May 16, 2008

Custom Ring, part 5

This step is a big one, adding the mokume to the outside. I cut and shape these pieces the same way as the main sections of the frame. The mokume I'm using is only .5mm thick, so it's more of a laminate than a structural element; there are two advantages to this, though.

The first advantage is that thick mokume is very, very hard to make and shape properly, and having thick corners would distort the pattern at the seams on the bottom. By building the frame and overlaying the mokume it creates an almost seamless look; I'll be able to portray this better with the finished piece.

The second big factor is I can heat treat the Argentium to be many times stronger than Sterling, copper or mokume could ever be--this has been a huge factor in me using this metal. It has changed the way I design things as well.

I make the panels about .75mm wider than the ring frame itself, you can see the overhang in the image below. This gives me a good edge to feed the solder into, and minimizes the risk of solder getting on the mokume finish...which I also cover in yellow ochre, to prevent any chance of unwanted solder flow. Cleaning solder off the mokume could straight out ruin it, tricky tricky.

I was too into soldering to stop and try and get pictures, it's a very tricky process with the panels, but here is the piece with all the panels soldered on. The heat has colored the outside to look close to the finished patina, it's looking sharp! But it's still in its "ugly phase" as I say, with rough edges and yellow ochre stains on the inside.

Here's an image with the bezel resting in place (the stone isn't set into the bezel yet though). It's starting to look like a finished ring!