I am busy preparing for the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival coming up this weekend and I noticed I had never photographed some rings I recently finished. Designing rings has turned out to be a joyous endeavor. I find that rings are much more three dimensional than other jewelry. I don’t just mean that they wrap around your finger. If you ignore the shank and just think about some item hovering over the top face of your finger the designs that come to mind are quite different than thinking of an element against the chest or dangling from the ear. It has been creatively invigorating to make rings in a way I never expected. There are so many possibilities for movement and so many tiny considerations that make a ring interesting. The kinds of questions that I ask when I sit down to start a new ring are: what shape should the shank be, how wide, should it have texture, should both sides of the shank have texture, should they be the same or not, should they match the top element. Of course I also have a theme in mind for the project like a leaf or a flower or a bowl shape. The idea can evoke a mood or a feeling. For the ring above I wanted something green, something that felt like walking in the forest. The idea I wanted to bring to the fore was about calmness and peace.
I recently had some photos taken by a professional photographer, Kevin May, who lives here in Peoria. I was overawed at his setup and enjoyed a chance to see how he went about everything. Hopefully I can use some of what I learned to take better photos for this blog.
This ring is fine silver with a purple CZ set in a tube. I learned quite a bit from creating the tube setting from metal clay. The stone sits ever so slightly off from level post firing. I do not believe the angle of the stone is all that noticeable but I am after all a perfectionist. I have no good ideas about how to prevent another stone from shifting during firing. The setting involves two metal clay tubes of different diameter. After both tubes were perfected I sanded the bottom edges into a slight curve so that they would sit nicely onto the curved ring band. The inner tube acts as a seat for the stone and the outer stone captures the stone. I sanded the top edge of the outer tube to bevel it so that after firing I could press it down a bit to create a neat look.
The ring size shrank quite a bit so I sanded out the edges of the box to make them flush with the inner band, which is a design change and which gained the ring over a whole size. I was shooting for size 7 so I had cut the sides as a size 9 and then after drying and sanding smooth they were about a size 9.25 so I was very happy with this but post firing they fitted my sizing mandrel as a size 5. Metal clay shrinks in strange ways sometimes when you build boxes. After sanding flush the ring is a 6. The shape of the ring would make it difficult to beat on a mandrel to make it any larger but in theory the ring could be stretched but I do not plan to try. I am thinking about using ring plugs more often since I have had several rings shrink well past the size I had planned.
This photo is also taken by Kevin May. I have created a series of 4 pieces with a seasonal theme. This piece is winter and depicts a naked tree in a stark winter nighttime landscape. I applied patina to the night sky and some of the solution may have crept under the stones which makes them look cloudy. I am not sure how to remove the residue without damaging the patina. So this piece is not ready for sale until I work out how the stones can look sparkly and the background can look dark at the same time.
I have many more photos to work with now and am quite excited to post them over the coming weeks. If any of you are interested in Kevin’s photography here is his blog. He is quite well rounded, having done a lot of work for Caterpillar and also landscapes and macro photography.
Heart Lily Pad Ring
I dearly loved the Lily Pad Ring that I made previously and have decided to embark on a short series of flower and pearl rings as a result. This ring is the second in that series. The third ring will be going into the kiln later today. This ring and the next ring are the result of a design that did not quite work. The flower I originally made was a bit too large when placed on the heart element. The blossom dominated and obscured the heart too much. That blossom is now placed on a very small disk with a cup shape supporting it and acting as an embed point for the fine silver wire shank.
This ring is totally about the coming of spring time. I love spring and it shows in my art. This ring is from a new texture I got from an etsy shop called Rolling Mill Resources, the texture is heavy paper which is laser etched. The flower base for the bead is slightly domed and the bead is capped with a tiny circle with matching texture. The patina is mostly a reddish color which tends towards both brown and fuchsia in places with halos of light blues and aquas near raised areas. The hand lampworked bead is by Ellen Dooley.
I had my trepidations about hammering a rivet for the first time. Of course I couldn’t simply rivet something made of copper against something else made of copper. I never do things the easy way, or the cheap way. I chose my first rivet ever to be on a fine silver ring with a hand made glass bead in the stack. I rigged a pretty good way to support the underside of the stack and the bead fit decently on the 12 gauge wire. The top piece of fine silver fit the rivet post like a glove. I intentionally made the hole in it smaller than the wire gauge and filed it carefully to the precise right size. It worked so well.
The result is the completed Egyptian Sky Ring above. The bead is by Ellen Dooley. This is not one of her fancier beads. It has just a gentle swirl of color in a mostly solid opaque bead. I have others by her with lots more character. The nearly monochrome bead is just perfect here against the heavy band with deep texture and multicolor patina. All counted, there are four textures plus smoothness. So this puts me caught up on Ring a Week. I have almost caught up on other things that went slack during the whole snowpocalypse thing. One more good day of hustling really frantically and I should be back on track!
My 4th ring for the Ring a Week flickr group is entitled Lily Pad. It is a leaf textured fine silver square with a fine silver wire shank and a sweet flower embellishment containing a chocolate pearl. I am quite in love with the ring. I think this means I need to make a series of flower and pearl motif rings! I have the beginnings of ring number 5 on my bench. One of the goals of this ring a week group is to learn new things and challenge ourselves. I have made very few rings so just creating anything was a challenge in January. As I look forward I have some more elaborate ideas and ideas incorporating new techniques. The 5th ring is inspired by my love of egypt and as such it will have a sky blue glass bead attached to it. I have always thought I should learn to rivet and so now is the time to do it!