Ring 7 for the Ring a Week flickr group is shown above. The idea was to learn to set a stone in wet metal clay, include it in a fairly simple ring and fire it in place. I wanted a stone that was inexpensive, natural and able to stand my preferred firing conditions for best strength of the ring. Rings take abuse so it is best if the metal clay is fired a long time. I chose hematite because it can take a 2 hour firing at 1650 with no problem. I also like the way it looks with silver. The photo above is great if you are only looking at the silver. I realize you can see the camera and tripod reflected in the stone. My current setup does not allow a way to exclude that because the camera is about an inch from the stone. I have been playing around with white cards and a shear piece of white material to drape in certain ways and the result is much more even coloration of the side of the ring that would be in shadow without lose of texture. I light predominantly from one side because this really helps show off the texture but I was having problems with areas being too dark and I think that problem is largely solved now.
This ring was an interesting challenge to make and finish. The shank is actually from my rejects pile of dried metal clay pieces. It was too thin and warped for my original project and I had made another. I covered the thin shank with the dots texture you see and while the laminated band was damp I attempted to unwarp it. It worked to some degree, enough that I could attach the oval and circle central element securely. I recently purchased these little ceramic plugs to put inside the shank during firing to avoid the problems I have been having with previous rings. I never cared so much when the bands came out not round but I was concerned about lack of reproducibility on the shrinkage. I add about 2 sizes and the result can be anywhere from slightly larger than I was hoping for to quite a bit smaller than hoped. Shrinkage can happen in any dimension, not always the way you are hoping. So placing a plug inside limits how far it can shrink in the ring size. Because this shank had a slight warp it seems to have tipped over sideways on the plug during firing. The result was a slightly oval, still warped shank. I beat it from a number of directions and now it is nicely round and no longer warped. Lots of lessons learned and I am quite happy with the result.
This ring was meant to be ring number 6 but it came together faster than the ring that was started before it. The idea was to build a small box as a focal with a textured band to match the sides of the box. This ring has taught me that PMC shrinks unpredictably. I made the shank two sizes larger than I wanted and the finished ring is about 3 and a half sizes smaller than the original shank as greenware. On the practical side this means I cannot quite get it on my pinky even after annealing it and beating it down on a mandrel three times. It also means I lost some of the texture on the inside of the shank during resizing. I am finding that the conditions that yeild a great photo of surface patina are flaky at best. I will likely take a whole second batch of pictures of this later on in the day to see if I can capture the patina in the deep swirls on the top of the box. For whatever reason it looks washed out here. You can see the brilliant colors really well on the shank though.
I have several ideas for how to improve on this design in order to get the ring size I am aiming for instead of some random size. I think making more small boxes is definitely a great idea as I love the look of this one. It also fits in well with my box pendant series.