I recently gave a 3-hour workshop to Leslie, an extended relative of mine that I had never met before. She contacted me when planning her visit to Florence, Italy, so that she could include a jewelry lesson during her trip.
Leslie was previously into sewing, so she was good with patterns and working with her hands. Without any prior experience in jewelry or metal work, she was able to get an introduction in jewelry fabrication and realize a fleur de lis pendant in brass and sterling silver. She chose her design based on the symbol of Florence to remember her travels.
After learning how to transfer a design onto metal and piercing the 1mm brass sheet with a drill, Leslie sawed out her shape with great control and precision. She didn’t even break the saw blade! The shape was then filed and sanded. She also did some tests with letter stamps.
Then, after a tutorial in soldering, she was able to melt some sterling silver scraps into tiny spheres. Several were made so that she could choose the desired size to solder onto her pendant. She also added a bail for the chain onto the back of the pendant so that it would not be visible from the front, thus leaving her design clean and simple.
The metal tends to ball-up as it melts at a high temperature while using an oxidizing flame high in air content. Don’t forget to add flux for smoother melting.
Above is the finished piece: a “fleur de lis” pendant in brass and sterling silver and the brass sheet from which it was cut. Even after polishing, the brass will obtain a darker tone, oxidized naturally, giving the piece an antiqued patina.
For information about a bespoke jewelry class or workshop in a well equipped studio in the center of Florence, Italy, for one or more people, contact me.
For more photos of Naomi in the studio, see A Dusty Green Olive.