Helen's Apprentice Log — Day Three, Sunday

Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist managing editor Helen Driggs spent nine days in apprentice mode with master lapidary and jewelry artist Michael Boyd at his Pueblo, Colorado studio.  This is her day-by-day log of her experiences.

A spool of annealed bezel stock and the measured and cut strips ready for forming and soldering to the sterling backplate.

Sunday was official into-the-fire day. We started by alloying some 20K gold, a new experience for me. Complex equations and calculations were handled by Ryan (thank heavens) and I took extensive notes. Because we were working with scrap and new grain, we had to calculate the starting karat, target karat, and weight of the grain divided by the desired karat. After that, it was the normal ingot-making process – melt the gold in a crucible, flux with borax, pour it in the ingot mold, and pickle. I kept my mantra against fear playing in my head the entire time: It's just a piece of metal. It's just a piece of metal.

Then we cleaned up the ingot and Ryan and I spent some serious quality time with the rolling mill, rolling out square stock and reducing it down, down, down, and eventually into flat bezel stock. We ended the day with coils of annealed bezel, some reserve square stock, and three piles of measured and

It took us about 2 hours to reach this point. A clean, annealed and coiled spool of 20K gold bezel wire, after ingot making, milling and rolling.

cut bezel sections ready for fabrication. I scrubbed and prepped sterling back plates, watched Ryan and then Michael demo how to make bezels, and mentally prepared to put the torch to gold for the first time. I wanted to do it the "studio way," so I practiced in my head over and over. I'd have to master pick soldering pronto.

I was given the security alarm code and studio keys, Ryan went home for the day after we ate dinner, we watched a really bad Netflix movie and crashed. As I nodded off to sleep, I felt like I'd been given the keys to the kingdom.

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