detailed, applicable on how clan / tribal cultures may
have mounted stones to metal, especially irregular stones. Does
anyone know where I might find such info?
Interesting question, TC. There’s no exact answer that I know of,
beyond, “They did what they wanted and needed to.”, which isn’t
helpful. I think you are mixing your metaphors, for one thing.
Clan/tribal cultures didn’t necessarily set any stones in metal -
more of a wrapped with rawhide thing a lot. And then when people did
set stones into metal, they shaped the stones first (or used
regularly shaped stones, like crystals) to make them settable, more
or less. I think in your case you should forget about history and
just work primitively. Setting this way is either prong or bezel -
small metal or big metal. The problem you’ll have is dealing with a
seat because the stones are irregular on the back, as you say. Either
carve a seat for each or just pick flat-backed stones and live with
it. Then put claws, which I say instead of “prong” because it’s more
primitive, and bend them over. If you use more of a bezel then just
make it rough, and if you cut it into segments it will be much easier
to push over - solder it down, and then slit it 4,6,10,12 times,
whatever, so you’re pushing down flaps instead of a whole bezel. The
primitive look is more of a touch and feeling than technique - make
it “sloppy” to a degree so it looks like you want. The earliest real
setting that I know of was a flush set/bezel thing - metal pushed
over a stone, but again they were using regular shapes, not rocks.
The Mayans, Incas and Egyptians did that sort of work, and often it
wasn’t even set, it was glued in as inlay. The problem is, if you
think about it, that there’s really no way to really set a "rock"
without some sort of wire wrapping - it’s irregular in every
diimension. But if you just stuff them in raw bezels or something
they should look something like what you say.