Knee deep in his fourth year of metals classes Sean Battles, senior, has become a very experienced and skilled craftsmen. With Jewelry 1 and 2, Art Metals 1 and six independent studies under his belt he has finished several projects over the years such as picture frames, many chains, pendents of Cape Cod and the Islands, stone setting, keum-boo, and anodized titanium and niobium. Sean’s latest project is a beautiful chain made out of fine silver. “I find it fun and interesting to work with my hands. I like making these chains because each one I complete I feel that I have expanded my metals skills,” said Sean. This long process started at the beginning of the school year in September when he began to form lengths of wire around different sized dowels. Sean said that an important part of this project (and every other project) is to “measure twice!” Next in his process Sean fused the jump rings together and then bent and weaved the jump rings to form his chain. “While forming it together I always had to double-check for broken links, just to be safe,” said Sean. After this he would mallet the chain to make it more square. To start off the high polish process he placed his chain into the tumbler. Another main key of this chain is the box clasp. The box clasp alone is a difficult project, but most certainly conquerable by an independent metals worker. Like any project in this studio, it all begins with a sketch. After the sketch is done it must be adjusted to the proportion to the design of the chain. Sean then proceeded to make the box clasp itself. To fit it onto the chain Sean had to make about ten different solder seams to create the clasp. Rolling towards the end of his process Sean created his end caps and soldered them to the chain. After that Sean started the final sanding with 400-600 grit sandpaper. Once this was done he would place it into the tumbler for ten minutes and then take it out. When it came out of the tumbler he would double-check for sanding flaws and if there were any he would re-sand and then put in the tumbler again.
The finishing touches includes a process called keum-boo.
Keum-boo”litterally means, ‘attached gold.’ It is a simple, reliable process that bonds 24k gold foil to the surface of another metal, usually fine silver. Pieces made with conventional fine silver may be used after thorough cleaning. Sterling silver must first have a skin of pure silver raised to its surface in a process called enriching, or depletion gilding” written by Celie Fago in her book “Keum-Boo on Silver.”
After this process was complete Sean would set the stone onto the tongue of the box clasp. “Seeing the final product feels like a great accomplishment,” said Sean Battles.