For this weeks blog I wanted to show you guys the process for how I made one of the rings that was released. Here is a video of the making of the Monstera Moon ring. An original design made from start to finish.
Each piece starts off with a hand drawn design, I created a sheet that will help me keep track of all of the information about the piece as I create it. Then I create a bezel for the stone. A bezel is a very thin strip of fine silver wire that wraps around the stone and will eventually hold the stone into the final piece.
The bezel is soldered into a loop and fit perfectly around the stone and then soldered onto a back plate of sterling silver. Once the bezel has been soldered, the excess metal around the bezel is cut off and then filed and sanded to be nice and smooth.
I then move onto making the ring shank. I cut out a large rectangle of silver on which I will add a frame that will make the piece feel thicker and more powerful but without adding too much extra weight. Once the frame has been measured and bent appropriately it is flattened and then soldered onto the rectangle shank.
The monstera and moon details start as a drawing on paper and are then glued to a sheet of silver where they are then cut out by hand with a coping saw and very very small saw blades. It is a very tedious process but it is well worth it in the end. Each detail piece that is cut out gets filed and sanded so that it is nice and uniform all around. The details are then formed and given a pre-solder so that when I layer them onto the ring shank they will sit right and be nice and clean.
I then cut off the excess silver from the ring shank and spend an afternoon just filing and sanding the edges. When making a ring it is important to file a nice bevel into the piece so that it sits comfortably on the finger and isn't sharp. We are wanting to create something that you are wanting to wear all the time and this has to be in mind during the entire making process.
I then form the ring shank into a circle and hammer it so that the edges are flush and then I solder the ring shank closed. Every time a piece gets soldered it gets a bath in a solution called a "pickle" its basically a chemical solution in water that will remove flux and fire scale. It can be a numerous amount of different chemicals but I try my best to keep my studio free of hazardous chemicals and so I choose to use citric acid diluted with water. It's the same stuff one uses to make gummy candies and jams so it's safe to be on the skin when diluted and wont make my skin fall off like other commercial grade pickles will.
Once the shank has been soldered and cleaned well the sanding continues. In the video you see me sand the piece all over several different times. I do this to remove any unwanted scratches and excess solder. It's best to remove scratches and solder as I go so that as the layers get added on I don't have to work around the fine details. There are hours of sanding put into a piece like this, starting with a low grit to remove big scratches and slowly worked up to 600 grit.
Once the ring shank is formed and shiny, the details get soldered on. The monstera and moons get placed on and soldered to the shank easily since I pre-soldered them at the beginning. Once those are on in place, the stone setting is added to the shank. I decided to add two little fine silver balls to adorn the stone setting and add another layer of detail and sparkle.
Once all of the pieces are soldered on I sand everything once again with a 600 grit bristle disk. Once everything is nice and clean I give it a patina bath in a liver of sulfur and water solution. This turns the entire piece black due to oxidation. I then let it tumble in my rotary tumbler for around 12 hours with some fine abrasive ceramic media. This is basically little cone shaped pieces that are designed to smooth out and even the texture of the surface of the piece. I like to finish off pieces like this because it really seems to unify everything, and especially with rings, it makes the inside of the ring shank silky smooth. I then let it tumble again in a steel shot tumbling media to work harden and burnish the piece so it's nice and shiny.
The downside to tumbling with the ceramic media is that it will remove the first patina I put on in all of the places that the cones can reach. I choose to patina this piece twice for a few reasons, the first time gets the black coloring into the stamp work on the inside of the shank, aka my hallmark. The tumbling also tests all of my soldering joints, if anything isnt stable, it will fall off in the tumbler and I will be able to go and fix it afterwards. It makes sure my craftsmanship is on point.
Once the piece is done tumbling I will carefully paint on a silver blackener where I would like to push the details. I then spend another chunk of time doing the fine polishing that finishes up the piece. I work through with fine abrasive discs and then work into polishing compounds. I really like LUXI polishes, they have several different compounds for all kinds of metals and shine levels. Its a vegetable oil base which makes it vegan and silica free so its much better for your lungs than traditional polishes like white diamond and red rouge. It also scrubs off with hot water and soap rather than acetone like the traditional ones, meaning less chemicals and easier on the skin.
Once the piece is polished up nice, it goes into a ball vice and the stone is set. I use a brash pusher and stainless steel burnisher to push the bezel down around the stone tightly so that it will never fall out. I finish up the piece by cleaning up the bezel, making sure there are no scratches from setting the stone and give it a final polish so it really sparkles.
So there you have it! That's how the Monstera Moon ring is made. I hope you enjoyed hearing and watching the process. There is a lot of work and time that goes into each piece and it's hard to convey that. The video is between 20-35 hours of work condensed into 10 minutes. Lots of repetitive tasks and motions but each one makes the piece the way it is.
I hold a lot of value in the craftsmanship of a piece. I work hard to make sure that each piece is as perfect as I can make it. I learn something new with every piece that comes across my bench and it truly feels like something I could work my entire life to perfect but never really get, which to me is part of the fun. The pursuit of the perfect piece.
Thanks for watching and thanks for reading!