Tomorrow night is the last wire wrap class until October, and since my last post, I’ve been very, very busy, both with wrapping, using flames (I love playing with fire…) and finally experimenting with prong settings. I’ll post more about the other things in the weeks to come, but today’s post is about prong settings.
Wire wrap can be visually smooth, but for the most part the jewelry is more “craftsy” than art. Really good wire wrap transcends the homemade look and goes to where no man (or wire artist) has gone before. I’ve been studying the interesting wire wrap work of other artists, including Mike Gutes’ wonderful creations (find him on Facebook here) and the wickedly precise work of Dale Cougar Armstrong (book here). Both artists use faceted gems in their wire work, something I’d like to do someday.
Faceted gems are a step above the polished stones I normally work with. They are also much smaller in dimension, which makes working with them an exercise in frustration. I’ve read, re-read, and read again the instructions in Armstrong’s book for making an orbit wire prong, and I still don’t get it. I’ve studied the photos of Gutes’ work trying to figure out how in the heck he traps those tiny gems, and so nicely too.
At the last gem show, I picked up a large lot of faceted gems, intending on using many of them in my wire work. These were bagged lots, in many cases I was interested in one stone in a bag and not the rest. When I got them all home and began to sort them out, I realized I had some pretty nice rocks.
My first thought was to use Snap-tite snap sets – pre-made prong settings – to snare the gems in something I could work with. The problem with that idea is that many of the stones are in odd sizes. Some are too big for Snap-tites.
At the class last week, Mary showed me a way of making a setting for a polished gem, using a jump ring and wire. Talk about frustration! As any beader knows, a jump ring is an awfully tiny piece of metal. My eyeballs were doing somersaults by the time I was finished wire wrapping the first ring.
In the last week, I’ve been playing with making my own prong settings. At first I used six different pieces of wire. It was a fiasco! Not enough strength in the wire and too much play. I then rethought my idea (plus looked very carefully at my engagement ring) and designed a prong setting using one wire and one binding wire.
This idea worked much better; however, I’m terrible at math. My gems were not a normal size. Some of them had very deep girdles and others had no depth at all. This resulted in a trial and error playing with various lengths in order for the prongs to settle in over the stone securely.
I plan on figuring it out more mathematically. This eye-balling it thing is not working for me. 🙂
Here are a few of the prong set stones I did this weekend. I have set all of them into a larger wire piece. All have been vigorously tumbled and the stones did not fall out. All are available for sale. Either email me, leave me a comment, or check my Etsy site.
An amethyst trapped in silver wire. Piece is approximately 1″ wide and 1.5″ long.