It got to the point where I thought I’d never finish it in time. The pieces were due in on April 4th, but I was leaving for London on March 19th, so everything needed to be finished by then so I could take the pieces with me and mail from there.
I’ll be honest with you, this project almost broke me, I learnt a lot, cursed a lot and in the end submitted a piece that quite frankly I’m embarrassed about (let’s see what my mentor says about it!). I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a fail for this one, but I'll be happy to make another and resubmit if that is the case, because I'm so unhappy with what I submitted.
I ended up creating the marquise setting differently to the way it was shown, I created the prongs using sheet, instead of wire and for the basket, I also used sheet, instead of a thick piece of metal that needed to be hollowed out. I think it was probably quicker in the end, and I got a nicer looking setting (albeit soldered wonky on the ring shank).
Here's my first attempt at the setting:
This was my second attempt at the setting and cutting the sheet for the prongs.
Soldering everything together was the challenge and I’d say I’m pretty good at soldering. There are differing solders that flow at different temperatures, so this comes in handy when you’ve got more than one solder join on a piece. You have hard, medium, easy and extra easy. You use the hard first, this glows at a higher temperature, then go down to medium, easy and extra easy as your last solder.
On this ring, there are 10 solder joints:
The ring shank (hard) (1)
The setting and claws (hard) (4)
The setting to the shank (medium) (1)
The tube settings to the shank (easy) (4)
Whilst I’d been working on the project for a number of weeks, I didn’t anticipate it taking so many hours, and I’ll be honest there was some fear of starting too, something I’m plagued with a lot and something I’m working on overcoming (this course is actually helping as it’s forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and do it since there’s a deadline). I’m very good at procrastinating!
One of the other students said they use a product called Hold-It! It’s a clay like substance and works like a third hand, keeping everything in place. Whilst it’s not a heat sink, if the solder does flow, everything will still be kept in place. I’ve got to say, it made my life so much easier, but it was also a hindrance as I’m a visual person and use my eye as a guide to where I need to solder and the clay was masking where all the settings were. I tend not to mark where things need to go and use my eyes instead.
It was coming up to the week of my trip and I still hadn’t finished it, in fact I had only created the marquis setting and the ring shank.
My first attempt at soldering everything together was not too bad, one of the tube settings was way off, so I thought I’d use it as design element and place the one on the other side in a similar placement. It looked terrible, so I had to unsolder them all and redo. Which I managed to do, however they were not placed evenly, but at this point, I had to go with it. Also, one of the solder joints on a tube setting must have flowed up the tube, because it was solid. That was easily fixed though when I came to setting.
So, the day I was leaving for London, I had to do the setting… it went fairly quickly actually and I’d definitely do a marquis setting again, however, just like the rest of the ring, it’s a little lopsided and also, it’s a little wobbly. But time was running out and I needed to set the four tube settings. I was going to use emeralds for these, but they’re a soft stone and I didn’t have time to be careful with them, so I pivoted and used clear CZs. They all went in fairly easily and I left the solid tube setting to last. I needed to drill a hole, which went straight through the shank aaargh! Now it’s the only one with a hole in the shank, so because it’s letting light in, it looks different to the other three. Well, so be it!
So that’s what I ended up submitting. Far from anything I had hoped to send in and with sooo many flaws. But, it’s done and hopefully I’ll at least get a few marks for submitting it!
Now I’m on the plane as I’m writing this and thankful that the term is over, I learnt a lot and enjoyed it. And very much looking forward ti next term. Maybe with more courage and less procrastination!