Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Sea Glass Nemesis

I never would have thought that a piece of sea glass could prove to be my nemesis.
Actually, the sea glass was my nemesis for a while....I finally outsmarted a beautiful piece of red sea glass that an acquaintance had found along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. 
I recognize that most people might think it's not a great accomplishment to claim victory over an inanimate object, but I'm feeling proud of myself, nonetheless.
Months ago, a friend of a friend asked if I might be able to make a pendant out of a treasured piece of glass that she had found.
As sea glass goes, this really is a unique and beautiful specimen.
All surfaces have been weathered to a pitted but consistently smooth texture, and the red is so luscious that the glass looks like a piece of candy.
I don't do a lot of soldering, but I loved the idea of setting the glass in a bezel and said,
"Sure...I can do that!"
Luckily, I didn't qualify that statement with a specific completion time, because things did not go too smoothly for me.
First off...because the glass is an organic shape, it was tricky for me to figure out the right bezel wire dimension.
After my initial attempt, I realized that the bezel wire I had in my supplies would not give me enough depth to secure the glass.
Luckily, I love having an excuse to contact Rio Grande, so new, larger bezel wire was ordered.
My plan was to have layers of texture, so the bezel wire was to be soldered on to a piece of etched silver nickel which in turn would be attached to an underlying piece of textured brass.
I got an OK on the pieces of metal and then I began my soldering odyssey of disappointment.
Because the sea glass is sort of biggish, the bezel is also sort of biggish which required a fair amount of heat to get the solder to flow for the entire circumference.
That fair amount of heat warped my piece of etched metal, and if you've done soldering,
you know that means a loss of direct contact
no solder flow
great frustration.
Instead of immediately going to a piece of thicker gauge silver nickel, I foolishly continued on a path that led to a collection of melted bezel sections.
I finally got the message and FINALLY had a successful soldering of the bezel on thicker metal.
After considering options of how to do the bail, I decided on creating a curl out of another piece of etched silver nickel thinking that the shape would be reminiscent of a wave of water.
Many of my pieces have something of interest on what would be considered to be the 'back', so I let the bail have a tail that extends down the piece of textured brass.
The brass had been textured with dried leaves of ornamental grass from my garden.
The pattern that was created made me think of topographic contours of a watershed...very appropriate for a piece from the Chesapeake Bay.
Once the bail was soldered in place, the two layers of metal were tumbled with steel shot before being riveted together with balled sterling wire.
The process took longer than I would have guessed,
but that lovely piece of glass and I finally came to a happy agreement.


  1. As the "friend of the friend" and the most appreciative recipient of the outsmarted sea glass, I can honestly say it is true...."Good things come to those that wait". I will treasure this beautiful creation, Cynthia. Thank you for putting your heart and soul in to this lovely piece. I love everything about it...the mix of metals, the textures, balance and the fact that you made it! Laura

  2. so happy that you're pleased with the result!