Under Pressure

Most of my jewelry work is production which means I create the same thing over and over. It’s not horrible but it’s also not creatively challenging which is why I enjoy the occasional commission work. Problem is the pressure mounts when I think about creating something special for someone. The pressure only increases when the materials I’m working with are costly. Yep, I’m talking about my current project: the gold granulated ring.

Granulation is a technique I’m very comfortable with so you’d think this would be no big deal. I normally granulate in fine silver which is even harder to fire than gold because it can melt more easily. So why in the world would this bother me? Well, for starters, it’s expensive. Second, it’s a 25th anniversary gift which means it needs to be great. Third, I don’t work in gold often so I need to re-acquaint myself with its properties.

So far things have gone, how shall I put this, ok, I guess. I’ve managed to accidentally drop my granules container onto the floor three times, I dropped the ring once (and had to reattach granules I picked up off the floor), I came dangerously close to melting a section and yesterday I granulated a single fine silver granule onto the last section (which looks cool so I’m going to leave it). While working on this piece I’m also granulating a bracelet section in fine silver and have no problems at all with it, naturally.

I’ve checked and rechecked the piece and am confident that no granules are going to fly off at the last-minute so I started attaching the 18k bands. Because the granulated section is 22k it’s very soft so it needs the strength of the 18k rim so it won’t distort. I like 18k rather than 14k, which is even harder, because the color is close. 14k would be too much of a contrast. Naturally, I had trouble attaching the first band. I soldered it several times, overheating it once, before I got that sucker attached. In the meantime, I’m learning a lot about how gold reacts under the stress of heat and am managing to correct any mistakes I’ve made.

But artists are a superstitious bunch so I won’t brag about how wonderful it looks until it’s completely polished and in the box. Right now I’ll just say that it looks ok and I’m hoping it can be saved!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Under Pressure

  1. Suzanne

    The single silver granule reminds me of when I used to work with mid-Eastern handicrafts and textiles. Every piece, whether a large costume ensemble or a beaded scarf, would typically have a single mismatched coin, bead or thread hidden in the design. It was explained to me that it was done as a reminder that all of God’s creatures are unique, and only HE can create perfection.

  2. That’s what Sarah I I decided: that we should leave the imperfection so we don’t anger God. I actually like it.

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