I was back in for a second day of stone setting with Phil Scott today. We started out by finishing up the channel setting we’d worked on the day before and I was pleased that my stones had held despite having been bounced around in my tote bag between class periods. Thus, I was able to put it in the hot water that loosens the mold it was being held in. It still has a little of the white stuff on it and could use a proper polish, but it’s pictured in the center of today’s quick-and-dirty photo:
Pictured on the left was the next project. While it’s not strictly a piece of jewelry, it’s a piece of brass that someone whipped up as a way to practice the pave setting. On one hand, I loved the pave setting. It made sense to me, the way it is done, and I was ready to jump in even before Phil was done explaining it to us. However, it’s not as simple as his lovely, crisp, computer-generated powerpoint presentation might have you thinking. It’s very easy to make a slip with the graver and then suddenly have a corner you won’t be able to secure the stone with, not to mention an area where part of the “beading” will be missing from the design. I was timid in my grinding and it took me several passes before I had ground enough metal away for the stones to seat properly in their settings, between the “prongs” we created in the process. Then I had to do some manual graver work on the sides which gave me some troubles. Overall, however, I think I did alright. Not all of my settings in there are perfect, but they are secure, and I learned a lot from doing it. The next one will be better.
Then we were handed ring blanks to play with, testing our new setting skills. I was thrilled with this idea, and got a little overzealous, wanting to do another channel as part of it. The ring on the right is the very unpolished result. I did a flush mount on either side of the ring (and one of them turned out perfect – finally!) and then created a channel from scratch along the top. When we had done the channel set on the pendant in the center, the groove for the channel was already there for us, as part of the way the silver had been cast in the first place. Unfortunately, they didn’t have every possible rotary tool on hand to work with, so I had to make do with what had been provided while making my own channel. This made for an extra challenge, as carving out a rectangular channel with round burrs was not going to work. In the end, I placed the stones too close together and so it is far from perfect, but I did get them secure in there (I may have chipped one slightly in the process of doing it though). I played around with texture on that one too, although in the end I kind of hate the look of the ring and would do it a lot differently if I’d actually had time to “design” it and a selection of different-sized stones with matching setting burrs to do the work with. That being said, they gave us another blank which we didn’t have time to work on, so I have one to do more practice with when I get home.
Phil seemed to think that the entire class had a good handle on the settings by the time the class was over, so I guess I’m out of excuses to avoid anything outside of a bezel at this point. Phil was also kind enough to advise me on a piece I’ve been agonizing over for some time, letting me know that what I need to do to finish it up is pretty much exactly what I thought I was going to have to do. It’s a really nice thing having someone who’s been a pro in the field for as long as he has, confirm what you thought was the right thing to do. I have to admit that the more classes I take the less I feel like I’m a total newbie at all of this and the more I feel like I can trust my instincts in my work. Part of me can’t wait to be back at my studio at home. Scratch that – I can’t wait until after my order arrives home so I will know I have the right tools for the job when I get to work in my studio at home. I’ve got a few things I need to have, and more than a few I want to have. We’ll see what makes the cut when I finalize my tool order. I still have two more classes to take before I can do that, though, in case there’s something else crucial that needs to make it on the list.
I was planning to take off for a photo session this afternoon and get some cool mountain pics. However, once again I am exhausted and I bailed on that to come back to the hotel and reheat my leftovers from last night. I rationalized all this in the context that there weren’t clouds in the sky to give depth to it for my pictures. I suspect this is common here in Albuquerque, however, so I can only hope that tomorrow will yield more texture in the sky. If not, I will have to make do, as I am running out of time to do any sight-seeing or picture-taking. If I can manage to come here again next year (to take the rest of the classes I couldn’t manage to fit into the week this year) then I shall have to try and leave myself a day for sightseeing. Or sleeping. Whichever is more important to me at the time.