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Fold Over Pendant

By Bill Fretz



Simplicity in jewelry design can sometimes be enough.  Using a basic shape like a circle and making small modifications can lead to shapes with “significant form” to use a Clive Bell phrase.  We will explore taking a flat circle and make it dimensional by cutting and folding.  Sometimes using a few tools and aiming at a minimal design can be a good place to start in designing a piece of jewelry.  This shape makes a good building block for adding stones or more detail.





The goal is to make a pendant fob that will hang on a small bead necklace.  There are two basic ways of creating jewelry.  Designing around the tools you have or designing with no limitations on technique and then figuring out how to accomplish the design by either acquiring the necessary tools or making them. This project is designed around tools on hand.   Using paper as template is a good way to see if you like the proportions. The pendant is formed from a flat 2” circle of 18 gauge brass sheet metal. Start designing by folding a 2” paper circle in half.  The section needed in the middle of the fold is 10mm because that is the size of the hook stake that is available.  From the middle 10mm section draw curved lines along the fold that extend downwards about 6mm.  Fold the half circle again to make a quarter circle and cut with scissors along the drawn line.  When the paper is unfolded the cuts should have removed paper on both sides of the centerfold.  If you want to make design modifications, just redo the process until you like the result.   On this project it will be necessary to make the top section concave.  The paper pattern is checked against the hook stake that makes that happen (I-14 Insert Stake held in a H-2 Holder or similar tool) to see if it fits to form the concave area.  Save the small paper cutouts


Circle Cutting



Starting with a purchased two inch circle of 18ga brass is one solution, or it can be cut out using various methods.  The circle cutter makes it easy but on large size circles it is best to use a hydraulic press to stamp the circle.  Another method is to use a compass or divider and mark out the circle on the brass sheet.  Fitting the jeweler’s saw with a 2/0 blade, with a small amount of lubricant such as Lube-Stik, will make the sawing  process easier.


Sawing Out the Notches


It would appear that the paper template is ready to glue to the circle and cut out.  However you will notice that the notches are not quite the same size.  This is because of the paper thickness used for the template will make the outer cutouts larger.  To make the cutouts exactly the same use one of the small notch cutouts.  Establish a centerline on the circle with a center finder jig. A compass will also find the center of a circle by swinging multiple arcs that will intersect at the center point. Draw a line through that center point with a fine marker.  Now take the favorite paper notch and line it up with the centerline.  This should be easy as the paper has a fold line down the middle that can be lined up with the centerline on the metal circle. Use rubber cement to fix the shape to one side of the circle and cut out.  Peel the paper pattern up and place on the other side of the circle for the second cutting.  Rubber cement or double sided tape can be used to adhere the pattern.  If you put the rubber cement on one surface the paper can be removed and repositioned.  If placed on both sides and left to dry it will make a permanent bond and the pattern will not be removable.





Make sure the brass has been annealed by heating it to a dull red and pickle clean.

The circle is domed on a sand bag as the first step.  Pick the mushroom stake with a slight dome (the photo shows a Fretz M-102 held in a Extended Holder E-101 but others will work).  Before you dome the metal strike the sand bag numerous times to make a concave pocket.  Lay the circle shape in this pocket and slam away.  This is an easy way to dome many shapes with out resorting to expensive tooling. A wedge is used to remove the insert stake from the extension stake holder.


Refining the Shape


The domed circle now needs to be refined by hammering or planishing on the domed mushroom stake (M-102 held in a H-1L Holder).  Because the final shape is to be smooth a nylon insert hammer is used to leave no marks.  If texture is desired then the piece would be planished with the desired hammer.





File the points on the circle back until there is a flat spot of about 1mm.  This will give the solder a larger contact point and will make the final piece more wearable and still give the elusion of sharpness. Bend the two sides together over a small mandrel so at least one of the points touch.




Hold the piece with cross locking tweezers on a soldering board. The first point is soldered with a 2mm length of 20 gauge round hard silver solder wire.  Use white Handy Flux to keep the metal and solder clean.  A solder pick helps keep the clipped solder in place.  After soldering let the piece cool, until the red color recedes, and place in water. Align the second side so the two points touch and repeat the soldering process with medium silver solder and then pickle.




The top section is made concave by sinking that area into a hook insert stake (I-14 in an H-2 Holder).  Use a rounded crosspein (HMR-9) hammer to compress the top area of the pendant down into the stake.  This will make the top more graceful. The pendant will not warp during this process when the two ends are soldered together.  The benefit of having the top curved is that beads or a chain will follow this curve and will not have sharp edges wearing on them.  The piece may now be compressed so the piece is thinner if desired.  This step is best done by hand so no tool marks are evident.  The metal will move just with finger strength.




The outer edges are trued by filing.  The top curves are evened using a #2 crossing file as it fits the curve better than a half round file.  The bottom section is filed with a flat #2 hand file to even that area up.




The hammer marks from the sinking step are removed with a #2 crossing needle file.  There are alternate ways of doing this, such as Cratex, rubber wheels or emery drums.  Be careful of these techniques as they go very fast and too much material may be removed.




The large surfaces do not need to be filed as the forming was very even.  320 Emery cloth or paper will leave the surface very pristine and ready for buffing.  Emery cloth comes in one inch strips and can be held in a plastic holder or wrapped around a file.  Emery in multiple directions to make sure the surface stays domed.  The edges should also be sanded smooth with the 320 Emery cloth or paper.




The surface was buffed with bobbing compound or the compound of your choice.

Bobbing compound cuts very fast so this step will only take a few minutes. Clean the surface with soapy water and Dawn dish soap and a soft brush.  If you have an ultra sonic cleaner use it. Final buffing was done with white diamond compound to leave a high shine and then cleaned again.



Minimal Tools


The tools to make this minimal piece are basic but the possible variations are endless.

This piece is very simple but looks well with complicated bead patterns or even plain chains or a forged neckpiece.  Some pieces are successful even though they are very basic.  It’s not that “less is more” but that less is enough.

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