Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Artists Synchroblog - May

The Artists Synchroblog is a group of bloggers who post every other month on the same topic, sharing our experience or perspective. On alternate months we undertake a Pinterest Project where we each take inspiration from a Pinterest picture, create something (art, a meal, a DIY project, etc) and then post about it.  You can read more about the Artists Synchroblog here.

The May topic for the Artists Synchroblog is "Words Have Meaning".  This could go sappy very quickly, but the first thing that came to mind for me when I thought about my projects is the saying 'measure twice, cut once'.  I hate measuring.  I'm generally a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl when it comes to making jewelry, but I'm trying to get better about planning out my cuts for certain just makes things easier in the long run.

This could not be more true than when it comes to making ring shanks. It may not be necessary when I'm just working on a new design and the actual size of the ring doesn't matter, but if it's a custom order the size has to be accurate. Rather than wrapping the metal around the ring mandrel and getting it somewhat close to the size I need, I've started using a formula I found in the Ganoksin archives.

Here it is:  Take the inner diameter of the ring you want, add the thickness or gauge of the metal you are using, then multiply by Pi.  So (ID + T) * Pi

I use this website to convert measurements between inches and millimeters, this website to get the inner diameter measurement of the ring, and this website to convert the metal gauge measurement to inches and millimeters. There are also free apps I've downloaded to my iPhone called GlobeConvert Free and Pocket Ruler Free to convert the measurements and measure the stock since I am usually streaming music or listening to podcasts while I'm at the workbench and can just pull those up to keep working rather than going to the computer.

But even better...this artist has a chart on her website with all of the calculations done for me. Since I'm what some people may consider to be *slightly* skeptical, I often check it against the manual calculation just to be sure, but it seems to work pretty well.  (There are lots of places online to find inner diameter ring measurements, but they don't all agree so it's best to look at it a couple of ways to be sure you get about the same length more than once.)  I've also started doing something I never, ever thought I would: I keep notes about the lengths for sizes that work well. 

Here's a ring I used this calculation with recently; a replica of the engagement ring I made a couple of weeks ago with a faceted 8mm green topaz in a tube setting on a substantial, wide shank. I needed a size 7 ring and the silver stock I was using was a low domed wire - a heavy 13 gauge.

My measurements for the ring and the silver stock:
Inner diameter of a US size 7 ring:    0.683 inches (converts to 17.3482 mm)
Gauge of the silver stock:  13 gauge (converts to 1.83 mm and 0.072 inches)

(ID + T) * 3.14 = length of metal stock needed
(0.683 + 0.072) * 3.14 = 2.3707 inches
2.3707 inches =  60.21 mm

I added a teeny bit to allow for trimming during sanding so this would leave me with a 61 millimeter piece of sterling.

The ring chart I referenced above doesn't have a measurement for 13 gauge metal stock so I averaged the measurements between 12 and 14 gauges and get a total of 59.8 millimeters.  Pretty close to my calculation, so I was ready to cut.

I measured out the stock, marked it and cut it. Another way to try to keep frustration low with rings is to use a saw and a tube cutting jig to cut the stock to try to make sure the two ends can fit together for a nice join where the solder will flow without too much fiddling. (Brace yourself: images from the workbench are taken in a garage and the lighting is pretty terrible.)

I realize this seems like a cumbersome process, but in reality it can save a ton of time, materials, and general swearing and frustration.  Trust me, I've definitely learned this one the hard way.

Please visit the other bloggers involved in the Artists Synchroblog this month:


  1. Oh my gosh! Not only a saying - but it's related to your work - AND you gave us a mini tutorial of sorts!!! YOU ROCK! Thank you so much!

    and for the record, I too struggle with planning. I am trying to get better at measuring, but honestly this is one reason I have not offered to do much custom work. :)

    1. Thanks Janice! I still only measure when I feel like I really have to...otherwise I just eyeball things and estimate!

  2. Great tutorial and 'measure twice, cut once' is a good one indeed. Especially when I rush through measuring and cut my silver wire to a wrong size...*sigh*

    1. Don't I know it! I've made SO MANY rings in the wrong sizes because I didn't want to measure..what a waste!

  3. Elenor, GREAT blog post! Thank you for all the helpful info and links! Yeah, I really need to be better about this myself. I am totally one of those eye-ballers! LOL. Now, off to surf some more of your blog! Oh, and you have a new "follower" -- me! :)

    1. Thanks, Amy! Great to have you here - I'm following your blog as well!

  4. So much killer info!!! Thanks LOADS!!! Can't wait to see what you have to share next month. :-)

  5. Lovely stone in that ring... I always think I'll remember things so I don't need to write it down.. when I do write things down it's on the back of an envelope... I am getting better, but it's taken 25 years to realize that I'm not going to remember things and that scraps of paper all look the same!

    And I'm going to look at more of your blog too!

    1. I have a problem with the scraps of paper myself...the blog is - among other things - a place where I try to park as much information as I can in order to have it for reference.

      Glad to have you here!

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