Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Big Prong Ring

Have you ever seen something, anything crafty, that you wanted to do and just didn't quite know how. Then you search and search for directions, not knowing exactly how to word your search, you get tons of stuff you aren't even interested in. Then you land on something that sort of makes the grade! Woohoo- you have a starting place!

That's sort of the story of "The Big Prong Ring". I just love prong settings. I read all the tutorials and books, and in theory, I knew just what to do.  Problem was, every time I tried, I was working on something small and delicate and I would just totally melt things toward the end. I decided prongs just weren't going to be my forte. Then I saw a few rings, rather rustic looking, but with larger prongs, these looked very doable. Before I got around to trying the rustic route, I got my copy of the July 2011 Art Jewelry Magazine- WOW- Joanna Gollberg http://www.joannagollberg.com/, the queen of prong setting, had done a tutorial. I was in heaven. This woman has some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen. totally my taste. I couldn't wait to dive in and read the instructions.

Instructions were great, but I didn't want to be a copy cat, so I had to come up with my own version of her gorgeous ring http://www.artjewelrymag.com/Resources/Contact%20and%20Suppliers/2011/04/Art%20Jewelry%20July%202011.aspx  on the front cover.

I started by pulling out this huge emerald cut rutilated quartz with chlorite inclusions. It was perfect for a big prong ring, set up high on a sturdy band. I got out the biggest wire I could handle and created the frame, cut big heavy half round wire and soldered it in place.
So, now I had to think of something to solder the prongs to- what would make a great looking base, not take away from the great looking rutiles in my stone and not be so big and cumbersome that no one would ever consider wearing it?? I took a trip to my local supplier, Terra Firma in Baltimore, and he had some nice reticulation silver. That's the stuff that's 80% silver and 20% copper. The copper makes it very strong and you heat, cool and pickle the piece about 10 times in order to get fine silver to come to the surface and all the copper stuff to go away. It leaves an awesome pattern on the front and back of your little piece of silver. The best thing is no two pieces of silver ever look the same after reticulation- so this is one of a kind even if someone else made the exact same ring!
Soldering flat bottom prongs to  bumpy surfaced silver is not an easy task! There was one prong just a hair shorter than the rest- even though I measured- so I had to keep bending the silver base up until it touched the prong perfectly with no gap and re-solder that one prong. This took more than one attempt I am not embarrassed to say- this was a first for me, so I learned lots along the way!
Finally finished!! I know you can't see from this picture, so I'll add another, but the setting is elevated above the base. Getting these big prongs to close was nother challenge- OMG, I pushed and pushed and they wouldn't lay down. I finally used a bezel pusher as a punch and tapped down the tops. Who knew you had to be so strong to make jewelry?
Sorry for the little fuzzy on the side, I think my cat, who was very interested in photos, must have been looking to close when I set this on the counter! So now you can see the side with just enough space under to make it interesting.

What was really nice, I had leftover reticulated silver so I made this cute little pendant with leftovers. I feel so self satisfied when I use stuff I already have and don't have to start fresh! And, I got to do those cute little rustic prongs I want to try too!

Hope you enjoyed the little story of my journey into the deep dark secrets of prong setting. Thanks to Art Jewelry magazine and Joanna Gollberg for sharing her wonderful technique!!!