silverplated flatware crafts

I taught myself to make silverplated flatware keychains and zipper pulls, hook racks and windchimes, but I'd like to add napkin rings to
my repertoire (I sell at a few craft shows each year.) I think I would bend the spoons/forks around a large dowel with the desired diameter, perhaps with a leather hammer. I guess what I need to know is how I would hold it there so I don't hammer my hand? Ditto the question about making spoon rings....I would use one of those gradiated (spelling?) ring sizers and hammer around it...and then cut it? Any help is much appreciated! Sue snipped-for-privacy@m-and-d.com
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snipped-for-privacy@m-and-d.com (SKB)
[some snip]

In blacksmithing, sometimes a cone mandrel with a groove the long way is used for making rings. The groove allows you to get the holding tool (tongs, pliers) in closer to the finished ring size.
So, if you cut a groove along the full length of the dowel, and then hold the piece to be formed with a pair of pliers (a bent nose, as on shoemaker's pliers, might help) that can be lowered into the groove, that should help holding close to final shape. Frank Morrison
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I've never done this, so my ideas are theoretical (although I do have some experience soldering and fabricating silver).
Napkin Rings - do you intend to use the whole fork or spoon to make the circle, or cut off the tines/bowl and just use the handle? Either way, I would start with a grooved block and a large dowel (maybe something like a small bracelet mandrel). Lay the fork across the groove and the dowel on top parallel to the groove. Pound the mandrel which will start the fork bending around it (this applies the force more directly to the fork and less to your hand). When you have the fork pretty close to the desired shape, you can refine and smooth it by tapping on the fork directly over the mandrel. You may need something more substantial than a leather mallet - maybe a plastic faced dead-blow hammer.
Spoon Rings - The ones I've seen were cut to remove the tines/bowl and some of the handle. The cut end was wrapped around and met the bottom side of the handle, back from the end (this left the decorative part of the handle sticking out to lay across the adjacent finger). I've made a few of these, but I cheated and bought premade wax models to cast already in ring form.
Sue, could you enlighten us on the logistic side of acquiring all these silverplated flatware pieces and the time you spend making your parts along with about how many you sell for what?
Here is the way I see it for something like a spoon ring: Craftshow customer picks out a spoon from your supply and says he wants a size 7 ring. You grab the spoon and the big tinsnips and quickly lop off the handle at about the right length. Use some kind of rubber bound abrasive to deburr the spoon handle (probably in a cordless drill mounted on the back of the table). Grab the vicegrips with the padded jaws and the ring mandrel. Locate everything and give it a quick wrap (customer admires the muscle definition in your arm). Finish closing the loop and final shape the ring with a few taps of the leather mallet. A quick buff with some Zam or emery and the customer tries it on while it is still warm. I figure $2.00 for the spoon at a yardsale, 5 to 7 minutes of your time (with some showmanship included) and the finished ring sells for $12.00 to $15.00. I don't see a sustainable market outside of maybe Redondo Beach boardwalk. By the way, the 5 to 7 min includes verifying the customer's ring size with your ring gage (make sure that your ring gage and ring mandrel are coordinated - not all of them read the same size per diameter).
Good luck
Bruce
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Thanks for the great info. I'm going to try the grooved block/dowel.
I don't think I'd be doing the spoon rings on-site at the shows...as with the other items I do, I think I'd make them at home in a variety of sizes/patterns and folks who were interested would pick from my stock. I tend to do better polishing a whole group, then bending them, then finishing them, etc. as opposed to doing the whole process for one item and starting over again! I agree, Cleveland couldn't sustain the market anyway.
As for the logistics...I buy lots on ebay, at yard and thrift sales...I stay at home with my preschoolers, so when they're in school, I hit all the good stores, rotating where I go. Fortunately, since I live in an urban area, I have many, many sources. I will not pay more than $1.00 and like to pay way less per piece. I then of course have a few boxes full sitting around...so, I pull out the ones I want to work with and polish up the whole lot. Then I bend them or cut them, if it's a zipper pull or vase. Then I cut the ones I bent for the keychains. I have a stone mounted on my drill press - so, taking appropriate safety measures, I grind down the cut end on all the pieces. Then, I swap the stone for a buffing wheel loaded up with Jeweler's Rouge and buff it up. I also drill through the ones that need holes in them (hook rack/zipper pull/wind chimes). For the zipper pulls, I add a lanyard clip. For the keychains, I add a split ring. I mount the flatware 'hooks' on the boards I have cut and antiqued using this great crackle spray paint from Home Depot/Lowes. I research each piece and have hang tags made up that I write the pattern name/year on. I sell the keychains for $6, zipper pulls for $4, bud vases for $5, hook racks for $12 and wind chimes for $10. This is in the Cleveland area, so that is about all I can get for my things. If I go back east to do a show I'll definitely adjust my prices UP accordingly. I do church/school shows, so I usally don't pay more than $30 for a table for a one day show.
BTW - I tried to sell these on ebay...it was a big flop!
Thanks for your interest!
Sue
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