I just finished the test for a new design concept for my commission piece, which is now due January 14th.
The client and I chose Option 4, scrap both earrings, retrieve the stones, and start over.
Since firing the stones in place using bezel setting techniques has been problematic, I decided to create a design that did not fire the stones in place. This new design uses embeddable stone settings that are fired in place and the stones are set after the silver has been tumbled and only hand-finishing is left.
Here is the graphic “sketch” I sent the client to help visualize the new concept:
And here is the pendant I created as a test:
As you can see, the stone is now raised above the piece and the problem of getting light through the stone is eliminated. Worry about the depth setting of a bezel set stone has also been eliminated, but care will be needed by the customer to make sure the prongs stay tight just as you would with any prong-set jewelry. Local jewelers often will tighten loose prongs free of charge. The “anti-glare shield” for the commission piece will be a bit larger and more prominent.
I’m very pleased with this new design and, allowing for 2-3 days shipping time, I know I can easily complete the commission by next Friday, January 11th, provided the customer gives the go ahead.
Other techniques that I tested on this piece are the ball element (roll and dry a tiny ball of clay, create a dimple in the piece, and use a bit of slip/water to anchor the ball in the dimple) and a hallmark on the back in the same heart shape, only smaller. The ball element was very easy and will be handy in future designs. Stamping the hallmark directly on the back of the piece in the wet stage was difficult because of the prong setting on the opposite side, and so I opted to hallmark a smaller heart and attach it to the back at the leather/bone dry stage. Even though I used fiber blanket material to hold the piece up off the floor of the kiln, the areas around the hallmark experienced some distortion, most especially the heart tip that I corrected with light hammering. The hallmark heart may have been too thick; I’ll need to research this.