Author Archives: Michelle

How to Make Regency Diadems

This Fabulous tutorial came from http://mistress-of-disguise.blogspot.com.

Greetings, gentle readers! Are you ready to follow me down the rabbit hole of shiny objects? It’s not for the timid – these tiaras bite. I’ll let you know now, they’re vicious little creatures. My hands are cut, burned, and scratched from creating just a few of these, so if you don’t have much experience working with or soldering metal, you may want to try a few smaller projects before you start in on this. That being said, here’s a list of supplies you’ll need to create your own Regency diadem:

1 foot of brass lamp banding Be sure to choose one with an open pattern, and where the pattern has minimal connections to the solid pieces of the band so that it’s easier to cut. I know there are some really lovely solid banding patterns out there, but they will not work for this project. Also, the narrower the band, the easier it is to manipulate. You can definitely use some of the wider bands, but you’ll have to battle them a bit more to make them behave. One foot will yield two tiaras of different sizes.

one 16″ strand of “small” beads – The size is a bit of personal preference. For my coral tiara I used 5mm beads, but for others I used 3mm. In general, I use the 5mm for larger tiaras, and the 3mm for smaller ones. These beads should be round.

one strand of “large” beads – Again, the size is up to you. On the coral tiara I used 6mm, so not much larger than my “small” beads, but on my pearl one I used 8mm, which were much larger than the 3mm “smalls”. These don’t have to be round, they can be teardrop, round, or you can dispense with using beads altogether and use set stones instead. It’s up to you.

20 gauge gold wireThis should work for most beads, but some beads have smaller holes and won’t take 20 gauge. However, the only ones I’ve had problems with are my 3mm coral beads, which are tiny, tiny, tiny. Everything else has worked perfectly fine with 20 gauge.

1 sheet 0.10″ brass sheet metal.  It’s thin enough to cut with scissors, but sturdy enough to keep its shape without reinforcement. I’ve used this for several projects in the past, and it’s great stuff.

Gold head pins 
Gold bead caps (optional)
Scissors
Wire cutters
2 plastic hair combs 
Measuring tape

A 25 watt soldering ironIf you are not comfortable with soldering, you can use hot glue to assemble your tiara, it will work perfectly well. Soldering takes practice, and you can very easily burn yourself, so if you have no experience with it, please consider glue instead.

Solder and fluxSame caveat as the soldering iron.

Fine grit sand paper – for cleaning up your soldering.

Alright, let’s get started! The first thing you have to do is butcher your lamp banding.

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You’ll need to remove the solid banding that edges the inner openwork. All we want are the guts of the banding. Very carefully snip the connections between the openwork and the edging with your wire cutters. (This is why you want something with minimal connections, the more the openwork is tied to the edging, the more difficult it will be to remove it.)

It helps to pull back the edging once you’ve snipped a connection so you can have better access to the next place you need to snip.

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IMG_1297Remove the edging for both sides of the banding, so you’re left with only the guts.

IMG_1301Now you’ll want to divide the banding into two sections – one that is 7″ long, and one that is 5″ long. This will give us our “grande” and “petite” sections, and give you two different sized tiaras.IMG_1319

With some banding, it’s not necessary to snip the filigree in order to make it flexible, but on others you do. If you do need to, choose some points along the filigree and carefully snip the connections so the filigree can be manipulated into a crescent shape. Do this only along one edge.

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Continue until you’ve worked the entire length of the band. Do the same for your other section, if you intend to make two tiaras.

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Now you can string your beads! Take a piece of wire that’s as long as the bottom edge of your band, plus an inch or so extra, and make a loop at one end. String your small beads onto the wire. Once you’ve reached the length you need, close the other end with another loop.

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Prepare your head pins at this point, too. For my coral tiara I used just a single 6mm coral bead on each pin, but for others I have done cap-bead-cap, or even attached beetle wings to eye pins instead of using beads. It’s entirely up to you. If you plan to use set stones, you don’t have to use the head pins at all. (The set stones in the pic below were salvaged from a truly ugly sew-on collar. XD)

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Now it’s time to make your framing. Lay your banding down on your brass sheet and draw around it with a pencil.

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Once you have your shape down, you can draw the lines for your framing. I usually have a band at the top, one on the bottom edge, and another underneath that, with a gap to allow space for the strung beads. Don’t forget to put edges on the side edges, too!

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Once you have your framework looking the way you want it, cut it out with a pair of scissors. Be very careful of the points created by cutting the metal, they are very unfriendly and will bite!

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You’ll have to cut into one side, leaving an open edge on the framework, so you can cut out the interior of the frame. Make sure not to cut through the other edge, though, we want that all to stay as one piece.

When everything is cut out, you’ll be left with a brass octopus. Just work the metal a little bit to flatten it out again, and the octopus will go away.

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You can better see what I mean by having one open edge and one closed edge in the second picture above. The edge I’m holding is the closed side, and the other side has no edge at all.

At this point, you can clean up the framing a bit. I like to go through and fix any unevenness in my edges and thin out the top line a little bit. Make sure to only cut the outside edges of your framework. If you cut the interior edges, the filigree will not meet up with the edges of the framing, and you’ll have to do some finagling to get it to all fit together.

Now comes the scary part, the soldering. If you have opted not to use a soldering iron, hot glue actually works extremely well. Do not use superglue. It will take forever to set on the metal, and you’re more likely to glue yourself to the metal, and then your tiara will be torn apart as you try to wrestle your fingers away, and it’s all just terrible. Hot glue.

This part also takes a bit of finagling, so if you have Helping Hands or something like that, it would be hugely useful.
IMG_1342With your filigree banding inside the frame, glue or solder your prepared head pins to the back of the tiara. Make sure that the pins don’t show through on the other side of the tiara. You don’t have to attach the entire length of the pin, you just need to have the top part, underneath the bead, affixed to the frame, and a little bit of the pin attached to the filigree, in order to hold everything together. One or two of the pins will have to span the entire thing, though, and attach to the bottom edge of your frame, so the pieces that outline the beaded wire will stay in place.

Once you’ve attached all your head pins, snip off any extra length. To close the open edge of the frame, take a narrow strip of brass and attach it to the open side. Cut off any extra length.

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Use your sand paper to clean up your soldering, removing any sharp points or messiness. Take your time, and don’t be too rough on your tiara so you don’t pop the joins.

The only thing left is to attach the beaded wire. Simple open the loops you created and wrap them around the edges of the frame to keep it in place. I know it seems like there should be more to it, but from examining period diadems, this is exactly what the originals have on them, as well!

Hooray, you’re almost finished!

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It’s looking like a tiara now! All that’s left is to attach the combs to the back of the tiara so it can be worn. Hot glue is best for this. And then you’re finished!
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While there aren’t a lot of steps, it does take a bit of time, so don’t rush through the process, especially once you get to soldering. If you rush, or work when you’re tired or distracted, you’re more likely to burn, cut, or stab yourself, so be very careful and take your time.

Have fun with your project, and if you create a tiara from my tutorial, I would love to see what you make!

Flame Inspiration

Cool New Tools

I have added so really cool new tools to the shop this week.  The first is a 3 hole punch that was designed by Eugenia Chan.
PUN-420.03See her video here:

She also designed this fabulous riveting block:
ANV-120See her video about it here:

What a creative lady.    Find her jewelry here: Eugenia C Designs

Michelle Mahler Fundametals

Daisy Spinner Ring Tutorial

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.

1 piece of sterling silver 14x13 inch 250kb

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.

2 sterling annealed 14x16 inch 262kb

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.

3 roll it through the mill with laster paper or your choice of texture 15x15 311 kb

Here’s what the pieces look like after rolling through the mill:

4 out of the mill 15x11 inch 209kb

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.5 cut to size after measuring finger with binding wire 15x11 inch 307kb

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.

Cut your textured metal to the size you need and make sure that the edges are all filed straight up and down. You need this edge and the two ends to fit the metal together to get a good solder join.6 sterling silver to file to measurements - perpendicular_90 degree angle 688kb

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.

7 shape around ring mandrel and 15x6 inch 111kb

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.

8 use easy silver solder and handy flux 8x17 inch 213kb

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.

9 handy flux 15x17 inch 360kb

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.

I found this great daisy decorative brass strip at Fundametals. Seeing it gave me the idea to make a spinner ring using it.

10 solder brass daisy strip 15x12 451kb

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.

12 soldered daisy 15x18 inch 406kb

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.

13 soldered daisy strip 1 of too small use small screwdriver to make it bigger 15x11 inch 168kb

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?

14 soldered daisy strip 2 on ring 15x18 inch 291kb

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!15 patinated with LOS ring with spinner on but flat 15x13 inch 528kb

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.

16 dap one side of ring to flare while it's on a soft leather surface-Dapping makes edge bigger and center roll inward so a tight spinner could fit better after dapping 15x11 307kb

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!17 one side flared 15x14 655kb

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.18 bottom flared with spinner on 15x11 inch 324kb

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!

19 the spinner ring with brass 14x15 inch 238kb20 me wearing the spinner ring 15x12 inch 377kb

Wire Bangle Stack

You will need:
14g Copper wire, 2 hole screw punch, Bangle mandrel, Bench Block, Hammer, Wire cutters, File, Ruler
Click the links to find these tools on fundametals.net
Step1Step 1: Wrap wire around mandrel 3 -1/2 times as approximate diameter required.  I am sorry to say I forgot to measure the amount of wire I used.Step2Step 2: Double check your diameter.  Step3Step 3: Cut 3 “rings” out of the coil.  Make sure they are a bit larger.  Notice the overlap of the ends.  The size can be fine tuned later.Step4Step 4: Texture the wire to your taste.Step5Step 5: Use the mandrel again to texture the outer edge and to get it back to a circular shape.Step6Step 6: Check your diameter at this point.  You will need a 1/4″ overlap for the riveting.  Cut down if needed and file both ends to a more rounded shape.Step7Step 7: Pound the ends so that they flatten and splay.  Copper is a wonderful metal for this.  You can get it pretty thin so watch out to not over spread.  But it needs to be bit wider then the hole you will be making or the wire will crack.  At this point the metal will have stretched.  So once again you you need to test the size.  If it has grown a bit to long it is easy to remedy by trimming off the end, hammering more and rounding again with the file.  Step8Step 8: You will also want to file the edges of the pounded portion to even them up a bit.  You can see below how the shape is no longer a nice tear drop kind of shape.Step9Step 7: Use the small size on the screw punch to make the holes.  This is perfect for a 14g wire rivet.Step10Step11Step 9:  With your 14g wire file the cut edge flat.  Do not round it but if there is a minor burr not allowing you to insert the wire remove it with the fie.  Test fit.  Cut off the rivet so that you have around 1/16″ (2mm) on either side.   File the other cut edge.  It is easier to remove the rivet from the bangle to do this.  I hold the rivet with pliers when filing as they are tiny.Step12Step 10: Lay the rivet on bench block so that an even amount of the wire is on either side of the bangle.  The bangle will not be flush to the bench block.  The rivet will be.  Gently tap the rivet with a hammer.  Turn over and repeat.  Make sure the rivet has remained centered.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, to and from the head of the rivet.  Step13Step 11: Return the bangle to the mandrel to true up the circle.Step14Step 12:  Decorate and wear.  Delightful!  If you want to fill with beads add them before riveting.  Now repeat 5 more times for a rather impressive stack.Step15