Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Silver-wear

Jewelry has long been a form of self-expression. There are those who prefer rubies and diamonds hanging around their necks, and then there are those who prefer teeth and marmoset hands adorning their body. I've seen just about everything used as jewelry, from the normal real and fake jewels to an animal's unmentionables on hooks for your ears. It's always fun to have some unique piece of jewelry that no one else in your circle has, but some jewelry just goes too far. But on the other hand, sometimes you get really creative people who come up with unique jewelry that is really quite cute and fun. Take this ring and bracelet made from cutlery for example:

The Original Pins
http://kirstenerickson.blogspot.com/2012/04/spoon-ring-printable.html
http://www.etsy.com/listing/101146498/silver-fork-bracelet-in-original?
I never would have thought of turning my spoons and forks into anything so cute. That's amazing. And the fork bracelet is almost like those survival bracelets..."simply" (hahaha) bend the fork back into shape and you have a workable tool for eating and self-defense when you're lost in the woods (I'm sure that bear will wait while you bend the fork back into shape). 

Karlie and Heidi each saw one of the pins above and decided to give it a go. They read the tutorials, watched youtube videos, and jumped right in. 

The Pinstrosities
"I have always loved these spoon rings but could never find one. When I saw this pin I was so excited to try it. I dug through my moms silver wear until I found a spoon she was willing to let me use. We had no problem cutting it to the right size, but everything after that...a disaster! We spent an hour in the garage trying the get the darn thing round. We used all kinds of tools, from needle nose pliers to a rubber mallet. Needless to say, I still do not have a spoon ring."-Karlie

"My sister and I saw this cute bracelet made from a fork on Pinterest, after watching a few videos where people made it look like it was the easiest thing in the world we thought hey we can do that!! So we went and got our forks, so excited to make them! Well let's just say after multiple hours we decided it was time to call it quits. Ha ha I think the picture explains it well!!" -Heidi

As these submissions show...making jewelry from forks and spoons isn't an easy project. The instructions for the spoon ring are fantastic and I gleaned some great information from there, but as the fork bracelet is from etsy there are no specific instructions for it (that would kinda defeat the point of putting it for sale on etsy, so I don't blame them). But there are numerous video tutorials on youtube that you can watch to show you the techniques. Here's what I've gathered:

1. These work best (and by best I mean way way better according to most of what I've read and watched) if you use actual silver silverware. Stainless steel can work, but it is going to be much much harder to get it to bend to your will. One site says "When you do go buy your silverware, make sure it is sterling silver and not stainless steel (it will say on the back of the spoon).  I didn't realize this at first, so my first attempt was with a stainless steel fork, and let's just say, it didn't work too well.  You'll know it's sterling silver if it says '900' or '925' on the back. "

2. Bending the fork/spoon into shape is the tricky part. For the rings it is suggested to bend it around a dowel rod (you can get these at Walmart, home improvement stores, and craft stores). Some silverware will be bendable with your bare hands, others may require being heated up with a butane torch (you can get a small one for crafting for under $10 at home improvement stores or some craft stores), and then hit with a mallet. You don't need to get the silverware glowing hot, but you will need to heat it up thoroughly to get it to be malleable. If you're working with a fork it is suggested to pound the fork flat (most fork tines are at least slightly curved) before starting to bend it to shape. 

Shaping anything metal is not easy. I'm not very good at shaping just plain jewelry wire and that's pretty easy to bend. I usually have to hand it over to the husband (he's really good at it).  It doesn't always bend like you think it will, and then if you try and fix a part of it, it doesn't just "go back" into shape. Before you jump into shaping your silverware I'd buy some heavy gauge wire and practice getting that into shape rather than "practicing" on your fork/spoon. 

I know...that's basically just two pieces of advice...choose your fork/spoon carefully and be patient when it comes to shaping. But that's pretty much it. It may take you a few tries to get just the piece you're wanting, or you may be one of the lucky ones to get it figured out on the first try. Either way, it makes for a fun piece of jewelry about which you can say, "Oh, thanks! I made it myself!"...and that's always fun. 

6 comments:

  1. I always just get my silverware jewelry from The Spoonman in Portland, OR.

    http://spoonman.com/store

    It's easier, and looks WAY better than anything I could do...plus supporting local artists!

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    1. I have one of his cocktail fork rings, I've had it for close to 25 years! Thanks for sharing this link, I'm going to have to shop with him again after all these years.

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  2. Heating really is key here - it is called annealing the metal. It is a process that makes it soft and malleable. What you want to watch for, is work hardening. As you work with the piece it will get hard again. So, if it starts to get too tough, you want to stop and heat it again to re-soften it. Then once you have your final shape, put it on something like a wooden dowel or pvc pipe and go over the whole thing tapping repeatedly with a mallet. This will make sure everything hardens back up and will hold the final shape. Alternately, you can put it in a tumbler with steel shot for 30 minutes or so (tumbling also shines it nicely!).

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  3. I think it is so funny that those fork bracelets are back in fashion AGAIN! Mine is from my mum - she wore it in the 70s, I wore it in the 90s!

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  4. The first time I saw that fork bracelet was on Etsy. The original lister said they made their own special tools to bend the forks like that.

    "I created my own tools that allow me to bend silverware without damaging it at all. This ensures that there will be no sharp edges and that your clothes and skin will not get caught on fork tines."

    source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/85669665/unique-gift-fork-bracelet-in-original?ref=sr_gallery_5&ga_search_query=fork+bracelet&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all

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