So... Selfish Sundays are a thing! I can hear the collective sigh of relief from friends and family...*finally*

Why a whole day? So I can get stuck in and get fully absorbed. Many of the things I want to make require time and dedication and I know from experience that these things won't happen if I don't put a solid block of time away. It's hard to get the sewing machine out just for an hour or two (as evidenced by the pile of repairs and half finished skirts waiting next to my sewing machine) or get all my silversmithing tools out for a minor job (as evidenced by the pile of repairs waiting in my tin).

I've been promising myself 'Me' days for a couple of years now and they haven't happened for several reasons. I've needed to be selfish, in the full strength of the word and adamantly put my needs first for one day of the week, to force myself. And starting this new habit before telling anyone has helped muchly - it's now a thing and there's no spotlight or failed promises to shy away from. Mary - I completely agree with your comment on my last post, that we shouldn't view putting our needs first as selfish, but I'm wanting to turn being selfish into something positive, into something healthy, instead of it being a negative thing.

 

 

Making the first cut was the biggest obstacle. Once I'd cut the circle from the sterling silver sheet I found my stride and found it hard to stop shaping and smoothing.

Marked out here are the next circles to be cut and holes to be drilled.

 

 

And cut! Looks pretty messy at this stage, especially as I realised after taking this photo that the two smaller circles at the bottom had been drilled the wrong size; thankfully I'd drilled them too small and it was an easy fix.

This took some time to get right and file neatly. Being my perfectionist self, especially when it comes to circles, the filing and perfecting of shape took a daft amount of time. But I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'm doing this for myself so I don't need to be time-efficient. The larger circle near the top will be hidden by the cabochon and will only be visible from the back, and is such less important than the others to get right. It's simply there to save on silver, and so that the pendant weighs less (it's pretty big and hefty) with the added bonus that you can see the back of the stone.

 

 

The image above is how the piece looked at the start of the 2nd Selfish Sunday - finished circles and ready to solder.

 

 

And this is the plan: 5 wire U-tabs as the mount, bent over to hold birdseye rhyolite cab; with 2 rear bails the the belcher will be fixed to. The cabochon is 36mm diameter and the pendant is 65mm diameter. After taking this shot I decided to move the position of the rear bails (nothing's soldered here; it's in position to demonstrate) so that the pendant hangs more off centre.

The chain is a fully hallmarked sterling silver belcher that I found at the bottom of a swimming pool as a kiddo. It's a decent weight and the right kind of chunky, and it's been waiting many, many years to have a few links repaired and be put to use. It's roughly 40cm/16in in length. The sterling silver sheet is 0.8mm gauge, and the wire is 1.5mm gauge.


 

And soldered! If you're not familiar with how silver looks immediately after soldering, this might look like a mess, yet for me it's a very reassuring thing. It's been a long time since I did something on this scale and it's pretty exciting.


 

Unfortunately, I tried to do a few more stages in the making and learnt that only 4 of the 10 soldered mount joints were strong enough, so the others came out. (it had been going perhaps a little too well up to this point). Here it is, post it's 2nd pickle (pickling makes it look white; it's part of the cleaning process)

Having made several more attempts to resolder these joints and the rear bails, I realised what I was doing wrong. Firstly, I was possibly trying to resolder into not perfectly clean joins, and solder doesn't like dirty joins (cleaning inside drilled holes is tricky, as you don't want to make the holes any bigger, and likewise whilst emering the wire to clean you don't want to make it less snug inside the hole by filing too much. I need to remember to pickle every time, and pickle properly).

Secondly, I was trying to solder lots of joins at the same time, which is do-able as I've done it before. But 'before' was almost 20 years ago, in a fully equipped workshop with a decent torch (I trained on oxy-acetylene). And that's the 3rd and final explanation for what went wrong - the two blowtorchs I have are not as powerful as I'm used to, and I'm out of practice at heating the metal. I was trying to be clever and save myself the job of buying different types of solder, whereas some joins where not getting sufficient heat for the solder to flow properly. 

So I caved and bought a further grade of silver solder, so that I can solder in stages and do a proper job of it. That won't be here by the next Selfish Sunday but that's OK, because I'm half inclined to make the U-tab posts into rivets for holding the cabochon... except I've never made rivets so I'm going to use some scrap and spend the day practicing. I know in theory how to do them, and I'm looking forward to trying it out.

And so we have 2 weeks of me things! And you know what? By taking a day off from work and doing something completely unrelated yet still as creative, I'm enjoying my Hat designing more (or rather; the non-designing bits of running a business are feeling less of a chore, as the designing bits are the best bits). Funny how that happens... sometimes we have to learn the hard way that taking time out is beneficial...

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead