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their bands while attending one of WRW’s informational open houses where Jay explains the entire process to couples.

the most challenging. “This had to be done carefully without cracking it, or you had to start all over again.”

Of the initial concept creation, Jay says, “I try to be as creative as possible, to let them make rings that are unique to them.” He documents the dimensions and descriptions of the planned rings, estimates the amount of metal needed, and weighs out that amount. Then he begins documenting the couple’s process too. “With the disposable camera we provide each couple, I photograph them holding the two little dishes of metal bits, as they start off their ring-making process.”

However, showing just how individual the wedding ring creation process can be, Jason and Gregory said this was their favorite part when crafting their own bands in March, 2009. “We loved annealing the platinum, especially after the ring took shape,” Jason explains.

Melting The first step after selecting the metal is melting it, which Lewis says most couples find fascinating. James Daniels and Scott Colvin found this to be true. “Melting down the gold and turning it into an ingot was our favorite part,” James says. Jay explains that couples don protective aprons and safety glasses, and using a high temperature jeweler’s torch that is fed a mixture of oxygen and gas, he coaches them in melting their metal. “When it is molten,” Jay says, “they pour that liquid metal into a steel mold and create the ingot.”

Milling Next comes milling, and Jay explains, “From the poured ingot I supervise the couple’s use of a manual rolling mill, a handle operated machine that slowly forms that rough ingot into a square rod of the correct width for each of their rings.” James and Scott explain how they completed this part of the process. “We milled the rings into a stretched shape, which would later become the foundation of our rings. We stretched the ingot into a large wire, and then we bent the wire into rough-looking ring shapes and trimmed them.”

Using a high temperature jeweler’s torch Scott melts the metal to form his ring.

Lunch! The next step is a much-needed break and lunch, whereby the jewelers provide menus from local restaurants. “We call in the lunch order,” Jay says,” “and have our meals delivered to the studio where we eat, and get to know each other better.”

Scott (right) uses the milling machine as partner James (left) curiously looks on.

Bending, Sawing, Soldering Back at work, the afternoon is spent on the remaining stages of the process, Jay explains, all of which he photographs. “When the metal strips are finally rolled into the correct shape, width and thickness, I help the couple cut these strips with a jeweler’s saw into the correct length.” The strips are then hammered around a mandrill into bands, and Jay shows the couple how to solder the ends together with the propane/oxygen torch using more of their precious metal and the appropriate colormatch solder.” For Jason and Greg, this step presented a challenge. “We found the hardest part to be soldering the rings,” Jason explained. “The small pieces of solder would fly off very easily.”

Hammering the ring around the mandrill to create the proper shape.

Jason solders his ring, under the supervision of Jay Whaley of WRW.

Shaping, Buffing, Polishing “Then it’s on to the three final steps,” Jay says, “including shaping, where the excess solder is filed off and the ring is shaped.” Rings are then buffed to remove remaining file marks, the shape is refined, and jeweler’s polish is applied. ●● cont’d

As part of the finishing process, Greg files and polishes his ring.

For Randall and Victor, annealing during this stage -reducing stress within the metal by heating to a prescribed temperature- was

Vol. 4 Issue 2 Summer/Autumn 2009 23

Volume 4, Issue 2 (Summer/Autumn 2009)  

Heartland in Gay America

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