THE OPEN AND SHUT BANGLE

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APRIL 2018

The idea behind this bangle is to address the issue that many of us have of large hands but small wrists. Getting a fixed bangle that is big enough to fit over the hand often results in the bangle appearing too large on the wrist.  So my holly bangle is designed to open to allow it over the hand and then it can be neatly closed once on the wrist. I am experimenting with both circular and oval shapes but the benefit that the oval shape has is that it keeps the feature stone in position –  like a watch face.

To test the shape and mechanics of the closure my hubby stepped up to help with his new toy – a 3D plastic printer! (Photo with 3 grey bangles) This meant I could check if my method of closing the bangle worked before I made it in Silver. It has been a really useful process. I used to prototype in Copper but never enjoyed the process and my files went orange with the copper filings!!

The first stage to this bangle was to draw my design – I decided on little holly leaves and berries with a feature garnet cabochon to represent a holly berry.  Once the pattern was drawn I made the wire shapes and hammered the design into the bangle.  I shaped both ends of the bangle to keep with my spiky holly theme and drilled a hole ready for the stone setting. I also sanded the edges of the bangle strip to create a crisp finish – the hammering can result in a wavy edge which I decided on this occasion to neaten up.

I made the setting for the ‘Holly Berry’ in three stages: – first forming a ‘collet’ to go around the stone (in this case a 4mm diameter Garnet cabochon) by cutting a thin strip of silver, forming a collar and soldering the join. Then I soldered the collet onto a piece of silver sheet and trimmed and filed it to form a neat setting.  Next I drilled a hole through the centre of the base plate and at this point double checked that the stone fitted neatly into the setting – the hole allowed me to carefully push the stone back out.  Finally I prepared a post out of a short section of silver wire and fit it carefully into the drilled hole – I filed the end of my wire down so that there would be a ‘shoulder’ to the wire to stop it protruding through the base plate and interfering with the stone. Once happy with the position of the wire I soldered the post to the setting. To make this setting you have to work your way through 3 types of silver solder – Hard, Medium and Easy solder which all have different melting points.  Care needs to be taken not to heat the pieces too hot or the original joins will melt!

I used Easy Solder (protecting the stone setting from the heat) to solder the post to the bangle, having first spent time making sure the post was a snug fit in the hole that I had drilled in the bangle.

Finally I polished the piece in a barrel polisher and then set the cabochon into the setting.

I am really pleased with the way this bangle opens and shuts.  I have many ideas for designs around this bangle which will mean being able to use different colours and sizes of stone.  I have already made another version which is wider and based on a thistle – the stone I have used for that one is a larger Amethyst cabochon. I have included it in the Bangle gallery.