I can't tell you how happy I was to finally take a filigree class taught by Gia Gogishvilli, the master of filigree (and Repousee/Chasing and all metalwork)! We had one week to learn how to twist the metal, flatten it, anneal, make solder, file the solder, make the filigree pieces, make the frames for the filigree, learn the proper gauges, make and solder hinges, etc. It was a lot to learn. Most of us needed a bit more time once the week was finished, so Gia set up a couple of extra time periods to meet again, which was extremely helpful to all of us.
So as complete beginners, we began with building our sterling silver frames. One for the left, one for the right and one for the middle. The size of these frames depend on the size of our wrists or whose wrist we we're making this cuff bracelet for. We made cardboard templates to be sure of the sizing.
|The basic frame|
|Using a template|
|Adding the inner wires|
There are different types of filigree wires, called ornaments. Some have a single loop, some have a double loop and others have a tight double loop. I've seen some filigree made with just loops and no tail. I decided to do a tight double loop for this project. The wires are supposed to all look exactly the same, but I need more practice with this.
|Adding Filigree (ornaments)|
As we insert the ornaments into the frame, each one is supposed to fit snugly. The goal is to fill an entire frame with ornaments before soldering, but some of us had trouble with that in how they would keep popping out because we were not placing them properly. It takes practice! Once a frame is complete, we turn it over and solder with filigree solder, which is more like a powder than regular silver solder. You can make your own solder by combining silver, copper, brass, cadmium and zinc with flux and borax, which turns it into a hard piece of metal. You must then file this piece of metal to make your solder for filigree.
With persistence, the frames eventually fill up!
Now it's time to make the flower that will be placed in the middle over the large opening and also make the small half circles that will form the edging of the bracelet.
|Adding the edging|
|Soldering the flower|
|Trying to decide which stone to use.|
The back hinge
What an amazing experience! Thank you Gia! Until next time...