Introduction: Mechanical Blooming Flower Ring

A solid silver ring which can grow !
The ring starts off as a bud, but when the small button on the side of the ring is gently twisted the silver petals move down in unison, slowly growing into a metallic flower.
A simple mechanical system which I will explain later in the instructable allows the petals to be moved up and down into a flower or a bud depending on your mood, the time of day  or even the season.
I have designed my ring to look a little bit like a daisy with lots of small silver petals growing up from a stalk held by metal leaves , but as well as my design I will go through how you can make differently colored and shaped flowers.
I will also explain how you can get the imprints of real leaves  for your ring base to give a truly natural effect.

This unique ring allows the wearer to interact with the ring itself when built, but requires little knowledge of jewelry other than the techniques explained in the instructable.
You can give this ring as special gifts but it costs less than $30 to make out of quality silver and even less if you choose to use copper. The ring here is made from solid silver which I shaped using an amazing substance called silver clay; you can model this clay in the same way as normal clay or blue tack but once it is heated by a blowtorch or even just a gas hob for cooking it turns into solid silver ! This means you don't need any where nearly as many tools etc than you would for making jewelry with sheet metal.In the materials section I have provided a link to some sellers of this metal clay.

(If you like this instructable I would be really grateful for your votes in the jewelry contest because a 3D printer  would be incredibly helpful for me when making projects like this, but I would be able to complete them with even more detail and a higher level of accuracy which is harder to achieve by hand.  I am brimming with new ideas for how to use the 3D printer if I were to win it and I would love to see them come to life)

materials and tools:
- silver/copper wire (0.5mm thick)
-leaves for imprints
-cylinder a little bigger than your finger size to mold the ring on
- 10 gm of sliver/copper clay available here: http://www.metalclay.co.uk/categories/Metal-Clay/
-round nosed pliers 
- normal pliers
-thread
-pin to make details
-optional: small brass bead for the center of the flower
-pack of very cheap playing cards
-craft knife
-rolling pin
-solder and soldering iron or blow torch / super glue
-hacksaw

Step 1: Designing Your Ring

As you can see I sketched a number of different designs before I finally arrived at one which I was happy with. I would advise spending a relatively long time on this stage because it is difficult to change the ring once it is made and you want to be happy with your result especially if you choose to use precious metals.When designing keep in mind that to fit in all the mechanical pieces it is important not to make your ring too compact.
My final design consisted of a leafy base for the ring where a stem would come out from to suspend the bud and flower.

Step 2: Making the Ring Itself

Because the the metal clay you will be using for your final ring is fairly expensive it is worth doing a quick practice with normal modelling clay before you begin. This allows you to establish an effective and fast technique so that when it comes to the metal clay you know exactly what to do. That said,  the practice clay is normally harder to model than the metal clay and if you are not completely happy with your result don't panic.
once you have worked out a good way for making your shape out of normal  modelling clay it is time to start on the metal clay:
1) over contact with the metal clay will result in crumbling and breakage because the heat from the hands wil begin the drying process so try to keep direct contact to a minimum, although sometimes this is unavoidable and it is still possible to soften the clay with dabs of water.
2) take the playing cards and put a single card in the center of your work space then paint a thin layer of oil onto it. 
3) take another card and oil this one
4) place about 3 grams of the metal clay onto the card on your table and use the other card to roll the clay into a thin sausage shape through a method of squashing and pulling.
5) next take your cylinder which is slightly bigger than your finger diameter ( the metal clay shrinks by 10% ) and roll the clay around the cylinder and bond the two ends at the top by squashing them together which sticks them and provides a platform for the leaves to be attached.
6) take a pin and make whatever patterns you like on the ring while it is still soft. I made a spiral pattern by running the pin in diagonal lines down the ring as you can see  from the picture.

Now it is time to make the leaves :

1)  take your card with the oily layer and put a stack of 4 cards on either side of the oiled card, this provides a constant platform to do the rolling and ensures your leaves are not too thick or too thin.
2)take a rolling pin or any cylinder and put a thin layer of oil on this too.
3)Begin to roll out about 2 grams of your metal clay  until you have a flat surface.
4) take your craft knife and cut out a leaf shape and pull out the excess clay from around it.
5) press the inside of your leaf onto the leaf shape and roll the rolling pin over the leaf. this will leave a good imprint on your metal ring when fired.
6) very gently pull up your leaf by lifting up the corners and bending the card underneath
7) place this leaf to the side and shape it as appropriate. I bent up the leaf at the top.
8) make three more leaves
9) leave to dry.
10) take the bits of metal clay which you haven't used and put them in a small pot with lots of water, this will turn into a sort of glue to stick the leaves onto the ring.
11) carefully stick the leaves on one by one until you have a circle of leaves.
12) when they have dried push a hole for an axle near to the base of two opposite leaves using a paperclip.

Step 3: Firing the Ring and Polishing

If you have a blow torch:
-place your ring on a heatproof base and heat the ring until it turns a faint red color. once it has turned this color you will need to cook it at this temperature for about two minutes but make sure it does not glow too much other wise it will melt. once you have cooked it the transformation from clay to silver or copper will have taken place and you should put it in a bucket of water for a few seconds to dry
If you don't have a blow torch :
-take a pair of tongs or tweezers and gently pick up your ring.place it over your gas heater you use to cook and hold it over the flame until  the ring reaches a dull red color.Once it has turned this color you will need to cook it at this temperature for about two minutes but make sure it does not glow too much other wise it will melt. once you have cooked it the transformation from clay to silver or copper will have taken place and you should put it in a bucket of water for a few seconds to dry.

Time to polish:
now you have heated your ring it will be solid silver or copper so when you take off the layer of white oxides your ring will look very shiny. you can do this with some wire wool. Just gently brush off the white powder on the top and continue brushing until you reach an appropriate degree of gloss.Place on finger just to check it fits.

Step 4: Making the Petals

- roll 1.5 g of the clay out in the same way as you rolled the leaves except this time put piles of only three cards on each side.
- using the same method as the leaves cut out the desired shape and size of petal. I made about 15 but this will vary depending on the size of your petals.
-take a roll of silver or copper wire and using a pair of round nosed pliers at the very end turn the wire into very small circles.
-cut off these circles once made and open them up so there is a little gap to slot in the petal.
- fire the petals in the same way you fired the ring itself. remember because these petals are much smaller you only need to cook them at the red color for a few seconds.
-once the petals are all cooked and polished slot your rings onto the ends of the petals and solder them on (if you dont have soldering equipment superglue works just fine

Step 5: The Petal Mechanism

take some silver or copper wire and bend into a small circle with a diameter of about 5 mm. then take another piece and bend the into a rectangular shape without one side and large enough to fit your circle inside (look at the pictures for help).
once this is finished you will need to solder or superglue the disk onto the unfinished rectangle as shown in the pictures, again if you don't have soldering equipment you should be fine using superglue.

Now you have attached these two pieces you need to cut some openings in the top disk and slide on an equal number of petals to each side. I had seven on each side but depending on your size of petal this will vary.

Step 6:

Take the rest of your metal clay and mold it around an elliptically shaped bead in order to get a domed shape with a hole at the bottom as shown. Next you need to make the stalk for your flower by  molding excess clay around about 5 mm of a cocktail stick. when dry take out the cocktail stick and using some of the glue you made earlier attach the stem to the hole in the bottom of the dome you made previously.Pull out the bead and heat until silver/copper. You may paint as appropriate. now drill two small holes beside the large hole of your dome (look to the pictures for reference).
Once this has been appropriately fired and painted slot the legs of the petal holder into the two small drilled holes.now to finish you will need to saw a strip down the center of the bottom of the stem by about 3mm.

Step 7: Putting It All Together:

Lay out all your pieces in a clear space and take a pin and a pair of tweezers because it is about to get fiddly.
1) cut 1 cm off of a paperclip and feed it through the holes in the leaves of the ring.
2) next cut 15 (or other depending on the size of your petals) smaller lengths of thread, about 4 mm long and stick them by rolling between your fingers and superglueing to a longer strand in order to make something like the image above.
3) As shown in the pictures feed the thread through the tube so that the ends are coming out of the flower part. you may need to use your pin to entice the bits out
4) carefully glue the individual strands onto the base of each petal and when dry make sure they all rise up when the thread coming out from the bottom of the tube is pulled.
5)using your tweezers wrap the thread end which it coming out of the bottom of the tube around the axle paperclip and when it is sufficiently wrapped ( two or three turns) superglue the thread to the axle.
6 next line the base of the stem with superglue and stick to the bottom of the ring in a way which allows the stem to be straddling the axle by feeding it through the two strips you have sawed.leave to dry.
The next thing to do is stick a cog or a knob from an old watch onto the axle to provide something to turn as shown in the picture.
The final stage is to stick your brass bead onto the top of the ring so that it adds a bit of interest to the flower.

Step 8:

Your finished mechanized flower ring, go and show off !
 

Comments

author
dominicpaul21 (author)2016-07-06

nice ring

author
Generationmatthew62 (author)2016-01-01

very interesting m'kay

author
Mrballeng (author)2013-07-09

Very, cool!

author
coolsista9 (author)2013-07-08

Wow, thanks it is fantastic I am going 2 make one right away and I never knew about that clay silver stuff. Thanx again!!

author
Kiteman (author)2013-07-08

Cool.

author
Kiteman (author)2013-07-08

Absolutely fascinating!

Any chance of seeing a video of the ring in action?

author
jessyratfink (author)2013-07-08

This is absolutely amazing - what a neat idea. :D

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