I had an order this week from Heather. She bought the reticulated ring set for her daughters 21st birthday. Her daughter is an art student interested in natural processes and designs.
So just for you Bryony, happy birthday, this is how I made your rings :)
I use 1.8mm sterling silver wire. It comes in a neat coil, but for these rings I have to bend it about a bit and generally 'lose' the newness.
I heat it with my blowtorch to keep it soft and annealed, which makes it easier to work with as the metal hardens the more it is 'worked'.
Then I reticulate the silver, basically heating it evenly until the surface begins to melt, then quickly removing the heat before it does melt. I keep this up till I get the finish I am after.
I cut the blackened wire to 3 lengths using my ring sizer then I shape them up using my ring mandrel and a rawhide mallet, check the size again, then solder each ring closed with some medium solder. I pickle them to remove the oxidation from soldering then do a final reshape on the mandrel.
Meanwhile I melt some 9ct gold scraps to form the bead. When you melt silver or gold it pulls together into a ball. I do this in a charcoal block with a well in the middle as I find it gives the smoothest finish to the melted metal. I then solder the ball of gold to one of the rings.
Next I pickle again to clean, then I blacken the rings up using liver of sulphur.
This emphasises the texture and makes them more organic looking and rustic. Next they go in my barrel to tumble for a few hours to polish and strengthen them and voila, done. Sometimes I need to polish them some more with my Dremel, but these ones are good straight out of the barrel. I hope you like them. I have a set of these and love wearing them.