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Gemstone Bead Attachment

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Gemstone Bead Attachment

Postby Colier » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:30 pm

I am a jewelry designer who creates pieces using gold wire and gemstone beads using wire wrapping techniques.  I am now taking a metalsmithing course, and have a question that my teacher is unable to figure out the answer to.  I love the clean look I see in many designs where a gemstone bead is attached to a chain using either a loop of wire that appears to be a seamless closed ring, OR another I have seen is a wire passed through the bead hole with a ball on either end.  I am told that a gemstone will crack if heated, I am hoping you can explain how this is done?

ANSWER: Hello Michelle, First  let me answer the  gemstone bead  question: most  gemstone beads, particularly those sold  through Fire Mountain gems and beads ,Rio Grande and other  vendors  are low grade, highly included(and  overpriced by 200 or more %!) and depending on the material  of varying hardness, however any metalsmithing  teacher  worth  his or her salt should know that  there are eay methods of protecting the  bead from heat  whilst doing a hit and run soldering  operation as is  required to attach a bale to a wire, adding a jump ring to  a component etc.Wet wadded newsprint will accomplish this  quite well and is perhaps the most inexpensive way to accomplish protecting the bead material while soldering .If the bead were of a high quality gemstone material without  inclusions or very lightly included(excepting  rutilated quartz, and  labradorite, spectrolite etc. which the inclusions can be, if  cut  correctly, of  no concern- if you see no  needles of tourmaline, or rutile  exposed on the faceted or polished  surfaces  the stone may be  protected  then heated safely) simply using  wet newsprint or a thermoprotectant(vigor sold through  companies carrying the standard  Grobet  catalogue and products line makes  my favourite brand. I believe it is called  Vigor  "Heat Shield " and available from Rosenthal's supply, FDJ Tools On Time,  Contenti co. ,Cookson's in the UK, Otto Frei, and a number of other  jewelers supply houses. Welding supply stores also carry heat shielding pastes.You  simply pack it on and  then  go ahead with the operation, then rinse to remove as most are clay based, or a silica gel/clay proprietary formulation. Two gemstone  protectants  I absolutely DO NOT recommend are "Cool Jool" and Rio Grande's heat shield powder- both are  messy and  useless, falling off  no matter how applied, and the Cool Jool actually catching fire particularly in working  gold or platinum..The wet  wadded  newsprint is fail-proof ! and virtually free. Now, as I conceptualize what you  want to accomplish: You would ball the end of your wire  after  dipping the  length  (plus an allowance of a bit extra  to work with and  a feww millimeters for the balled end) into a good firecoat and flux product like Cupronil, or  the flux  and firecoat of your choice(you can make your own firecoat with  denatured/methyl alcohol and  boric acid added into the  glass  container of alcohol until it  no longer dissolves then add in  about a tablespoon of powdered borax to each  pint of  liquid , and  keep well sealed with a non-metallic lid, or a lid that is coated with enamel or another  chemical resistant product) hold the wire in your pliers  or insulated  tweezers  and heat it until the metal begins to ball up, then withdraw the  torch, or  burner and  when grey quench- at this point form the ball with any tools you  need to  achieve a shaped rather  than balled end.So you may  planish the wire to form a bale at  this end and  after  soldering the other, if I understand what you want to do,you turn the whole over  ball up the other end too, and then form ,or attach a bale or other component to make either end connectable to  another part of your design. Or just ball the end  and then thread it through  your  bead and  pack on the wadded  newspaper that is wet but not dripping water(i use a product called " Cell-u-Clay" which is  ground nicely as it comes  from the package and is intended for  papier mache' creations- it simply needs to be thoroughly,   wetted and then  squeeze  out any excess water and it's ready  for use) and  ball the other or attach  a bale  to either end at the same time without  balling the ends, since your  gemstone material is protected for at least as long as it takes to set up  attaching two  pieces to a wire  passed through a gemstone bead and  fluxing then soldering on your charcoal block or soldering board.Anything can be accomplished this way. If you  just planish  one end of the wire first and form it into a bale on your  bench block or  anvil, then after passing it through the  bead, planish the other then a cold connection is feasible with no soldering  necessary. The only other  option is to create a threaded end on one  side of the  bead to which you can  screw on a bead or other  component that can be threaded to match with a micro-tap and die set making the bead interchangeable.Since I can't see exactly what you are trying to do I can only speculate that you  are after  a post through a bead that has similar ends  as in a bracelet link or component for  necklace, chain, bracelet, etc that  links on either  end or as for a pendant  that can  be hung from either end as from a bale..Any metalsmithing teacher  should  be able to figure  out any operation that is required to accomplish any jewelry design .I would  seriously  research your instructor's qualifications  before paying for any lesson in the future. Not that  your instructor is a bad one, but  if the person is teaching metalsmithing, even limiting the class to cold connecting  operations, the person should have offered a solution provided you are able to articulate or draw your design idea.teachers that  are springing up all over rarely know enough to be teaching at all- I don't say that  out of anything  but to reinforce that even in creative pursuits one must be a good consumer and know what you are getting for your money- and know it before  you sign  anything or  put up a deposit! Two schools in the southeastern US, and one in the  southwest  often  have teachers that are not experienced  enough to be teaching, yet  repeatedly teach classes at the 3 schools I speak of  because the administrations are operating  on what I consider to be the unethical side.I would no more allow anyone to teach that isn't fully qualified than I would allow a child to use a torch unsupervised.Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions  about instructors or schools in the future,You can  count on my unbiased, truthful answers.Be a good  consumer! and  good luck  on your project.If you need more help write again!

Best regards,Ari

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Dear Ari,

Thank you again so much for your incredibly thorough answer, it has opened up an entire world of design possibilities!  The wet Cell-U-Clay worked beautifully in protecting my stones, I've also ordered some of the heat shield and flux products that you recommended.  As for the beads I use, I purchase them through a supplier who sells beautiful quality beads on Etsy, but I suspect I must be over paying.  Is there a supplier of gems as well as fine precious/semi-precious beads in New York that you would recommend?  

I am also hoping you might be able to recommend a school in New York?  At my current school, in the first class I had taken my instructor knew I had absolutely no previous experience in metal smithing and did not even provide any safety instruction!  In fact, many of her students were intimidated by her and fearful of asking questions. I am in Connecticut, and although I have taken a few courses and consider myself an absolute beginner.

I had taken a wax casting class, but the piece I created was very intricate and delicate design that I was told was too detailed for the steam casting technique that was being taught, because it did not cast successfully.  Is there a casting house that you could recommend for me to send my pieces to?

Also, and I fear I may be asking you too many questions, are there any books that you could recommend with information on the techniques used in the creation of antique jewelry(1700 - 1900).   I truly cannot thank you enough for your help and advice.

Kind regards,

Michelle
Colier
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:02 pm

Gemstone Bead Attachment

Postby Cedrick » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:59 pm

Michelle, First nothing is too intricate for steam casting: if you can make the  model, or master, you can cast it, just  use the appropriate  size flask, and  make sure the lid fits  tightly when you  put it down on the heated(burned out) investment. Second, give up on schools! Most of the instructors are there for their own ego gratification- the philosophy was handed down to  me by one of my  teachers long ago- it rings true in every class I have ever i attended(I usually wind up teaching the class! or at  least "assisting" the teacher!) The exception to the rule is that at Penland, or John C.Campbell folkschool or Revere academy(west coast)  there are  visiting teachers that  you can learn from without all the "I'm the most important figure in  the jewelry making world attitude". It is particularly evident when a student  goes to a class then  gets on the Orchid forum for instance and drools over  how their teacher was the best- then they ask a question that should have been covered in the class, usually basic, about a tool or  process that was  "covered" in a week long  or 3 day class..it rather  burns me up as you can tell!   Buy a copy of Tim McCreight's The Complete Metalsmith and join Orchid, and  view their bench tube  videos- you'll learn more than paying for a class..  The 42ed Street Y has a few good teachers, Metalliferous is the place to  go in NY for tools,metals,findings and abundant  beads of a decent quality.I will research the  multitudinous places in NY  and Connecticut that sell beads-but you can too:http://www.guidetobeadwork.com Etsy is  overpriced, and  usually the quality is not there, but there are exceptions,most store  owners on etsy  sell on ebay too(but read carefully and don't pay exorbitant postage- that is your first clue somethings not right), some have brick and mortar stores as well- before  buying do your homework and go to their B&M store to  purchase if its  in your  driving or train area.. buy  gemstones,metals  and tools from a reputable dealer(like me!)that isn't  out to  make a fortune overpricing the standard Grobet catalogue that every other  jewelry supply has in stock- look to alternate sources  too ,tool sellers, the  industrial and metalworking category on online sites, www.metalcyberspace.com or on ebay you'll find a world of good deals, same for Jewelry TV. I visited this CT bead store listed below, the prices were fair and the folks  knowledgeable.Whether its still open though is  unknown:   Rock Garden       URL: http://www.rockgarden.com/    17 South Main Street    Branford,  (CT) 06405    (In the Old Branford Theatre Building - across from the Blackstone Library)    203-488-6699        Hours: Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat 10-6,(Summer) Sun 12-5        Large selection of Beads, Findings, Charms, Seed Beads, Czech Glass, Swarovski, Wire, Tools, Books, Cabachons, Rivoli's, Kumihimo, Metal Clay. Our Own Lampwork. Helpful service.    Dover books has lots of titles on  antique jewelry collecting- at  reduced prices, and amazon.com,www.alibris.com and WWW.abebooks.com are all sources for  jewelry books.I like Elizabeth Olver's books(though repetitive so  browse first to make sure its not material in  other titles), Jinks McGrath's books,Carles Codina The Complete Book of Jewelry Making" - though far from complete has much  usable information, Charles Lewton Brain's"Cheap thrills  in the Tool Shop:Bench Tips and other Tricks" is worth the money(brain press is the  best place to buy it if not on amazon) ,Oppi Unracht, Harold O'Conner(if you see a class  offered  by him-take it!) he's in your area, I could list more  but if you  start with Tim McCreight  you'll be  a great metalsmith in no time- learn on your own..take only specialized classes when you truly don't understand a concept or need to see it demonstrated-  but  with Bench tube on Orchid, you'll find a world of how-to -videos that  you  can watch on the PC..If you  do go  for classes  call the instructor to get a "feel" for their personality, ask what they will cover and  any other questions  you  may have - if they are willing to give you ten minutes  then  go forward, if they refuse- forget it, and if  it doesn't  feel right, keep looking for another instructor.Mineral and lapidary clubs are a great  source of  Old Timers that have much  knowledge and skill and no one to pass it on to, same goes for their having equipment that is often maintained  by the club that anyone  can use(with membership) ..check out  your local area's club offerings and  then  visit them before  plunking  down the 12-20 dollar a year fee..some are good, others  not so good..make sure they are members of the AFMS(american  federation of mineralogical societies- or other  larger bodies..the federated clubs have benefits, scholarships , insurance, and  great members that are willing to teach free..usually meetings  have a demo included and studio time, even though they are primarily "rock" clubs,  most  are making  cabs, or faceting or  specializing in  other jewelry pursuits.. Hope this enlightens you..and when  you attend a class that's not going well- demand your money back and quit..Kate Wolf, in  your area also teaches wax work- she's a good instructor, Tim McCreight great and  there are a few others . I would love to know  who was the instructor that told you  you couldn't steam cast x, feel free to email me  privately with their info-for my own notes..and to  help others avoid taking classes with that person in the future- if someone knows you are a beginner, the first thing they should cover is studio safety particularly when working with gasses and torches, powerful equipment and  chemicals.It really gets me  when a school like William Holland for example has students take  Silver 1 three times  before they "allow" them to advance to the next level-purely for  money and their instructors leave a lot to be desired, the "director" is a , well, not so nice, and  allows fraud to  go on  unreproached at that school by favourites of hers that return  year after year to teach or what they propose is "volunteering" to teach classes- that's total BS, they  get paid, charge hidden fees and otherwise, rip off students that travel from all over the country to attend for a week- the John C.Campbell Folkschool, almost right  down the road is a far  better school though  slightly more  expensive and the metals program is hit-or-miss  given some of the instructors -yet they have really great ones too......and then there are the metal clay people- don't even get me started on them!in a word metal clay is  never going to  be as strong as the  metal its made from, and the instructors with 5 exceptions in the USA are  generally  talentless I hope this  gives you some info.. Best Regards,Ari  
Cedrick
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:44 am

Gemstone Bead Attachment

Postby Florinio » Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:41 am

I am a jewelry designer who creates pieces using gold wire and gemstone beads using wire wrapping techniques.  I am now taking a metalsmithing course, and have a question that my teacher is unable to figure out the answer to.  I love the clean look I see in many designs where a gemstone bead is attached to a chain using either a loop of wire that appears to be a seamless closed ring, OR another I have seen is a wire passed through the bead hole with a ball on either end.  I am told that a gemstone will crack if heated, I am hoping you can explain how this is done?

ANSWER: Hello Michelle, First  let me answer the  gemstone bead  question: most  gemstone beads, particularly those sold  through Fire Mountain gems and beads ,Rio Grande and other  vendors  are low grade, highly included(and  overpriced by 200 or more %!) and depending on the material  of varying hardness, however any metalsmithing  teacher  worth  his or her salt should know that  there are eay methods of protecting the  bead from heat  whilst doing a hit and run soldering  operation as is  required to attach a bale to a wire, adding a jump ring to  a component etc.Wet wadded newsprint will accomplish this  quite well and is perhaps the most inexpensive way to accomplish protecting the bead material while soldering .If the bead were of a high quality gemstone material without  inclusions or very lightly included(excepting  rutilated quartz, and  labradorite, spectrolite etc. which the inclusions can be, if  cut  correctly, of  no concern- if you see no  needles of tourmaline, or rutile  exposed on the faceted or polished  surfaces  the stone may be  protected  then heated safely) simply using  wet newsprint or a thermoprotectant(vigor sold through  companies carrying the standard  Grobet  catalogue and products line makes  my favourite brand. I believe it is called  Vigor  "Heat Shield " and available from Rosenthal's supply, FDJ Tools On Time,  Contenti co. ,Cookson's in the UK, Otto Frei, and a number of other  jewelers supply houses. Welding supply stores also carry heat shielding pastes.You  simply pack it on and  then  go ahead with the operation, then rinse to remove as most are clay based, or a silica gel/clay proprietary formulation. Two gemstone  protectants  I absolutely DO NOT recommend are "Cool Jool" and Rio Grande's heat shield powder- both are  messy and  useless, falling off  no matter how applied, and the Cool Jool actually catching fire particularly in working  gold or platinum..The wet  wadded  newsprint is fail-proof ! and virtually free. Now, as I conceptualize what you  want to accomplish: You would ball the end of your wire  after  dipping the  length  (plus an allowance of a bit extra  to work with and  a feww millimeters for the balled end) into a good firecoat and flux product like Cupronil, or  the flux  and firecoat of your choice(you can make your own firecoat with  denatured/methyl alcohol and  boric acid added into the  glass  container of alcohol until it  no longer dissolves then add in  about a tablespoon of powdered borax to each  pint of  liquid , and  keep well sealed with a non-metallic lid, or a lid that is coated with enamel or another  chemical resistant product) hold the wire in your pliers  or insulated  tweezers  and heat it until the metal begins to ball up, then withdraw the  torch, or  burner and  when grey quench- at this point form the ball with any tools you  need to  achieve a shaped rather  than balled end.So you may  planish the wire to form a bale at  this end and  after  soldering the other, if I understand what you want to do,you turn the whole over  ball up the other end too, and then form ,or attach a bale or other component to make either end connectable to  another part of your design. Or just ball the end  and then thread it through  your  bead and  pack on the wadded  newspaper that is wet but not dripping water(i use a product called " Cell-u-Clay" which is  ground nicely as it comes  from the package and is intended for  papier mache' creations- it simply needs to be thoroughly,   wetted and then  squeeze  out any excess water and it's ready  for use) and  ball the other or attach  a bale  to either end at the same time without  balling the ends, since your  gemstone material is protected for at least as long as it takes to set up  attaching two  pieces to a wire  passed through a gemstone bead and  fluxing then soldering on your charcoal block or soldering board.Anything can be accomplished this way. If you  just planish  one end of the wire first and form it into a bale on your  bench block or  anvil, then after passing it through the  bead, planish the other then a cold connection is feasible with no soldering  necessary. The only other  option is to create a threaded end on one  side of the  bead to which you can  screw on a bead or other  component that can be threaded to match with a micro-tap and die set making the bead interchangeable.Since I can't see exactly what you are trying to do I can only speculate that you  are after  a post through a bead that has similar ends  as in a bracelet link or component for  necklace, chain, bracelet, etc that  links on either  end or as for a pendant  that can  be hung from either end as from a bale..Any metalsmithing teacher  should  be able to figure  out any operation that is required to accomplish any jewelry design .I would  seriously  research your instructor's qualifications  before paying for any lesson in the future. Not that  your instructor is a bad one, but  if the person is teaching metalsmithing, even limiting the class to cold connecting  operations, the person should have offered a solution provided you are able to articulate or draw your design idea.teachers that  are springing up all over rarely know enough to be teaching at all- I don't say that  out of anything  but to reinforce that even in creative pursuits one must be a good consumer and know what you are getting for your money- and know it before  you sign  anything or  put up a deposit! Two schools in the southeastern US, and one in the  southwest  often  have teachers that are not experienced  enough to be teaching, yet  repeatedly teach classes at the 3 schools I speak of  because the administrations are operating  on what I consider to be the unethical side.I would no more allow anyone to teach that isn't fully qualified than I would allow a child to use a torch unsupervised.Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions  about instructors or schools in the future,You can  count on my unbiased, truthful answers.Be a good  consumer! and  good luck  on your project.If you need more help write again!

Best regards,Ari

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Dear Ari,

Thank you again so much for your incredibly thorough answer, it has opened up an entire world of design possibilities!  The wet Cell-U-Clay worked beautifully in protecting my stones, I've also ordered some of the heat shield and flux products that you recommended.  As for the beads I use, I purchase them through a supplier who sells beautiful quality beads on Etsy, but I suspect I must be over paying.  Is there a supplier of gems as well as fine precious/semi-precious beads in New York that you would recommend?  

I am also hoping you might be able to recommend a school in New York?  At my current school, in the first class I had taken my instructor knew I had absolutely no previous experience in metal smithing and did not even provide any safety instruction!  In fact, many of her students were intimidated by her and fearful of asking questions. I am in Connecticut, and although I have taken a few courses and consider myself an absolute beginner.

I had taken a wax casting class, but the piece I created was very intricate and delicate design that I was told was too detailed for the steam casting technique that was being taught, because it did not cast successfully.  Is there a casting house that you could recommend for me to send my pieces to?

Also, and I fear I may be asking you too many questions, are there any books that you could recommend with information on the techniques used in the creation of antique jewelry(1700 - 1900).   I truly cannot thank you enough for your help and advice.

Kind regards,

Michelle
Florinio
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:46 pm


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