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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cutting Bezels on the Silhouette

Recently I had the opportunity to take a metal clay class on how to cut bezels on a Silhouette.  This might require some explanation for those of you who are not familiar with one or both of those words.

A Silhouette is a machine that is sort of like a printer, except it cuts instead of prints.  It is designed for scrapbookers to cut shapes out of paper for their scrapbook pages.  Another brand that you may be familiar with is a Cricket, but unlike that one the Silhouette doesn't require cartridges.  It has software that allows you to create designs.  I have been using it to create stencils for etching glass for some time.  At right is a picture of my Silhouette.

In jewelry, a bezel is a strip of metal that holds a stone in place, as you will see later in this blog post.

Wanaree Tanner is a talented metal clay artist who apparently has been doing some experimentation with the Silhouette.  Holly Gage, another talented metal clay artist, was hosting Wanaree for a 2 day class in how to use the Silhouette to cut bezels.  I had to drive to Pennsylvania, but it was worth it!

The first thing we had to do was design the back plate and bail for our pendants.  We designed a texture for them using scratch foam and a ball point pen.  I love using scratch foam!  Here is a picture of mine at left.  I used a template for the bail, and I thought the shape kind of looked like leaves.  So I drew some leaves and made more leaves on the back of the pendant.  Since I'm kind of artistically challenged, I just had them poking in from the sides.  Then I decided to make a little bug flying through the middle.

We picked the design we wanted for the bezel, and Wanaree showed us how to cut them out on the Silhouette.  Then we attached the bezel to the back plate, attached the bail and fired.  After firing, we did not do finishing work before setting the stone.  We set the stone first, because the bezel is very thin and delicate.  The silver was still all white looking, as you can see in this picture.  (The chain is just one I happened to be wearing.)  The bezel is the zig zag strip that is holding the stone on.

I bought this stone off a hippie outside of Taos, NM at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge back before they rebuilt the bridge.  (It was really scary to walk across!)  Since this pendant was a class project that I would keep I wanted to use a stone that meant something to me.  He told me it was Spectralite, but someone at the class told me it was Labradorite.  It doesn't matter to me, it looks cool either way.

Below is a picture from the first night when several of us went out to dinner.  From left is Silvie Waals, Wanaree Tanner and Holly Gage.
Silvie entertained us with lots of interesting stories!

Here is my finished pendant, front and back:

To learn more about using the Silhouette with metal clay, check out Wanaree's YouTube video.

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