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Behind The ScenesJewelleryProject Wabi Sabi

Iron Ring

By August 31, 2018September 12th, 2018No Comments
Month sixth outcome -

Iron Ring:

Iron Ring – For those following me on social media, you will know that August was my month of making jewellery from something with iron. Iron is a material which I’ve never worked with previously. Therefore, with just a month to accomplish an outcome, I had to stretch the brief a little!

Month six of my #ProjectWabiSabi was a celebration of iron because this is the material that marks the sixth wedding anniversary.  So each month for the rest of the year, I will be selecting the next material in line. Each marks the next sentimental anniversary gift.

My plan this year is to mark months 1-10 in celebration of my ten years in business.

Iron Ring Ironbridge Heritage

During August I also recommended some brilliant local businesses where you can partake in iron themed activities, see more here. I interviewed Ironbridge business woman Emma Cantillionsee more here. Finally, I made an iron ring and this is what I wanted to talk about further in this blog post.

Creating in iron

Making with found materials …

For those of you who have read my last few #ProjectWabiSabi posts, you’ll know that my work is often led by the materials themselves. Found materials are some of my favourites to work with and this month’s outcome was no different. I love to see what man and nature can conjure up. I also like to see how I can incorporate that into my work, without too much manipulation.

A few months before my iron month was due, I had spoken to Emma (who lives in Ironbridge and was interviewed this month – details above). I asked her whether she had unearthed any interesting finds whilst converting her barn. Wonderfully for me she came up trumps. Not only a piece of raw iron but also some stunning pieces of colourful rock from her garden.

Iron Ring Found Materials
Further research…

Upon a little further digging (of the research kind this time) I found out that this rock was in fact a by-product of the iron industry – even more on theme! The stony waste matter (that was actually glass-like on closer inspection), was in fact slag. So this colourful earthy matter is what is left over after a desired metal has been separated from its raw ore. It is said to be usually a mixture of metal oxides and silicone dioxide – who knew!

And don’t worry, I wasn’t stealing precious resources from this World Heritage Site. In fact, such material an be found all over Ironbridge. An area known throughout the world as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution.

Iron Ring Found Rock
Iron Ring Slag Rock
Iron Ring Iron Smelt

I opted to work with the rocks on this occasion as these were what intrigued me the most. Unsure of what their true composition, I took to work on one of them with my trusty hammer (and some safety glasses!). To my delight, the stunning colours ran in layers throughout the material, which brough much excitement! But with glass like edges, they needed some work before they could become used and wearable.

Iron outcome

Problem Solving…
My first challenge was to refine the rocks. I needed to tumble them to turn the rough edges, smooth. This took many days and was a new process to me but I was really pleased with the journey they went on. The colours were still beautifully apparent but the rocks had taken on a more organic form.
I could have continued to tumble and polish the rocks further until they had a shiny appearance. However, for me this was a step, too far removed from the found materials that they came to me as.
Iron Ring Jewellery Designs
Iron Ring Barrel Tumbling
Iron Ring Coloured Rocks

I had a range of colours and sizes in the rocks and did several tests with the extent as which they were polished. I then wanted to decide what outcome they should be made into.

One of my challenges to myself this year is to gain more confidence with my metalsmithing after spending most of my career out of that saddle! This of course takes practice, so I’d decided that my outcome would involve metalwork and in particular a claw setting. My last decision I got help with. I asked my lovely social media followers whether earrings or a ring should be my outcome, and three quarters voted in favour of an iron ring.

The outcome…

My iron ring final outcome reveals the stunning shades of the rock in all its glory, with it’s four claw setting elevating the centre piece. The ring is made in silver and oxidised to give it’s grey patina. It’s finished with a hammered texture, respecting it’s organic roots.

Iron Ring Made From Slag
Iron Ring Handcrafted
Iron Ring Ironbridge Ring

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