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Video:How to Make a Melted Silver Charcoal Ring

with Heidi Dehncke

Silver rings made from charcoal molds are organic and unique jewelry designs. Learn how to make your own silver ring in charcoal.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Make a Melted Silver Charcoal Ring

Hi. I'm Jeanette Caines. I'm a jewelry instructor, here at Jewelry Arts Institute and we're here for About.com. I'm going to show you how to make these very simple, organic, yet truly fantastic silver rings.

Tools Needed to Make a Silver Ring

  • Charcoal block
  • Scriber
  • Fine silver casting grain
  • Ring mandrel
  • Template
  • Tweezers
  • Torch
  • Kiln
  • Leather mallet

Mold the Charcoal for the Silver Ring

To start a ring, what I'm going to do is first I'm going to use my ring mandrel and figure out what size I need my ring to be. I'm going to say, let's say a size seven. I can just use my template and find the circle that matches the size seven. I can put it directly down on the charcoal block and use my scriber just to mark the line, just like that. Basically, what we're doing is we're creating a little funnel- a little simple mold to melt all of the metal into.

I'm then going to take a larger circle to be my outside edge and this is not something that is a real science. As you're going along if you feel you need to make changes, you can always carve out a little bit more. And draw a circle. I'm just creating my little channel. I'm just going to use my nice rounded end of my tweezers and I'm going to carve that little trough out. Basically, this is what you end up with, it's really just a ring shaped trough, that we're going to melt our silver in.

Melt the Silver Ring Into the Charcoal Mold

I'm going to start putting my silver in there. I'm just going to use my tweezers. And, you know, this is the kind of process where you're really going to experiment. Because you may do one and say oh, you know, it's a little too thick and I need to adjust it. That's the great thing about using the charcoal block is that you can keep carving and keep experimenting and no two rings that you make this way, even if you were to use the same trough, are going to be the same. You can also use fine silver sheet, by the way, and just cut it up. It doesn't have to be casting grain.

What I'm going to do now is the next step, is whenever you're going to melt metal in your charcoal block, it's really best to stand so if anything were to happen you could get out of the way of your molten metal. I'm going to light up my torch. I have my bowl of water and my high tech implement, my chopstick, kept nice and wet in case I need to move any of the metal around.

You'll find that as the metal starts to melt it wants to just ball up in one clump. You see how it wants to pull away? So, then I just use my little chop stick to kind of draw it back out a little bit. And we have to pull the flame away at moments, because, like I said, as it gets so hot it tends to ball up on itself. But that is our first ring.

The charcoal block will continue to smolder. So, what I usually do is I sprinkle a little water on it and make sure that your charcoal block is no longer smoldering and won't pose any kind of a safety risk. I let my ring cool a little bit. I'm also going to dip it in the water just to make certain. I'm going to dry it off. It's important to work with your metal dry because when you then go to your tools you don't want your tools to rust.

Hammer the Silver Ring to Size

We're going to slide it on the mandrel. And no matter even though we set this up to be a size seven in the beginning, because of the irregularity of it, it's always going to be much smaller. But that's perfect for us. Because we're going to put it on the mandrel and we're going to hammer it with a leather mallet until it's relatively round so that it's comfortable to wear on the inside and that way we'll reach the size that we want. I think it's about a size four at this point.

So, we're going to stop and anneal. Annealing just makes the metal softer. A very simple method – Sharpie. Take it, put a little squiggle mark on what you're going to anneal. And when you anneal you just want to use a soft flame. And, I'm just going to watch it. And when that line disappears I know that my metal is perfectly annealed. So, I'm going to set it on my steel block for a minute. And then I'm going to dunk it in the water to completely cool it off. And then I'm going to dry it off and go back to hammering.

Once your ring is the right size, you really want to check if it's soft and comfortable. What you might want to do if you have access to a micro torque or a flexible shaft we can use one of these blue silicon wheels. You can do the job just as well with some sand paper and your hands. Some people prefer a more shiny finish. Some people like something a little more matt.

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