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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prong Setting Challenge

The Metal Team at Artisan Whimsy is hosting its first challenge having to do with prong settings.  Staci Smith prepared an excellent tutorial, and I can attest to the fact that it is excellent because I was able to follow it.  If you are so inclined you can find the tutorial HERE.

If you love beading and are not yet a member of Artisan Whimsy you really need to check it out.  It is a great all-inclusive place to find tutorials, interesting blog articles, and great camaradarie from like-minded folks.

Each month there is something different going on in the form of a challenge for anyone that wants to participate.  I love doing challenges so I try to participate in every one of them.  Anyway, this challenge was about prong settings.  I've never done anything like that.  I had never even used a rivet before this challenge, although I had purchased and tucked away a nice little riveting kit from Rings and Things.  I am so good at buying stuff, but not so good at actually using it.  I had also purchased a small roll of long skinny silver solder about three years ago to solder sterling silver rings together.  I have cabs - I only had one or two ceramic ones but I figured I could make them work.  And, I have a torch (which I actually use)  Knowing that I had these items, I figured I could do this challenge. WRONG!

I want to start off on a positive note, so I am going to start with a picture of my finished project.  It is a brooch, although I still need to get a suitable pin back and attach to the back.  I may have something in my stash, but haven't come across them yet.  

 My first task was to find a cab that I could use as my focal of the project.   The cabs I had were not flat enough and I was afraid that they would break too easily if I tried pushing the prongs down like the tutorial instructed.  I had to find something that I could use as a cab.  I turned to my collection of antique buttons.  I found one that I thought was pretty enough, but it is a Paris Back and I did not want to destroy (or do anything to damage) the button.  If you collect buttons, you know that is significant. This button is circa 1880 and in excellent condition. 

That meant I had to cut a hole in the center of the metal backing to allow for the back of the button since the back is not flat.  Okay, no problem.  So far so good.  So after I cut and textured my copper circle, I set about trying to solder the rivets into the holes I had drilled.  It turns out that the silver solder that I had wouldn't work on the copper - at least not the way I was trying to do it.  I didn't take pictures of that failure, but just suffice it to say that I was not going to be able to solder my rivets to the back of my metal and by the time I figured it out, it was too late to go looking for paste solder. 

I have restored three old houses in my lifetime and because I restore them and don't remodel (there is a big difference) I have had the need to find creative ways to "fix" things including old iron grates and other old metal objects.  "What in the world does that have to do with the prong challenge?" you might be asking yourself.  Well, because of that history, I have discovered JB Weld - a two part epoxy that dries a medium gray color.  Believe me, it is great, no GREAT, stuff.  I have repaired floor grates, wall grates, metal frames, and even black glass buttons with this stuff.  It holds.

So I figured I would try the JB Weld on the prongs instead of solder.  After a couple of trial and error things, I was successful. 

This is a picture of the front of the copper ring with the prongs held into place.

Since I didn't want the back of the button just sticking out the hole, I decided to cut a piece of textured brass sheeting to back the copper.  I would rivet them together.  After all, I had a new riveting system, and rivets, so this was a perfect opportunity to use them. I used some silver rivets for contrast.

I made a cage out of bronze wire for this little piece of genuine Nevada USA rough turquoise.  I purchased a small selection of rough turquoise on a trip out west and have polished and drilled some of the pieces but I still have a little bag of rough turquoise.  This is just as it came from the ground.

All of the patina on the copper and the brass is the result of heating it with my torch which I did several times.

In the first attempt to set the rivets with the JB Weld, I tried to anneal the rivets on the top side with my torch.  Well, the JB Weld caught on fire and it is a wonder I didn't burn the garage down.  (Actually, I work with my torch inside a little area that I set up with fire bricks so it wasn't as bad as I make it sound.)

So, I cleaned everything off and applied the glue again.  The rivets need to be annealed so that the metal is soft and will bend more easily over the cab, or button, in my case.  I don't have a prong-setting tool, but the tutorial suggested that you could use a dowel so that is how I bent the prongs.  Then I used my flush cutters and file to shape the prongs so that they cradled the button nicely.

And, to prove to you that I have no pride, here is a picture of the backside.  I had to pound out a little bump to accommodate the shank of the button, but I tried to keep it as nice as I could.  Please tell me, do you guys think the back is too hokey looking or unprofessional or just plain ugly?

I want to purchase some 33mm pin backs because they have holes at 17mm apart and I can rivet the pin back to the front.  I wish I had riveted it before I riveted the copper to the brass, but I didn't really have that much of a plan at that point.  My current plan is to attach some stars or some other decoration to even out the design.

Anyway, it was a touch and go challenge and I am so, so glad that I participated.  I have a personal rule that I don't buy anything special for a challenge and if I participate, I participate with the materials that I have.  And, with very, very few exceptions, I stick by that rule.  I did in this case.  And, I have never made a brooch before.  I am pleased with it.  What do you guys think?

And, here are links to the other participants.  You will see some beautiful things if you take the time to work through them.

The Beading Yogini,

Carolyn Dewison, Blue Berri Beads,

Mary Harding, Mary Harding Jewelry,

Dawn Horner, Northern Adornments,

Gina Hockett, Freestyle Elements,

Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy,

Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things,

Melissa Muir, Melissa Muir Jewelry,

Melinda Orr, Melinda Orr Designs,

Staci Louise Smith, Staci Louise Originals,

Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame,

Jo Tinley, Daisy Chain Designs Jewellery,

Francesca Watson, Francesca Watson Designs,

Linda Younkman, Lindy’s Designs,


Sharon Driscoll said...

Hey Jean - There is another way to put a pink back on without the rivet. If you are working with multiple layers like you are you can use one of those larger hole punch things (like from Harbor Freight) and put two holes in the back to accomodate the catch and the other end. I'll have to find a picture of one and put it up on the blog. Then when you rivet your next layer over it it holds it in place permanently. The back doesn't look bad at all either.

Shirley Moore said...

I think it's stunning! I love, love, love that button, and yes, I know about the shank thing. I think you need to send it to me so I can bezel some seed beads around it for you! :)

Linda Y said...

Awesome Jean. What a great job. The button is gorgeous and I like the addition of the rough turquoise at the top. Would never know it was your first attempt. I'm so jealous!

Liz said...

You are an wonderfully talented artist. I played with some metal last winter and loved it. I definitely am going to try some prongs. Thanks for sharing your process. The piece is gorgeous! I don't have a torch cold onnections are it for now. They force you to be very creative though as with your use of JB Weld. I must try that. I would love to participate in some challenges in the future, but I have not yet entered the blog world. I have joined artisan whimsy, but I am a little lost there. Any suggestions on best using the site?

Anonymous said...

You are always up for a challenge, and learning experience, Jean. I know how important your button collection is and I think that was a fine choice for a prong setting.

supere67 said...

Great job, Jean! Staci Louise would be proud. I think we can learn the most from trial and error, like you did here. I wish I knew how to rivet and use a torch. I have used solder before, which can be a little tricky. I admire you for trying new techniques - bravo!

I live in an old house, so the JB Weld is something I'll have to remember.

Northern Adornments said...

I think you did a lovely job! That button is "to die" for :) And your writing style is very entertaining, you don't miss a beat! ....also your picture of the piece is phenomenal! Enjoy showing it off !

Francesca Watson said...

You did a great job with this - and I am loving how people used Staci's tutorial as a jumping off place. This is completely your own, and beautifully done. And that turquoise wrap??! Love.

Sherri Stokey said...

Well done, ma'am, well done :) JB Weld indeed LOL It really turned out beautifully.

Cece Cormier said...

Have an old home too and jb weld is one of my favorite little secrets. Love all the texture on your piece and your shameless honesty as well. :)

stacilouise said...

AHhhh- never heat a piece with glue or any kind of patina or sealant on it! The fumes are toxic! Glad you didn't burn your garage down, and love the creativity of useing the weld glue. It turned out great!

Gale said...

I admire your tenacity and bravery. That button and turquoise would have feared for their lives if I had tried all this! I also appreciate your showing your backside in public, as I have a real need to see the agony involved in every detail. I'm sure a mere pin backing will not deter you in the next step!

re-maker said...

Love your piece and your tenacity!

Marlene Cupo said...

I applaud you for your inventiveness, creativity and courage. Super result!

m.e. said...

What a gorgeous piece !
In the end it does not matter how they came together.
What matters is they met ,
were perfect for each other,
and will stay together forever!
m.e. :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Your ingenuity is what intrigues me most about this. The fact that you adapted the instructions to fit what you had. I also am fond of buying things that I never get around to using! That is in my East nature on the medicine wheel! I will have to give this technique a try some time. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the day! Erin

Melissa said...

Oh how I love this piece. You did a wonderful job pulling everything together. The shapes, the colors, the rivets, all of it. It is totally awesome.


Alicia said...

This is a lovely piece, Jean - I love first attempts :) The turquoise is such an interesting addition, one that makes me sigh (I love turquoise... and it just happen I have a rough nugget I didn't know what to do with!)
Thank you for sharing your beautiful piece and the process behind it! I learned a lot just from you today, on top of what I just learned from Staci!

Freestyle Elements said...

Jean, I think your brooch is a wonderful testament to your creativity and ingenuity! It is a beautiful piece, love the wire wrapped detail. Loved reading about your process, too!

Jean A. Wells said...

Thank you to everyone that visited and to everyone for their kind and encouraging comments.

Jo said...

Beautiful Jean! I loved reading about the progress and how you solved the problems you had - very intentive! The button is beautiful.

koko said...

Good for you for sticking with it, and I would say totally worth it!!

Caroline said...

I love it! The back looks just fine as it is... it's a beautiful setting for a really pretty button :)

Melinda Orr said...

Wow!! You created a wonderful design!! Glad you kept at it!!