Handmade Charms

How I Make My Sterling Silver Charms

I have been busy! At the last craft show I did, I took the advice of several people on what charms I should work on next. Once I had recovered from the 5 day event, I got to work!

1. Sketching

Although they are small, making charms is a long process. I first have to decide what I'll be making and then I do some research. I usually base my designs on reality so I look at lots of photos of the subject and do some sketching.

drawing in a sketchbookAfter a while, I'll modify my design so that it is slightly stylized. I want my pieces to be interesting and have a nice tactile feel.

2. Sculpting or Carving

Once that's done, I start sculpting. Depending on how I feel, I might work in clay or I might carve wax.

Sculpting an animal

I usually have to sculpt a piece several times before it looks right. The first time around is practice, the second time around I'm working on getting proportions right. If it still needs tweaking, I'll keep going. I usually manage to get to my final piece but sometimes I have to put a piece aside and revisit it another day because I'm just not happy with it. When that happens, I start over with a new design.

Wax carving

If I'm working in wax and the piece is completed, it's time to cast it in sterling silver.

3. Creating the Master Model

Once my model is cast in sterling silver and is all cleaned up, I solder on a jump ring and get it polished up. This is now my master model, the original piece from which a mold is created.

4. Sterling Silver Castings

Once the mold is made of the master model, copies can be made by injecting wax into the mold and casting it in sterling silver. These castings need some cleaning up. I also have to solder a jump ring so that it can hang on a chain.

5. Finishing Up

I like trying different finishes, it really gives the pieces different looks. Some of the finishes I use are oxidized, where the creases are darkened and the raised areas are not, matte, where the piece has a flat finish (unreflective) and polished, nice and shiny. 

Bee charms in sterling silver with oxidized, matte and polished finishes

Do you have a charm you'd like me to do? Let me know, I might add it to my next batch. 

Sterling silver charms
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