Great excitement at La Petite Maison last week, as I took delivery of this. It’s a ring stretcher and reducer, and whilst it may not look that thrilling, it will allow me to make and accurately size closed rings.
I do make rings at the moment, but they are all unsoldered, so that they can be adjusted to fit. This is actually a design choice, and it can be helpful if people do not know their exact ring size, or are buying a ring as a gift. However, I wanted to start making some sets of stacking rings, which are soldered closed, and to do that, you really need to be able to make an exact size.
You can calculate what length of metal you need to produce a ring of a certain size, but expansion and contraction during heating is difficult to predict, plus if you then hammer the ring to add texture, it inevitably stretches. Hence this machine. It allows you to adjust up or down a couple of sizes, thus ensuring a perfect fit.
The photo on the left shows a ring being stretched. There are steel vanes on the spike, which open out when you pull the handle, gently enlarging the ring. To reduce the size, you fit the ring into one of the circles on the bottom plate. These gradually narrow, so as you press down from above, the ring is compressed.
It’s been a while since I made any stacking rings, so I’m practising with copper to get my skills up to speed again. As it’s December, and the ring stretcher is officially a Christmas gift, I now feel entirely justified in listening to some festive tunes while I’m doing so. In this case, it’s Tracey Thorn’s wonderful album Tinsel and Lights.
I’ll be moving on to working with silver silver soon, so keep an eye out for some new ring designs in my online shop in the near future.