Sometimes Things Don’t Turn Out

Collar IV

I’ve shared a couple times in the past some mistakes I’ve made while metalsmithing.   Cracked stones, melted bezels, things like that.  Well, I finally finished my most recent collar.  I was so excited about this one.  It was a little smaller, I like the stones and the way it fits around your neck.

Unfortunately, something went wrong.  During the making process, I had problems with one of the bezels (thing that holds the stone in place.)  At first, it was too large.  Then it soldered funny.  This happens and usually you fix it and move on.  I finally made a new one and finished putting the piece together, darkening the silver, and then setting the stones.

Messed up bezels for Collar IV

Then I realized that the bezel was slightly too short to hold the stone properly.  I can feel that it is slightly loose.  I can’t go back and take it apart and make a new one and reattach it at this point.  I could ruin all the solder seams and I know I wouldn’t be happy with it.  I spent a lot of time working on this piece, but I can’t in good conscious sell it to someone knowing that at some point down the road the stone could come out of the piece.

The Offending Bezel - looks OK, but there's a slight rattle.

So what can be done to fix this?  I’m going to cut the stones out and start over.  Hopefully I can salvage the rest of the collar, we’ll see once I cut it apart.  If it was just copper, or if I had a lot of materials lying around, this wouldn’t be such a big deal.  I’d be upset at my mistake, but I would simply move on.  With the price of silver skyrocketing, however, I’m trying to use every single tiny scrap of what I have.  Once it gets solder on it, the uses diminish greatly.  I don’t want to just throw this into the scrap heap, I want to find a way to keep it usable.

What’s really the point of me telling you all of this?  I want to produce pieces that I am proud of. Pieces that I feel comfortable knowing you’ll be able to enjoy for years and years, and hopefully be able to pass down to your children.  I can’t let my expenses dictate my standards of quality.  I will not be selling this piece.  I will be selling the redone piece(s) as long as they’re up to par.  Sometimes you just have to take the hit and get back up.

5 thoughts on “Sometimes Things Don’t Turn Out

  1. Wendy, it is the internal and inescabable quality control conscience that sets a fine artisan apart from the field. Glad you shared your mistake – and especially how you are responding to it – to show folks one more reason fine handmade work is such treasure. Thank you.


  2. Thank you for sharing; it looks like a beautiful piece. I honor your integrity and commitment to craftsmanship. It is a rare quality. Hope your salvage goes well.


  3. While its greatly frowned upon by the elite [meaning goldsmiths], even *they* are not above using a drop of adhesive now and then to quell a rattle.
    I know… I know; I don’t either but so much work has already gone into the piece.
    Something to think about


  4. Way to go Wendy. It is really tough to chalk one up to mishap, but that’s why you’re a superstar. You never know…sometimes the deconstruction/reconstruction process evolves into a new insight or new design path. Good luck with this one! I hope it becomes fruitful for you.


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