If you’re a regular reader of this blog you might remember a past post of how I was struggling with my latest ring project, an Identity Ring. The assignment was to create a ring symbolizing who I am. Ugh. I couldn’t think of anything interesting. I know a big part of my identity is my sense of humor so I wanted to capture that in the ring. Things that make me smile or laugh are important in my life. As I thought about who I was (no small feat, try it sometime) I realized that along with humor and my adoration for all things vintage, was my love of music. My parents introduced me to music at a very early age. I think I received my first records player (a real one) at the age of five. My dad played the guitar and I played the piano and sang all through high school and college. Music is important so it was only natural to incorporate that in a ring.
Once I’d established the traits of humor, vintage and music, the design came easily – a tiny record player. The first step was finding a clear piece for the top. My initial idea was something domed, but I soon realized that would not only make the ring huge, but was impossible to find. I was just about to give up when I found exactly what I needed in my own studio. Years ago I’d bought a stacking pillbox set at the Container Store. The lid on the top was perfect. Once I had that piece in place, the design started coming together.
Because the ring had to include enamel, I decided to enamel a tiny record and a speaker front. Slowly the design began taking shape, but it wasn’t without its problems. First, I wrecked the original turntable top. I had misaligned the rim with the top when I soldered it at school and couldn’t get it corrected. So I made another one. Then, the enamel started giving me problems. Some enamels don’t work well when fired directly onto silver and orange/red is one of them. Of course, that was the color I wanted on the speaker. I fired that darned thing so many times I really thought I’d have to start over. It’s not perfect, but it looks good. Finally, there was the hinge. Hinges are tricky because they require precision in order to work correctly. When they are done on a flat surface, they are fairly easy to line up and solder. When they are done on a curved surface, it’s another story entirely. I did a sample and got it to work after three attempts. I felt pretty good about doing it on the real piece. That feeling didn’t last long. I made seven attempts before finally getting it to work. I slightly warped the top, but was able to correct that. As I was reshaping the bottom piece, one of the hinges (or knuckles as they’re called) fell off. Grrr. Two more solderings and it was on. All together I had nine attempts on the darned thing. And it’s not perfect, but it works and that’s good enough for me.
All I had left was final assembly and polishing. Once I had the whole piece together, the hinge in place and the enamel glued on I stepped back and took a look at my three week creation. I must say, I’m a little impressed with myself. It looks exactly like I envisioned it and that rarely happens in the art world. Let me know what you think!
Here’s a view of the ring on my finger with the lid closed. It’s held closed by tiny magnets (1mm in size):
Here’s what it looks like with the lid open. The arm of the turntable actually moves:
Of course, the record can be changed:
Here’s a view from the side. I deliberately made it so it could stand on its own and be a sculpture: