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Primitive setting methods?


#1

I have some small (5-8mm), mostly ovoid but irregular, naturally
tumbled stones from a creek bed that I want to include on a silver
pendant for a clan / tribal look, but I am having trouble finding a
good way to mount them. I want something that is, or at least looks,
primitive or ancient. I do not want to wire wrap the stones, nor to
change their shape in any way. I’ve looked around but cannot find any
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? If you know offhand how
they did it or have some suggestions, great! I also don’t mind at all
doing the research if all you have is a source.

Thanks for your help!
TC


#2
I've looked around but cannot find any 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? 

I don’t know if this is primitive enough for what you are looking for
but the traditional Native American, Navajo in particular take tumble
turquoise nuggets and bezel set them with saw dust filling up the
irregularities behind the stone.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
rockymountainwonders.com


#3

I have a few pieces of jewelry made with irregular stones as you
describe. Some are Afghan and one is American Indian. The stones are
set in bezels, more or less. Trick seems to be that the bezels are
done in fairly thin metal – even serrated in a couple of cases –
to make pushing it around the irregular stone more easily
accomplished. The bezels aren’t really clean and neat and this
setting technique probably wouldn’t work too well on a ring but
should be okay for a pendant.

Janet


#4

A suggestion, to be honest, not based on knowledge of the antique
method typical here, would be to “capture set” the stones between a
back plate and the decorative, pierced front plate. This method is
old and uses holes in the decorative plate, which are shaped to hold
the irregular shaped stones, and the hole is slightly smaller than
the stone itself. The two plates can be of the same or different
metals, and can be joined by solder, rivet, claw, Etc. whatever
mimics the period look you are trying to achieve. Have fun!


#5

I think this river rock pendant tutorial
http://www.lapidaryjournal.com/stepbystep/mar04.cfm is interesting.
The design in the tutorial is fairly contemporary, but the concept
could be adapted for your own needs.

Kirsten
http://knitsteel.com


#6
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.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#7

TC-

I would think the most used method for making jewelry of small stones
in “primitive” times would have been to drill them. If you’re looking
to not damage the stones, one technique I can think of would be to
form a bezel around the stone in a width just large enough to hold
the stone while still showing the features of the stone. Another
technique would be electroplating. Unfortunately, although I’ve
wanted to do this kind of thing for a long time, I have never gotten
around to it and do not know enough about it to offer much advice. I
know from seeing artwork done using electroplating that it is
possible to paint an object with conductive paint, where you want
there to be metal, and electroplate metal to the thickness and form
that you want. I would think that you could then solder a ring or
other attachment device to the metal on the stone. Maybe a little
research on the subject or some help from other forum members could
get you started in the right direction.

Brad Skiba