View Full Version : Message To Cookie Re Jewelry Genes
12-20-2002, 05:04 AM
They do exist, apparently.
I now own, among other things, a five-poound slab of steel for use as a tabletop anvil, and a jewler's small hammer, story below ...
Yesterday my wife gave me some old jewelry of her mother's that is of no interest to my wife, and among that stuff was a heavy Victorian necklace made of seriously twisted interlocking silver links.
I got down to business immediately. I disassembled one of the four segments comprising the necklace, and then I separated the individual links, each of which looks a lot like an ampersand sign.
Never having worked with silver before, I had a wonderful time learning what I could do with such links which, when straightened, are about one inch in length.
At first I straightened the links using two pairs of pliers, but I soon learned that you get a better result by hammering them straight. From there I taught myself to make square wire ...
And then I taught myself how to make arbitrarily-shaped inlays from the square wire, as part of the "rework the funky man's ring into an intriguing lady's pendant" project.
I am a natural, and while I probably won't exhibit any real design originality, my wife was so impressed that she threw three -- no, four -- repair jobs at me earlier this evening, and I accomplished every one of them.
12-20-2002, 04:21 PM
I can see you on the roof with a violin already.
12-21-2002, 12:21 AM
I have the men's ring converted -- I simply used my new jeweler's saw to saw off the part which slips over the finger.
As I then found, using a small flat file removes residual metal faster than does the Dreml roto-tool -- or at least I can control the file more easily, so that I don't gouge the work ...
... But all attempts at doing some trial soldering have met only with failure. This is interesting because what I am trying to do -- solder together two of my square silver wires, something I am going to need for the pendant conversion -- goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians.
They used blowpipes to my modern butane torch, and I have an eight-inch magnifying lens available which they did not, but otherwise it's the same -- the same kind of flux, and the same concept of mixing silver with a base metal so as to lower the melting point of the solder to well below the melting point of the pieces to be soldered ...
Hm-m-m-m. If I continue to meet with no success using my own approach then I'm going to have to try reverting to the technique which the folks at the jeweler's supply store insist is the only technique that works for jewelry.
P.S. I can't believe that there have been no improvements in 5500 years, and I'm not going to quit till I make an improvement.
Doing it the old way requires cutting sheet solder up into tiny little strips/squares, and then "painting" the flux on with a brush, after which the tiny pieces of solder are applied to the constantly-being-maintained-at-just-the-right-temperature parts.
Mikey's way is to find a roll of ready-made rosin-core silver solder and then to follow the manufacturer's directions ... which aren't working, at least not for silver wire, at least not yet.
12-21-2002, 04:44 AM
LAST EDITED ON Dec-21-02 AT 05:00AM (EST)[p]LAST EDITED ON Dec-21-02 AT 04:47 AM (EST)
I should explain that the manufacturer of the rosin-core silver solder is touting it as being the ideal model builder's solder, 5-10 times as strong as traditional lead-based solder. (Steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, etc. But not gold or silver -- what model uses those metals?)
The manufacturer makes no claims about the solder's applicability for jewelry, though if there is a way to make it go then I will find that way, because a) my curiosity is now aroused, and b) I still have several days before the pendant must be gift-wrapped.
(PalmPilot, I've decided that I'm on vacation. No, I don't fill out forms for this, just as I no longer write status reports.)
edit: Steve Jobs was/is a firm believer in what he calls "Management By Walking Around", a procedure which makes status reports completely unnecessary. Until the early 1970's DEC's founder, Ken Olsen, did the same thing. In the old days Ken was everywhere over a 2/3-week period, and everybody knew him personally, at least at some level.
That is how I learned about Manufacturing, and about Production Control -- by walking around at DEC and talking to people about what they were doing and why. The hundreds of manufacturing books came later, after I understood the basics as grounded in the real world of DEC. Like Ken Olsen, I came to know hundreds of people by name, though they didn't know I was learning from them.
At one point in my career at DEC, because of my position as Marketing Manager for the PDP-15 Group, I became privy to the contents of the "Orange Books", a numerical world-wide DEC HowGoZit for upper management.
Because the PDP-15 Group had no sales force of its own, we used all the other salespeople in the compnay. So I was able to correlate what was in the Orange Books with what my friends all over the world were telling me by voice and telex -- and I thereby knew which subsidiary managers were shooting a line of bull versus which ones were telling the truth.
12-21-2002, 08:30 AM
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LAST EDITED ON Dec-21-02 AT 08:35 AM (EST)
Okay ... Here's the modern approach to soldering a pair of silver wires ...
The old way relies on a "solder block" to ensure uniform heating of the parts to be joined. According to a book I bought, such blocks can be of charcoal, or fireclay. etc., etc.
My chemistry training says that these are all more convenient surrogates for a less convenient crucible -- and in turn a crucible is (a surrogate for) a smelting furnace.
So ... What I did was to take my model builder's part-holding tool -- a pair of alligator clips mounted on arms which are both articulated and adjustable so that the tips of the alligator clips can be brought together -- and turn it into a reverbratory furnace by making an aluminum foil reflector to sit just behind the brought-together alligator clips.
Mounting the two test wires to be soldered into a T, I made the pieces just touch, their ends having earlier been properly squared off using a flat jeweler's file. I then painted the entirety of both pieces of wire with flux, and I did this three times, to ensure that not much air would be able to get at those portions of the metal that were not actually to be soldered.
(All of this because earlier experiments caused the wires to oxidize immediately. This was partly because of inadequate flux and partly because the flame was much too hot. I also had experimented with holding the parts together with Testor's wood/metal cement, but they began to move as soon as the flame hit them, even though they were mounted in the alligator clips. I will try this again later using SuperGlue though I expect a similar result -- the parts will move due to outgassing from the adhesive.)
Then I fired up the butane torch, but this time I made the gas flow as low as possible, and I used the mixture control to make the flame temperature as low as possible, resulting in a yellow flame that looks just like a candle flame ... and so another experiment will be to use a small birthday candle to maintain constant heat, instead of the butane torch.
Anyway, I heated the parts until they showed signs of blackening. Touching the solder wire to the parts, the solder flowed immediately and filled the joint of the test T, just as intended.
I ran this experiment twice and got two good joints both times. Just as the manufacturer claims, the cooled solder is incredibly tough, much tougher than the silver wires themselves. Nevertheless the excess solder still can be trimmed with a file.
So it appears that the jeweler's supply store sold me perhaps $200 worth of stuff I don't need yet. They also wanted to sell me a $300 course to learn how to use that stuff, but I declined since classrooms and I do not get along well.
I see now that the Old Way would be good for "sweating" a complex shape onto a flat metal background field, for example, and within two weeks I will be doing stuff like that, but I have a different problem with respect to the pendant ...
The "funky men's ring" is at present a thick square of silver with rectangular chunks of (colored glass?) "stones" mounted in cloisonne-like silver "fence" enclosures, with noticeable and deliberate gaps between the per-stone fences. To make the hangar for the pendant I have hammered two of my short silver wires into inlays which fit into the gaps between the fences, but which turn corners around the stones and which therefore cannot be dislodged from the piece.
Extending above what will be the top of the pendant, the extensions have been brought together into a V and it is the tip of the V which must be soldered. I dare not let heat reach the piece itself or the cheap "stones" will be ruined. Fortunately, the alligator clips will soak up enough of the excess heat to prevent the damage from occurring.
A broad education, however obtained, is a wonderful thing. It allows you to figure out all kinds of stuff almost immediately, turning you into an "instant expert" on (whatever), if that is your goal, as it is mine re the making of fine jewelry.
I am now certain that using just the tools I already own I will be able to fashion Egyptian-type jewelry for myself. I want to own a serious pharonic pectoral and I can now begin thinking about its design, and about what materials I will want ...
The Egyptians got their lapis lazuli from Afghanistan. (!!!) They got their silver mainly from electrum mines in what is Israel today. Because they drew no real distinction between silver and gold (because the metals behave similarly on the bench, I suppose), they had to say "real gold" when referring to the yellow stuff which came from Nubia, as opposed to the "gold" (silver) from Israel. But I won't have to go to those places for my materials, though I would love to. I will instead get everything I need from Naja, in Commerce City, just north of Denver.
As companions for the trip I will bring one or both grandsons, however many are available for the afternoon. They won't be interested in Naja but they will be fascinated by Mizell's, a famous model railroading store, which turns out to be in the same strip mall as Naja.
I spent an hour in Mizell's yesterday just drooling over what they have, which appears to be EVERYTHING that a model railroader could want. I even found a book containing a picture of an actual in-service Big Boy and to my surprise that picture confirmed the (silver? steel?) color at the front of the frontmost boiler, as well as the (silver? steel?) color of the sidewalls of the firebox situated just in front of the cab.
Capitalism is a Good Thing. It allowed the current owner of Naja, a former employee at the store, to buy out the original owner. The current owner elected not to change the name of the business and so the name "Naja", very likely Lebanese, lives on at the edge of the Great Plains, many thousands of miles from the disaster of Beirut in the 1970's, which is perhaps what brought Mr. Naja to Denver in the first place.
12-21-2002, 09:36 PM
We did not make it to either The Naja (turns out that's what the jeweler supply store is called) or Mizell's today, but I'll be going there tomorrow with both grandsons in tow.
What I did find today was in a hobby shop -- simualated gold leaf. I also bought some sheet balsa wood, and for my next project I'm going to make some experiments directly on the path to ...
... the funerary mask of Tutankhamun ...
which is the single most beautiful art object in the entire world. I had the privilege of viewing it in Chicago in 1976 when it was on tour along with other priceless treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
12-22-2002, 02:06 AM
LAST EDITED ON Dec-22-02 AT 02:07AM (EST)[p]The pendant is finished, and here's a yuk ...
After several failed attempts, to make the final solder joint at the tip of the V I had to take a bead of solder, hammer it flat, cut a timy chip off the resulting strip and then place that solder chip exactly over the joint before heating the V ...
... Just as they would have done 5500 years ago.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. The next time I have to solder something in silver I will try exactly the technique recommended by the folks at The Naja ...
... But I will understand WHY their technique is better. Most likely it will turn out to be a better grade of flux combined with rosin-free solder.
edit: I may be opinionated, and arrogant, and pig-headed, but I'm not STUPID and I can and do learn, even if this requires that I change my position.
12-22-2002, 08:05 AM
I will reset the width ...
My wife has diverted me again. Now she has given me a necklace to be re-strung. I will get the necessary material at The Naja later this morning.
They will tell me whether I need to use wire (which will turn out to be the easy, cheating way) versus whether to use cord which gets properly knotted for each element of the necklace (the hard way, the right way, I suspect).
The mess my wife handed me was done the Easy Way. Most of the pieces have fallen off the wire and I am going to have to guess at what the original looked like. Fortunately, I have a Design Ethic which should help in the reconstruction.
12-22-2002, 03:18 PM
Mike I am not ignoring you merely trying to do some research on your chosen subject about which I am totaly ignorant.
12-23-2002, 12:23 AM
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LAST EDITED ON Dec-23-02 AT 00:24 AM (EST)
No replies expected, Cookie, I am merely keeping you and a small set of loyal readers entertained. Herewith the latest chapter in the saga ...
Accompanied by both grandsons, I went to Commerce City today. The Naja was closed but Mizell's was open, and we had a wonderful time developing serious cases of the "I Wanties" ...
So serious that I allowed each grandson to pick a single affordable kit to be put on layaway for pickup on the coming Saturday.
Five-year-old Quentin chose a Monster Truck as he always will, this time "Crush" (I think that's the name), another machine with which he is familiar from TV and from having gone to a show.
But nine-year-old Alec, the one who breezed through the Big Boy kit, startled me with the following question: "Grandpa", he asked, "What is the most difficult airplane kit?"
"Well", I said to him. "If you want 'difficult' then we have to stop looking at plastic models and instead start looking at these balsa-plus-plastic-detail kits from Guillow's" ...
And that's what we did. We spent almost an hour looking at Guillow box pictures, trying to decide between the P-38, and the B-24, and the B-17, and the B-29, and ...
In the end Alec chose the B-24. "This is going to take us a couple of months of Saturday mornings" I told him. "I know" he said ...
But then I realized that he is on vacation till after New Years' Day ... and then that evening my daughter agreed that she needed me to take Alec for all of the day tomorrow ...
... And so Alec and I will go back to Mizell's tomorrow and complete the purchase of the B-24 right then and there. Then we will go back to my place and begin the construction immediately.
We will not wait for Christmas Day because, like a reborn child, I CANNOT WAIT TO GET STARTED. I will be with Alec ALL DAY tomorrow, fascinated as this precocious nine-year-old continues to lecture me about the sulphur volcanoes on Io, and about how black holes form, and about all the other subjects we touched on while driving to Commerce City earlier today, to the intense disgust of Quentin, who only wanted to talk about hockey, a sport which he already LOVES, and which he plays year-round with plastic hocky sticks and hollow plastic pucks. (He already has an incredibly powerful slap shot, and his accuracy noticeably improves monthly.)
I have finally met Alec ... and he is ME. And I am my grandfather. And he must have been HIS grandfather ...
But Q is me, too. More than Alec, Q is the adult trapped in a child's body, held back by a child's lack of knowledge but otherwise demanding Equal Rights, just as I did.
... And so goes the grand cycle of human existence.
But I digress. On page 91 of Ancient Egyptian Jewelry I re-encountered a picture of a pectoral I can make from simple materials.
The original is an almost-square sandwich of two gold sheets with something between, incised on the front side and repouseed on the reverse. The book author's description of the piece reads, in part, "Amenemope raising incense before Osiris".
This is a piece I can emulate using balsa wood overlaid with the thin gold-colored brass sheet material I bought yesterday at HobbyTown USA.
I will scan the picture in, clean it up and leave myself with a printable line art graphic which I can scale to any size I want.
To honor the original Master Craftsman I will, of course, have to learn how to read the hieroglyphs. I recognize the existence of two cartouches, one with the Pharoah's pre-nomen, the other with his pharonic name, and I see that the bottom of the piece contains a whole row of Ankh glyphs, something I have never seen before. I also notice that on this piece the hieroglyphs are to be read right to left, because that is the direction in which the human figures are facing ...
But on the whole I am ignorant about this (possibly earliest) form of human writing, and it is Time To Learn for real. I will also have to learn who Amenemope was since, until reading the picture's caption for the first time today, I had never heard of him before. The author's description says "21st Dynasty, c. 993-984 B.C.", but it looks to me like an Old Kingdom piece that could easily have been made 2500 years before the approximate date given by the author.
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