Posts by Carole Zakkour

Seed Pods (RAW52.11)

This week, I decided to stay with the hollow forms, although I’m starting to think I should work a bit with gemstones or at least more complex hollow forms. I’ve made versions of this ring in the past, and I quite like the in-between-fingers rings. The ring represents simplified lotus seed pods, and presents another chance to incorporate bronze.

Ring a Week #11The construction is quite simple: two half spheres topped with varying sizes of bronze balls. A lot of fun to make and no major hitches. Since I’ve made these before, I now know to drill a little cup for each ball to sit in before I solder them on. This way, I don’t end up with runaway bronze balls.

However, I had a big problem with the photography. I usually like to photograph my jewelry against a white background, but no matter what setting or angle I tried, I could not get a decent picture. I finally switched to a dark gray background, and a black duvetyne.  That seemed to work much better.

Ring a Week #11I think it was really difficult to capture the contrast between the silver and bronze colors. No matter, the ring looks gorgeous on the hand.

Ring a Week #11What did I learn this week?

  • You have to keep trying until you get a good picture
  • To get more depth of field, set the ISO higher (thanks Mark!)

See you next week…(and it’s a doozy!)

Pi (RAW52.10)

Been too cool lately? Want to get back in touch with your inner geek? Need to suck up to your math teacher or your kid’s math teacher?  Well, have I got the ring for you! March 14 is Pi Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a Pi ring. If Kate Bush can write a song about it, then why not a ring about it?

Ring a Week #10

But more than just celebrating the number, I think it’s fitting because, as jewelers, we use Pi every time we measure a ring shank to cut to an exact size or when we are making any rounded shapes.

Ring a Week #10

This little cutie is made of Sterling silver, finished with very fine steel wool, and measures 12 x 12mm. The shank is oxidized Sterling silver.

Still Life (or the evil cone – RAW52.9)

I really like hollow geometric shapes and I’m trying to learn how to render them in metal. I’ve been wanting to make cone shapes for a while, so here I am this week, practicing how to make a cone. A pointy one. Not a cone with the top cut off  – I think that’s called a frustum (what an ugly word!)

Anyway, a real pointy cone. I had no problem with the geometry, and calculating the area to be cut out of the sheet was a snap. I started making it out of 20ga sheet (0.8mm), but soon discovered there was no way on earth I was going to be able to bend that thing into shape, so I switched to 22ga (0.64mm). Well that wasn’t so easy either. I was reluctant to use any thinner sheet because I wanted the shape to hold up when worn as a ring. So I kept going with it. I broke 2 pliers but kept at it until I got some kind of conish shape. I didn’t know what I was doing. Zero. I think I just got lucky and ended up with the shape.

Ring a Week #9

I made the sphere and cylinder to go with my cone (actually so I can hide all the imperfections) and decided to call the ring “Still Life” because it reminded me of a charcoal drawing. The imperfections are barely visible!

Ring a Week #9I think it turned out pretty good! At first, I had a scratchy finish on it with no oxidation, but I could not take a decent picture of the ring, so I oxidized it and finished with a brass brush and I like it better this way.

Ring a Week #9It looks fantastic on the finger. I think I’m keeping this one for me.

  • I still don’t know how to make a proper pointy cone
  • metal is really hard to bend with precision (duh!)
  • I’m not turned off by hollow forms yet – so I’ll keep learning about them

See you next week…


Morning Glory (RAW52.8)

A complete departure for me, esthetically and technically. I wanted to try my hand at some fold forming, so I came up with this morning-glory. Made with 26 gauge fine silver, the flower itself was surprisingly easy to make, I just had to keep annealing and hammering until I got the right shape.

Ring a Week #8

The ring shank is forged sterling silver, made to resemble a stem. I set a 6mm London blue Topaz in the flower. I wanted the blue of the topaz to reflect inside the flower, so I set the stone upside down. That was about the hardest part of this ring, but all in all not that hard. I kind of made it up, a cross between a tube and bezel setting.

Ring a Week #8By the way, this ring is completely UNWEARABLE! The petals are so thin, that I’m sure it will completely disintegrate with the slightest ding. But hey, it was fun to make.

Here is Selma modeling again. It looks lovely on the hand. I could try making it with much thicker silver, but it might be a lot harder. So I’m just leaving it be.

Ring a Week #8

  • I really enjoyed the fluidity of the fine silver sheet. It was extremely malleable
  • Very thin silver can tear like a piece of paper!
  • I liked setting the stone upside down. I don’t usually much care for faceted stones, but I liked the color of this one

Bubbles (RAW52.7)

This week, I decided to make another stacked ring. I’m exploring simple hollow forms and I learned that bubbles (or spheres) are not as easy to make as they look. But I love the process of starting out with a flat disc of metal, then slowly seeing it take shape. I also wanted the ring to look funny.

Ring a Week #7

I decided to texture the metal with a planishing hammer to give it more of a bubble look.

As far as fabrication, the hardest to make was the base bubble (22mm), then they got easier as they got smaller. The smallest (6mm) was also hard to make because it kept slipping out of my fingers. Soldering was definitely a challenge (and I think I’m pretty good at it) – I used a lot of “white-out” to prevent the solder from running after each consecutive step.

Ring a Week #7

It took a lot longer than expected (doesn’t everything!), and to prevent myself from going crazy, I made the ring over several days.

By far the hardest step was soldering the ring shank after all the bubbles, and this is where I think I made a mistake. I should have soldered it on to the base bubble as a first step. Instead, by the time I had all the bubbles on, I had a hard time getting the “clump” to the right temperature, for even the easy solder to flow. But it finally did!

Ring a Week #7

I’m also wondering, design wise, whether I should have had a half bubble on the base. I’m undecided. Maybe I’ll just cut it and see how it looks.  Right now, the ring is sitting in an airtight container with a bunch of tobacco, vinegar and ammonia to see if I can get the copper to patina to a blue-green. I’ll find out in a couple of days.

What I learned this week:

  • Things don’t always end up looking the way you imagined or sketched them
  • To make a good half sphere, use smaller and smaller punches (in the same doming hole). That will get the sides to close in more so you can move to the next size down
  • Praying to the soldering gods (plus a lot of white-out) really helps
  • The more I work with copper, the more I like it

I think I will be laying off the stacked rings for a little while, but I’ll keep playing with the hollow forms.

A Ring for Selma (RAW52.6)

Last week’s ring was very hard for me, and, re-reading my post, I realized that it didn’t seem as much fun as it was or should have been. My post was full of  ‘I had to’, and it isn’t really in the spirit of the challenge.

Well this week, it was pure fun. This ring just flowed!

Ring a Week #6

Made entirely of 16 gauge bronze wire, it is simple, elegant, and weighs next to nothing!

Ring a Week #6

I really like how it turned out. The bronze color is stunning, and I gave it a super matte finish with a coarse fiber wheel. Selma loves it. Again, here she is modeling HER ring.

Ring a Week #6

The ring measures 40mm at its widest, but doesn’t look or feel chunky at all. Love. Love. Love!

Ring a Week #6

Happy Valentine’s Day!

RAW52.5 – Everything about this ring was difficult!

One of the reason I joined the Ring a Week challenge was to try to improve my precision. I knew going into it this week that it would not be easy. Three stacked “pillows” made from metal tubing cut at 45° angle. What I didn’t realize was just how difficult it turned out to be. First, I had to make the copper tubing since I didn’t have any on hand. Not a good idea! I don’t have a draw plate or a rolling mill, and the thinnest copper sheet I had on hand was 22 gauge. After what seemed like hours of pounding and bending and huffing and puffing and cursing, I managed to get a “roundish” tube with an open seam.

Ring a Week #5

Next came cutting at 45°. Even though I have a jig to cut the tubing at an angle, I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time on any step before. I would file down the edges to what looked liked a perfect 45°, try to match it to the next piece of tubing and the next, but somehow I always ended up with a little gap somewhere. Every copper piece had to measure exactly 15 mm long. After more hours of this exercise, I decided whatever I had was good enough. Next I had to repeat the cutting step for the 2 silver elements on top, the middle 10 x 10 mm, and the very top, a whopping 5 x 5 mm. At least this time, I didn’t have to make the tubes. Surprisingly, the smaller the pieces, the easier it was to get a good angle (either that, or I got better at it!) Now I have little cuts all over my fingers from handling all the sharp edges.

Ring a Week #5

Next, I had to solder the individual pillows. Oh my! more hours of futzing and cursing and melting pieces (so I had to go back and cut some more.) I finally got the pillows and ring shank done, and the last step of soldering the stack went without a hitch. I polished the ring with 220 3M bristle discs and spent another couple of hours oxidizing the middle pillow, trying not to smudge the other two (I ended up having to do it with a toothpick.)

Ring a Week #5

The whole process took about a day and a half. I wanted to give up so many times, scrap it and start a new ring. I’m glad I stuck with it – I learned a lot.

  • making components without the right tools is extremely difficult
  • tubes can inexplicably explode when heated
  • always make extra components from the beginning (now I have a stash of little pillows – I’m too tired to think about making something with them)
  • if I knew how hard things would be, I would never get anything done!

I’m pretty sure next week’s ring will be something very simple…

RAW52.4 (or not as easy as I thought)

This week I had to make quite a few Pebble pendants and decided the RAW will be a pebble ring as well. I was using Venice beach pebbles which are dark charcoal in color, almost black, and are very easy to drill. They are also the flattest I can find on any beach. I don’t know what the actual rock is and I suppose I should try to find out. I was very excited about the design, so excited that I didn’t sketch or even think about it. I was going to just wing it…

Ring a Week #4
Normally, my pebble pendants are just riveted in the back. For this ring, I decided to make a traditional bezel construction with the rivets on the back of the bezel plate. Since I didn’t really think about how to make the ring, I mis-placed the rivet holes. They ended up being too close to the ring shank, and it took me hours to properly rivet them.

Ring a Week #4In the end though, I think it’s a very successful ring. It feels great and looks very cool. I love the shiny smooth silver against the dark matte of the stone. As usual, Selma is modeling the ring.

Ring a Week #4She is starting to complain about how I have her sit there and do it. Maybe next time I’ll make a ring for her…

Ring a Week #4Later this week, I’ll try to post pictures of the pendants I made. They look AWESOME!



Here is my new entry for the Ring a Week challenge. (Click images for larger view)

Ring a Week Challenge #3

I wanted to make something over the top, a bit un-wearable, like those cakes you see on Ace of Cakes. I’ve been thinking about this ring for a while, but when I finally decided to make it, I knew it would turn out well. I also had so much fun making it. It was a bit of a challenge to try to figure out how to solder all the saucers on top of each other, without having it fall apart. Originally, I wanted to add more tiers to it, but thought that it might be overkill.

Ring a Week Challenge #3

I used sterling silver and copper, and gave it a nice scratched finish with 220-grit paper. It is 47mm tall and 30mm at its widest and is a bit on the heavy side.


Ring a Week Challenge #3

I can’t wait to see what I’ll make for next week!

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