by Laura Teague.
A good friend gifted me with several pieces of exquisite sea glass a few years ago and, ever since, I have been pondering how to incorporate those delicious pieces in my handmade metal jewelry.
My first effort was wire-wrapping which, admittedly, is not really “my thing” and my efforts proved that – yes, the jewelry was wearable but the sea glass was too hidden behind the wire and the wire work was not the best.
I had not yet come up with a design I really loved, although my friend proudly wore the jewelry I used for her using this technique. My next effort was teaching myself to drill the sea glass using my flexshaft and diamond drill bits – I fared a bit better with this technique although the holes were too small for the designs I had in mind so it was back to the drawing board.
So….still searching for a way to use the glass that would me happy. Fast forward 5 years and many online searches regarding using sea glass in jewelry. It slowly dawned on me (maybe I am a slow learner?) that it would be possible to design and make a prong-type setting for the sea glass, allowing me to use it in any way I wanted. Eureka!
I found numerous online tutorials for this technique. I had never attempted anything like this before so I planned well. I started with a copper “prototype” (I usually work in sterling silver but I knew it would not be wise to start out with sterling silver on a project I had never attempted)….. preliminary results definitely promising! So, I got out my precious sterling silver wire, made the appropriate “components” and soldered the thing together, measuring the sea glass piece carefully to be sure I had the size correct.
I was thrilled when my masterpiece was complete – it was a thing of beauty! Only one problem – when I inserted the sea glass and pushed down the prongs (very carefully, opposing sides alternating, as I had learned to do)…….the sea glass slipped out the bottom of the setting. To the scrap heap to go to the recycle bin. Sigh. Begin again.
Measure MORE carefully, putting the sea glass in & out, in & out, in & out of the setting to be completely sure, this time, that the prongs were soldered in EXACTLY the right places to securely hold the irregularly shaped sea glass. SUCCESS!
I then proceeded to complete the bracelet with the beautifully set sea glass (if i do say so myself!) as the focal piece. Given as a birthday gift to my dear friend who, so many years ago, first started me on this wonderful journey of working with a beautiful recycled material. Thank you, Sharon!