Suggestions for setting curved pottery

Hi All,

I’m back at my studio in my happy place making stuff. There is a
commission I’m attacking which has me stumped, although the third
time might prove the charm.

A friend of mine requested a large pendant make from a piece of his
pottery. The design is fairly simple, as the piece is a triangular
piece glazed pottery chard front and back. The material is porcelain,
and is quite delicate. The curvature is a gentle arc, but setting it
into a bezel is challenging.

The bezel I’m using is quite thin and wide, and although I’ve
managed to bend the base into an arc and match the curvature of the
pottery to lie flat quite well, the bezel has been nearly coaxed into
a matching curve. I’m using fine silver, 28 gauge 1/4 inch wide, and
I think this is my problem.

My idea is to use a wider sterling strip, bend it perpindicular to
match the pottery chape, solder it together, and file the bottom to
create the arc using jett set. The top will be small slits which I
will fold over like small rounded tabs, as to maintain the design of
curved drips of the glaze which are echoed on the top of the pendant.
The back of the piece is pierced out in random curved design making
the overall design of the piece work well as a whole. But, this bezel
is proving to be a nasty problem solver.

Looks simple, but is not.

Any suggestions? I can post a few photos if that will help.

Karen Christians

Hello Karen,

I’ve set several fossils, which are most irregular. Fine silver
bezel is maleable, but needs some reinforcement. I have the best luck
with soldering balls of silver onto the edge of the bezel on one
side, after it has been shaped to the fossil’s outline. Placing the
balls on indented areas is important, but be artistic in their
location and a few extras here and there don’t hurt.

Then, move the balls over the edge of the item (sorta’ like prongs)
and work the bezel over the other side. Thermoplastic is useful to
hold things in place while you work on one side.

I cheat a little and use a bit of epoxy on the points for extra
security - fossils found in limestone tend to be very easily chipped!
Porcelain is probably more durable, but if it is a shard, there may
be some hidden stress fractures.

Let us know how you solve this one,
Judy in Kansas

Try using a cutter to make small cuts of about the same depth, very
close together all along the top edge of the bezel. This gives the
bezel much more flexibility for this kind of curvature, as the top
edge is released. Hope it helps.