I am so inspired by Catherine Witherell of Happy Day Art. Her RAW52 Flickr drew me in. We got to chatting on Facebook and I asked if she could find inspiration on my site for a ring. She has generously created this tutorial for me to share with my customers. Thank-you Catherine!
First of all you need a piece of sterling silver or fine silver 18 gauge or 20 gauge about 1/2 an inch wide and no more that 2-3/4 inches long.
Anneal the metal with your torch by heating it until it is a bright reddish color and then quench it in some water. If it’s sterling silver, put it in your pickle to remove fire scale.
If you have a rolling mill, decide on what you’ll use for your texture and roll the metal with the texture, sandwiched between some card stock.
Here’s what the pieces look like after rolling through the mill:
If you don’t have a mill, there are many alternative ways of texturing your metal, a hammer texture is a good idea.
To get my ring size 9-1/2, I used a piece of binding wire but any wire will work and I wrapped it around the finger that I want to wear the ring on and twisting it at the end to close it and so it isn’t too tight and fits just right. Cut the wire somewhere away from the twisted end and straighten it out so you have the correct length to measure the ring. That’s my binding wire in the photo below.
I used a ruler to measure the wire and I keep that information in my notebook for future reference. You can keep the wire as your measuring tool or refer to your notes. I like having the wire on my work bench and I measure my metal that way when I’m going to make myself a ring.
In my photo, I have marked my metal with a green sharpie and that’s where I want to file, on the outside of that line to get a good even rectangular piece. I want the lines straight and there should be no indentations.
After that piece is perfectly sized, I can gently file off the sharp long sides of the strip for a smooth edge. Be careful not to distort the corners. In fact, don’t do much filing at those ends until after you’ve made your solder join. After that you can even them up.
I wrapped my metal around a ring mandrel and shaped it in such a way that the ends meet up perfectly flush. There’s a line where the ends meet and not a speck of light can pass through. That’s how flat and flush I want those ends to be.
This is my little container of “Easy” sterling silver solder. I cut that myself from sheet solder with metal shears. Those pieces are tiny, like 1mm wide. I’m really good with scissors.
Handy Flux helps melt my silver solder when I’m heating it with my torch. I use one of these two small paintbrushes to apply the flux onto my silver at the join. The larger face is for bigger areas and the small pointy one is for smaller areas. I then use the tweezers to pick up tiny pieces of solder, dip each one into the Handy Flux and apply them to the seam I’m going to solder. For a ring like this I would place the solder bits inside the ring, one piece every 2-3 millimeters apart. If I’m using the torch on the outside of the ring, the flame draws the heat and the solder towards the flame, when it flows, through to the front. I fact, if you held the torch inside the ring, the solder would travel to the inside.
After the ring band is soldered, I measured the length for the daisy spinner by wrapping the strip around the ring, fitting it rather snugly but not too tightly. I cut it where I needed the pattern to meet up. At first I thought I didn’t have the right length when the daisy strip was too tight but after making the edges of the ring band flare out, I noticed that the middle of the ring curved inward a little at the same time as I was flaring the edge. Before I knew this, I thought I had to make my daisy band a little longer so I took a small travel screwdriver and using it as a chasing tool, I gently hammered alternating spots between the daisies to move the metal out and make the strip slightly longer. If the strip is a repeating pattern like this, you have to figure out what you’re going to do before you do it, especially if you’re working with fractions of an inch.
For the tiny seam where the daisies join, I used a little piece of Brass sheet solder. Paste solder for brass also works well. I used the Handy Flux to coat the daisy ring band to protect it from fire scale after I filed the two ends to meet up perfectly flush.
Don’t worry about it if your brass strip has turned black. The pickle can fix that. Your strip may come out of the pickle looking rather pink. If you don’t want that, you can add a mixture of two parts hydrogen peroxide to three parts white vinegar and soak the piece in it for about 20 minutes and then use a brass brush or a scrubby sponge to scrub the oxides off. I also read that after soldering with brass, rather than using pickle, boil it in some clean water to remove the flux. The pink is there because in the pickle you’re removing the zinc from the brass and it’s bringing copper to the surface. You live and you learn.
So now you can see how the soldered daisy strip looks like after I soldered it and fit it over the sterling silver band. Pretty nice huh?
See how much play I have between my two rings? It could even be less than this but hey, it’s a learning curve and experience makes us smarter.
So before I do the flaring of the ends, I clean up all my seams and edges by filing rough spots and shaping the seams inside and out so nothing catches clothing or skin. Once that’s done, I patinated my sterling band with liver of sulfur and then I polished it with a polishing pad. Polishing cloth is fine too, just make sure you don’t press it down into the recesses. The darker shade and in my case these colors are there for a reason. I like it!
I pulled out a scrap piece of heavy suede leather and placed my band, open circle down and got out a dapping punch, one that is much bigger than the opening of the ring.
With a heavy hammer I gently, slowly bit by bit, tapped firmly but not fast or hard, repeatedly making an impact that gently flared my band. I kept picking it up and checking it out and putting the daisy band around it to make sure that I got it at just the right width for the daisies to stay on past the lower edge. Do you see how as the edge flares, the dapping punch is also pushing the metal down and bending the band inward in the middle? My daisy band is a little bit looser than it was before but it’s being kept on by the flared edge.
SEE? I love that!
Now flip the ring over and place the daisy band on it and use your punch at this other end and flare the edge the same way, checking it between blows to make sure you get the flare pretty even and the daisy spinner stays on by both ends.
Here’s my completed ring! Not bad, even if I do say it myself. Now you can try your hand at it. This is mine wearing my new ring!