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Making ring of solid mokume gane


#1

Mokume Gane help please !

Hi all, first, many thanks for all your past help ! I have played
around with mokume gane in the past, making it with solder, with
limited success. I want to make a ring of solid mokume gane and have
now bought a rod of the metal from Rio and was hoping someone could
advise me on what to do next! My thoughts were to hammer / file a
pttern into the rod, then file it down to get the pattern, then roll
it down to the size - I want to make it comfort fit shape - I’d
thought to do this several times as I roll it. Is this the right
approach ? Can someone suggest a better way?

Thanks for your help!
Best wishes, Philip


#2

hi Philip,

I advaise you to watch these mokume gane videos

you will just have to guess in which order things are done… I found
these videos very enlighting…

Juliette Arda


#3

Philip, What is the material make up of the rod? Does it contain a
copper element? Then it may not be a good choice for a ring. It will
look great, but many problems may evolve from wearing it. Essentially
you have the correct steps laid out. Unfortunately or fortunately,
depending on your point of view, this is a very creative material to
work and there really is no “right” way. Bill

Bill, Deborah & Michele
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx


#4

Hi Phillip,

What you’ve mentioned will work fine, BUT - as far as I saw at CIM,
all of Rio’s materials are copper and argentium. Copper worn close
to the skin will create a galvanic cell, and your ring has the
potential to fall apart rather quickly after all of the hard work
you’ve put in.

As many others have mentioned on this forum (Jim, care to weigh
in.again?), mokume featuring copper and copper alloys is best not
used against the skin. I’d avoid solid at all costs, and personally,
would avoid its use in a ring or any application that directly
touches skin (even adjacent fingers).

Chris
Chris Ploof Studio
508.886.6200 EST
www.ChrisPloof.com


#5
I advaise you to watch these mokume gane videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqYc49qu_NY 

Wow! I’ve been puzzling as to how mokume gane artists make rings
without a solder joint - now I know. And I’d wondered how to turn a
ring inside out. Very informative thanks.

Helen
UK


#6
My thoughts were to hammer / file a pttern into the rod, then file
it down to get the pattern, then roll it down to the size - I want
to make it comfort fit shape - I'd thought to do this several times
as I roll it. Is this the right approach ? 

Hammer or file the pattern then use the other method to smooth out
the surface. So if you hammer or punch a series of distortions into
the rod you would then want to file it back smooth or vice versa,
file then hammer (or roll). You need to create a distortion then
level it out to make a pattern, if you combine both in the same step
you will not be very effective in revealing a pattern.

If you have purchased a copper /silver rod you should probably not
use it to make a ring. The copper will corrode away fairly rapidly
(months to years depending on several factors). Also it will be way
too soft to be durable due to the very soft nature of both silver
(fine, sterling or argentium it doesn’t matter) and copper.

So make something other than a ring and enjoy the process, I have
been in love with it for close to 30 years now. And if you want to
make a ring then get some gold or gold silver rod from Reactive
Metals as it is suitable for this use.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#7

Thank you Jim. It appears that Phillip purchased this Mokume from
Reactive to begin with. When folks tell us what they are planning to
do we give them the copper talk. We have seen copper totally etched
out of the silver laminate. Looks just like a 40% nitric acid etch.
Sometimes it is just to no avail.

Bill
Bill, Deborah & Michele
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx


#8

I have to agree with both Mr Binnion and Mr Ploof. Stay away from the
copper based alloys for rings. Unless you wish to see the magic of
body chemistry and other things take a toll on the copper. I did a
few of these years ago and was warned by Jim. I had a customer
insist that it would not be a problem for him so I made one. He
returned a few years latter and said that it was coming apart layer
by layer and he had a collection of what looked a lot like metallic
onion skin. I explained that this was one of the most detailed puzzle
rings that I ever made and he should pay me some more money…he
didn’t.

The you tube video is fantastic, it shows in detail how to butterfly
a rod and flare it out to get a seamless band. However I have been
doing it a different way for years and found it to just as good, but
different.

  • create a patterned sheet of mokume

-leave it on the thick side, say 16-18 gauge

-cut out of it the shape of a washer, say about the size of a
quarter with a hole in it.

-now simply anneal the piece and place it over your dapping block,
dap it until it is in the shape of a short funnel.

-anneal again, place it on the end of a round mandrel, now forge it
flat.

-this stretches one side and compresses the other.

this is how my enamelist friend makes seamless silver bands. I also
saw it done by the KRIS makers in JAVA to create decorative rings for
the blades.

do a few practices on other metal first and good luck. it is really
very simple and no big secret at all.

wayne werner


#9

I’d just like to thank who ever posted the link to the Mokume-gane
videos, I fund one that showed the making of a ring with out
seams/welds/soldering/joins of any kind, and having watched it once I
just knew that “I can do this”; so I did. I did it with a twist
though, as I used what I had and what I had was some 3.2mm square
sterling silver wire, so to keep the proportions close to what I
call ideal I ended up making a ring that is 12mm OD with a shank
thickness of 0.9mm and a width of 3.0mm. Now I found this technique
to be rather easy to do even while making a ring that is effectively
BD scale. So having done it once I know that I will always be able to
do it, so thank you for making it possible for me to add another
string to my bow of skills!

Cheers, Thomas.
Janstrom Designs.


#10

Hi Wayne,

Funny you should pick up on that particular video, as I did too, but
for a different reason…

I was amazed at how easy this technique is (and “well duh” ish),
having never done this technique before I when from square rod of
silver to a finished (polished etc) one half scale ring in about
2.5hrs.

Just for kicks I drilled the start and finish holes manually,
actually the only power tool used was the buffer at the end. So quite
a bit of the 2.5hrs was spent drilling and sawing the slot to get the
butterflying started, the rest is just hammer work and for an old
blacksmith it was rather easy and I’m still amazed that I never
thought to apply this technique to jewellery before (I have used a
variant to make forks and such previously).

I will try to find the time to give your technique a go sometime
soon.

Thank you for sharing.

Cheers, Thomas.
Janstrom Designs.


#11
create a patterned sheet of mokume -leave it on the thick
side, say 16-18 gauge -cut out of it the shape of a washer, say
about the size of a quarter with a hole in it. 

Surely this would be more wasteful than the method shown in the
Youtube video? The method in the video uses the whole billet but
your method (although obviously useful) surely generates wasted
metal. You’ve got the hole which has been cut out - although I’m sure
this could be fashioned into mokume gane earrings - and you’ve also
got the outer bits of metal, left over from cutting out the washer.

Also, being mokume gane, you’ve got metal with more than one precious
metal in it so it’s not a simple case of just melting it down to use
in another piece. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Helen
UK


#12

Hello everyone ! Many thanks for your help with my ring question !
Especialy Jim and Bill, yes I purchased my billet from Rio - and was
very pleased with the service I got ! I cant remember being told that
the copper / silver problem would be as bad as you say though. Im not
sure yet what I will do, I wanted to experiment with a cheaper form
at first, then get some of the gold billets, I may still do this and
wear it on special occasions only ! Again, thanks so much for the
help and thanks to Rio als, you had some bad reports last year, but
you’ve been great !!

Philip Wells in Nelson NZ


#13

The “real” trick is creating a seamless ring with “heft” - I agree
with Wayne, the method he mentions is super (and what I started doing
a long while ago), and congratulations Thomas on your success, but
personally I make my rings a minimum of 1.9mm thick for the small
sizes, out of solid seamless mokume gane.even for shanks of
engagement rings. I’ve found rings much thinner than that aren’t
durable and don’t last as long as thicker rings. Also, look at the
rings at the end of the you tube videos - look hard enough, and you
can see the solder seams in numerous places where the rings have been
repaired.so not quite seamless. It looks like his material is being
stressed to failure in his process, but he is making a thick,
although not truly seamless, ring.

The challenge is making a quality product, that feels wonderful on,
exhibits beautiful pattern, will last longer than the wearer, and is
truly seamless.

Hint: star pattern is the easiest pattern to hide a seam on - it’s
much more consuming to make a star pattern seamless ring than to be
an expert on soldering them

Hint #2: I have yet to find a customer that cares about the seamless
aspect of mokume rings. Their attachment is to pattern, and
especially original patterns not offered by other makers.

Chris
Chris Ploof Studio
508.886.6200 EST
www.ChrisPloof.com


#14
Hint #2: I have yet to find a customer that cares about the
seamless aspect of mokume rings. Their attachment is to pattern,
and especially original patterns not offered by other makers. 

Isn’t that because you make rings that are truly seamless? Surely if
you had a visible solder seam which interrupted the pattern on a
plain band ring, the customer may well care enough not to buy. On an
engagement ring where any seam can be hidden round the back,
opposite the diamond that wouldn’t be a problem but on a band ring
where it’s free to twist round to any orientation, it could well be a
problem.

How does your method differ Chris? I’m interested to know. I was
impressed with the butterflying technique - it seemed like a good
solution to the potential problem of having a seam in a mokume gane
ring but I can see the pitfalls from what you say.

Helen
UK


#15

Hi Chris,

congratulations Thomas on your success, but personally I make my
rings a minimum of 1.9mm thick for the small sizes, out of solid
seamless mokume gane.even for shanks of engagement rings. I've
found rings much thinner than that aren't durable and don't last as
long as thicker rings.

Thanks for the kind words, let me just clarify one thing, the ring I
made was an approximately one half scale “model” and so the shank
thinness of 0.9mm is about right, generally I won’t make or sell a
ring with a shank thickness under 1.8mm I usually aim for 1.9 (like
you) to 2.1mm (for a men’s ring). I totally agree there is something
special in a ring with heft to it, it’s not that it says “look at me
I can afford an oz of metal”, but that the wearer “knows” that they
have the ring on. Does that make sense?

I did notice some seams, but I took those to be “early” attempts
(maybe I was wrong in that assessment), but yes some patterns are
easier to hide (I don’t think that’s the right term, but it will do
for now) a seam in, and yes the more regular the pattern (star or
linear wood grain) the easier it is.

I have noticed a couple of my wedding set customers thinking about
seamless rings as they imply a union truly without end (at least
that is my take on their reasoning!), so now I can supply rings to
this motif as well. I will, like I said in my earlier post, give
Wayne’s method a try soon, as I feel the more ways you can do a task
the better.

Cheers, Thomas.
Janstrom Designs.


#16
what you need is a ring with heft' 

Mr Ploof is right, a decent thickness for any ring is 2mm high. I
failed to mention in my post that I do an inner sleeve inside the
mokume ring after it is flaired out. I get a lot more out of the
material by stretching it out. I just thought that people would
figure this out on their own.

I also had a response from Helen in the UK. she mentioned the
’waste’ involved. it seems to me that all the forms of patterning
involve some waste. It is part of the process. I figure that I
’waste’ about 10-20% when I do a grind or filled patterned ring. If
you want to see a great use of ‘scrap’ check out the work of Carrie
Adell. She did wonderful beads made of metal. I worked for her for
years at the eastcoast tradeshows. George Sawyer, Carrie Adell, and
Steven Walker are the first people that I recall bringing it to the
Craftshow arena on a regular basis. I am sure others did as well. We
have a lot to thank these people for just for bringing this wonderful
artform into the public eye.

wayne werner baltimojo md


#17

Hi Wayne,

I looked at the work of Carrie Adell and yes I can see that she made
great use of the “waste” (horrible word to use, sorry) in her work. I
love her “touchstones” collection - the pieces really remind me of
paintings by Gustav Klimt, whose work I love. I guess making the best
use of such leftover pieces of precious metal is all part of the
creative process.

I made a pendant for a niece for Christmas, which was to be a bezel
set, large pear shaped piece of green amethyst. I made a decorative
element to go round the base of the bezel - three round wires twisted
by the flexshaft then re-annealed and hammered into a square cross
section and shaped around the pear shaped bezel. I also used some of
this twisted wire to make the bale for the pendant which was soldered
to the bezel point. It looked really pretty but unfortunately I broke
the stone when setting it so had to rush and make something else for
her. It was lying around in my work in progress drawer and then I
remembered it was my son’s girlfriend’s birthday in a couple of days’
time. I removed the twisted wire from the pendant, cleaned up any
solder still on it, made a new bale, added a tiny pear shaped ring to
the inside of the point and dangled a little bezel set pear shaped
ruby cabochon from that. I made bezel set ruby cabochon stud earrings
to go with it too and she loves the set. She said “Oh wow, you
remembered that I loved the pendant you did with the twisted wire!”.
To be honest I’d completely forgotten! I didn’t tell her it was
recycled from the very pendant she’d admired. :wink: I need to do that
more often, rather than using new metal. I’ve probably got loads of
suitable pieces of silver in my scrap box which I could utilise
instead.

So Wayne, are you saying that you cut your mokume rings out of a
square (?) panel of mokume of the right thickness for the width of
the ring or have I got the wrong end of the stick? The orientation of
the pattern would be different in that case wouldn’t it? I’m trying
to get my head around the patination of mokume and how it then
translates to the finished piece of jewellery. For example, I can’t
quite get the fact that making a bilet out of two different precious
metals, then twisting it along its length, butterflying it and
turning it inside out gives the star pattern (or have I got that
wrong as well?). My head’s in a spin trying to work out what’s going
on on the inside of the billet/rod, when the twisting takes place.

Thanks for the advice re looking at Carrie’s work. I enjoyed it.

Helen
UK


#18

Hi Helen and Thomas,

Helen, to clarify, not all of my designs are seamless, many are made
the traditional way. While we go to great pains to hide our seams,
they can be seen if hunted for very carefully on classic pattern
rings. To me, a well made seam is very acceptable. Some others
believe the ring is poorly made if the union of the two ends is not
hidden with a round gobbet of some metal. To me, this is an obvious
attempt a disguising what may be a poorly made seam (but who knows).
As far as it being OK to hide a seam on an engagement ring, well, I
see your point, but if it is not expertly executed, then you are not
putting forth your best work, which is a big mistake. Regardless of
location, make it beautiful in execution. Why not hide it at the
setting?

Thomas, thanks for clearing that up - I’ll say this, then.twice as
thick is not twice as difficult. Using the method as put forth on
you tube (I could not find a ring that did not have solder repairs on
the videos, by the way) is good, but when you make your full scale
model, it may be exponentially more difficult.

Wayne’s method is very sound, and works quite well. The
"buterflying" technique is more difficult. The metal wants to focus
stresses in the sharp areas, and can easily tear, and the larger the
piece combined with the more you ask of it (also considering the
laminated nature of many billets) will all come into play. The metal
from Reactive is super well bonded (I believe Rio’s is from the same
maker), and would be my choice If I was not making my own.

But regardless of the technique, seamless rings are wonderful, but
not the end all. Excellent work and quality of craft is much more
important.

Chris Ploof Studio
508.886.6200 EST
www.ChrisPloof.com


#19

Wayne,

We’ve met - please, it’s Chris - Mr. Ploof is a man much older than
me - someday I am sure I will meet him, but no rush!

And, yes, I did get the fact that you are lining your rings - but two
things:

  1. My (and others) personal belief is that the mokume needs to be a
    minimum of 1.6mm thick on a lined ring - not sure a patterned
    "washer" yields this in all situations.

  2. If it’s lined, it’s not solid mokume. This has proved to be much
    more important to my customers than seamless.

But I did definitely understand - after meeting you, I know you
would only make high quality work - we have two cork boards with
artist postcards on them - people who do excellent work - and you are
there, top left corner. So no worries, I completely understood that
you’d be lining the rings, but perhaps others did not.

And check your figures on waste - I’d recommend anyone who wants to
make mokume gane do this so you can price your work accurately. Easy
to do, by weighing the billet as received, and throughout the
patterning process. I think you’ll find that some of the more dynamic
patterns on flat material yield 30%+ waste, prior to cutting to
whatever shape you need for your project. Total waste figures could
exceed 40%. Either way, find a good refiner. Send them cookies.

Chris
Chris Ploof Studio
508.886.6200 EST
www.ChrisPloof.com


#20

Hi Chris,

To me, a well made seam is very acceptable.

Yes I agree and I work hard to get neat seems and love it when I can
make them disappear altogether. I just didn’t realise it was
possible on patterned techniques such as mokume gane and Damascus
steel. They are true art forms and I would love it one day if I could
make jewellery using the technique.

Helen
UK