Daily Archives: February 15, 2011

A riveting story

Today was the day I finally addressed my last resolution from last year. I taught myself to rivet.

I’m shocked that I put off learning this simple cold connection for so long. What was I thinking? (I admit it. I was afraid to fail. Let that be a lesson to me. It was actually pretty easy.)


For my first rivet experience I used an unfinished piece I made in Celie Fago’s ¬†workshop last September. I had already drilled holes in the back of the piece where I wanted to put rivets. That’s as far as I got. No holes were drilled on the front because I would be drilling all the way through, one hole at a time, to make it easier to line up each rivet.

I had two of these unfinished pieces. Potential pendants. Below are 3 successful rivets with 20 gauge wire. (And one unsuccessful spot.) My very first rivet is the one inside the red marker. The rivet at “12 o’clock” on the piece was made with a piece of silver wire that I balled on one end.

Now, about that unsuccessful spot. When I drilled through the hole in back, the hole in front was half on the silver and half on the recessed area with the polymer clay. Arrgh! First I tried to make up for it by using a balled end piece of wire:

Yeah, I knew it wouldn’t work. But maybe adding a little washer would work. (Notice the hole in the washer is too roomy for the wire…)

The look I wanted…

What actually happened…

I kept trying to make a bad fit work. It never did.

This is the point where I stopped worrying about making this into a wearable piece. I left this trouble section alone for a while and started to drill holes in other spots to see what would work for a rivet. 18 gauge wire vs 20 gauge. Copper wire. Gold-filled commercial head pins. Glass bead washers. (That one didn’t work so well.) Another attempt with 3 washers to fill in the trouble spot.

I knew this was not a piece to wear, but it was a great opportunity to figure out a way to make a bale and rivet it, so it could be worn. Now I’ll know what to do when I do make a piece to wear.

A tight fit is necessary for hot connections. (Are they called hot connections?) Solder won’t fill a gap and fine silver won’t fuse across a gap. This I already knew. Today I learned, from experience, how important a close fit is for a cold connection.¬†The hole and the wire rivet need to be the same size/gauge.

Designs with rivets are flying through my head. At last!



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