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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication

Lesson 12 of 22

Hollow Fabricated Ring: Constructing the Ring Part 1

Megan Auman

Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

12. Hollow Fabricated Ring: Constructing the Ring Part 1

Lesson Info

Hollow Fabricated Ring: Constructing the Ring Part 1

So let's go ahead and check on all of our parts in the pickle here. Because we've made them, so the question always comes up is how long do things have to be in the pickle. And the answer is quite frankly until they're done. So because we're doing this all on camera, I have our pickle pretty hot right now. Not hot, but pretty I should say high. Like it's a pretty strong concentration, and then I've got it on low instead of warm. I would never go to high. I don't care how much of a hurry you're in. Don't put your crock pot on high. But I've got this so that I can get these pretty clean pretty fast. So I'm actually gonna go ahead. You don't ever want to just take them out of the pickle. You want to at least rinse them off. In a perfect world, you would take them to a sink and rinse them. But we've got this bowl of water, that works just fine, so I'm gonna use that. And then before I take them back to my tools to reshape them, I'm just gonna dry them off. I managed to get a rag, so then I...

don't have to keep drying things on my apron. And so for the inner ring band, what you can do now is actually just go ahead back to your ring mandrill. Slide that on. (metal clanking) And I push it down as kind of far as it'll go. And then I hammer it with our nice glancing blows. (metal clanking) And then because our ring mandrill is tapered, I'm gonna flip it over. And go the other direction. And you guys can't see because the numbers are facing me, but we did our math right. And this is lining up at a size eight. Which is very exciting. It's always nice to know that you did your math properly. (audience laughing) There's always that moment of panic when I cut the blank, because it always looks so small. You're like that can't be right, but then you're like oh, look, sure enough that works. So get that on there. And if you end up doing this and it's a little bit too small. You can actually stretch this a tiny little bit, just by hammering on it a little bit more. So you can really kind of push it down. Hammer it a little bit more. What I find is that most people end up actually making the ring bands just a little too small, because they have a tendency to take out too much material when they're trying to get the ends to match. That's one way that you can do that. There's also a really handy tool called a ring stretcher. It looks like this, a mandrill, but it actually has a crank and it will just slightly stretch your rings. It's probably not something that anyone's gonna buy for their individual studio, but I remember we ended up buying one for the place that I used to teach, because so many students would make rings. And then they'd be just a little too small, and they were all too sad. So it's a nice tool to have. Now, for these shapes, obviously they're not gonna fit on our ring mandrill. So with these, I sort of just kind of shape them by hand. What's nice is that they're obviously pretty soft. Because we just soldered them, so we could essentially unyield them in the process. If I had something, in my own studio I have a lot more dowel rods and round things. But in this case, I'm kind of just doing it with my finger. I can sort of use my ring mandrill. Let's bring the other one over, too. To actually kind of smooth out any bumps. So maybe I'll slide it to the end. And just use this to kind of even out my shape a little bit. (metal clanking) So I can kind of play with that. This is our guy that's supposed to be a little bit round. Play with our oval shape a little. (metal clanking) So just like we were talking about in our first segment, this is definitely a kind of do what you gotta do, in terms of getting the shape right. You know, whatever mandrills work, whatever shapes work. And actually you can see, that turned out to be a pretty nice oval. Just by sort of taking it on there, hammering it a little bit, and really straightening it out. So I mentioned that we were kind of thinking about doing this more complicated shape with our little bubble on top. So in this case now, this becomes a multi-step soldering process. So I've made our little round shape, but I want to add our little bubble here. So what I'll do, is this guy I'll actually probably bend. I might even bend it around this, right. I've got something round. I'm gonna use it to my advantage. So I'm gonna bend that around here. And then I probably will actually bend that. So now with this one, because I'm putting it on to a round surface, I'm not gonna be able to put it to my sandpaper necessarily to get the fit. It's actually not terrible the way it is. I'm a little bit crooked here, in terms of actually my shape, I think is a little crooked. So on something like this, I would just go ahead and, so obviously this now has this inner wall in here. That doesn't matter, because I'm never gonna see it in my shape, right. So I can use this to make that. Before I actually commit to that, I want to check that this fits. That I like the shape of this around my inner ring. So I want to make sure that it actually fits in there, I'm not doing anything crazy with that. So kind of looking at it this way, do I like what's happening. This is becoming a really weird ring really quickly, but I kind of like that about it. (laughing) So now I'm gonna come in here and just see if I need to do any fit adjustment. And then I'll actually tackle that with my file. Because I'm not able to use my sandpaper. So I'll come in here with my flat file. And actually get that on there. So I might actually file it a little bit of an angle here. Just because I know... That's what my piece is. Flip that around. I actually have like a little high point right here where I cut this. So I want to make sure that I'm taking care of that. That seems to be the spot that's preventing it from sitting flat. (file grinding) On my ring. Alright, so then once I've got that fit, I could come in and I could just go ahead and set this up. And I would probably set this up vertically so I could lay my solder in those seams there, if that makes sense. And set it up and solder it that way. We're good on that, I won't do it. Okay, so now, let's set that aside and come back to this shape. So now I've got these two shapes here. And we can start to think about, this is our ring. Now we need to start making our faces. So the first thing that I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna take this, and I'm gonna grab a sheet of metal. And I'm just gonna draw and cut out a shape from our metal that's just a little bit larger that what we're dealing with. It's too difficult to try to cut this to shape perfectly and get our solder seam lined up. So all I'm gonna do, is just leave a little bit of excess here, and like there's a little funky corner on here. I can cut that off if I want, it's not totally essential. It's all gonna get cut off in the end. But I'm gonna start with this. So I would say, we're looking at about five, six millimeters around. I don't wanna make this crazy big, because the bigger I make this, the more I'm going to have to get that up to temperature as I solder. But this is a good place to start. So all I'm gonna do really quickly here... Is go ahead and cut this shape out. And this is one of those situations where it doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be done. So we're just gonna go ahead... Get that started there. (saw grinding) And what I'm gonna discover pretty quickly here, is I'm not gonna make it all the way around without hitting the back of my saw frame. That's okay, we're gonna come back. (saw grinding) 'Cause that doesn't have to be pretty, just has to be done. So I've got this cut out. Before we go ahead and move on to our next step, one of the things that we have to think about is those air escape holes. We have to decide what we want to do about those. So one of the things you can think about is that if you've got a lot of flat surface, that's something that you could do some decorative piercing on. You could actually do interesting things where you're piercing out what's happening there and that is definitely easier to do before you solder this to this sheet. So that's why we want to take a little bit of time to think about our placement. Now that said, we're gonna go kind of super boring on this one, and just like we did in our sample, I'm gonna do just a couple of little holes in this band. And again, you can drill those. But in the interest of moving quickly, I'm gonna grab our friends the hole punch pliers. And I can tell you this is pretty much exactly what I did on that one. And you want to do this before you start to actually solder these pieces to there, because it starts to get a little tricky. And in my own studio, I actually at least marked this with a sharpie, so I had kind of an idea of placement. But I'm really just eyeballing it. And again, I put my safety glasses on, because we're sending little pieces of metal flying, so better safe than sorry. So again, I'm just gonna do this little five decorative band game. And if it feels like it distorted your shape at all after you do that, mine looks pretty good. But you could always throw it back on your ring mandrill and just re-hammer it out. Alright, so now let's talk about starting to solder these on. And I want to get one section soldered. So the one thing that you want to think about is the order of this. I have heard two schools of thought. Some people say you should solder the inner band on to the flat sheet first. Some people say you should solder the outer band. I personally like to solder the outer band first, because I think it's easier to kind of find the placement. And then what it also means is it's easier to place our solder in here. If I place my solder in here, then I never have to clean it up. If I place my solder out around, then I have a lot more solder clean up to do. So once again, I'm jumping the gun. So I may have lied about actually soldering before lunch, because we do have one more step that we need to do before we put this on, which is we need to get this flat so it fits. So if I look at this right now, I can kind of do it this way. I'm always checking for gaps, right. So are there gaps, I hold it up to the light and look this way. I realize you guys can't see, but I legitimately need to check it for gaps. So I can see some gaps happening in here. So we're gonna get out our trusty sandpaper. And we're gonna go ahead... And right now I'm only gonna worry about one side, because I'm gonna have to do the other side again anyway. (metal scratching) And I'm just checking if I can see that the whole thing has sort of sand marks on it, then I know I'm usually pretty good. I can see one spot that wasn't quite sanded. (metal scratching) So I'll get that set up. So then the other thing I'll do while I'm here, once I know that this kind of fits, is that I'll also go ahead and get this sanded. So I've got this prepped and ready, I've got this guy prepped and ready. So I want to put some binding wire on this, so that it's not gonna move around while I'm working. So what I'll do is just like we did with our spear sample, I'm gonna paint a little bit of flux on this, before I put this on, right. That way when I set this down, it's there in the right spot. It is a little bit of a pain, 'cause then it's kind of messy while you're putting some binding wire on. But it's definitely gonna make our lives easier. So now I'm gonna go ahead, and on this one I actually like to twist my binding wire at the top of this instead of at the bottom. And I'm gonna show you why in a second. So with this, it's really important that we get our binding wire kind of nice and tight. And because we're putting binding wire over a three-dimensional surface, that's a little bit tricky. So what I like to do is actually put some bends in my binding wire. So I'm gonna take my binding wire, I'm gonna give it a little twist, give it a little twist here. I'm gonna give it a little twist here. And now that kind of sucks it down. Did everyone catch that? I'll do it again, 'cause I've got one more piece of binding wire to put on. So I'm gonna go the opposite direction as well. So I'm gonna go this way. I'm gonna put a little binding wire on here. Do a little twist. So clamp that down. Clamp that down. Give it a little twist on the bottom, too. Make sure it's nice and tight. Cut off our excess. And now we can go ahead and put our solder in here. So at this point, and so the other nice thing about the binding wire is it's gonna keep things from wanting to warp or distort a little bit. So I might actually just make it a little bit tighter. The only thing you want to be careful about when you're tightening this, is that you don't want to tighten it so much that you end up distorting this ring band here, which can happen if you're working with a thinner gauge, so you want to just be careful. You want it tight, but not crazy tight. Alright, so now at this point, I am gonna jump down to our medium solder. So we have hard, we have hard on our inner ring band, and this one I'm going to go for medium. So I'm gonna go ahead... Sometimes when I'm doing this I like to actually pick up a whole chunk, like a whole pile of solder, and then just kind of push it into place. Instead of having to keep coming back and forth and picking up a lot of solder. So that's one of those little cheats that I do when I'm trying to be quick about it. What's the best way that you think about where you want to pull the solder. From the inside out, the outside in, where? So the best way to think about it, is where can I put it that I don't actually have to clean it up. So on this one, I'm putting it on the inside and drawing it out. Because it means I will never have to clean up anything on the inside, 'cause we're never gonna see this inside of the shape. It's gonna be capped off on the other side. That said, you'll see when we get to our ring band. Ideally, in the ring band when I'm putting this on here, I would actually put that on the outside. Like I would want to put it on basically what would be the outside, but it's the inside of the wall, and draw it in. Again, so I wouldn't have to clean up. But the problem is that actually is really close to this outer wall in parts. So sometimes I literally just can't get my tweezers in there to place the solder. And in that case, I'll place the solder wherever I can get my tweezers in to put it. If that makes sense. Did you, did I miss it? Did you put flux on the oval? There's enough in here that it should be okay. Okay, I was wondering if it was, if there was enough. (laughing) Thanks, thanks for that catch. What did I say about not soldering before lunch? You're powering through. (laughing) You're powering through, man. Yeah, keep asking me questions while I'm doing this. And thank you for that catch. Megan, I wanted to ask is there a minimum number of air holes that you have to place on the band? There isn't, but what I usually say, is like one looks like you put an air hole in, more than one looks like a decorative element. So that's usually my rule of thumb. One is plenty fine, I think two is even better, just 'cause it gives the air more than one place to escape. But there really isn't a, as long as there's one, you actually will be okay. And the air holes only matter once you close it up. So obviously there's no concern that there's not an air hole on this part of the band, because it only becomes problematic when we put the other side on. Alright, so I've got some solder on here. Let me slide the last of it actually towards my wall. I have a question, too. Yeah, go for it. I'm curious why you're using medium and not hard. Because I already have one seam with hard in this. Oh yes, okay, gotcha gotcha. Yeah, so the ring itself already has hard. I have another question. Yeah, go for it. If you were gonna put holes, so I'm imagining this right now. On the outer ring, as like an organic decorative feature. On the outer ring as in the wall? Yes. You guys can turn the lights down. Would you do it before you made it into a circle? Like while it was still flat, if you just wanted to drill like a bunch of holes into it? Yeah, if you're gonna do a lot, it's probably, I just found one spot where I wanted another piece of solder. I'm just like imagining all these rings. Yeah, so if you're gonna do a lot of holes, I would say it's easier to do it before you bend. Okay. Same thing if you wanted to do any kind of piercing on that wall. I would recommend the same thing. I would do that before I bend. The only time that you really, really need to do holes or piercing after forming. We can turn down the lights. Is when you're doing like the spherical shapes, where you're actually dapping or doming. In the case of those, you definitely want to do that after because it's gonna distort. But with something where you're just bending it around, you can absolutely do that before you bend. So with this I'm just again trying to just dry a little bit. The other reason that I really like binding wire in this setup is because you can see how it actually lifts this off the surface of our solderite board. And so it actually allows me to get some heat underneath. And so that bubbled a little bit, and if that's the case, I just want to keep an eye on this here. Move any solder back into place that I lost. There we go. Eileen would like to know, is binding wire the same as stainless steel lock wire. It's not, so you can get stainless steel binding wire. I'm just using mild steel binding wire. I find that the mild steel works just as well. But you can certainly use stainless steel binding wire as well. Thank you. So obvious you can see right now, I'm kind of taking my time. I'm trying to get my flux to dry without sending my solder pieces everywhere. And then I'm gonna give this a little bit of a boost here. A little bit more power to my flame. And I'm gonna heat on the outside, because I'm trying to draw it from the inside out. But there's never gonna be enough heat out there, so at some point I am gonna have to do a little bit of heat on my inside. So I'm gonna kind of get my inside warm, and then I'm gonna come back out here. And the other thing is that you want to kind of keep your torch moving, but at some point you're gonna have to kind of focus on an area. So see our seam's just popping out there as I spin it. So that's what I'm looking for, that silver to come out there on the edge. And that looks pretty good to me. Look at that. See, you can solder before lunch. (laughing) So that, and what's beautiful about this, is now I just have this nice pristine seam that comes along this outside edge. And if there's any excess in the center, I don't ever have to worry about cleaning it up. Alright, so we're gonna go ahead, and we can turn the lights back up. I'm gonna quench this. I'm gonna take my binding wire off. I'm gonna put it in the pickle, and that way it can hang out there.

Class Description

There’s nothing quite like the magic of turning a two-dimensional sheet of metal into a three-dimensional form. In Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication, you’ll learn how to create volume in metal through various forming and soldering techniques and how to take those forms and turn them into unique jewelry that will turn heads!

In this one of a kind class, designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will show you how to take your jewelry making skills to the next level to create unique and distinctive designs.

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Make three-dimensional forms in metal - including spheres, cones, and organic shapes, and more.
  • Use hollow fabrication techniques to create your own ring.
  • Tackle more complicated soldering projects. (Without investing in more tools.)
  • Finish your forms so they’re sturdy and stunning.
  • Turn your hollow fabrication explorations into amazing earrings, bracelets, and pendants.

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing, or you’ve been dabbling for years, you’ll leave this class with the skills and ideas necessary to take your jewelry designs to the next level. Plus, you’ll learn how to create distinctive three-dimensional jewelry - perfect to wear, share, or sell! Join us for Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication!



After watching Megan solder in this class, I felt like it was something I could take on. There's a lot of soldering in this class! But there's also a lot you can do without soldering that's covered. I have a better understanding of how jewelry is made from this class. I'm looking at things that I own and thinking that I now know how to recreate them!

Silvia Rossi

I liked this course, Megan explains a lot of things about techniques and materials and it's simple follow all the operations to create these types of rings. I think I'd purchase other classes of her.