January 26, 2009

Making a Dragonfly Wing Ring

My wing rings have been quite popular, so I'm putting up a little tutorial on how I make them! I'm also including links to the tools I use, available at Ottofrei.com, where I get most of my supplies.

I start with a wing casting, which I can use to make either a ring, a pendant or earrings out of. These are made of recycled Argentium Silver, from an original model. The first step is to clean up the sprues and the casting finish.

Once the wing is cleaned up, I anneal it with the torch. Heating it until it's a medium brightish red, this annealing process softens the metal so it is malleable.

As soon as the whole piece is annealed, I drop it in the pickle pot. I use a mild Citric Acid, it's safer and cleaner then traditional jewelers pickle, this cleans off the oxidation from heating it.

Once the wing is annealed I can bend it by hand around my ring mandrel. This first bend is only a part of the way, typically I will need to anneal the piece two or three times to get it fully rounded to the appropriate size. Finishing the shaping with a rubber mallet, as to not mar the finish.

It's quite tricky to get it to bend without all the little wire twisting together. It took a few duds when I first started making them to get the feel down.

Here are a pair of rings fully rounded. The next step is to bake them in the oven, this process hardens the Argentium Silver so that it is very rigid. The baking process I use is 495 Degrees for 1 hour 45 minutes, for the strongest heat treatment I anneal it one last time before it goes into the oven. To read more on Argentium Silver head over to this site, argentiumsilver.com.

After baking the ring, the last step is the final finish, first done using basic sandpaper to get a nice flat finish. I do this by hand, old fashioned, but it does the trick.

I then use a Flex Shaft and bristle wheels to smooth the final finish and give it nice even brushed look. The rings form their own patina/finish over time, depending on how hard you wear them.

Check out the Wing Ring listing on Etsy for the final images!! Thanks for reading!


Wenchie said...

I had no idea that Citric Pickle existed! Thanks for posting this tutorial.

Jesse Danger said...

The Citric is excellent stuff for sure!