Do you love the look of hammered silver jewelry? The way the light gleams off of each facet and makes it look like it’s gleaming from all angles? Maybe it reminds you of the tides on the ocean or the way that rain scatters the surface of a pond. No matter your fascination with this texture, it’s a technique that is easy to add and a great way to offer your pieces in different surfaces.
There are a few things that you’ll want to know about making hammered silver jewelry:
Annealing is a process of softening silver by using heat. It can help you get more intense patterns since your metal is soft and will pick up texture more quickly. Until you feel like you’ve mastered the texture you’re aiming for, you might want to practice your technique on a less expensive metal such as copper.
Depending on how intensely you’ll be hammering your metal, this is a step that you may chose to forgo. Likely, if you are just wire-wrapping jewelry or lightly hammering sheet metal, it shouldn’t be necessary to do this. On the other hand, if you’ve been working on a piece for a while and you notice that your metal doesn’t seem to be “moving” in the same way, and you feel like there’s more work you’d like to do to it, it’s probably time to stop and anneal. This does require the use of a torch so if you’ve yet to add one to your toolkit, feel free to experiment without one first to see if you can get your desired results.
I bet you can’t believe it, but when you’re looking into making hammered silver jewelry, the first tool you’ll want is — you guessed it, a hammer. If you are a tool hound like me, this can be a great time to go ahead and research what’s out there. Your jewelry supply store should have a variety of hammers, all with different textures.
A hammer with a more pronounced dome will give you a more heavily hammered look while a flatter one will still give you texture just in a more subtle way. Raw silk, cross hatch, pointed, and circles are just a few of the hammers out there for use and they all give truly unique finishes.
That said, don’t feel like you need to go and buy something. You’re creative, I bet there are a million things laying about your home that would be a blast to experiment with. Here’s a few ideas to get you started. Hammer wire into your sheet metal to get some interesting shapes. Hammer atop your sidewalk to get a concrete pattern. (Just be careful not to get carried away with your hammer so you start chipping away at the concrete!)
For more information, see our post Texturing Metal: Tools From Around the House to Use + A Quick Tutorial.
In addition to the tools that are available, there’s a lot that you can do just by varying your technique. Keeping it easy with the strength you exert will give you gentle textures while going full force will obviously do the opposite, and you’ll get more pronounced forming. Keep in mind that the more and harder you hit the metal the quicker it will “work harden” and you’ll need to anneal if you’d like to continue to create texture.
Changing the direction of your hammer blows can also create more interest.
If you’re the type that learns better by watching, I suggest the Bluprint’s Torch-Fired Precious Metal Clay class in which there’s a whole lesson on making hammered silver jewelry. Just jump in and experiment, there’s a lot that you’ll learn in the process and what you do and don’t like in terms of aesthetics.