Vintage Chicago Spoon Ring

Generally, I get a lot more out of my fiber crafts — knitting, cross stitch, embroidery — than I do out of my jewelry and metal craft attempts. There’s something about a project I can start on the couch and then take on the train with me in the morning, but I also did get my start designing and beading jewelry, so I return to metal stamping and new jewelry crafts frequently, particularly when something that seems impossible to do at home catches my eye. This time around, it was spoon jewelry.


Designed for the 1933 World’s Fair, this particular spoon commemorated the construction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, then referred to as the Michigan Boulevard Link. After the city ruled out building a tunnel underneath the Chicago River (…how?), they spent two years designing and constructing a bridge to unite the north and south sides of the city. When I lived in Lakeview East, I used to take the bus to work through Lincoln Park (and over the 10,000 plague bodies buried underneath) and over the bridge every day, past the Wrigley and London Guarantee buildings also featured in the design.

Bolt cutters
Hand file/needle files
Steel or aluminum ring mandrel
Rubber mallet
Bernzomatic butane micro torch
Firebrick or charcoal block
Jewelry/beading tweezers
2 small tumblers or bowls (one for water, one for pickling solution)
Pickling solution: white vinegar, sea salt, hydrogen peroxide
Baking soda
#0000 steel wool
Paper towels

A few years back, one of my aunts asked if there was a craft that I couldn’t specifically do. I wrote out a short list, which included “using a blow torch.” I still haven’t quite made it to that level, but — once I used the cutters to separate the bowl of the spoon and my files to smooth the rough edges — annealing the sterling silver handle in order to bend it around the ring mandrel required the use of a butane micro torch. It also required a block to fire it on, and a pair of tumblers nearby — one with water for quenching the heat after, one filled with pickling solution in order to aid the removal of fire scale.

The heat from the torch also ended up turning the silver black with oxidation. To aid with the removal from the detailed engraving, I used baking soda to lightly scrub it and the #0000 steel wool to remove it further. Altogether it worked to soften the metal enough to bend it with the rubber mallet and give the ring itself a gorgeous patina.

A bit shaky (and not quite round) in places but not bad for a first effort.

~ by blackmoodcraft on December 31, 2017.

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