Ring-A-Day Follow-Up

Herbert Hoover completed his yearlong Ring-A-Day project on February 11, 2013...

What are the biggest lessons/skills you learned from doing your project? I love to design things, so many of the rings are about the design. With so much opportunity to design, my skills couldn't help but become stronger with each new daily ring.

However, where I learned the most was craft. I found the limits of my caster's abilities, the metal's abilities, and learned how to polish metals to a mirror shine under magnification. Traditionally, a polisher apprentices under a master jeweler for 3-5 years. There's more to learn, but I've polished a lot of rings this year.

I also started to appreciate gems once I was confident to set them without breaking them. I only lost one, and didn't break any. The kiln heat made one CZ milky, but it might be able to be polished back to full luster. I could easily do a second year of the project concentrating on gems. Does anyone know of a "rock collecting" grant?

In what ways did the project change your life? I have much greater respect for anyone who makes or repairs jewelry. It's a tough trade to learn, and a tougher trade to make money doing. I understand why this trade was passed through generations. You have to sleep, eat, and talk the craft to stay sharp and competitive. It's like sports or music. You have to keep practicing and keep learning to be good.

I began reading some of the history and lore of ring making to help keep my creativity primed. The story of a king throwing his ring into the sea, which was quickly eaten by a fish, that later was served to him with the ring still in its belly, was one of my favorite tall tales. Amazingly, gems weren't an important part of rings until the Romans added them. They were more functional as a form of ID or security tools than as jewelry. There was also gold electroplating as far back as 2500 BC -- 4,300 years before Alessandro Volta "invented" the battery in 1800 AD. I got to study some old texts by borrowing old NYPL library books. One of the books is 120 years old. It makes me concerned when libraries take a book off the shelf that hasn't circulated in several years to make room for more vampire dreck, so in this way the project gave me a new appreciation of history and the conservation necessary to keep from loosing this knowledge.

Now what? I'm working on some new ring designs that require a little more time and patience than one day allows. I'm also looking for ways to share the fun I had creating and blogging this adventure.

Now that I understand the hand-crafting design process of making rings, I'm learning how to use a CNC mill to cut wax models for casting. It will add a level of accuracy and craftsmanship that would otherwise take years and lots of patience to learn by hand. Learning the basic handwork and metal craft first will give my CNC designs a firm grounding in classic style and design.

I've joined custommade.com to help people realize their jewelry ideas.

Read Herbert's original 365 post HERE.

See all of Herbert's rings HERE.

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