The 'Heart Way' Owl Totem Ring
I was inspired to post this Owl Totem Ring (which is so special to me!) and enter it into the Jewelry making contest in honor of a fellow fallen silversmith/friend, in our 'maker' community. Her name is Jenni and she was a wonderful kind person, bird lover, and metalsmith. She lost her battle to breast cancer in the Fall of 2016. I had originally made this ring to honor her, our friendship, and her everlasting impression that she made on me as an artist, and so many others.
The 'Heart Way' which is stamped on the back of the ring represents a descriptive title of a certain way of 'living life.' Living from your hearts' space, listening to that voice inside your heart (not your head) that has compassion, gratitude, and love. This act can often be described as living an honest graceful life to the best of ones ability while being kind and compassionate to others. Jenni was a genuine person, reaching out to me (not even knowing me) to offer kind and uplifting words which later blossomed a friendship. This kind gesture had inspired me beyond words and still does.
The Owl - Jenni was a bird lover, as am I - and Owls were her favorite. The Owl is a majestic creature, and known for its masterful hearing and sight.
My wish for sharing this piece is to help or inspire others in the maker/silversmith community to try a different, rather "Sketch-to-metal" style, while spreading the beautiful story of a beloved friend!
Step 1: What You Will Need for This Project!
The skill level for this project I would say is *Begginner/Intermediate* This ring can be done with many basic silversmithing tools that can either be found around the house, or that you most likely already have if you are a metalsmith!
1. 20 Guage Silver sheet and also 10 guage silver half round wire for ring shank.
3. Jewelers Saw and 4/0 Laser Gold saw Blades and 1 LG Saw Blades
4. Saw Blade Lube
5. Elmers' Rubber Cement
6. Jeweler Files (Sanding tools)
7. Stamps (Straight/Curved and decorated)
8. Block for Stamping ("Stamping Station")
9. Oval Stencils
10. Your Owl Image! (Drawn/Printed and cut out)
Step 2: Preparing Your Owl
Use the Elmer's Rubber cement glue to attach your Owl design to the silver sheet.
Let it dry for a few minutes!
Step 3: Saw
Use your Jewelers saw and the size 1 Laser Gold Saw blade to cut out the owl from the silver sheet. Use the saw lube to make things a little easier.
Next use the size 4/0 Laser Gold Saw blade to saw "main accents" into the owl cut out. I usually go for the wing and around the face for this.
*Sawing Tip* Make sure to let the frame do the work, always keep sawing up and down as you turn and guide your saw to avoid broken blades.
Step 4: Stamping/Decorating
Use your "Stamping Station" metal block, stamps, and hammer to add details and texture to your owls' wings, and face.
*Make sure to use a 'punch' for the eyes and cut/drill/saw those out as well.*
Step 5: Making the Back Plate
Use your Oval stencils to find an appropriate oval for your project.
*If you plan to add a stone (totally optional) make sure the bezel for this stone, and your Owl will fit and have enough room inside the desired oval on your stencil.*
Use various star sized stamps for the background.
Use your letter stamps (if desired) to stamp 'Heart Way' on the back of the back plate.
*If you use a 9.25 stamp or a makers mark stamp, do this on the back as well!.*
Step 6: File/Solder
File the Oval backplate to your liking. *Sometimes stamping causes the shape to morph a bit*
Sand the backplate and owl, flux, and solder.
*TIP* I prefer to use solder chips specifically for cut/stamped details like this owl to avoid filling those details in accidentally with too much solder!
Step 7: Form the Back Plate
I use my 'Durston' ring bending mandrel to form the backplate a little bit so that its comfortable as a ring on the finger. This step can also be done with a ring mandrel and a rubber malet or rawhide hammer.
Step 8: Adding the Bezel
If you are going to add a stone, make the bezel and use a piece of sand paper, place it over the ring mandrel (to recreate that curved back plate shape) and sand the bezel down gently until it sits snug on top of your backplate with no gaps.
Solder bezel into place.
Step 9: Ring Shank
This ring shank is made with 2 pieces of 10 guage half round silver wire.
Cut the 2 pieces to the correct size for desired ring size.
Sand one side of each piece and solder together with medium solder.
Use Jewelers saw to cut into the ends of each side of the ring shank (to create a split ring shank) and use a pair of small pliers to spread the ends and form them.
Use your ring mandrel to shape the ring shank to desired size.
Sand the backplate and ring shank, solder together using easy solder.
Use your Foredom or filiing tools to clean up the back, edges and ring shank of the entire piece. (do your normal finishing touches!)
Step 10: Final Touches
I use Midas Black Max to patina my work before polishing.
Polish! Rinse! Your Done!