Gold Spider Damascus Bead

I’ve started a lanyard bead on some Geoff Keyes damascus steel.  I’m going to add a tiny gold spider hanging from a thread. This bead is for Geoff – shhh, don’t tell him…
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Gold_Spider_Damascus_Bead_1Above, I’m beginning to turn the bead from Geoff’s damascus steel rod.  So far I’ve faced the rod, turned the rough exterior perfectly round and am drilling a center hole for drilling all the way through with successive sized drill bits.

Gold_Spider_Damascus_Bead_3Here I’ve carefully rounded the end, saying particular attention to the finish.  Any marks left on the surface now will be accentuated once I etch the damascus steel and reveal its’ complexities.

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Above is the turned bead and the remainder of its’ bar – I tend to turn two beads at a time, because the next bed gives the lathe chuck something to hold onto.

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You can see the preliminary etch above, revealing a really fine pattern (3/4 inch long/19 mm).  Geoff made the damascus from two or more different kinds of high carbon steel.  Each kind of steel etches at different rates (I used ferric chloride), leaving behind this beautiful woodgrain effect.  Now I need to make several tiny punches to create the raised portions of the gold spider.

I spent today making a set of punches for making the raised portions of a gold spider on yesterday’s Damascus lanyard bead. The spider will be similar to the gold ant on the beetle hobo nickel from a few weeks back.

Gold_Spider_Punch_1Above, I’ve transferred the design to a piece of 1/8 inch diameter piano wire.

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Here I’ve engraved the interior of the design.

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Now I’ve carved out the interior with a tiny carbide bur.  Can you see where we’re going with this punch yet?

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Here I’ve engraved and carved exterior to the edge lines – I want a not quite sharp edge.

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Above, you can see the shaped exterior on the two finished punches, one large for the spider’s abdomen (big butt…), and a smaller one for the spider’s head.  You can also see where I tested both punches on a piece of lead.

Below, I’m adding the spider to the Geoff Keyes damascus lanyard bead.

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I’ve engraved the design of the spider into the damascus steel, and begun excavating the pocket in the spider’s body and head where I will inlay the 24 karat pure gold.

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Above, I’ve completed excavating the inlay pocket with tiny carbide burs.

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Here I’m undercutting the edges of the inlay pocket.  The soft gold will flow into these undercuts, trapping the gold into place.

Gold_Spider_Damascus_Bead_13In addition to the undercut edges, I’ve also added heavy stippling to the bottom of the inlay pocket.  This rough bottom will also allow the gold to flow into the zillions of crevices, creating additional hold.

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Here I’m adding the gold in the form of a tiny ball melted on the end of the pure gold wire, squishing it in place with a brass punch, to be followed by the front body portion shaping punch I made last time.

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I’m continuing the inlay process of the 24 karat gold spider abdomen by pounding in several gold balls

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Above, I’ve rough-sculpted the abdomen with a brass punch, and used the shaped head punch to refine the shape of the gold in the head inlay.

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I’ve used the abdomen punch we made earlier for the final shaping. I’ll carefully trim away the excess gold.


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Here’s an overall view of the spider at this point, in my bead holding fixture.

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Above is the finished spider body inlay.  Now I need to add in the wire gold for the legs and spider silk.

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Here’s the beginning of inlaying a single 28 gauge gold wire into the silk strand the spider will hang from.

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Now I’m adding in more wire into the legs.  Note how the edges of the leg cuts have been carefully undercut for the soft gold to flow into.

Gold_Spider_Damascus_Bead_27We’re halfway there.  I’ve used a small scraper to trim off the excess gold from the leg and silk inlays.

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I’ve aded in tiny outlining cuts around the single wire inlays in the legs.  This step really makes the inlay pop visually.  Did I mention the spider is only a little more than one fourth of an inch tall?

Gold_Spider_Damascus_Bead_30aAnd, finally the completed bead, after darkening it with gun blue and adding a paracord lanyard.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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