Introduction: Hand-Forged Cameo Ring
Hello fellow makers,
In my very first Instructable I showed you how to make a cameo pendant from scratch.
Now using the same methods I would like to show you how I made this cameo ring.
The ring and frame that the cameo lays in are hand forged from bronze/silver rods and is a great introduction into jewelry making.
Let's get started...
Step 1: What You Will Need:
To make this Instructable you will need the following:
- 3-4mm Bronze rod
This can be found at your local hardware store in the welding/brazing section. I recommend using bronze when learning and then moving on to precious metals later.
- 0.5-1mm Brass plate/sheet
- a Cameo/or:
- Polymer clay
- Cameo mold
- Silver solder
- a Butane/propane blow torch - Some masking/painters tape
- a Hammer
- an Anvil** (at $15 I highly recommend getting something like this)
Any piece of heavy metal with a smooth surface can be used, before I made myself this small jewellers anvil I used an old hammer head mounted in a vice and it worked great.
- Sanding paper 220 to 1500 grit
- Metal polishing compound
- Leather safety gloves
- A Dremel
- Felt polishing pads
Step 2: Making Your Cameo:
This step will depend on what you will be using for your cameo.
You can use a ready-made cameo, a hand carved cameo, resin cast into a silicone mold or polymer clay pressed into a hard mold.
I first made a cameo using a silicone mold and some casting resin but unfortunately the pigment that I used is very granular which caused the details on the cameo to disappear.
If you are going to be casting your cameo in resin I would suggest using a liquid pigment.
After that I decided to make my cameo like I always do by using polymer clay in some vintage hand carved molds that always give me exceptional results.
If you are also using hard molds remember to dust them with some baby powder otherwise they will be very difficult to remove and you might end up having to do them over.
After removing the polymer clay from the mold you will need to bake them in the oven according to the manufacturers specification and let them cool completely before handling as they are still bendable when warm.
Mine was baked at 130 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes
After they are cooled you can use a hobby knife to remove any excess clay.
Step 3: Start Forging:
Always wear leather gloves and face protection when forging metals, the pieces can cause serious burns even after standing for a while. Always handle your metal as if it is hot.
Now we will need to start shaping our bronze rod.
For this ring you need a rod that is the circumference of your ring finger (being a D shaped ring the rod needed will be a little less but rather make it too long and trim the excess later), mine was a 6cm long but you will be using the same forged rod for the cameo frame as well so I needed an extra 8cm as that is the circumference of my cameo and I leave about 10cm extra to make handling it easier.
So in total I am going to be using a ~24cm rod but I will only need to forge 14cm of it's length into a flat bar.
You can measure your ring size using a piece of string. Take the string and wrap it around the base of your finger, marking where the string first overlaps with a pen. Then, line that up with a ruler and take down its length
Now we need to anneal the bronze rod, with the butane/propane torch you need to heat up your bronze rod until it gets to a cherry red color.
When the rod has reached temperature you can place the rod on the anvil and start hammering it down on one side, try to keep your hammer head as flat as possible whilst moving across the rod.
While hammering you will feel the bronze getting harder, once you feel this happening you will need to reheat the rod as above.
Flipping the rod over from time to time will help keep it straight.
Keep repeating the above until you've reduced the thickness of the rod from 1.5/2mm to around 0.8mm.
Now you can reheat the rod and then place it on its side and gently hammer down the side to end up with a uniform bar that's approximately 3mm wide and 0.8mm thick.
Cut the bar you made into two pieces, one the length of of your ring the other the length of the cameo as measured above.
Step 4: Soldering: the Frame
Now we need to take the take the forged bar that's the length of the cameo and shape it around the cameo ( I always have a spare cameo that I use for bending the frames to not risk damaging a newly made one ) this is just to make sure the piece of bar you have is the correct length, cut off any excess.
Now bend the bar into an oval so that the two ends sit flush against each other. We are now ready to braze the two ends together.
To braze pieces like this I like to use the metal table of my old press drill.
If you have bare silver solder with separate flux you can now apply some flux to the joint, if like me you have flux covered silver solder rods I like to heat up the joint that needs to get brazed and then rub the fluxed rod over it to melt some onto the piece.
Now heat up the joint with your blow torch to a bright red and flow some of the solder into the joint. You want to make sure that the solder has filled up the joint, don't worry if it forms a blob on the underside we can just sand it away.
Using a glass pane with some 220 grit sanding paper we can flatten and even out both sides of the frame.
Next we place our cameo on a piece of brass place and mark around its edge with a pencil as a guide for your frame.
Step 5: Completing the Frame:
Take the frame that you just brazed and shape it according to the outline drawn on the bronze plate, once shaped you can move the piece over to be brazed.
This is going to take a while to heat up so I brazed the four corners one at a time.
Like before add flux to the joint where the frame meets the bronze plate and start heating, once the piece reaches a cherry red color you can flow silver solder into the joint.
After the piece has cooled I use my trusty old Knipex cutters to remove most of the excess plate around the frame and then move to a Dremel with a sanding drum to finish it off.
Step 6: Optional:
To personalise it a little further I decided to stamp in some initials onto the back of it using alphabet metal stamps.
To do this just place the piece on a wooden dowel that fits inside the frame and gently hammer in the initials/word/phrase.
Step 7: Soldering: the Ring
The final step in brazing is to solder on the ring loop onto the frame.
Take the bronze bar that you still have left from from step 3 and bend it into a "C" shape as pictured. Place it around your finger to make sure the size is correct before we move on to soldering it.
When you are happy with the size move the pieces over to your brazing area and stand the "C" ring up on the frame as pictured, add flux and a small piece of silver solder to the joint and heat it up with your butane torch making sure the solder flows into the joint.
Leave the piece to cool completely.
Step 8: Sanding and Polishing:
We're almost done!
Now the fun part where you see all of your hard work start to come together.
First I start with 220 grit sanding paper wetted with water and a bit of dish washing liquid and start to sand away any visible imperfections, especially around the solder joints.
Then we move on to 400 grit to remove all the scratches left by the 220 grit, move onto finer grits until you are left with a scratch/imperfection free satin looking ring.
Now using a felt pad and a fine compounding polishing block we can start to polish our creation, be sure to polish the inside edge of the frame as well.
Remember to add new polish regularly..
After it is nice and shine I use a soft cloth with some liquid polish to rub it down.
Step 9: Inset the Cameo:
All that's left to do now is to glue the cameo into the frame.
To do this I used 2 part CA glue (superglue)
Add a bead in the centre of your frame, press the cameo into place (make sure of the orientation before pressing it in) and then spray the activator to set up the glue.
Step 10: You're Done:
I hope you guys enjoyed this Instructable and if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment bellow.
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