Growing New Skills by Taking on Tough Challenges
by Diana White.
One of the best ways to keep growing as a metal artist, in addition to researching videos, tutorials, and taking classes, is to join in with a metalsmithing group and responding to design challenges/competitions.
This is exactly what I did a couple of months ago after a friend shared photos of a new stone setting technique called “Octopus Setting.” The name comes from Lucy Walker a jewelry artist who does online courses.
My friend, who does remarkable floral-themed wire and more recently metal fabrication pieces using soldering and gemstone settings took Lucy’s class. Her results inspired me to do the same. After I paid for the class and went through the video plus all of the fantastic handouts, I saw an invitation for all of Lucy’s students to join her closed FB group.
I joined the group and shortly after I joined Lucy Walker posted a challenge with a parcel of lovely gemstones as the prize. The challenge was to do an architecturally inspired pendant. Each work had to include saw piercing, sweat soldering, and two different kinds of gemstone setting (bezel and flush). Whew! it was a real reach for me, as I’ve only done one flush set stone prior to this, and had never combined piercing, with sweat soldering AND gemstone setting all at once before.In doing this piece, I had to stretch my skills.
It isn’t perfect at all, but what I learned in the trying will make my future efforts go more smoothly. Plus I have done something that required more than two times under the torch, with multiple small pieces and the fact that it went together at all feels a lot less like a miracle now that I have made it happen for the first time. Also the first time for me, tube bezel setting and I’m very chuffed at how those turned out. The doorknob is an octopus setting.
Materials list: 3 4mm CZs, 1 2mm CZ, Argentium/copper mokume gane from Rio grande, 6 gauge sterling silver wire rolled flat in my mill also from Rio Grande, sterling silver jump rings square wire from Rio, sterling heavy-walled seamless tubing, textured copper sheet also from Rio grande, silver solder in 3 grades Hard, medium and easy, Sterling silver wire 16g for rivets, Flux, plus all of the tools…
Mockingbird Lane Wire