Monday, October 11, 2010

Tropical Leaf sterling silver earrings

I'm really excited about my newest listing at Dalkullan Jewelry .  It's a pair of earrings, called Tropical Leaf sterling silver earrings.  I crafted them using a technique invented by Charles Lewton-Brain, a master gold and silver smith. 

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lewton-Brain at the 2010 Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee.  He's a very nice gentleman, and it was great to see him in person, and exchange a few pleasantries.  He's also one of the founders of a wonderful website for jewelry artisans, called Ganoksin , which means 'orchid'.  If you've never been to Ganoksin, it's definitely a website you'll want to visit.  There's tons of information on jewelry fabrication, including videos, and it's all free! 

Back to the Tropical Leaf earrings --- I started by cutting out the basic leaf shape from sterling sheet, then folded it in half after first annealing the metal.  Annealing means to heat with a torch, then quench, or cool, in water.  This makes the metal soft (for metal, that is) and bendable.  After folding it in half, I began repeated cycles of hammering along the non-fold edge, alternating with annealing the metal.

After a course of hammering, the metal becomes work hardened, and becomes stiff and brittle.  Annealing changes the molecular structure of the metal, making it maleable again.  When I'd completed this cycle 4 times, I carefully opened  each leaf, and it arced into a lovely leaf shape along the spine.  I used pliers to carefully manipulate the edges of the leaf, creating extra folds. 

The next step was melting the end of a 20 gauge sterling wire to form a little ball at the end, then soldering it on the front of the leaf, to create a stem, which is also the earwire.  Some more shaping, filing,  sanding, polishing, and patinating, and the earrings were complete.

If you're interested in learning more about fold forming, Mr. Lewton-Brain has written a wonderful book on the topic, called Foldforming it's available at Amazon, among other places.


PoetessWug said...

WOW! You Artisans really do a lot of work!! Thanks for sharing the process! The end result is just beautiful!!! :-)

Mc.Camozzi said...

Beautiful earrings!