Last summer someone set me the challenge of re-creating a pair of bangles worn by Stevie Nicks in the 1970’s. They appear in photographs of the singer song-writer throughout that period but there aren’t many clear shots of them. A trawl of the internet yielded a few clear pictures, just enough for me to work out how to approach the project:
Armed with these photos I sketched up a version of the bangles and my customer added some finer details. She wanted pale, white opaque stones in the silver (rather than what appear to be rose quartz in the originals) so I used oval moonstones. The have a beautiful strong, white colour and faint luminescence.
Making the bangles:
From here I began by making the settings for the stones as getting these right would give me a central point for the rest of the piece. I balled up silver with a flame to create the little balls or pebbles around the setting and built a traditional ‘cabochon’ wall to hold the stones:
Once I had the centre details I worked on forging the bangles themselves from thick, rectangular silver wire. Hammering it out allowed me to flare the ends and create a smooth transition between the narrow back of the bangle and the wider front.
With that in place I could cut and shape the silver before filing out the hammer marks to leave a smooth surface:
One of the trickier parts of the operation was holding the bangle in place to solder the setting into the piece. After some experiments with binding wire and unstable stacks of soldering blocks I settled on using steel cotter pins to pinch the metal and keep it in line while I heated it:
When the bangles had cooled I removed the steel pins and cleaned off the soldering residue. I took them back to my wooden mandrels to do some final shaping and them began cleaning them up with a series of finer and finer sandpapers.
After the clean up I polished the surfaces and fitted the stones, hammering down the edges of the settings to keep them securely in place. Working around the stones leave small marks in the metal which I again, removed with sand paper before taking the bangles back to the polisher for a final brightening:
A quick scrub to remove the excess polish (which is showing up as black grime in that last photo) and they’re finished. I’m quite pleased with how much they evoke the originals!