There they are...the earrings that were all but finished when I broke my wrist. Needed nothing but final polish. I posted them on Facebook and instagram, had gotten some good comments, so I was looking forward to regaining enough grip strength to get back to them.
Good grip strength happened last weekend. And then this happened.
Argh! I try to be very careful about small solder joints. The last thing you want to happen is for a joint to fail after the stone is set (refer to above picture...this is a bad thing...). Often I will reinforce with a small decorative circle of metal that covers the joint, but I thought this joint overlapped enough to be secure. I was wrong. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to go for the fix. I could think of two possibilities.
Sometimes you can drill a small hole in the back of the setting and then use a small round file or punch to dislodge the stone. The setting in this case made that less likely to be successful because the bezel sides were high enough to curve in around the stone. I felt sure the stone couldn't be pushed out.
The second possible fix is something I've never tried. To prevent the stone from either exploding or changing color for the worse, it has to be somehow protected from the intense heat that will be required to re-solder the joint. I wasn't optimistic, but decided it would be an adventure in skill building to figure out how to submerge the stone in water, but not the backplate, and re-solder the joint from the back. This would mean building a structure that would keep the broken joint level and supported while the stone setting was underwater. Possible, but would take some engineering!
So, while I was contemplating that, this happened.
I picked up the earring I'd already polished and something looked "off". I gasped. (I don't know if you can see the problem immediately...I had a battle with google photos and I lost, so this is the only bad picture that remains from before I dismantled the earrings.) I said a few ugly words, out loud, but to myself. What happened? I have never seen this before, but all I can conclude is that polishing with my flexshaft--and electric rotary tool that reaches high rpms--had created enough heat to alter the stone. Ruined. And no fixes that I could imagine.
The good news was that I could let go of building a little swimming pool for the other stone to attempt the fix on the other earring. As I said, I was not optimistic. The bad news, I now needed yet another plan. I think it's always acceptable to abandon a project all together, especially if the frustration outweighs the motivation to keep going and there's no creative energy available. But I wasn't there yet. It was time to re-imagine. Time for new stones. I found a pair of small black onyx square stones that seemed to fit the bill.
The truth is that one of the lessons I'm still learning is how to not feel so frustrated when something I've invested myself in and am feeling happy about, goes belly up. I have to stop, get quiet, and focus. The mantra this time sounded something like this:
Let go of the effort put in to the first try.
Embrace the lessons learned.
Be happy that reinvention was successful.
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
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