Week 27: Creative Challenge 52

How to make a ring

A friend came over yesterday to learn a bit about jewellery making. I taught her how to make her own ring and, while I was at it, I thought I'd show you too. You can make gorgeous pieces with some basic equipment and for very little cost.

make your own ring

If you've followed this blog or looked at my photo galleries, you'll know that I love bold, signature pieces. My friend Kayleen does too, so I thought we'd start with large 'urban edge' style rings. I taught Kayleen how to make one version, and I made a different version myself using the same techniques to show how versatile a basic method can be.

make your own ring steps 1 and 2

Step 1: Cut your silver to size. Silver comes in sheets of different widths. Kayleen and I used silver that was 0.8mm thick and we cut it 2cms wide so the ring bands would be fat and funky. The final step involves cutting your silver to fit the diameter of the finger you want to wear it on. We cut Kayleen's silver to 59mm and mine to 62mm. Note that you need to add an extra 1mm in length when you make wide rings, otherwise they won't fit.

Step 2: Before you do anything else, you need to soften the silver so it's malleable. You do this by applying heat. I use a jeweller's torch now, but I used a cheap propane torch that I bought from Bunnings for a few years before I upgraded my equipment. You'll need a honeycomb or charcoal base with a large brick underneath to place your silver on. Slowly move the flame back and forth over the silver until it begins to glow red. Plunge into cool water and then jeweller's pickle to remove oxidation (this is cheap and easy to obtain from a jewellery supplier).

make your own ring steps 3 and 4

Step 3: Add texture to the silver. Kayleen used the round end of a hammer to create texture on hers and I made scratches on mine. Because my silver was only minimally handled, it stayed nice and malleable, but Kayleen's hardened and needed to be heated again as per step 2.

Step 4: Use pliers to twist the silver so the ends join. Make sure the join is flush or your solder won't take.

Step 5: Your rings are now ready to solder. Apply flux and 'easy' solder (readily available and inexpensive from jewellery suppliers).

Step 6: Heat the ring carefully under dimmed light (so you can clearly see the process unfolding) until the solder flows.

Step 7: Shape your ring on a mandrel. You can use a piece of round dowel if you don't have a mandrel.

make your own ring steps 5 and 6

Step 8: File any added shape you want around the edges of your ring. Kayleen shaped the back of hers so it would be more comfortable to wear, and I created a flowing shape around both edges of mine. Once you're happy with the final shape, file the inside of your ring and the outer edges, starting with coarse files and using increasingly fine files, until the edges are nice and smooth. Take care, also, to file off any excess solder at the join.

Step 9: Soak your ring for a couple of minutes in Liver of Sulphur to get an aged look, then brush the patina back with 0000 steel wool until you get the finish you want. If you take too much off, just soak it in the Liver of Sulphur and start again.

Step 10: Wear and enjoy!

Kayleen's finished ring

Kayleen's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Scarlet's finished ring

Telena Routh

telenas felt dress

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been experimenting this week with different colours of prefelt, creating this gorgeous two-toned dress.

She's also been making felted hollow beads, cones and flat felt for jewellery. She's building up a collection of these so she can make some colourful accessories to brighten up her winter wardrobe.

Telena's final piece this week is a felted bracelet with slits to reveal the inner layer.

With her daughter's wedding only two weeks away, it's a miracle Telena found time for any creative output at all.

telenas felt jewellery

Trish Urquhart

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has been at an indie book fair this weekend with an Allaboutwriting exhibit. Their short story book,  36 Hours, was delivered to the fair on Friday and Trish is pleased to report that quite a few copies were picked up by interested readers. Richard gave a talk about the contract between reader and writer, and he also moderated a panel discussion. So...a successful weekend!

36 Hours

With the book fair consuming much of her time, Trish found herself with a creative challenge at an impromptu supper she and Richard held on Friday night - she needed an emergency dessert. Trish had bought some Brie and Camember, but after the main course, she thought the plain cheese seemed boring and she wondered how she could make it more special and festive.

She whipped through her cupboard and found preserved figs, quinces and ginger. Trish poured the syrups into a pan and added bay leaves, black pepper, star anise and cinnamon. She let the syrups bubble away for a while, then added the fruits and heated them through. Then she simply poured the whole lot over the cheese and added some almonds. Delicious!

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog for more of her exciting food adventures.

Trishs Festive Dessert

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been up to his impressive sequin tricks again. He's loving his creation this week, largely for the unintentional irony he generated. The choice of sequins for this delightful project initially gave him some concern - too pale and pastel. Three letters in and he feared an unpicking was on the horizon, but then he had a change of heart and thought, 'what could be less intimidating and more ridiculous than this t-shirt in pastel sequins?'

So Kanen persevered and he felt happier and happier as he neared completion. Now he thinks it's a masterpiece of understatement, irony and glamour.

kanens sequined shirt

What the photos don't show is the gorgeous opalescent sheen on the sequins which really catches the light with a pale blue/green flash - perhaps not so understated after all.

Kanen thinks he'll wear his creation to Jacqui's Aida opening night next weekend, possibly even with the gold lapel jacket. 'Too much of a good thing?' he asks. Never!

Security in Sequins

Keryn Clark

keryns floral shoe fetish
keryns babys breath

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, decided, this week, to get creative with some vessels that were lying around the shop, and also with a few bunches of baby's breath from the fridge. Remy argued that they needed to keep the baby's breath in the fridge in case an order came in. Keryn insisted it would be better out forming some kind of display. Ad break for clash of the titans - Keryn won. No sooner was the baby's breath fluffed out and in the vase when someone walked in and said 'I have to have them'. The five words retailers most like to hear.

Keryn has appealed to Kanen's shoe fetish for her creative challenge with this artistic interpretation of flowers on the soles of her foot. One foot sold within moments of being put on display. That leaves just one more to go...

kanens floral feet

Stephen Bennett

Steve was very excited to find a Lubitel Twin Lens Reflex roll film camera (1960) for $35 in a secondhand shop last weekend, and he couldn't wait to put it through its paces. Fortunately, Georgia was all dolled up with a new outfit and fresh from the hair salon, so she agreed to pose for a series of photos. The camera worked perfectly and here are a couple of the shots of Georgia.

singer songwriter Georgia Bennett

Steve also found time this week to process films shot in the Blue Mountains a few weeks ago. These photos are of the Cathedral of Ferns at Mt Wilson, taken with his beloved Hasselblad.

Cathedral of Ferns