Friday, July 29, 2011

Treasured Again

As of this month, I have been making glass beads for 7 years. My, how time flies when you're melting glass! In all that time, I have made jewelry only for myself and for family. Recently I bought two spoon bracelets to take apart and use the spoon elements in some of my own bracelets. I liked the way it came out so well that I've decided to make a few to sell.

The bracelets include an antique silver plated spoon handle, Bali silver beads and clasp, my own lampwork beads and a sterling silver extender chain.

The first pieces I made were from those bracelets I bought to take apart, but I've recently started making my own spoon elements for my jewelry.

It wasn't until after I had the first batch of spoons on the way that I started researching what would be involved. The first thing I found out was that the metal needs to be annealed. In other words, it has to be heated with a torch to a dull glow and quenched in water to change the molecular structure of the metal making it easier to bend. No problem. I have a torch.

Then the handles need to be cut. I'm sure I may eventually use some kind of power tool for this, but for now, the hack saw is working splendidly. The cut edge needs to be ground and polished and that's where hubby's bench grinder and my Dremel came in. Then holes need to be drilled in each end for stringing into jewelry, so we got to dust off the old drill press.

I have to polish off the fire scale from the annealing process and bend the handles in a nifty bending fixture that my hubby made for me. When the metal was annealed, it removed the lovely patina that shows off the pretty patterns in the spoons, so now I have to put it back. I use liver of sulfur to patina the silver. Amazing how a hundred years of patina can be achieved in just seconds! The only problem with the liver of sulfur is that it made my whole house smell like an egg fart for a few hours. I think I'll be doing the next batch in the garage with the doors open! After the patina is applied I get to give the piece one last polish with a silver polishing cloth and at last, the piece is finally ready to be used in jewelry!

So far I've managed to get metal filings in my fingers, filed part of my fingernail off on the grinder, burned myself on a hot drill bit and I have silver polish embedded in my fingerprints. I'm just flying by the seat of my pants here and learning as I go along. It's fun and rewarding, but there was one point where I stood in my garage, shirt soaked in sweat and everything that flew off the grinder stuck to my face and neck and me wondering why I didn't just buy more already made spoon bracelets! Good thing I don't give up that easy.

I love the idea of using this beautiful vintage flatware in my jewelry designs. The spoons and forks I've been collecting for my new project date as far back as 1881 and most of them are from the very early 1900's. I think about the original owner and how they must have treasured their silverware. Did they only use it for special occasions or did they use it every day like my Grandmother did, just because it was beautiful. By giving this flatware new life in my jewelry designs, now it can be treasured all over again.

The bracelets I have pictured in this post are now up for sale in my Etsy Shop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, I love your new bracelets with the silverware handles. I use to make rings way back in high school (74-78) and had been thinking of making something with silverware again. You should check out the bracelets on etsy that someone made by twisting the ends of forks along with the handles to make bracelets. Very cool and I think you would like them too. I also live in Florida and make lampwork beads. I have been admiring your beads for years on ebay where I also sell my beads. I have always loved the fabulous colors that you get out of the silver glass. I switched back to a hot head years ago because I use alot of dichroic glass and was burning it on my mixed torch and now that I have tried to go back to the mixed torch it is a leasrning process with the silver glass all over again. LOL! I guess I should have kept working with both since it seemed so easy back then. Well anyway I just thought I would reach out to you since I have really enjoyed seeing you beads when you have them listed on ebay, Hugs, Joyce Horn (Joyous Creations)