I’ve always thought that when trying to learn something new you should work from big to small. Remember those first prereaders in Kindergarten? The one or two words on each page were quite large compared to the first grade readers and then chapter books and novels. The print got smaller and smaller as readers progressed in ability. (Of course, as we grow older, that print has to grow larger and larger due to failing eyesight issues. Of course, I can’t personally speak to that! Ha!)
In teaching piano, I found the big to small postulate to be the same. We started with a few large notes in songs and went on to hundreds of small notes and intricate passages. When my friend and I were trying to help little four year olds learn more efficiently, we developed musical notation with relatively large circles and ellipses that most little ones found easy to read. My engineer husband provided us with the appropriate drafting tools to write Keyboard Kapers, a book of original songs we used with the little ones. I wonder how many little pianists played songs about “my dog Blazer” when they were learning from us and the teachers with whom we worked. As the young pianists grew more proficient this notation gradually became the more common smaller notes we see in traditional music.
Having found success with big to large in the aforementioned reading formats, it seemed natural for me to apply this idea to learning to make jewelry. For example, when learning to make soldered bezels, I made large ones first and found they were easier than the tiny ones I’m trying to create now. I currently still have trouble and sometimes melt those little pieces of silver while encouraging my solder to hurry up and flow. Big IS easier!
Fortunately, a couple of my friends recently showed me how to use small premade bezels and snap sets for the tiny stones I wanted to work with. I purchased these from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. I have always made large pendants, but decided I was ready to grow up to smaller pendants using this new bezel setting technique. My bravery extended as I also used more sterling silver that I usually do.
These pendants were not intended to look like anything in particular. I just wanted a pleasing shape that would house a little jewel. The first and second pictures show pieces that have rubies set in snap sets.
The next couple of pieces show peridot in snap sets. The first one IS NOT a bug!
Finally, I became brave enough to try a larger piece composed of more components. It’s still relatively small compared to most of the copper work that I do. Someone already told me it doesn’t look like my style since it is more formal. See what you think.
The photo on the left was taken from an angle and makes the piece look somewhat “off” Yet, it is symmetrical – my picture taking just isn’t! I wrapped a stone to hang from the basic silver armature and can change this out to other stones with the jump ring attachment.
Big to small is still working for me with one exception. I quickly realized early in learning about wire working that manipulating heavy gauge “big” wire is more difficult for me than working with a lighter gauge “small” wire. When you’re working with wire and have to sound like a tennis player who makes a noise every time she serves, it’s probably time to get a light gauge wire!