oh, the process

 I think many people don't realize what I really mean when I say I make jewelry.  Which I completely understand because it's not a very common hobby or interest.  So, since I spent about 12 hours on Tuesday fully entrenched in the process I thought I'd show you a little of what that means by showing you the process of making the leaf necklace...  

1st I glue the templates I drew on tracing paper on to a piece of sheet silver.

I try to get every little bit out of this silver sheet since silver is now $28.19 an ounce (ouch), the highest it's been in years.  A little perspective for ya, 5 years ago the low was $6.41/oz!!!!!

I saw away...

Then I crease the leaves to give them a little dimension and prepare their little silver veins of wire.

I coat the leaves with flux to keep the silver from tarnishing while I am soldering, then I carefully position the wire I am soldering on to the leaf.  Before I get the torch going I cut tiny pieces of silver solder that I place along the length of the wire with tweezers which takes incredible amounts of patience, which I reserve only for jewelry making- my poor husband is pretty much out of luck.  Next, I fire up the torch and watch that solder flow.


After soldering the leaves are kind of crusty from the flux. See all that color on them?  That is oxidized copper that has come to the surface of the silver during soldering, it's called fire scale and it's the biggest pain in the butt ever but it is just part of working with sterling silver which as you know is 925/1000 parts silver and 75/1000 parts copper- that's why you see the 925 mark on all of your sterling silver jewelry. 


After the soldering I put the leaves in the "pickle", a heated chemical bath (of sodium bisulphate) to get all the crusty off.  But if you look closely you can see splochiness that's the darn fire scale I was talking about- I will have to sand all that off or the leaves will look like poop.


Here are the different grits of sand paper I use in the finishing process, starting with the coursest grit; 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1200, 2000

And then after a little polishing, addition of the chain and clasp and you've got the leaf necklace in all is shiny, non fire scale glory!

And I'm sure you're wondering why I go through all this just for the little leaf necklace.  Well, it's because then, I can call it mine. 

I didn't just hang it on a chain, I designed it, I made it.  Plus I love that feeling when I am putting the final polish on it , knowing it came from nothing.

I have to be honest, I hope to learn tricks along the way to help me avoid or shorten some of these steps- if you know any you'd better share!  I could really use the extra time to get my Christmas shopping done!  Happy December!