- Sheet metal, 24 or 26 gauge
- 3 inches of 16 gauge fine silver round wire
- Two pre-made bezel cups
- Two cabochons to fit the bezel cups
- Ear wires
CREATING THE BACKPLATE
Gather the sheet metal, template and a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie. In this project, 26 gauge copper was used.
Templates are available from a variety of sources, such as office supply stores, hobby stores and online sources. The ones used in this project are templates used by precious metal clay (PMC) artists to shape PMC.
Using the template and the permanent marker, trace the shape onto the metal.
Using either metal shears or a jeweler’s saw, cut the traced shape from the metal.
If using a jeweler’s saw, size 4/0 saw blades are recommended to saw 24 gauge metal. Size 6/0 saw blades are recommended to saw 26 gauge metal.
Pro-Polish Pads or sandpaper can be used to remove any remaining permanent marker from the metal.
If there any sharp places on the edge of the metal, use the flat hand file to gently file the edge to remove the rough spots and refine the shape. Hold the edge of the metal flat against the surface of the file. Push the file away from you to remove the offending metal. NOTE: Jeweler’s files only cut on the “push”—no need to work the file back and forth.
ALWAYS wear safety glasses when cutting wire and metal. Small pieces of wire or metal can fly into unprotected eyes.
Cutting the metal may cause it to warp. If this occurs, a plastic or rawhide mallet on a bench block will flatten the metal without marring it or flattening the texture.
Place the metal pieces, one at a time, on the bench block. Hammer with the plastic or rawhide mallet.
The metal pieces are now ready to be textured.
Many methods exist to texture metal. For this project, the peen side of the chasing hammer will be used to impart an interesting texture to the pieces.
Texturing the metal may also cause the metal to warp. If this occurs, flatten with the plastic or rawhide mallet as before.
Place the pieces on the bench block, one at a time. Hammer randomly with the peen side of the chasing hammer.
The textured metal is ready to use. Set aside for the time being.
PREPARING THE BEZEL CUPS
The next step is to prepare the bezel cups to be riveted in place.
A pair of 1.25 mm hole-punching pliers will be used to punch a hole in the bottom of each bezel cup.
Using the permanent marker, mark the center of the bottom of the bezel cup.
Using the 1.25mm hole-punching pliers, place the punch on the mark and gently squeeze the handles of the pliers. The punch will “pop” through the bottom of the bezel cup, making a 1.25mm diameter hole.
Occasionally, the metal bit is not completely removed by the punch. If this occurs, use the flush cutters to remove the bit of metal. File with the hand file to remove any rough spots.
Place the bezel cup on top of the textured metal piece. Using the permanent marker, mark through the hole in the bottom of the bezel cup to the metal piece.
Use the 1.25 mm hole-punching pliers to punch a hole in the metal piece.
The 1.25 mm diameter of the hole created by the pliers is slightly smaller than the diameter of the 16 gauge fine silver rivet wire. Gently enlarge the hole with the round diamond needle file. Insert the tip of the file in the hole and twist the file gently back and forth a couple of times. Do this very gently—not much increase in size is needed. Repeat as needed.
To start attaching the first bezel cup, place a 16 Rivet Gauge on the bench block. The Rivet Gauge should correspond to the gauge of rivet wire (16 gauge in this case), which also corresponds to the size holes punched in backplate and bezel cup.
Rivet Gauges† come in pairs and are marked with the wire gauge to which they correspond. Rivet Gauges stamped with a 14 are to be used with 14 gauge rivet wire, those stamped with 16 are to be used with 16 gauge rivet wire and those stamped with 18 are to be used with 18 gauge wire.
Stack the textured metal piece on top of the rivet gauge, aligning the holes.
Flush cut one end of the rivet wire. A flush cut is achieved by holding the flush cutters so that the flat back of the cutters is pointed towards the length of rivet wire and nip off the end of the wire.
Pass the wire through the textured metal and the Rivet Gauge, making sure the flat end of the wire is firmly against the top of the bench block.
Thread the #14 Rivet Gauge over the rivet wire (rivet wire passes through the center hole of the Rivet Gauge) and stack on top of the spacer and metal pieces.
WHY IS THE #14 USED HERE INSTEAD OF A SECOND #16?
Once the rivet wire is cut in the following step, the bezel cup will be stacked on the exposed stub of rivet wire. Because of this, the slightly thicker #14 Rivet Gauge is used on the top here. This leaves a slightly longer stub of rivet wire to accommodate the bezel cup.
With the back of the flush cutters firmly against the Rivet Gauge, cut the rivet wire.
Don’t forget! ALWAYS wear safety glasses when cutting wire and metal—small pieces of wire or metal can fly into unprotected eyes.
Remove the top Rivet Gauge, exposing a short stub of wire.
Stack the bezel cup on the exposed stub of wire.
One of the Rivet Punches will be used to set the rivet in the bezel cup. Select the largest Rivet Punch that will fit inside the bezel cup.
Place the flat end of the punch inside the bezel cup, firmly against the end of the rivet wire.
Tap the opposite end of the Rivet Punch with the utility/household hammer 2-3 times to flatten the stub of wire inside the bezel cup.
Remove the Rivet Punch and check the rivet wire. If not, flattened sufficiently, repeat the above step.
Remove the remaining Rivet Gauge, exposing a stub of rivet wire on the back of the piece.
Place the Rivet Punch upright in a vise, flat end pointed up.
Invert the piece and carefully place the bezel cup over the flat end of the Rivet Punch. Double-check that the Rivet Punch is securely inside the bezel cup.
Using the peen side of the chasing hammer, tap on the exposed end of the rivet wire. The wire will begin to spread and flatten. Continue tapping until the wire stub is completely flattened. It will resemble a tiny mushroom cap.
The remaining open area of the pieces can be embellished as desired with letter/number/design stamps.
You may want to practice this technique on a piece of scrap metal.
Place the piece on the steel bench block. Hold the design/letter/number stamp firmly on top of the piece, with the design/letter/number against the metal. Hold the stamp perpendicular to the metal. Strike the stamp only once with the utility/household hammer.
If spelling a word, start with one of the middle letters and work out from the middle. This will help with the spacing of the word in the available space.
APPLYING THE PATINA
A chemical patina, liver of sulfur, will be used to age the metal and highlight the texture.
Add a small amount of liver of sulfur (either gel or rocks) to a bowl of warm water. Do this in a well-ventilated area. Liver of sulfur smells like rotten eggs. Avoid getting the liver of sulfur on your skin/hands.
Prepare a second bowl of plain water to serve as a rinsing bowl for the patinaed pieces.
Dip each piece individually into the liver of sulfur solution. When the desired level of patina is achieved, remove and rinse in the plain water. A plastic fork is a good tool to use for this process.
Copper and sterling silver may react differently to the liver of sulfur. Copper may accept a patina much quicker than sterling silver.
Using the fine grit (greater than 300 grit) sandpaper, polish off some of the patina from the surface of the metal pieces. This process removes the patina from the “high” spots of the texture, while leaving the patina in the “low” spots of the texture. This action highlights the texture. Remove as much or as little of the patina as desired.
ASSEMBLING THE EARRINGS
Use the hole-punching pliers to make a hole in each piece to accommodate an ear wire.
To set the cabochons, place a cabochon in each bezel cup, rounded side facing up.
One of the easiest tools to set the cabochons is the fine-tip Sharpie.
Place the Sharpie against the side of the bezel and push and roll the teeth of the bezel cup over the edge of the cabochon.
Continue around the edge of the bezel, working at opposite points. The first spot is 12 o’clock—go to 6 o’clock, then 3 o’clock, then 9 o’clock. This process will help keep the cabochon centered in the bezel.
Once the four main points are “worked” as outlined above, “work” the points in-between (also working at opposite points) until the cabochon is completely set and serrated edge of the bezel cup is pushed firmly against the cabochon.
The pieces are now ready for ear wires.
ADDING THE EAR WIRES
The Medium Flat-Nose Wubbers Pliers are used to open the loop of the ear wire.
Grasp the loop of the ear wire with the Medium Flat Nose Wubbers Pliers.
Open the loop of the ear wire like a “gate” by twisting the loop open.
Thread the finished earring onto the ear wire.
Close the loop of the ear wire like a “gate.”
The earrings are ready to wear.
Cold-Connecting Bezels: An Introduction to Riveting Essentials†
Rivet Gauges and Rivet Punches are Patent Pending
©2013 Gwen Youngblood