I had a bunch of sketches for this, but right now I"m so focused on learning soldering and metalsmithing, I can't bring myself to do anything but projects that practice these skills. Then it hit me, growth as an artist, is well, growth. I'm very please to show you my first completed metal bezel: Growth. This took Hours! to make, I can only hope as I get better, they will get quicker to make. Let me outline the steps it took to make this. First I cut out a square from copper sheet. Then drew a circle on it, and sawed it out for the base. Then I filed, filed and filed some more to get it as round as possible. Then I sanded. then I filed and sanded some more. I did this off and on for a couple of weeks, when I had a spare moment or in my class. While I worked on making the circle as circle like as I could stand, I also cut out a strip of copper sheeting, and then used a rolling mill to make my bezel wire. ( you should be able to see in the pictures a rim of copper directly on the stone.. that is the bezel wire. It's maybe 1/8th of a inch tall, 26 ga and it's actually what is holding the stone in place) I made a total of 3 bezel wires before I could get it right.. this required filing and sanding, filing and sanding, making it 2 small 2ce, and finally getting it just right. Then I soldered it. I'm happy to say that only took once. I used 2 much solder so I had to file and sand off the extra. (In the picture of just the bezel, you can see the blobs o silver on the inside!) Then I had to sand it down because it was 2 tall. The goal is to make the bezel wire just tall enough to crimp over the edge of the stone to hold it in but not 2 tall to obscure the stone or buckle up when you crimp it. IF you make it 2 tall, it will buckle up and be unsightly. I fortunately had my teacher at the art center to help with this part. I got it now, but I think that was the hardest part.. I kept sanding it down, asking her if it was OK, she'd be like it's 2 tall and make me sand some more. this took hours to do also. Once I had the bezel wire right, I made the decorate sterling twisted wire in a perfect circle that fit snugly over the bezel wire. I had to solder that also. It took me 3 tires to get the wire right. I'm very pleased with the wire decoration.. it's hard to tell where it's connected and soldered. It took some effort to match the twists up so it would look that good. then I flattened the wire just alittle.. so it would solder better to the base piece and I like the look of flattened twisted wire. then I had to solder the bezel and the twisted wire to the base. that went well.. I had a couple solder spots on the inside of the bezel, I used my dremel to grind those down so my stone would lay flat in the bezel. I also used my dremel for the polishing steps. I've had to miss a few classes at the art center, so for polishing I relied more on Don Norris's CD (BTw I really recommend his series on silver smithing. Very common sense approach to the whole process. I've added his website to my links) I decided I wanted to make a wire bail, so I made a hole, and used my dapples to make it nice and even. then I fitted the stone in, carefully crimped the metal over the edge, did the final polish with the dremel, than ran it in the tumbler for 2 hours.
It's not perfect, but I am in love with it. It represents hours and hours of work, frustration, tedium ( and if you know me, you know I don't do bored well) and frankly tears. But I made it, and I bet the next one will be better. I'm very, very proud of my first student piece, and it's a keeper.. in fact I'm wearing as I type this!