Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament , Holiday Designs. Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder. This ornament was modeled after a vintage Taxco, Mexico, silver holly bell brooch I saw several years ago displayed behind glass in an antique store.

Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament

by Judy Larson
  • Category: Holiday Designs
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
This ornament was modeled after a vintage Taxco, Mexico, silver holly bell brooch I saw several years ago displayed behind glass in an antique store. I also channeled the Burl Ives song "Silver and Gold" from the 1964 Rankin/Bass film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, because every Christmas tree needs at least one silver and gold decoration!

Materials

24 Gauge Dead Soft Argentium Silver Sheet - 6 Inches
H19-24SM6
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1 Inch
  • Price: $37.29
  • Gold Club Price: $27.97
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Three ¾” to 1” long brass bells
  • Lesson Quantity: 3.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 3.00 each
8mm round Ruby corundum gemstones
  • Lesson Quantity: 3.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 3.00 each
8mm Round Sterling Silver Snapset for Faceted Gemstone - Pack of 2
K2-3
  • Lesson Quantity: 3.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 2.00 each
  • Price: $3.57
  • Gold Club Price: $2.68
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16 gauge 4mm ID jump ring
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
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Tools

Basic Sawing Kit
G15-7
  • G15-7
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $34.95
  • Gold Club Price: $26.21
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Professional Jewelry Soldering Kit
G32-PRO
  • G32-PRO
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $159.95
  • Gold Club Price: $119.96
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Instructions
Step 1
Read through the tutorial before starting the project. Follow all safety precautions for the space you are working in as well as all precautions pertaining to the tools and supplies you will be using to complete the project.

Scale the Holly Leaves templates to size. Print the templates on paper or cut out a plastic template or stencil for tracing on metal with an ultra-fine point retractable Sharpie marker. If a wide enough piece of sheet metal is not available, the three holly leaves will fit a 1" wide strip of metal-see Step 6.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 2
Position the templates on 24-gauge sheet metal to conserve as much metal as possible. Glue the template to sheet metal. All that extra space around the templates can be used to make smaller leaves for jewelry pieces. Cut the pieces out.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 3
Follow Steps 4 through 12 in Holly Leaves and Berries to finish the leaf sections. Draw in lines, stamp the midrib, stamp the veins, and scratch in the shading.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 4
Follow Steps 18 through 22 to construct an 8mm snap set berry trio with one central balled ½" long piece of 18 gauge wire.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 5
Small brass bells, ¾" to 1", are widely available and inexpensive to purchase. Purchasing bells saves a lot of time (as well as a blistered palm and a smashed thumb-lol), which is valuable, especially during the holiday season. An internet search of "small brass bells from India" and "Tibetan brass bells" will turn up a multitude of beautiful bells!

In the end, I decided to make bells with some of the spent cartridges I collected years ago from the Honor Guard volley for my WWII father at his burial service. My father was a kid at heart and loved Christmas and playing with his grandchildren, who are now grown with young children of their own. This newest generation is who I make ornaments for each year.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 6
Now that all the parts are ready, it is time to assemble the Holly Days Bell ornament.

If three single leaves were cut instead of the one-piece leaf triad, trim each leaf base so the three leaves fit snugly together on a soldering surface. See Step 11 for adding the disk to a leaf triad piece. This does not need to be perfect, just close. Cut a 24 gauge 3/8" disk. Hint: Because these are for my grandchildren and I know they will be passed down, I put a little disk with my initials and .925 on the back of the pieces I make for them. Put medium paste solder on the back of the disk. Press the disk, solder side down, on the central area where the leaves are connected. Heat the piece until the solder flows. Allow the piece to cool before turning it over on the soldering surface.
Place a generous amount of medium paste solder on the back of the 8mm snap set berry trio-first photo. Working on a soldering surface, press the berry trio piece, right side up and centered on the leaves, onto the holly leaves. There should be enough room on the leaf section below the berry trio to add a line of medium paste solder-second photo. Press a closed 16 gauge 4.5mm ID jump ring into the solder on the leaf trio. Use a scrap of 24 gauge sheet to prop up the opposite side of the jump ring-third photo. Heat around the unit until the solder flows, remembering to be careful around the snap set prongs, which can easily melt with too much heat.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 7
Add jump rings to the ring on the leaf and berry unit to make three chains varying in length. Jump ring size and gauge as well as how long to make the chains is up to you-designers choice determined by the bells being used. Chain links do not need to be soldered closed. Three different chain lengths are used to allow all three bells to be visible. The short chain should be placed between the two longer chains.

Since I wanted oval links and had nothing that I liked in my stash, 16 gauge 4mm ID rings were attached to the holly ring. After attaching the jump rings to the ornament and soldering them closed, they were "squished" into oval shapes. The wire wrapped loop at the top of my bells added to their length, so I used only two sections of chain. One bell was wire wrapped to the holly ring between the two chains. A bell was wire wrapped to each of the chains.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 8
Cut a 1½" piece of 16 gauge round wire. File the ends flat. Form into a "D" ring shape, having the ends meet tightly. Solder the shape closed using medium paste solder. Round the shape on a bezel mandrel using a small rubber/nylon mallet to protect the round wire. Quicker option: Purchase a 16 gauge 10 to 10.5mm ID silver jump ring.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 9
To make the hanging loop, form a short "thermometer" shape by squeezing one side of the ring together around the Step 3 barrel of the 6 step barrel pliers.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 10
Grasp the squished tail of the hanging loop in a soft jaw flat nose pliers. Press the loop end up on a bench block to make a slight gentle curve. This will be the ornament hanging loop.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 11
Nestle the holly leaf and berry assembly in pumice in a pumice pan. Place a line of easy paste solder under the squished end of the hanging loop. Press the hanging loop into place, centered on the upper leaf, approximately 3/8" in from the leaf tip. Optional: For interest, add a tiny silver ball made with ½" of 18 gauge wire at the end of the hanging loop. Heat the entire unit until the solder flows. Have a solder pick handy to hold the loop down in case it wants to tip. Allow the leaf and berry piece to cool in the pumice. Note: Instead of in Step 6, this is when I would add the 3/8" centered disk with my initials using easy solder if the leaf triad shape was used.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 12
Pickle and rinse the piece. Immediately neutralize the piece in baking soda water. Dry the leaf and berry assembly before continuing.

Step 13
Use soft jaw flat nose pliers to bend the sides of the leaves up-first photo. Use a deep bending plier between leaf curves to add more dimension to the leaves-second photo. Use soft jaw flat nose pliers to bend the leaf tips down-third photo.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 14
Tumble the piece for several hours to bring up a nice shine.

Step 15
The piece will be beautiful left bright silver, but patina is the way to go to bring out the leaf textures. Make sure to remove the patina from all the high areas as well as inside the snap sets. Steel wool works well but can be quite time consuming when there are a lot of ornaments to work on. I used the electric tools to speed up the work AND make it easier on my fingers.
Pro Tip: Wrap steel wool around a Q-tip to help remove patina from inside the snap sets. The piece will have a nice satin finish, but if more shine is desired, tumble again for 20 to 30 minutes.
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Step 16
Attach the bells to the chains and the ornament is done!
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament
Judy Larson's Happy Holly Days Bells Ornament  - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, holly and bells sheet metal ornament