around the bezel.

Believe me, I’ve tried it.

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Then you’re going to check to see if the stone still fits. It might take a bit of sanding, but the stone should be able to pass right through the bottom.

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At this point file down the edges of the shape to smooth them and bevel them slightly.

Now cut out the design in the bottom half of the piece.

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And maybe you think you want to check once more just to see what the piece looks like with the stone and the holes cut into it.

But, darn it all if this doesn’t happen just when you least expect it.

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Remarkably, only the words, oh man, come out of your mouth, and as irritating as this slight set back may seem, you choose to ignore it.

Now, whether it likes it or not, you put that stone back in its home dammit and trace around the top layer of the design onto a sheet of 24 gauge silver. (Note that this is a gauge thinner than the top layer, but you can use the same gauge if you wish. I just like to mix it up a bit. I’m edgy that way …)

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Now cut the rough shape out, clean both touching surfaces, and solder them together.

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You’re still a bit put out, and the broken turquoise has definitely put a bit of a damper on things just as you was beginning to enjoy yourself, but you plod on and saw away the excess silver.

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DON’T put the stone back into the bezel until you have either cut out a design on the back, or placed a thread of dental floss etc,. into the recess first. You want to be able to get the stone out again as you continue to work on it.

If the back of the stone is nice I like to cut a design into the back of mine. At this point I also stamp the silver mark into it. It’s a little trickier to do it at this point, but I always forget to do it at the beginning. I just prop the inside of the bezel onto a support of some kind, usually my disc cutter stamps, and brace the silver stamp against that.

Somehow I managed to stamp it a bit wonky here. Makes it look more professional though, don’t you think?

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Now I pickle the piece. I don’t really like to use the pickle that much and tend to clean where I want to solder by sanding the pieces. The pickle gives off fumes, and will kill you. Yep. Also I get too impatient waiting for it to do its thing.

And when I get impatient this happens, and I can’t keep up.

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So quickly get the piece out of the pickle before you come up with more ideas than you can cope with, and decide if you want to use 16 or 18 gauge wire for the leaf stems.

Really you want to use 17 gauge, but Rio doesn’t have any :( so you go with 16.

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Loop the ends of the wire, and gently heat it. If you do this slowly, and gently feather the flame across the loop, the gaps in the loop will fill in with silver and leave you with this golf club shaped end. For this piece I prefer these to the simple balled ends. You can hammer the ends a little to really define the shape at this point, and sand them smooth.

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Then decide if you want the club ends to face up, or down.

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I chose up because down looks a bit depressing – and evil.

Shape the prongs a little and cut them to the length you want. Hammer the ends of the stems closest to the bezel to flatten out the stems and make them look fatter and more natural, then sand them smooth.

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And, even though prongs up makes the piece look a little crouching tiger, jumping dragon- ish go with it anyway and solder them on.

I like to buff down the edges of the stems at this point. It gives it a smoother, more natural look.

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You can’t really see it here but it does make a difference.

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Now for the fiddly bit.

(You might want to look away if fiddly distresses you too much, but it really isn’t as bad as it could be. Honest.)

Cut the leaf vein things out.

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First snip away at the scraps until they look almost leaf like.

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Then hold them in a pair of old pliers and sand them down with the sanding disk on your dremel.

For me this is the easiest way to do it. You might find a better way.

I’ve also stamped them with a nice tear drop stamp that I bought from Larry – here.

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And here’s the fun part.

Balance alllll of those little pieces onto your design, and dare them not to solder.

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Like so.

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Now this might seem like a miracle, but I met a nice man at the gem show the other week who told me about Wolerine Ultra Flux. I bought some because after he finished telling me all about it I felt bad not to, but I’m telling you, all of those little leaves soldered first time, and as much as I would like to tell you that this was due to my remarkably fantastic soldering skills, I suspect it was the flux.

It’s probably really bad for you, but now I’ve got my super duper extractor fan I’m a little happier about it getting rid of the fumes.

Only a little bit though.

And so finally.

I made it something to put the chain on.

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Some balls and a couple of doohickey’s.

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And Bob’s your uncle.

The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy all liver of sulphured and polished up.

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I ended up gluing the stone together. It annoyed me to do so, but …

Don’t tell anyone.

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So there you have it. I told you it was a long one.

I would love to see if you make one.

P.S. I will write up a normal, less wordy, version of this and put it up in the How To’s section of the blog later.

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About coldfeetstudio

I am English, but live in Houston, TX. I have a degree in Sculpture. I love to make art. I sell my art for charity as I believe there should be no reason for someone to go hungry in this world. I am a wife, mother, pottery maker, jewelry maker, quilt maker, painter, cat lover, and, dog liker. And I am very fortunate to be all these things. View all posts by coldfeetstudio

11 responses to “Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one …

  • artworksjp

    This is absolutely awesome! Thank you so much for the step by step. So sorry about your cab but I couldn’t see the crack. Jan P

    • coldfeetstudio

      I know. I was a little ticked, but I should have known as the stone was thin to begin with. I’m beginning to recognize the difference between a good cabochon and a bad one. It all comes in time I guess.

      • artworksjp

        Yes it does. I wasn’t even thinking one day soldering a piece with a tiny druzy. I wanted to get it finished so badly that I didn’t take the stone out before soldering and just ruined the stone. I was so upset but I know now that I just need to concentrate more and remember not to multi-task anymore. I just need to slow down. It is not worth it. Jan P

      • coldfeetstudio

        Oh man! I’ve done that before.That’s when I discovered that turquoise can actually catch fire lol

      • artworksjp

        Oh yes! That is so true! JP

  • Heather McCaw Kerley

    That’s absolutely gorgeous! It’s fascinating to read about your process. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gale

    I have no desire just yet to do any of that–especially break a turquoise cab–but I sincerely enjoyed following along with how you did it.

  • Benita Remagen

    Hi,? the wolverine flux what is the difference from handy flux.Does it keep the bits your soldering on from moving around.Your small bits are so perfectly aligned.

    • coldfeetstudio

      Hi Benita, To be honest I don’t really know. The man mentioned something about soldering temperatures, but I didn’t really get it. It doesn’t seem to bubble as much as the handy flux.
      I find that if I heat the area around the piece occasionally feathering the heat over the piece I’m soldering I can get closer and closer to the solder pallions without them popping all over the place. I’m often not that patient however :)

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