4 Pearl Bracelet
When one of my best and most loyal customers rang me up and told me he needed something special for is his lady, I just had to hook him up. He knew he wanted a bracelet with pearls but that was it. The rest he left up to me. Here’s how it came together.
It was decided that the smaller fresh water pearls would be used. The first step is shown here. Thin flat sheet is formed into cups called bezels. The metal is formed to fit the pearls. These bezels are what will hold the pearls in place later on.
Here the seams of the bezels are being soldered closed. The torch is used to heat the metal and the little pick is used to place the small pieces of silver solder in place.
Here the bezels sit after being soldered and cleaned. The heights of the bezels are all equal. This is a problem because the pearls have an organic and therefor a not uniform shape.
A marker is used to note the height of each pearl.
A small file is then used to cut the bezels down to the correct height.
With the bezels looking good, its time to make the bracelet band. Here the sheet metal is measured out and marked to be cut.
This piece of sheet is split in half and will form the center of the bracelet.
The separate sheets are soldered together using high temperature silver solder.
This bracelet is designed to have a great deal of texture. The seams where the strips were soldered together create one kind of pattern. Here the piece is hammered into concrete to give the metal another layer of texture.
A flat graver is used to cut into the silver, adding an additional layer of texturing.
Now that the bracelet is starting to take shape and texture, it’s time to add the border.
PepperBox has relocated to a new shop. A shop that does not have a rolling mill or a draw plate for making wire. The wire for this project will have to be forged out of a thicker piece of silver stock. Old school time boys and girls.
The wire is hammered many times with a steel hammer onto a steel block. This process stretches and elongates the metal into thinner wire.
After each pass with the hammer the silver becomes harder and more brittle. In between hammer passes the silver has to be softened or it will crack. This process is called annealing. Here the silver is being heated to a red hot temperature before it will be quickly cooled. This process softens the metal and allows for more stretching and hammering.
Over time the wire gets longer and thinner.
Here a wire ring is formed to create the center border.
Once the placing looks good the ring is soldered onto the sheet metal.
More wire is used to create the rest of the border that lines the entire bracelet. The wire is formed, clamped in place and then soldered with silver solder.
Any excess solder is removed and any rough edges are smoothed down. The bracelet now has all the texture it’s going to get and is ready to be darkened.
A solution called liver of sulfur is mixed up and the bracelet is soaked in it until it turns black.
Before the final brushing and polishing are done the pearls are set. This process is saved until the end in order to protect the pearls from the heating and stress of the fabrication process. Here a blunt steel tool is used to form the bezels over the edges of the pearls, thus securing them in place.
With the pearls in place the bracelet is brushed with steel wool. This process highlights all the texture that was put into the piece earlier. Working the silver this way highlights it’s ability to take on texture so beautifully.
This hammering and texturing of the silver gives it an organic feel to go along with the organic shape of the pearls.
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