How to Make Gold & Silver Jewelry

Learn how to make gold and silver jewelry from jewelry designer Courtney Gray in this Howcast video.

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If you've ever looked at a piece of jewelry and thought, "I could do that!" now's your chance: Custom jeweler and sculptor Courtney Gray teaches you jewelry making basics in these Howcast videos. Courtney shows you how to use flex-shaft jewelry tools; how to use textured metal; how to cut jewelry designs into metal; how to work with silver; how to solder; how to make wire-wrapped pendants; jewelry casting; and much more. She even shares tips on how to sell your homemade jewelry.

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Courtney Gray: Welcome to Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin, online at creativeside.org. I'm Courtney Gray. I started my school here, Creative Side Jewelry Academy, four years ago. I'm here in Austin, and I'm going to tell you about jewelry making today. Jewelry Making: How to Make Gold and Silver Jewelry So, today I'm going to talk to you about one way that I approach making silver and gold jewelry, and that is carving wax. I teach this here at the school. This is one of my favorite ways to create jewelry. If you are doing rings, you are going to start with a tube of wax. Cut your wax according to size and width that you need. The purple wax is a little bit more flexible. The green wax a little bit more brittle. Order yourself a little kit. This is a process that takes patience but luckily it's very fun and relaxing to work with this material. One thing you are going to need to get to cut designs out of wax is a spiral blade. This is a blade with teeth that go all the way around allowing the wax to simply fall out of the teeth as it cuts. Start your blade and cut around. Now just cut a wider line so you want to be sure to stay outside that line. These blades are wonderful. You can go in almost any direction with the circular blade. Which is very unlike working with metal. Try to keep your saw frame at a ninety-degree angle. I love wax because it lends itself to a more sculptural look. You can make really dimensional pieces with it. It's very neat stuff. [Picks up a filing tool] This is a really lovely tool. It's double sided. There is a coarse side and a fine side. Then you can carve down using this tool. I use this tool for a lot of roughing out and then I go back in with a finer tool like dental picks. A lot of wax carvers will use an Exacto-Knife. Once you've created your wax, you've got it perfect, exactly the way you want to see it. Get all the little flaws out. Any scratch in your wax is going to show up in your metal. I mean like ten fold. It really shows. You are going to spume them up. We use the word "spume." It's basically creating a feed line that goes to your piece. And then we are going to attach it to this button area here. This is a rubber base. You may not end up doing this part in your studio. There is a lot of equipment involved. I'm sure you have a local casting company. We actually offer this service here. Creative Side Casting. Have them cast into whatever metal you choose. You are going to take your metal pipe. It's called a flask. Used to fit right around without anything touching the edges. And then your pieces are levitating in the center there. OK? At that point we are going to pour a plaster type material called investment into this opening, and it's going to solidify around your waxes. Kind of like a plaster of Paris type mold. Once it's solidified we are going to take this rubber base back off and put it in the kiln, burn it out over about an eight hour burn out cycle. This is the centrifuge. I'm spinning the centrifuge spring so that it is coiled up. It doesn't look like it is really coiled, but trust me it is. From the kiln, you'll place it into the centrifuge and connect the two. You'll be melting your metal in this crucible, which is kind of like a little ceramic oven and once it's ready to go, you are going to let the centrifuge go and it's going to spin and shoot that metal into your mold. The flask will just dissolve in water. All the investment would just fall out. You'll clean off the investment. Take your gold or silver jewelry and you'll saw it off and finish out any spume marks, and of course polish and sand everything.

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  • Courtney Gray

    Courtney Gray is the owner/founder of The Creative Side Jewelry Academy in Austin, Texas. Courtney has been working with metals for over 10 years and specializes in lost wax casting. When she isn't teaching, Courtney designs and creates one-of-a kind jewelry pieces, specializing in engagement rings and wedding band sets in various styles.