I thought you'd like a behind the scenes look at the making of my Purple Rain necklace. I made this piece and named it on March 6, nearly two months before Prince died. I must say, I'm a little skittish right now to name anymore pieces after songs or musicians.
First a stone will rise up and start calling out to me. If I ignore it, it gets really pesty. Let me show you.
I did not alter this photo to make the bin glow. That's all the commotion from the stones being pesty. Fine. I take them out and let them play.
I start drawing. I usually go through several drawings until the stones are happy. I know you think I'm teasing here. But if the stones don't like it, there is no way in hell the finished piece comes out looking good. I know. I've learned the hard way.
Next I take one of the stones and begin to create a bezel for it. A bezel is the piece of metal that will hold the stone in the setting. I use fine silver for this, which is .999 pure silver. (Sterling silver is .925 pure.)
I shape the silver around the stone. It has to be exact within a millimeter or the stone won't fit.
I do this for each stone that goes into the piece.
Next I put that shaped bezel onto a sterling silver backing. I use silver solder and fire to attach the bezel to the back.
Usually when putting a bezel on the back, I run the torch underneath the piece. This way I have less risk of melting the fine silver into a blob.
Here is the piece fresh out of the fire. In this case I was soldering on a "solderite" board because I was putting those little pieces together. Not pretty, I know. But to me it's looking great!
Then I put the whole piece into the pickle. Pickle is a liquid mixture of chemicals that clean off the flux and other gunk that get on the piece through the firing process. I keep mine hot in a little crock pot. (See the red crock pot?)
Then I do a little polishing. This is my big polishing machine.
After polishing, I set all of the stones. This is a little nerve-wracking. If I didn't make the bezel exactly right, the stone could crack if I try to force it to fit. If I made it too loose, it's sloppy looking.
Then I do a final, detailed polish.
And here it is.