Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

Forging ahead… May 4, 2016

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:01 am

I’ve had the good fortune to live in a area that has a great Adult Education program. In fact for many, many years, I taught Parent Participation Pre-school classes under that umbrella. For the last three years, I’ve been a student of Pam Ryerson’s in her jewelry classes. Love that she teaches different skills and techniques of metal smithing. Pounding, bending, soldering…This session focused on forging and an intro to tube setting stones. Sadly, I missed last week’s tube setting lesson, but I do plan to catch up soon.


Here’s a look at two projects…The first was a practice piece learning how different hammers and tools effect metal wire.  This started out as a dirty piece of thick copper, probably 10 gauge. After a good cleaning and straightening, I went to work shaping and flattening the wire.  Annealing often really helped keep the wire malleable during the whole process.  I was going for a flowing ‘ribbon’ look to the fibula. A double peen hammer became my friend in this process.  To create the pin end of the fibula, I used the rolling mill to lengthen, thin, and square the round wire. Lots of filing and sanding to finish up this piece.  Two shiny fine silver balls added some nice contrast to the rustic warmth of the oxidized copper patina.

This forging business is going to interest me for a long time…


ribbon fibula 1


Ribbon fibula adds a nice touch to a shawl or sweater.


ribbon fibula 2


The  next project began with an idea of creating a bangle bracelet that had a buckle looking clasp.  The double end of the wires would have a soldered bezel set stone on top that would act like a button.  If you are having trouble imagining this, that’s okay…I’m having trouble explaining it.  Saw one on Pinterest in sterling silver that caught my eye.  Even took a leap of faith and purchased a long length of 10 g. sterling silver wire!  In class last night, I began to make a prototype in copper.  Bending the wire in half to make the loop end…no problem.  Getting the two lengths of wire together and forging them flat is where I had big trouble.  The wires bent in all directions and just would not do what my brain wanted them to.


After helpful consultation with Pam, we decided to solder the wires together first, then forge them. However, I’d ruined about 4 inches of the ends already. I cut that hot mess off and just decided that to go ahead and play with the rest of the piece and see what happens. Since it was now too short to be a bracelet, I’d use it as a ‘lesson’ piece.


After soldering the wires together, it was much easier to forge them cohesively.  Figured I try to at least get a ring out this…It was very thick wire, but after more annealing, forging, manipulating with heavy duty pliers, and a ring mandrel…Ta Dah!!




It’s a big, heavy ring and fits on my index finger.  I will definitely be trying this again for a bracelet sized piece in copper again.  And practice soldering a set stone onto the top of the bend on the clasp.

Learn something new every time I pick up a hammer!









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