In a recent post (Romancing the Stone) I mentioned a couple of books I bought at the PMC conference and my struggles with creating an acceptable bezel.
Today I returned to working on a bezel piece that was giving me problems. As I've said before this isn't the first time I've worked with making bezels and combining them with metal clay. (Although to watch me work these past few times you wouldn't know it.)
In 2009 I took a pre-conference class on bezel setting with Linda Kline. If the bezel was too high for the stone, Linda had us raise the stone to the right height with sawdust. She said it was the traditional method. I posted about that piece under the title "Only three years."
Before I took that class I created a bezel with the clay itself (mentioned in a post titled "Just Beachy.") I leveled that piece with polymer clay figuring that it had some give to it and wouldn't dry out.
During the conference this year I was talking to Lisa Barth and she seemed mortified that I would raise the stone. Instead, she suggested that I file the bezel down. That way the bezel can be adjusted to the varying height of the stone. This method is also good because it allows the artist the option of cutting an opening behind the stone. An opening can be used as a decorative element on the back of the piece and allows the artist to use less clay (therefore saving money.)
Here in lies my problem. The amount of time I'm spending on filing my bezel down to fit the stone is probably worth more than just leaving the backing whole. Filing and sanding metal clay is easier in the clay state. That is why the artist should do as much as he can to finish a piece before firing. Bezel wire is already in the metal state and let me tell you..... even though bezel wire is fine silver and therefore soft....... it is not that soft. Darn, filing that stuff is time consuming work.
I think I've made up my mind......... I'm raising my stone.