wrapping faceted teardrops

This post is for someone over at the wire jewelry forum that had a question on ideas for wrapping faceted teardrops.  As I mentioned, smaller teardrops, I tend to use a bezel/cage wrap with prongs instead of kicking in the wires so less of the stone is covered.  The problem with doing this on a larger stone is that usually they’re deep and will tend to roll around, so they need more to stabilize them.  The issue with making a deep bezel is that it can cut off light to the stone, so a compromise of a deep but open setting is the trick.

Amethystpearprongpendant This amethyst here was around 10×15 mm.  If you look at the bezel going around, you just make a few wraps leading up to the prong, then a little wire doubled in to form a prong and wrap on the other side side to stabilize it.  Often I will make the prongs on the back longer than those on the front.  The wire is square 24 gauge gf and 22 gauge half-round.

     Alexandriteteardrop_ss_wove_2 This other prong setting was a pretty large stone that I did for commission for a customer.  It was about 1 1/4" tall, narrow for it’s height, and pretty deep for its proportionate width.  Being a dark stone, a deep bezel on it would have cut off a lot of light, so I did this open prong bezel.  If you look closely, it’s out of pretty heavy wire (20 gauge) and the wires on the sides weave back and forth creating a more open side, plus it was easy to taper the height of the bezel as it appoached the thinner top, making it lay nice when worn.  The original inspiration for this setting came from the November ’02 Wire Artist Jeweler magazine (out of print, can get back issues though), although I significantly modified the design.  The overall concept of switching the inner wires back and forth from top to bottom was a good one.  The execution was a little fiddly and might be tricky for a beginner, but the results pretty nice.  This design has a lot of potential for variations.

FSOJ’06,wk2: Mother Earth, Father Sky

Soj6wk2_motherearthfatherskyThis is my project for the Season of Jewelry project, Week 2, using the theme of Mother Earth, Father Sky for inspiration.  For my personal goals, I used a recently acquired kyanite teardrop bead for the center drop instead of letting it languish in my stash for years.  Another personal goal, keeping some of my nicer pieces, I’m toying with keeping this one instead of selling it…or at the least making another similar so I’ll wind up with one.  I was especially pleased with how pretty this combination of stones was.

This piece is made from sterling silver.  The blue center teardrop of kyanite, the iolite beads in the swirly part and the pearls represent Mother Earth’s oceans, and the moonstone and clear austrian crystal represent Father Sky’s moon and stars.

Earth: Night and Day

This first post is a copy of the one I posted here under the Week 01 category.  For awhile now on various forums and blogs, I’d been seeing mentions of this Season of Jewelry thing.  The idea is a creative challenge of doing a new piece of jewelry a week, and for inspiration there’s a theme for the week that you can use or not.  The idea originated out of a wire jewelry forum on delphi so a lot of the pieces tend to be wire related, but it’s not limited to that.

Anyway, I found the idea tremendously interesting and think it’s a neat artistic challenge for where I am with things now.  I’ve been doing wire for awhile and while I have pretty wide range of designs, techniques and looks that I use, there’s been some things out there that I haven’t gotten around to that I’ve been wanting to try, or stretch a little with what I’m already doing.

When it came to sign up for the next season, which just started, I jumped in.  We’re beginning of the third year of the project, now a season at a time.  This is the Season of Earth, as an overall theme, then each week has its own theme.

My personal goals are first, just to actually make something every week.  Second, ideally to try something new or get around to something I just haven’t quite gotten around to.  This can be using stones I was once inspired to buy long ago and then never did anything with, trying new techniques, or doing an interesting variation on a current technique.  And sometimes it can just be making some one-of-a-kind something that I ordinarily only get around to making for a cool commissioned piece but rarely make to sell.  Along that same line is making a few nice pieces to keep.  I actually have kept very little of what I make and the nicest, most interesting pieces are someone else’s.  A third goal is to work on improving my digital photography.

This piece incorporates a couple of those goals:  using a stone I bought a long time ago and never Soj6wk1_earth_1 got around to, and trying out a different approach. 

The stone is a piece of petrified wood, one of several I bought some years back and never used.  I like this batch of stones because of the unusal markings and shapes.  Petrified wood seemed appropriate to the earth theme, as well as the clear/smokey quartz and pearls. 

There were several design challenges on this one.  One, was that it’s a pretty thick stone (like a domino thickness) with straight vertical sides, which means the bezel wrap is extra wide.   Using 24 gauge wire, that made it 14 wires wide.  I had to be careful with bunching when wrapping.  If I had a do-over, there were 4 twisted wires in the middle of the pattern on the side that I would have mixed some square in with since that was the worst culprit for wanting to bunch.

The next thing that was a bit fiddly was that, inspired by the vertical division of light/dark in the stone color, I thought it would be cool to wrap it with silver on the light half and gold on the dark half, then follow that theme with light/dark quartz hanging off of it.  I debated just mixing gold/silver in the overal bezel and somehow switching the dominant color to the front on the appropriate side.  Then I decided to just do the whole entire side for each in one solid color.  That meant I had to start at the hookup (bottom center) instead of at one end and going around.  Just doing the hookup of the two metals was no biggie with a little planning, but the loops really complicated it because I had to start with the gold completely to one edge and juggling 14 wires initially without being able to stabilize them with a temporary binder because I needed to free up one of the center wires to create the loops.  In retrospect, I would have preformed at least the first loop so I could have temp wrapped the bundle while I was stabilizing the end with the hook.  Things kept shifting where the loop I had to leave for the silver to hook in later needed to go, and I eventually put in a temporary spacer so I didn’t lose it as I worked.  The silver side was easier since I could start wrapping at the lower corner and work toward the bottom center, hooked it together, then went back and finished going up the sides.

Anyway, that was the unexpectedly fiddly bits.  Other general design stuff, I did some random diagonals and wraps on the side, which looks pretty cool since it’s such a deep bezel.  Mixed gold and silver together in the bail, the only place.  Debated on prongs versus kicking in wires, and decided I wanted less wire on the face of the stone.  I did curve the prongs to follow the grain of the wood a little, something a little different for me.  It doesn’t show, but the white side is more shallow.  I brought it all flush to the front, but that leaves the white sunk in a little on the back.  On the back, laid in some tiny pearls in that sunk area, partly for appearance and partly for stability. 

The only other thing, I’m going to look at it for awhile, but I may rework the smokey quartz dangles and take out some of the larger white pearls.  I’ll keep in a few of the flat pearls to tie the sides together, but I’m thinking the larger ones take away from the dark/light, silver/gold contrast a little.  I’ve been toying with redoing the stones with pale gold tiger eye beads on the light side and gradating to dark tiger eye on the dark side.  Going with just a tiny touch of pearl and maybe/maybe not on the quartz.  Opinions?