5.03.2009

Process Piece: How I make fork bracelets

I just finished making a new batch of fork bracelets which you can find in the shop, here. I always get a lot of comments and questions from shoppers and other artists pertaining to how the forks are made, and what goes into the process. Today, I thought I might give you a little bit of a peek inside my studio when I'm making a new batch.

While earning my bachelor's degree in fine arts from VCU, I took a series of jewelry making classes, which taught me the skills for heating and working with metals, as well as the knowledge I needed for the types of equipment and tools that go into working with metal.

When I'm working with forks, I much prefer antique silver plated versions. They are a little tougher to work with than solid sterling, but I tend to get more of an antiqued quality to the finished bracelet from the base metal showing through in areas of wear and tear, which is something I'm going for.

To prepare the forks before working with them, I heat them through to their cores using a jewelry torch in a process called annealing. Basically, this is a process that changes the chemical makeup of the metal to make it easier to work with and shape. Safety note: Working with a gas torch and hot metal is a pretty dangerous process, so if you are considering trying this at home, please wear protective gear and take some metalsmithing classing in order to make sure you have all safety precautions and proper equipment set in place.

After heating and cooling the metal, I'm able to start working with it in a series of steps that consist of flattening, cleaning, shaping, and hammering out the shapes of the bracelets. This is the part that requires a little muscle, so I like to convince myself that making batches of bracelets counts for exercise.



Once the bracelets have taken shape, I run them through a series of polishing steps to make sure they get that perfect sheen. Making fork bracelets from start to finish is certainly a process, but one that is very meditative and something I have grown to love.

You can always find the newest batches of bracelets I've made right here in my shop.
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21 comments:

  1. Very cool Mary - thank you for posting this - I am also in love with your tap shoe necklaces - they are sheer brilliance!

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  2. Mary, I have always loved these. The tutorial is great. And, now I know for sure making jewelry is considered exersize. I couldn't be happier!

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  3. That is so much more interesting than making fork t-shirts! :D Wonderful to have insight into your process. I love your work!

    FYI: my "word verification" is podom - sounds like it could be a real word or a coffee substitute, doesn't it?

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  4. Hey! Just wanted to stop by and say that I love your jewelry. It´s creative and whimsical and still so very classically pretty!

    Interesting to see what it takes to make jewelry like this. I never had the chance to glance backstage before and it always has been kind of a mystery... those flames are impressive, for sure ;-)

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  5. So cool! Thanks for sharing:) Love what you do, you're very talented and inspiring.

    Have a great week,

    Patricia

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  6. Thanks for the tutorial. Just a question about heating silver plated flatware. When I have heated the piece to the core as you suggest, the plating comes off. Am I doing something wrong?

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  7. The fork jewelry is beautiful! I love the curlicues!

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  8. thank you for sharing a little bit about these, they're beautiful! i've never heated the silver ware before and now i want to look into it...
    kudzu

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  9. Your tutorial is an awesome inspiration! Many thanks for sharing. I would like to feature your designs at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/

    Contact me here if you have a concern.

    Jane
    http://diylessons.org/

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  10. Hey Jane,

    I'd be thrilled to have the line featured - feel free to get in touch if you need more info!

    - Mary

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  11. Hi Mary,

    We have featured your designs at http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/2011/01/how-to-make-fork-bracelets.html
    Take a look.

    Thanks!

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  12. I think it's great jewelry making can help us lose weight through exercising! Thanks for the super tutorial. I will be featuring and linking it in a future post.

    Pearl
    http://www.beadinggem.com

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  13. Do you ever make fork rings with stones?

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  14. I love what you do. I've always have been interested in this process, thanks for taking the time to do this tutorial.

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  15. Hi there I love your idea do you also make other ones like scissors my son is a barber and he wants a scissor cuff bracelet

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  17. Hi Mary,
    I make spoon, fork and knife jewelry also. I like they way you presented this design with the Safety. Nice work!

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  18. Hi Mary,
    I also found that when I heated the silver plated cutlery, the plating comes off (as someone mentioned above). Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong please? Kylie.

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  19. These are really cool bracelets for women! I never would've imagined wearing cutlery as jewellery, but there's a first time for everything. Thank you for sharing the process with us- wonderfully done!

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