On this page I will take you to my work place and show you how the jewelry is made.
Of course, there is so much more to goldsmithing then just these steps, but overall it gives you an idea of what my day looks like.
There are two ways in which I manufacture my jewelry:
- directly out of precious metal, or
- by making a wax model first.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Out of wax
I make a sketch. My notebook is full of sketches and every time I want to make a new bead, I open my sketch book and choose which ever one I like to make at that moment. This time I chose the 'rock crystal'.
I saw a block of hard wax in a suitable size. I have to saw and carve the wax with my goldsmithing tools because it's so hard. I am kind of a sculptor when I make my designs. The wax comes in large blocks, so before I can begin I have to saw off a smaller cube of wax. After this I drill a hole in the block of wax, where the bracelet eventually goes trough.
I cut out the rough shape. For this I use a simple pocket knife that I have since my childhood. Nothing fancy. Now this part is the hardest to my opinion. Because this shape differs so far from the end results, it is easy to give up at this point by thinking it went wrong and will never be a good piece. Just take a look at the photo below: does that look like a nice rock crystal bead to you? But I continue!
The fine finish of the model. For this I use small files and engraving tools. Even my pocket knife comes in handy again.
I have a wax pen that has a metal point at the end that becomes hot. I use this to melt drops of wax onto my project. This way I can add small details or melt two pieces together.
Sending it off to the jewelry caster. Here starts a complex process that I will not go into very deep. Let's just say he turns my wax into silver by using the lost wax method. I then receive my beads in silver. They all look white because the top layer consists of 100% pure silver due to the process. I finish the beads to perfection by removing the sprue (casting channel) and smoothing and polishing it with my files and polishing machine. The alloy wich contains 92,5% silver is now visable.
I do this every time with every single bead.
Finishing touch. The beads are made black using a sulfur solution that adds a dark tarnish. I polish them again so that the black disappears on the higher parts. It remains in the deeper parts. This gives a nice contrast so that my details are clearly visible. I give them a hot bath so that the polishing grease will be removed. They are now shiny and ready to wear!
Now the hard part begins: selling my jewelry.
Photo's are being taken and I give it a place on my website.
Do you want to help too? Then take a look at the finished result of this 'rock crystal bead' over here, and maybe you'll want one ;)
Click to see the result!
Directly into the precious metal
I make a sketch. This gives me an idea of what the piece should look like. It does not always come out exactly as my original idea. The pendant below started as a hexagon, but ended as a diamond shape.
I make a stencil of the pendant in copper. With a sharp pin I can trace the lines of the copper onto the precious metal (in this case silver). This is not entirely perfect so I redraw some parts or perfect them.
The sawing. I drill small holes in the places where material has to be cut away. I stretch my saws through these holes and saw the piece out as precisely as possible. With small files I make the lines a bit smoother.
I sand the pendant with fine sandpaper and make the corners round with a file.
I make an eyelet out of silver wire with pliers.
I solder the eyelet to the pendant. For this I cut off a piece of silver solder and put it in the right place. With the burner I melt the piece of solder between the eyelet and the pendant. The eyelet is now attached. The pendant is now completely black because of the flame and therefore it goes into an acid bath to remove the tarnish.
I polish the pendant. An extra eyelet is hooked on, where the necklace fits trough.
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