I remember my Dad talking about the excitement of the Sears catalog arriving. Kids would spend hours looking through it, making their Christmas wish list. That’s me with the Halstead catalog – it provides hours of entertainment – flipping through the pages and dreaming of all my future purchases…
Not long ago, I found myself searching for inspiration. I sat down with some of my Halstead collection and challenged myself to use some of the bits and pieces in non-traditional ways to create a piece of jewelry. I love to rivet and chose to use only cold connections. It is fair to say that anything with a hole already in it or in which I can make a hole is fair game for riveting. – Gwen
TOOLS and SUPPLIES:
24 ga. copper sheet
25mm pewter large hammered circle #P3095S
15.9×21.6mm sterling silver filigree link #SH645
Fine silver wire, 16 and 18 gauge
Drill and drill bits for 16 & 18 gauge wire (or 4-hole Punch)
Riveting Essentials (optional)
Bench block and small piece of leather
Nylon/plastic or Rawhide mallet
Metal shears or Saw
Sandpaper of various grits
Files – small flat and round diamond file
Fine Tip Permanent Marker (Sharpie)
Blue painter’s tape
2. I cut out pieces of copper for a pendant and a bail. I used two of my favorite templates to make that job easy. Place the template on the metal and trace it with a fine tip permanent marker. I used metal shears to cut out the shape, but a jeweler’s saw would work, too. The metal will deform during the cutting process. To flatten it, place it on the bench block and hammer flat with a nylon/plastic or rawhide mallet.
3. File and smooth the edges and they are ready for texture and patina. Texture hammers make interesting patterns easy to create on the metal. A black Sharpie also makes a quick and easy patina. Simply cover the metal with the Sharpie ink and let dry for just a bit. Then polish off the excess ink and voila…instant patina without the stinky rotten egg smell of liver of sulfur.
4. The Halstead components I decided to use are P3095S (25mm Large Hammered Circle) and SH645 (15.9mm x 21.6mm Filigree Link). I added a couple of daisy spacers from my stash and made a few Ball-headed rivets.
5. Ball-headed rivets are easy to make. Cut about 1 inch of the desired gauge of Fine Silver wire. Hold one end of the piece of wire in the tips of cross-locking tweezers. Hold the free end of the wire in the flame of a torch – the end of the wire will magically ball-up. They are ready to be used as rivets. HINT: Separate the rivets by the gauge of wire used and store in containers with the wire gauged marked on them. I keep a few made all the time, so they are ready when inspiration strikes.
6. Now it is time to make design decisions and test fit the components. First the loops on the Filigree Link need to be removed. A pair of flush cutters will easily nip-off those loops. Use sand paper or a small file to smooth the metal once the loops are removed.
7. Decide the arrangement of the pieces and location of the rivets. In this case, the Hammered Circle will be used to frame the Filigree Link. Some of the existing openings in the Filigree Link accommodate 18 gauge wire and will be used with ball-headed rivets. Design Note: The ball-headed rivets will mimic the small bead in the very center of the Filigree Link. The Hammered Circle will be riveted in place with four rivets spaced equally around the link. The rivets in the Hammered Circle will be offset from the rivets in the Filigree Link and loosely aligned with the four points of my copper piece. Be sure to leave room to attach the bail. Daisy spacers with rivets through them will be used as an accent and to functionally attach the bail.
8. The Filigree Link will be riveted in place first. Place the link in its proper place. Using a fine tip Sharpie, mark through one of the existing openings to the back plate to mark the location of the first rivet. IMPORTANT: Always work one rivet at a time. As easy as it seems to mark and drill all the holes at once, rest assured the holes will NEVER line up once the first rivet is in place…ask me how I know…you guessed it…I tried it many times and have ended up with a big mess…so take my word and work one rivet at a time…save yourself the heartache.
The other important step to riveting is to make sure the diameter of the hole matches the diameter of the wire being used as a rivet. In this case, 18 gauge wire fits through some of the existing holes in the Filigree Link. So, holes with a diameter matching 18 gauge wire will be drilled in the copper piece. This can be done with a drill and #60 twist drill bit. (NOTE: for 16 gauge wire, a #56 or #55 twist drill bit is used; for 14 gauge wire, a #52 drill bit or 1/16th inch. Sometimes the hole diameter will need to be enlarged gently with a round diamond file – go gently and slowly until the wire just fits through the hole. Another option, is the four–hole punch that makes holes for 18 gauge wire, 16 gauge wire, 14 gauge wire and/or 12 gauge wire that fit exactly and require no adjustment. IMPORTANT: The diameter of the hole must match the diameter of the rivet wire.
9. Place the ball-headed rivet through the Filigree Link and through the copper piece. Align the link in its proper position. A piece of blue painter’s tape on the pieces can help hold the link in place during the riveting process. Turn the piece upside down, with the wire tail extending through the back of the copper piece. Support the head of the rivet on a steel bench block. NOTE: The tiny block in the photo is from Riveting Essentials and the tiny divots maintain the round head of the rivet. A small piece of leather placed on a steel bench block will also protect the round head of the rivet. If the rivet head is placed directly on the steel bench block, it will be slightly flattened during the riveting process. NOTE: If leather is used on the top of the bench block, place the bench block directly on top of the table/bench top. If any kind of padding is used under the block, the combination of the leather on top of the block and padding under the block will hinder the setting of the rivet.
10. Here comes the tricky part. Cut the tail of the rivet wire. The length/height of the stub of rivet wire remaining should be approximately equal to half the diameter of the rivet wire. If the stub is too short, the rivet will not form properly. If the stub is too long, the wire will fold over instead of spreading. If you are really good, this can be eye-balled. However, I use the Rivet Gauges from Riveting Essentials to make this step easy-peasy. The tail of the rivet wire extends through the gauge and with flush cutters resting flat on top of the gauge, snip the rivet wire. Remove the gauge and the perfect little stub of wire remains behind.
11. Using the peen side of a chasing hammer, gently tap the exposed end of the stub of rivet wire. It will begin to spread and form a little mushroom. Continue tapping around the edge of the mushroom to settle the wire smoothly against the back of the copper piece. NOTE: Be sure to hold the piece stable with your free hand. It will want to wobble around on the round head of the rivet. Be the boss of the metal and hold it steady!
12. Complete all four rivets in the Filigree link using this process.
13. Now it is time to move on to the Hammered Link. Based on the width of the metal forming the link, 18 gauge wire will also be used here. Mark the location of the desired rivets. Drill the holes. All these holes can be drilled at the same time. This metal is a little soft and tends to leave burs around the holes. Those can be gently removed with a small file. A round diamond file can also be used to clean any of the holes. Work gently and slowly – this metal is soft.
14. Using the same process as outlined in Steps 8 through 11 above, complete the rivets on the Hammered Circle.
15. Using the process outlined in Steps 8 through 11 above, attach one of the daisy spacers at the bottom of the copper piece. The gauge of wire used is determined by the hole in the daisy spacer. The hole in these daisy spacers accommodates 16 gauge wire nicely. IMPORTANT NOTE: The rivet wire must fit snugly to function properly. If it wobbles too much in the hole, the rivet will not “set” properly. In this case, enlarge the hole slightly to accommodate the next higher gauge of wire. If previous rivets are “in the way” and prevent the use of the small divoted block, the corner of the bench block and a piece of leather can substitute. Design Note: This is a decorative element that is intended to provide visual balance to the bail.
17. In order to attach the bail, a second bend is required in one of the legs. I call this “making a dog leg”. This bend allows both legs of the “U” to lie flat against the base piece. The bent leg of the “U” is placed against the back side of the piece.
18. To attach the bail, drill a hole through both legs of the “U”, near the bottom. The diameter of the holes is determined by the gauge of the wire that fits snugly through the hole in the daisy spacer – in this case, 16 gauge. All holes will be drilled to match this gauge.
Test-fit the bail in place on the base piece and mark the location for the hole on the base piece (the “Sharpie through the hole” process outlined in Step 8). Drill the hole in the base piece.
Place the rivet through the holes in the daisy spacer, the front leg of the bail, through the copper base piece and through the back leg of the bail. Measure and cut the rivet wire. Gently tap on the rivet wire to spread and set the rivet. IMPORTANT: Hold the assembly tight and steady during this step – it wants to wobble. Also make sure all the layers are snug against each other. All the layers need to be nice and tight when the rivet is set. Lots of downward pressure on the corner of the bench block covered with a small piece of leather works well for this step.
19. Turn the piece over and admire your work!! Great job!!