Gauge and material for Christmas ornament?


I am a new member, living in Ontario, only 30 miles east of the
Manitoba border, and just finding my first steps in silver jewelry
making on a strictly hobby basis. I am very thankful for this list,
and learn so much with each day’s posts.

I’ve come up with an idea for a labour of love. I have three kids,
21-24, who are all on their own now, and scattered from home base.
Recently, I sold the family home to downsize and provide unfettered
movement for my delightful child-free state. Closing is January 2,
2006, so this is our last Christmas here. The kids are 100%
supportive, but understandably sorry that the only home they’ve known
will no longer be available. We also lost our original home to a fire
10 years ago, and this house is the replacement. Moving in has always
signified the end of a very difficult period for us. The background
may affect your answers.

I want to make a Christmas ornament for each of the kids,
representing our home. The rough draft for the 4-piece pattern is at The pieces are laid out with
numbers representing order of assembly, with a composite below. I’ve
put it together in paper, and it works, with the tabs providing the
desired 3D effect. (I’ll use wire for the railing.)

Question is: I thought 24 gauge (.5mm) sterling sheet would be the
appropriate material for this project. It will be nearly $80.
(Canada pricing), which is not outside my willing-to-pay price for
this gift. However, in checking out other sterling ornaments on the
Web, it seems that my material cost is excessive compared to retail
pricing. It’s irrelevant as a pricing question, because I never
intend to do ornaments commercially, but it made me wonder if 24
gauge is heavier than I need. (Aside question for Canadians – do you
know of a source for Argentium sheet/wire in Canada?)

I also retreated to perhaps using brass or copper to reduce the
cost. For those of you who have been at this for a long time, is it
likely I will regret not making them in silver 20 years from now –
not because the other won’t last, but for intrinsic value? Just for
the record, the house is a silver/greyish-blue colour – possible
that I just answered my own question, but I’d still love to hear your
thoughts on this.

Any thoughts on the project are welcome. I will need to order my
silver in the next week or so if I am to have this completed by

Thanks in advance.
Wendy Peck

Oh yes, make them out of silver. No question. Buy nice boxes and the
anti-tarnish Atlantic/Pacific Cloth for storage.

And tell them I said to stop whining about losing their family home.
Many people have no “family home” to return to, for a variety of
reasons. And they are lucky enough to have a mother willing to make
them a silver ornament of their home, their parent(s) are living,
and all their siblings are alive and well. Worse things can happen
than a parent downsizing.

They should be grateful that you’re not putting them in the position
of dealing with your too big house and possessions after you’re

Okay, done ranting.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi Elaine,

Thanks for the reply. I am going to make them in silver, and your
suggestions for packaging are great. I probably would have thought
of it when the ornaments were done – too late to get the
anti-tarnish cloth in. Now I can order it with the silver.

Do you think that 24 gauge is the right material for this project,

BTW: The kids have been behind me 100% in selling – they certainly
aren’t whining. If they were there is no way I would be motivated to
do this.