Granulation 101: How to Add Texture and Interest to Your Metal Jewelry Designs with an Ancient Technique
As a jewelry maker, do you ever find yourself just obsessed with a particular style or design motif? For me, pretty often over the past few years, it has been granulation. I love dots in general; polka dots on clothes and housewares are such happy, stylish designs, classic and youthful in nature. I read somewhere that circles or near circles are the most pleasing shapes to the eye, whether found in nature or applied in purposeful design. One dot, three dots, countless dots–they make me smile.
So it’s no surprise that I love granulation in jewelry. It’s interesting to me that most of the granulated jewelry I see is antique or estate, sometimes very antique ancient museum jewelry. But I’m starting to see it more often in modern designs. I see liquid enamel dots in enameled jewelry designs. I see textured dots and circles hammered into metal, and the soft-solder jewelry craze is full of fun little accent dots. But more and more recently, I’m seeing modern artisan jewelry with a granulated, dotty texture.
Granulation is defined as the “act or process of granulating.” More specifically, granulating involves using a flame to turn tiny bits of metal into granules or tiny balls (originally pure gold), and the granulation process continues with fusing those tiny balls (or soldering, in some cases, if you’re using the term loosely) onto a back plate or base jewelry design. While the term “granulation” isn’t as old, granulated jewelry as much as 3,000 years old is known, most originating in what is now Italy.
Granulation provides style, interest, and eye-catching places for light to rest on a design. It’s also a wonderful way to add texture to metal jewelry designs. Many of the granulated jewelry designs I see are of the older variety, and that sometimes makes it feel like it’s a technique beyond reach for less experienced jewelry makers. Not true! Especially not with Argentium sterling silver.
You know that Argentium makes the most perfect little balls when you’re creating balled head pins, so naturally Argentium forms perfect balls, minus the head pins. In Cynthia Eid’s newest video, How to Make Jewelry with Argentium Sterling Silver: Basic Fusing and Granulation, she shares the simple steps for creating granulated balls of metal and fusing them to your jewelry designs. Cynthia also shares how to form granulated metal into dimensional jewelry shapes without harming the granules and how to solder granulated domed hemispheres into a lentil-shaped form.
Ready to add some time-tested style and a touch of fun, dotty designs to your jewelry creations? Get Cynthia Eid’s new DVD, How to Make Jewelry with Argentium Sterling Silver: Basic Fusing and Granulation, to master granulation as well as fusing and other techniques for making metal jewelry with Argentium sterling silver–or instantly download the video!